Sunday through Tuesday Recap (Roma to Wien)

Sunday Evening

I am exhausted. I left the convent around 10 this morning when the nice nun (who is older than my mother) came to clean my room. Overall this seems to be the friendliest convent of the three that I’ve stayed at. Most of the sisters speak some English. 

Anyway, got back to my room around 6:00 this evening after walking around all day. Went from the convent to Vatican City, around it, and then retraced my route back here (see link in previous post).

On the way home there was some wonderful light with shadows and colors. I got a few ok pictures but wasn’t feeling too creative. Jonathan, my instructor, would not be pleased but I was just too tired.


Anyone remember Zamfir, master of the Pan flute? (Obscure TV commercial reference.)

Random Thoughts and Observations

Parking in Rome seems to be: if there’s space and it’s not prohibited then it’s fair game. I’m not sure how the cars get out of the parallel parking spaces as no one seems to leave any space to maneuver out. If you do leave any space then they’ll either park a motorcycle there or a Smart Car.

The driving here doesn’t seem too crazy, although I wouldn’t want to attempt it. Being a pedestrian can be tough if you’re not from here. Many of the crosswalks have walk/don’t walk signs which work fine. Alot of the crosswalks don’t however. You can wait for the traffic to stop (although alot of places like the roundabouts it never does) or just walk in it and the cars will let you through. I’m not brave enough to try that so I usually end up waiting a long time, usually following locals through the traffic.

Didn’t plan on going to Vatican City today but somehow took a wrong turn after the Pantheon and ended up at a bridge over the river that leads to a boulevard that goes right to St. Peter’s Basilica. Since I was that close…

Didn’t go inside as the lines were unreal. Maybe tomorrow. Curious as to how the lines are when it’s not a weekend.

While walking around Vatican City

(probably at least a couple of miles) I came across the place where they shot one of the scenes for Mission Impossible III (actually afterwards as I was going through the movie and comparing to my pictures).

(This house is in the scene to the right. Didn’t know that when I took the picture, just liked the colors).

 Not a big Tom Cruise fan but it’s a decent movie and Phillip Seymour Hoffman does a good job.

Also came across these trees over the wall; thought it would make an interesting silhouette in black and white.

I don’t know if crime is a problem in Rome but it seems like every single store has one of those heavy duty metal garage door like things that they use to protect the store when closed (kind of like parts of New York). I’ve seen them in all parts of the city. Also bars on windows on the first floor (actually the ground floor, the first floor here is what we would call the second floor).

All in all I’m glad I came to Rome but it’s not what I expected. I guess I expected a much older city, I guess like Venice (without the water). In Venice anything less than 4-500 years is considered new, and there isn’t much of that. Here in Rome there is a mixture of new (relatively speaking) and the old. Also, as I think I wrote earlier, Rome is very much a city, with all that that brings. I would love to find a local who could show me around interesting, historical, non touristy places.

I’m taking the night train to Vienna tomorrow (Monday night). Not really looking forward to it but didn’t have many options. I could have taken the day train, looked at pretty scenery and lost a day traveling. Could have taken a flight on one of the many low cost carriers that have popped up in Europe but that would have cost me more than a half day, more expensive than the train, plus the added expense and hassle of to/from the airport. Plus they don’t have direct flights so I’d have to go through Berlin or Prague or some other place. The best scenario is the night train with a sleeper car to myself, which I don’t have (although I’m going to check again at the station tomorrow).

Monday Night

I’m sitting on the train as we depart Roma Termini (main railroad station) without fanfare or announcement 10 minutes late (but right on time for the delayed departure). A little venting is in order as I’m tired and hot and my back hurts from days (weeks) of sleeping in cheap beds.

I don’t like the fact that in the Roma Termini there isn’t one place to sit or rest unless you’re in a restaurant. Unless you want to sit on the floor you have to stand and wait.

I’m also getting tired of paying 80 eurocents everything I have to go to the bathroom. Plus in the train station they are about as far off the beaten path as possible.

Plus in a country as developed as Italy, I can’t find wireless Internet anywhere. I can pick up 3 wireless networks besides my own sitting in my bed at home but here I might as well be on the moon. Finally did find a wireless network that the city of Rome has installed in certain places, free for an hour a day. Problem is that you have to register first, and they require an Italian address. I have no problem making one up but there were certain fields I didn’t know what to put in (kind of like our state or zip code) and it wouldn’t take it without it. After several guesses I just gave up.

That said, Second Class seating doesn’t seem too bad (he says a mere 5 minutes into the all night journey). Definite budget travelers (nuns and young people, could be worse).

