Day 8 – Thursday, March 22, 2012: Our Last Day
We have heavy hearts knowing that today is our LAST day in Rome. We miss our kids and want to see them, but at the same time, we just don’t want to leave. We decide that for our last breakfast, we’ll skip the hotel and go out on the streets. We take the metro to the Spanish Steps and find a quaint little diner called Gran Caffe Salone Margherita. We figure it has to be good, because there’s nothing but locals in there. Although I want breakfast, DH for some reason is feeling nostalgic and wants pizza. Whatever. The guy is perfectly willing to make him a pizza (which turned out not so good for DH.) I on the other hand was not going to eat, so I just ordered a cappuccino. It was the BEST cappuccino I’d had the entire trip. (Quick note: Of all the public restrooms I used in Rome, this was the ONLY one that had a SEAT!!! Hallelujah!) Then, a couple more locals came in, and they yelled Hi to the shopkeeper and grabbed a pastry out of the glass case. It looked good, so I got one myself and motioned to the shopkeeper what I’d gotten and asked for another cappuccino. The pastry was divine and the cappuccino was awesome – again! I wouldn’t recommend taking little kids into this diner, though, because there were pictures all throughout the inside of half-naked women advertising a burlesque. Sounded interesting enough, but I bet my 10 year old would have just had a field day! LOL!
We realized that it was our last day, and we’d still not experienced the wonder of the daytime market at Campo di Fiori. Although we were at the completely WRONG metro stop for that, we decided that was our plan. We made our way through the historic center. Along the way, we ran into a man who was holding two parakeets (a blue one and a green one.) They were so cute and weren’t flying away, and he motioned that it would be OK for me to let them stand on my finger. (Gotcha. Looking for a coin. LOL!) They were cute birds, anyway, and DH was already pulling a coin out of his pocket when he saw me going for them.
The market at Campo di Fiori was so much larger than we expected. Granted we’d had drinks at the piazza earlier in our trip, but it was being broken down at the time. The streets were littered with trash and old produce, and the street sweepers were out. This was a whole different affair. I purchased a cup of pomegranate juice. Fresh squeezed right in front of me while we waited. They were selling spices and pastas of all shapes and sizes. (Take my advice – if you’re planning to buy “interesting” pastas, get these. They’re much more expensive than what you’ll get at the grocery store, but much more interesting as a souvenir.) The fresh produce, spices, and pasta were incredible, and it made me wish I had a kitchen nearby! The next time I stay in Rome, I might rent an apartment and go here to pick up my meal fixings!!!
We stopped at Vineria Reggio and had more cappuccino – it was 2 euros each, so the price wasn’t terrible. Then we started thinking about how we were going to get everything that we’d purchased back. DH clearly needed a “personal” bag for the flight. So, went to a stand to buy a cheap Roma bag – cause DH refused to carry a girly bag. I got to barter on my own. When I asked the price, he said 15 euros. I said no, and he asked how much I’d pay and I said 10 euros. He showed me another bag that was 8,50 euros, but the 15 euro bag was all cotton and coulen’t go for less than 12,50. I said no way, I liked the cotton bag, and absolutely would not pay more than 10 euros. We started to walk away, and that’s when he agreed to 10 euros. I was feeling very smug about it at the time, but at this point I can honestly say that the bag IS NOT worth the 10 euros I paid for it. LOL! Nevertheless, DH was impressed with my bartering prowess.
From the market, we wandered aimlessly. We saw some workmen actually working on one of the typical Roman streets. Those black blocks – they were replacing them in an area. They go down into the ground A LOT farther than they look. Like four inches or so. Some poor guy with a shovel levels out the dirt, then some other poor guy bangs the blocks into the ground with a hammer! Man! That looked like a tough job!
