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Latest posts from Hotel Blog


Jamaica, One love one heart

- His father was a white brother from Liverpool, his mother was a black sister from Jamaica, there is a saying that goes: “He was like coffee-and-milk”. Surrounded by swaying palm trees and reggae music the guide tells us with enthusiasm about the origin of the legendary Bob Marley. Our location is Nine Mile in Jamaica, Bob Marley’s home village. Yet another travel dream coming true!


Bob Marleys Mount Zion in Nine Mile.

Jamaica is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. Sugar-white beaches intermingle with tropical forest and mountain ranges. The island’s highest point is Blue Mountain Peak, a paradise for hiking excursions. Moreover it is the home of the famous Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee brand.
The island is divided into 14 parishes, and the capital Kingston is located in its namesake parish. The official language is English, however the primary spoken language is Patwa, a creole language. Jamaica achieved its independence in 1962 but is still having Queen Elizabeth II serving as its monarch. The first inhabitants were the Taino Indians but they became nearly extinct when the Europeans arrived in the island in the company of African slaves. The Indians had no resistance to the diseases that the Europeans brought with them, smallpox for one.

In the sugar plantations they used to have great problems with rats and snakes so they introduced a predator from India, the Mongoose. The mongooses had no natural enemies in the island so they quickly increased in number while snakes at the same time became scarce. The snakes still remaining in Jamaica include no poisonous species. The country’s national animal is a small hummingbird, the red-billed streamertail.

Food and drink. In Jamaica people drink rum, Appleton is the best-known brand. The rum is included in many tasty drinks and if you get tired of umbrellas in your glasses you might test the local beer brand Red Stripe instead. The morning after you have been testing all drinks in the bar all newly pressed juices at breakfast are deliciously yummy! The cuisine comprises influences from all corners of the world. Jerk is a popular spice mix applied to shellfish, fish and meat. This seasoning mixture is a fine gift to take home to your friends who have taken care of watering your plants during your vacation. The national dish is Ackee and saltfish. Ackee is a fruit which resembles scrambled eggs when served.


Brunch in the Caribbean sea.

Jamaica’s most important source of income is tourism. The largest tourist resorts are Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. From July till November hurricanes are likely to hit the island. The climate is tropical, in other words hot and humid. The currency is Jamaican dollars which can be spent by tourists on colourful clothes, wood carvings, spices, rum, coffee and exciting excursions.

Our accommodation was in Runaway Bay and we had time to join some interesting excursions.


Runaway Bay.


Runaway Bay.

The Martha Brae river runs near Falmouth and there we coasted along on handmade bamboo rafts. We are not talking about white water rafting, you effortlessly glide down the river passing a jungle-like landscape. After all reggae music at the pool bar it’s relaxing to have some moments of peace just enjoying the scenery. Of course you can help “running” the raft if you feel like doing so.


Bamboo rafting at Martha Brae.


You can of course try to pilot the bamboo raft if you want to.

In 1970 Ross Kananga, Jim Gore and Stafford Lue launched the “Jamaica Swamp Safari”. There they presented various animals, for instance crocodiles, alligators, snakes, leopards and lions. At the entrance they put a sign reading “Trespassers Will Be Eaten”. When the James Bond film “Live and Let Die” was being made the film team were looking for suitable awesome locations for shooting scenes. They noticed the sign and checked out the park. It all ended with Kananga himself performing the stunt in the famous scene with James Bond jumping on some crocodiles to escape from a small island, surrounded by the reptiles. It took five takes to complete the scene and Ross Kananga was injured several times when performing. We visited the farm and watched the various takes of the scene on a TV. Beautiful jumping by Ross! We were allowed to hold a small crocodile and could walk among all the other animals of the park. Birds fed out of our hands and mongooses hissed and spat at us as we peeped into their cage.


Jamaica Swamp Safari.


