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Trip Report Six Days in Rome Christmas Week with Son & Daughter-in-Law

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DAY 00 - MON DEC 23
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This is the Europe trip my wife (Linda) and I had promised my son (David) and daughter-in-law (Mayookha) for some time. We are retired, but they work, so coordinating their vacations (easily cancelled due to work emergencies) had been a problem. They finally decided that Christmas week was a sure thing, so we decided to go where the weather was pretty good — Rome for six nights.

We had been to Rome twice before, so we had a good idea of what to see. Our only concern was working around the Christmas closures, but we had a pretty good plan using pre-bookings.

No problems getting to the airport (PHL) but as we started to board, they were held back — some problem with their seats. As we boarded, we worried that they might not get on. It turned out someone had thrown up on the seat, and USAir was replacing the entire seat and washing down the floor! Finally they boarded and were given seats in a different row.

We took off 20 minutes late. Not a good beginning to the trip.

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DAY 01 - TUE DEC 24
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Great tailwind — and we arrived 25 minutes early. As usual, I hardly slept at all. Our hotel, Hotel Arenula in the ghetto, had arranged a car for €50. Last visit we had taken the train to Stazione Trastevere and tram, but with four people, the car cost only a little more and a lot faster and more convenient.

After a very fast immigration and customs, we emerged to find the driver waiting with my name on his sign. He was a speedster, and we arrived at our hotel at 9:30, only 35 minutes after the scheduled arrival of our flight.

The rooms were ready. Hotel Arenula is a great hotel, situated in the ghetto, walking distance from most of the historic sights. We had stayed there in 2007. As usual, we booked by email, and they gave us a rate that was actually better than last time. The only drawback is that there is no lift, but we had arranged for first floor rooms in advance.

After stopping at an ATM and a coffee-pastry shop, we decided to walk to the coliseum and forum, which we had pre-booked online. We really took the long way coming in from the west, around the V. Emanuel monument and down V. Imperiale — somewhat lost about which streets went through…but still fun.

There were no crowds in the forum, but the coliseum line was long, so the pre-booking was worth it. Weather is always a worry in winter, but today it was beautiful — perfect for our outdoor morning among the ruins.

Returning to our neighborhood, we grabbed some lunch at a local pizza joint — sold by weight — and finished off with gelato (more about that later).

It was now mid-afternoon, so a nap was in order.

After the naps, we strolled around the nearby piazzas — Navona, Rontunda (Pantheon), and Campo de’ Fiori. Then dinner at a restaurant David picked out (whose name I cannot remember). Linda’s pesto was good, but my pasta arrabiata was a little too spicy to completely enjoy.

Back at the hotel, we unpacked, and — exhausted and still sleep-deprived — went to bed.

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