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Trip Report Jamikins and Bikerscott's Long Weekend in Rome

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Jamikins and Bikerscott's return to The Eternal City for what will hopefully be a sun-filled bank holiday weekend break.

Day One – Travel Day Delay

In retrospect, the several bottles of wine last night may not have been the best choice. After work we met for dinner in London near St Pauls – we had a taxi booked but decided to eat first and avoid some of the rush-hour traffic…it was a good plan. As it turned out, the earlier traffic meant that our pre-booked car was significantly late, which meant we had time for an extra bottle of wine and even then spent quite a bit of time standing outside a random Café Rouge in the rain waiting for him. An angry call to the booking service and a discount later, the very apologetic driver arrived.

The people at Premier Inn have taken the checking in process to a whole new level of automation and ease. We arrived at the hotel, found a self-service kiosk, and had our room keys within a few minutes. A few minutes after that we had dropped off our bags and were in the admittedly crap Premier Inn lounge for a final beverage (a glass of wine for Jamie and a tasty Sharpe’s Atlantic for me – a quality beer if you ever come across it).

Four in the morning had seemed like such a good idea when I set the alarm. I wasn’t feeling like it was a very solid plan when it actually went off, and took quite a while to wake up and feel even a little bit human. A short taxi ride to the airport later and we realised how nice my former BA Silver Status was – no more free lounge access for us. We had to sit in the general boarding area with a relatively large number of people who had evidently never travelled before, plus seven thousand pre-teens who were on some sort of school excursion.

While I don’t have Silver status anymore, I do still have Bronze which got us priority boarding, so we were amongst the first on the plane. The gate folks had spent quite a bit of time announcing that the flight was very full and suggesting that anyone with a second bag would be better off checking it in for free rather than have to find somewhere to put in on the plane. They didn’t count on the eight thousand pre-teens, who apparently travel with very little cabin baggage – I’ve never seen so many empty bag cabinets (there’s probably an official name for them, but I can’t think of it right now).

After pretty much everyone had boarded a man, his severely disabled daughter and her career got on. It was a disaster. They tried to get the poor girl to sit down in the last row of the plane, but she was having none of it. They spent a good (or to be honest a not so good) half hour trying to calm her down and take her seat, but eventually had to give up and get off the flight – there was no way this girl was going to cooperate. We felt really bad for the guy – he wasn't having a great day.

The 30 minutes trying to get the girl to sit was added to after they decided to give up as the airline had to find and remove their bags from the plane. All in all we were an hour late taking off due to the chaos. Fortunately I can pass out on pretty much any form of transportation so missed most of the delay, as well as a good portion of the flight itself. Low-level travel narcolepsy has it’s advantages.

We got to Fiumicino and as only had carry-on bags through passport control and customs pretty quickly. I’d had a few text messages from our driver arranging a location to meet him, and we got to the big blue meeting point sign and started looking for Yuri. I saw a guy walking towards us holding a sign that had a name that was VERY close to our last name – the spelling was only off by a single letter. I called “Yuri” to him, pointed at his sign and said that I’m Scott *******. He said no, I’m waiting for *****@*, party of four. I thought it was strange, what are the chances of someone being in the Rome airport with almost exactly the same last name waiting for a driver at the meeting point. I called Yuri to see how long he was going to be and this other guy’s phone rang. Turns out the booking agency got both our last name slightly wrong, and somehow thought there were four of us rather than just the two of us.

I’d forgotten how insane Roman drivers are. We nearly died at least four times. At one point the guy was driving with one hand, texting with the other, while having a conversation on a hands-free headset. We eventually got to our flat in Trastevere and were shown around it – it includes a nice little terrace area for afternoon relaxation, and then were left to our own devices. Our first mission was lunch.

There are a few little restaurants in the piazza out the front door, which fit the bill of being close and not too expensive. Lunch was good, wine was excellent, and the sun was even better after a few months of grey cold in London.

We spent most of the afternoon wandering around Trastevere taking photos before crossing the river for more photo opportunities, plus another wine opportunity (these are important in any quality trip abroad). Rome is amazing. We love this city – this is our fourth visit and we’re not tired of it at all. The sights, sounds, and most of the smells make it feel very comfortable. In retrospect it’s funny how intimidating we found it on our first trip – 9 years of living in London and travelling all over Europe have given us a very different perspective.

Dinner was an interesting experience. Jamie had found a company that caters small wine and food tasting evenings. They’d just changed location and we spent quite a while trying to find the little place, but eventually got there. We sat at a long table with a dozen other people from all over the world (the US, Denmark, Sweden, Britain, and Estonia were all represented) and got an introduction to some really nice Italian wines as well as classic Italian plates to pair with them. Highlights for me were the Brunello Di Montelcino and the Barrolo. It was a LOT of food as well, and we left feeling very full.

It wasn’t actually as long of a walk back to our little flat as we were expecting. Earlier in the day we’d wondered where all the young Italians go for evenings out in the city – we found them at several bars on the way home, and especially just over the bridge to Trastevere. Our little piazza also seems to be a prime location and was absolutely packed with people out having a Friday night on the town. The evening is winding down with a bit of photo editing, writing, and of course some wine.

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