Sunday, February 1, 2015

How We Get Lost (Italian style)

Last night, our first night in Rome, we got lost for a couple of hours.
I have to say that, for me--the husband half of our team--it was kind of exciting. And maybe I even enjoyed the thrill of it for a little while. As for the thrill that the other half of our team, the wife, experienced: . . .not so much.
Wandering in unfamiliar, dark neighborhoods in the rain, at night . . . getting further and further away from our accomodation, no speaka de language, off the map . . .
It wasn't so bard, really. Like I said, kind of exciting.
Not for everybody.
As we woke up this morning, warm and rested in the perfect rented apartment, I found myself wondering: how can such a thing happen?
Just how is it that we get lost? What happens that causes us to lose our way?
After pondering last night's unanticipated events, I figured it out. The whole debacle happened because of this:

No, wait.
That wasn't the first thing that happened to make us get lost. This unexpected event was indeed the main reason we got off course. But the reason we found ourselves in such a wet, confusing environment, obstructed by a long parade of protesters was because we had made an earlier serendipitous choice we had made just before dark.
Up to that little choice, everything had gone without a hitch.
We had made, for instance, an incredibly smooth transition at the airport. Pat had wisely made, in advance (actually months ago) arrangements for us to pick up pre-purchased bus tickets that would get us into the city. Picking up the tickets was easy because the setup that RyanAir had at Ciampino Airport was easy and quick.
Almost immediately after walking off the plane, we entered the concourse and, after one or two turns, suddenly we were at baggage claim! Sweet.
Then, to add amazement to incredularity, we went through a door and we were in line for the bus tickets, didn't even have to hunt around for it. After the pre-purchased tickets were in hand, we're going through a nearby door and out into the freshly temperate Italian air on a partly sunny afternoon and there's a bus and after a little wait with all the other good travelers we were on the bus and it was moving and then we were tooling along looking out the window like the goose-necking American tourists that we are and I'm discovering that the road we are on going into Rome is the ancient Appian Way. Hot dang! We're on our way to the eternal city, without a hitch.
After the bus trip we did have a little wrong turn, easily corrected. It happened in this area of classic tourist stupefication:

But no big deal. We were enjoying the afternoon, moving along steadily through this grandiose city which is all about power and empire and magnificent splendor. Not like Athens, from whence we had just flown. Athens is like a small town compared to this place. All legends about Romulus and Remus aside, I perceive this City was born by Ceasarian section, and that's why it has turned out this way.
Everything was hunky-dory. We got to our apartment--the one for which Pat had made arrangements months ago--and got set up there.
Our host, Cristiano, was very friendly, speaka de English, and very thorough in his 45-minute explanation and orientation for our very clean, modern apartment.
After Cristorforo's excellent spiel, Pat and I were very comfortable with his Rome-born leadership and helpful demeanor.
He suggested we might want to allow him to drop us off at an excellent vantage point to begin our first evening in Rome. This we accepted. Since his home was near the viewpoint, a area called Gianicolo, it was on his way.
This was an excellent choice; the day was darkening and the lights of Rome were beginning to sparkle far below us. It was lovely. Cristiano dropped us there and we were on our own. Awesome!
After taking in the big picture, we walked down the hill to Trastevere, the district which Cristiano had called the "Old Rome".
It was lovely, perfect. Our evening meal was taken at a trattoria called Dar Poeta; it was the best pizza I've ever tasted. I do not believe the claim of some Americans that pizza was invented in America. These Italians can do pizza better than any yankee could ever dream of.
After dinner we wandered through the narrow curvy adobe streets down to the Tiber River. We crossed the river on Ponte Cisto, then proceeded to walk, umbrellas in hand, along the east side of the river toward the Colosseum and our flat, which was only a few blocks from that ancient stadium.
While we were strolling throughout the light rain, feeling very good about life, thoroughly entertained and well-fed, we came across a large group of people:

I had planned to take a left turn toward our destination at a certain point, but the long group of demonstrators (I still don't know what they were marching for) seemed to prevent it. So I made a snap decision to alter our course a little bit. . .
Don't ask.
About 45 minutes later, that's the repeated thought I was having as Pat was making "comments" about where we were.
Life's an adventure, right?

Glass half-Full

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