Sunday, June 19, 2011

Roman Around

After our lovely jaunt to the Amalfi Coast we packed up and headed to Rome for the final leg of our trip.  This was the worst train ride ever.  Well, I'm sure there are other horror stories out there much worse than ours, but it was pretty lame.  First, our train was delayed about 2 hours so we had to spend that time hanging around the Naples train station.  Not exactly the kind of place you want to make an extended stay and every time I got up to check the board, the train got delayed another 20 minutes.  Ugh.

Darryl reading on the train as the train I wished we were on rushed past us out the window.

Finally we get on the train.  Immediately I notice we aren't in one of the nice, sleek Eurostar trains that we were on during our other legs of the trip, but a Trenitalia intercity train.  And somehow we appeared to be the only tourists on our car.  Not a big deal, except the train broke down.  Twice. 

They kept making announcements over the intercom (all in unintelligible Italian, of course).  We sat there, unmoving on the track for about an hour each time.  And every time the train stopped, the Italian passengers became more and more exacerbated.  Some angrily questioning the conductor.  Others making phone calls to what I imagined to be loved ones waiting for them at the station.  It was the most irate I saw the Italians around me during the entire trip.  Italians are a fairly laid back people compared to Americans.  So honestly, I was too afraid to ask anyone around me what was going on, lest I irritate them more.  So we sat there quietly, reading our books, observing the scene around us, praying that neither of us would have to use the bathroom before we arrived in Rome.

After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived on million hours late and trudged to the Hotel Serena near the train station.  We checked into what is possibly the smallest hotel room I've ever seen.  All the hotels we stayed at on this trip were at least 3 stars, so it wasn't a terrible hotel or anything, just tiny. 

The elevator would barely hold D, myself, and our 2 bags.  Plus it was the old fashioned kind, with the door you pull open.  I kept imagining a drunk college kid opening the door and stepping down the elevator shaft to his death.  Next our room had no AC.  It was way too noisy in the city to keep the windows open at night and our room rate clearly stipulated AC.  Turns out you had to go down to the front desk and specifically request that it be turned on.  Finally, the shower was akin to the size of a small marine shower on a boat.  You were basically stuffed in there with barely enough room to turn around or throw some elbows to work up a good lather.  And it leaked buckets of water through the space at the bottom of the door.  The room itself barely had room for the queen sized bed, an armour, a desk, and limited floor space for our bags.  What an odd hotel, but it was clean and the staff was nice.


Why is the Whopper angry?
By this point it was around 3 in the afternoon, so we took the subway to the Piazza Popolo.  The irritation of our train ride combined with our tiny living space, compounded with the general culture shock that is Rome versus the Amalfi Coast lead us to a bit of a breakdown.  We had skipped lunch and needed sustenance.  We stepped into an Italian cafe and browsed but didn't see anything that looked particularly comforting, so we admitted defeat and split some chicken nuggets, fries, and a coke at the Burger King across the street.
 
I don't typically go to fast food in the US, especially not BK, but I can't imagine how these stay in business.  Our tiny shared snack cost 8 Euros and was even WORSE than the BK back in the US.  And the restaurant was filthy, yet full of people.  Why on earth would anyone other than an American tourist at their breaking point choose this place over all the other establishments Italy has to offer.  Nonetheless, I've never been to an American chain like that in a foreign country and the food did hit the spot.  We were fortified for a few more hours of "Roman around" until dinner.
 

church in Piazza de Popolo
 We strolled through the high end stores on Via Condotti.  I went into my first H&M ever.  I took photos of all the neat shop displays.
Sparkly Shoes!

Louis Vuitton store, went inside, poked around.

Finally we ended up on the Spanish Steps and did some people watching.
Next we went to Capital Hill to watch the sun set.  There were a lot of stairs.  My legs got really tired.
Ancient Rome

Dusk at the Forum
After a long day of hoofing it all over, we stopped at a cafe on our way back to the hotel and I had my first and only pizza of the trip.  Not a fan of the pizzas in Italy.  I'll stick to my Chicago deep dish, thanks.  With that, we returned to our hotel and passed out.

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