Vistors can hold a reptil.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Jamaica is Dunn’s River Falls. The waterfall is 600 feet long and 180 feet high. It is terraced into small waterfalls with small lagoons interspersed among them. Often people buy a pair of swim shoes to use when climbing the falls. You start down at the white sandy beach where location footage for the first James Bond film “Dr. No” was shot. Then you climb up the falls accompanied by a guide. The falls are roofed over by lush vegetation protecting climbers from the strong sun and at the same time offering magical visual impressions. The guides are good at helping you by showing where to walk and they also assist by taking photographs of the visitors. Naturally they expect to be tipped by the group when everyone has finally reached the top of the waterfall. Dunn’s River Falls is a place you must visit if you spend your vacation in the north of Jamaica.


Dunn´s river falls.


Me, Johan and Jakob climbing up the falls.

In 1945 Robert Nesta Marley was born in the small village of Nine Mile. His parents Cedella and Norval separated before long and Robert grew up with his mother. They tried their luck in Kingston but soon found themselves in the slum of Trenchtown. Robert made friends with Neville Livingstone and in the sixties they performed together in “The Wailing Wailers” band, calling themselves Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer.
In 1966, Bob married Rita Anderson and they had several children. Later Bob Marley was a legendary reggae musician. Down to the very last he made very much acclaimed performances. He was stricken with cancer and died in Miami in 1981. If you visit Bob Marley’s House in Nine Mile the first person to meet you is a dealer offering marijuana to the tourists in the parking lot. After having kindly but firmly declined you enter the souvenir shop and after that you’ll find yourself in a restaurant/bar/exhibition. If you want to see Bob’s Mausoleum and Birthplace you must join a guided tour. The guide tells you about Bob’s life and shows you round at Mount Zion where the home of his childhood and the tombs are located. It’s a devout experience to visit the two houses where Bob, his brother and mother are entombed.


The childhood home of Bob Marley.


Bob Marley´s Mausoleum.

Jamaica is a Caribbean pearl and I would gladly return to the white beaches, the beautiful palm trees and the captivating music.


White fine sandy beaches and palm trees, Jamaica is a paradise.

Lengan

Popular hotels to book in Jamaica:

Hedonism II
Adults only in Negril.

Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort
In the heart of Ocho Rios, direct at the white-sand beach and close to local shopping and dining.

RIU Ocho Rios
5-star all inclusive beach hotel in Ocho Rios.

Rooms on the beach Negril
This 57-room hotel faces the Caribbean right on Negril’s seven-mile beach, famed for its powdery white sand and spectacular sunsets.

Sandals Montego Bay
Located on the largest private beach in Jamaica.

Club Ambiance
Adults only beach resort in Runaway Bay, with All Inclusive-program.




Vancouver / Whistler

-Come here! I’m standing next to Lindsey Vonn’s mother! A minute or so after I had called Rickard our dream came true ….

In 2010 me and my buddy Rickard made a marvellous journey to Vancouver for the Olympic Games. We spent two amazing weeks in Vancouver and Whistler with experiences that will for ever remain in our minds and we tied bonds of friendship leading to subsequent golden lined reunions ….

Vancouver is located in South-western Canada in the province of British Columbia. It is a coastal seaport city with snow-covered mountains forming a beautiful backdrop. The city has earned the nickname of “Hollywood North” due to the fact that the third largest film industry of North America after Los Angeles and New York is found there. The city’s largest industries are forestry and tourism. The area surrounding Vancouver attracts many people in search of outdoor activities. Within 30 minutes by car there are three ski resorts. There are many mountain bike trails, you can try white water kayaking or why not joining a whale safari at sea?

I loved strolling about in Vancouver and sometimes it almost felt like being in New York when walking among the high-rise mirror glass houses in Downtown. The only difference was seeing the mountains as a background.


Vancouver.

When watching ice-hockey in Vancouver we met a group of Swedish girls who had gone to live in the city, and thanks to Facebook I keep in touch with some of them even today. To give my readers some useful hints on Vancouver I asked Cissi Young who has lived in the city since 2003 if she had any favourites.

