Day Two: Rome - everything you hear is true (almost)
Believing the advice given in guide books, I went in the morning (9am) to the Colosseum hoping to "avoid the inevitable queues". Let me put something straight Lonely Planet and Rough Guides: this is NOT the way to do it! At 9am the queues are already wrapping themselves around the Colosseum and you are likely to spend hours waiting. My advice to anyone who wants to visit the Colosseum is to do as I did. 1) look at disgust at the huge queues and curse the guide book that told you to be there. 2) head to the Roman Forum main entrance (straight along from the Colosseum) 3) by a combined pass for the Forum, Palladium, and Colosseum 4) spend the entirety of the morning wandering around and enjoying the Forum - it really is big enough to while away many hours. every time I thought I'd seen everything I'd find a whole new section 5) go and get some lunch and explore the less typical tourist side of Rome for a bit. Pizza ai Funghi served me well and I bumped in to a couple of Americans studying Italian at a Language school nearby. 6) wander back to the Coloseum, it is now about 3pm and the queues are now internal only. 7) use your combined pass by skip all the queues as you are now a ticketed guest. The majority of the queue is for the ticket booth 8) enjoy wandering around the Colosseum. Make sure to take the steep stairs up to the upper floors, they're worth the hike.
I think what struck me most about the Forum and Colosseum is that these structures are well over 1000 years old, some nearly 2000 years old and yet the are still supporting hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, I simply cannot imagine Wembley Stadium or The O2 lasting anything like that long, nor looking as imposing when finally dug up, perhaps we have a chance in structures such as Marble Arch and St Pauls?
Following my time in the Colosseum I decided to track down Caesar's chariot-racing arena and then walk along the Tiber, which is now in my mind one of the prettiest city Rivers in the world. After the long hot walk I was desperate for water and eventually found one of Rome's fantastic drinking fountains hidden down a series of alleyways. Goodness knows how I found it, it was only a blind whim that led me to follow a path through a dilapidated archway - perhaps, 'when in Rome' and so on, so I shall thank the gods for pointing the way. No sacrifices though, I'm a vegetarian.