Holy’s Roman Holiday Part 1
Currently I’m in my teeny-weeny hotel room located just outside the Metro station “Manzoni” in Rome’s city center.
Yesterday was a gruesome 15 hour travel day. Leaving home for Leifsstöð at little over 5am, leaving for Kastrup and finally arriving to Fiumicino at 7pm. Short shuttle-bus later, i.e. 8.30pm I was settling nicely in my new abode.
Luckily using my fancy credit card and I managed to get ourselves into the Priority Lounge during both of my lounging about in international airports. Drinking cocktails and going over the latest adventures of my heroine Fanny Price in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, has never felt as sweet, for I wasn’t paying a dime for this comfortable setting. I’m currently almost done with the first volume. Wish me luck with the rest of it!
Needless to say, although I initially felt very up for going out as soon as I got to the hotel, 30 minutes later I was passed out on my bed. At least I could blame the excruciatingly time consuming travelling.
This morning, I woke afresh without a morning wake-up call at 8am. Since it was my holiday, I could snooze guilt-free. On my own pace I visited the breakfast room. Nothing beats a breakfast buffet. As my former travel companions can confirm I genuinely love a big hearty breakfast during travels. No measly mundane cereal for me today!
Come to think of it, this comes quite in handy for I haven’t eaten much else during the day. Besides the big-ass late breakfast, it’s only been a latté and a couple of fruits. I really need to put a reminder for eating more tomorrow, for it too will be an unaccompanied day abroad. I guess my unintentional anorexic excuse would be, who can think of food when there is some much art and scenery to appreciate? Again, I will take proper care of myself tomorrow [7-9-13].
Having done most of the essential touristing of Rome in 2006 with my mother, there was something I had to do. Visit the Vatican. Off I went to the metro, armed with my iPod and Jane for passing the time in the anticipated queue for the Vatican. Alas, that deemed futile, the smooth-talking Alfredo (which contact information I have now, in case I want to meet up for drinks!) whisked me away to a guided tour leaving in just five minutes. The price was a bit steep, 35 euros for students, but who can justly price more art to less pavement? Besides, I got a free coffee out of it. Not because it’s generally included, but due to the fact I was a Scandinavian blonde travelling alone. This undoubtedly attracts other male-tourists travelling without a date to come up to oneself and start chatting away. Apparently the military men in the UK escape the war barracks just outside Rome, to seek penance from his Holiness in the cradle of Catholicism, Vatican City. Each to their own. At least I got a free drink out of general civility and answering stereotypical questions of the Ice-people. Why can’t there never be anyone with more ingenious questions than “Isn’t it cold in Iceland?” followed by the The Might Ducks 2 trivia “but Greenland is colder?” I deserved my 1.70 euro latte served in a plastic cup. Classy Vatican café ftw.
The Vatican was much more smaller than I had anticipated, and a lot less crowded. No wonder there are such gigantic queues, they hardly let anyone in at each time. Maybe the keep the queues a constant, but the ratio of tourists per square meter of walkable museum corridors increases with the season. That’s my very ungrounded hypothesis on the subject.
Any who, having accidentally lost my military escort, Matthew, I wandered alone the Basilica of Saint Peter, followed by a obligatory visit to the Vatican post office. Mom, if you’re reading this, act surprised when you see my postcard in the mailbox. Next on the agenda was to try to follow my map of central Rome, going passed the Castel San’Angelo across the Tiber river (see above photo) and make my way to Piazza Navona, Campo de Fiori, Pantheon and Trevi fountain.
Missing my travel companion from last time, the map was slightly more difficult to navigate. Much to my dismay I could never get on the direct route towards my desired destinations. I came across a band of Hare Krishna followers near the Campo de Fiori. Turned out that the “flower square” was much less photogenic than I had remembered from previous visit to Rome. I literally walked across it, convinced I was still half-lost. Fail. Once I figured out which way to something that was in fact worth visiting, the piazza Navona, the same Hare Krishna followers were present. Chanting away and trying to convince me to give them a donation, since I was an apparent music admirer. Well, I do love music, but sorry, your chanting is repetitive crap. No thank you. I’m keeping my euros for quirky Alessi kitchen utensils.
Not wanting another caricature for my bedroom wall, I made another attempt to navigate the very small printed map towards the Pantheon. However, that was completely unnecessary, I could just listen for the Hare Krishna chanting and that would be my guide to the pagan church. Talk about meant to be! Having passed the orange-clad religious fanatics for the third time, they asked me to dance. Well, as the saying goes, when in Rome, do like crazy non-Christians — DANCE! Turns out that their custom dance is something I’m quite familiar with from childhood, namely Hokey-Pokey. It was quite surreal, and more importantly entertaining. For my active participation I received an invite to their next shindig and an incense I can light up once I’m back home in Iceland.
Not wanting to give the Hare Krishnas the hope of getting a new recruit I decided to find my own way to Trevi fountain. In retrospect, I really shouldn’t. For no matter how I followed the directions en route, I manged to walk passed it again, and again. So instead, of heading East I went South towards the monumental typewriter/creampuff Vittorio Emanuele II right next to Foro Romano. There the last of my camera battery expired. Meaning, no more touristing for now, off to the hotel.
The walk back to the hotel was finally very straight forward. Although I did very prominently try to read my map in the dim backdrop of the Colosseum, resulting in an older man walking his dog came up to me and offer his assistance. He immediately recognized my Scandinavian descent, and told me of his frequent flight connections via Reykjavík during his work in Chicago 30 years ago. I informed him, that although Icelandair is still in business, Chicago is no longer on their itinerary. “Charlie” and Faust (I assume the dog is the latter) got me on my way (although I this time I wasn’t lost) and wished me well on my studies and a happy time in Rome. Bless them.
So in a straight line, following Via Labicana towards my hotel at the end of the road, I managed to get a few ciaaaaos from unidentified men walking passed me. Climaxing when a car on the road honked and its passengers shouting in my general direction in some fast-spoken Italian. At the next crossroads, where the car was stopped the person on the passengers side rolled down the window and made some hand gestures, followed by a laughing fit. Not exactly worth mentioning, except the person in question was female. Not quite sure what to think of that. Just strange.
Now, back at the hotel. Listening to 60s Italian music that finally finished downloading (it was meant for my latest Mad Men inspired birthday party). Apparently I just needed to physically go to Italy for getting peers that were willing to seed.
On that note (which is FYI Ennio Morricone), I’m off to bed. I know, I’m missing out on a night out on the town in Roma. Two nights in a row, no less. But I’m just too tired from touristing, besides I owe Fanny some progress in her marital pursuits.
PS Photos from today can be found on my flickr account.