“There are so many things I like about Vancouver! It is incredibly beautiful, the combination of skyscrapers, high mountains, beaches and sea is hard to beat for a big city. The access to outdoor activities is marvellous, finding downhill skiing in the winter and fabulous hiking in the summer some 30 minutes away from the city center is wonderful!
Moreover I enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of the city, and people are so friendly. All that combined with very good shopping and many excellent restaurants and bars/pubs, and in addition always feeling safe, that has made me having a wonderful time here.

As for restaurants there are definitely all imaginable types of style, atmosphere and food. It’s hard to make a choice but some of my favourites are:
For veggie I prefer Acorn
For Indian Viji’s is marvellous
For Sushi I prefer Miku
For Mexican I prefer Tacofino
For Latin flavour I prefer Cuchillo
For pizza and beer combined with an activity One Under is unbeatable
For Chinese I prefer Bao Bei

Excursions?
If you come from far away I think you must seize the opportunity of visiting Whistler, a Mecca for outdoor activities, located some 1½ hour away from Vancouver. It’s equally lovely up there regardless of season. Don’t miss the chance of visiting the Scandinave Spa when you are there for a silent and remarkably relaxing experience. Deep Cove is another fine area outside the city by the sea, where you can go hiking, rent a kayak, eat wonderfully tasting food and go shopping Honey Doughnuts & Goodies.”

What good hints! Thank you Cissi!! Later in the blog there are hints for Whistler.

Here is an account of some of our experiences during the Olympic Winter Games in 2010. So many memories from the trip reappear when I think back. Events we experienced live in the arenas as well as moments in front of the big screen TV in Robson Square or watching TV in our sports bar in the neighbourhood. The exaltation when Canada won its first gold medal in the games. The Figure Skating couple who had been skating together since they were seven years old and now won an Olympic gold medal in their home ground to the excitement of the commentators: -CAN YOU BELIEVE IT !! The girl who managed to win a Figure Skating bronze medal just a few days after her mother’s death.

Our journey started with Rickard passing the wrong gate in Copenhagen when going to Vancouver. Flight missed and he had to buy a new ticket …. I missed a flight during a stopover in Calgary, so the score was a draw: Lengan 1 – Rickard 1 ..

During the first week we stayed at a hostel in Vancouver, centrally located and with fun staff. We were close to Robson Square which was every day crammed with fans watching big screen TV or mingling among the sponsor tents. There we were in the spring sun watching Sweden win its first Cross-country skiing gold medal. The festivity during Olympic Games is like a drug, you just want more and more …


Festivity during the Olympics.

In Vancouver there were many places to party with other fans, German House, Holland Heineken House and Irish House. We celebrated the first gold medal in the Irish House and wondered why the Irish had a venue during the Winter Games but it turned out that they actually had six participating athletes…

One day I went on some sightseeing, and one of the places I visited was Vancouver Lookout. There you start with an elevator ride on the outside of the tower landing on top for a magnificent 360-degree view of the city. The sea and the mountains at sunset, a magic experience and an attraction that I greatly recommend.


View from Vancouver lookout.

The cauldron with the Olympic Flame was placed at Vancouver’s Waterfront and with the mountains in the background there were many opportunities of getting fine photos.


The Olympic Flame burning in Vancouver.

In Vancouver we watched ice-hockey and curling. That was the first time I watched curling live and the atmosphere in the stands was tremendous. Curling is a popular sport in Canada so the crowd was in high spirits, and so were we, celebrating new medals in the ski tracks with beer and wine :)
We had brought medals of our own which we used those days that Sweden had managed to reach the podium. In the curling arena we were applauded as we were wearing two medals each since the Swedes had been very successful in Cross-country skiing that day.


The Swedish gold winning curling team.


Having fun with our bought gold medals at the curling event.

