WOW We’re In ROME!!! 30th May to 31st May 2009

Posted on June 04, 2009 by sonjabarrie

Saturday 30th May 2009 (Day 4)

Today is Saturday and we arrived in Rome about 10 pm. The flight thankfully was uneventful except when I took out my plastic bag of liquids I dropped it and smashed my liquid foundation! You know I wonder sometimes, am I really that much of a klutz? Is life really out to get me? I really did hope this was going to be an error free day! Good job they have duty free shops at airports.

One surprise was the drive from mum’s to the airport, I had forgotten how long it takes to get anywhere here. Mum lives about 60 miles from Stansted Airport so you would think it would take an hour or so to get there, maybe an hour and a half with traffic, no, this is England and you have to account for the ubiquitous road works and the 6 million other people on the road at the same time as you. We went through 4 sets of road works on 4 major motorways and ‘A’ roads which always slow you to a crawl plus, I think every other driver in the south of England had decided that Saturday was THE day to get in the car and drive up north! Either they were ALL coming home from vacation (there were cars full of kids and cars hauling campers and the like) OR they were all out to get us and I don’t think I am being paranoid.

The real bit of good news is we had left at noon to be there for 4pm for the 6:15pm flight. We figured we would take our time and maybe have a pub lunch on the way. Fat chance, it took the whole 4 hours to get there and we managed to pull into a motorway services for a quick cup of coffee right before the airport. Never mind, we made the flight, we had a kilo to spare on the luggage and all was well with the world. I did feel sorry for all the people who were overweight on their luggage though. They were being told they had to pay 15 euros for each kilo they were over. OUCH!

The other surprise, sorry, let me change that, the other SHOCK was the cost of gas. We had a compact car, it was a 4 door but there is no way you could have got a passenger in the back seat, it was a 2 cylinder and I know this because it sounded just like a lawnmower, we had only used half a tank of gas in the 3 days we had driven it and it cost us…….are you ready for this? It cost us 46 British pounds, that’s almost $70 for half a tank of gas in a car my SUV could have eaten for lunch and I have a small Pathfinder!

However, after a pretty quick 2 hour and 40 minute flight we arrived in Rome and got BOTH suitcases, YYEEEAAAHHH!!

Now to get the bus or train to the hotel. We got the bus as it was direct and only cost 4 euros, I almost lost my toes, we sat in the front row on the bus and my foot apparently was just under the back seat of the driver unbeknown to me, the driver sat in the seat and my toes went down between the step we were on and the back of his seat. Believe me that hurt and yes it will leave a mark!

About half way to the hotel we realize that the rules of the road here are not so much rules as “guidelines”, the driver went through red lights, drove on the wrong side of the road and he wasn’t the only one. Cars, scooters whatever just seem to point their cars in the direction they want to go and everyone else can just get out of their way or get hit. The death rate here from car accidents must be huge.

We did seem to arrive in one piece though and after checking into the hotel we managed to find a nice restaurant still open at 11 pm just down the road. Had some good food and fell in bed to sleep the sleep of the dead.

Sunday 31st May 2009 (Day 5)
Claire Yates arrived from Cincinnati this morning, so about 11am we all went off to walk to the Vatican to see the sights and to figure out where we have to be at 8:30am the next morning. We have tickets for the 9:30am entrance but my web searches seem to be telling me that you can get in early and as Claire has some Italian friends arriving from a town a couple of hours away we want to be through the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel by 12noon. Hence the recon.

Here I am with Claire Yates who was and still is our Claire’s best friend at University. We are taking in the sights while trying to figure out where the Vatican is and where we will have to pick up our tickets early tomorrow morning.

Well, I think the consensus is that Rome is a dirty, unkempt city. Everywhere you look there is graffiti, peeling paint and crumbling walls. Yes I know it is an old city but it could still be kept up, after all the Catholic church is very rich and there must be 10 million tourists in this city in any one day, you would think the revenue they bring in must be enough for repairs. There is a lot to see and some of it is very beautiful, the carvings and under the peeling paint and plaster, the buildings. There is a lot of wonderful history here but it seems a shame to let it crumble to dust.

There are tourist everywhere naturally, but beggars and locals too though not so much the locals, I think if I lived here I would make myself scarce during tourist season too. There are a lot of Italians along with every other nationality known to man, but the Italians too are tourists. I guess it’s not like London where a Brit would never think of taking a vacation, Rome is obviously THE mecca for Italians too.

This is a bridge over the river Tiber that runs through the center of Rome. We have to cross the river to get to the Vatican and a couple of other sights.

As with England it is expensive to eat compared to the US but that’s to be expected, no big food shops but as it’s Sunday we may have passed their entrance and never known it. Everything is barred and bolted. I guess crime must be bad. It really gives one the feeling you are in an inner city hood in the States. Some things are cheap though, so far the clothes we have seen in shop windows appear to be cheap but maybe that’s because the clothes ARE cheap and you wouldn’t buy them anyway, who knows.

We have finally found the Vatican and St Peters Basilica which you can see here. Note the throngs of tourists and we are not yet into the real busy season!

Tim has just gone off to see if he can find himself a snack of some kind. It’s 6:30pm and most Europeans don’t eat until 10pm, Italians and Spanish in particular: Tim will have died of hunger before then. He was lucky, he got breakfast, all they had was bread, jam, a fruit tart of some kind and croissants. All of which contain wheat so I dipped out on that score, I had hoped they would have fruit at least but all they had I could eat was a runny kind of yogurt, not exactly filling. Never mind, losing weight is always good ;o)

Still had a lovely salad last night and Tim had sea bass with vegetables, luckily I didn’t order it as it was covered in flour. They had dipped the eggplant and red and yellow peppers in flour before they fried them and who knows what was in with the bass!

Looking forward to heading out this evening, we are off to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps and then to find something to eat, now there’s a challenge I can’t resist!

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