The Rome airport is large, as you would expect. Getting to baggage was a long walk, but routine, except there were two baggage areas far apart from each other, so you had to pay attention to the signs. I did. Bags in hand, I looked for the customs area to have my passport stamped. The signs led me to the exit. No customs. Darn, didn’t even get an Italian stamp on my passport. There, I found a shuttle service for 25 euros to get to my hotel. They gave me a discount to 15 euros for the return trip Thanksgiving Day. Had to wait for nearly an hour before the shuttle left – with me the only rider. It was a long ride into Rome, so the fare didn’t seem that bad.
It was dark, so I didn’t see much – and took no photos for this blog segment. Did pass by a section of aquaduct and some other interesting-looking structures. But I have no idea where they were, or are. When we got into more of the center of town, however, everything changed. The buildings were old and tall, there were historical-looking buildings everywhere. In fact, it looks like everyone’s living and working in historical buildings. My camera is going to be busy.
My hotel is right in the center of everything, or so it appears. I really have no idea where I am, and I’m just a little overwhelmed that I’m in this huge city by myself. Even with lifelines, it can be daunting. And it doesn’t help that the hotel is crap. Looks cool and everything – marble and statues everywhere, ancient front facade, but …
My room is literally 6-by-10. Think prison cell. Hard to turn around. My suitcase, standing on end, is in the way. No TV. No radio. Just a small bed as wide as my shoulders, a desk, a small closet and a tiny bathroom. The elevator barely fit me and my suitcase. Glad this is only for three nights.
There is Wi-Fi but I have to go downstairs to what they euphemistically call the lobby to access it. And even then I couldn’t call up my blog page to upload this posting. I’m writing this on my hard drive and hope to post it later.
I arrived at the hotel after 11 p.m. (There is a 6-hour time difference between Rome and the U.S. East Coast.) Went looking for something to snack on but it was too late for any stores to be open – if I had even found one. There were several bars and restaurants open. There was a fruit stand open on the corner so bought an apple and two Diet Cokes (for my bourbon) (7 euros or about $10). The apple went nicely with the wedge of Parmesan cheese I brought with me. Also brought some cookies with me, so now I’m sitting in this so-called lobby (picture later) trying to get on the Internet and typing this report.
This area of the city does look awesome. What a unique city. All the buildings are old. My friend Elisabeth has been here so she knows what I’m talking about.
Oh, BTW, the Jim Beam made it through its airplane baggage hold ordeal. Nothing broken. No camera soaked.
It’s raining in Rome
I’m only going to gripe a little more about the hotel and then move on. The rock walls seem to carry all sounds, so my night of sleep was anything but. In the morning, I had no idea what time it was but I could hear people stirring. The room was cold and the bed small but I got a few hours. Thought I woke up early enough to take advantage of the free breakfast but it’s probably just as well that I didn’t.
One more hotel rant. The shower, while there was hot water, was so small I couldn’t bend over. I could hardly reach what needed to be washed. There was equally little space outside the shower to dry. OK, that’s it. I had repositioned my mind to adjust to my new realities and make the best out of a irritating situation. One thing about having to go to Vietnam, nothing anymore seems anywhere near as bad. Besides, i was psyched. I was going exploring, my favorite pasttime.
Did I mention it was raining when I got up? Nothing you can do about it. Complaining about the weather is a waste of time. Besides, I brought a rain jacket, with hood. This was not going to dampen my mood (pun intended).
First I needed directions to the bus terminal so I could get my pass for the hop-on, hop-off service I paid for online. The desk clerk sent me the wrong way so I asked for directions. Still couldn’t find it so figured I’d just start walking – the Ken Anderberg Walking Tour began. But first, I needed breakfast. I opted for McDonalds (don’t yell at me). It was a half block from the hotel and was quick and recognizable. It also was $12 for a burger fries, drink and cafe. I’ll go the Roma breakfast route tomorrow – pastry and cafe.
I had no idea where I was heading but I had been told there was a bus station in one direction where I could get my pass. The streets were very crowded, as it was 11 a.m. Lots of pedestrians and traffic. They like their motorcycles and scooters here but it has to be dangerous. The traffic here is hectic, to say the least.
They also like their black clothes. You see very little color – on the people or in the store windows. The main street a block from my hotel is apparently a major retail area, as many of the stores were selling Italian fashion. The women’s clothes in the store windows are quite hot. The women also like their boots. And their scarfs. And their leather jackets. Anyway, I digress.
Did I tell you that the architecture in this city is simply stunning. The buildings people live and work in are works of art. Every time I turned a corner there was some sort of awesome antiquity sitting in front of me. Sometimes it was finished buildings. Or it was ruins of ancient buildings, often undergoing reconstruction. Then I turned a corner and was caught off-guard. I literally had the breath taken out of me.
The Vittorio Emanuele is probably the most beautiful structure I have ever seen. Seriously. I studied Roman architecture a little bit in school but I was not prepared for this. I’m sorry for all the photos but everything was worth shooting. I’m also sorry about the quality of the photos but many were taken while it was raining, others when there was only dark gray cloud cover.
The bus terminal was supposed to be next to this masterpiece but all I found was a bunch of buses. Having seen something interesting on the distant skyline, I decided to continue my walking tour. And every time I turned a corner, there was something else to wonder at. I was walking aimlessly, just taking it all in.
Then, as I walked down a small street in a pelting rain, I passed a row of restaurants. One looked interesting so I decided it was lunch time. The place was called the Nonna Better – seriously. Turned out to be Jewish-Italian restaurant serving kosher food. I ordered the grilled tuna and roasted potatoes, with a glass of red wine. I had the wine instead of a beer because the beer, for some reason, was twice the price of the wine. Anyway, I’m in Rome so vino is appropriate. The food was okay but tonight I’m looking for something using tomatoes.
While I waited for my meal, I pulled out the map I picked up at the hotel to plot my next move. One place I’ve always wanted to see was the coliseum and, on the map, it didn’t appear to be too far of a walk – if only I could find it without getting lost. Of course, when I left the restaurant, it started raining again, this time hard.
I weaved my way down this road and that, dodging cars and pedestrians along the way, heading in a general direction I thought was correct. No coliseum. Finally, I circled back on a new route and there it was right in front of me.
I don’t know why, but finding and visiting this structure nearly brought tears to my eyes. It has been a life-long dream to see it, to “feel” it. And here I was. Asked a passerby to take a picture from outside.
Because of the rain, which by now had let up, there were not a lot of tourists around, so the line to get in was short. At first, I balked at the entrance fee but then I said what the heck was I thinking! It costs 12 euros to go in and I will never regret forking it over. If I had wanted, I could have had my own guide for another 5 euros.
Numerous photos later, I walked back to my hotel, the Ken Anderberg Rome Walking Tour complete for the day – and hugely successful. Tomorrow, I plan to try to find the bus service so I can ride around to the places I missed today.
Also, I decided to plant myself next to the registration desk tonight so I can access the Wi-Fi. I’ll make a pest of myself if necessary. And then to dinner.
Had dinner at Taverna Barberini, a family-owned restaurant that I found walking around tonight. I ordered Ravini di Spigola alla marinia euro. Translated: bass raviloli with fresh tomatoes abd prawns. It was different but very good. The olives trey served as an appetizer were excellent. I ordered a caramel creme dessert. Plus a glass of red wine. Just over $30, with tip.