Rome in April

I have done some extensive traveling in Europe, but most of the time I have spent out there have been during the Summer months when the crazy crowds from all over the world pack the streets and tourist sights. Once, I was able to make out during Christmas time, but the markets during this time of the year also attract a large crowd. One of the nice advantages to living so close to all of the locations is that I do not need to save up large chunks of money and plan a long flight during my off time of the year to get out here, and the fact that I am traveling during the off-season changed the dynamic of these locations significantly.

The spots that would be packed with people now only have a few that can enjoy it the way it was supposed to be enjoyed, and I did not have to fight through all of the crowds at each of the tourist sights to catch a glimpse of what brought people there in the first place. The weather is also more enjoyable. For instance, I have heard people complain that Rome is hot and dusty, and during the summer months, it probably is. But in April, the cooler spring air makes the environment green and a lot more enjoyable.

It does not mean that Rome did not cater to the tourists that did make it out during this time of the year. The food was still spectacular; it is just not as hard to get into the restaurant that you want to get into, and enjoy the experience that they have to offer for you. There are plenty of food tasting and wine tasting opportunities that will have to be booked way in advance if you find yourself out here during the height of the tourist season.

The options for hotels open up as well. I know that I could have booked a fancier place than the one that I stayed at, but I am having to go back to the more modest accommodations. Now that the world is pulling itself out of the Covid pandemic and things are starting to open up again, the prices of hotels are going back to where they used to be. I can no longer find that five star hotel that is giving out insane deals just so they can remain open. It was fine though because I also went back to my old ways of traveling by spending less time in my hotel room, and more time exploring the city I was in. There are still some great places that are available at this time in great locations that are affordable and still comfortable. I stay in a converted monastery that still had the chapel and old art work still hanging on its walls.

Rome is a great city to explore at this time of the year as well. Every corner that I turned that was another sight to see, each of them boasting the might that this part of the world used to display. If I came back during the height of tourist season, these spots would still be there, but there would be some many people crowding into the sights that I would not be able to get the picture that gave off the lonely feeling that these ruins display, and would have to wait longer to get the pictures that have the minimal amount of people ruining the picture that I wanted to take.

Rome is a great city and definitely worth visiting. I know that many people do not have the opportunity to see it the way that I was able to see it over a long weekend in April, but if you are able to make this possible, I believe that this might be the best way to visit.

St. Regis Hotel – Amman, Jordan

It has been awhile since I have taken a night away from home. Usually, when I have a four day weekend, I take the opportunity to get out and experience the world, but last four day weekend I was stuck at home because I had just adopted a new dog, and it was not fair of me to leave her behind while I went out and had fun. This did not mean that I did not itch to get out, and my friends had been telling me about this wonderful restaurant at the top of the St. Regis Hotel on the fifth circle in Amman. I was excited to try it out, so on a weekend when I could find a dog sitter that Zoey would be comfortable with, I booked a room in the hotel and got a reservation at Zenith, the rooftop restaurant that was the talk of the break room.

It is a beautiful hotel nestled on the edge of downtown Amman. When we first arrived at our room, the attendant that was showing us around, opened up the blinds to our room, and said, “Welcome to the Concrete Jungle.” It is hard to argue with him when you look out over the city and see the brown building all over the place, but at the same, that is part of the charm of this city. It is also nice to have this bird’s eye view of Amman. Most of the buildings do not go over the five story limit, so when I get to see the city from the sixteenth floor, it really highlights the continuity of its design.

Besides the view, the room was already comfortable. I have spending a lot of nights on Asian style beds, and they like to sleep on firm beds. I have grown accustomed to this, and in fact, enjoy it, but the beds at the St. Regis were fluffy and soft. I sunk right into the bed and instantly fell asleep. I don’t think that my back could handle sleeping on something so soft all of the time, but for a night or two, it was heavenly.

But the real reason that we decided to stay at the St. Regis hotel for a night was the restaurant on the roof, Zenith. This is a fancy spot with the same incredible views that we were able to see from our hotel room. It serves American inspired cuisine with many dishes that come from other parts of the world, but have that twist from the States. We started off with some poke, and then moved on to ceviche and a hearty steak with Roquefort sauce on top of it. I wish I had taken some pictures of it, but I had starved myself during the day in anticipation of this meal, and when it finally arrived, it couldn’t help by digging in. When I remembered to take a picture of the food, it was more than half way gone. The point being, it was that good, and though pricey, it was definitely worth what we had paid for it.

What I did take pictures of was the drinks. These were just as fancy as the food, and Zenith boasts a cocktail menu with a variety of drinks, none of which disappointed. They also come in fun mugs or glasses which makes the experience even more memorable. Despite the drinks being good here, I would say that the bar on the ground level made the best cocktail of the evening with a cognac old fashion. It would be a good place to start before going upstairs for the bigger event at Zenith.

The best part of the evening was being able to leisurely make our way back to our room after a hearty dinner. There waiting for us was a big bathtub and a comfy bed. It was a nice way to spend a weekend night. I don’t know if I will head back to stay another night at the hotel, but considering the St. Regis is so close to my home in Amman, I will be back for a dinner at Zenith. It has easily made the mark as my favorite restaurant in Amman so far.