Saturday, June 17, 2017

First Day in Rome; Boy, Oh Boy!

Our first day in Rome started out innocent enough; we got up and were happy to realize that we had slept well, despite there being only one air conditioner, in the living area, of the apartment. That coupled with the fact that we had finally gotten our clothes out of the evil washer; it appeared it was going to be a good day.

Right up until I pushed the button on the hot pot and blew a fuse. There was a fuse box right at the front door, so I flipped those fuses, to no avail. I checked all of the plugs that I could find for GFI switches, or their equal; and found nothing.

I quickly realized that without a phone, and without power, we had no internet, and there fore, no way to reach the owner of the apartment, so I thought I would try a neighbor, to see if it was only our apartment, or the whole building. I knocked, no answer, and then I rang their bell, which worked; ours did not, meaning it was only our power, that was out.  Oh, joy….now what?

I know! Get  dressed, and head down to the pizza shop to see if they either have WiFi, or I can maybe use their phone to call the owner. They had both! And spoke good enough English, that I was able to explain my predicament, and give him  the phone number, for Carla, the woman who met us last night.

He explained to her in Italian, what had happened, and she said she would meet us there in twenty minutes, which she did. She showed us where the secret fuse box was, flipped the switch; and just like that, we were back in business; thank God! I would have died if we had not been able to have the air conditioner running.

Once we were back in the apartment, with all systems go, we prepared for our day. We decided to do another Hop On, Hop Off bus, and to just ride it around the entire loop, to see what we could, of Rome. We headed towards theMetro, which was nearly a mile away, and noticed tons of graffiti; here they consider it art; not gang related. Once at the metro,we realized they were on strike! Strike two of the day! We were told that they would start running, again at three.

Since we had a few hours to kill, we decided to walk around a bit, and spied, off in the distance, a bell tower, and a cross, which belonged to a church. Since churches have become one of my favorite places to view, a. Because they are awesome and b. Because they are cool, we headed that way. It was like a bazillion degrees outside, and humid, which makes me feel like crap, so walking around a cool church, was just what the doctor ordered.

Saint Paolo did not disappoint and was every bit as magnificent as all of the other churches we had been in, in France. We were told that it was the only other significant church outside the city walls, and we  were so glad that we had stumbled upon it.

There was a tourist playing the pipe organ, which just enhanced our time there and after a few hours, we thought that we would check to see if the Metro was running yet, or not. It was, so we joyfully bought a ticket and headed to the platform. As soon as we got on the train, we were engulfed in heat; hot and humid. The trains had been sitting during the strike, and had just started running, not giving them time to cool down. It was literally like a sauna, and we were very grateful that we only had three stops to go.

We got off at the Colosseum, the first stop on the Hop On, Hop Off bus. It was much larger than I had envisioned and the one wall was in much better shape than I thought. We were immediately bombarded with sales people from many different companies, and settled on a HO/HO Bus that had a discounted rate after three; we were told that it ran until 9:30, and since we planned to be back to the apartment by 8:30, to meet our friends from Denver, we thought it would be perfect.

We bought our ticket. We walked over to the loading area, and immediately people started pushing and shoving; walking past us and shoving us out of their way; not fun, to me! When the bus arrived, it was mayhem! People pushing, shoving, stepping on you and just being rude; we were shocked, as we had heard that “Italy” was a friendlier place than France; this may be true, however, it is not true of the tourists; Somehow, we managed to get to the top of the bus and find a seat.

Once the bus was running, there was a breeze, and between the breeze and my cool cloth, I was feeling pretty good. We were enjoying the ride and seeing Rome for about 40 minutes of the ninety minute loop,  when our bus pulled into a drop-off slot, turned off the engine and said that everyone had to get off; she was done. When I asked if another bus was coming, or not, she shrugged and said, Maybe!

Really??????  I couldn’t believe it; we waited about 20 minutes, and gave up; more than annoyed.

Strike three!

