Venice, Italy-Rome, Italy
We woke up at 7 am excited to spend the morning touring around Venice before heading to Rome. I failed to mention in the previous sentence that we woke up at 7 am to a torrential downpour outside our window. There went our tour of Venice—no San Marco Plaza, no gondola ride, just strait on to Rome to start our adventure there. We packed up our stuff, and made our way to the train station, in the rain.
Our train ride was nothing to write home about, so I won’t. We pulled into Rome’s main train station and had the fun task of finding a place to stay. We had had a hostel booked a ways out of the city, but decided, on my pressure, to cancel and find something more central. I didn’t want to pay a ton of money on transportation and convinced the other two that they felt the same way. We weren’t sure how we were going to go about it, but figured that heading to the tourism office in the train station was a good place to start.
There, we were swarmed by people trying to convince us to stay here or there. Megan and I were weighing our options and not paying attention to Theresa, who came over and said she found us a place. We were a bit hesitant, since we had no idea what this place was like, but the guy told us it was just a couple blocks away, owned by a buddy of his, it was nice and quiet and near the Coliseum. So we headed in the direction the guy told us and found our hostel. It was owned by a little Japanese guy who turned the first level of row house converted into a hostel. There was a small office, one room (no lock) with about 12 beds and a small hallway. At one end of the hallway was a shower, with a somewhat opaque shower door, and at the other end was the smallest bathroom I’ve ever seen in my life. Unless you stood on the toilet seat, you couldn’t take your pants off with the door shut; hence, the door had to be open just to prep to go to the potty. In between the suspect bathroom and shower, was an extremely narrow hallway littered with junk and a twin bed. You pretty much had to walk sideways to get to the toilet.
I guess for 15 euro, you get what you paid for. No wonder we were the only guests.
We played tourist that night, checking out the amazing Coliseum and other sites in the vicinity. We wanted to get a good night’s sleep, so we could get up early and head to Vatican City. The three of us had seen the Pope during World Youth Day ’97 in Paris, but this was a pilgrimage we really wanted to take. We were really excited to St. Peter’s and the like.
Fast forward to the next day—we wake up early and start to get ready to venture out. Megan and I weren’t keen on staying another night where we were, because it felt sketchy and there was no place to lock up our luggage. Theresa just told us we were being dumb and that the place was fine. She wasn’t going to argue over it, she was just going to hop in the shower. 30 seconds later, Theresa was back and saying, “Ok, let’s get out of here and find someplace else.” Woah, wait a minute, back this train up, less than a minute ago she was fine, what could’ve changed her mind so quickly? Turns out, the little Japanese guy, sleeps in the hallway. If you recall earlier, I mentioned the “somewhat opaque” shower door. I’ll be a little bit clearer now, if you walked past it and glanced, you would be able to see someone was in the shower. Now if you stopped and stared, you would be able to see more than just the faint outline of the person in the shower. It was bad enough you had to keep the door open to drop your pants to use the toilet, no way we’re going to take a shower w/a guy less than 3 feet away on a bed. Ya’ll can do the math.
So we packed up, thanked the owner and headed to an internet café to find someplace else to stay. Theresa was hell bent on getting a hotel, because she was not going to stay in another “scary” hostel. It took us an hour or so to find an affordable place to stay. It took us another couple hours to find our way there—find the bus terminal, find the correct bus, etc. We were in route to the Hotel Christopher Columbus with a bus driver who didn’t speak English. At one point we could see the hotel in the distance and we were able to communicate with the driver that it was where we needed to go. He was able to let us know that he wasn’t going past it and that he was going to have us get off on the next stop, which essentially was in the middle of nowhere and on the other side of a freeway from the hotel. It took some navigating, but we were able to safely play Frogger to get to our hotel.
By now, it’s early in the afternoon and it is too late for us to go to Vatican City, which stops letting tourists in at noon. These past couple mornings were not going as planned. We sucked it up, showered and headed back into the city to see the sites. This day was not going to be a waste.
We really enjoyed ourselves that afternoon. Thanks to the front desk, we knew the best way to get back to the hotel without having to risk our lives dodging cars. After playing tourist, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up for a night out.
It was after all, Megan’s birthday.
Morals of the Story: Research where you’re going to be staying. If you’re going to traveling with other people, then decide together. We let one person pre-book our trip without getting input from the others. I would have lobbied for someplace in the city, and would have researched where would be best for our wants. A bad hostel ruined our plans and that should never happen. The worst part, the hotel we ended up staying at—just a mile from where we were originally slated to stay. Full circle people, full circle.
Also, if there’s something you really want to do, do it at first chance. We really wanted to take a gondola ride and put it off. The weather deterred us from doing it, and all we came out with was a picture of a gondola. Definitely not as cool.