April 21st - Staying Close to Hotel
With more walking from yesterday and our impending departure on Tuesday, we decided to stay close to our hotel and get things organized for the flight to London. Plus, we wanted to ensure that we got a little sun, not knowing if the weather would play nicely once we left. Plus, packing was going to be important, as this was our last stop with just one checked bag each.
We wandered to the same park again visited on Saturday, and found a different bench to sit in to relax. Our favorite person was there, laughing and yelling about but he had a friend this time to talk with. Girl theorized that he might be one of those people that could hear a lot of different voices, and he was just responding to whatever voice was loudest at the moment. He was very happy, though, as we heard plenty of laughter and random comments. I wished at this moment my Italian was a bit better.
We also visited the grocery store for some last minute items and checked out some of the other restaurants in the area to see if there was anything nearby for dinner. There were some Indian places close, and a world famous gelato place that was closed Mondays, but nothing was striking our fancy. We decided to complete the packing in the afternoon, so that everything was put away so we could get up, shower and leave right away. Our flight left Rome at about 11 AM, so we needed to be up very early to catch the train to then get us to the airport on time. At this point, I wasn't so concerned about how it looked in my luggage, but simply that it made it into the bag. I took the scarves I'd brought over and they became nice wraps for the more fragile items.
After a bit of a nap, we awoke for some dinner, and I tried to find something different for dinner. Not that I didn't mind the place that we had been dining at, but I wanted to find something different. Plus, after finding Kric Krok on Saturday night for girl, it was time to see if we could find something interesting. Kric Krok is kind of like potato chips made in Italy, but there are a bit different than that. Sort of like kettle chips, but a bit more puffy, it was something we'd seen in stores for a while, but didn't try until I finally found some to buy. So Monday night was sort of trying to find food adventure. Girl has had falafel before, and since there was a shop nearby, we thought we'd try it. So I got her one of those, and I got some pizza and drinks.
I had been managing my way around town pretty well with my mangled Italian and broken English, but tonight they asked me if I wanted chips on the falafel and I said yes. I only said this because honestly, I wasn't sure if they had them or not and I didn't want to leave them off. When I got back to the room, girl unwrapped it and started eating with some delight. Then, she asked me "Are there chips on this falafel?" To which I replied, "Yes, they are." Apparently the taste wasn't too bad, although now understanding what falafel is, chips seems odd.
We watched a bit of TV, and then heard some commotion outside. Knowing this place, it could have been people, buildings, car accidents, we had the shudders closed to keep the room dark. We opened the window to see the most amazing thunderstorm going on. It rained about 3 inches in a 10 minute period, flooding the streets and sending poor pedestrians scrambling for cover. The thunder and lightning made many of the building glow, and the rain was puddling all over the streets. It was very intense, reminding me a lot of the thunderstorms I'd experienced growing up. But my memories didn't have glowing buildings, water splashing about on streets, people scrambling to find cover, and thunder echoing off things. Girl had said Rome gets storms like this from time to time, and she wasn't kidding. I'm glad I got to see this before we left. As we laid down to sleep, our concern was making sure that it wasn't still raining when we were ready to leave in the morning to possibly delay us leaving the hotel or our plane.
April 22nd - Departure Day to London
We awoke very early to allow us time to get final packing done, walk to the train station and catch our almost hour train ride to Rome Airport. While it was very early in the morning, we awoke without too much issue. I think both of us were happy to have come here, but ready to go to London. We did our double check in the room to ensure we had everything, grabbed our last belongings and left. I've found that traveling for me is a lot easier in more casual clothes, so I'm in a t-shirt and Timbers track pants. We walked past the park again, and headed to the train station. I enjoyed Nomi a lot, but really was looking forward to a hotel where we could sleep in a bit if desired.
We got to the train station with about 15 minutes for the next train, but the first bay of ticket machines was being difficult and wouldn't complete a purchase for girl. I found another set of ticket machines, and quickly paid for two tickets to go. We scurried to get a good place for our bags on the train, as it was waiting in one of the terminals. We found a good bank of seats, and I was able to get our bags into the upper luggage area. Man these things are heavy. We settled in for the ride, and arrived about 2 1/2 hours before our check-in. We were now preparing ourselves for our last trip through Terminal 5 and staying in London.
Our arrival in immigration was about as short as our departure through there, as we shuttled by some officers who examined our papers and let us go through. We then found a couple of snacks to go with some sandwiches we'd packed the previous day, and ate a breakfast/lunch thing. Once our gate was assigned we were off to the races. We took a short tram from the main building to our terminal, where one of our trip goals was about to be fulfilled, well we hope anyway.
Girl's previous excursion to Rome brought her to this terminal and one of the best gelato places ever. And she got to keep the special gelato dish and ate some desserts out of it here in the States, well until I accidentally crushed it putting dishes away a few months ago. Our hope was the same gelato place was open and we could get some for a snack and replace her dish. We searched and searched, and found some water and chips for snacks, but the gelato place wasn't open yet. Our hope was that it would open up in time for us before our flight.
In the terminal, we sat near some Catholic cardinals that had been traveling to Rome for business. We also go to listen to one of the most obnoxious women ever talk about all of her travel experiences to two guys flying to Chicago. Seriously, there's TMI and then there's this chick, who talked about anything and everything. I kept disappearing to check on gelato, but it was getting close to boarding time and it didn't appear the place would open in time. At least I didn't have to hear her crappy stories. We finally were called to our gate and ready to depart, when there was a final security check in Rome.
Ok, this isn't one of my brighter moments here, but I had packed my toiletries in my carry on backpack. While most of my stuff was travel size, it wasn't in the special ziplocks required by security. Oh, and my razor was in there too. I knew better, but in the quickness to get packed, I just grabbed things and put them where they fit. As the security guy looked at my backpack, he looked at my toothbrush, a few papers, and waived me through. I hurried to catch up with girl, and told her about my experience. This led to a discussion where I finally put two and two together and realized I'd violated more than a few travel rules. I was really embarrassed about it, and just figured Ok, I got through, not going to happen again. The funny thing was that I felt a lot more safe with security there, as they did a few more checks and I really liked the random gate approach. If you're going to stop people from doing bad things to planes, don't make things that obvious. Ok, makes for some anxiety filled moments in the terminal, but we'd planned for good time layovers, so it wasn't too stressful.
And as we left Rome, I thought back on the adventures of our time, and thought this place was truly special for the history and the architecture. It's very cool to see history everywhere, and for how large Rome is, it actually doesn't feel like a big city in most places. I leaned back and was ready for our last stop - London.
Next Time - Being Quiet on a Train, and Gee, This Place Looks a Lot Like Portland.