Up early, I watched the water traffic accelerate as time passed ... freighters, ferrys, passenger ships. No wonder our Captain wanted to reach the dock early .... 5 a.m. Done deal!!
As we could not leave the ship without our passports, decided to collect mine and then sit down and wait. As Ed had won The Ship's Navigational Chart yesterday, the crew was congratulating him as he came into the room. Nice to know a celebrity. Then, came T.C. and Richard. Guess we're off ... literally... RATZ! Down the gangplank to our colored section, find our baggage, now to the bus. T.C., you are good at arranging things! So, this is our last ride together. Conversation was never a problem and now I feel as thought I am well acquainted with all the branches of the family. He will be pleased to note that none of that info was written down and everyone knows in my left ear and out my right ear. I know there was a sigh of relief somewhere. Here's the Athens Airport. Goodbyes were quick for them .... we had to wait an hour before being allowed to check-in. So, we sat outside and watched others arrive and depart and talked of the Olympics etc.
Finally, checked in, checked through, and checked out.... funny how easy security checks are everywhere. We make such an issue here. Did anyone consider tightening up the entry??? Whatever..... We amble toward our gate; find a USA Today and settle into the crossword. Ed wanders off to find the Starbucks we past. Gate change ... finally, boarding and then we are off ..... Rome .... Yea!!! Odd that the front seats of this plane are unoccupied [what is that about?]. T.C. informed us to have the planes crew have assistance ordered for me upon arrival. Well, I did and that was a monumental improvement. Unfortunately the baggage conveyance broke, and some 30 -40 minutes later we rolled out to a waiting car. The drive into the city was lovely straight to the St. George Hotel on Via Giulia.
Isn't it strange how something builds up in your head into something it isn't. Well, the hotel was lovely and small, but not up to expectations. Settled into our rooms, it's off to the Pantheon and then the Piazza Nevona. After several blocks, rubber band legs and a tightness in my sternum, "Ed, I don't care if it's 2 steps or 2 miles, I'm taking a taxi and you can come with me". So we did.
After a stroll around Navona be sat down for gelato in the very same Restaurant where the girls and I had lunched several years ago. Funny ... we sat, ate and watched the artists. Then Ed goes to visit the neighboring church. I am amazed at some of the garish "reproduction" stuff for sale. The last time I was here found some lovely watercolors. They are here but not many. Ed returns and we stroll up to the Pinocchio Shop. Holy Cow .... look, metal soldiers, just pick your era. [Still no hat]. I am wearing thin, so back to the St. George. How about 5:30p.m. for cocktails at the rooftop bar.
Looking across the roofs of Rome, we decided if you threw a rock in any direction you'd hit a church. But consider how old is Rome, then realize it's 2010. If walls could talk take on a whole new aspect. The sun is fading, let's try dinner here. Nothing ventured nothing gained ..... well, we've done that, once.
Thank goodness, breakfast was buffet. The American coffee drew up my tongue .... cappuccino please. It's Sunday and we are off to St.Peter's hopefully for Mass. Well, I was surviving o.k. going up the left side of the Piazza until Ed announced we have to cross over to pass through Security. That stroll previously would have been nothing more than a stroll. Today, I really have no idea as to how I managed to stay upright and get there. I was thinking heart attack on the Plaza in front of St. Peter's Basilica as the headlines of the local paper. Then, through Security and found an elevator and through the enormous doors. What is it about some placed, I am always over come with a sense of awe and disbelief I'm actually there. The Pieta and all the pieces part that make up this place cause me to marvel at the wonder. I feel .... exactly, I feel.
We are in line for Mass and it is cut off 3 people in front of us. Disappointed, Ed tell me we can go to Mass at St. John's; after all, the Pope is at Gandolpho. Fine, can we locate that shop across from the Colonnade? Slowly we made our way to seek out some treasures. Ed found an Icon and a metal; I found a Rosary.
We called for a taxi and off to San Giovanni De Lateran [ the driver didn't recognize St.John]. So across town and 12 o'clock Mass. There are not words to convey the majesty of that church. It just felt like a holy place, don't ask me to explain .... it's a feeling. Of course after the service and we have strolled all over, Ed waltzes me out the back door. Wonder if his intentions are to kill me in Rome. I did manage to reach a taxi down the street. Our driver was most informative. As we reached the Navona area, Ed inquired as to a "good, local" restaurant to the tune of rumbling stomachs. Voila! an excellent eatery. "Only a few blocks from your hotel." So, we entered to stare down the fish case with some monsters, and our waiter was Chilean. Ed's Veal with Lemon Sauce looked tremendous and my pasta was heavy. But, the place was super. Then we walked back. Lord give me strength..... just go on, I'll get there eventually. Call me and we can meet for drinks but I really don't need dinner.
Monday and breakfast. followed by a taxi to the Spanish steps. Shopping ... found a glove store, then a tea room [it had been in the same spot for ever .... seriously, for ever]. I think the gentleman at the cash register was an original employee.... my cup of tea was a perfect restorative. Back to the business of shopping and that place with the great ties in the window. Eventually, we are done. Taxi!! Now to deal with the Vat, you know, the refundable tax and back to the Pantheon. We strolled up the street to the Piazza Minerva. Finally, Ed goes off to find the Vat and I wander off window shopping and purchased a deck of cards.
Meeting up again, we enter The Grand Minerva Hotel. Very impressive and ended up having a hardy late lunch. This is where we should have been, maybe, huh?! Riding back to our hotel, Ed voiced his previous intention to return to restaurant of yesterday.... not now. Back at the hotel, I'm going to rest, call me later.
Ahhh, a game of gin and drinks and a few nibbles in the garden. A lovely end to a good day. Tomorrow morning we are off and it will all be over..... but, oh, the memories. A mere thank you doesn't cover this experience. It was fun. I've been spoiled.