Rome Day 2 - Winter Weather Calamaties

February 4, 2012

I think Scott said it best, "You should have known winter would find you at some point this year." Chicago has seen the mildest Winter in years (and people doubt Global Warming??) and I keep thinking we'll skirt around Winter entirely. I was proven wildly wrong in one day. Today has been so absurd I hardly know where to begin.

I'll start off by saying this...if you don't have a sense of humor about traveling and the situations you get into while traveling, you should not expect to have a good time on a trip. This will come into play later.

I wasn't able to sleep on the plane. Usually I can count a sheep or two and get the job done. This time...not so much. I had the two seat row all to myself, but it was just uncomfortable enough that I couldn't get the needed sleep. It was quite disappointing.

We walked through Immigration without a problem (or smile). They didn't ask questions or say a word. I can't decide if this is good or bad, but I didn't have to stress about not knowing Italian. And then we waited for the luggage. And waited. And waited. Ultimately, I don't know how long we waited for the luggage, but we landed at 9a and got into line for the bus to our hotel (area) at about 1030a. It was a long wait. And stressful when all of your clothes and toiletries are in the luggage that's MIA. Yes, I know I should pack some extras in my carryon. I just don't. And considering I packed like a moron this time, I'm just happy to not have missed anything vital. Except for the eye mask...and neck pillow...and space bags...

The bus seemed easy enough. It stopped at Termini Rome. It stopped near our hotel. Two stops total. First, we waited in a crazy long line. We figured we were in the right line. And we seemed to be leading the charge for the rest of the Americans on our flight. They looked to us for what to do. Ok. We make up our own rules as we go along, so as long as they could keep up or not ask too many questions, they could tag along. Turns out the bus didn't stop at our hotel area every day?? We weren't entirely sure why, but we rolled with the punches. We went to Termini Rome, then took the Metro to the stop near our hotel. This should have been a pretty easy plan. But we didn't factor in the snow.

Apparently, Rome has had snow twice in the last 15 years. Once being now. It's cold. Chicago-style cold. And they are not used to the snow, so it's everywhere. Not being plowed. Cause they don't get snow. Why would they have plows?? So maneuvering with suitcases was...hilarious. We got our luggage from the bus and started dragging them into the Termini. The streets are cobblestone anyway, so a wheeled suitcase would be difficult on the best days. This was far from the best day. So we're wheeling suitcases through the snow and stepping in giant puddles and sidestepping ice and giggling like crazy, cause we know we're a sight.

The good thing about the Termini is that we'll be back there in a few days when we go to Pompeii. So we saw the general area that we'll need to go (yay). And we eventually found the Metro...along with every other Roman and tourist in the city. The first platform was packed in a scary way. But we followed the signs to our train. Happily, our train was much less chaotic. We left the Metro and worked our way to the hotel.

The first thought was to catch a cab. We both had at least one bag that was pushing 30 pounds. And at this point, we got off the plane almost three and a half hours ago, so we're tired, hungry and ready to drop. But we didn't see any cabs and we thought, "It can't be that far away.". Cue the giggle fit.

The walk begins. We're dragging the suitcases through the snow and ice. We're laughing. We step in even bigger puddles. Our shoes are getting soaked and the melting snow is falling on our heads. The longer we walk, the funnier it gets. Part of it is that we'd basically been awake since 4a on Friday. I didn't know what time it was here. I didn't know what time it was at home, but we just couldn't stop laughing at how absurd this whole thing was.

Luckily, we made it to the hotel in one piece. We checked in (and left a massive puddle of snow and crud on the shiny lobby floors...way to make an entrance, girls!!), found our room and immediately had to figure out lunch. It was just about 1p. We knew where we wanted to go. It was a tiny restaurant back towards the Metro stop where we just walked with our luggage. The decision had to be we go here or find something closer. Who are we to ignore the lure of far away food??

Anthony Bourdain filmed an episode of The Layover in Rome and Adele and I have watched it multiple times. In the episode he says, if there's only one food to eat, you have to eat Cacio de Pepe. It's a spaghetti noodle with Parmesan and black pepper. Simple, but amazing. So he stopped at a place oddly called Cacio de Pepe. Which we had to find as well. And find it we did. This was a little hole in the wall joint where they spoke little English. We got a table inside and waited for the waiter to arrive. And menus. The waiter came by. The menus never did. But we knew...Cacio de Pepe. And I kept seeing plates of Carbonara come by, so we knew that was a go. Our waiter came and started speaking very fast Italian. Adele asked, "Englaise??". He shook his head and said, "Espanol??". Adele grinned and proceeded to order Italian food in Spanish. Hilarious. The food itself...holy kittens that was good. I want to know how to get pasta like that at home. The carbonara was glorious and the bacon was crispy and thick. Loved it. The Cacio de Pepe was good, but I'm not wild about black pepper. Still...we've used Bourdain as a guide in the past (and will again on Tuesday...and Saturday), and he hasn't steered us wrong yet.

About this time, we were in full on exhaustion mode. Adele could barely speak. My legs were shaking while sitting at lunch. We knew it was time for a nap. Our heads hit the pillow around 3p. The alarm started going off at 5p, but we slept to 6p. Fantastic.

We were still groggy, but knew we had to do something. The decision was made to knock a few items off of our list. We didn't know it at the time, but this was the best decision we could have made today. On the bus ride in, we saw the scrum of people around the Colosseum. Just a lot of people all trying to get the same pictures. We walked up to the Spanish Steps and we're able to take pictures with hardly anyone in the shot. We couldn't walk up the steps, cause they were so slippery. We never would have made it back down.

After a few blocks (and fabulous shopping options...I'm mentally shopping for a good something as a present for my promotion), we found the Trevi Fountain. And the lack of people there was shocking. Shocking!! Even better, it was all dark and the fountain was lit up beautifully that we have some fantastic pictures we wouldn't have had if we had plowed along earlier in the day. They're going to look amazing.

By this time, it was necessary for food consumption. We wandered around the fountain area a bit and found a little trattoria. I was worried at first, because it was a very touristy spot. But I shouldn't have been worried. We had great food and it was just what we needed.

After a walk back to the hotel, we quickly got settled in for a good sleep. It has to be good. We're exhausted. And this was only our first day...


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