A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: rhonwphoto

Farewell to Rome

with yet another trip to the Fontana de Trevi

Time together

Time together

It was another hot and sunny day in Venice when I checked out of the Albergo San Marco, grateful to be rid of that odd and rude little man at the front desk. Since I was retracing my steps that day, traveling was easy. I arrived at the train station in Venice, bought my ticket and waited for my train. In typical Italian fashion not all the doors to the train were open so I felt like a salmon swimming upstream to my seat, but I finally put my bag in the overhead compartment and settled into my seat. Did I mention I did the entire trip to Europe with a carryon only? I was so very proud of that. I watched a lovely woman named Sylvia, who was from Cuba, spend 2 weeks in Europe with a carryon only on a previous trip and I was so impressed. So now when I pack I stand in front of my closet and ask "what would Sylvia do?"

On the train back to Rome I met the most wonderful family from Boston. They were sweet and funny and we had a very nice visit. We were about the same age and Dad seemed very impressed that I was traveling alone. 'No trouble at all' I told him, smiling to myself.

I arrived at the train station in Rome a bit sad. When I left, my son Clay and his girlfriend Alesia were there. Now I knew I was in Rome alone and I missed them already. A quick cab ride to the Hotel Forum and I was reunited with my beloved passport that had been lost to me four days before. I made dinner reservations for later that night at the rooftop restaurant at the Forum Hotel and then found my room. The rooms really are quite lovely at the Forum Hotel. I would definitely recommend it, and thanks to a friend for recommending it to me.

It was late afternoon when I arrived in Rome and I had two things I had to do before my dinner reservations that evening. The first was to have one last gelato. Seriously, I am in love with gelato. The second was to toss a coin into the Fontana de Trevi so that I would return to Rome someday. I had done it four days before, but then returned to Rome to retrieve my passport only four days later. I had to throw another coin in so that another day, another trip, I would return to Rome again.

I may have mentioned in my other blog posts that I have the most horrible sense of direction ever but I was determined to walk to the Trevi. With a few directions from the local police along the way I made it, got my gelato and sat there for about an hour. I enjoyed watching the couples take photographs in front of the Trevi, families ham it up for the camera, and single people like myself holding their cell phones out to photograph themselves. When it was finally time to walk back to the hotel I was completely turned around. Rome, being built on all those hills (and all those hills looking exactly the same), completely confused me. I gave it my best effort, but quickly realized I was way off and took a cab back to the hotel.

That evening I had a Bellini in the rooftop bar at the Forum Hotel. It was a beautiful place to watch the sunset over a beautiful and ancient city. Then I walked down to the Rooftop Restaurant and had the most delicious dinner. My waiter was so helpful. He made recommendations and I enjoyed my meal so much. The entree he recommended was a spiral pasta tossed with swordfish, tomatoes and olives and it was heavenly. I ordered the Creme Brulee for dessert and it wasn't like ours. It had the consistency of flan with a dark and wonderful sauce running through it. No hard topping. It was the perfect end to a perfect dinner. The restaurant would have been incredibly romantic for two.

I slept well, getting up early to take just a few more photographs before I started my long day of traveling home. I always leave a part of my heart in Italy and look forward to returning someday.

Posted by rhonwphoto 13:45 Archived in Italy Tagged food venice fountain hotel city rome forum trevi Comments (0)

Problem Solved

and why didn't I think of that?

Columns of Light

Columns of Light

Now that I think back on it, I'm not sure why I got so upset. It was a situation that was easily solved and only took time, money and a few phone calls. My passport was in Rome and I was in Venice. But at the moment I called my mom, I couldn't think of a single thing to do. Mom got on the phone and called my sister and my friend and soon my phone started ringing with ideas. And then I got the call from my friend who said simply "after your stay in Venice jump on the train back to Rome and get your passport". ..... And why didn't I think of that? Problem solved.

A call to the Hotel Forum in Rome to confirm they had my passport and make a reservation for one more night and a call to US Air to delay my return by one day and it was done. It was then I realized I had three whole days in Venice to explore, photograph and enjoy.

I can't say I ever fell in love with the Albergo San Marco. I could only get the wifi to work in the lobby so every night I spent an hour sitting down there catching up and letting everyone know I was fine. My room never really did cool off. And that odd little man never was friendly or helpful. But the hotel was convenient so it was fine.

