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Trip Report Thinking of ROME? Really???

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As I write this, I am sitting on my king size bed in my 5 Star luxury hotel in Rome, Italy. This hotel, which is "THE" best thing about this city, is pretty wonderful, if not quite expensive, but that's another story.

For those of you who live in a nice spot in the USA, without making any judgements, I would like to simply list some facts, as I have seen them, about this city:

1.. Virtually everyone smokes here and they never seem to stop. Standing in front of virtually every shop, is the clerk or proprietor, with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth. If you don't smoke, chances are you will find this quite annoying. All sidewalk cafes have ashtrays on the tables.

2. The traffic makes Manhattan traffic look slow and uncongested in comparison. The lane lines are absolutely meaningless and there appear to be ZERO traffic laws. Add to this the fact that there are at least as many motorcycles as there are cars and their whizzing, roaring sounds are incredibly annoying. Add to this an enormous quantity of gigantic sightseeing busses, spewing diesel fumes. The exhaust fumes from the motorcycles, cars & busses, combined with the cigarette smoke makes walking down the street reasonably uncomfortable, if not down right unhealthful.

3. Do you have a pretty good sense of direction? Well when an intersection has six streets coming together instead of two, you WILL get lost. No problem you say, I'll just jump into a taxi. Well, since you are lost, no matter where you are in relation to your destination, you will get there via the "scenic route," which will run the bill up to double or triple what it should be. THEN, get ready for the "old switcheroo" when you hand the driver a 20 Euro note and he "palms" it and magically shows that you only gave him a 10 Euro note. Go ahead, argue with him.

4. We are here in October, which is supposed to be the "off season," but the city is PACKED with tourists. Really, being here reminds me of being at Disneyland: Way too many tourists, waiting in lines that are way too long. Only Disneyland is clean, while Rome is generally filthy.

5. You are accosted on the streets by panhandlers, immigrants hawking all kinds of junk and in-your-face shysters trying to sell you Vatican or tour bus tickets.

In short, we spent a small fortune on this trip, but if next year, we were offered free first class travel and a free week in the Presidential Suite at our wonderful hotel, I would say thanks, but NO THANKS.

Tomorrow, we are off to Tuscany and then Florence. Those places MUST be better than Rome. They are, right?

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