Monday, November 7, 2011

Rome, if you want to...

Rome...was not at the top of my "Favourite Places to Visit, Ever. Or Again." I found it almost immediately unwelcoming (taxi driver at the train station laughed at us; our hotel was too close for him to bother. Never mind that it was a 20+ minute walk, with luggage, for us...) It's a big, grungy, noisy, busy city, teeming with insane drivers, and crawling with tourists (not travelers, and I swear to Bob there's a distinction! We try really hard to fall into the  latter category!)

By the time we got to the hotel, I wanted to crawl into bed and not come out until it was time to get to the airport. (We had an argument with our host about that, too - he tried to convince us we wanted to leave too early, and then he set us up with a ride for the time we wanted....only we found out, when we got to the airport, that we could have paid about 10-15 Euros less...)

However, we were only a few short blocks from the Coliseum, and Mr.Q had been looking forward to this all summer and fall, as the capstone of our trip. So, I had a bit of a lie-down, and we went out in search of Ancient History. 

To get there, we had to run a gauntlet of very aggressive vendors, and make our way through a huge crowd of tourists. To top it all off, there was a line at least an hour long to get in. We fortified ourselves with a colossal donut at the top of the hill, before making our way down to the far end of the Very Long Line.


We had to stop on the way so Mr.Q could fondle the columns.... 

As we were walking to the back of the line, we were approached by a tour rep, who told us that for a small fee, we could join a tour group, which would allow us to bypass the line, and get a guided tour inside. It was a pretty sweet little gig for them, and we could see a number of other tours doing a brisk business with the same  set-up. We decided we'd buck up for the convenience factor, and it turned out to be worth it. Our guide really knew his stuff, and was quite obviously passionate about what he did. 

Also, it meant we got to see a Gladiator!

Coming up to the entrance:

A cool mosaic:

An elevator rig:

View from which point it was patently obvious that a) the extra fee to get in was well worth it; and b) this place was Really Fucking Cool. MASSIVE, and mind-melty at the ingenuity of the human brain.


By this point, it was getting really hot and muggy, and I had definitely had enough of People. We made our way back to the hotel, via a corner store for a bottle of cold white wine. I cracked it as soon as we got in the door, with the intention of really hiding for the rest of the day. However, we got a message shortly after - Mr.Q's band-mates were, coincidentally, on the same flight we were, and had arrived in Rome the day before, having had their own adventures after Berlin. Would we be interested in dinner together, on our collective last night in Europe?

I have to say, the wine greatly improved my mood, and we met up for a wander in search of dinner. Which we found on a side-street a few blocks from the hotel...We did our  best to replicate the feasts of glory days gone by...

(And, I'm pretty sure, got shafted by the waiters; the bill was rather larger than it ought to have been. I had already come to expect that as par for the course in this city, so I just let it go.) Off for a bit of a walk in the warm night...a few last souvenirs, some cheesy Polaroid photos at Trevi Fountain...

A talk on the Spanish Steps (and a few more unpleasant interactions with waiters and street vendors trying to rip off the tourists...fortunately, there had been more wine with dinner, so I was somewhat inoculated.)  A too-late night, and a too-early morning, made somewhat more bearable by the surprisingly efficient and pleasant navigation of the airport; we had been led to expect much more chaos than there was. And we were on a flight home again.

Greenland, from the plane - in darkness on the way over; beautiful on the way home:

Getting through customs at YVR was fast and painless. When we finally got home, the cats were (mostly) glad to see their regular food supply, though clearly they had not suffered neglect or deprivation in our absence! Jet lag wasn't too bad (fortunately, as we both jumped right back into work the next day!) though it was nice to have the weekend without much to do, and an extra hour of sleep!

(We did go up to Commercial Drive on Saturday for espresso in one of the many Italian cafes. Funny, to look at the 4-ft plaster David and think: That's so much tinier than the real thing!)

It's good to be home! Though we're already talking about the next Grand Adventure. He wants Scandinavia; I'd love to see Morocco. Or Prague. Or Paris...Les Miserables! There's my literary connection there...


Annie said...

They say the farther south you go in Italy, the more insane it gets. Which in my experience is totally true. Judging by your reaction to Rome, it's a good thing you didn't plan on going to Naples and Pompeii! Personally, I love Rome and just embrace the crazy, but Naples is exhausting.

Arctic Knitter said...

Welcome home! I'm sorry Rome didn't quite live up to it's expectation. I've always loved Rome, but yes - you have to watch out for those folks who want to rip you off. Trevi fountain - cool gelato store to the right as you face the fountain. Mmmm - so jealous.

My vote for your next trip: Prague! I was there ~5 years ago & didn't get to stay long enough & certainly wish to go back!