5.18.09 Arriving in Rome
I’ve spent enough time on airplanes to don’t want to be on another one for a long time. I clearly remember laughing (at my expense) several times throughout the duration of the flight – I feel bad that I’m too tired to remember what she was laughing at.
We got off the plane and went straight to baggage claim (what else were we going to do?) When we checked in at Atlanta we were told that our bags had made it to Atlanta and would be on our plane. We started to get nervous about an hour after the flight when we had no bags – except a lot of people from our flight were still waiting for their bags. At around 10am (our flight landed at 8:20sm) we were told that all bags had made it to baggage claim. Welcome trial number 1. Neither Melba nor I had a bag. Long line at customer service with people from our flight who didn’t have bags. I had grown sick of the clothes I was wearing (hadn’t changed them for three days) not to mention that I was really nervous about what we would do if we had to board the ship without out bags. Then we found out that our bags had made it on the flight from New York last night. So we have our bags and we’re sitting in the hotel – a very nice hotel.
Trail number 2 was learning that our port is over 100km away from Rome and it could easily be a €150 cab ride – that’s over $200. Well, Italian hospitality is among the best. The concierge printed off the train schedule and found us a much less expensive way to get there. He said the cab ride to the train station would be about 35 EUR and the train tickets will be €4.50 each. He even told me how to use the bus (instead of a taxi) and it would cost €1 each – but I it will be too crowded and I’m not that desperate. This is real Italian hospitality – it’s easy to find, but you have to look for it somewhere devoid of street vendors.
I was kinda bummed when we had to stay in Atlanta on Sunday because I wanted to go to Church in Rome. However, I don’t think we could’ve made it through Church yesterday. We were both so tired when we got to the hotel that we went straight to bed and slept for 2 hours. Well, Melba slept for 3.
I have really lost a lot of my Italian skills. I’m doing OK with getting around and chit-chatting, but I don’t think I could hold a full discussion like I could when I was a missionary. Bummer. Maybe I’ll start to get some of it back over the next couple of weeks. We’ll see.
As easy as it would’ve been to stay at the hotel – we were both really tired – we went ahead and bought bus tickets into Rome. I had forgotten how much I loved Italy until I got into the city. There were several little things that I had forgotten like how cars know to stop if you jump into the crosswalk – although it took Melba a little bit of time to develop that level of faith… We didn’t have much time and all of the museum were closed (we slept until about 3 and the museums close at 4) so went to Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and walked around. No crowds anywhere and I was somewhat, but pleasantly, surprised to not see and Gypsy’s or street vendors. We stopped at a gelateria along the way and had some real Italian gelato. Buonissimo. We loved sitting on the street in the middle of Rome, eating gelato and looking at the people walking by.
The Basilica is beautiful – the way I remember Italian Catholic Cathedrals. The first thing I saw when I walked in was a sculpture of Mary holding Jesus after He had died. I will admit that I choked up when I first saw it – I had never seen a sculpture so beautiful. I could have looked at it for an hour. Melba then told it was the Pieta. It all made sense at that point – Paul O’Neill (Producer of TSO) said that great art will give an emotion that someone has never felt before and used the Pieta as an example. He said that someone who has never had a child can look at that sculpture and know what it is like to have one who dies.
We walked around the rest of the Basilica, stopped at a store to buy some bottled water and then ate dinner at an outdoor restaurant. Service was great and the food was really good. We split a Pizza Margarita (crust, tomato sauce, basil and mozzarella) and then each ordered a plate of pasta. I had four-cheese gnocchi and Melba had a sausage, sage, and butter pasta. Both dishes were good but Melba’s was incredible. We brainstormed how we would imitate it when we got home.
We went back to the bus pick-up spot and went home. I had a really bad headache. We were both really tired, got home and went straight to bed.