Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day 1 in Rome, Travel Day from Pisa

I got out of bed around 9 am this morning, I woke up earlier, but was in no rush to get up, my train to Rome did not leave until 11:45 am. When I finally got up, packed, my backpack zipper broke, I had to get a new one, quick.  When I checked out of my room a little before 10:30 am, I asked the woman at reception where I could buy a backpack.  She referred me to a Pam, a Chinese store down the street, she said the backpack would be made in China but it would be cheap.  I told her that was fine, got directions, found Pam and bought my new 10 Euro backpack.  I will see how long it lasts.

I went back to the hostel, quickly packed my new backpack and threw out the old backpack.  The hostel closed at 11 am for cleaning, I had an 11:45 am train to catch, so I was in a bit of a rush.  After I was packed I went down the street to the tobacco shop to buy a bus ticket, the tickets were 40 cents cheaper in the store versus buying them on the bus.  I got to the train station about ten minutes before the departure and I forgot to validate my ticket.

In Europe, train ticket validation is a big thing that is easy to forget to do.  Validating a ticket means you stick it in a machine and it gets time and date stamped.  Since I had a ticket without a seat reservation, I was required to do this, I am used to doing this on the bus and subway, but never got in the habit for longer distance trains.  I paid for it today, a few stops from Rome, the train conductor came by checking tickets.  He saw I had not validated mine and I was fined 40 euros, my 22 euro train ride to Rome suddenly became much more expensive.

The conductor showed me the back of the ticket, even seemed a little sorry he had to fine me.  Then he moved onto the next passengers, I think a couple other non-Italians got caught without validated tickets. Good way for the Italians to make money off tourists who do not know how their train system works.  I decided I would not dwell on the money lost, it is gone, will not let it ruin my trip.

Other than the fine, the train ride to Rome was pleasant, the train was empty most of the ride, which was nice.  I had a train seat to myself almost all the way.  I slept a little, read about Rome on the guidebooks on my Kindle, and enjoyed the scenery.

Lynnae on Train to Rome
I arrived in Rome a little after 4 pm, the train was a few minutes late.  I had to search for where the buses departed, after asking an Italian, I found the area.  It took me at least 45 minutes to get from Rome's main train station to the hostel, I took 2 buses.  The hostel is nice, it is all women, located in a convent.  I have not seen any nuns here, maybe it is a former convent.  After settling in, I went out for a walk around Rome, the tourist sites were closed for the day, but I was hungry, thought I would see a little before settling in for the evening.

On my way to get food, I asked two women to take a picture of me on the Ponte Mazzini bridge overlooking the Tiber River. One of the women asked me if we were in the hostel, I vaguely recognized them and said yes. I had just said hello to them when I was putting my stuff in the lockers.  They took my picture, we walked across the bridge, they are both college students in France, on vacation in Rome to celebrate the end of finals.  We decided to go get dinner together, it is always nice to meet people while traveling to hang out with. 

Tiber River 

Me on Ponte Mazzini bridge 
Dinner was great, I got Rigatoni with bacon and spicy tomato sauce, I ate all of it.  Only the second time I have had pasta in Italy, this place had homemade pasta.  I talked to my French hostel mates for a couple of hours of dinner, then we finally asked for the check and left.  They were going to stay out later, I was ready to head back to the hostel.  They got back about an hour after me, they found the Vatican, they said it is beautiful at night.  Too bad I did not stay with them for the walk.  I may go out and see the Vatican at night tomorrow or save it for my next trip to Rome, I will likely be back.  

Dinner with Hostel Mates from France 

Rigatoni & Bacon & Cheese w/Spicy tomato sauce 

Tomorrow, I will go to the major tourist sites and hope the crowds are not too overwhelming.  The guidebooks say start at the Pantheon, buy the pass the gives you entrance to the Colosseum, the pass allows you to bypass the long lines at the Colosseum, I think that's a plan.  The other option, go with a tour, this also allows you to bypass the line, but the tours often are large groups.  I will figure it out tomorrow.  The woman at reception in the hostel recommended going in the afternoon, crowds are not as bad as in the morning.  I'll go for a tour of the Vatican on Thursday.  

I leave for Barcelona on Friday and I just booked a flight to Marrakesh, Morocco, that will be my the last stop on my tour of Europe,the Middle East and North Africa.  I am going to go on a Sahara Desert tour for a few days.  

Day 1 in Rome, Travel Day Photo Album

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