Sunday, June 15, 2008

Walking Finally Catches Up with Us, and Are Newcastle Fans Everywhere?

April 19th - Sticking Close to Our Hotel

After being very busy, walking everywhere and staying up too late, things begin to catch up with us today. We did a lot of walking on the preceding Friday, and our plan today was to catch the Newcastle -Sunderland match on TV at a pub, then head to a nice dinner on Via Cavour. Since we are a bit tired and girl's feet are really hurting from all the walking, we decide to take it easy in the midday and then head out in the evening. There is a park near the hotel, so we decide to get some sun, then grab some lunch at the grocery store, and then get ready for the walk to Cavour.

The park is an absolute oasis in Rome, with lots of trees, a small kid's ride area, some playground equipment, and lots of benches. We find one near the center of the park, and just people watch while soaking up some rays. It's about 80 degrees and sunny today, so after the chill of Seaham, we are enjoying the weather a lot. Our attention is soon turned to a guy sitting on a bench that resembled Fidel Castro, who was talking at the top of his lungs spouting random phrases in Italian about 200 yards away from us. When the policia would come near, he would get quiet, but when they weren't around, he was yelling to anyone that would listen. Girl was inspired to try and figure out what he was saying, and it became a game of guess what the crazy guy was saying. What became odd about this game was that the more she guessed and said things, the more it was apparent that he knew she could hear him and it because a very odd inside joke. He spent a lot of time laughing at things, including a guy who was sitting at one bench while his cart was about 100 yards away from him. It was entertaining fun, but creepy at the fact this guy said things that girl had mentioned to me just prior to him saying them. He either was a crazy person or someone brilliant with a scarred mind but in tune like a psychic.

We wandered to the grocery store to grab things, then back to our hotel to eat and get ready for our evening plans. It was apparent rather quickly that the travel had taken a toll not only on us, but our wardrobes as our clothing selections were pretty bare. With the warm temperatures and no washer since Portland, we were on fumes until London and the washer we knew was in the flat. So it was figure out what worked best, and then watch girl put tons of band aids on her feet to get through the evening. We were trying to avoid public transit, and since cabs weren't regulated, it was walk or nothing. The match was scheduled for 4 PM, and we left our hotel about that time only to make it a few blocks before girl's feet gave out. By this point, any shoe was irritating her feet and so it was time for plan B. We decided to give it a rest for the evening and get ready for tomorrow, which meant me getting some food later on. I went back to the grocery store to get more first aid supplies, and then headed to the restaurant I'd visited the previous night for more pizza and spaghetti. In visiting there, I found out the Roma - Milan match was going on at the Olympic Stadium that night in town, and folks would be flooding pubs to watch it. Ironically, the pub we were going to would have been packed to the hilt with soccer fans, and we might have been stuck in this mess. As I waited for the food to get done, I heard police sirens abound outside, and we heard many of them as the night wore on. Apparently, the match was great but fans here get a little nuts about it, so the police get busy afterwards. So I got back with pizza, and we watched bad American TV dubbed into Italian. It wasn't exactly what we expected to do, but it was a fun improvised night none the less.

April 20th - Special Parade, Trastevere, Irish Pub

Girl's feet felt better, and we woke up Sunday with new optimism or at least physically more able to cope with walking. After a biscuit breakfast, we wandered down the street to a great cappacino bar for some coffee and breakfast cake. The coffee was amazing, and the cake filled us up with sugary goodness, as we wandered down past the Colosseum and past the arch. What we ran into was a special parade, where folks were dressed in ancient costumes and marching to the Colosseum. I think it was a special holiday celebration, but we watched the parade of soldiers, senators, dancers, servants, and other people representing the various regions about the area. They chanted, marched, danced, and it was amazing fun to watch. And just like some of our other great adventures, we just sort of ran into it. The parade took about an hour, but was worth watching.

We walked past some sites we'd seen earlier until we reached the Fiume Tevere, a large river running through Rome. You cross a bridge, and enter the Trastevere region of Rome. If you want amazing restaurants and great art, this is the place to be. There's plenty of narrow walkways and roads abound, but more than that are little restaurants tucked into corners with various specials. The smells were intoxicating, and it was great to see so many excellent looking restaurants until we found a McDonalds. Look, for what it is, it's not threatening and Americanized, but if I'm going to Italy, I don't need a fucking golden arches at every nice place. Seriously..

We found a gelato place nearby and had some amazing dessert, knowing that in a few hours we would find the Irish Pub that we wanted to visit the previous day. It was nearby, and allowed a simple loop back to our apartment. We also found some great cinemas near the area that I bet some of our friends back in the States might like. We wandered through downtown, and found our pub with some time to spare. In checking the game times, we knew the live broadcast was Saturday, but there was a replay at 3 PM on Sunday, so we had a back up plan in case we needed it. And with the injuries, it worked out just fine. We found our way to the pub, and sat down, expecting to drink a bit and munch some great Irish food.

If there was any on the menu, which there wasn't. Seriously, no shepards pie, no fish and chips, but rather burgers, nachos and bagette sandwiches. Ok, I know this is Rome, but you've got an Irish pub with staff that speaks English, yet no Irish food at all. Well, the Guiness was there and cold, so that worked. We sat behind a lad who was rooting for Sunderland as well, and saw a few other English folks sit near us for the game. And all seemed right until a group of Russians walked in, sat down, and started singing Newcastle songs behind us. I can tease, cause one of my best friends is a Newcastle fan and he married girl and I, but seriously, are these guys everywhere? At least the game is ready to start, and I'm optimistic of a competitive game. The cats give up an early goal, and things don't get much better as the game goes on. The Russians keep coming and going, with only minimal chanting going on. By the end of the match, only girl and I were left to watch the bitter end. But at least the food and beer were good.

The match result didn't help as Sunderland lost to their arch rivals, and I felt bad for Gary and the rest of the Mackems, as they needed points to keep themselves out of relegation. We knew that it would be easy next week to keep track of scores being in London, but it was a nice thing to catch up on the footy world. I have never appreciated the ability to read a newspaper or visit the web as much as I did at this point, because I felt a bit isolated from the world. I know, it's honeymoon time so we should be focused on it, but at the same time, knowing a bit about the world isn't such a bad thing. The only reason I knew the Pope wasn't around was cause of the non stop coverage as he visited New York.

We took our time heading back to the hotel, and walking near the Colosseum ran into a street festival celebrating the holiday. There were booths all over the street, and a wacky waving arm guy near the Colosseum. Yea, couldn't believe my eyes on that, but we did get to see a great street entertainer that juggled flaming sticks and rode a unicycle. He was very good, and it was nice to be able to watch some entertainment amongst the locals. Bands were playing nearby, dancers were performing on the street, it was really fun to see this area so festive and lively. We wandered back slowly to our hotel room, and vegged out for the rest of the night, especially after eating so much and slowly building up the walking. I never drank so much water in trying to beat the heat, but so far, the trip has been everything it's lived up to. And we have one more day in Rome, then fly off to London for our last stop of the trip. Whoo hoo!!!

Next time - More Adventures at the Park, and Saying Goodbye to Rome and Hello to London

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