I had been to Italy about 5 times previously, but never made it to Rome, and when I tell people about it they were quite surprised. So when my family came to visit me in France I accompanied them to Rome for a couple of days whirlwind tour of the city. We managed to purchase very cheap tickets on EasyJet, one of the better known budget airlines in Europe. The only thing was we had to take the flight from Geneva, Switzerland. Actually, that didn't pose much of a problem as Geneva is only about a 90 minute drive away from the city where I lived in France. However, we had to get to Geneva airport at 6 in the morning in order the catch the early morning flight to Rome.

A good friend of mine offered to drive us to the airport, so on that winter morning at 3 am we left my house. The roads were still covered with snow in some parts but we made it in good time, and checked in using the airport's automatic check in. There were five of us altogether; my daughter, her husband, their two sons and myself.

Surprisingly, the flight was nearly full. As some of you know, these budget airlines are quite inexpensive, but one has to pay for any food or drink on the plane. My son in law apparently didn't know about this and he ordered orange juice from the air hostess, and ended up paying 3 euros for it! We all laughed about this afterwards, teasing him about his naivety.

We landed at Ciampino airport which is Rome's secondary airport. Outside the airport there were many taxis waiting at the stand. We hired the first one and he wanted $100 to take us into town! My daughter asked me to ask another driver but my son in law told me to take it saying there were five of us, and the car was big enough to take all of us including our baggage. Needless to say, my daughter, to this day, still talks about the cab driver ripping us off in Rome!

When we arrived at our hotel, the name of which I've forgotten (I usually don't remember names of hotels where I've stayed only once) we couldn't check in as it was too early. We didn't know about it then, but this hotel was quite close to Termini, the main railway station of Rome. Anyway, we left our bags near the front desk of the hotel and started our own mini tour of places nearby. As we walked along the streets we came upon this big church, which we found out later to be the Basilica of St. Mary Major the largest Roman Catholic Marian church in the city, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We were all amazed to find out it was built in the years 432-440 AD!

I believe this is the first church that Pope Francis went to pray after he was appointed, what a coincidence! Anyway, while we were there we saw this big red Rome Sightseeing bus parked on the street so we decided to book four seats (free for the youngest boy) on this bus for the next day. We had lunch at a small restaurant near the church, after which we went back to the hotel and checked in. My daughter and son in law took one room with their younger son, while I shared another room with the older boy.

In the early evening we decided to walk in a different direction and came upon this delicatessen which had takeaway meals. We decided to try the fish which my daughter said later was the best fish she ever had in her life. We also saw the Termini railway station nearby which we didn't know before that it was only about a ten minute walk from our hotel. We had our fish dinner in my room when we got back to the hotel, and retired early as we were all exhausted from being up since 2 am that day.

The next morning we went back to the locality of the church where we were yesterday to catch the city sightseeing bus. On these double decker buses you can explore the city at your own pace on a hop-on hop-off itinerary through the heart of Rome. All the buses are open top which allows you to enjoy full panoramic views as you travel along their route. We were also provided with earphones so we could hear a running commentary of each attraction as we passed the place. I think we got off first at the Victor Emmanuel II National Monument which I think is a splendid work of architecture. Then more views of the city until our second stop somewhere near the Vatican. As it was lunch time all the restaurants at this busy section were full, but after looking around we finally found a MacDonald's that still had some empty seating. Imagine, being in Rome and eating at a MacDonald joint!

Got on another bus again going towards Vatican City where we stayed for a long time. All of us were so very impressed with the Vatican. There was even a small post office there, where postcards were on sale. We wanted to send postcards to our friends to say we were there, but the post office was very crowded and we didn't want to waste time waiting in line. Obviously, one of the most popular places at the Vatican is the post office!

Hopped on the bus once again, and saw some more fantastic sights before we got off near the Spanish Steps, another well known spot in Rome. Spent some more time there taking photos and walking around the vicinity. I don't know exactly why, but somehow or the other we missed Trevi Fountain which is of course, another popular tourist attraction in the city. We had an early dinner at an open air restaurant somewhere. Oh, we did catch a glimpse of the Colloseum from the bus along the way, but didn't get off there as it was getting dark.

We saw a Metro station (called Metropolitana by Italians) not too far away from the restaurant, and decided to take the underground train to Termini station. The train was packed full with commuters, but as Termini was the last stop we didn't have any problems getting off at the right station. We found an Airport shuttle bus office there, and booked seats on one to take us to Ciampino airport the next morning. Then another early night's sleep at the hotel in order to take the next morning's flight back to Geneva.

When we arrived in Geneva we reserved our seats to Bourg en Bresse, France at the railway station which is situated right at the airport. I had been to Geneva several times before, but as my family wanted to see a little of the city we booked the last train to France. Then we took a local train to Cornavin the central station of Geneva which took less than 10 minutes. We spent some time strolling around the city center and arrived back at the railway station in time for our departure train to France.

On the return train journey we were pretty much tired, and didn't talk much. However, I think all of us were very happy to have seen and experienced, if only for two days, the eternal city of Rome.

"ARRIVEDERCI ROMA!"