I spent the next three days wandering, shopping, photographing and exploring. I tried to get lost, really I did, but it was my fourth trip to Venice and I kept finding my way. If you know me you know I always get lost, especially when I don't want to, but not in Venice. And around each corner was something beautiful and wonderful. Each evening I would sit in Piazza San Marco, have a glass of wine or two, and listen to live music. I watched people. I saw many brides as Piazza San Marco is apparently a popular place for wedding photos. I have to say one day the cruise ships were in and the crowds were horrible, but the other two days were just busy as usual.

I found a perfect place for lunch. Just take one of the little side streets off of the Rialto Bridge (towards the bottom of course) and around the corner is a wonderful little sidewalk cafe. It is right on the canal, in the shade and there is a never-ending stream of people and boats to watch. The restaurant is called Naranzaria. They had a pretty decent Bellini and the most amazing lasagna I have ever tasted. The pasta with light, the meat sauce flavorful without being heavy and the cheese was melt in your mouth. It was served on a plate drizzled with olive oil and had a little cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Absolutely heavenly. I ate there several times. I ate in little shops too. I had a pancetta panini for breakfast one morning and pizza a few times. Always delicious. My other favorite spot was a little bakery called Rose Saloa. I can't say the service was excellent. I'm not sure if it was my imagination but it seems like they waited on everyone Italian speaking before me, even people who came in after me, but the bakery was delicious. I ordered a little two bite cream puff and was surprised to find it filled with a chocolate cream that had a hint of orange. It was wonderful.

Before I knew it I was spending my last evening in Venice. The next morning was the train back to Rome and a few more adventures before I fly home.

Naranzaria Lasagna

Naranzaria Lasagna

Posted by rhonwphoto 19:17 Archived in Italy Tagged people venice hotel passport Comments (0)

Fawlty Towers in Venice

Without the funny parts

Playing in High Tide

Playing in High Tide

When I left you last I had just realized I was on a train to Venice and my passport was at the Forum Hotel in Rome. I had four hours to sit on that train and worry. It gave me time to figure out a plan. I would get to the hotel in Venice and they would call the hotel in Rome who would, of course, immediately overnight my passport to me. It was a Saturday but I wasn't leaving until Tuesday. Plenty of time to ship it out on Monday and get it to me on Tuesday.

With plan in hand I left the train station in Venice and found my way to a taxi stand. The driver motioned for me to go stand on the dock and he would pull the boat up to me. Just then a really large ship went by and the dock started bobbing and weaving. It took everything I had to keep my suitcase from falling into the water. Did I mention I get motion-sickness? That driver couldn't pull that boat up fast enough. Finally I climbed into the taxi and away we went. He didn't speak English (why should he?) but I gave him the name of the hotel. After about 25 minutes we pulled up in front of Piazza San Marco and he motioned for me to get off. I just stood there staring at him. Exactly where WAS my hotel? I didn't even know which direction to head. I pulled out one of my 10 Italian words 'dove' - where - and he pointed in a direction. Now I'm in Venice, dizzy, dragging my suitcase through Piazza San Marco on cobblestone, through the hoards of tourists, it's hot and I don't really know where to go. Finally a very nice waiter pointed and down a side street I went. I have to say the location of the hotel was wonderful. It was a Best Western. The Albergo San Marco. Soon I was opening the door and walking into what I thought was a quaint lobby. It only took me a few moments to realize I had stumbled upon the Venetian Fawlty Towers.

I half ran to the front desk. They will save me. A very odd, and I must say, very rude man waited on me. I explained what had happened and waited for their help. What followed was a 30 minute skit with all three hotel desk staff giving me one reason or another why they couldn't do anything at all. Nothing. Nada. No help with calling the hotel in Rome. No help with Federal Express who I later learned doesn't deliver overnight to Venice. No ideas. No help at all. In fact, after I stepped away for a moment and then came back to ask one more question the odd little man actually threw his papers onto the desk, let out a grunt of disgust and snapped a poor excuse for 'can I help you?". I was shocked.

Thank goodness I had a xerox copy of my passport so I checked into the hotel. I went up to my air conditioned but very warm and humid tiny little room and sat down on the bed with absolutely no idea what I was going to do. After a few minutes and a few sniffles, damn the cost, I called my mom.

Posted by rhonwphoto 08:55 Archived in Italy Tagged boats venice hotel train lost taxis Comments (0)

All Roads Lead to Rome

Whether you are headed that direction or not

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I don't know why I was so nervous about traveling to Europe alone, but I was. Many years ago I worked for a mortgage company in Houston and one of my responsibilities was to organize and book travel for the company. I booked travel for my family of four for years, and we traveled a lot. I even took each one of my children to Europe, just the two of us. Ashley in 2008 and Clay in 2010. But this trip, alone, made me nervous. I think it was because it happened quickly. Usually my German-ness keeps me organized and operating with few missteps. But I only had a few days to organize it all, and I wasn't feeling prepared.