The Cross-country skiing competitions were held up in the mountains around Whistler so you had to go by bus from Vancouver. Departure was early those days we wanted to go up there, but the bus ride from Vancouver to the competition area up in the mountains kept us awake. Even though we were tired we didn’t want to miss one second of the picture-postcard views outside the bus. On arrival we had to walk 1200 metres uphill, not an easy feat although we were still in the beginning of our trip. We shrunk back at the thought of how exhausting the uphill walk would be in a later part of the trip, we would probably not be more fit, we argued.

Having reached the Ski Arena we were met by a remarkably beautiful view of snow-clad mountains. We were lucky with the weather and during the Biathlon and Cross-country competitions in blazing sun we just wore T-shirts down to the waist. We got a reputation of bringing bad luck, for Sweden never won any gold medals in the competitions where we were present … But, eventually …
One day when the snow was coming down heavily it was time for the men’s Cross-country relay. Me and Rickard were in the stand next to the finishing line and we began painting a glorious vision of this being the day, now was the time!


Me and Rickard at the Cross-country relay.

The competition started and Sweden was one of the top teams. In a relay race four skiers compete for each country, and as Sweden’s last skier began to draw away from the rest of the teams everybody was in high spirits in the stands. Me and Rickard went into ecstasies and kept jumping around from nervous excitement. The area speaker yelled: – The Swedes are going crazy.
Just as the Swedish skier entered the stadium the sun broke through and when he passed us at the finishing line joy knew no bounds. At last we had watched a gold race live in these Olympic Games. People at home were laughing at us as we were shown on TV, and when it was time for the Prize Ceremony the Swedish Royal Couple waved their hands at us, they were in the same stand as us. We experienced several fine days in the ski arena, but the gold medal naturally beat everything else!


Swedish relay victory.

Down in Vancouver we watched a couple of ice-hockey games, among others Sweden – Slovakia in the ladies’ tournament. In the men’s tournament I watched during the first week USA – Norway and Sweden – Belarus. When Canada played their first game all Vancouver halted, not one person to be seen in the streets. Then I took the opportunity of visiting the enormous Official Olympic Superstore. A store with every imaginable Olympic souvenir. At any other time of the day there was a 200-metre queue to the entrance, but now that Canada was playing ice-hockey you just could walk right in…

The first week had come to an end, and now it was time to move up the ski resort of Whistler. There we checked in at the Thompson family who run the Bear Trail Inn guesthouse. We were welcomed by Pamela and Rod and their children Marielle, Broderick and Tess. We got a room inside their house and every morning home-made breakfast was served, what a luxury! We had a very good time and became good friends with the family.

The second week went on with Cross-country ski races and one day as we were heading for the bus in Whistler a woman shouted “Heja Sverige! “ (Come on Sweden!). She was the wife of the skier Tobias Angerer. We made good friends and later encountered each other several times that week. A few years later I made an interview with her in Swedish TV during the World Ski Championships in Norway ….. Talking about Norway, in the bus back to Whistler I was speaking all the way with an Norwegian man. He was very agreeable and we chatted about Olympic Games memories. As we got out of the bus I realized it was the legendary skier Vegard Ulvang I had been sitting next to the whole ride…
Me and Rickard thought that the Swedish team needed some challenge so we rented Cross-country ski sets one day in Lost Lake. That was the first time Rickard stood on a pair of Cross-country skis, but a couple of years later he managed to complete the Vasaloppet, a 90-kilometre race!! Well done! That’s something one couldn’t have imagined watching him in the ski tracks at Lost Lake, hahaha


Lost Lake, Whistler.

The long bus rides between Vancouver and Whistler had not come to an end although we had changed accommodations. One day we went by bus down to Vancouver to watch Sweden play a quarter-final ice-hockey game against Slovakia. Our seats were in the fourth row and several SMS messages from home indicated we had frequent TV appearance. However, we didn’t show any happy faces. Slovakia was so much better than Sweden. It felt unreal to be losing by 4-2 in the last period and finally it was a 4-3 loss. Downheartedly we also realized that the last bus back to Whistler had already gone. We made a few attempts at hitch-hiking but fund no car going north. Instead we found ourselves in a rainy Lonsdale where a nice night watchman took us to a café open all night. We had to wait there for almost five hours before the first bus to the ski arena would leave. At last the bus arrived and we went straight from Lonsdale to the ski arena …. I tried to buy a beer, but got the answer: -No beer before 9 AM! ….. That was a long tiresome day …..

