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Published: January 13th 2018
Aberdeen Hotel's red door
Taken from the Gastronomica (deli café)
After a very good nine-hour sleep, I felt ready for the day. The breakfast buffet was summer sausage, ham, cheeses, packaged pate and Tuscan bread with various other sweeter things, and cereal and juice. (I had the first part of this list). While I was eating, a couple from Australia came in and we had a nice chat about traveling.
I packed my luggage and went for a walk along Via Nazionale
with my cameras. The architecture is very mixed, but always old. On the way back, I found the local supermarket and bought a couple of half litre bottles of water. The tap water is fine but I am too cheap to spend 8-16 times the price for bottled water near the “big sites”. These two bottles refilled will serve me throughout Italy for 25 centesimi each.
Leaving the Hotel Cortina after my extra night, I quickly found the Rick Steves
tour hotel, the Aberdeen
, and two more Australians. They were having trouble getting the front door buzzer to work. Of course, as soon as I arrived it worked. Maybe the receptionist was just away from his desk. (Both hotels are behind huge wooden doors, shared with others. You push the
Festive ornamentation thanks to fashion show
right buzzer and the door is unlocked remotely.)
The Aberdeen is very similar to the Cortina but larger – many hallways, stairs, and a small neat clean room. My room wasn’t quite ready (at about noon) so I waited in the lounge and chatted with the Australian woman. By this time I was feeling low on energy and once in my room took a short restorative nap. And then I needed lunch.
After walking around a bit, I settled for the Gastronomica across the street (recommended by Rick Steves). I sat at a little table outside and enjoyed the warm air and faint breeze. This came at a price, probably 2-3 Euros. We had been warned that sitting is more expensive than standing, and sitting outside is yet more expensive. Still, I enjoyed it. My lunch was tagliatelli alla Bolognese at 4.99 Euros and a beer, all of which came to 9.80 Euros.
Our group meeting was at 3:00. Our guide, Cecilia, is a vintner most of the time, and she poured us each a small sample of her wine to drink with some very sharp Parmesan cheese. The meeting and discussion were much the same as
The impossible photo - no people!
all of these are. Everyone was from the US, except me.
Our tour began at 4:15. Cecilia provided metro tickets, and we arrived at the Piazza di Spagna
. Hong Kong was the last time I saw such crowded sidewalks, and I have never seen so many people in one piazza for an unscheduled event. Even before we got to the Spanish Steps
, we saw many, many people milling about. At the steps, we didn’t even try to get close. The steps themselves were invisible except for the graduation of people sitting and climbing. Cecilia commented that the pretty floral display was there only as a result of a fashion show the day before. Around the Piazza were stores of all the famous couturiers.
Making our way along further, we came to the Trevi Fountain
. Again, zillions of people. However at least you can see the monument because of the barrier at the pool’s edge. What a wonderful, oversized monument! Cecilia told us it was designed as a large structure in a small piazza to startle the viewer. It is almost grotesquely “out of place”, not fitting-in in any way. But the sculpture is beautiful and powerful. The water’s sound is supposed to
Our introduction to the wealth of art-works in Rome
imitate the sea, but even the sea is drowned out by the ocean of tourist voices all around. However, I did get some clean pictures by focusing my camera and snapping when no heads were in view.
From there we walked to the Piazza Barberini
- named after the most powerful political family following the Dark Ages. The statue is by Bernini
, although we could barely see it for all the buses and cars.
Shortly, we came to Il Peperone Ristorante for a set dinner for our group. The first course was tortellini in a flavourful olive oil sauce with small, excellent tomatoes and arugula. The second course was finely sliced steak, stir-fried in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, complimented by radicchio and arugula. Third course was a rich chocolate cream cake. A rather small glass of wine was 4 Euros – not cheap at all. Good thing we had to walk back to the hotel!
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