Since we were close to a Metro, we took the train to Trevi Fountains; got out and walked blocks and blocks, in the stifling heat; I am not loving Rome at this point. We stopped for a Gelato to enjoy some air conditioning and to give my poor body a break, before finally arriving at the Fountains; along with a million other people. Fortunately, a rail opened up that we were able to sit on, to enjoy the fountain for a few minutes; I guess the “fable” says, if you throw a coin, over your shoulder, into the fountain, you will return to Rome; I did not toss a coin into the fountain!

We left the fountain a thought we might visit the Spanish Steps, which were not far away, but after realizing it was 7:30, we thought we should get back to the apartment, in order to greet our friends, and to let them in, after their long journey from Denver.

At this point, I was wearing down in the heat, and struggled a bit to get to the Metro; when we were almost there, a guy started yelling, last train, last train; so I hobbled faster and we got on the last train. We were on the “A” line and had to get to the “B” to go “home.”  At this point, it never occurred to us that there may not be a “B” line running.

We got off at our stop, and raced, with a sea of people, from the “A” line, to the “B” line; and waited. Eventually we heard a train coming, thank goodness! But to our dismay, the empty train, passed us by; they had started the strike up again, at 8:00. Freaking crazy, Italians! NOW WHAT???

We are miles from our apartment and the Metro is on strike; I walk up to a young man, and asked for options; he told us that he was going home, and that his apartment was even further south that ours; he said that it was possible to catch a bus. I told him that I was going to “follow him” and he smiled and said OK!

    So, off we went, Joe and our angel ahead of me, and me trying my damn-dest, to keep up. It was quite a walk to the bus station and as we waited, with crossed fingers, a bus pulled passed us without stopping;meaing they were on strike, too. Close to tears now, worrying that our friends would get to the apartment, and we wouldn’t be there, and being beyond exhausted, I said, “Now, what?”

He said, “the other train,” which happened to be across a very wide street, so off  we went; the three of us, me bringing up the rear, not wanting to slow this young, healthy kid down. We bought our tickets on a railway for one euros each, and headed to the platform; I swear it was a mile away! It was number 26 and took us fifteen minutes to get there; at this point, my legs were on fire and I was beyond exhausted and over heated, but I trudged onward.

Finally, after reaching the platform the train was already there; on the upside, I could sit, and it was air conditioned.I told our “guide” that he was our travel angel and that he had become part of our adventure; his name was I asked him where the train would take us, and he said “closer to Saint Paolo church; not exactly what I wanted to hear.

We got off a few minutes and miles down. the road, and still had miles to walk; literally. It was now 9:30 and I was sick, thinking of our friends standing outside the gate to our apartment. I prayed that they had either found the pizza and beer place, or called the owner, and told him to let them in; I had no idea how much longer we would be walking, on foot, but I did know that I felt like, crying and crawling into a ball, in the gutter!

Forty minutes later, and we finally saw Saint Paolo Church, which meant we were only about a mile from home; Thank God! I prayed I would make it, and while I was extremely grateful to our travel angel, I was also relieved that we could walk at a bit slower pace; I truly didn’t think that I was going to make it. The sun had finally gone down, and it was a bit cooler, which was a blessing.

I literally forced myself to take each and every step, and could not hardly wait to see our street. It was another twenty or so minutes, and we had been hoofing it for nearly two hours; I curse the strikers! Finally, we rounded the corner to. our place; which at this point was uphill! Eventually we could see our friends, who had been waiting for two hours, after flying from Denver!

I was mortified that we had kept them waiting, and exhausted beyond measure; when I looked down and saw my legs, I knew that I had WAY over done it; I am talking WAY! My calves look like hamburger, although the skin is not broken, and hurt worse than they have ever hurt before!

BUT, my friends are still my friends, and we did manage to get the pizza place to make us dinner, and allow us to sit in there shop, until midnight; we had a full size pizza, a slice of pizza, six HUGE beers, a wine, two salads, one chcken, one tuna, HUGE bottle of water and tiramisu, all for 39 euros!

Considering the way the day started, and how it continued, I cannot complain at all for the way it ended; our dear friends are here, and tomorrow is another day.

Pray for me; that my legs will recover and I will regain some strength, and most importantly, pray that I use some good sense during the next part of our journey!



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Bricks for the Brave!!