Another return to the Eternal City.....
Trip Start Aug 22, 2011
18Trip End Sep 29, 2011
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I got up a bit earlier this morning, as I wanted to make sure that I had enough time for breakfast as well as to get my gear packed. Breakfast was the same as yesterday, but I was in a "quiet" mood today and didn't visit at all with other travelers. I left the Hotel for the short walk to Lucca station at about 09:50.
The familiar walk only took a few minutes and I went directly to platform 4. The Regionale train to Florence arrived right on time, and thankfully wasn't too crowded. There was one interesting occurrence during that part of the trip. An Australian guy (who was travelling with his Wife and Daughter) was seated across from me and busily writing in a small Journal. He was also pasting small pieces of brochures into the Journal, and there were bits and pieces left from the brochures when he finished tearing out the parts he wanted
Eventually the Conductor came through to check tickets and it turned out that he hadn’t validated his own or his daughter’s tickets (his Wife, who was sitting in the Foyer watching their luggage had validated her ticket). He tried “playing dumb” and arguing with the Conductor, but he ended up being fined (he was handed a small bright yellow ticket). After the Conductor left, he picked up a book and tried to look nonchalant, but he did admit to his Wife that he had been fined (I could overhear that). I felt a big “smug” as the Conductor just glanced at my ticket and punched it (I know, that's not nice).
Upon arrival at Firenze SMN, I had thought about getting lunch at McDonalds and eating it on the train, but the small outlet in the station was busy and if I’d waited in line, I would have missed my train
The ride was quiet and uneventful, but as always I enjoyed the panorama of the beautiful Tuscan countryside flashing by the window. I managed to doze a bit as well as get some photos of the scenery. It was interesting to pass numerous small towns and think of the people in each of them just going about their daily lives.
The train arrived at Roma Termini right on time at 13:45. I decided this would be a good time to follow my usual tradition and stop at McDonald’s for a Burger. I decided to try the 1955 Burger this time and it wasn’t too bad, but I’ll probably get a Big Mac next time.
After lunch I walked out the front door and got a Cab for the trip to the Hotel,since I wasn’t sure exactly where I was going and I don't like wandering about aimlessly with 50 lbs. on my back. It was a short trip and check-in at the Hotel only involved recording my Passport details and then the Bellman showed me to my room
The Bellman had switched on the A/C for me and that sure makes it more comfortable in the room (the hallway is warm and muggy). I had a short rest and was surprised to hear a thunder storm outside, which lasted for an hour or more. I then went down to the Lobby to ask about the easiest way to reach Piazza Navona, and was surprised to see some of the same Rick Steves tour group. I hope to see the Guide in the morning to say “Hi”.
I really wanted to dine at Ponte e Parone tonight, which was recommended by a friend. I knew it was close to Piazza Navona, but I wasn’t quite sure on the best route but took the Metro to Colosseo station and then ended up walking all the way to Piazza Navona from there. At one point, I tried to hail a Cab and he said “you can walk, it’s only 400 meters” (I guess he didn't want to bother with a fare for such a short distance). I walked across the Piazza, turned right at the first small street behind it and easily found the restaurant.
I was seated at a small table outside, and fortunately no one was smoking in the vicinity (at least not when I first sat down). I've been trying to use Italian as much as possible on this trip, and managed to order the meal without using English at all
I ordered the grilled vegetables (which are apparently supposed to be eaten with olive oil and salt), a Pasta al Ragu dish and Vino Rosso (the Pasta is apparently home made). I decided to splurge and have dessert and the Waitress suggested a home made cake with Nutella Chocolate, which had only been made an hour before. I had that with two cups of Coffee. The cake was rather rich, so it’s not something I’d eat every day but it was absolutely good (I could feel my waist line expanding with every bite)!
After dinner I walked around in Piazza Navona and watched the "people show" taking place in every corner and every restaurant. There were lots of talented artists and I was wishing that I had room in my luggage to bring home some of the fantastic art, but that won't be possible this time. I got some good photos and stopped to watch a talented Violin Player. I especially enjoyed his rendition of "Caruso" which was written by Lucio Dalla (the version sung by Lara Fabian is one of my favourites). I spent almost an hour just watching the activity and getting photos, and then walked in the direction the Waitress had instructed to try and find a Bus back to Termini
I couldn’t find a Tabachi to buy a ticket so asked at a small gift shop and the girl working there provided slightly better directions. I eventually found the Tabachi and the stop for the dreaded #64 Bus. Even at 21:00 it was packed like a tin of Sardines, hot and uncomfortable! I was really happy to get back to Termini and back to the Hotel.
The Hotel front door hadn’t been locked for the night yet, and I was pleased that the Elevator was now fixed as I wasn’t looking forward to walking up four flights of stairs. Back in the room I switched on the A/C and the TV and updated my Diary. It was an interesting first day in Rome, and althought I didn't do a lot, I quite enjoyed myself and felt quite at home.