It's very early on Sunday morning, and we're home now. :-( We got in about 10:00 pm last night, and Carter woke up at 3:00 am. That's not bad considering the 7 hour time change, but still, I've been up half the night. Carter has been having fun rediscovering all of his toys, though, and was very happy to see the kitties.
Here is the last batch of pictures from our week in Rome. On Wednesday afternoon, we went to Piazza Navona and had some amazing gelato at Tre Scalini, some of the best I think I've ever had.
That night, Michelle watched Carter so Doug and I could go have dinner together. (More on that in a bit.) The next morning, we got up early to go to St. Peter's before the crowds. After being in so many churches on this trip, Carter was surprisingly unimpressed. The first cathedrals in Spain earned "wows", but St. peter's was possibly just too big for him to really get a look at.
That afternoon, Michelle watched Carter while Doug and I went to the Vatican Museums. (She went on her own while Carter was napping in the late morning.) We've been a ton of times, but we mostly wanted to go and spend some time in the Sistene Chapel. It's at the end of the Vatican Museum, and by the time we get there we're usually exhausted and don't stay long. But this time, we marched all the way through the museum, parked ourselves on a bench inside the chapel, and stared up at Michelangelo's ceiling for 2 hours and 15 minutes, until they closed it and kicked us out. We were literally the last people to leave before they closed the doors. It was cool to just sit there and soak it all in, and in the last half hour, it completely emptied out. There were less than 30 people there, and it was empty and quiet. It was really a beautiful experience!
That night we all went out to eat at a restaurant off of Via Giulia, and it was fantastic, as always. The restaurant is run by a woman and her son, and she doted on Carter like a grandma, even bringing him toys to play with. It was so sweet!
On Friday morning, we headed to Campo dei Fiori's market to wander around and look for some gifts. The market is really a lot of fun, and Carter seemed to enjoy looking at all the people.
We sat down in a cafe afterwards for coffee, and Carter enjoyed sitting in a chair and waving at the people going by.
Here he is watching some pigeons. He says "bird" here, but I don't think you can hear it well enough on the video.
Michelle went off to see the Colosseum, and Doug and I took Carter to the gardens of Villa Borghese for a walk under the trees.
Carter fell asleep on the bus ride back, and we decided to just ride it around for a while, which was surprisingly fun. We had lunch in a little sidewalk cafe near the hotel, and the food turned out to be fantastic.
We hung out on our veranda and drank wine while Carter played, and tried to simply enjoy the last afternoon of our vacation.
Michelle watched Carter while we went out for one more night in Rome. We went back to our favorite square in Trastevere, sat in our favorite cafe, drank Italian beer, and just soaked it all up. We watched people, talked about traveling, and had a lovely time.
Here is a little video we took in an attempt to capture the ambience.
After that, we found dinner, and walked slowly back to the hotel. There are a few places in the world that I have strong emotional attachments to, and Rome is one of them. It's hard to express in words why I love that place so much, but leaving it was so, so hard.
But on Saturday morning, it was time to go. After breakfast, we headed to the airport. We'd been dreading this travel day, with its 11-hour flight from Rome to Chicago and then a 3-hour flight to Austin. Carter's never been on a flight longer than 4 hours, so we really weren't sure what to expect. Our usual airplane strategy is to maximize his napping during the flight, but on this day, he was essentially spending an entire day confined to an airplane seat. We had no idea how that would go! And of course, he fell asleep about 2 hours before the flight took off, in the carrier.
So some of the naptime we were hoping for on the plane didn't happen. But in the end, it went really well. We spent 12 hours on the plane from Rome to Chicago, and he slept for a total of 4 of those hours. But he had his own seat (and we were in business class), and after the first hour of wiggling around, he seemed to accept that he was stuck in that seat and tried to make the best of it. We didn't have to work too hard to entertain him, and he never really got fussy at all. Here he is having lunch on the plane.
He also did really well on the flight to Austin despite the 7 hour time change. I'm really impressed by what a good traveler he is!
And so we're now home. We had such a good time, and it was really hard to leave! I always hate for vacations to end, but this one was particularly special, probably because it was our first big family vacation with Carter. It went so, so well, and it made me excited to travel more with Carter. He really grew and changed a lot on this trip, and I'll make a post about all of that later.
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, especially to all the other mom-bloggers who follow this! I hope you have a great day.