So today started off with taking care of some business. Awoke at 8:00 which is early for me, had to check out by 9:00. Walked the 5-6 blocks to the Metro station and took it to the train station. Dropped off my backpack for storage all day (ended up costing me 5.60 Euros) so that was a good deal.

Then took the Metro again to the Coliseum. This was a different line (Line B, Line A I took earlier) and this subway was something straight out of NYC circa 1970. There wasn’t an square inch that wasn’t covered in graffiti. I would have gotten a picture but had my camera stowed at this time.

Two stops to the Coliseum, got there around 10-10:30 and the line was short for the tour so I paid the 12 Euros and did that (self guided). Took lots of pictures but with late morning sun they aren’t great (sun is harsh at this time of day).

Went back to the Partheon, realized that I had my fisheye lens with me, and took some pictures with it. Took care of some business on the Internet (thanks to all my family and friends for helping out while I’m gone), had a leisurely lunch, walked around some narrow streets looking for some last pictures, bought a gift, and then headed back to the train station in plenty of time to buy 3 books (a Tom Clancy and two John Grishom; I need something mindless and easy to get sucked into, guilty pleasure). Then spent the rest of the time killing time at a train station without a place to sit or any internet.


Tourist Images from Last Day (Click Here!)

Monday Night 10:00 PM

Just had a twenty minute stop in Florence.I can’t believe I was here a week ago. Second class is arranged in groups of 4 seats (2 each facing) on each side of the train. There was a Chinese girl in the seat opposite me but she got off in Florence so now I’ve got all four seats to myself.

11:34 PM

Leaving Bologna. I think that they split up part of the train here. If you’re on the wrong car you end up in Monaco or Munich.

01:26 AM 

Another long stop (20 plus minutes) in Venice. Not actually on the island itself but the station (Mestre) on the mainland. I don’t mind the stops so much as the chance that someone will get on and grab one of my four seats.

Train got in at 8:50 AM, a few minutes ahead of schedule. Wasn’t too bad but the last 2-3 hours just went by slowly. Also my seat was sitting backwards and the track was a bit curvy in Austria, so there was a bit of uneasiness (very, very initial stages of car sickness). Once the sun came up around 7:00 the countryside is very beautiful, just what one would imagine. Not really mountains but really large hills (maybe what we’d call mountains in eastern KY) with scenic houses along the way.

The Vienna train station has places to sit. I like this country already. Almost left without purchasing my map but grab it out the door. Have planned ahead and know that the Underground station with the line I need (U1) is only 3 blocks away. That’s the easiest walk I’ve had so far.

This is where the cultural differences between Austria and Italy start to show. Here the ticket is 1.70 Euro, a bit expensive but it’s on the honor system. No turnstiles to walk through and feed your ticket or token. The have people that ride the cars and check them occasionally but that’s it. I think if they tried this in Italy, there would be chaos.

I of course buy a ticket because it’s the right thing to do and also I wouldn’t appreciate it if a guest in my city came and stole services from us. 

A quick 8 minute (if that) ride to my stop, hotel is a mere 3 minutes away.

Have to wait about 45 minutes for the room but it is first thing in the morning. fortunately they actually have WIRELESS INTERNET in the hotel (and it’s free, what a concept) so I make myself at home in the lobby and take care of some business. I can’t really complain about the wait, the hotel is nice, clean, great location, and cheap (66 Euros a night), not much more than some of the convents I stayed in. One small drawback: the shower and toilet are located in hallway, separately. I have a sink in my room and I think that they are just mine but I’m not complaining. Room is plenty large, good deal overall, I’d stay here again.

After a nap I take care of some business: getting some clothes washed. Evidently they don’t have laundromats in Vienna but the nice lady at the front desk shows me a place on my map where they will wash them for me and charge by the kilo.

I get promptly lost as the street names are hard to read. Eventually find a landmark and find the dry cleaner. My limited German comes in handy (“Do you speak English?”). I do think it is more polite to ask them in their native language, at least make an effort. Clothes will be ready tomorrow, run across some street performers on the way home (no camera) and then I discover a Starbucks a block from my hotel. I give in (it’s not McDonalds) and get a coffee. This isn’t like Italy where every third store has an espresso machine; plus I can get it to go. It’s no where near as good as the cafe americano that I had in Italy, plus much more expensive. I think that there is a law in Italy that says you can’t charge more than 1-1.10 Euro for a cafe (coffee).

Am heading back out to photograph, although it is late in the afternoon here.

~ by l on October 14, 2008.

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