Saturday, December 18, 2010

Roman Holiday and No room at the Inn...

It's been awhile since I've posted.  D, Z and I headed off for our first Roman adventure on Wednesday morning.  We were warned that the bus schedule is really just a suggestion, and now we know that's true.  It has been very cold here and we were just about to give up waiting for the bus and go for a coffee (but what to do with the luggage) when the bus finally came - maybe the first time I was glad to have skipped a coffee!

We got to our destination and made the train into Rome like clockwork!  A quick walk to the hotel (with an owner whose wife used to live in Chicago!) and we were ready to go. Just a peek down the narrow road next to our apartment gave us our first view of the Colosseum.

That first afternoon and evening Doug had us do a really great walk that took us down a main shopping road to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.  The Christmas lights made everything sparkle it was beautiful!

The next day we did our Roman "Shuffle"  from the Colosseum to the Roman Forum.  So much history!  It was really cool to do this with Z, especially after our trip to Israel last year.  After lunch we made a stop at the Mamertine Prison where it is believed Peter (and Paul) were both jailed.  The tour was a wee bit cheesy, but we were all glad to see the place where Peter baptized the guards.  Very cool.  Next a lot of night walking... maybe more than we intended, but we saw a really cool Christmas market, along with many more fountains and obelisks.  Doug however made perhaps the greatest discovery of the night when he saw a sign in a cafe that said they specialized in Hot Chocolate!  We were so cold!!!  The Hot Chocolate was awesome... more like pudding (Zoe didn't care for it, whose child is she??)  Doug and I liked it very much!

On Friday, our last day we checked out of our hotel and took a subway to the Vatican City.  There is one word for this experience... Art.  We saw sooo much, and Z really held her own.  It started to snow while we were there and it was very pretty! We started to leave Rome at about 5PM so that we could get back to our house and walk the dogs.  Let me repeat the word "started".  I may not have enough distance from what happened next to not exaggerate, but here it goes...
  • We went back to our hotel to get our luggage - no problem
  • Plan A: We walked to the subway station to get the the main terminal - it was raining, but we're from the NW  right??
  • We waited for and then tried and failed to get onto at least three subway trains that were completely packed... there was no possible way we were getting on with our suitcases
  • Plan B:  we walked to the main terminal maybe a 15 minute walk.  Now it's really raining and while D is wearing his very functional REI coat, Z and I have on our very fashionable Pea coats.  Did I mention that it is so cold that it was snowing a few hours ago??  Can you say wet?
  • Made it to the station and check the schedule to get to our next stop... hmmm many trains are very late.  It seems as though something is going on, but we have no way of figuring out what exactly it is!!  We wait in the freezing cold for our train for well over an hour.  Finally I ask a woman in a shop what "sopresso" means and we learn that our train has been cancelled. 
  • Plan C:  We know how to use the subway, and we know that if we take the subway to the end of the line then we can probably catch a bus to a city "close" to where we need to be.  OK, off to the subway we go
  • We get to the end of the line, and we find a sign that tells us there is indeed a bus to a town about 15 minutes from our final destination... we can take a cab from there, hooray.
  • We wait and wait and wait... outside, in the rain and freezing temperatures, ear splitting thunder and lightning... NO BUS!!
  • I am now in full panic mode it is after 9 at night. We are at least four hours in to our 2 hour journey home.
  • We finally ask (through a lot of sign language) and learn that there has not been a bus since 3 that afternoon and we won't be finding anything going to our destination tonight... WHAT?
  • Plan D:  Taxi!  We find one and he will charge a kings ransom to get us where we need to go... I'll pay anything. 
  • Our very nice cab driver who speaks very little English finally communicates that there has been snow in our area (very rare).  This is why the trains and buses have been cancelled.  Oh, by the way the roads are closed too so unless we can buy chains we aren't getting where we need to go.  One hour later we have gone 8 kilometers, there are no chains, we have to turn back.  It is now 11PM
  • Plan E:  Our cabdriver takes us to a hotel back where we started, in Rome at the end of the subway line.  There is "No room at the hotel"... are you kidding me??? Even the cabbie can't believe it!
  • Next stop a different hotel... this one has room... we crash at about midnight and pray we get home on Saturday.
So... with much stress (which I carry squarely in my gut) we made it home today at about 2PM, 21 hours after we began.  There are no photos, this is an adventure I would not like to remember.  

The bright sides are:  We now know how to use every possible form of transportation in Italy.  The snowy view from our balcony is very pretty, and I am about to go to sleep in a bed with a heated mattress pad. 

I promise my next post won't be even half as long.  Buona Notte!


  1. Wow. Travel DRAMA! Thanks for inviting us into your experience!

  2. L - thanks for the amazing play-by-play! I felt the cold and rain right through the monitor! Quite the adventure. No horses in Rome?