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soggy clothes and angels

March 25, 2009

Day 7 –  Getting to Rome

I had the idea to take advantage of the self-service laundry facilities available at our Florence hotel in the morning before we left for Rome. Little did I know, however, that there was only one washer and one dryer and we had about 3 loads of laundry to do in the three hours before our train. We sorted by priority and cut it down to two loads, but all the clothes were still wet when it was time for us to leave. We packed up all of our wet clothes in the hopes that there would be an iron in our room in Rome.

The journey to Rome was a quick hour and a half trip through beautiful hilly pastures. Our arrival instructions were to take the Metro to Piazza Barberini and wait there for the hotel shuttle that picks up hourly. It was 2:15 when we emerged from the subway, so we figured we had about 45 minutes to wait. After an hour with no shuttle, we started wandering the area attempting to ask the local shop owners if they knew where/when the shuttle would arrive. We got information that we were in the right place, but we later found out that we arrived during the afternoon break and the next shuttle wasn’t due to arrive until 4. So we waited and waited and waited some more.

bedWe were finally whisked away in our chariot and after a 20 minute ride over the river and up the hill, we arrived at the Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. It was the fanciest hotel I’ve ever set foot in. I absolutely loved our room. The bed was heavenly, the pillows twice the size of normal pillows, there was a a towel warmer in the bathroom, and they left chocolate on our pillows every night. But in the minutes we spent outside our room, in the lobby, the lounge, the pool area, I felt very out of place. Everywhere we went it felt like we were being watched. I guess people who pay 400 Euro a night for a room expect that kind of “attentiveness”, but it bothered me. I suppose there are worse things in life than a free pretentious hotel.

Despite the numerous amenities, there was no iron in our room. They told us it was a security issue, but directed us to their laundry service where we could pay $7-12 Euros per piece for them to iron it. Um, no thanks. So we draped our clothes all over their fancy room like rednecks. (Note: in case you’re ever in a hotel room with a towel warmer, but no iron, just dampen your clothes and hang them on the towel warmer. Works like magic! )

colosseumAfter depositing our soggy laundry, we decided to get back on the shuttle and see what we could see of Rome in the last remaining hours of our first day. We walked to the Colosseum and saw it for the first time just as the sun was setting. It was beautiful all lit up, and we spent quite  a while there soaking it all in. From there we walked to the Piazza della Rotunda to see the Pantheon, also quite magnificent at night. The piazza was alive with musicians and a fair crowd of people who were there to eat and drink and soak up the city. We were drawn into a little café in the piazza for our first Roman dinner. I had cannelloni, roasted veal and chocolate gelato while we were serenaded with classic Italian opera songs. I think it was my favorite night in Rome.pantheon

We finished our dinner after the last shuttle returned to the hotel, so we were on our own to get back. There is no metro service near the hotel, so we opted to give the bus a try. I had pretty clear instructions about which bus to take and where to get off, but alas, the driver hadn’t heard of the stop we were told to take. So we got off the bus when we thought we were somewhere close and found ourselves standing on the side of the road, clueless as to how to get back to our hotel.

It wasn’t long before a young lady and an elderly gentleman approached us and asked, in pretty good English, if we needed help. We tried to explain that we were trying to get to the Hilton. Finally the older gentleman said “Ah! HEELTONE!” and pointed up to the top of the hill. They said they could help us get there and invited us to follow them. After a few minutes they headed through a gate that said “private property” and again motioned for us to follow. Knowing that they were our only hope, we followed reluctantly.

After a few more minutes they started talking to each other in Italian and motioning here and there. Then the lady said something to us that I didn’t understand, followed by “just need to sleep, and I will show you the way.” Then the man stayed put and the lady started walking farther into what seemed to be an apartment complex, motioning for us to follow her. I wasn’t sure what to think at that point. Was she taking us to her house so she could take a nap? Did they really understand where we were trying to go? We walked a little farther through the complex and eventually emerged atop a hill that led directly to the Hilton, and it occurred to me that what she was trying to say earlier was that her father needed to rest at the bottom of the hill while she showed us the way. I felt really silly for doubting her because she was the nicest person we met through the whole trip. She apologized for her poor English (which was great compared to my Italian) and pointed us in the right direction and then disappeared back down the hill. In my mind, she was an angel sent straight from God.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 25, 2009 10:16 pm

    I love the photos of you with the enormous pillows and by the colosseum! And those two had to – had to – have been angels!!

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