A Weekend in Rome

I saw Rome many times from a bird’s eye view, usually on my way across the Atlantic. There was also one attempt a few years ago when we were supposed to land in Rome, rent a car there and drive to Amalfi coast. Only that time we missed the plane and drove directly from Trieste airport to Naples, without stopping in Rome. So there I was, in my late thirties, having visited 46 states, climbed the pyramids, cuddled with tigers, swam with sharks… but never spent a single day in the eternal city. Until this weekend in November. A weekend in Rome. When everything was absolutely perfect.

Getting there and around

Getting to Rome from Slovenia is easy and relatively cheap. Alitalia flies from Trieste several times per day so you can usually get a ticket for around 100€. After that, you have several options: the cheapest way to reach the city center is by bus, for as low as 4€ per person, and after reaching Termini Station you can take a metro. If you want to save some time time (especially if you are visiting only for a weekend), the fastest way is to take a taxi with an airport flat rate 48€ one way.

We stayed in the Hotel Ponte Sisto, which has a very romantic location near Tibera river and was a good starting point for all the attractions. First day we took the hop on hop off bus (Big Bus Rome) to catch the city at a glance and get some basic orientation for the following days. Honestly, if you do some homework and have time to spare, you can do everything on foot. If you still want to take the bus, keep in mind that the traffic in Rome is quite heavy, so you can sometimes reach the next stop faster on foot. And the busses have limited access to certain parts of the city – so you will still have to walk across the river to reach Vatican, or wander around the old city center to find the Trevi fountain.

Things to see in Rome for a weekend

If I wanted to describe only the most popular things to see in Rome, I would need a few days to do it properly. Since I don’t have that much time, and neither do you, I gathered my favorites in the post “5 things to do in Rome” instead. The only thing which seems right to be said at this point is: Rome is glorious. You will see that the moment you step out of your hotel and on every step of your way. And luckily, the city of Rome is doing its best to preserve the architectural heritage of the ancient Roman civilization. This is also one of the main reasons the traffic is closed in the historical center for non-resident cars. Which is truly a bliss.

I do feel obliged to mention one issue which you have to count on, probably in all seasons: the crowds. I read about Roma pass and tickets which you can buy online to skip the long queues, but I didn’t imagine it would be THAT serious. Forget about the Colosseum and Vatican if you didn’t get the ticket upfront. Unless of course you don’t mind waiting a couple of hours under the Roman sun. Good luck there!

Taking everything into consideration the question is: “Can you do Rome in three days?” You can, if you Travel with Anda 😉 Honestly, we weren’t under any pressure, and we didn’t want to wait the long lines to enter the major attractions. We were quite happy with what Rome has to offer on foot and “from the outside”. You can walk around Colosseum to embrace its greatness, climb the stairs of beautiful Altare della Patria, throw a coin into Fontana di Trevi, listen to the street music in the romantic Piazza Navona, walk up the Gianicolo hill to see Rome from the top, visit Vatican and imagine the crowds during the masses in St Peter’s Square, take a stroll among lovely Villa Borghese gardens and make selfies on the Spanish steps, which have been renovated in 2016.

Italian coffee and food

Yep, you can do all that in three days with comfortable walking shoes. On top of that you have to taste Italian coffee, which is in my opinion the best in the world, and sit in any of the restaurants on your way to enjoy the food. Food with a capital F. I mean what is it with these Italians? Even a pizza or a simple pasta on every corner taste heavenly. We live in the neighbor country and I feel like we are worlds apart when it comes to cuisine!

Well, the grass is always greener on the other side. And since all roads lead to Rome, I am definitely coming back again. Ciao Roma, a presto!

You can check the rest of my photos in my Facebook album Rome, Italy.

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Slovenes abroad: Sasa, Malmö (Sweden)

Curiosity, a desire for new challenges and business opportunities led Saša to the ‘’cold north’’ two years ago. She landed in Malmö, a town in the south of Sweden, but judging by her tweets, the temperature there does not fall behind the rest of the country. Honestly, since I REALLY hate cold, I have never even thought about visiting Sweden. But after this chat with Saša, there is a high chance I will drop her a visit very soon.

