16 July 2007

Rome

July 6, 2007
FCO Airport, Rome


We bid the Expedia cohorts goodbye and then we were truly on our own. We had three days to see Rome and get to Milan. Step one was getting to our hotel. The train station was conveniently attached to the airport; literally an escalator and moving walkway away. Twenty-two euros got us first class seats on the Leonardo Express. It's called the fastest and most comfortable shuttle between Rome & the airport. I believe it. Once we arrived at the other end -- Roma Termini -- we took a local line to our hotel, or to a spot that was pretty close to our hotel.

Our Hotel, Hotel Saint Paul, is located near the Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura, or Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. Frommer's says it's Rome's fourth great patriarchal church, but I'm not sure what exactly that's supposed to mean. But according to Wikipedia, this church is one of the five ancient basilicas of Rome. It's also the second largest church in Rome and is known for its architecture. We knew it as the train stop for our hotel. It was probably an opportunity missed.

The hotel is four blocks from the train station. When we looked at it on a map, it seemed like a simple enough walk. But the map could not account for luggage and during that short walk, I knew the kind of luggage that was right for us. Unfortunately it was not the luggage we had. It was a frustrating walk, only rationalized by the fact that the hotel was really close.

But when we got to the street where the hotel should have been we didn't see it. We saw a university and asked a couple of people. They appeared to have no idea where the hotel was but they might have been messing with us, since we were standing directly in front of it. The hotel was at our backs as we stood on the corner looking for it. Smooth.

The hotel has no reason to hide, it's lovely and perfect for travelers like ourselves. Breakfast was included (which might be an Italian standard) and there was a computer in the lobby with free Internet access. The front desk gave us an extremely detailed city map. Rome is a city with a lot of tiny streets. Some were so short their names had to be abridged just to fit in the neighborhood.

Our room was on the third floor, which was the fourth floor in my American mind. Normally, that's irrelevant. But there was no elevator. Physically, yes. There was an elevator. But it was being replaced that week, so for our intents and purposes, there was no elevator. They did have someone bring up our biggest (cursed) bag.



The room was nice, although not as spacious as the one in the picture. It was about 10 in the morning, so as we gave ourselves the tour, it took a few minutes to realize there was no power. Lights, TV, air conditioning were all off. But (oho) there were lights on in the hallway, so the rest of the floor had power. I called the front desk and the woman told me to put my key in the wall slot. That didn't make any sense to me, but Jesse figured it out. He reads up on travel you know.

It's an energy conservation procedure. You put your key (and they only give you one) into this slot on the wall. That tells the room you are there, and that you need energy. The room then turns on the power. Of course there are drawbacks. You will not come back to a cool room. Unless you're Jesse and you know any card will suffice, not just a room key. He would have cheated if not for my moral indignation. I thought it was a progressive thing to do and I refused (pouted) to cheat.

Either way, we weren't going anywhere right away. It was still early but we were exhausted. So we sprawled out and took a nap.