Rome Day 1 Part 1

Continued from Europe 2011.

Italy is a funny country. It’s like a cross between a third world country and a first world country. They do make some pretty badass high tech stuff. Ferrari F1 team is from Italy, nuff said. Then there are things here that make you scratch you head. While awaiting for my luggage, my new friend A(I am going to refer to people I meet by their initials from now on so they too can be semi anonymous) went out of the luggage area to buy a Rome Pass(one of those combined passes that gives you discounts on museum visits). It took a long time for my luggage to arrive(of course, we are in Italy), and A still had not returned. I then realized that she probably went past customs and immigration and they can’t let her back in.

When my luggage finally arrives, I picked it up and headed for the exit hoping to find A right after the exit from immigration. As I was about to exit the luggage claim, I saw her heading back towards me. She said that even though there were only two people in line in front of her, it still took forever(again, Italy). That fact wasn’t that amazing, but what was amazing was that customs and immigration did not even stop her when she came back through into the luggage area going the wrong way. She could have walked all the to the terminal! Total lapse of security!! This meant that any person could have walked in from the exit with a bomb, bypass customs, immigration, and handed the bomb to a person boarding a flight!!

Immigration itself was also a joke, and this is when it’s working correctly. I handed my passport to immigration, the guy literally opened it, looked at it for less than a second and threw it back to me. No stamp, no scans, no matching my face, no flipping through the pages, nothing. Public announcement time. If you would like to illegally immigrate into the EU, go through Italy because they won’t give a flying fuck.

At the train station in the airport trying to catch an express train into Rome central station. While trying to buy our ticket for the train, the kiosk person tried to upsell on a shuttle service that costs an euro more and was claimed to be just as fast. Yeah….Right…Sure. This whole sneaky way of upsell reminds me very much of Mexico.

Train arrives.

Surprisingly enough, it gets here on time. Though, It is by far the crappiest train I’ve ever seen in Europe.

No air conditioning

Rome reminds me of Taiwan again.

The rectilinear apartments. The drying of clothes on the balcony on a clothes line. The tiled roof. The disorderly zoning. Taiwan is like the Italy of the Pacific.

We’ve arrived.

My train looks to be 50 years old.

Rome Termini.

After about a good 15 minutes of walking, I finally made it outside onto the surface. Bustling everywhere.

I can’t quite figure out if this was a mini fountain, of if it was just a broken faucet.

All class baby. Street side cafe!

My hotel is somewhere down this street.

Found it.

I “think” this is the door I go through…

Hmmm, it says it’s on the first floor, but I don’t see anything resembling a hotel over here. It’s nothing but an empty lobby and an elevator. I got so confused that I walked out of the building and looked around some more, but everything points back here.

Finally decided to come back again and get into the really really small elevator. 1F turns out to be second floor because first floor is Ground.

Look at how small the elevator is! This may be even smaller than the elevator that I saw in Paris. I don’t even think 4 people can fit in here.

Finally found the hotel lobby. I think there may be less than 10 rooms in this entire hotel.

Room is just as small as the elevator.

Restroom may be small, but it comes with a bidet.

I had checked in by noon and after unpacking a little, I had to head straight out the door to try to fit in some sightseeing. There’s just so much to see in Rome and not enough time to see them all, No time to waste, marching onwards!

I’ve never seen cobble stone being repaired. The stones are actually not perfect cubes.

Note to self, luggage and cobble stones do not mix well.

One of the random awesome buildings in Rome. Seriously, buildings like these are around every corner in Rome. I don’t even know what building this is and I am too lazy to look it up. (OK, I looked it up on a map and its Palazzo delle Esposizioni. No I don’t know what it is).

Trajan’s Column. I am too tired to look up on Wiki what its significance is.

Cars of Italy. I love the Alpha Romeos that I see driving around town. They are very sexy cars.

cobble stones everywhere. Love it.

Trajan’s Forum.

See that thing at the end of the street?

Oh look, what’s this other thing around the corner? It’s Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II. I’ll just pass by it now, and I’ll come back around for a visit later in the day.

I have no clue what this is, but I am sure it’s something important.

The Roman Forums.

Lots of these street performers dressed as Roman soldiers working for tips to take pictures with you.

It’s so weird to see a fruit stand, of all things, in a high tourist area. What’s crazy is that it was jam packed with customers. Ah yes, I am in Rome on vacation, standing next to the Colosseum, what would make this visit complete? Grapes, of course!

More of the Forum. I decided not to buy a ticket to visit the Forum because it just did not look all that exciting to me.

There we go. Been there, done that now.

Look at these historical columns. We’ll just stack them up into piles and…and….that’s it.

Street performer dressed up as a mummy. Holy crap, that must have been HOT! The temperature was in the 90s today.

They were filming something and all the actors were dressed up as, you guessed it, Romans.

Long and arduous walk finally led me to the Colosseum.

For my friend Joshua.

Now, remember, I am traveling by myself, so except for a few self photos, I’ve had to ask people to take pictures for me. It’s the Colosseum, I MUST have a picture of myself taken with it. I asked a lady standing by to take a photo of me.

Take #1
She cut off the top of the Colosseum.

