Thursday, 28 February 2019

Hilton Garden Inn (Rome, Italy)

Hussein and I said our good-byes at the Cairo airport early yesterday morning. He was able to get on an earlier flight back to Luxor and my flight to Rome was scheduled to leave at about the same time.

Hard to believe that I’ve been traveling for nearly three years and this is my first time in Rome. I knew there would be a lot to see here so I’m staying until the 7th of March. It wasn’t planned to wait this long to visit Rome, it just worked out that way. Nice to know the weather looks good for while I’m here.

I arrived at Fiumicino International Airport on time, made it through Passport Control fairly quickly and picked up my suitcase. Doing prior research, I learned there are a number of ways to get into Rome from the airport. I selected the easiest and quickest way – the Leonardo Express.

I knew I was tired, because of the early flight, but also seemed like I was coming down with a cold. When I asked the person selling the tickets for the Leonardo Express where to catch the train, she was only willing to point to the station and not tell me which track I will find the train. I normally don’t get very irritated, but I kept my mouth shut and didn’t press the point. I just walked toward the tracks and asked a few people until someone pointed out the LE train to me.

When I arrived via the LE (Leonardo Express) at Rome Termini (the main station in Rome) I was not feeling any better and decided to take a taxi to the hotel rather than a bus. All was well with the taxi driver until it became time to pay. I noticed that the fare had doubled as we arrvied to the hotel to 24 Euro. I thought that maybe it was doubled because of the time of day. When I gave him a 50 Euro bill and he returned 10 Euro I looked him in the eye and said, “You need to give me back 26 Euro.” And handed him back the 10 Euro. Another lesson learned, even some licensed taxi drivers (thankfully not all) will on occasion try to cheat you.

By the time I got to my room I was dead tired. Soon after, I was asleep. When I woke the first time I took a decongestant then fell asleep for another hour. I realized I told Barbara that I’d call her when I arrived in Rome and fortunately it was a good time for her to talk. We have our trip to Malta fairly well planned out, but need to work on our activities in Sicily. We made good progress and I’m feeling good about what we have planned.

By this time I needed food and walked down the street until I found a pizza place, just to get a quick take out. Their calzone looked good so I ordered that. Just 3 Euro. On the way back to the hotel I passed a pharmacy and on a hunch went in to see if they carried a pain reliever that contained naproxen, the active ingredient in Aleve. They did! As I’ve written before, Aleve isn’t sold in Europe and never over the counter. You have to ask for it. My back has been acting up and I ran out (finally) of the supply that Corrine brought me over a year ago. Barbara will bring me a fresh supply when I see her next month. This small supply will keep my back in good working order until I see Barbara.

It was an early night last night for me and slept very well until morning. This morning I was up fairly early for my Hilton breakfast. The scrambled eggs here were the best I’ve ever had at a Hilton. Also, I like my room very much. Nothing fancy, but good-sized, large bed, balcony and it faces away from the busy street.

I did return to my room after breakfast and fall asleep again, then began to unpack before setting off to explore Rome. I wasn’t in too much of a rush to leave because I knew it was going to be a long day since I have an evening Segway tour. But I managed to get out of the hotel by 1:30 and took my time to walk to my first stop, Trevi Fountain. Along the way I stopped a number of times, not just to rest my back, but to enjoy the everyday Italian people – walking, driving, talking, etc. I knew I was headed towards the tourist part of the city and enjoying some relaxing time along the way seemed like a good introduction to the city.

I managed to get to the fountain by 3:15 and took several pictures while I was there. Took a video of a couple who just got engaged. I wasn’t expecting that! The fountain is so beautiful and the monument in the background makes the whole scene work perfectly. But now I was hungry and wanted to see the Pantheon before meeting up with the Segway tour at 4:30. I wasn’t looking for a McDonald’s and just when I was getting ready to commit to one place I saw the McDonald’s sign down the next block. Perfect!

By the time I ate my burger I decided to walk directly to the Segway tour place. It was a good thing I did. It was very busy around that area and got turned around a couple of times before locating the tour office.

Turned out it was just three of us. A couple from Wales and me. As a result, we were able to get a somewhat early start. After a little Segway practice we were on our way. I’m not going to list everything we saw, but we saw some traditional sites and were introduced to a few that were not on any of our lists. We had a great time and discovered that our guide is an expert at knowing where to find the best gelato and what excellent gelato should taste like. Around the tourist areas you can find gelato shops down every street and our guide knew which ones were good and the ones to avoid.

After three hours of riding a Segway we were all ready to call it an evening. The couple from Wales were about half my age, but good to see we were all equally done in.

When I got back to the hotel (via taxi) I stopped by a different shop (than the one last night) across the street and ordered a ham-egg-cucumber sandwich for 2.5 Euro. That is all I want tonight. I’ll be in bed soon after finishing this blog update. Not sure what I’m going tomorrow, but there is so much to see, I’m sure I’ll find something.

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