When in Rome

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you sure can’t see it in
two.  But we’ve managed to pack in
a lot over the past 48 hours. 

This is where our organized tour began for the final two
weeks.  We’ll wind our way back to
Paris with stops in Florence, Venice, the Alps, and Burgundy as part of a Rick
Steves ‘Europe for the Family’ tour. 
Steves has been traveling and writing about Europe for more than 20
years and also has a travel show on PBS in the states.  I started out with the goal of
organizing our entire trip on the internet, but ended up bailing on that idea
after several weeks of pre planning. 

Story continues below

杭州楼凤

There were just too many decisions to make.  Rome/Florence/Pisa….. 2 nights or 3?   Hotels or hostels?  Why won’t they email me back?  Which museums do we have to hit?  Do I need tour reservations?

An endless stream of decisions to make, and in many cases I
couldn’t get immediate answers.  To
be honest, the Steves tour changed our budget dramatically.  But it also helped take the stress out
of planning the whole thing because it was becoming a nightmare.   I’ll let you know whether it’s
worth it or not at the end.

We rolled off
the train from Paris to Rome Saturday morning at about 10am. Goodbye to the
helpful French classes that surprisingly made a comeback in my cranium, Hello
to ‘Ciao’ as one of a handful Italian words I know.

( Buon giorno, arrivederci, and spaghetti round out my
list.)

We also quickly learned it was time to say ‘goodbye’ to any
traffic rules picked up, oh let’s say, over the past four decades.  Stuff like ‘red light means stop’.  Those kinds of things. 

Termini station is huge and busy. (isn’t this the place full
of thieving street urchins!?)  And
it’s hot.  Sticky hot.  We tumble off the train, money belts
firmly tightened, and begin looking for our hotel.  Bad move. 
Forget about looking for anything else outside of the termini except
what could possibly run you over. 
It’s a free-for-all and the rules have changed.  In theory our traffic rules are the
same, in practice they’re only ‘guidelines’.  Every time you venture out on a road—establish eye contact
with drivers before proceeding. 
They need to know you’re serious about crossing before they come to a
complete stop.

Safely in our hotel about ten minutes away we decide to kill
a few hours before we meet the tour group.  We were all blown away.  Walk down any street in any direction and you’ll tumble
across a huge monument, temple, church, fountain, statue, or ruins.  It was 2 hours of jaw droppers.

(And not just because I’ve seen the movie “Gladiator” ten
times.)   

Just a taste of what we’ll begin learning about
tomorrow.  But first, meeting our
travel mates.