Take #2
Now, she cut off the right side of the Colosseum. Seriously people, how hard is it to take a fucking picture? What the fuck! I stood in a spot knowing that the whole Colosseum could fit into the photo and asked her to please capture it in its entirety. After two failed attempts, she gave me attitude and said “I am not a photographer! This is the best I can do”. One, why the fuck are you giving me attitude? Two, I am not asking you to be a photographer, but just a half competent person. She was American, so I feel like I get a free pass on bashing her.

Let’s face it, this is the fucking Colosseum. I have to have a good photo of myself with it. I waited around for a while, and then found a guy with a nice digital SLR camera. He’s got a nice camera, he must know how to take a simple photo. Again, I asked him to please take a photo of me with the Colosseum in its entirety. He agreed, lined up the shot carefully, I stood in front of him and put on a big smile while he snapped the photo. I thanked him for his help and went on my merry way. Success! That is until I clicked on the button to review the photo.

Take #3.
Excellent, perfect photo of the Colosseum, and…..he completely omitted me out of the photo!!!!! WTF!!! AAAAHHHHHH!!!!! This is so ridiculous I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. I decided that a photo of me with the Colosseum in its entirety just isn’t in the cards for this trip, and gave up after this one last comical attempt. I am just flabbergasted.

I guess I’ll just visit the inside of the Colosseum now.
Got the tickets. I didn’t even have to wait in line.

Reason why I didn’t have to wait in line. The line for individual tickets was probably 100 people deep. If you just pay a little bit extra for either a self audio or video guide, then you wait in a line of 2 people. Worth every Euro cent.

Some of the photos from the Colosseum may be odd angles or of weird subjects. I’ve taken these because I am just so tired of seeing the same spectacular views of the Colosseum. I wanted to see what the rest of it looked like.

Starting the self tour.

Looking out from inside the Colosseum.

Again, looking out from inside the Colosseum. Faux Romans taking photos with tourists.

This is where the gladiators enter. Then other end is where they exit after they die.

There were tons of holes like this in walls all over the Colosseum. Apparently, the whole structure used to contain a lot of metal structures and all of those got stripped to be used for other building projects.

Outside of the Colosseum now.
Arch of Constantine

Palatino Hill is along the right side. The Roman Forum is beyond the hill. Frankly, they all blend in together into one thing to me.

Lots of little cart stands around the tourist areas. They sell ready made sandwiches, pizza, drinks, etc.

Oh yeah, they also sell beer that you can just drink on the street. I wish Austin didn’t have the open container law.

Seriously? Another fruit stand.

That actually looks pretty good. It was really hot and after walking around and sweating all afternoon, fruits looked mighty tasty.

I think I get it now. Quite refreshing.

More food carts. I wonder who owns all of them because they all look to be the same exact format and style.

Circus Maximus. This is where chariot racing used to happen. Nascar of the Romans if you will. No one wanted to visit this site because I saw no one else around. You could easily have walked by and just thought of it as a giant drainage ditch.

The correct way to park a Smart Car.

I love the cobble stones all over this city.

View of the Circus Maximus from the other end.

I was told by my hotel that they offer free Wifi around the Colosseum. Here’s a sign for one. As expected, this being Italy, nothing works and the Wifi was no exception. Ugh.

I love Alfas! Beautiful!

Navigation by landmark baby. I found the bell tower of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.

And it led me to…
Bocca della Verità(the mouth of truth). This was from a scene in Roman Holiday. I love Audrey Hepburn.

Santa Maria in Cosmedin was just so-so inside.

Pimpin’ vintage Jag.

No idea what this is.

I did like how part of the building was old, and the other part was hundreds of years older.

Ugh, I walked up the wrong ramp and couldn’t get a centered photo.

This is where I was supposed to walk up from.

Capitoline Hill. Michelangelo designed this plaza. I wish I had a wider angle camera to capture the rest of the plaza.

Backing up did not help and couldn’t do it any justice.

Carts everywhere, I tell you. Behind it is the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II.

There is a side entrance into the monument that very few people seem to be going into. There are museums inside the monument, but I was here for something else.

Inside the monument.


Reason on why I came here. Observatory at the top.

Glass elevator. When I reached the top, I realized how few people knew about this observatory because there were only about 15 people with me up there. Seriously awesome unobstructed views of Rome.

Colosseum and the Forum.

Click on it for full size version.


Looking out onto Piazza Venezia from the monument.

Tomb of the unknown solider at the monument. They were doing some sort of ceremony when I got there.

Looking at the tomb straight on. The two eternal flames are on the sides of the photo.

A better view of the monument. It’s quite large, to say the least.

Piazza Venezia.

Random sculptures that I thought were neat.

Random roundabout.

Hard to tell the scale, but each of those shirts were about the size of a smart phone.

After the long afternoon sightseeing, I got back to the hotel at around 5ish. All the buses were packed from people getting off work…assuming most Italians actually worked.

Back to my temporary home to rest my tired body.

Not so fast. I asked the concierge for a grocery store to buy some water and snacks. He told me to go to a grocery store a block away called “Despair”. Or that’s what it sounded like to me.

Pretty typical.

There is actually more to Rome Day 1, but I’ll leave that for the next post at Rome Day 1 Part 2.


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