To begin this post I will steal a line from the late Douglas Adam (may his nose rest in peace) and modify it to suit my situation.
‘Cause thats how I roll..
‘Rome,’ says Miss Noms guide to the World, ‘Is old. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly old it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to the age of Rome.’
While you may, in fact, be able to comprehend it; for a girl from Oz, who up until now thought that a building of 100 years was old and 200 years simply ancient.. to walk on the streets of Rome, where the cobblestones you stroll apon are 100x older than what you recently percieved as ancient; this is both humbling and inspiring.
How can one place be both? I dont know. Ask Rome.
On every street and every corner there is a building with enough history to fill a book. Some will fill three books. Its outrageous. Details abound!
Here, some intricate carvings!
There an alleyway with washing strung between houses! Here, a crumbling wall held together with creeping ivy and sheer force of will.. There! A peeling painting depicting Ancient Romans with goats and slaves.
And look! Even the bins are fancier here. You couldnt possibly deposit your garbage in a non-ornate recepticle – that would be rediculous!
But impressive and filled with history Rome may be, that doesnt stop a certain young lady from making a basic mistake…
Somewhere on the flight I used the last of the battery on my trusty little laptop.. I thought nothing of it. I would simply recharge it later.
On arrival at the Airport in Rome i was hit with the realization that the address and instructions for my hostel were on said small computer. Its all good. Everybody stay calm. A plan for forming in my brain…
Use travel money card to retract some euros
Locate Internet cafe and aquire hostel address
Catch train to Termini (Rome central train station)
Catch a cab to hostel using previously aquired address and euros
Bobs your uncle
Wrong. At the currency exchange booth the lady told me that my card was not working. Thats ok. I thanked her and went to an ATM. It told me in broken english that my pin is wrong.
Ok. So Im in Italy with no money or idea where to go. And everyone is looking at the crazy girl with too much luggage staring around as her plan falls apart.
Take some deep breaths.
I am damn resourceful.
Just watch me go.
I locate another bureau de change and tell him my laptop is out of battery and that I did a stupid thing and wrote down the address for my hostel on there and I just need a couple of Euro. I only have $5 australian dollars left in my wallet (previously comfortable in the knowledge of a travel money card) and normally these bureaus dont change anything smaller than $50. But he takes my 5 and gives me 2 Euro. Maybe he ripped me off a little but I dont mind.
I locate yon internet terminal and into my bank account first. If I cant get my card to work, no cab, no hostel, nothing.
I change my pin.
It confirms. The internet terminal eats the last of my money. No biggy. I dont have time to check the hostel address. I will get to Termini. And find it from there.
I have been told in no uncertain terms not to catcch the bus from the airport to the centre of Rome as all the pickpockets in Italy will be on this bus to take advantage of the jetlagged and unaware tourists.
Out the front of the airport I am looking for the signs to point me to the trains and all these men are telling me, ‘You catch the bus to Termini?’
No thanks, Im taking the train.
‘Ah, but Madam, coach is better! Better for you! Better for me! I show! I show!’
No thanks. I like my passport. I think Ill keep it.
I find the trains and purchase with my travel money card and it works! Hell yeah! Take that, scary overseas situation!
On arrival at Termini I find a map but no ATM. I will get money later. Right now I am excessively tired and Im wearing heels and my feet hurt.
I see on the map that nearby there is a large cathedral called Maria Maggiore and my hostel is called Orso Maggiore. It must be nearby. Cab time.
I walk to the cab rank and the man in a uniform asks, ‘You need a cab?’ I say yes and show him the map. We load all 36kg of my luggage into the car. Then I notice it has no Taxi light on the roof. But it is in the rank? Gah! I tell him I will pay him 10 euro for the trip so he doesnt try and take me some long way and he agrees.
Cabs, I have found, the world over, will try and take you the long way if they think you dont
‘You take card?’ I ask. He says no, confirming my suspicions that this is not a real taxi.
He will take me to an ATM. We stop just by one and I get out, heart in my mouth, to get some cash. My essentials are in my bag that is on me but the rest of my worldly possessions are in that car. I take not of the number plate and then take my eyes off the car to put my pin in the machine. It is a leap of faith.
Oh god. I am insane. He seems ok. I have a good sense and judge of character.
The car is still there. He drops me off at the Piazza Maria Maggiore and he helps me unload my luggage and and bids me a good day.
I breathe the biggest sigh of relief that everything didnt just go wrong.
I ask people if they know the hostel Orso Maggiore. The dont. Or they dont speak english.
I wander in circles, dragging my 36kg of luggage around in the sun, painfully aware of how much I look like a tourist right now.
But there! A tourist info booth!
I explain my situation to the man. He doesnt know Orso Maggiore and the only one on Google that he can find is halfway across Rome.
Perhaps there are two hostels with the same name. I am sure it is near Termini.
I tell him I have the details on my email. He says I cant access email here. But I can leave my luggage at the booth and there is an ATM near and an internet cafe.
The ATM is broken. I cant find another. I walk for another 30 minutes trying to locate one but to no avail. There are so many people trying to sell me rip-off Luis Vitton handbags and ‘real cashmere scarves, made in India’.
I just want an ATM.
Calmness is my middle name.
I will make it work!
I return to the info house and tell him that the ATM is broken. He says not to worry and we call the Orso Maggiore in Trastevere and lo and behold! It is the right one! And it is halfway across the city from here!
But it is a beautiful area, he says.
So. He gives me a map. And directions. I walk to the bus station. And reach the stop. And take some photos. Everything is now on track.
So what if I am jet-lagged and in heels and have been walking around like a headless chook for 5 hours?
I just survived and ordeal and everyone has been so helpful and old dudes keep telling me I look nice in a roguishly charming manner and I am in Rome! And the sun is shining. I find the river and just sit on the bulastrade (is that the word?) and let the stress piss right off and then I walk through small alleyways with cobblestone streets with local people yelling at each other in Italian and waving their arms and there is ivy and nobody is trying to sell me cashmere and it is wonderful.
I find the hostel on a little street and there is a lift (small miracles) and there! The sign that says Orso Maggiore.
I have rarely been so happy to see a sign.
I am shown my room by the friendly receptionist and it may be only 2 in the afternoon but I fall asleep so fast its as though Ive been hit over the head with a brick.
Heres some advice for free; write things down on paper.
Your feet will thank you.
… Miss Nom …