Hi, Sasha. Why Sweden?

It just happened. I was always drawn to Sweden in some way. It was in one of my school trips to Planica, when I bought a Swedish flag instead of Slovenian and shortly afterwards I started learning basic Swedish numbers out of plain curiosity. Apparently, Sweden was always meant to be 🙂

Was the decision to move hard?

Not really, because the idea of ​​moving was building for a while. Compared to Slovenia, bigger countries offer the possibility to work on larger projects with greater challenges in certain disciplines and, of course a better pay. You do need a bit of “balls” to take the first leap and the first year is the hardest.

How was the decision to leave accepted by your close family?

Ever since I was little my parents have encouraged me to take part in international exchanges and we traveled a lot throughout my childhood. Because of that nobody was really that much surprised, although I can’t say it was easy for everyone or anyone.

Was language a problem? Can you already speak Swedish?

Undoubtedly, the language was initially an obstacle. Scandinavian languages ​​in their written form vary a lot from their spoken version. After approximately one year of intensive learning I can say that I understand and engage in everyday conversations. Still, I find it a challenge if I run into someone with a distinct ‘Skånska’ accent. Copenhagen is 15 minutes away and consequently people in the south have a sharp accent, reminiscent of Danish. This is the language of “potatoes in the mouth”. 🙂

What was the biggest positive surprise for you after moving to Sweden?

The level of confidence you get from strangers. Many goods, particularly in living complexes are in common use. For example cast iron grills in the garden, common areas, workshop rooms where tools stay at their place. People here are aware that they are not alone in the world and not think only of themselves.

Did you have any negative experience being a foreigner?

Absolutely not. The Swedes are very open and the majority accepts diversity. Maybe my appearance helps my integration process (light skin, blue eyes) and the fact that I come from a developed country, with similar standards and habits. But I know a few people, mainly Muslim women, which feel a slight uncertainty when talking to a stranger. They say that some people are often skeptical of them.

Can you afford a decent lifestyle with an average Swedish salary?

Life with an average Swedish paycheck is more than decent. Disposable income is much greater than in lots of other countries. That, plus other work perks like default 25 vacation days and 480 days of maternity leave, make life here quite comfortable.

Since this is a “hot” topic in Slovenia now – how is Swedish healthcare system?

Organized but very bureaucratic. You pay for every first visit to the doctor – to ‘’open the case’’. That prevents people going to the doctor without having a real reason to go there. The price is fixed at 200 SEK (around 20€) for a general practitioner and 500 SEK for a specialist.

Dental care is a headache though. Not all dental care for people over 20 years is free and it can get REALLY expensive. That’s why Swedes take great care of their teeth and get all the problems fixed before the age of 20.

How often do you travel home?

Approximately twice a year. I love my proximity to Copenhagen Airport and direct flight connections to Ljubljana, which means that I get up in the morning and I am at my mom’s dinner table by lunchtime.

What has in your opinion changed in Slovenia since you moved out?

I am so pleased to note huge steps forward, primarily within Ljubljana. Many more workshops and meetings with the mentality “the community can only grow by sharing knowledge”, which reminds me a lot of the whole Swedish shabang. After a few years of living abroad you see your town in a different light. You catch yourself idealizing it, city colors are suddenly more vivid and people seem friendlier.

How do you spend your free time?

You can usually find me either in a pub or in the nature. Malmö has everything from vast forest spaces to botanical gardens and lakes. In the summer I spend a good part of my time on the beach. The sun beats down just the right amount, the sea is colder, less salty and the beaches offer so many activities to choose from.

You know I have to ask: Zlatan Ibrahimović?

I know where his villa stands and that’s about it. Zlatan is a textbook example of an immigrant’s success. On football match days the city turns into blue and white, the colors of the FC Malmö, and a plethora of people from all sides of the city go to the stadium. That’s when I usually go in the opposite direction.

5 things every tourist in Sweden should see?

