Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day One; Getting to Rome Continued (aka Persistence and Patience Pay Off)

The Church next to our restaurant as seen on Day One

Day one continued: 

You may recall us at the airport, our luggage AWOL and us without a ride to our rented apartment.*

We dragged our poor sleeping children from their cardboard beds and hauled them outside.  Our thought to find a bus to town.  Right outside the airport door stood a man; a man with a sign that said, simply, “Abraham.”  

Hallelujah!  We blissfully, blessedly had a ride!  George was there despite our lack of communication, despite our late flight and despite our lost baggage. I could’ve kissed him. 

The drive from the airport took about an hour -- not so much because of distance but rather due to traffic.  The kids, of course, slept the entire time. George dropped us off on our street (which was really a cobblestone alley) and told us, in very broken English, the key holder would arrive shortly.  

We sat on the stoop and waited.  And waited.  And waited (do you sense a theme?).  Finally a sweet, sweet African-Italian woman, who spoke no English, took pity on us and let us in the vestibule - for the bambini.  You see we were renting an apartment in a complex that housed Romans.  As in the real thing.  As in people who actually lived in Rome.  

The bambini, grateful for the vestibule, proceeded to sleep on the marble floor.  We adults waited and waited and waited some more.  The sweet woman returned and helped us to call the key holder.  We were told he was on his way-- pronto.  

In the meantime, I, as the trip planner (aka travel agent extraordinaire), was taking the flack.  I tried to explain to Mr. Peculiar that “Rome time” and “time time” were loosely correlated.  Mr. Peculiar did not buy this type of logic. Rather he was sure, quite certain in fact, that we’d been swindled. He suggested we bag the whole thing and find a hotel -- pronto.  

I wondered, if we were being swindled, why we were dropped right in front of the apartment by our driver.  A driver, I might add, who was also scheduled through Rome Loft.  I also wondered why the swindlers kept answering the phone.  Mr. Peculiar and I made a bet.  Let me just tell you  -- I won.  Though it took some time to prove myself.  

But really, what was the hurry?  Our cartilaginous children were contentedly asleep on the floor.  The weather was nice -- upper sixties and sunny.  There was plenty of activity in the alley to keep us entertained. 

Mr. Peculiar wasn't quite so content.  Across the alley was a laundry mat/internet store.  The Mister was able to pay to use their phone to call our contact. We were told, again, that he was on the way.

Finally, three hours after arriving at the apartment, a very sweet, very sincere Pakistani man showed up with the key.  He typically did not drop off the key but explained that the key holder, Honey (a man by the way) had been in a scooter accident.  This lovely Pakistani man let us in and told us that someone would be by shortly to fill out the paperwork.  

We waited another 45 minutes and decided enough was enough.  Officially checked in or not we were going to dinner.   

Our original dinner plan, before arriving in Rome,  was to eat at only places who a) did not recruit customers and b) did not translate their menu for foreigners.  We broke both rules the first time out.  We wandered into the night and found a restaurant with kitchy checkered table clothes, full recruitment and translation.  Despite all, or perhaps because of it, the food was delicious.  

And despite the late hour and our extreme fatigue we felt safe. Not for a moment did I worry about my children in the city at night.  It’s well lit, people are everywhere and one doesn’t worry walking about; not even really about pickpocketing (assuming one takes the most basic of precautions.  And by this I don't mean wearing your backpack on your front or bringing a God awful fanny pack or, God forbid, wearing a money belt.  I simply mean keep your wallet in a zipped purse if you are a woman and in a front pocket if you are a man.  Be mildly cognizant of your surroundings. And then get on with your life, trust people and enjoy yourself. Honestly.) 

After dinner we came home and crashed hard.  Simply put we were exhausted and could not stay awake one minute longer.  After one very long day we were finally settling in Rome.  

*** *** ***

*With five it is difficult and expensive to stay in hotels.  Instead we stayed at the Navona House rented via  It’s got two rooms, a pull out couch, a simple kitchen and a bathroom.  It’s not perfect -- the drain in the tub clogs, we found a lizard in the bedroom (who knew there were lizards in Rome) and, of course, there were the troubles checking in.  Despite all this it was/is perfect for us -- near main attractions and yet just far enough off the beaten path.  And, besides, when in a foreign country who spends that much time at their hotel anyway?  Not us.  That's for sure.  

Next up?  Day two.  


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