Friday, July 12, 2013

Story Time: Rome

Yeah! I’m so glad to know people are still reading :) Y’all want to make me post more. So how about a story? Let’s set the scene. I left Canada on May 20th. On June 1st my study tour was over and I ventured out on my own. By late June I was exhausted from travelling and moving around. I stayed in Berlin a day longer than I had planned because I was just tired. I wouldn’t have gone to Italy except for two reasons. 1) I had booked a flight from Rome to Nice for June 28th and 2) I really did want to visit Uncle Melville’s grave in Ortona.

I looked at trains from Berlin to Rome but the trip was long and they were quite expensive. With the encouragement of a random British guy in the hostel I looked up flights and realized it would be much cheaper and faster to just fly. I booked my flight on Friday, June 21 and flew out at 7pm on Saturday, June 22. That meant by the time I got off the plane Rome and collected my luggage, it was after 10pm. And then I had to get into the city. On the plane they had given an option of pre-purchasing a bus ticket for 6€ that would take me into Rome. That sounded easy enough so I bought it. Except when I got out of the terminal I couldn’t figure out where the heck I was supposed to go. A friendly airline attendant took pity on my obvious confusion and directed me down to the trains. Apparently that was actually the best way to get into the city. So I get down to the platform and, being this late at night, there is only one ticket booth open. I stand in line with everyone else and when it’s my turn I ask how much it is for a one way trip to Rome. 14€. Okay, but there’s this City Pass thing for 36€ that includes all your transportation in the city and access to the major sites. Okay, that sounds like a good idea. I’ll take one. I pay for it and THEN she tells me that the 14€ train trip isn’t included. UGH!!! I was NOT impressed. So I’m exhausted and feeling vulnerable and like I’m bleeding euros. Plus this whole not understanding the language thing is stressful.

Okay, so I take the train and it brings me to the main train station in Rome. My hostel isn’t ALL that far away but with my luggage and the time of night I knew it would just be smartest to take a taxi. There are tons of “helpful” taxi drivers at the station all offering you their services. It feels a bit weird but I don’t really know what I’m doing so I make eye contact with one of them and tell him where I need to go. He nods and says “30€”. THIRTY? I know Rome’s a big city but that sounds expensive. He sees my distress (I’m kind of close to tears at this point) and offers “how much would you like to pay?” “I suck it up and say uh, 20€?” Which still seems kind of steep but fair. He counters with 25€. Whatever. Okay, I’m tired. Let’s go. Then it gets REALLY weird. He starts leading me away from the train station across the street blabbing about how his car is just over there and he has a license and everything in it but his “white car is broken” (read: actual legit Rome taxi) but it will all be okay. Um…no. I follow him a bit more but as we get ready to cross the street I stop and listen to my gut and tell him I’m sorry but no. I’m not comfortable with that. He wasn’t happy but to his credit he didn’t try to stop me as I turn around and walk back to the station. Oh…did I mention the wheel broke on my suitcase so I’m basically dragging this stupid thing around instead of wheeling it? Yeah, anyway, so I get back to the front of the station and see the line of legit white Rome taxis. I get in line and the next one is driven by a friendly older man. I show him the address of the hostel and he helps me put my bags in the trunk. He drives me straight there (in a very “OMG I’m in Rome and they’re INSANE HERE!” way LOL Honking horns and gestures and blasting through red lights and all of it. Anyway, he gets me to the hostel and it’s only 12€, including one euro for baggage handling. I knew the other guy was fishy! So that’s where my headspace is when I arrive. I check in at the hostel and basically fall right asleep. I’ll figure out how to get to Ortona tomorrow.  

And I’ll put THAT adventure in another post, because this one got long enough by itself. 


Rachel said...

Oh my oh my!!!!!!!
That would have brought me to tears. You are brave and smart!

Veronica said...

Oh yeah. I have travel stories just like that. My one rule when travelling alone: never arrive in a strange city at night. I broke my own rule once, but never again ;)
So glad it all worked ok for you.