First, everyone should experience Midsommar (celebration of the longest day in the year) in a cottage Swedes call ‘’stuga‘’. It is a kind of wooden summer house in the woodlands, where many people gather and celebrate long days and light in general. Ladies wear wreaths of flowers and everyone dances around a kind of pagan maypole. In the evening people really loosen up and it is probably no coincidence that a lot of Swedes are born in March 😉

Then there is the magic of the mining town of Kiruna, which lies approximately at the same latitude as central Greenland. Third is the town Lund with one of the best universities in the world (go and see their library!) and an interestingly built Lund Cathedral from 1080, when the south of Sweden was still under Denmark’s rule. Inside, you can find an astronomical clock from the 14th century.

Let’s not forget the old town centers: Gothenburg, Helsingborg and Stockholm. You could hardly be bored in any of them.

…and in Malmö?

Most people come into town across the Öresund Bridge, which is one of the major tourist attractions itself. Öresundsbron links Denmark to Sweden and extends partially above and below sea level. Turning Torso in Malmö is currently the tallest building in Scandinavia. City Library is an excellent architectural example of merging the new with the old. Lilla torg is the most likable market in the city and totally worth spending Friday evenings in restaurants with intense prices. Möllevångstorget is the market where so many cultures meet and mix. And of course my love – the beach.

Typical Swedish food is? Do you like it?

Swedes don’t really excel when it comes to gastronomy. Typical are small meatballs and potatoes – in millions of ways. I also like Sill, which is a pickled fish in different variations of spices and sauces. Another typical dish is ”Räksmörgås” – open-top sandwich with a huge amounts of shrimp, eggs, mayonnaise and lemon, all on rye bread. The Swedes have the utmost love for anything sweet. Bought bread is often sweetened, which I never really got used to.

What do you miss most, other than relatives and friends?

Mountains. Hills. My dogs. A longer spring and autumn. Slovene language. I miss not having to pay 10 euros for a glass of wine at dinner. I miss the Slovene spontaneity, especially when it comes to visiting a friend. Swedes usually have to have everything planned waaay in advance.

What do Slovenes usually ask you about Sweden?

”Is alcohol really as expensive as they say?” Yup, it is.

Are you ever coming back to Slovenia for good?

I don’t intend to, but it can happen. Currently Sweden offers everything I need and more.

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Slovenci v svetu: Saša, Malmö (Švedska)

Radovednost, želja po novih izzivih in poslovna pot so Sašo pred dvema letoma pripeljali na “mrzli sever”. Pristala je v mestecu Malmö, ki sicer leži na jugu Švedske, a sodeč po njenih tvitih temperaturno ne zaostaja za preostalim delom države. Ker sem sama bolj pri “zmrznjenih”, o potovanju na Švedsko nisem še nikoli razmišljala. Saša pa me je z odgovori čisto navdušila in ni dvakrat za reči, da jo bom šla obiskat že naslednje poletje.

Živjo, Saša. Zakaj Švedska?

Kar nekako se je zgodilo. Zanimivo je, da sem na nekem šolskem izletu v Planico namesto slovenske kupila švedsko zastavo in se kmalu zatem, iz čistega firbca, naučila šteti po švedsko. Očitno mi je bila že od nekdaj namenjena 🙂

Je bila odločitev o selitvi težka?

Niti ne, saj se je ideja v nama kuhala že dalj časa. V primerjavi s Slovenijo ponuja tujina možnost dela na večjih projektih, z večjimi izzivi v določenih strokah in seveda posledično boljše plačilo. Za prvi korak je potrebno nekoliko poguma in prvo leto je najtežje.

Kako so jo sprejeli tvoji najbližji?

Doma so me že kot smrkljo spodbujali k mednarodnim izmenjavam in tekom celotnega otroštva smo veliko potovali. Zato selitev nikogar ni čisto zares presenetila, seveda pa ni bilo za vse enako lahko.

Je bil jezik ovira? Že govoriš tekoče švedsko?

Nedvomno je bil jezik na začetku ovira. Skandinavski jeziki se v svoji pisani obliki precej razlikujejo od govorjene. Po približno enem letu intenzivnega učenja lahko rečem, da razumem in sledim vsakdanjim pogovorom. Še vedno pa mi predstavlja oviro, če naletim na koga z izrazitim ‘’skånskim’’ naglasom. Kopenhagen je 15 minut stran in posledično imajo južni Švedi naglas, ki spominja na danščino. To je tista govorica “s krompirjem v ustih”. 🙂

Kaj te je na švedskem najbolj pozitivno presenetilo?