The next day we were much exhausted as we took the ski lift up to the Slalom competitions in a rainy Creekside. During the whole Olympic Games we had had one goal, to take pictures of Lindsey Vonn, the US Downhill skier. Today was our chance since she was to compete in Slalom. After the first run we were chilled to the bone and we mingled around in different directions, me and Rickard. I observed a passage where a group of people were standing and after a while I figured out that the skiers passed there. I stood at the fence watching for a while and then I noticed that several American coaches came up to the woman next to me and talked with her. Suddenly I realized that Lindsey Vonn’s mother was actually standing next to me and we started talking. She was a really nice woman and I exchanged a Swedish pin for a cowbell with Lindsey’s name on. A coach passed saying Lindsey was on her way, so I called Rickard:
-Come here! I’m standing next to Lindsey Vonn’s mother!
Rickard arrived just seconds before our dream came true. Lindsey came up to her mother and talked with her and I could naturally not refrain from handing my ticket to her and have it autographed. There was chaos all around us, but me and Rickard were standing there holding the centre of the stage and having a wonderful time. Before Lindsey went away I wished her good luck, our mission was completed :)

Till slut träffade vi Lindsey Vonn
Finally we met Lindsey Vonn.


You need to have a cowbell at the Olympics.

The days in Whistler were coming to an end and it was time to go back to Vancouver to spend a few days there before going back home. It was a sad moment saying goodbye to our hosts, the Thompson family, but together we had made up a plan. Marielle was very good at Skicross so we agreed to meet again in four years to cheer for her in the Olympic Games in Sochi …. Four years later I was standing in the company of her parents Rod and Pamela shedding tears of joy in Sochi when Marielle won the gold medal!!!! That story is found in another blog post in Zleeping Hotels’ blog. Search Sochi.

Me and Rickard went down to Vancouver. He returned home while I still had a few days to spend in the city.

For as long as a year I had been trying to get a ticket for the Olympic Ice-hockey final but with no success, and now it was impossible. Canada and USA were to meet and I read that this was the most sought-after ticket in Canadian sports history … On the last day of the Olympic Games I went out early to feel the atmosphere downtown. Everywhere there were already long queues to all bars to get in and watch the final on TV. I walked towards the Ice-hockey arena to feel the atmosphere on site, soon all eyes of the world would focus on that arena. I observed a volunteer selling a ticket for $2600 …. Unreal prices in the black market! Then I caught sight of a Russian supporter pointing with three fingers at a black-marketeer. I assumed he meant three thousand but I thought he was saying three hundred … Could it be possible? I went up to him and checked. He proved to be a disappointed supporter having the best tickets, Category A, worth $775, but he just wanted $300 apiece! Unreal! I argued that the seller just wanted to earn money, I was a real supporter longing to watch the game, I wanted ONE of the tickets. – OK, said the Russian man and I chanced it, the ticket just couldn’t be genuine to that price. It just couldn’t be true! Ten minutes later I called my father who was celebrating his birthday at home. – Happy Birthday! I’m standing inside the hockey arena!!
Actually a tear was running down my cheek, I had got hold of the most sought-after ticket in Canada at less than half the price! Those sitting in the row behind me had paid $2500 per ticket …


I love the ambiance at ice-hockey games.

