Well as most of you know, I have just spent two weeks in Italy. I went over there for Melissa and Alex's wedding in Castiglioncello, but I had some time on either side so decided to make it into a holiday as well as I had not been there before. So we organised the trip with my husband and youngest son Charlie and decided to pack light. Well, we packed light for US ;) Two backpacks, my camera roller bag and laptop bag, Charlie's little backpack, my handbag and the stroller. The Malaysian Airlines flight was very good considering we had a two year old in between us. Probably the easiest flight I have ever taken to Europe! Arriving in Rome in the wee hours of the morning, the airport was like a ghost town. Although, as my husband said, we had probably come out of the ass-end of it. If you can find the train to Termini, good on you. It took us about half an hour. All the lifts were out of service (of course) so we ended up with all these bags going up escalator after escalator trying to find the train. Eventually we found the platform and bought tickets at the newsagent and jumped onto the waiting train, only just remembering to validate the tickets on the way. I tried three validation machines before one worked.
Exhausted, we made our way into Rome. Exiting the Termini Station at obviously the completely wrong end, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere, in a small park. Charlie was happy as he climbed on a closed mini funfair complete with little motorbikes, horse carriages etc. We had to wait until 10am to check in to the Macao Apartments which are apparently 300m from the station. Well, yes they are 300m from the station - if you come out of the right entrance and know your way there instead of wandering around getting lost! After stopping at the little supermarket nearby for something to eat (fresh bread rolls with cheese - yum!!) we finally found the address, which looked nothing like a hotel, B and B or anything else. But sure enough, the owner came by and let us in through a beautiful old door into an apartment block and ours was outside in a little courtyard. Very cute! It was so nice to have our own little space in Rome for 3 days, even though it was small.
Wanting to make the most out of our time in Rome, we ignored the jet lag, somewhat stupidly, and started to make our way around. We had no plan - just walk. Soon found out that it is of no real use to have a map in Rome (later learnt this was to be applied throughout Italy, especially Venice) and gave in to the meandering streets. Put it this way, you try to walk towards the Pantheon and you find an old theatre. You try to find the Colosseum and you find this massive white building and figure out it is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There is no logic to it.
Now I'm happy to wander, even when I'm exhausted but husband needed to know where we were going; where we were headed towards. I can see his point. We did actually end up walking in a complete loop at one stage!
Well without further ado, some images from our first day:
I feel I need to vent here on behalf of all disabled people and people with prams/strollers. If you have good walking legs, go up the stairs people. Honestly, it was a 10 minute wait just to get in the lift to go up since young, able people decided to use the lift to go up to the second floor, even though it had a clear sticker saying for disabled people etc only. A lot of the tourists here were SO rude to us it was unbelievable. Pushed in front of us in the queue for the lift, quite literally jumped in the lift before we could push the stroller in. Others would not let us out of the lift first even though we were near the door and raced in front of us. It's not like you will be the first people to see the Colosseum people! It's been around for a fair while now!
So on behalf of all disabled people and parents with prams or little kids to organise, please be a little helpful and polite on your travels...it may be you one day muttering under your breath and making childish faces at the snobby woman in front of you who is being an ass...just sayin'.
So, I don't know if it was the jet lag (probably) but I wasn't overly enthused on our first day in Rome. It was hot - I know I should be used to this - the tourists were CRAZY and every hawker on every corner seemed to zoom in on us and try to sell us their wares. This could possibly be because we were walking slower than everyone else but oh my god, I was so over it.
So we had been walking since 6am and at 3.3opm got back to our little apartment and had a nap, planning to go out for dinner later. We woke up at 3am. Charlie was very awake and I'm sure the people in the apartment above were not too impressed, but that is their bloody fault for turning on the hall light when they got home and flooding our apartment with light (their hall backed onto our bedroom). I ended up opening the bedroom window, climbing through the frame - in my underwear no less - turning off the light and returning to bed. It didn't seem to make them wonder why it was off in the morning, as they did the same thing the night after. Grrrr.
We fell asleep again, waking at 9am and decided that today was the day we would give in and just be a regular tourist and try the hop-on, hop-off bus. Stay tuned...