Zanimiva je stopnja zaupanja, ki jo neznanci drug drugemu izkazujejo. Veliko dobrin, predvsem v blokovskih kompleksih, je v skupni uporabi. Na primer litoželezni žari na vrtu, skupni prostori v smislu delavnice, v kateri se nahaja orodje, ki tam tudi ostane. Ljudje se zavedajo, da niso sami na svetu in le sami sebi namen.

Kakšna negativna izkušnja, ker si tujka, bodisi pri iskanju službe, ali v javnosti?

Nikakor ne. Švedi so zelo odprti in večina sprejema drugačnost. Mogoče pri moji integraciji pomaga moj videz in to, da prihajam iz razvite države. Poznam pa tudi nekaj ljudi, predvsem muslimanskih žensk, ki med pogovorom začutijo rahlo nesigurnost s strani sogovornika. Pravijo, da so nekateri ljudje do njih nemalokrat skeptični.

Se da dostojno živeti s povprečno švedsko plačo?

Več kot dostojno. Razpoložljivi dohodki so precej višji kot v ostalih državah. Če dodamo še ostale ugodnosti, kot na primer najmanj 25 dni dopusta in 480 dni porodniške, lahko rečem, da Švedska nudi zelo udobno življenje.

Kako pa je z zdravstvom? V Sloveniji je to trenutno zelo vroča tema…

Švedska ima dobro organiziran, ampak precej birokratski zdravstveni sistem. Za vsak prvi obisk splošnega zdravnika plačaš 200 SEK (okoli 20€), da “odpreš primer”. S tem preprečijo, da bi k zdravniku hodili kar tako, brez pravega razloga. Za specialista plačaš še več, 500 SEK (znesek se viša s stopnjo specializacije).

Je pa zobozdravstvo posebna »bolečina«. Po 20 letu namreč vse zobozdravstvene storitve niso brezplačne in če imaš težave z zobmi, je lahko vse skupaj RES drago. Zato Švedi večinoma zelo dobro skrbijo za ustno higieno in se zelo potrudijo, da si uredijo zobe pred 20. letom.

Kako pogosto se vračaš domov?

Domov se vračam nekje na pol leta, oziroma po potrebi. Paše mi bližina Kopenhagenskega letališča in direktna letalska povezava z Ljubljano, kar pomeni, da zjutraj vstanem in sem za kosilo že doma. Žal mi je le, da me edini slovenski letalski prevoznik vse prevečkrat prisili v razmišljanje o uporabi linije Kopenhagen – Zagreb, ki je precej cenejša in ponuja kvalitetnejše storitve.

Kaj se je po tvojem opažanju spremenilo v Sloveniji, odkar si se odselila?

Z velikim veseljem opažam korake naprej, predvsem znotraj Ljubljane. Veliko več je delavnic in srečanj z mentaliteto ‘’delimo znanje, ker le tako lahko kot skupnost rastemo’’, kar me zelo spominja na švedski duh. Zdi se mi, da se je Ljubljana nekoliko sprostila, opažam več odkrite ‘’drugačnosti’’, ljudje si upajo biti to, kar so. Ko nekaj let živiš zunaj domovine, jo vidiš v drugačni luči. Na trenutke jo celo idealiziraš, barve so kar naenkrat bolj žive in ljudje bolj prijazni.

Kako preživljaš prosti čas?

Najraje ga preživljam v pubu in v naravi. Malmö ima ogromno zelenih površin, od mikro gozdov pa do botaničnih vrtov in jezer. Poleti preživim dobršen del prostega časa na plaži. Sonce pripeka ravno prav, morje je hladnejše in manj slano, na plažah se odvija ogromno aktivnosti.

Saj veš, moram: Zlatan Ibrahimović. Že imaš njegov avtogram?

