If you have been around my blog before, you know that this has been a pretty eventful year for me. In May, I celebrated a milestone birthday. In preparation for my half-century anniversary of life, I made a list of 50 Things to Do Before my 50th Birthday. Number 22 on that list was Travel to Italy. I didn’t get to finish everything on my list, but in April of this year I managed to complete Number 22. I tried to keep a record of my trip as I traveled, but time was short so I never finished writing about my trip, until now. Thanks to NaBloPoMo, I have the motivation to get it done. Here’s the first leg of my trip:
LAX to ROME
We arrived in Rome in spite of ourselves. After making our travel preparations, which, by the way did not include actually planning our sight-seeing itinerary, we nearly missed our flight. We arrived at the airport early and found a seat near the gate. We began to wonder why it was taking so long to board our flight. I was on the phone with Diego, who had called us for the 5th time since we left home, when all of sudden, just minutes before our flight departed, I heard the announcement, “Last Call for Mejia.” I then realized the airline changed the gate number. I abruptly ended the phone call and raced to catch our flight!
Once we boarded the plane, we settled in for the long flight to Toronto and then onto Rome. I managed to sleep a bit while Juan stayed wide awake almost the entire 15 hour flight. When we arrived in Rome we found our rental car and tried to get our bearings. Juan, my techie husband, did all kinds of research in how to use our smart phones for international travel. He figured that he would use our unlocked iPhones and buy a SIM card for data usage. This would allow us to use our phones as GPS devices. It sounded too techie for me to be concerned about, but had I known how much we would need our smart phones as a GPS from the moment we drove out the airport, I might have given it more thought.
The ride from the airport to our hotel was enough to make me start drinking and made Juan start biting his fingernails again. We were completely turned around, and had no idea where we were going. We were tired, hungry and we had to use the bathroom. Juan drove and we kept circling the same roundabout looking for our hotel. We finally gave up and decided we needed to eat lunch. That was the best move we made. We found a wonderful trattoria with delicious food, and oddly enough, no women in the restaurant. We ordered wine with our meal and began to relax and get into vacation mode. Hey, who needed a GPS? We were on an adventure. In Italy!
By the time we finished our wine and our meal we were so relaxed all we could think of was getting to our hotel so we could nap. We left the trattoria and got turned around walking to our car. Without a GPS we were in trouble. Still, we tried to stay positive and paused long enough to take in our first views of Italy.
Back in the car we tried again to find our hotel. Another three times around the same roundabout and we wanted to cry, or get a divorce. Juan wanted to stop at a phone store and buy the SIM cards so we could use a GPS, but we could not find a phone store that took credit cards. We drove around looking for an ATM. At last, we found cash, bought the SIM card and were able to use our phones as a GPS. Several hours after we landed in Rome, we made it to our hotel. Our hotel was located about 25 minutes by train outside of Rome, in Frascati.
We checked into our hotel, fell into bed and slept. We woke up two hours later. By the time we were ready to start exploring it was already 9:30 at night. Even with a GPS, after all we had been through navigating from the airport, we knew we did not want to drive into Rome at night for a meal. Besides, we were hungry and when I am hungry, I am cranky. Frascati is a quaint town with many restaurants that close early. We walked and walked looking for an open restaurant.
Thankfully, we found a local pizzeria and enjoyed our first pizza of the trip. I think the pizza was really good, but I was so
cranky hungry by that time, I can’t say for sure. At least the service was wonderful. Our waiter Alessandro was charming and friendly. Fed, and nearly rested, we returned to our hotel where I watched The Walking Dead and Juan slept. The next day Juan and I would start our tour of the Eternal City.