I have just come into my room after eating a salad and wolfing down a plate of rigatoni arrabiata like a barbarian, taken off my boots for the first time in 24 hours, peeled off my socks, cried over my pruney feet, and plugged in my DEAD (for the first time in history) cell phone.
I am so tired that this will be brief. My room is very nice, but a cavern would be nice after the last 24 hours of travel. In keeping with my plan to experience part of this trip as my ‘Junior Year Abroad,’ I forced myself to take public transportation to the B&B from the airport. Not as easy as it sounds. It had its ups and downs.
The ups? On the train from Fiumicino to Rome Termini, I shared my little quartet of seats with two young Japanese guys. They spent the whole time practicing Italian words. You can’t imagine how many different ways there are to pronounce “Noodle.” And I was the hit of the train when my Tumi bag rolled down the aisle the entire length of the car all on its own.
When I needed help, which was often, most people were gracious. The two glaring exceptions? A miserable Guardia Civil guy and an old man on the street. After hearing my query, he just put up his hand, shook his head, and kept walking. He probably thought I was a lunatic. I have renamed the trip ‘A Senior Moment Abroad,’ or better yet, ‘A Broad having a Senior Moment.’ I can barely speak English, let alone use the months of Italian tutoring my friend Carlotta afforded me.
The downs? I tried to use my cell phone Google map app to get from the bus stop to my room. It should have been a walk of less than a 1/4 mile. Instead, 30 minutes later, I had effectively scaled Mount Everest tugging my 500 lb. rolling Tumi behind me and I was lost. A call to the landlady confirmed that the B&B is at the base of the hill. Damn you, Google Maps. And damn all my preaching that hot yoga can serve as adequate cardio. It can’t.
There are reasons that youth is a good time for bohemian travel adventures. Scaling Rome’s seven hills, including the one that led to my B&B, is on the top of that list.
Turns out my B&B hostess, Laura, was an au pair in England in the late 60′s, a stewardess for Alitalia in the 70′s, and an official Rome Tour Guide in the 80′s and beyond. She’s obviously scaled a few mountains herself. I breathe a sign of relief. I am in good hands.
Laura shows me my room (thank God there are no stairs), and informs me that breakfast is between 7 and 10 am. By the looks of things (me) she tells me that she’ll be happy to hold it until I wake up.
Still unaware that I have turned the human-to-zombie corner, I ask about directions to the catacombs and she looks at me with a jaundiced eye.
“I think we should discuss it tomorrow in the morning over breakfast,” she says. Which turns out to be a great idea.
As I fall asleep, my feet ache, the pillow doesn’t smell of home, and an accordion is playing O Sole Mio in the street. But the Basilica of St. Peter is illuminated outside my window. I smile. I’m here. It’s all worth it. Rome, is after all, Rome.