Ruins, rain, and Russians

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January 19th 2013
Published: January 19th 2013EDIT THIS ENTRY

I had hoped to get through this and forthcoming blogs without using those overworked words: awesome and or amazing -words that have become clichès. Perhaps I'll use one of my grandson's favorite new words-'epic' or that old Massachusetts standby 'wicked'. But all those promises fell to the wayside on my first taxi ride from the Rome airport to my hotel. My head was turning in every direction as every street seemed to have its own set of ruins. My driver was all business and not interested in pointing things out until he quietly said "Collosso". And there it was looming ahead of me like the bow of a huge ship. So here it is folks: it was awesome, amazing, wicked, AND epic!! Jaw droppingly cool! A place I studied in 7th grade Latin and Ancient History. A place where a handsome Charlton Heston won his chariot race as Ben Hur. And just like that I was past it and swirled up in the morning rush hour traffic sputtering to myself- THE Colleseum for real. OMG! More on this when I return to Rome in a couple of weeks.

It was clear weather when I arrived on Thursday but started raining later in the day. Friday dawned sunny, windy, and cold. I mean really cold like in the low 30's. I had debated whether to drag a winter coat but finally did and was so glad I had it and a scarf, and a hat and gloves, and silk long underwear (the traveler's friend). Even having all this on I was still freezing. I felt sorry for so many tourists who somehow thought they were going to sunny Italy and were dressed in short skirts, light jackets, or no coat just a sweater. Lesson learned- when in doubt bring clothes for the worst possible weather.

My fantasy of having Rome almost to myself evaporated the first morning at breakfast when the breakfast room was full. I stayed at a sweet older hotel with a lot of faded elegance: ( chosen only because I have a granddaughter that name). It was full of tourists- many Italians but mostly Russians- yes, you read that right Russians. I noticed (and heard) a lot of them again when I got to St. Peter's Square. Mosst of the men wore black puffy jackets and the women (for the most part) fur coats. Coming from Moscow, where the temperature yesterday was 7°, the 30° must have felt a bit warmer but certainly not the balmy weather they may have been dreaming of.

For this trip I got all my hotels on the internet. I am hoping they all turn out as nicely as the Hotel Alexandra. I would recommend it for those looking for a clean, inexpensive place. My 3 nights cost about $150 totl- but remember that was a January price. That included a very nice breakfast with a wonderful espresso machine where (as a non coffee drinker) I got to love the decaf cappocino ( sp?). The staff at the reception were kind, helpful and extremely pleasant. If you are looking for lots of bells and whistles this is not the place for you but for a good basic place it can't be beat.

Highlight of the day was my Hop off-hop on bus tour that went by the spot where Brutus had Julius Caesar killed (et tu' Brutus). Really, pretty awesome!



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