As we wandered, we stumbled upon a place called the Palazza della Cancelleria. I have no idea what that place really was, but they had an interactive exhibit going on called Leonardo da Vinci: Big Machines. We took a chance and bought tickets. (I think it was 9 euros each.) It was pretty neat. All of the sketches that da Vinci had done, they recreated in wood. Some were real life, some (like the war machines) were scaled down. One section of the exhibit was showing his hand fin and the dummy was hanging over an actual pool. Some of the exhibits were behind ropes, but many of the exhibits were hands on. So, you could see how the machines would actually work – pulling huge stones and the like. There was even an infinite mirror machine where you step in, close the door behind you, and it reflected an infinite series of you. (Two people fit in at a time, so DH and I got a picture of us together and together and together and together and together.) All of the exhibit signs and explanations were written in four languages, one of which was English. So, we were able to understand everything we were looking at. As we left, we made sure to buy the post card and sign their visitor’s book. I signed it saying we were here, “Been There, Done That, Bought the Post Card” and had DH take a picture of what I’d written with my face and the actual post card in the shot. This was the last of the stack of souvenir post cards that I purchased.
From there we continued our random wandering, and we found – near Pantheon – the elephant statue. I’d read about it and THOUGHT it was near Pantheon, but figured I’d misunderstood something. But, somehow, as many times as we’d walked past, we never looked around THAT corner. There it was! YAY! Not much else in Piazza della Minerva, so we trekked on. We stopped at a restaurant for some wine – da Diego Ristorante. We also had some olives with our wine, which were pretty good. They were like black olives, but sort of purple colored. We went ahead and had dinner there – pasta dishes, and they were good. Not the best meal of our trip, but certainly good.
Since it was our last day, we did some more shopping. Somehow we found the Spanish Steps again, but were at the TOP instead of the bottom! So, we stopped at a little restaurant Novecento for – you guessed it – more wine. An American gentleman (with what looked like maybe his teenage granddaughter) walked past us and said – the two of you need a picture of yourselves. We thanked him and handed him our camera, and he turned and pretended to walk off. He immediately came right back laughing – we thought it was precious, but definitely showed us that we are SO FAR from street smart!
We got some more great pictures from the top of the Spanish Steps (this time in the daylight) and continued our quest to get lost. (Have I mentioned that it’s practically IMPOSSIBLE to be truly lost in Rome? I mean, you have to try REALLY hard to be lost. If you walk a couple of blocks in any direction, you will find a busy street.) As we wandered, we considered taking one of those horse and carriage rides from Spanish Steps to Pantheon, but decide against it for no reason other than we didn’t want to see the Pantheon – again. But as we wandered, we stumbled across a piazza that we’d not yet seen. I was so surprised, because we didn’t think we’d come anywhere near that far north of the city, but yes, we ran into Piazza del Popolo. Not much there but the piazza. However, the fountain was nice. Some young tourists were climbing up onto the lions on the fountain to pose for pictures. DH thought I should do that, but I had to remind him that I was a bit older than those girls were. He convinced me to climb the steps and stand next to one of the lions, though.
We left the piazza and were actively seeking out a bar. We found a little hole in the wall that had a sign simply reading BAR. We walked in and were the only two there. DH got a glass of wine and I asked for a soda. They brought us out my warm soda with lemon (which thanks to Trip Advisor I wasn’t surprised about) and DH got his wine. But, they also set out little cucumber sandwiches for us and some chips. Our total bill was only four euros, so although the place was empty, the price was right.
As the sun began to sink, we walked past Trevi for the final time, and DH finally tossed in his coin. (A ten cent piece.) After our meal, we wandered back to Barberini and hopped the metro back “home.” It was only about 8 pm, and we didn’t want to go to sleep yet. So, we headed down the street to a little restaurant called Bella Roma. Now, I’ve previously warned that the closer you get to Termini, the worse the food is. For this restaurant, I can say the food was alright, but nothing special. Also, the portions were not as filling as we were used to on this trip, so the meal cost us more than we would typically spend because we had to order more food. But, the waitstaff there was tremendously friendly.
