July 6th – ROME – (posted on July 8th)

STARTED ON JULY 6th, but posted on July 8th (maybe without photos to expedite things, I can add photos later).

I am sitting in my hotel room in Rome, composing this off-line in my word processing program because the “internet machine,” as they told me, has been broken for a day.  I am anxious that I cannot communicate with you all, and with David and Mari to give them an update on what to expect here – hopefully tomorrow.  I have tried to connect to someone’s internet on my IPOD Touch as I walked back, but also to no avail.  Thus, I must reiterate my life survival phrase – ACCEPT and ADJUST and my second calming phrase to be CONTENT and COMFORTABLE.  To which I must also remind myself, “Ray does not do cities and crowds!”  I will add at this point on July 8th, that I wish I had flipped my days around – experiencing the Colosseum with the hordes of people just started me off on the wrong foot and gave me a bad impression of Rome.

David saw me off from the Cortona railway station this morning, and I arrived on time in Rome just before 10:30.  Modern station without the Victorian train shed of London that I love, just a long walk along platforms to a modern building.  I knew to look for the Tourist Information booth to get a Roma Pass and followed the occasional “I” which would lead me nowhere.  So retrace steps, search some more, ask for help and over an hour later found the official booth (after also asking at newsstands and tobacco shops for the card, “sorry we no longer sell!”)  The official booth had a crude hand-written sign – SOLD OUT.  Did not make sense, “time to adjust, Ray!” Long lines at the automatic ticket machines for the Metro (no humans) since most people were tourist like me and had no idea what to do.  My turn finally, and I did easily get my ticket for one trip for 1 Euro hoping to get my Roma Pass later in the day at the Colosseum.  The Metro is easy, only two lines that cross, and Mari told me which to take for the hotel.  I arrived at Noon, checked in and decided to run quick post and an email to David.  No luck, could not log on-line, and asking at the desk found out their internet had been out for a day – sorry!

I was already flustered, unsure of what to do, Colosseum/Forum and Palatine Hill, or ADJUST and head to the Vatican.  I started walking, thinking I would decide on the way, and soon I hopped back onto the Metro to head to the Colosseum.

You walk out of the Metro station, and bam, there is the Colosseum, with lines wrapping around it – I felt like Chevy Chase!  I got in line, but was concerned I had already lost too much time so I listened to the hustlers selling tours to get you to the head of the line – 25 Euros (12 for the ticket plus 13 for the guide).  I feel for it, but goofed – terrible guide and by the time he finished talking about gladiators for the umpteenth time the line I wanted to avoid was gone. The actual ticket also includes the Forum and Palatine Hill, but the guide stalled giving it (a scam?). Another couple finally pushed, and I said I too was promised a ticket. We finally got them (after Italian cursing about Americanos), and off I went on my own with my Rick Steves audio in my IPOD Touch exploring on my own.  On the upper level were wonderful exhibits and the crowds not as bad.  I finally exited and headed over to the Forum with my audio tour.  No line at the ticket area, so if you ever go head there first for your ticket since obviously everyone pours out of the Metro into the first line.  Also the forum seemed to have less people and the Palatine Hill even less.  It was well after 6PM and I had covered all, so I headed back to the hotel which is in a residential area on the Tiber River.  I wanted to warn David that there were few restaurants in the area since it was residential.

Now, I have been running so hard, I am actually finishing my report for the 6th on the 8th.  I have run so hard for 12 plus hours (and mainly on my feet) that it has been difficult to stay up and type.  So each day I have only written notes, and some of what I am saying I am writing now that I can post on the 8th.  You may not seen many good pictures because I have found it too hard to use my larger SLR camera, and I did not bring my small “point and shoot” because I thought the camera function of the IPOD Touch would suffice.  Not really – good for a pinch, but from now on I will also carry the small “point and shoot” too.  I use a “fanny pack” wearing on my stomach with books, maps, glass cases and the IPOD.  Works well too to cover the pocket with my wallet, but I have never been in an instance where I felt pickpockets were operating.  So, “on the list” is a new “point and shoot” (Lisa has a great new Canon  – mine is maybe 10 years old) as well as an IPAD Touch.  David today (the 8th) got a new unlocked Android phone which can also act as a “hot spot” as well as a phone, but as long as I am not in Italy I think I will always be able to get connected.  Well, so much to tell you, think I will post this now, can edit later and add images and video of the Collosseum too.

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