Even so, everything was going smoothly. I had found my son and his girlfriend in Rome and we spent two wonderful days together. The morning I was leaving Rome I was a little concerned about the trains. I'd been on trains in Europe many times, but always with someone else telling me where to go and when to be there. Never alone. I checked out of my hotel in Rome. It was the Hotel Forum. Quaint, really nice and some rooms have a gorgeous view of....The Forum. I made arrangements to meet Clay and Alesia outside the Rome train station, which is huge. Unfortunately they thought I was meeting them outside their hotel. And their phones were off to save money. So I waited for 30 minutes and then, sniffling a bit, walked into the train station to figure it out myself. Happily they showed up at the last minute, showed me what to do, lead me to my seat and with many hugs, said goodbye. They were headed to Paris the next day.

I was so happy. I knew I didn't get off the train until Venice, so what could go wrong? I've learned NEVER To ask that. The train left the station and then a moment of mini-panic hit me. Here I was headed into the Italian countryside, on a train full of people speaking nothing but Italian (I do not). I mustered up my courage and was fine momentarily. Then it hit me. Five minutes into the trip it hit me like a ton of bricks. MY PASSPORT! The woman who checked me out of the Forum Hotel didn't give me back my passport.

So now I was on a train headed into the Italian countryside, on a train full of people speaking nothing but Italian, with no passport and no phone service for four hours.

Posted by rhonwphoto 10:06 Archived in Italy Tagged people hotel train passport Comments (0)

My crazy Italian adventure

Traveling alone and the things we forget

Venezian_Bride_1_copy.jpg

I've been back from my Italian adventure for a while now. But as it usually goes, there were stacks of mail and emails and work waiting for me. I am rested and remembering my trip, but haven't had much of a chance to work on photographs yet.

My trip was wonderful. I started out in Philadelphia, spending a few days with friends. I'm originally from Pittsburgh but haven't been back since....well, it's been a really long time. To be honest it has been decades since I've been in Pittsburgh. Philadelphia is my chance to be in the same state at least. Flying out of Philadelphia was uneventful. Unfortunately my friends were traveling back home and we all rode to the airport together so I was at the gate six hours in advance. My only complaint about the International part of the Philadelphia airport is that there were not nearly enough electrical outlets. In fact, they were scarce.

Once boarded I found my seat and it happened to be in a row of four with a mom and two little kids. Dad had a different row so I happily traded with him. The flight went by so quickly thanks to my Kindle. I'm reading "Venice: Pure City" by Peter Ackroyd. It's very colorful and nicely written but seems really long.

I arrived at the Rome airport, found my way out to a taxi and headed for my son's hotel. It was nearly 10am before I got there and I was convinced Clay and Alesia had been sitting around waiting for me for hours. They were asleep. Ah the life of a 22 year old world traveler and his girlfriend. My hotel was pretty close by so we walked, I checked it and we started our day. Unfortunately jet lag started to set in but my son would have none of that so off we went, up and down hills on cobblestone streets seeing the sights of Rome. It was warm that day and I must confess to being extremely proud of the fact that I was sightseeing until midnight without a single nap.

We only had two days together in Rome so we wanted to make the most of it. The second day we spent the entire day at the Vatican Museum and St. Peters Basilica. This is my third trip to Rome so I've been to both twice before, but always on tours where we were rushed in and out again. To spend hours walking through the Vatican Museum was such a treat. Buy tickets online in advance. They will give you a reservation for a specific time. We took a break mid-afternoon for a wonderful lunch in a sidewalk cafe. I am not a beer drinker but I have grown to love Peroni and pizza. We felt refreshed and then spent an hour or so in St. Peters. I'm sure you all know, but make sure shoulders and elbows are covered or they won't let you in.

I got an email from my sister that day. She follows Giada on Twitter and Giada had recommended Al Moro in Rome as a 'must eat' restaurant so we dressed nicely that evening and I took the kids out to dinner. The food was incredible! I had a Proscuitto e Melone salad and their version of Spaghetti Carbanaro, tossed with freshly grated Parmesan. Absolutely delicious. We didn't have dessert because we had a gelato waiting for us by the Fontana de Trevi. I have to agree that Al Moro was the food highlight of our time in Rome.

That night we threw a coin into the Fontana de Trevi. Left hand tossed over your right shoulder. It is done to guarantee your return to Rome someday. I've always done it and it's always worked. This time it worked a little too well, but that's a story for tomorrow.

Posted by rhonwphoto 16:24 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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