Day 14: Rome = Walking = Balcony

I subscribe to this daily app called TimeHop. The essence of it is that it serves up your social media check-ins and postings from prior years. Yesterday TimeHop told me that: 3 years ago I was in Virginia at a softball tournament, 2 years ago I was working in NYC, and 1 year ago I was on Anna Maria Island with family in Florida.

Today, I was in Italy and it was a beautiful day to be in Italy.

It was one of those days where I'm convinced that being a good friendly person pays off. Walk around with a pout? Nobody wants to help you when you are rushing for a train. It was a really active day between 2 train stations, sight seeing in Rome, and checking into a hotel. Many opportunities to test my theories of being positive and friendly. It wasn't a scientific study, but I am right.
  • Train to Naples ... met Toni. More on that.
  • Greet the train conductors with a simple (and probably butchered) Bonjourno and Gratzi, they'll smile at you for the whole ride.
  • Patiently waiting at the Trevi fountain for a spot to open ... and a fellow English speaker to take my picture for me.
  • Waiting for the shuttle back to the hotel. Nice couple from Madrid ensured I got on to the shuttle since it was clear people wouldn't make it.
And despite spending several hours on the train en route from Sorrento to Rome, I still managed to walk more than 8 miles today. I have to earn that pizza and croisant based diet some how.

My New Friend Toni
As I mentioned in my "live update" this morning, I had to rush for the train in order to beat the strike. I made it to the station with 4 minutes to spare before the like 8:36 train to Naples or something like that. But as I approached the platform, I knew I had to be on the right train. I usually have good intuition (or luck) but I wanted to be sure. These fellow English speakers were not interested, so I turned to the guy behind them. He told me it was and so I followed him on the train. 
Then, he showed me where I could store my big backpack and which point I was convinced I was going to be standing for the next 65 minutes. But no, my new friend had saved me a seat nearby. Kindness pays off.

About 20 minutes into the ride, the seat next to him freed up and so he saved it again so I could sit next to him. We made some polite chat and soon Toni revealed to me that he had seen me rushing for the train earlier. He said I caught his eye because I looked just like this American girl that he almost married 25-30 years ago. (Oddly enough, we both even spent time working for IBM.) Toni made the whole ride so much more pleasurable than the first time I took the Circumvesuviana. 

As the ride came to a close, he helped me get my bag off the train and walked me all the way to the TrenItalia section of the station so I wouldn't get lost. I thought by this point, he had left honestly. But, I guess he was just making sure I got my ticket just fine because as soon as I had that final train ticket in hand, he popped out and gave me his card. 

This may be presumptuous  but I really feel like Toni and I will stay email friends and I'll visit him again in Sorrento. It's been my favorite place of this trip so far.

Around Rome
I managed to make it to the hotel by noon - which is pretty great time if you ask me. As soon as I had checked-in, they alerted me that the last shuttle for the city before lunch break was leaving in 15 minutes. So without much planning, I grabbed my Rick Steves book, camera, and hopped on the shuttle.

Just like I love to do, the first thing I did was eat. I hadn't realized how dehydrated, hungry, and tired I really was. Pizza = fuel. Until it kicked in, I had honestly contemplated getting a cab and going back to the hotel.
I'm sure there was a more efficient way around the city, but here's the order I hit the sites: Piazza di Spagna and Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, general ruins, Arco di Tito, Colosseum, Arco Di Constantino, Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica, San Carlo Alle Quattro Fontaine, and lastly Fontana Trevi.
honestly, I get that the Spanish Stairs are like the widest staircase in Europe or something - but I wasn't super impressed with this. 
 I was however impressed with this bike basket. 
 In Boston everywhere you look you can see a girl in Uggs. In Rome, everywhere you look you can see a priest or a nun.
 resting in the pantheon - which is far more impressive from the inside than the out.
 Ending up in Piazza Navona was an accident - but it's actually quite big and impressive (twss).
I was super tired here. And for the life of me couldn't get a fellow tourist to help me out here. 
 So this is a popular fountain.
Between the Pantheon and the Colosseum  I gave up using the dumb hotel maps and used Google Maps. Despite this being ROME, it's like there is no signage on what street you are on, which way things are at all. It's nuts.

By the end of all these sites, it had been 5+ hours of walking and I was seriously beat. Like, couldn't even play word games on my phone while I waited for the shuttle tired. 

Specifically the Santa Maria Basilica 
I might have really liked the Colosseum if I could locate their ticket office - but I couldn't and honestly I didn't try that hard. For those reasons, the Santa Maria Basilica is my winner for the day. Sure, the Trevi fountain is gorgeous but its PACKED with people. The Basilica = cool, quiet, and there were benches to sit on and drink water.
Plus, this is the first church I've been in where I've actually seen people paying attention and praying. Weird right?

The Waldorf
Yesterday I alluded to the fact I was going to be checking in to a slightly more luxurious hotel - well I'm at the Waldorf. I'll save the details on the Wally for another day (I'm tired) but I'll leave you with these facts: my room has a balcony with a view of Rome and there is a pillow menu. I like to take advantage of all the amenities that are available to me, so I might be taking an "art tour" of the property tomorrow via ipad from the Concierge. Why not?
Tomorrow? I'm going to have a relaxing morning around the hotel before I spend the afternoon in the Vatican. I've hired a guide for a few hours to babysit me - so I'll be crossing my fingers tonight that the person is a hot Italian guy in his 30s. Chances seem slim.

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