Rome – Arrival

2-3 Sept, 2014

It’s amazing to be here, in a city I’ve heard about all my life but have never visited. Getting here was tiring. SuperShuttle insisted on picking me up at 4:00 a.m., way too early for a 7:50 flight, which then sat on the tarmac for almost an hour and a half due to an unspecified mechanical problem. When we landed at Dulles, I jogged through the airport, no moving sidewalks here, and reached my next departure gate just as boarding began. I was dripping with sweat in hot, muggy Washington DC. The flight to Rome had been delayed or I wouldn’t have made it.

After rolling away from the gate we sat on the tarmac for almost three hours, waiting for a break in thunderstorms. I was hungry and exhausted by the time we finally took off. I used the time to start reading I, Claudius, an intriguing tale of plotting and deceit in ancient Rome, which I enjoyed seeing on Masterpiece Theater many years ago. After dinner, I managed to sleep a bit, and later over breakfast (rice cake and applesauce) I had a nice chat, about travel and photography, with my seatmate, Pam.

Fortunately the thunderstorm delay allowed my luggage to catch up with me; it eventually came off the baggage carousel in Italy. From there another fellow Dulles jogger and I figured out how to catch the FL-1 train into the city. Jacqueline is here from Oregon to lead a watercolor workshop, which sounds like lots of fun. I couldn’t figure out where to catch the tram I needed, so I took a cab from the Trastevere train station, finally arriving at the tiny apartment rented via Airbnb around 1:00 pm. Sibylle was waiting for me.

After a short break we headed out and walked through the winding cobblestone streets towards the Coliseum. Every turn led to another amazing sight – here a cathedral, there a statue, a faded fresco, a fountain, ancient ruins surrounded by modern buildings, cafes, small cars, and scooters abundant. Of the cities I’ve visited before, it felt most like Athens.

Late in the afternoon we stopped for a yummy snack, a bruschetta, greek salad, and for me a refreshing green tea with ginger and lemon. We slowly wandered back enjoying the beautiful late sun. Sibylle led the way using Google Maps. We stopped for an Aperol Spritz, a popular citrus-like beverage made with sparkling wine, along the River Tiber, and later for dinner near our apartment. I indulged in a white pizza (no tomato sauce), suffering no ill effects from the Italian wheat. For a San Franciscan, it was a rare pleasure to eat outdoors in short sleeves after dark.

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