Tu te moram razočarati. Vem, kje stoji njegova vila in spoštujem simboliko, ki prežema njegovo osebnost. Zlatan je nekakšen šolski primer uspeha za vse, ki prihajajo iz tretjih držav. Včasih se mesto obarva v sinje modro in belo, barve nogometnega kluba Malmö, in množica ljudi se iz vseh strani mesta začne valiti proti stadionu. Takrat grem pač v nasprotno smer.

Naštej 5 stvari, ki jih mora po tvojem mnenju na švedskem videti vsak turist.

Nujno moraš doživeti Midsommar (najdaljši dan in največji praznik) in to v koči, ki ji Švedi rečejo ‘’svensk stuga’’. Gre za nekakšne lesene vikendice, kjer se zbere ogromno ljudi in skupaj proslavljajo dolge dneve. Dame nosijo vence iz cvetlic in vsi plešejo okoli nekakšnega poganskega mlaja. Na Midsommar večer se vsi sprostijo in verjetno ni naključje, da je veliko Švedov rojenih v mesecu marcu 😉

Potem je tu čarobno rudarsko mestece Kiruna, ki leži nekje na geografski širini kot centralna Grenlandija. Blizu Malma se nahaja študentsko mesto Lund, z eno najboljših univerz na svetu. Univerzitetna knjižnica mi je dala občutek, da sem v kakšnem od Harry Potter filmov. V Lundu je zanimiva tudi katedrala iz leta 1080, ko je bila južna švedska še pod Dansko. Znotraj nje se nahaja še astronomska ura iz 14. stoletja.

In pa seveda sama stara mestna jedra: Gothenburg, Helsingborg in Stockholm. Težko ti je dolgčas v kateremkoli od njih.

Pa v Malmu?

Najpogosteje prideš v mesto po mostu, ki je že sam po sebi ena večjih turistični atrakcij. Most Öresundsbron namreč povezuje Dansko in Švedsko ter se razteza delno pod in nad gladino morja. Turning Torso v Malmu je trenutno najvišja stavba v Skandinaviji. Mestna knjižnica je odličen prikaz združevanja novega in starega gradbenega stila. Lilla torg je najbolj prikupen trg na tem svetu in povsem vreden petkovih večerov v restavracijah z navitimi cenami. Möllevångstorget je trg, kjer se srečajo in zmešajo praktično vse kulture, kar jih mesto premore. In pa seveda plaža, ki jo obožujem.

Tipična švedska hrana je? Ti je všeč?

Švedi se ne morejo ravno pohvaliti z gastronomskimi presežki. Nekaj tipičnega so mesne kroglice (kot čufte, samo manjše, brez omake) in krompir. Krompir na miljone načinov. Drugo pravilo švedske kuhinje je, da brusnice pašejo z vsem. Osebno so mi všeč vloženi koščki rib, v raznih variacijah začimb in omak. Še ena tipična zadeva je ‘’Räksmörgås’’, sendvič odprtega tipa, z ogromno količino rakcev, jajc, majoneze in limone na rženem kruhu. Švedi imajo nadvse radi tudi sladko. Njihov kupljeni kruh je nemalokrat sladkan, česar se nikoli nisem navadila, zato ga niti ne kupujem.

Kaj najbolj pogrešaš, razen sorodnikov in prijateljev?

Gore. Hribe. Svoje pse. Daljše pomladi in jeseni. Materni jezik. Pogrešam ne plačati 10 € za kozarec vina ob večerjah. Posedanje v lokalčkih ‘’na kavi’’ – tega koncepta tu skoraj ni. Pogrešam tudi slovensko spontanost, sploh kar se tiče obiskovanja.

Kaj te Švedi najpogosteje vprašajo o Sloveniji?

“Zakaj so Slovenci zavrnili referendum o istospolnih porokah? Sem mislil, da je Slovenija napredna in sprejemajoča država…’’ … ob spremljavi pogleda, ki ti ga ponavadi da mama, ko jo globoko razočaraš.

Kaj pa Slovenci o Švedski?

‘’Ti, a je alkohol res tok drag tm gor?’’ Ja, je.

Se nameravaš kdaj vrniti?

Nameravam ne, lahko pa se zgodi. Trenutno mi Švedska nudi vse, kar potrebujem, in še več.