I was sitting there in the seventh row, the only one wearing a yellow Swedish team jersey among all Canadians dressed in red. There was an atmosphere of magic, I have never experienced anything like it in an arena. The Black Eyed Peas’ song “I Got a Feeling” was played and everybody in the audience joined in singing. I had SMS messages from friends at home: “What the hell are you doing in the final?” I was easily observed on TV with my yellow jersey. It was an exciting game and the arena was reaching boiling point as Canada scored 1-0 and then 2-0. Most people probably thought it was already settled but USA came back and with 25 seconds remaining of the game USA equalized 2-2 …. Sudden Death was to follow – the last goal wins. Sports history could not possibly be more exciting, and there I was in the middle of it all, just drinking it in. By far the most awesome moments I have experienced in sports. Before Sudden Death Europe’s “The Final Countdown” was played. The nervous excitement was hovering like a lid above the ice, people in the neighbouring seats were biting their finger-nails and millions of TV viewers prepared themselves to watch who would win the last gold medals of the Olympics.
The puck was dropped in a face-off and now it was for real. Who would make a mistake? Or would a single feat settle the final? Canada’s player Crosby had the last word. The puck was shot into USA’s net and a deafening celebration gave all Vancouver a shake.

I had experienced something exceptional and Canada was celebrating its fourteenth gold medal, what an Olympic success for the host nation. A long time after the final whistle and the prize ceremony I was still sitting in the arena hardly believing that what I had experienced was true. With the successful settlement of the ice-hockey ticket in mind perhaps I could also be lucky enough to get a ticket for the closing ceremony…. Very well, I found a volunteer who sold his ticket to me, so a couple of hours later I could watch the Olympic Flame being extinguished while Neil Young was performing. After the closing ceremony I entered the streets of Vancouver where the hockey gold medal was celebrated. The streets were filled with happy fans drinking and singing. What a happy ending of my journey!


The ice-hockey Olympic finals.

To conclude my story I would like to give my good friend Pamela Thompson the opportunity of marketing Whistler to my readers:
“Whistler is a winter wonderland with excellent skiing and riding in the alpine, as well as great cross-country skiing in the valley near the village and in the Callaghan Valley Olympic Park which is just a 10 minute drive out of Whistler. If you don’t come in winter you can mountain bike in the bike park in summer, hike on many of the alpine trails, take a dip in one of the many valley lakes after hiking and biking and then walk, roller-blade, or run through the valley trail. Whistler also has a great array of fantastic restaurants to suit Canadian or European palates or enjoy Japanese Sushi, Mongolian stir-fries, Australian savoury pies, or U.S. casual burgers and pizza. The shopping is fantastic with an array of Art Galleries, clothing shops, and exclusive jewellers. Enjoy the many events such a free music concerts in the Olympic Plaza in the summer, Ironman sport event, Gran Fondo bike race, Tough Mudder team relay, Mudderella ladies team relay, 3 great golf courses, or for non-sporting people the Wine Festival and Film Festival shouldn’t be missed. Come and enjoy country ambience in the day and visit the hip night clubs at night. All ages both young, and young at heart enjoy Whistler Village and the valley offerings.”

Thank you Pamela and Cissi for the hints!
(Do you want to watch the video from this trip? Search lengan11 and Vancouver on Youtube)

You’ll hear from me,
Lengan

Popular hotels to book in Vancouver and Whistler:

Hyatt Regency Vancouver

Pinnacle Vancouver Harbourfront

Pan Pacific Vancouver

Best Western Uptown Vancouver Hotel

Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Aava Whistler Hotel




Rome – The Eternal City

“All roads lead to Rome” so it’s a bit strange that I have arrived in the “Eternal City” on just three occasions, I must be a poor navigator ….

Few other cities can offer tourists access to just as many historical sights at a comfortable distance.Rome is the capital of Italy, located in the Lazio region along the west coast of Italy. The city has two international airports, Fiumicino and Ciampino. Rome is easily accessible by metro and tram. Most of the sights are to be found within walking distance so in the span of a weekend you won’t have any problem finding time to visit the most famous sites.

When my father celebrated his 60th birthday I gave him a trip to Rome as a present. We had planned to explore the city and attend a match in the Italian Football League, Serie A. Unfortunately there had been large-scale riots during the AS Roma team’s games just before our journey, so the game we had intended to watch was moved to another city. But after all it was a fun weekend with many experiences when exploring the sights of the city.

