So Friday finally arrives – and H & I leave a wet Cardiff, changing trains very simply at London Paddington for Heathrow Airport. The easiest journey ever made, but at a whopping £79 price – it was cheaper to get the flight to Rome!
Once at Heathrow, I still manage to keep the flight destination a secret …
Gawd knows how, even when we have to check-in and everything. A leisurely Italian meal means we have to run for the gate — oooh, how glam, another life ambition finally fulfilled – and once the pilot spoils the surprise for H (I’m surprised I managed to keep it going that long, with her co-operation of course) we’re off.
Although I’m a tad disappointed that another vaguely planned surprise involving flights has not resulted in the “Oh! WOW!”-type reaction that I was vaguely hoping for. Maybe another day.
So we arrive in a very muggy and dark Rome, eventually figuring out how to pay for a train ticket on the Roma Express. We arrive at a deserted taxi rank and eventually end up having to pay a guy whose only proof that he was a “taxi driver” was the fact he wore a badge saying Taxi. The car itself didn’t bother with any of that – and hell, he charged 25 Euros and drove around for 20 minutes when we later managed to walk it in 10 minutes. Plus at the end of the destination, H handed him a 50-Euro note and he did a bait’n’switch and claimed it was only 10 Euros. Bloody taxi drivers.
The welcome at the hotel (where there’s a prominent cross displayed at Reception) is a tad muted, and the room itself is on the top floor, and a bit on the pokey side. Plus it takes them a while to supply the control for the air conditioning – which is positioned on the wrong side of the room anyway. But hey, we’re not *planning* to spend much time there.
So off we go to explore the city – keep seeing all these rainbow flags with PACE on it, which excites H for a while. We walk up to the railway station, passing some huge church-like structure and an internet cafe – and on the way back, we linger for about 4-5 good beers and a sandwhich at the confusingly named Big Ben cafe.
Saturday morning comes – and we’re still in bed. Hell, we don’t emerge till about 12pm – at which point I’m struck by the quote about mad dogs and Englishmen. It’s HOT. And I’m not prepped for that.
We spend a little time at the Roma equivalent of Poundstretcher walking past a fur shop (who on earth wants fur in Rome, never mind the moral implications!) and wandering around. Stop into a pizza place for some “authentic” Italian pizza, and H buys some trinkets – including a necklace for me – before deciding to catch one of those inordinately expensive city bus tours for people with little time. People like us.
And it slowly dawns on me just how much stuff there is to see in Rome as we drive past the Colosseum, the Vatican and other impressive buildings. H & I mutter that we must spend more than one day here next time.
We get off near some shops (what else?) and proceed down the road, stopping at various clothes stores on H’s request. I do get a rather snazzy Enerchy T-shirt – which earns snorts of derision from H as it’s apparently *exactly* the sort of T-shirt I always buy… and she also points out a pair of 3/4-length linen trousers. I’m not too sure it doesn’t make me look like a boy scout, but hey, you gotta take a risk.
Stop past the Trevi Fountain – made famous by La Dolce Vita, and now pretty much drowning under the weight of tourists and tourist tackle hawkers. Make our long way home via the Imperial Road, the Colosseum and taking the long way where possible. Even stop by a hair barber where H arranges for my hair to be shredded off – never knew you could get your hair cut when you’re sweating. Cue one priceless shot of me acting like a rap star against some authentic Italian graffitti.
Back at the hotel, shower and change, and head out to a vegetarian restaurant in San Lorenzo – the “wrong” side of the tracks. Gorgeous gourmet dinner with good wine, if a tad lacking in actual portions. Then make our way to a cocktail bar where they ruin a mojito with too much mint liqueur. The sangria’s better but the final cocktail that H orders is just too indigestible. Still, a good drunken chatty time is had.
we head off for another bar, but the beers don’t get consumed for long – especially when we see Europe’s worst mullet. Pics later. So home and in bed by 2am.
This morning, we again sleep in and barely make it to the taxi for the airport. Which is the coolest taxi I’ve ever seen – some kind of Corsa but the dashboard is a whole digital HUD-type thing, with the speed in bright green numbers. Would really love to get one if I could afford it and I could make it environemntally sound. Even thought it was an electric car for a while but the sheer speed of the taxi discounted that.
Finally eat some bruschetta (?) – that cold ham with watermelon anyway – at the airport before the delayed flight home. At a grey Heathrow, we decide to let the American couple behind us move forward because they have a connection. Do we get a thank you? Oh no, of course not.
Get the train back to Cardiff, reading Kate Adie’s most excellent autobiography en route. A book that makes me simultaneously want to do journalism, realise what a charmed life Ms. Adie leads (what with all her hints of frantic sex in local radio stations up and down the country) and why on earth I’ll never get any of that. Ah well.
Now Cardiff is erm… wet. To the point of drowning. Quelle surprise. Work in the morning.