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5 things to see in Rome for free

We visited Rome on the first weekend of November (actually we had 3 whole days and a half), and since this was our first time in the eternal city, we had to focus on seeing only the most famous attractions. Our plan was to visit Colosseum, Vatican City, Fontana di Trevi, Piazza Navona, the Spanish steps and everything else which would come in our way. Unfortunately we didn’t count on the crowds (honestly, I thought the high season would be over) and since we didn’t want to stand in the long lines to visit the most popular places, we changed our strategy to “Que Sera, Sera”.

We were blessed with 3 whole days of sun and crystal clear skies, so walking around and being spontaneous turned out to be a very good idea. We saw more than I had hoped for, we burned thousands of calories (which we had no trouble replacing by amazing Italian food), plus we inadvertently saved some money.

So here is Anda’s five: a list of top 5 things to see in Rome for free:

1. Colosseum (Colosseo)

Like with all wonders of architecture, you don’t have to pay a single cent to see this amazing piece of art from the outside. Actually I believe that lots of tourists change their mind about entering Colosseum when they see long lines of people standing in front of the main entrance. If you are determined to experience the thrill of cruel gladiator fights, be prepared for a few hours waiting line (the entrance fee is 12€ per adult) or buy an online ticket (2€ more) which will get to you a faster lane. But keep in mind that you won’t be alone in the “faster lane” either. There is however an option to see the inside of Colosseum for free every first Sunday of the month. Just bring some patience in your pockets, because large backpacks are not allowed inside due to security reasons.

2. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro), Vatican

The nicest entrance to Vatican City is definitely across the St. Angelo Bridge which leads to a beautiful Castel Sant’Angelo. This cylindrical castle, which was once the tallest building in Rome, was built for the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for his family and is now a museum (tip: you can also see Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo for free every first Sunday of the month).

From there just follow the crowds heading left towards St Peter’s Square and you will soon spot the majestic St Peter’s Basilica. The view of her majesty is actually the best from far away, since this is one of the largest churches in the world. Despite of the fence the entrance to the square is free so you can sit under the magnificent Tuscan colonnades and enjoy the view of Egyptian obelisk, granite fountains and other magnificent works of architecture from the 16th and 17th century. The entrance to St. Peter’s basilica is free, but you have to pay to see some parts of it. You can find lots of useful tips on this this link.

3. Piazza Venezia

I hesitated until the last second which Piazza to choose for Anda’s five, but since I have to pick one, it will be Piazza Venezia over Piazza Navona. The latter is far more famous and you will see it anyway, so I will focus on Piazza Venezia which caught me totally unprepared and took my breath away. It is one of the biggest squares in Rome, which lies at the foot of the Capitoline Hill and you practically cannot miss it if you follow Via dei Fori Imperiali (which leads to Colloseum) or Via del Corso (which leads to another famous square Piazza del Popolo). The best part of it is the view from Altare della Patria – the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy. The monument itself is very impressive and once you climb the stairs to its top platform, you are rewarded with one of the nicest views in Rome.

4. The Trevi Fountain

Probably the most famous fountain in the world lies in the heart of Rome. Fontana di Trevi. Simply gorgeous. Full of stories and legends. Sighs and desires. Crowds and coins. Lots of coins actually. Around 3.000 Euros are thrown into the fountain every day. All with a good cause though. Those who throw the money (be sure to use the right hand and throw the coin over the left shoulder), will either return to Rome one day, have a love affair or get married. Those who get the money actually need it – the city of Rome collects the coins every evening and give it to Charity. Tourism with a Cause. Memorable and noble.

5. Janiculum hill (Gianicolo hill)

It’s actually not much of a hill in my book, but it takes just enough walking to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The area is very green and quiet and it offers the best views of the central Rome. On the top of the hill stands a huge bronze statue, dedicated to Giuseppe Garibaldi, portraying the hero on a horse, placed on a white marble stand. Time almost stops there, so enjoy the moment. And resist having a drink in the café at the top, unless you are willing to pay almost double price.

You can check the rest of my photos in my Facebook album Rome, Italy.


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