Trip Start Dec 18, 2008
Trip End Jan 15, 2009

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Where I stayed
Palazzio Olivia, Rome

Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Tuesday, December 30, 2008

30th December 2008
Palazzio Olivia, Rome

Praha to Roma

Early start as we headed off to the airport at Ruzyne via mini-van transfer. It was icy cold and there was a thick hoar frost covering the ground, which got progressively thicker as
we got close to the airport. Not quite snow.

We passed embassy residences as swanky as anyway in the world. The sun struggled to get airborne - it glowed as an orange ball against the grey winter sky - spectacular. The
airport is very modern - it was purchased by Air France in 1992 and they've
done a brilliant job ..nothing Soviet about this one. We'd arrived at the
terminal early to avoid Praha peak hour, though most commuters who live in the
suburbs catch the bus or tram to work. The metro is reliable, but suburban
trains less so. As it was an 11.50am flight we certainly didn't need to rush.
Check-in was sweet - and the attendant spoke English with a sense of humour.
Leigh wise-cracked that she'd better see her bag in Roma or they'd be trouble -
and the girl laughed and said between Heathrow, Paris and Amsterdam you had 3
of the worst in the world but not Prague...however, Rome was trouble too! 

So to fill in time, we fed American imperialism by having a coffee at Starbucks and hash browns at McDonalds - only Leigh & the boys stayed with Czech food. 

We then changed some of our Koruny into Euro - Travelex managed an EUR 50 commission out of some of the party but not only once. We instead decided to spend our remaining CZK on books and souvenirs, which was a great idea as everyone got something worthwhile 

We board our Czech Airlines(CSA) Airbus on time - then spend almost half an hour on the tarmac whilst we were de-iced which was cool to watch. Still, it was by now a brilliantly sunny
day, and we were soon on our way. Na shledanou Praha. Goodbye Prague. Great
town. See why people rave about it. We'd pretty well done what we wanted to -
and whilst one of the people we met called it " a Wannabe" major city, it was cool.

The Czech and surrounding countryside was remarkably flat until we crossed the Austrian alps.. and we got a great view over the Adriatic. Great flight, real smooth with very
professional cabin crew. CSA is fine by us. Landed in Roma on schedule - and
then surprise, surprise two pieces of luggage didn't show - Steve's bag (not
Leigh's thankfully) and Josh's guitar. You ought to see the backlog of
"lost" baggage at Fiumicino - there was a mountain including stuff
there from the 20th Dec, clearly not a priority. Prepared to camp there until
our gear arrived.   An hour after all the other bags were processed, we were about to fill in claim forms when Josh's guitar showed up carried in from over-size luggage with a typical
Italian thing you know Steve's bag and some other passengers bags
showed up. Most were irate. We were just relieved that we didn't have another
lost luggage incident. No customs formalitiies. Fortunately, our drivers were
still waiting... they looked like mafiosa, with black mercedes and black
sunnies and leather jackets. They were surprised at the amount of luggage we
had...10 people away for 28 days...mmmm go figure.

We had a fantastic trip into Rome city- the guys drove pretty quickly - 140km/h in an 80 zone.. the other car nearly got side-swiped twice by vehicles changing lanes without looking. They
were forced onto the shoulder on the motorway at speed - dangerous stuff. Our
van travelled at a comparatively sedate 120. We came down the Palatine past
Piazza di Venezia to our apartment "Palazzo Olivia" in Via dei Leutari just off Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and almost backing onto Piazza Navona. The street was so narrow that the vans dropped us and our mega luggage on the busy main street!! But no worries and the drivers helped us in shifting everything. Stefano, our host showed us around the place - which was built in the 17th century, and extended in the 20th century and recently modernised
retaining character. This is a really central location, so all good.

Checking in at the same time to the other apartments were a family from Manly NSW (The Walls). Shared a laugh.

Went exploring - walked down to the end of Vittorio and saw the recently flooded Teverne
(Tiber)...which had receded over the past week. Great views of Castel Sant'
Angelo - it was a mild, fine evening - and we prepared for 3 forecasted days of
rain.  Found a cool little supermarket to sort ourselves out

Went out to dinner at Ristorante Taverna del Campo - had a great antipasto and pasta meal. Real character of a mein host. Fun night. 
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