Friday, 1 March 2019

Hilton Garden Inn (Rome, Italy)

Gosh, I’m going to have to get accustomed writing daily posts again. I was doing well while in Israel, Jordan and Lebanon but then took a week’s break. I really need to keep at this so I can remember everything, or at least most everything that I have seen and experienced while I travel.

Today I had another slow start. The walking around and riding a Segway yesterday didn’t help my back heal and I woke up very sore. It took a bit of walking around for me to feel better. Though it didn’t stop me from having my delicious Hilton breakfast!

Not wanting to do too much walking today, I decided that I needed to get a handle on Rome’s public transportation. The Hilton’s front desk helped get me started by talking me through the ticketing process. But first, I need a hair cut. Even though I don’t have a full head of hair, I’m accustomed to having it short and easy to manage. Recently I’ve woken up in the morning and find that the 1 inch of hair that I have remaining was making me look unkept. Via Google I found a barber down the street and near where I was to catch a bus to the historical part of Rome. Felt so good to have my hair short and manageable.

I didn’t have too much on my agenda for today, other than the haircut and to understand how the bus system works. I was planning to just go inside the Pantheon (saw the outside yesterday) and then go back up to Piazza Venezia where I could take an elevator up to the top of the monument there for a 360 degree view of the city.

After my haircut, the barber got me pointed in the right direction and just had to wait 15 minutes before the bus arrived. The first step is always the hardest. The hotel sold me a one-way ticket and my task for today was to get a 7-day pass for all of the city’s public transportation.

The bus dropped me off near the Pantheon and I walked 5 minutes to get the rest of the way. This was much better for my back. By now I was feeling more comfortable now that I was moving.

The Pantheon was one of the places I wanted to see the most. Fascinating building that has stayed pretty much intact as-is for nearly 1,800 years. The dome is what I find most interesting. Still, after all these years, it remains the largest unsupported dome in the world. With a hole in the ceiling. The history of the building is interesting (first a Roman temple, now a church) on the site of a former temple that was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus. Was glad I took the time to properly check out this site. Many interesting stories about this place, including the story about why the Italian artist Raphael was buried in the Pantheon. The answer was, because that is what he wanted.

On my way to Piazza Venezia I was thinking about lunch. It had been over 7 hours since I had breakfast and I just happened to walk down a street and found a restaurant that looked inviting. Good selection from looking at the menu and sat outside to enjoy the fresh air. (Not as warm as yesterday and a little cloudy.) I ordered ravioli with a mushroom and bacon filling. Perhaps a little salty, but tasted good and filled me up.

Many restaurants have someone standing outside inviting people in to dine. So much competition this time of year before the big push of tourists arrive. I was watching the guy at this restaurant talk to everyone who passed by. I wouldn’t be happy with a job like that. Hearing “no” so many times in a day would upset me. Reminded me of when I was working and my project teams and staff knew that “no” was not something that made me happy. (One of these days I’ll have to stop thinking about work.)

Was a nice walk up to Piazza Venezia. This piazza is considered the hub of Rome and where the magnificent Vittorio Emanuele II Monument stands, in honor of the first king of a unified Italy. He must have been some king, the building is huge! I knew that I wanted to go up inside then take the elevator to the top. The Segway guide last night said that the top of this building had probably the best view of Rome.

After climbing several flights of stairs (Renalto, my guide from last night) didn’t tell me there were so many stairs. But thankful that the elevator took me the rest of the way. He was very right about the view. Except for one spot that was being refurbished, you really had at 360 degree view of Rome. I now have a better feel for the city’s layout. So glad I had a chance to have this new perspective.

Now it was getting a bit late (and the middle of Rome’s rush hour) and the monument’s staff were starting to ask people to leave. Now was my chance to learn how to get back to the hotel on the bus. But first, I needed to buy a 7-day pass. I found a shop nearby and asked about where to buy a ticket and they were kind to point to a store that sold the passes. The guy in the store was very helpful too. Though, on the way to the shop I was stopped by someone who really wanted to be my friend, asked me where I was from, and that is when my radar for a setup kicked in. I kept saying that it was nice to meet him and that I had to go. He said he had a gift for me that he “accidentally” dropped on the ground. Being a bit savvy in this area, I didn’t pick it up. I just said “grazie” and was on my way. I’ll have to write up a summary of what people will do to get your money.

Finding the right bus to take, and again this was during rush hour, was a challenge. I thought I was standing at the right stop, but the bus I was to take was going in the opposite direction. After about 20 minutes I found where to stand for the bus that would get me back to the hotel. I was hoping to find a place to buy some food for when I got hungry again at night. As luck would have it, after I got off the bus, I walked by the small place that sells take-out food that I enjoyed a couple of nights ago. Perfect!

By the time I returned to my room it was nearly 8:00. Then after getting into relaxing clothes and responding back to texts and emails, it was close to 9:00. I was planning to take a nap, but I figured I could manage to stay awake for a couple more hours. When I got hungry I eventually took my pizza-like meal (turkey, cheese and arugula) down to a place in the lobby where there was a microwave to warm it up.

Tomorrow I need to do a load of wash and then will take a bus ride to “The Appian Way” a road built by the early Romans that is still used today. This will take me into a new part of the city and get to see something that I found interesting when I first learned of it.

And I’m really enjoying my stay in this Hilton!

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