As we entered, I saw what looked like a cake covered with a berry topping, and I told DH that I was having that for dessert. So, after the meal, I called the one waitress who spoke SOME English, and tried to explain what I saw. She asked if I wanted the fruitcake, and I was a little concerned, but said, I think so. Well, she brought it out, and it was exactly what I’d seen. DH was so proud of the waitress that he congratulated her and said YAY and held up his fist for a fist pump. The poor girl looked at him with a confused expression and I said “Honey, she doesn’t know what that means.” At that point, she said “Oh, yes! I know. And she fist pumped him, and explained that she needed to get the owner.” So, the owner, and nice gentleman who spoke almost NO English came over and dramatically motioned to another waitress trying to get a smart phone to work. Eventually, he motioned to DH to watch a video, and it was the owner doing some kind of complicated series of fist pumps with someone in the restaurant. Then he came over and showed me. Then he showed DH again. Then, as I made sure the camera was running, the owner and DH attempted to do this together. It was some sort of macho patty-cake game, and was hilarious. They were both spinning, and laughing and carrying on. It was amazing to see these two grown men, who didn’t understand a word each other was saying, “playing” together the way they were.
In the end, the owner gave us his business card, and the waitress translated that he wanted us to share our video with him and he wrote down a website he wants us to put it on. He seemed really nice, and I’ll definitely make it a point to visit HIM when I return to Rome.
By the end of the meal, I was exhausted, but we still hadn’t made any plans to get back to the airport in the morning. So we wandered down to that phone in the lobby again and called Roma Cabs. The first lady to answer the phone indicated she did speak English, but when I asked if it was possible to get a driver, she put me on hold and someone else picked up the line. He spoke English perfectly well, and assured us that they would be in our lobby the following morning at 8:30. I can’t say enough good things about that company, and my Trip Advisor review says it all! We then returned to the room, and I went right to sleep, even knowing that I still needed to pack. But DH was wired for some reason. So, he’d brought his mandolin along, and he sat on the balcony drinking wine and playing mandolin for another hour or so. I told him he should go down to the street and try to earn us some extra euros for our return trip, but he wasn’t having any of that!!!
Friday, March 23, 2012: Travelling Home
We were so sad to get our wakeup call from the front desk. We got our showers, packed our bags, and left them in the room long enough to run down to the dining room for one last breakfast. Then we went back up, got our luggage and checked out. I’d already told DH about the tourist tax, so he wasn’t surprised when we had to pay for that extra amount.
Getting to the Rome airport was no problem thanks to Roma cabs. We got through security and found our gate with no problem. We’d been woken up at 6 am Rome time, and I opted to stay awake during the entire trip home. We arrived in Philly – the worst airport in the world – and filled out our blue card (which they didn’t seem to care about) and went through customs and security and were generally harassed by their most unpleasant airport employees. Really.
We already had a three hour layover, and our flight from Philly to Virginia was delayed by another hour. We didn’t land until 9 pm Eastern Standard time. By the time we got our luggage (no issues with that at all, thank goodness) and got home, it was well after 10 pm. I’d been up for 21 hours at that point, and was feeling pretty punchy. I didn’t unpack, and I didn’t clean up. I just threw on some jammies and crawled into my bed. I woke up at 7 am the next morning feeling completely refreshed and not jetlagged at all. I highly recommend suffering on the trip (which isn’t going to be any fun anyway) to help tire yourself out and allow you to get back on your time schedule more quickly!
The only bummer is that I appear to have lost my camera. Thankfully, I’d already pulled all of my pictures off of the memory card and put them in my netbook after the fourth day. Also, DH became the camera man for the last four days, so HIS camera and card had documented the second part of the trip. I lost a few great shots of Verano cemetery, and probably a few pictures of DH, but I really hadn’t taken that many after the 4th day, so I think I will live. I more bummed about losing my Coolpix than the pictures!