Trip Report: Christmas in Rome and New Year’s in Barcelona (Day 2)

After our first day in Rome by ourselves, my wife and I were looking forward to joining up with my family for several days. However, we were unsure if they had even arrived in Rome until after we ate breakfast at the hotel due to communication issues (As mentioned in the prior post my family had several flight issues and did not arrive in Rome until nearly midnight when they were supposed to arrive at 7:45 AM).

I do need to mention the breakfast at the Rome Cavalieri.  It was the most outstanding breakfast buffet I have ever been to.  The variety and quality were off the charts.  Unfortunately, I believe this has gone away as a benefit for Diamond members as of 1/1/14. We were lucky to be some of the last ones to get it 🙂  (I do not have pictures from breakfast because I still have not conquered my fear of  taking pictures in settings like that)

After breakfast, my wife and I hopped in a taxi to meet my family at their hotel (Hotel Lirico)(Approximately 20 Euro).  We had to take a taxi as the hotel shuttle leaves the hotel hourly and it was approaching 9:30,  we didn’t want to spend an additional 30 minutes waiting. Plus my mother likes everyone to be “On Schedule” so I didn’t want to rock the boat the first day.

Upon meeting up with my family we made our way on foot towards the Vatican.  Some pictures from the walk:

Brother and Family

Brother and Family

For some reason or another I do not have a good picture of my sister and her kids. Sorry!

Roman Ruins

Roman Ruins

Wife and me

Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo

Since this was most of my families first trip to Rome (with the exception of my mother) I was very excited to see their reactions upon the first view of St. Peter’s.  I have been to Rome 4 times now and each time you see St. Peter’s it is still amazing.  It is bigger than real life.  Here is the view after turning the final corner.

St. Peter's

St. Peter’s

Upon getting to the Vatican we toured the Vatican Museum which is always pretty cool and then took the side entrance from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter’s Basilica.  During my previous visits to the Vatican Museum I have not hired the services of a tour guide.  This time we did as the line to get into the Basilica was quite long and time was precious.  It was 35 Euro per person, including entrance fees, but in the end it was worth it as it provided a lot of depth to the items viewed during the museum tour and it saved some time.  For example, on each of my previous visits I had skipped past the tapestries gallery in the museum, turned out to be pretty interesting.  Would I recommend a tour guide?  Honestly, I am not sure, I think it comes down to time/value proposition that is unique for each person.  Here are some pictures from inside St. Peter’s:

St. Peter's

St. Peter’s

Wanted to include one full group shot, perfect picture showing the difficulty in getting 11 people to do anything at once!

St. Peter's (Family)

St. Peter’s (Family)

The Pieta by Michelangelo

The Pieta by Michelangelo

St. Peter's

St. Peter’s

Christmas Tree in St. Peter's Square

Christmas Tree in St. Peter’s Square

After touring the Vatican we headed on foot towards Piazza Navona to have a late lunch.  Even though it is super touristy and expensive the atmosphere was hard to pass up so we ate right on the square.  Honestly, I think we were all hungry enough to not even notice whether the food was good or lot.  Although, I think the food was pretty solid.  Group picture from lunch (not sure if you can see in the picture that my sister and niece ordered Pina Colada’s…….in Rome):

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

After dinner we meandered on foot back towards their hotel passing by the Pantheon and Spanish Steps on the way.  Some pictures from the walk back:



Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

After the Spanish Steps my wife and I walked most of the way back to my families hotel with them as it was in the same general direction we were headed.  We were able to catch the 8 PM shuttle returning back to the Rome Cavalieri from Piazza Barberini and promptly crashed upon returning to the room.

Stay tuned for Day 3: The Forum and Coliseum.

Trip Report: Christmas in Rome and New Year’s in Barcelona

Due to our normal Thanksgiving/Christmas rotation Christmas fell this year with my family.  My mother decided it would be a good idea to gather everyone together in Rome for Christmas.  We would spending 5 nights in Rome with 11 people (My sister and her two children, my brother and his wife and three kids, my mom, and my wife and myself). Needless to say, I expected a little bit of chaos!  After our 5 nights in Rome, my wife and I left for 5 nights in Barcelona while my family continued on to Florence.  It was a refreshing way to spend Christmas.

Our itinerary (and blog breakdown) was as follows:

12/21 – ATL-FRA-FCO Lufthansa Business Class (A340-300 Old Business Class)

12/22-12/27 – Rome with my family.  Stayed at the Rome Cavalieri, part of the Waldorf-Astoria Collection

12/27 – FCO-BCN on Vueling (A320)

12/27-1/1 – Barcelona with my wife.  Stayed at the Hilton Diagonal Mar.

1/1 – BCN-FRA-ATL Lufthansa Business Class (A340-300 Old Business Class)

Rome Christmas Barcelona Christmas

Trip Report: Ireland – Day 6 & 7: Powerscourt to Dublin

After a wonderful stay at the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt my wife and I departed around 8:30 AM for a quick trip to the Dublin airport to return our rental car.  While the experience of picking up the rental car was painful, our experience dropping it off at the SIXT off-site location was pretty easy. (As a tip there is a gas station about 1 KM past the SIXT drop-off location on the right hand side)  We returned the rental car and within about 10 minutes were back at the terminal catching a taxi into the city to our hotel, the Conrad Dublin.

The taxi ride took about 25 minutes and cost approximately 35 Euro plus a (small) tip to get to the Conrad Dublin.  We arrived at the hotel pretty early (10 AM) but we were allowed to go ahead and check-in since I am a Diamond member and they had already cleaned our room.  Here are a couple of pictures of the room:

Conrad Dublin ($$$$- We used HHonor’s Point for the 2 night stay)


Exterior of Hotel

Once we had thrown our stuff in the room we headed out to explore Dublin!  The city itself is lacking of truly “historical” sites like a London or Rome so we did not set out like we normally do to conquer a number of sites.  We set out with the purpose of relaxing for 2 days while walking around and drinking a pint every now and then.  It worked out well!  With that said, the one thing we did take the time to see was the Book of Kells at Trinity College (6-8 Euro admission, **** – worth it just for the library alone).

Since we didn’t do anything in particular I will let our pictures speak for themselves, enjoy:

St. Stephen’s Green (very close to Conrad Dublin, free entrance dawn to dusk)


Grafton Street viewed from side street (Pedestrian shopping street with good street performers)

Trinity College (Home of the book of Kell’s discussed above)

Temple Bar (Good bar, even though it is touristy, for a drink) (Please note the guy in front with the women’s swimsuit on)

The Dublin Spire (right up there with any other weird monument I have seen)

Inside Temple Bar (sorry for getting out of order the with pictures) (This must be an Irish/British thing to have Stag parties where everyone wears matching shirts, see the guy in red)

Me with a Guinness inside Temple Bar courtyard

River Liffey in Dublin City Centre

That concludes my trip report for our 7 day trip (quick) trip through Ireland.  As I am sure you can tell if you have been following along we had absolutely fantastic, and unusual per the locals of Ireland, weather during our trip.  Seven straight days of cloudless sunny skies with high’s in the upper 60’s (F).  Look for a post tomorrow with some remaining pictures that didn’t make the initial cut for my trip report!  Cheer