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Mar 24 2012

Roma Day 1

Day one in Rome is, unfortunately, shortened by the travel time to arrive. In true Restless Tech fashion it was a planes, trains and automobiles event.

The automobile was the taxi in Frankfurt. 4AM came very early this morning. So early in fact that I must have turned my alarm off. I was awakened by the front desk calling me to tell me my cab was here.

Oops.

I was actually walking out the door 20 minutes later, packed and clean and tucked in the back of a Mercedes cab for a harrowing trip to with FRA with a cabbie who spoke almost no English, which is highly unusual in Deutschland.

After that, a simpler plane (2 actually on Austrian Airlines) and a than a train from the airport to the Rome Termini station called the Leonardo Express.

I am a big fan of public transport in Europe and high speed and local above ground trains are among the best example of these. The Leonardo is a non-stop, electric train from FCO to the heart of Roma. 15 euros and 30 minutes later I was rolling smoothly into the train station, although it took me most of the ride to determine that I sat in a “reserved for handicapped and elderly” section.

Oops…watch for symbol driven signs in non-intuitive places. The train was a short trip from the gate and signs in the FCO airport are not bad although it greatly helps to know that the trains leave from the 3rd level. Quick tip on the train, you have to validate your ticket in one of the yellow machines by the entrance. The printer is along the left edge of the slot so line it up along that side. They will fine you if you don’t do so!

Arriving at the Hotel Koru on Via Cavour brought us to a trendy old building with a modern veneer. White and green are the predominant colors in the public areas with blue and white in the rooms. The rooms are small but they were clean and the shower and AC work well. The walls are a bit thin…so be restrained in your comments about your traveling companions.

Breakfast is inclusive. There is a nod to an American breakfast ( bad eggs and Vienna sausages) but skip it and go Euro. The ham, salami and breads are exactly what you go to Italy for so indulge. Besides, it is going to be a long day!

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Above is a couple of bites into lunch before I thought to snap a pic. Small spiral pasta (trofe) with pesto, sliced zucchini and a couple of pieces of potato. Who knew potatoes in pasta would be awesome?

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This is me demonstrating my shutter bug wife taking a picture of me at lunch.

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The coliseum was an easy walk from our hotel and as much as any tourist destination I have ever visited, it completely delivers on its promise. The scale of it all is imposing and the echoes of blood thirsty crowds still ring in my ears as I look around. After about 2 hours of gawking here we jumped on the Metro and took it through a couple of stops to the Termini a change in trains and off to the Barberini stop.

The Italian Metro is not quite as comprehensive (nor as clean) as the London Tube. It will get you there but you do occasionally need to throw an elbow around to get onto the train.

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The Trevi fountain was a madhouse once we found it. It is not a simple jaunt off of the stop and we asked directions three times. We were desperately happy to get the occasional sign pointing us a direction. We did drop the obligatory coin to make sure that we would go back to Rome!

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A short jaunt up the via brought us to the Spanish steps. The beggars and purveyors here are EXTREMELY aggressive and will try every trick in the book on you. Do not take “gifts” and try not to make eye contact.

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We finished the day with dinner at Il Gabreilo in classic European timing. We sat down about 9:30 to a wonderful meal ( prosciutto with melon and a sea bass with tomatoes and clams that they delivered whole, but deboned and filleted for us. Lovely and subtle and then a crepe with chocolate and pistachios for dessert. It was all that…and a bag of chips.

Another ride with a short transfer brought us back to the hotel fat, dumb and happy. My poor wife was falling asleep before her head hit the pillow.

All in all an abbreviated but perfectly lovely day.

Tomorrow? The Vatican and the Pantheon!

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