There are two types of people in this world: those who sleep on planes, and those who ruin sleep on planes. We have the fortune of sitting beside the latter on our 9 hour flight to Rome.
I have never experienced such inconsiderate people for that length of time. The child, who clearly has severe ADD and a case of accidental parents, sang and made whimpering noises the entire time. He was at least 6, so probably could have outgrown that by now – at least he could have grown out of the incessant “click click click” of beating his two play toys together.
The one hour that he did fall asleep – which was, conveniently, the only hour I slept – his mother stood beside our seats and talked loudly to her husband, who never responded to her. Seriously, this guy was like the Great Wall – he did not say a word, did not acknowledge any of his family members, even when his child beat on his arm screaming “PAPA, PAPA”. Seemed like a pretty well-put together family.
In the spirit of my last trip to Europe (for the Cannes Film Festival), I watch three movies. I do not choose these movies based on their accredited directors, like I might have at the festival. Instead, I choose them in order of whether or not Josh will ever watch them with me. I decide to go with The Bounty Hunter, When in Rome, and Cop Out – bad, better, best – respectively. I figure he’d watch Cop Out, but I had to take in a comedy for the last 2 hours when the child had driven me up the walls and nearly out on the wings (better to throw him, of course).
Once we land, we go through customs and baggage claim (uneventful, for once) and then get the awful feeling of not seeing our name on a cardboard sign, as had been arranged prior to our arrival. I call the hotel, who calls the transfer company, who confirms some sort of miscommunication and recommends that we just take a taxi. The wonderful concierge does promise us a great room upgrade, so we have that to look forward to.
We head out into the open arms of Sandro, a 70-year old man who looks like an older, shorter version of Kraemer. Or some sort of magician. Besides his texting while driving and the general paranoia I get riding in any big city – where cars narrowly scrape by one another – Sandro turns out to be awesome. He shows us a few sights along the way to our hotel and teaches me a few Italian words. Bieni? Bueni? Don’t judge. He just taught me how to say them, not how to spell them.
I’m amazed at the monuments and ruins displayed in the middle of the city – right beside the highway, we pass by like they’re commonplace. Which, I guess they are here – but I’ve never seen something so old and well-preserved in the States. This might be because no one was hanging out and building empires in the US thousands of years ago. Sill, if a building is over 50 years old, we typically tear it down and build a newer one. I like the respect for history – Sandro tells us about the digs for a new metro system in Rome. They keep coming upon ruins – at which point the mission turns into an archeological dig. We wouldn’t know what to do with a ruin if it hit us – probably just continue digging through.
We arrive at the Excelsior, where we fall asleep in the lobby while waiting for our room (we got here about 4 hours before check-in… oops). The hotel is gorgeous, a real treat to indulge in after that miserable train ride.
Once we are escorted to our spacious, upgraded room (thank you, Virtuoso!), we have no other choice but to give into our jetlag and take a 5 hour nap. Thank goodness they’ve already set out my rollaway bed – although I could have slept on the floor at this point. It was well worth it, as we woke up energized and ready to explore.
Mom and Dad approve of their first Italian dinner, although I manage to order the wrong thing. Still, I’m glad they can experience what I’ve been telling them about: really really great food!
Fat and happy, we move toward our goal of the night: exploring the Spanish Steps – just a 10 minute walk from our hotel. The steps are really beautiful, although we do mistake just a simple set of stairs for them upon arrival.
Once we find the real Spanish Steps, we realize the irony: the Epperly family is infamous for falling up and down stairs (three members of my family have managed to break the same finger by falling down stairs – all within a year of one another). Why in the world have we come to a place that is nothing but… steps? Hazard lurks in this monument, but we manage (surprisingly!) not to trip. Mom even scores a great set of roses from a street vendor. He gives them to her as a gift, but she quickly realizes that the gift requires payment, or else he will follow you around for ten minutes. Beware of the sneaky rose men.
Since everything in Rome is so old, we keep seeing buildings from far away that look important. We walk and walk and walk to each building, only to discover it’s something mundane – like part of a Guess clothing store (mundane?! I think not!). We manage to cover a lot of ground and, combined with the leftover jetlag, we’re pretty beat. Which is why the writing in this post shouldn’t live up to my usual, I hope.
That about does it for now – be ready for a whole lot of Vatican tomorrow!