Rome Diary Day 1

Did you miss out on my Paris trip?! See what happened here, here, and here.

Let's talk about flying and my luck.

The airline emailed me that because there was a fire at Fiumicino (the airport I'm supposed to land on) our flight might be rerouted to Rome's other airport Ciampino.

Maybe, I don't know. My friend also doesn't know where she was landing. And she's on another flight.

Paris was happening again.

She had an earlier flight so we decided she would wait in the airport so we could just get lost together instead of having to find each other after. It's the lesser of two evils. But we didn't even know if our flights would end up in the same airport..

Fortunately, both our flights ended up arriving at Fiumicino. Phew right? Wrong.

Side note: I sat next to a couple. They kept making out. Fortunately I slept through most of the flight. Unfortunately, when we were landing they decided to shove their gopro on the window for 30 minutes. I was at the window seat...

Because of the fire, I'm assuming, I ended up waiting for my luggage for more than an hour. It was horrible. The conveyor churned out 10 bags and then nothing the majority of the time.

My friend ended up waiting in the airport for 4 hours. She wanted to murder me.

We made our way to the train station to get our tickets. We ended up being stuck behind this older couple who spent like 20 minutes - it felt forever - asking questions and getting their stupid ticket. There were two other lines and people who were there after us left before us. Eventually I ended up queuing up at another line and actually almost ended up getting to the booth before my friend did. It was such an infuriating experience.

Finally we ended up on our train. The train has compartments designed for big luggages and I thought that was interesting.

We ended up sitting next to an older nice lady. She was had a horror story of her own. She was from San Diego, I think, and had a morning flight and didn't fly until night time. Or something like that.

Point is, shit happens. Getting lost and ending up in unplanned situations is part of travelling. Be prepared.

Thankfully everything else went smoothly after that. We stayed at a place right across to Termini Station. Like in Paris, we stayed near the train station so we can easily go to the airport when we leave. Also it turned out to be a useful reference point when we got lost in Rome.

The area outside our building was really sketchy. The street was dirty. There were people who loitered outside our building and I didn't feel safe.

Inside the building was fine. Our airbnb host met us on the first floor almost immediately and took us to our apartment on the fifth floor. The building had this minuscule elevator. It was like a 1.5meters x 12 inches. You could fit maybe 4 people side by side - uncomfortably. It also had two doors you had to manually close otherwise the elevator wouldn't operate.

Our host was really nice. Unlike Parisians, I find Italians friendly and hospitable. "Rome is better" our host Maria joked.

Her husband (who doesn't speak English) was there too to show us the place. Again kitchen, bathroom (with a hairdryer bless), and bedroom (with an air conditioner! Rome is boiling).

I had asked if she had any advice for staying safe - I truly felt unsafe - and she didn't understand what I was asking and she insisted because she wanted to help. She said it may seem like it but everything is fine in the area.

Thankfully she was right. We never had problems.

She also asked the relation between my friend and I. I thought it was the boyfriend/girlfriend conversation again(lol). But her curiosity was more on how an asian person was with a white person. Multiculturalism is a thing Rome... She asked if we met while travelling and we're like nah we're bffs from Canada.

But like in a less sassy way.

She told us where the grocery store was; how to use the air conditioner and the water boiler in the bathroom ; and to eat gelato. #coolstorybro

Then we ended up talking about Pope Francis who she referred to as Papa Francesco. My friend and I thought it sounded funny but they really do refer to him as that. We referred to Pope Francis as Papa Francesco during our stay there.

Indefinitely too tbh.

After they left we got settled and went to the grocery store. Conveniently, it was right across our building. Again we bought some water, bread and cold cuts to bring with us to travel. We also got chocolate and chips. #haul

On our way back someone almost spat on me. We were going up the stairs to reach our building and somebody spat from the balcony. Not cool.

Then we took a nap. Two hours or so later, we woke up.

We decided to roam the city with no plans. Given the circumstances of the day, keeping it light seemed right.

We passed by a park. We went to a basilica. It's a special church designated by the pope (here's an explanation of the difference). In Rome, they populate the city. They have elaborate sculptures and artwork. They're beautiful.

Basilicas have a strict rule with clothing. Women must not show shoulders or legs. They have to cover themselves with these cloths. Since it's hot in Rome, this happens a lot. My friend was wearing shorts and as she joked she's 'basically a whore' to the basilica's eyes. I see legs and shoulders at churches all the time so this was disorienting to me.

We walked around a little and I had my first gelato in Rome. It was delicious. With the heat, satisfying.

Then we went to the Coliseum. I'm very affected every time we arrive at a landmark. It is not lost on me what a privilege it is to be able to travel and see the world. These landmarks are so distant, people only see and read them in books. But not me.

The Coliseum is formidable and to be in the same space where gladiators fought and died thousands of years ago, it's surreal.

It was however already closed. We just walked around the area and took pictures and planned to go back another day.

The Roman Forums was steps away (it was closed too). To be honest, I was not familiar with it. It's essentially where communal events happened. I also think government officials lived there. Unfortunately there was a fire and it's mostly a ruin now.

It was hot and trekking the uphill cobblestone was a workout.

After we finally decided to go find somewhere to eat.

Here's the thing with Rome: because it is essential a tourist city, restaurants are spraaaaaaawled all over and they are not the best Rome can offer. They are also aggressive in getting your business. Servers wait on the sidewalk to try to lure you in. Menus are displayed outside to make you stop and look.

Here's a tip: find restaurants that don't have menus and servers outside. Those are the authentic ones. I also recommend you find them online in advance. (I have a story about that another day...)

Fortunately we ended up finding an authentic one. It took some time and the decor was questionable but the food was great.

After we walked all the way back home. We got lost but that's okay.

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