You know that movie where the two dogs and the cat try to find their way home for 84 minutes? Yeah, that was us in Rome for the first two days. Up to this point, my Airbnb picks (which Jared will tell you are very carefully vetted) have been fabulous. This one in Rome is too, but it’s not so well-connected. Rome had few offerings and this one, while lovely, is too far from city center.
When we first arrived in Rome, we followed our hosts directions but something went wrong and we ended up on a bus headed in the opposite direction. We got off, paid expensive cab fare and eventually made it the 4 miles we needed to go. Our host, Francesco, was waiting when we arrived. He showed us to the apartment which was warm and welcoming; a nice treat after the long trip. Francesco had also graciously filled the refrigerator for us – milk, bread, jam, coffee, crackers and plum-cake, among other things.
The next day, we set out to see the Colosseum. When we were in Rome back in 2008, Jared was too sick to get out of bed the day we visited so this time around I was excited for him to get the chance to see it. However, getting there took some trial and error. Jared eventually asked an old man on the train who said a bunch of things we couldn’t quite understand, but we did make out “Porta Maggiore” and “train 3.” That got us there and we grabbed lunch nearby before entering.
We spent the afternoon wandering the structure, imagining the gladiatorial fights, mock hunts and executions that took place there. For me, seeing it the 2nd time, it is still incredible. We also visited the museum inside that explains the network of tunnels and cages beneath the arena where gladiators and animals were held before contests began.
From there we wandered through other parts of the old city, taking in the sights and sounds of the early evening.
Soon we decided to make our way home and hopped on the train. We then discovered this particular train wasn’t going where we hoped it would. We got off and wandered around while Shadow tried to make sense of the map and Sassy wondered where her next meal would come from if home was to never be found. We doubled back, getting on the same train again and starting over.
More maps, more hypotheses, then a tourist office! We entered and a smug little man with an even-smugger mustache mumbled “bus 105.” We gave the tiny man a few euros for a map and he was happy to see us leave. Chance was wrong, this was not a squirrel having a bad hair day, this was a porcupine.
We walked another 15 minutes to the train station and jumped on the bus, greatly overstaying the welcome on our 100 minute tickets we’d bought that morning. For the next hour we stood, holding what small real estate was left on the handrail inside the crowded bus. We bobbed and weaved our way back from confusion into our neighborhood.
Limping from the bus stop, egos bruised– there it was! Just 2.5 hours after we began our return journey I could see the warm light welcoming us in. The words “gelateria” and “open” glowed in the window. It had been a long day and we still had farther to go but there’s a lesson in all of this: It’s ok if you can’t find yourself, as long as you can find dessert.