When in Rome...

Trip Start Mar 04, 2008
Trip End Oct 06, 2008

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Flag of Italy  ,
Friday, March 7, 2008

Greetings from Rome!

We made it, at last. 'Twas a long haul from Vancouver, filled with exitement, sadness, and frustration, but here we are and all is well. We almost commenced the land journey from Frankfurt (not by choice) due to a strike at the airport causing cancellations, lineups and delays. Our arriving flight was 2 hours late, but luckily so was our connecting flight, and we made it on the Rome-bound flight by the hair of our arses. Unfortunately, our bikes weren't so lucky. Ainaz spotted the oversize baggage handler driving away from our plane with our bikes in clear view. Moments later we were in the air, senza le biciclette. We arrived in Rome around 3:00pm local time. After over an hour of harassing the baggagli fuomi misura (oversize baggage) handlers about our bikes, we were informed we should put in a lost baggage claim (colourfully termed a 'baggage irregularity report'. Somehow I doubt this occurance is anything along the lines of irregular). Another hour of dead end conversations ensued. At least now we were entertained by paperwork. As if sent by god, an angel behind the counter appeared suddenly and interrupted our conversation with the apathetic signorina di lost baggage. He typed a few keys on the computer, and promptly informed us (in english) that our bikes would be arriving on the last flight of the day, at 11:00 pm. More waiting.

Italian customs is more of a social club for men than any kind of security clearance. Arriving passengers have the option of choosing the 'passage verde' (green lane) or the 'passage rosso' (red lane). The green lane is essentially an obstacle free path to the outside - just a automatic sliding door separates you from freedom. The red lane is a gauntlet of x-ray machines, turnstiles and militia with semi-automatic weapons. Needless to say, everybody chooses the green lane. EVERYBODY. This is just fine with the customs boys, as it frees them up to sip espresso and chat about the ups and downs of the Italian economy since amalgamating with the EU. Makes me wish I had smuggled an even greater supply of beef jerky in with my bike box.

Ultimately the bikes arrived safe and sound, and we set up our beds on the upper floor of the airport. A far cry from the cute seaside bungalow with in-room doccia caldo, but it was a bed nonetheless. Sated by complimentary wine and pasta we soon fell asleep. We awoke at dawn the next morning to begin the daunting task of assembling our bikes. A glance out the window at the torrential downpour told us in no uncertain terms that there was no need to rush. Hours ensued. Well, more like 2 hours - but the bikes never looked better. After donating our borrowed 'in-flight' pillow to the friendly (if a little crazy) homeless chap who spent the night with us, we were off. A quick stop in the garden to bury our pedal wrench (for the return flight) and we hit the highway.

A couple of hours later we arrived at camp and booked our bungalow. It was everything we had hoped for, plus about 8 feral cats. We are staying for 2 nights to give us a chance to see Rome by bike. Unfortunately, the rain has yet to let up. We are damp and cold (outside the bungalow), but happy and excited to be here.  

Our ride into Rome today was nothing short of exhilarating. Roman drivers have a sixth sense when it comes to traffic. They are actually quite courteous to cyclists. Not that they slow down, in fact they speed up to get by you, but they give you an exceptionally wide berth as they have no qualms with entering the oncoming traffic lane. When there was a shoulder, we shared it with scooters and motorcyclists avoiding the current traffic jam. When traffic gets thick, lane markings become more of a suggestion than a rule. This type of activity would spell certain death for a cyclist in BC, but we both felt safe here. Everybody is paying attention (you have to to survive) and everyone is a competent driver. The experience can be summed up as a symphony of chaos - efficient, even beautiful, but absolute pandemonium.

A questa ora, e tutto. Arreviderci. A piu tardi.

Ainaz + Robin
Slideshow Report as Spam
Where I stayed
Campeggio di Castelfusano
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shahla on

WaaaAAaaay to go!!!!!
I am soooo proud of yous!!!! the 's' is not a mistake! :D it is plural. ;D
and i promise not to worry! (i do try!- reallllly).
and i loved your photos!!!

shahla on

Re: Hellooooooo
Mokhlesam Agha toto! :D
shahla (Ainaz's & DaDa's mother)!

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