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canoeing, kayaking and other adventures

canoeing and kayaking adventures born in the Southeastern U.S. and now centered in Scotland...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rome - 5/6/2008 - 8/6/2008

So the Romans make the Milanese look organised and efficient, which should tell you our Roman holiday had its share of adventures. I knew better than to prepurchase train tickets to Rome -- I probably would have had to go to Rome to collect them. Instead, we got tickets from one of the friendly machines in the station. Then had to ask to find out which train was the Rome train because intermediate stations weren't mentioned on the boards and final train destinations weren't mentioned on the tickets.

With Milan behind us, we boarded the train to find our designated seats occupied. We took someone else's who took someone else's. And so on. The Swiss scheme didn't really work with the Italian mindset, I guess? We arrived to Rome Termini and decided to make a run for Ostiense to see if we could get the early train to Bassano. In theory, it could work. In practice, if you don't know Rome, it can't. We got to the subway but couldn't find a map of it anywhere. Eventually, we found the information desk who couldn't give us a map either and eventually again, Brian was able to ask which way to Ostiense. The lady said linea B, which was partially helpful. Which way on linea b? Not the way we chose initially. Which station along linea B? Certainly not one labelled Ostiense. We exited at Pyramide and eventually (again) followed a nice woman along the unlabelled corridor to the next corridor that led to Ostiense. We arrived about five minutes late for our train.

Thankfully, we didn't have to wait a full hour to the next train. SMS with Arishaya got us on a different train that was close enough for her to collect us. Soon after, we got to catch up with the rest of the Noorani Smiths including two legged puppies, four legged puppies and their step-rat. I even got Saesha calling Bets rat, which may not please her grandmother.

Friday morning was a leisurely morning with Shiana off to school and everyone else not in such a rush to go anywhere. We had a nice lunch beside the lake and then caught the train in to Rome. Our plan was to wander around the old places and find out about tours, eventually meeting up with everyone else at the restaurant for dinner.

We saw old places and found out about some bus tours, but eventually bumped into an evening tour of Rome that set us up for Vatican tourism the next day. We were worried about timing of the walking tour and dinner, but turns out we had plenty of time so instead nipped up to the Trevi fountain and Spanish steps before heading back to the river.

The Romans locked themselves out and puppies in Lenore's flat, so plans for dinner at the restaurant were thwarted by the need to get back into said flat by whatever means necessary. A spare set of keys were with a kind neighbour so that problem was solved. Eventually. Dinner became takeaway. Brian, Shiana and I kept Saesha busy while Ron stressed about the car being ticketed or hit or whatever and Arishaya collected dinner from the restaurant.

Vatican was impressive, not as much from the outside (although it is a bit of a fortress) as from the inside. The Sistine Chapel is just another boring building outside but obvious wow inside. Our tour guide was an expat American who seemed very educated and excited about the art history as we wandered through the museum collections leading up to the main event. He left us just outside St Peter's Basilica. Though he recommended the view from the castle at the other end of the Vatican complex, Brian wanted to make the climb of St Peter's again and show me that view.

Up up up and then more up. Some people spent extra for the lift, but really it wasn't worth it. The majority of steps were unavoidable. The views from the top were amazing and worth the trek. The gift shop just before the divergence with the elevator crowd were a little surreal. I bought a postcard and a stamp from a nun worker and sent the card by Vatican post. Anything mailed from the Vatican goes by way of Switzerland which means if you want something you mail to get somewhere else, you send it from the Vatican. Our tour guide had told a long, sad story of a lost camera lens that hasn't been found for nearly 2 years now.

Vatican consumed pretty much all of Saturday. We were first back to the flat and took the puppies for a nice walk in the neighbourhood. As usual, Angelo was an angel on the lead and Tara was, well, Tara. With Arishaya's mother (finally) back in Rome, the rat was back with her person.

On Sunday, we had a late flight home so hoped to see the Coliseum and possibly Palentine Hill. We were successful, but barely. Our tour guide for the Coliseum was a chain smoking Italian who seemed to revel in talk of blood, guts and gore. They didn't let us play with any lions or tigers, sadly. The woman who led us around Palentine Hill was a PhD student in theology so her stories covered a bit more broad topics. We had just enough time for a brisk walk back to the flat to collect luggage and travel to the train station with half of the Noorani Smiths. Ron had to stay behind to work at the restaurant so the puppies stayed with him.

Surprisingly, we didn't have many difficulties getting to the airport. Getting me fed at the airport was difficult, though not surprisingly in the land of pasta and customer service that makes Britain's look helpful. We were late getting home and appropriately tired from all of the adventures, a perfect mood for Brian to start a new job the next morning.

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