we’ve arrived! after much trepidation, our arrival is a non-event. everything we’d heard about the rome train station (termini) was a red herring; gypsys, pickpockts, con-artists etc – we experienced not one of them only the total indifference of the employees at the tourist office, and railway employees who gave us the wrong directions and a bit of forshadowing to the attitude towards tourists on our first day.
checking into our supposedly 4 star hotel is less than expected. the neighbourhood is great but the room, though well appointed is less than expected and our view of the alley and wall of adjoining building has pissed me off. a former palazzo, we are obviously in the servants quarters, however the amenities and bathroom are above average. the attitude at the front desk was “what the f….. do you want and why are you bothering me”
after a quick shower we’re off to see the sites. our first encounter takes our breath away as we do not know what to expect, before us are the gates to the borghese gardens and palace and to our right an archway dating to god knows when. we enter through the arch and discover marvelous churches, statues, fountains and a state-of-the-technology helicopter, along with martial art experts and an obelisk from eygpytian times – all sharing the same square. so this is rome! after a short tour of the plaza popolo we decide it would be wise to take an orientation tour, and do a hop-on-hop-off bus tour to see the major sites and get an idea of the city. fantastic! ancient rome is much bigger than expected, it covers and area as large as downtown vancouver or more. we hopped off the bus at the forum but tweedle dum (moi) has forgetten his pass in his bag (back at the hotel) so we did not walk through the ruins yet. i will post pictures as soon as i can but not for a few days as the hotel only has a single computer with very lowspeed internet access.
afer a full day of sights we returned to the hotel for a brief r&r before heading out to dinner. 8 p.m. – take the subway to the spanish steps and stroll through the area looking for a restaurant. we chose a lower priced one on a typical roman street and sit down outside. our waiter(?) could not give a damn about us and it showed. his service sucked and his attitude left us quite cold to rome. fortunately we had a couple of french women sitting next to us and i was able to strike up a conversation for a while. our food was ok, high on the mediocre scale. two bottles of wine helped make it through, that and the company of our other neighbours, a young dutch couple who were camping in rome (literally) for 13 euro per night. we chatted for quite a while and ending up enjoying the evening regardless of the service. we also learned that the subway shuts down at 11:30 on sunday so we had time to change tack and skip the trevi fountain tonight, instead we headed back to the metro to get back in time ,instead of walking home.