We arrived by bus to the Roma Termini station and there we took part in the classic tourist game of being scammed by a taxi driver… We made a long detour to get to the Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore and of course had to pay a much too high fare. But nevertheless we had reached our destination and finally my father had the opportunity to experience Rome.

We joined a guided bus tour going to various sights and made stops where we were toured by a competent guide telling us all about the sites. For instance we visited the grand Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II located at the Piazza Venezia. The monument was inaugurated in 1911 and was the result of a competition for the design of a National Monument in the capital.


The grand Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II.

The bus tour continued past several triumphal arches, Circus Maximus and eventually stopped at the highlight of the tour, the Colosseum. This magnificent amphitheatre was constructed in 70-80 AD and had a capacity of up to 87.000 spectators. Executions, animals fighting, gladiator games and drama were part of the “entertainment” people could experience in the Colosseum. When there was a shortage of iron in the city girders and clamps were removed from the Colosseum to be melted and used as weapons. This resulted in the collapse of large segments in earthquakes.


Daniel and me by the Colosseum.

The next stop of the guided tour was the Roman Forum, an exciting square with temples, columns and ruins. In the old times the buildings were decorated with marble and they must have been a grand sight for the visitors of that time. After that we visited the Basilica of St. Paul, lavishly ornamented with mosaics. The Pantheon with its beautiful dome was visited, ice-cream was enjoyed in the Piazza Navona and a football jersey was acquired in the AS Roma Store in the Piazza Colonna. At the side of the beautiful Trevi Fountain people were throwing coins into the water wishing a return visit to the city. The fountain is also famous from Fellini’s film La Dolce Vita with Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni wading in the water. In the Spanish Steps (Scalinata della Santissima Trinità dei Monti) young people sat enjoying the spring evening while I was running along searching for the best camera angles.


The Pantheon.

Naturally we also visited the Vatican City, and in St. Peter’s Square we stood in the company of thousands of other visitors listening to Pope John Paul II making a speech. St. Peter’s Basilica is an enormous and immensely impressive building with hundreds of colonnades and sculptures. A good piece of advice is getting tickets in advance to skip the long queues to enter the church.


The Vatican.


Pope John Paul II.

Travelling by metro we experienced the work of the pickpockets. I noticed a man groping for my dad’s wallet which he had in the inside pocket of his jacket so I told him to watch out. As we were getting out two other men stood in the doorway so my dad had to force his way past them. Having reached the platform my dad felt in his jacket and obviously the wallet was gone. He gazed into the the carriage and there was the pickpocket with the wallet in his hands! My dad decidedly walked straight ahead to the man and snatched back his wallet and then he stepped back onto the platform and the doors of the carriage closed. Even though we had been cautious they had managed to trick us and we felt furious and offended. Luckily everything turned out well but it was not OK being deceived.

The best dinner that weekend we had at the Gioia Mia, at 34, Via degli Avigonesi.

My second visit to Rome contained music, sports and culture. I had never watched Bruce Springsteen perform outside Sweden and I knew he had dedicated fans in Italy so me and my buddy Daniel booked a 25-hour trip to Rome. I had got to know a number of Italian fans during the concerts in Stockholm, and they helped me with tickets for the concert in Rome. Me and Daniel checked in at the Dei Mille Hotel, situated at 7 Via dei Mille, approximately 150 metres from the Roma Termini Station. We went by metro to the Colosseum to inhale some culture and get some compulsory pictures and then we went by taxi to the Stadio Olimpico where the concert was to take place. In the area next to the stadium there were several swim arenas and the World Aquatics Championships were going on.

During the Olympics I Beijing I got to know Alicia who is the goalkeeper of the Australian Water Polo team. Now we were lucky enough to know that Australia was to meet Canada that afternoon so in a couple of hours I could combine watching Alicia playing in the World Championships with Springsteen performing in the Stadio Olimpico!

