Monday, October 17, 2005

Rome - Day One

Friday 14th

It almost didn’t start at all. After having spent a very rushed evening finishing up at work, going down to my Spanish classes and packing / tidying the house up, it was rather late (or shall I say early) before we got a chance to go to bed. Me being the “once-I’ve-hit-the-hay-good-luck-with-getting-me-up” type of girl, I never heard the alarms go off and hadn’t it been for F, would have missed the flight. I am told that she almost didn’t get up either so whoever was in charge of Fate that night… thank you. Thankfully, Dublin is actually rather pleasant to drive through at 5am and we got to the airport in no time.

I am very pleased that the dreaded repeat of the hundreds of meters long queues did not occur and everything there went very smoothly. Flight was eventless, slept for a good chunk of it only to wake up after the food and above the Alps, basked in the early morning light… Switched on the iPod, listened to some music together, one earpiece each cause of course we had forgotten the splitter; meaningful looks were exchanged along with the feeling that this was going to be a great weekend.

This of course was not to last. Arrived in Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport, got our first (of many) taste of Italian fast-food (plastic-y focaccia) while waiting for the train to take us into town to Termini Station (if you ever go to Rome and need to make the same trip, there’s a nice little summary here, got Metro tickets, got into the metro to reach the B&B on the other side of town (when we actually realized where the B&B was located, we gathered that traveling in and out was going to take forever), found the street, found the black gate on the left of the Chinese Pizzeria (yeah… I know) and then nothing. No mention of the name of the B&B on the intercom. No plaque, nothing. So we called. No answer. Called the second number. That’s when we’re told they have no booking. Not even asking our name or anything. But he said he was going to come down after we insisted that yes... he had.

Five minutes later and nobody’s come down, or at least not for us. People living in the building and exiting it are looking at us funny. So I decide to go for a recon. I mean, maybe there’s another black gate on the other side of the Chinese Pizzeria and the guy’s waiting for us there. No signs of a B&B there either. Just an Internet Café that will later save our sanity and a dirty courtyard. So I went back. Guy calls back, says he can't find our booking. We don't have the name of the guy we talked to twice to confirm the booking. The B&B is full, no room at the inn. turns out the guy is in Naples and we're calling his mobile. How he was going to come down and get us is slightly bewildering but that's the least of our problem. We've just wasted 2 hours between travelling to the place and talking to the obnoxious owner and here we are, stranded in Rome with no accomodation in the middle of the busy touristic period. At this stage, F is on the verge of a meltdown, oscillating between anger and despair.

So we go to the internet cafe down the road and start surfing. A lot of hotels are full, the cheap(er) ones are gorgeous but way out of town, the ones in town are rather expensive. We make a few phone calls (by that, I mean about 10) and bastard owner calls back, saying he found us somewhere. Gives us a phone number that doesn't work and much more cursing of his name ensues. We finally find a room at the Hotel Le Petit off Via Nazionale but only for one night, they're full on Saturday. The search continues and we eventually find another hotel (hotel Giolli) that has vacancies, on Via Nazionale, about 5 minutes walk from the first one. Neither of them are cheap in absolute terms and even in relative terms compared to the B&B but hey... can't afford to be choosy.

So here we are, trekking back into town to check in to the first hotel, drop down to the second hotel since they wouldn't take our booking over the phone, even with a credit card number. Italians are obsessed with faxes and that's one thing we didn't carry with us.. Damn.

So there we are. It's past 5pm, we've been up for 12 hours are we are finally ready to start the holidays.


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