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Our First Night in Rome: A Rome Adventure
by Don and Peg Doman
Rob confided after arriving in Amsterdam that he didn’t feel like he was in a foreign country, yet. That was how I felt until just a short time later on the second leg of our flight. I raised the plastic curtain at my window seat, which revealed the snowy Alps below. I saw peaks and glaciers as well as peaceful river valleys. In one I thought I saw Heidi and her grandfather as they waved.
Arriving in Rome our five couples took two cabs to two different hotels. Our van driver spoke a little English and pointed out some of the sights as we passed classical Roman ruins and sights within the city.
Soon we were in our rooms at the Cambridge Hotel, unpacked and asleep. As Americans we were all used to a hotel being a building with overnight rooms for rent at a certain location. In Rome we were introduced to Eurorooms where a hotel could mean just one floor of hotel rooms at a certain location, which means several hotels could share the same location with each floor being a different hotel.
Our rooms were all on the third floor. There was a continental breakfast on the first floor, and across from the office on the ground floor was a small business office for guests with a printer, a computer and connection to the internet.
Everyone at the different hotels shared the services including a very, very small elevator, which served us all. With either Rob or myself at the narrow end of the elevator, our shoulders touched the two outside walls. You would think that two people and a bag would be pretty much of an overload, but we never had any mechanical problems. It worked perfectly.
For eighty Euros a night each couple had a room with a lavatory and a shower combination. The bathroom was down the hall offering two toilets that also served as shower stalls. Our shower didn’t work and the “down the hall” option didn’t appeal to us, so we waited a couple of days for a shower.
The rooms had fifteen-foot ceilings and hand painted doors and armoirs. The floors were marble. We were lucky to get rooms at the Cambridge. The staff were helpful and the rooms were clean.
We didn't book the rooms because of their brochure, otherwise we would have been disappointed. The brochure has great photographs and from appearances, you would assume you were booking accomodations in a four or five star hotel. The Cambridge is nowhere in those categories. Nothing came out crawling or scurrying during the night, so I was happy.
A window in the hallway looked out into a shaft where people dried their laundry on clotheslines. We thought this was quaint at first, but this is more universal. People everywhere in Italy dry their clothes outside, besides saving electricity, the warm air dries clothes quickly. It is very convenient. Out in the countryside the clothes pick up a fresh smell . . . perhaps, not so much in the city.
For us the climate was warm. A constantly running radiator in our room was a thorn in our side. I kept our window open, which was pleasant, but a little loud. In the late evening we could hear constant crowds having a great time, but we couldn’t see them. Peg and I would hang out the window and look onto a mostly deserted street. Just a few meters down the block there was a private courtyard or garden. Perhaps, there was unseen partying going on there, although Pegs says it belonged to a convent. If so they were having a great time after vespers. The garden provided a wake up call for Peg. She was awakened by birds singing, which is not a bad way to start the day.
After settling in I took a short trip around the block to scout out the area. I left a note and took a walk. I think I was looking for a friendly place to have a glass of wine or beer like Cheers in Boston. After walking a very short distance and turning a few corners I found what I was looking for. I chose the second bar on the block. I chose a seat outside on the street at the Amici Bar (we translated this to mean The Friendly Bar . . . and it was.).
I had hardly a chance to get comfortable when our group arrived. Jan and Mike must have turned the block to the Cambridge and I turned the block going the other way. Our mood and outlook changed from jetlag to adventure.
With a cigarette and a beer Randy’s eyes popped open and a smile spread across his face. A giggling Sue looked out at the occasional scooter darting past parked cars and confided between toasts, “This is what I dreamed Rome would be like.”
The staff at the Amici joked with us and plied us with a free taste of some kind of lemon liquor and excused our lack of Italian language skills.
Unlike America, almost any kind of store or shop is a drinking establishment in Italy. If you visit a Gelateria (an Italian ice cream store), you can order hard liqour. Randy is mostly a beer drinker, but is willing to try just about anything when he is on an adventure. A few days later in Tuscany we bought something similar to the Lemonchello, but it wasn't the same. Perhaps, we should have taken notes.
Upon leaving the restaurant, we gave our waiter a Mountain Bar (produced by Brown & Haley in Tacoma, Washington. The candy bar is shaped like our own Mt. Rainier, which dominates the skyline of the Puget Sound area of home.). We knew the bar stayed open until 8:30 pm and opened again at 6:00 am. This gave us a restaurant we knew we could come back to if we couldn't find another one that evening and also gave us a place for coffee in the morning.
We headed out to a “hop on hop off” tour bus of central Rome. I fell asleep during the tour and I don’t think any of us ever hopped off. The tickets were good for twenty-four hours, however. Keep your receipts. When visiting other cities in Italy (like Florence) you can buy discounted tickets from the same company there by showing your tickets from Rome.
After riding the bus, we were ready for dinner. Although it was still early for Italians to eat, we were starving. We stopped into the strangest place: The Living Room Bar Café (www.livingroomroma.com). We stumbled into what looked like a typical bar, and the waiter poured us each a glass of sparkling white wine. While we drank, the waiter stepped into the dining room and arranged a table for ten. Soon the music changed from techno-pop to geezer music and Frank Sinatra was crooning some of his worst songs as we all laughed and sang along. "So, here's to you, Mrs. Robinson . . . whoa, whoa, whoaaaaaaaa."
The bathroom featured swinging doors and toilets and lavatories that didn’t really work, but we had a nice time. The carbonara was excellent and the antipasti feautred parmasean cheese slivers, tomatoe slices, salami and rocket. The food was good and the wine went down easily.
We arrived back at the hotels early in the evening and laid down for a little nap. We were tired and happy to be in Rome.
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