Roman Holiday

Trip Start May 14, 2011
Trip End Jun 04, 2011

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Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Sunday, May 15, 2011

(S) Nothing like a good ol' nine hour flight to really kick off a three week adventure. And this might be the absolute most painful trans-Atlantic flight I’ve ever had the pleasure of being on. It had absolutely nothing to do with the number of hours on the plane, the food (decent for plane fare), the wine (which was pretty terrible – it was called the Bandit – but drinkable), or the entertainment (we watched Harry Potter and some random tv shows, but as an important side note I played trivia on the flight from Denver to JFK and not only won the round, but received the all time top score for that plane. Bi-. winning). It was the company! And not my travel partner. He managed to not annoy me. It was the screaming toddlers! In the seat right behind me was the mom, who held said screaming toddler for most of the trip (he also kicked my seat when he wasn’t screaming). To be fair, he didn’t scream for the entire 9 hours. He screamed for about 3 and then the kid right behind him picked up and carried the ball for the duration of the flight. Insane. It looked like the parents were in shock – the mom’s face looked like she had just survived a tornado. I felt sorry for these parents until they offered the kid candy (cuz what that kid needs is sugar so as to definitely not go to sleep) and when I realized they were going on vacation (not moving to Europe or visiting relatives).

It’s amazing and strangely familiar to be back in Italy after being gone for 4 years. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, when things come back so easily. Our limited Italian language skills return. As do the memories of the smells – this whole country seems to smell faintly of burning. But not in an unpleasant way – not like a forest fire which sets my teeth on edge. It’s usually burning vines or trimmed olive branches.

Anyway – we made it to Rome by 10 am on Sunday morning and so did our bags. We easily caught the train into the city, where there was of course another crying baby. I thought Chad might throw him out the window. We even made it to our hotel, which was a bit of a trek with our backpacks. Sadly, no, you cannot check into your room until 2. And it is 12. I don’t care if you’ve been awake for over 24 hours or if you want to shower. Ok, so off to lunch. We found a good place close to our hotel (Ristorante Strega) and had…pizza of course. After a nap and a shower, my mood was greatly improved and we caught a taxi to the Borghese Gallery. We are huge sculpture nerds, so this was a treat and a place neither of us had been. Chad had been smart enough to reserve tickets, since the next available ones were for Tuesday. After enjoying Bernini’s work, we walked down to the Spanish Steps, then the Trevi Fountain, both of which were so overrun by tourists and gypsies selling roses, we kept walking towards our hotel. We found a little out of the way trattoria and had more pizza and some fried zucchini flowers stuffed which cheese, which are my absolute favorite.

(C) Let’s see, we haven’t had precipitation in Boulder for practically six months and the day before we leave the sky opens up and it rains solid until we are gone from the tarmac at DIA.  I honestly think we fooled mother nature by packing up our camping gear and travel packs.  Ha!  Little did she know we were actually going to the other side of the world with our tent.  We should have planned to go camping in December, because we really needed the snow, but it seemed so illogical.

Sara’s right.  I have a high tolerance for crying airplane kids because I too want to kick and scream after hour 5.  But Delta Airlines has done a beautiful thing, which is to add an Economy Comfort section of seats on their international flights.  What it means to this Delta frequent flyer is that I don’t have to "eat knee" for 8-10 hours anymore because I can’t afford the $gazillion business class seats, and they won’t upgrade spouses on international flights.  Bravo Delta.  But I’m afraid now I have another helpful suggestion.  A child can cry for one hour on an overnight flight and after that, they have to ride outside…

Arrival at Rome was without a snag, once again waived through passport control into Italy.  Which means that even though I’ve been in and out of the country many times, I’ve still never received an Italian passport stamp.  And once again – probably just to fool the Germans and the French – they will have no idea when I entered the EU (see June 17, 2007 entry with German passport control lady at wits-end trying to catch us overstaying our 6 months.)

Lessons learned (again) walking with heavy backpack through busy city not cool.  By the time we reached Hotel Caravaggio, I looked like a german retiree with a rucksack about to get the heart attack climbing hills in Roma.  I’ll bet Rick Steves never has to carry his three week stay on his back.

So I really can’t say how absolutely beautiful and restorative the pizza and wine at Strega were.  And then the Borghese!  I’d heard how great it was, but it was worth a visit just to see the two sculptures, Rape of Persephone, and the Apollo and Daphne  Our walk through the Giardini Borghese afterwards was so cool.  I always wanted to visit that area of Rome and it didn’t disappoint.
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