Now that we have all the necessary souvenirs, Brendan, Geoff and I head off to Rome in the BMW. Keith and his mom, Gail are staying an extra week and are traveling to Rome by train since there’s not enough room for all of our stuff in the car. (Ask Keith how the Tower of Pisa was…)
Bren and I have made reservations in advance at a hotel right near the airport. Geoff hasn’t got any, but figures he can probably get a room at the same hotel. He can, but it’s in the hostel room, which has three beds, a shared bathroom and no AC. Our room though has air conditioning so we crank it up and lounge around for a few minutes.
We don’t really have a whole lot of time, but since we’re so close to Rome, we have to go in. We first decide to wait for the bus that stops at the corner, but it doesn’t seem to be coming that often and it’s really really hot out. So, we decide to drive to the airport (since we have to figure out how to do that anyway), and take the train into the city. This train is easy enough to figure out, it’s the metro that gives us all sorts of problems. The machines that dispense fare cards are finicky. Extreme pain in the ass. Then you take the card, and put it through another machine and it stamps the time and date on it. Then you get on the metro. I take the DC metro every day, so it’s not like it’s terribly complex, but the doors on the metro car don’t automatically open, you’ve got to press a button. Well, we can’t get the one to work at the Coliseum stop, so we end up getting off at the next one and then trying to find our way.
It’s not all that difficult, the Coliseum is an easy thing to spot.
The whole thing amazes me. You see something on TV all the time, and then once you get there it’s just breathtaking. The rocks and the stone are what really impress me. Just thinking about how centuries of people have walked on them and worn them down is just awe inspiring. I’m walking up the same stairs as some of history’s most important people. It just blows my mind.
And the sheer engineering that had to go into everything!
The forum which is down the old Roman road from the Coliseum is pretty fascinating as well.
Old buildings and stones are everywhere. I can’t help but think about how young the US is at times like this.
We try and hook up with Keith and Gail who should be in their hotel by now, but are unsuccessful, so we have a late lunch and take the metro (without getting new tickets, just hoping we don’t get caught with invalid passes) and the train back to the car and then to the hotel.
The next day is pretty uneventful, except that Bren and I almost missed our connection in Heathrow. The line through customs was painfully long, and then there was a shuttle bus ride to the other terminal, a run to the ticket counter where we were told that they just made a last call for our seats and we’ve just made it, another run to the gate all the way at the end of the hall, and then being seated in the very back of the plane. So, always, always leave at least two hours for transfers at Heathrow. An hour is not nearly enough.
September 15, 2001
This this time through the Alps, it’s snowing a little and much clearer. It’s very quiet and pretty. We were planning to go into Italy, but doesn’t seem such a safe idea.
We arrive back in Zurich early in the afternoon. The hotel, the Coronado is much easier to find than the first place in Zurich. It is also much much nicer, except for the freaky clown picture facing the bed. Here we have an actual double bed: one solid mattress, but a scary, rickety elevator.
We go back to Luzern since it’s a short drive and we didn’t like Zurich much anyway. We hunt for some boxers for Brendan. Apparently, the Swiss don’t wear regular boxers; they are all briefs and boxer brief kind of people. Fortunately, we find a department store just prior to closing and purchase some seriously expensive cotton boxers.
Then we head to the touristy junk stores. Actually, there was a fair amount of nice stuff. I spent some time marveling at some Lladro. This one is particularly amazing because of all the tiny little porcelain flowers. A saleswoman comes over and asks me if I’m interested. Nope, just looking. Sorry. We do get some little gifts for my brothers. The bag is the tackiest thing I have ever seen. I make Brendan carry it, because it embarrasses him so much.
We realize that we don’t have a picture of us together in this, our favorite city on the trip. We follow our guts and approach an older gentleman with a fluorescent green fanny pack and ask him to take our picture. This, is the result:
We were in the middle of explaining the camera when he abruptly took the picture and gave us the camera back. It’s my favorite one of the whole trip.
Back in Zurich it is hard to find a place to eat because it’s Sunday. Finally, after walking several blocks, find a pizza place. Everyone thinks we’re weird for eating it with our hands. Also, pepperoni means red and green peppers, not meat (this comes in handy later when we go to Italy for Vince’s wedding).