9/13/10 (Day 12)
It’s a travel day! And boy did we travel. We learned to never fly domestic in Italy again. The trains are much better. But, let’s go back to the beginning. We left the hotel around 7:00am and shuttled to San Marco on the vaparetto. We sat on the shore and ate Italian donuts while waiting for our next boat. Then, we took the airport ferry boat to the airport, walked 7 minutes, and finally arrived at the Venice airport.
The boats were the easy part. Now we were smashed into one of the worst designed airports I’ve seen. The EasyJet line was easy enough to find, but the security and British Airways lines also intersected our line, so there was a constant stream of people through our line. Once we reached the front of the EasyJet line, they were only calling for those people leaving on the Paris flight, not the Rome flight. Finally, we dropped off our bag and had our boarding passes in hand. At about 9:45am, we got in line for security with still an hour until our flight.
The security line actually moved quite smoothly. After security, we went to wait for our flight which would board at 10:05am according to our boarding pass. The funniest part about waiting for our flight was watching people board the Spainair flight to Madrid. Take off was at 10:30 and they started announcing “last call” to board about 30 minutes before they finally took off around 11:00. Many people boarded last minute.
EasyJet was somewhat similar to Southwest in that there were no assigned seats, so we had to all stand in line at the gate the whole time. Everyone else was standing in line at their gates, too, so the area was a massive breathing group of people shoving to get to where they were headed.
Eventually, boarding started well after our 10:45 departure time and while we waited in line our flight’s last call was announced several times. From the gate, we took a bus to the plane and boarded the plane from both the tail and the front section. This was the most efficient part of the process from boat to plane.
At least our one hour flight to Rome was still just an hour and we shook our heads at the Italy airport. Looking back on it, I am really quite amused, though it was somewhat frustrating at times.
We arrived in Rome in one piece and headed towards baggage claim. Here, we won the race as our duffel bag was the first on the conveyor belt. Speaking of luggage, I forgot to mention an interesting point about flying EasyJet. They only allow one carry-on bag. Not one carry on and one personal item; ONE carry-on. They were quite strict and forced everyone to put their purse in their backpacks. Of course when we got on the plane and sat down, we all took the purses out of the backpack.
Our journey is still not over! We are still a 30-minute train ride from central Rome, so we hopped on the Leonardo Express towards Stazione Termini, the main train terminal in Rome. Train terminals so far on our trip have been easy to figure out so i guess we just figured this one would be too. Nope, we were wrong. The station was massively large and not labeled at all. The information desk was impossible to find and I would be embarrassed to tell you how long we spent wandering the station looking for the desk where we were to pick up our reserved Roma Pass.
Finally, success! With Roma Pass in hand that would give us discounted admission and free transport in Rome, we decided to just take a taxi to the hotel and skip the planned bus. We had our fill of public transport for the day. The cabbie informed me that my Italian was excellent and even thought I might be more fluent.
The taxi ride to Hotel Navona was similar to our taxi rides in Peru where you pretty much closed your eyes and trusted the driver to get you there in one piece. Luckily it was a short ride.
Finally here! Time for lunch. I think it was probably around 3p by now. It was time for a break. Piazza Navona was a hop, skip, and a jump away from the hotel. Crossing the road in Rome is risking life and limb as the cars don’t stop for pedestrians. But, we made it to the piazza and found a place to sit and eat some Italian pizza while people watching.
After lunch we roamed in Rome. =) We walked in one direction and saw all kinds of old building scattered around. We saw Palazzo Madama, the Pantheon, Tempio Adriano, and ended up at Fontana di Trevi. In many of the piazzas, there were fountains with obelisks. The obelisks had Egyptian hieroglyphics and we wondered why. We found that roaming Rome on our own left us with many unanswered questions about what we were looking at.
At Fontana di Trevi, we ate gelato and sat with the hordes of other people doing the same thing. This is one of, or the most famous fountain in Rome. The trick is to throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain to ensure your return trip to Rome. The fountain had a statue of Neptune with two horses, one docile, and one wild to represent the moods of the sea.
Now we strolled back towards the hotel and had dinner at a pizzaria take away type place. Basically, it’s a counter service place on the street and you point at a pizza or pizza sandwich, they put it in a sandwich press, and serve it to you hot. We had some tasty pizza sandwiches. I wanted some fruit, so we also found a place with fruit smoothies and we sat on a bench and ate.
Rome is a huge city especially compared to the cities we’ve visited so far on our travels. There are millions of people. The majority of the streets don’t really have sidewalks and they are just over one euro-car in width with enough space to dash out of the way of the honking cars. Most people seem to get around on scooter/motorcycles which work quite well in this environment. Even at 10pm, people are out eating dinner and milling about. The piazza’s are full of tourists and street performers and all kinds of languages can be heard. So far most people are speaking English with us. This is helpful to be understood and understand what’s going on, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like the Italian experience.
Back at the hotel, we were happy to find free wifi and a comfy bed to sleep in.
(No photos today for speedy posting)