It was not easy finding our way among all the arenas but finally we were in the right place and could join in the cheering from the stands as the announcer presented the teams and Alicia’s name was read. It was incredibly hot and we were dripping with perspiration. We had bought white straw hats to protect ourselves and looked like first-rate tourists! Our first live water polo game ended 6-6 and afterwards Alicia came up to us in the stands for a couple of minutes of chatting, a happy reunion.


Waterpolo Championships.

With a great appetite for food we sat down outside the Stadio Olimpico and ordered something to eat. I was looking forward to the juicy hamburger I had ordered, but something went wrong and I got sausage and bread instead …. Daniel laughed heartily while enjoying his big pizza … My Italian friend Barbara appeared with our tickets and she helped us getting into the mosh pit right in front of the stage, a good friend!
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band entered the stage and opened with the classic “Badlands”, the community singing rang out and the Italian fans were just as good as we had anticipated.Springsteen’s mom and aunt were there and the cheering knew no end as the ladies entered the stage to dance with Bruce at 1:20 AM! After a show of nearly three hours we happily left the arena. We had been listening to many favourite songs and we were very happy with the concert. What a day!


Bruce Springsteen at the Stadio Olimpico.

I have made two visits to the fine Stadio Olimpico arena. In 2009 I was lucky enough to win a trip to the Champions League Final in Rome between Barcelona and Manchester United. We were a party of 30 included in the journey and there I got to know a number of friends whom I keep in touch with even today.

At 2:00 AM I returned home from a wild weekend in Liverpool and at 6:00 AM I rose from bed and got to the Stockholm-Arlanda airport. There I was met by the other travellers but also by a TV team recording a feature of the airport. They had heard of my trip and wanted to make an interview before departure. I had not wholly recovered from the Liverpool adventure so this was a shaky start of the day …

A couple of hours later we checked in at a hotel in Rome and the visit started with dinner, where I was lucky enough to be seated at the same table as a Swedish journalist and also Henrik Strömblad who was to be the commentator in Swedish television. Discussing sports events with those neighbours at table was interesting.

I had time for some short sightseeing and of course the first stop was another visit to the Colosseum. There you could have your picture taken together with the Champions League Trophy and a great number of fans were there.


The Champions League Trophy at Colosseum.

At the Trevi Fountain there was a huge crowd of Barcelona fans and their singing reverberated in the alleys.


Barcelona fans at Fontana di Trevi.

When it was time for the game to start we went by tram to the arena and it was a wonder no-one fainted inside the carriage, it was unbelievably hot and perspiration was dripping down our backs. We had a firm grasp of our longed-for tickets and I had goose pimples along my arms as I took my seat in one corner of the arena. Spirits were high and the fans of the two teams were singing their chants long before kick-off. Sitting beside me were two Barcelona fans who had come all the way from Mexico to watch the game. A few hours later they were crying with happiness … Barcelona totally outclassed Manchester United and easily won by 2-0. I was happy, having experienced my first Champions League Final and after the match I could watch the Manchester players in low spirits walking into their hotel, for our hotel was just next to it.


Champions League Final 2009.

Rome is certainly a city worth seeing and I recommend a visit – if you haven’t already been there.
Bring walk-friendly shoes and have your camera ready :)

You’ll hear from me,
Lengan

Popular hotels to book in Rome:

Garda
Small hotel in a contemporary urban style with a perfect location on a quiet side street off Via Veneto – known from the movie La Dolce Vita with Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni.

Nazionale
Popular and centrally located hotel with e.g. Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps and shopping around the corner.

Porta Maggiore
Located in Rome’s historic centre, just opposite of Porta Maggiore Square.

Cecil Hotel
Family run hotel with a great tradition (Ibsen wrote Brand here) and a good location between Via Veneto, Piazza di Spagna and Fontana di Trevi.

Executive
In the centre of Rome, close to Via Veneto.

Anglo Americano
Located in an 17th century building a few meters from Piazza Barberini and a few minutes walk from the Trevi Fountain in central Rome.

Daisy Apartments
Family run Daisy is something as unique as apartments in the most centric parts of Rome.




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