Monday, April 18, 2011

04-09-11 From Sorrento to Rome

I'll be posting the first of several groups of photos taken in Rome on Facebook...the first group will be up shortly. I do hope you might check them out.

6:04 a.m. Saturday. And the final leg of my journey begins. A night of very strange dreams, probably my mind trying to wade through recent and anticipated events. For some reason, I am dreading the inevitable conflict, when I arrive in Naples to get the train for Rome, with one of those infuriating hustlers who won't take "no" for an answer and then charge you when you give in. Well, they'll take "no" for an answer this time.

And yesterday's traumatic concession to reality made me think of the very long flight of stairs from the local trains to the main station. My suitcase has not gotten any lighter and probably weighs sixty pounds or more. That this should bother me in itself bothers me.

Well, the hell with it. I'll play it as it comes.

Now to the shower and to head for Naples.

7:15 Sitting in the San Agnello station in Sorrento waiting for the 7:24 to Naples. The blinking, beeping sign above the ticket booth announces the arrival of the train bound for the line's last stop, the main Sorrento station. It will then switch directions and become the train I'm looking for. I'll undoubtedly have to stand for all 36 stations between here and Naples...nowhere, really, to put my suitcase without blocking someone.

So, onward, dear travelers. Onward.

9:30 Termini Centrale, Naples. A huge, modern terminal on several levels with lots of passageways. Busy, of course. No hasslers/hustlers, and an escalator to the main level, so no lugging the suitcase up the stairs, but apparently no elevators. As noted before, Europe on the whole is not handicapped-assessable. Awaiting the 9:50 to Rome. Found a coffee shop (you pay first before you get whatever you want, which can be a bit confusing pointing out exactly what it is that you want), got a cup of Cafe Americano and a small peach pastry.

The train should be boarding momentarily.

Trivia notes: As mentioned before, Europe is not handicapped friendly. There are escalators in the terminal (didn't see them before), but no elevators. For another thing, Europeans seem never to hand you your change...they always put it in a tray or on the counter.

Time to see about boarding.

9:48 Safely aboard. Coach 9 (it is a LONG train and I always seem to manage to be pretty close to the rear), Seat 61. I'm on the sunny side. Looks like a full load of passengers. I managed to stow my suitcase in the space between my four-seat section and the one behind.

9:51 and we're moving. A whole minute late. Still impressive.

10:07 A group of early-teenage girls looking at large posters of Justin Beber (Justin who?), one is cutting out his silhouette. Ah, heterosexual youth.

12:01 Rome! The Internet!!! (Of course they are having "problems" with it as I type, but at least there is hope!

The trip from Naples was largely through grey mists, but the sun is shining brightly. The Scott House hotel is within a two minute walk of the station, located on the 4th and 5th floors of a commercial building! Only 34 rooms and has a "tiny" feeling. My room is not much larger than the one in Sorrento, but I already like it much better. It has internet!!! (Or will if they correct the "problem".) I was given a walking map, and see I'm within about a mile of the colosseum and the Forum. Happy day! (We shall see if the map is accurate.) Will probably set out at about 1:00...I'm on no timetable and in no rush.

It is downright warm in Rome, and I suspect my hoodie days are behind me. The room has a mini-bar refrigerator and I just took a coke, of which I will probably drink no more than ten sips. As expected, on the third sip, it began to run out my nose. (Hey, I told you I wanted you to experience what I'm experiencing on the trip. 'Ya gotta take the bad with the good.)

3:05 p.m. Sitting on a low wall overlooking the Roman Forum. Ancient ruins everywhere around the Forum as well; archeological digs wherever you look. I'm sure the archeaologists are unhappy that the modern city is built over so many other priceless wonders. I'm debating on going down onto the floor of the forum today or save it for tomorrow. It's already 3:10 and I have a long walk back to the hotel.

And I've been dying for a gelato. About 50 little carts around offering gelato, but only in a cone, and I simply can't deal with a cone. It would end up dribbled all over my shirt and pants. Pity, because I love sugar cones. I was surprised at how close the Forum is to the Vittorio Emanuel monument (a.k.a. "the Wedding Cake"...when you see the photos you'll know why, if you don't already.) Nor had I remembered that it was from the balcony of a building in the square across from the monument that Mousolini haranged the adoring crowds (before they turned on him at the end of the war and hanged him upside down. Fickle, fickle Italians.) Anyone who has seen movie footage of WWII has seen the balcony.

Well, time to move on. Maybe I might find a gelato in a cup.

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