Monday, October 18, 2010

Ah, Roma

We've been a little distracted with our bumpy re-entry into home life, but I'm now feeling the need to share some of our travel stories.  Our trip to Italy was divided into three distinct parts - Rome, Florence, and Venice.  Many travel and tour agencies call this "the Big Three" and I would have to agree.  And yet it only whets the appetite (quite literally) for more Italy in our future.

Flights, etc.
For the first time, we flew Al Italia.  This was a new experience as it feels like you have immediately arrived in the foreign country.  All service and announcements are offered in the Italian style and primarily in the Italian language.  Even while you are still on the ground in Newark NJ.  I enjoyed Al Italia with the exception of one thing.  Their website.  I am very used to manipulating the U.S. Airlines including jumping on line at the exact 24-hour advance point when you can grab an exit aisle.  With Al Italia it wouldn't let me do any seat assignments at all and when I called they don't release the exit rows until you get to the airport.  Somehow though....we lucked out.  And given our height (Hubby at 6'3"+, me at 5'10"...this was a huge benefit!

Because of this, plus some Tylenol PM and a little wine, I slept almost the entire flight.

Rome Airport.
Our first interface with Italian bureaucracy and disorganization came at the passport check-in in Rome.  We followed the hordes (several flights arriving at once) and zig-zagged through multiple corridors with our carry-on luggage.  Suddently we came around a corner and BAM!  Wall to wall people.  Hot stinky tired people.  No organized serpentine lines.  No line attendants with directions.  Just a wall of people all shuffling and trying to figure out how to get through as quickly as possible.  Eventually (1 hour +) we were through. 

Please don't take any of this as complaining.  It is what it is...and I was so happy to have had leg room, sleep and to be on vacation, I was fine with it.  But it is a warning.  If you are headed to Rome...plan on at least 2 hours to get off the plane and out of the airport.

The First Views.
We had arranged to meet our friends at the Airport.  We counted on being able to text one another's cells.  Perfect plan, except Laura's Blackberry crapped out.  So...we eventually found one another and found the car service we had hired for a 1 hour tour of Rome on the way to our rental apartment.

This was a GREAT way to get our feet wet.  There are other options to get into town on your own..for example there is an express train that runs to the downtown Rome train station every half hour.  It is perfectly viable and anyone can point you in the right direction, but if you want to have a little guidance...this was a great way to go.  Our guide stopped frequently to show our flight addled brains some sites like this:

A famous church (unfortunately I didn't absorb which one!) 

One of many obelisks
(apparently the Roman's really ransacked Egypt!)

All of that in one quick hour.  And then, since we were still early for our apartment check-in - our Italia gastro-adventure began.  (Thanks Laura and John for the laugh on this one.)

So - to give you perspective...this picture was taken at 2PM local Rome time, on our first day. We've seen multiple sites but are still hauling our luggage with us, and we'd barely begun our activities. 

Stay tuned for more.


Kate Hanley said...

Looking forward to hearing about more adventures. I was in Tuscany with the family in 2007, we did a little Florence but not much. I saw Rome over 20 years ago. Sounds like you guys had a great time.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It looks like it got off to a great start--I can't wait to hear more.

Chelle said...

Keep it coming, enjoying the play by play! YOu will be happy to have a written record of it for the future too!