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Trip Report Bookchick's Roman Birthday With Other Chicks Attending

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I've just realized it's been almost 6 months since my birthday, and I've not posted a trip report! So here's the beginning of it, with more to come soon.

My most recent sojourn to the Eternal City began as the fulfillment of a promise. In 2007 I was gravely ill, and had been hospitalized for 7 weeks. While still in the hospital, I made a pact with my friend, N, whose birthday is April 7th. Since she’s an Italophile herself, and my birthday is on April 11th, we agreed that if I were still alive and well enough to travel, we’d spend our 2008 birthdays together in Rome. And that’s just what we did!
I actually flew over on April 2nd, when I left the States, traveling first-class aboard an NWA flight bound for Amsterdam, where I was to have a brief layover. When the cabin steward came to take my drink order, I naturally ordered champagne. The flight was fairly uneventful, although one poor chap in first-class was ill, and a steward gave him oxygen and arranged to have him stay aboard the aircraft when we landed so a wheelchair could be brought down the jetway for him.
Amsterdam was cold and rainy, and I realized in the chaos that was going on at my house when I left, I neglected to bring a raincoat. As my layover merely consisted of me staying in the airport and praying the young teens en masse in the boarding area were not going to be on my flight—and they weren’t—this was not an immediate need, but could prove to be something I may require when I reached Rome. Serendipity smiled on me, and just as my flight was about to depart Amsterdam, the sun came out in full force. Just in time for me to fall asleep like a log on the flight to Rome.
Rome, what can I possibly write about my return there that I’ve not already written? When lying close to death in a hospital ICU in 2007, I looked back on my life and counted my blessings and reviewed my few regrets, and prayed that I might someday return to Rome. April 3, 2008 was my someday. The driver I had pick me up at the airport was a jovial fellow who’d driven me before. The walls of Vatican City, as we approached, did not look at all forbidding, but welcoming. As we turned a corner, I gasped audibly and my driver asked if I was okay. I assured him I was, but told him that in my part of the country, spring hadn’t made much of an appearance yet, and the sight before me was overwhelming: all manner of lovely pink and purple blossoms were on trees just outside the Vatican Walls.
At the Hotel San Carlo, a young lady I’d not known was working the front desk, and provided me with the key to a room numbered in the 70’s, up 5 flights of stairs. The installation of the elevator, now complete, was in full swing at that time, and shank’s mare, as my late Irish parents would say, would have to do. Now N was not the only pal who’d be joining me on the trip. We’d invited two other American friends, C and J, who were scheduled to arrive on Sunday and Monday respectively. N was also arriving on Monday, which was her birthday. I meandered about the town for a bit after unpacking and then took a nap. I also read for a bit in my room. My energy levels hadn’t returned to normal since my illness and my 70 lb weight loss, but I didn’t feel hungry, so I skipped dinner, and made a list of errands I’d need to run on Friday. A fourth friend, CW, would be flying down from her native Germany on Wednesday evening to join us.

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