We decided to maximize our last morning in Rome by getting up early and heading downtown hoping to beat the tourists to some of the bigger sites. Taking the oh-so-familiar route 42 bus, we jumped in the usual spot and headed south to Palatine Hill, one of the historic hills of Rome near the forums and Coliseum. Palatine Hill has thousands of years of history and a small fee for admittance. The Hill's ruins were quite interesting and we headed out the gate near the Coliseum.
We realized that our Palatine Hill tickets were also admission for the Coliseum so we decided to check it out. The line to buy tickets was short, probably only an hour or so, but we were able to skip it an walk right in with the Palatine Hill tickets (same price, no line).
We then took another look at the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps on our way back towards the bus stop. Hope wanted a look at the Gucci and Prada(1) stores near the Spanish Steps so we did some browsing.
We went back to the hotel to grab our bags and check out and were hailed by a young couple whom were just checking in. She noticed my Cyclones t-shirt and told us that they, too, were ISU grads and were spending the summer backpacking in Europe.
We took our last Roman bus ride to Termini station to catch the airport charter and realized that we never once found that route map of the city - it's a good things that the locals no the correct routes and were willing to advise us.
We had another delay for our RyanAir flight and had the pleasure of spending an extra three hours at Ciampano Airport. Since they're averaging a 2 hour per flight delay on the two flights that we've used their service, I've openly questioned their slogan:
After it finally took off the flight to London was uneventful. We landed and Stansted and took the National Express bus charter into the St. John's Wood area of London.
Our hostel, Palmer's Lodge, was a quick walk from where the bus dropped us off. We had never stayed at a hostel before and weren't quite sure what to make of the experience. We checked in and slipped down to the in house pub for a drink. We had a nice chat with took young guys, one a Nebraska student from Omaha who had just arrived and would be starting a four week program at Oxford the next Monday and the other British Columbian who had been packing across Europe and Asia for nearly ten months and was heading home to Canada the next day. They both said that Palmer's Lodge was amongst the best hostels that they had ever stayed in.
The hostel itself was a former mansion and our room reminded me a lot of the cold air dorms back at the old Phi Delt house on Welch Avenue. It had triple bunks (double beds, which was nice) that filled up the room from floor to ceiling. It was one of the only places available for the weekend we made the reservation a couple days before leaving and we really lucked out.
The bar closed early (11 PM) and we decided to head out and have a late dinner. We decided on some Indian fast food, said to be the most popular food in the country (fish and chips are #2).
We were back at the hostel shortly before midnight when some kids walked in carrying copies of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows - the final Potter book which had just gone on sale a few minutes before.
(1)Will Smith has "gotta Prada, bag with a lotta, stuff in it" and he suggests you give it to your friend.