Sunday – the last day.
I haven’t slept that well and woke up with quite a dry/sore throat.
If truth be told, I think it’s been heading my way for days. My ears were popping on the plane and refused to pop back right, for the whole time we’ve been here. Not sure if they’re right or not now.
Also, it’s quite smokey. Lots and lots of smokers. Much worse than UK. Breathing in that passive smoke all day can’t be good for you. I’ve even seen officials at tourist attractions stood right outside smoking away, and people cooking in restaurants/cafe, fag in hand. Disgusting.
According to a quick google search, the Italy smoking ban in 2005 lowered the number of smokers from 26% of the population to 24%. It doesn’t appear to be enforced either, really.
I’m also not feeling too great after attempting to tackle that big gristly steak last night. I must learn to stick to my guns with my ‘no red meat’ policy.
If there’s one thing I’d add to Rome, it’s the words “with seasonal vegetables” to their menus. What’s with this ‘couple of salad leaves’ bullshit? I’m not going to pretend I always hit my 5-a-day on at home, but I do a fuckload better than this on fruit and vegetables usually. It’s a surprise the Italians don’t all have either scurvy/rickets, or wind up massively obese.
We went for a walk this morning to see some more things. A funny island joined by two bridges being one of them. I’m afraid I wasn’t studying areas well enough to remember exactly where we went.
While en-route, a guy asked if I wanted to buy some flowers for my girlfriend. I said no. He gave her three. She tried to give him back but he wouldn’t take them. “They’re a gift”, he insists. Neither of us believes him, but we start walking off, to be followed by a man repeatedly asking for money. My girlfriend forces them back into his hand and we walk away. These people are getting annoying now. Quite glad we’re leaving today. It’s been nice to see the place, but I’ll be glad to get home. The constant hassling really grates on you after a while.
We went looking for what we hoped might be a nice little Italian bakery that might sell something other than pizza or pasta (Forno Campo de’ Fiori – highly rated on Tripadvisor), but it was shut on Sundays. Balls. Neither of us fancied pasta or pizza for lunch (and there are few other cheap takeaway options), so we went for a reasonably unhealthy lunch of crisps, yoghurt and two slices of quite tasty-looking tarts. One was I think blackcurrant, and the other apricot. They both had a good even bake, and no soggy bottoms, but so unbelievably dry that even with the aid of a drink, I struggled to finish my piece.
We walked to the train station to save money, then tried to buy train tickets to the airport. I’m embarrassed to say I was a bit tired, and if left to my own devices, might possibly have got my credit card skimmed or my pocket picked. My girlfriend was more decisive at this point anyway.
What happened? Well basically I tried to use a machine to buy a ticket, and it came up (before I entered any information, etc.) with a message saying the connection to the network/server failed. Something like that. I was planning on paying in cash, as it accepted notes. A woman a short distance behind us (who my girlfriend assures me had a near-full-set of gold teeth), motioned us to use a different machine. I was slightly wary, even without noticing her teeth, because she had no uniform on or anything that suggested she worked there. She was also suggesting we use a specific machine, that her friend was already loitering near. Before I could say “no it’s ok”, my girlfriend just grabbed my arm and shouted “no” at her. If there’s a lesson here it’s “don’t fuck with a woman who is tired and worrying about catching a flight”.
We went to another part of the building and used a different machine to buy our tickets, in a more main/central bit of the station. I paid by card. We came back 2 minutes later, and both women had gone. Make of that what you will.
Next, we studied the list of platforms/trains, to see where our train would go from. Another woman asks where we’re going, what nationality we were, etc. Again, no uniform, so even though she was miles away and there was nobody else near us, we were probably still quite rude to her. But the problem with going somewhere that is SO known for pickpockets/fraud/etc. is that you’re always going to be on high alert. It’s much worse than London, in my opinion. You don’t get people selling fake handbags on the street outside the Tate modern.
I think there are people less criminal who hang around, offering help, in the vain hopes someone will tip them for their advice. We were possibly overly suspicious of the woman standing 30feet away, and suggesting the platform number, but our ‘trust no-one’ mantra had worked well to that point.
Food in rome isn’t that amazing. Most takeaway cafes in the centre of Rome sell pizza and not much else. I know it’s Italian, but if I were spending more than a weekend there, I’d have to spend some time crawling Google/Tripadvisor to find some more variations.
And it’s tremendously expensive for what it is. I looked up on a forum how much spending money you need for Italy, and there was someone who spent €1000 in a week. I can easily believe this, with grilled chicken being €20, and it being more than €4 for a can of Sprite. It’s the most expensive place I’ve ever been.
I made the same observation last year when I was in Corfu, but I’ll say it again: British roads are brilliant, and safe for everyone who uses them. Yes they are.
In Rome, the rule appears to be that when using a zebra crossing, if one of you is crossing, the cars don’t stop. If enough of you are crossing that you’d collectively make a sizeable dent in their car, then they stop (probably).
There are some sections with proper traffic lights. You get a red light to the cars, and the green man for pedestrians. So you walk across. And at this point you’ll be killed by a bus, as they don’t ever stop for those lights.
Still, unlike Corfu, the car drivers wear seatbelts, moped drivers wear helmets, and there is so much traffic that they’re rarely going fast enough to kill each other – just pedestrians.
There are odd people and statues and things in Rome. Here’s some of it.
So that they can do this:
Want more? How about people carving statues from carrots?
Can you imagine the job description for this next post?
Everything is massive, except breakfast, and buses:
And petrol stations:
Or a nice cycle ride?
On a penny farthing. And what you can’t see in that picture is that there’s a baby on the front. And when I say baby, I mean very creepy doll, with helmet on, pretending to pedal, obviously.
Rome = bit odd.
If you want to see a load more photos I took on holiday in Rome, see this flickr set.
(And as an aside, Paul Williams – who I follow on Twitter, and who works for the BBC making brilliant wildlife films, was there the same weekend, also taking photos. You can see a professional’s photos, here, if you like.)