Florence / Rome
Rome Travel Blog› entry 23 of 26 › view all entries
June 29th, 2010 – by: coles
We bought train tickets departing to Rome around 1530 so we got up early and started walking directly to the Uffuzi. We found a cafe nearby and had coffee and pastries before going around to the front and being surprised how long the line was at 0815.
We were not up for another line and museum tour crammed in before our train's departure and also we didn't really trust our hotel's reception hours. We were told that they would close from 1200 - 1400 but what if they came back late and our bags would be stuck inside the office? Even the hotel's own web page only says reception hours are from 0830 to 0930 and check in hours are from 1400 to 2130 when in fact the day before I was told by hotel staff the reception opened at 1200, then told 1500, and the girl finally arrives around 1530.
Checked out, booked a cab, and at the station stood on line to change the ticket. Got on the 1210 train and arrived more or less on time around 1345.
When I booked our hotel I knew it was close to the Termini central train station but never took a good look at the map. Go out and grab a cab and to be fair the cabbie said something along the lines of "it takes about 5 minutes to go around the station". I figured it would take a while because of traffic but what he was saying was that our place was real close. We get out of the cab and I can see the north side of the train station just down the block. Should of done some better planning when booking the hotel! Our room was nice enough, even though I was surprised that we had the first room to the left just as one leaves the lobby.
We arrived on a holiday, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul which, in Italy, is only celebrated in Rome, or so I was told by the receptionist when I asked for recommendations on where to eat. She was concerned most places would be closed. No worries. We found out later we were in a tourist accomondation neighborhood and even though many restaurants were shuttered we were able to enjoy a good lunch at the Taverna Pretoriana.
All the tobacco shops were closed but at the Metro we were able to buy 3-day passes except for Ray who could travel free. We took the metro to the Forum and a good tip from Rick Steve's guide book was to buy a Rome pass at the tobacco shop in the Colosseo metro station. Fortunately this kiosk was open and we paid for 4 passes. The girl said that the boys could get in free at all the museums and sites if they were born somewhere in the EU but I figured I didn't want to go lying claiming we were from the UK or Ireland. Anyway big up to Rick Steve and his guidebook because the line for the Colosseum tickets was very long or at least too long to endure with the heat and I was prepared for the onslaught of offers for a guide.
We spent a while touring the Colosseum but eventually the heat got to us all and we had to find a shaded area and rest on one of the sections of column laid horizontally against the walls. The cab driver said something about how hot it was when taking us on our short drive to the hotel and I thought he was muttering something about "quaranta gradi". It sure seemed like 40 degrees (104 Fahrenheit) but I was surprised when we got home and looked up the weather that during our whole stay in Rome the highest temperature was about 30.5 C / 87 F. Maybe we are just used to foggy NorCAL.
After the Colosseum we toured the Palantine Hill. It was hard to get the boys excited about the ruins here and we went out of our way to get a view of the old Circus Maximus which now days is really only a dirt track with a raised mound in the middle. Even though it is just a dirt tract I explained to the boys that every time they see an old movie on Rome such as Ben Hur with the chariot races or read about it in history they at least have a visual memory of the area and it's physical relationship to the rest of the famous buildings.
We were all hot, thirsty and tired but everyone picked up once we reached the Forum and explored the impressive ruins here.
Back to the hotel. Michiyo wasn't hungry but I wanted something to eat and even though the boys weren't hungry they took the opportunity to get some gelato. Unfortunately we wound up at the Rossi Tre on Via Palestro 57. A world cup game was on so I figured I would just get a plate of tagliatelle and watch some of the match while drinking a couple of beers. Now I am by no means a pasta expert but ever since Gio turned me on to some good tagliatelle in Le March I ordered it a few times and the pasta here just didn't measure up. Now to be fair I just asked Ray what he thought about the place and he said the pasta was great and "I wish I had more of it". Maybe the watery beer turned me off.
There was a lot of Americans eating in there and it seemed the American tipping disease had spread to Rossi because when I asked for the check the waiter asked about a tip (a first in Europe for me). American tipping culture + what tasted like American beer = I'm in Italy and can do better than this.
Please permit a small rant on this example of where America is a shining example in the world (facetious). How come in the US we allow the restaurant industry to grossly underpay waiters and waitresses and a 20% is expected (remember the days when it was 15%? next stop 30% ) but when I go eat with my family in Japan and Europe I can get better quality food and in Japan a whole lot better service for roughly the same price? Now in Japan the portions might be smaller and big steaks are out but the food quality consistently beats most anything in the US unless one eats in a small family run ethnic restaurant or something 5 star.
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