Travel weariness

IMG_2147Last night as I was writing the blog in the hotel downstairs, I met a fun bunch of zombie-loving drinkers who helped me close down the bar. They were employees at the Premier Inn North down the road. (We were staying in the Premier Inn South, about a mile and a half from the airport.) I guess Premier Inn South is where the party people hang out. Or it’s the closest thing to “clubbing it” in the throbbing metropolis of Gatwick. If you’re reading this, dudes and dudettes of Premier Inn South, thanks for keeping me up until 2:30 a.m. Sleep is for the weak.

After a late, late breakfast of eggs, beans, bacon, and sausages (the most important meal of the day), we packed up our gear in preparation for Rome. I dragged our suitcases down the narrow halls, trying to avoid scoring deep grooves in the wallpaper. Hall widths are not a priority in British hotels. If Adele tried to pass Rebel Wilson in the hallways here, paramedics would have to cut their wedged bodies out with the Jaws of Life.

While I manhandled our big rollers, Shade and Mayan took the lift (translation: elevator) down to the lobby ahead of us. When I followed them down in the next lift, I found no kids. Not in the main entrance. Not in the toilets. Not in the dining room. Not outside. It’s not a huge hotel. Where could a 10 year old rolling a teen in a wheelchair go? Hmmm. Oh yeah! They’re Americans. I ran up one flight of stairs and found them walking up and down the halls, befuddledly looking for the mysterious disappearing lobby. Tip for Americans travelling in Europe: their first floor is our second floor. Gotta go to ground floor to get out of the building.

Yesterday, we decided (or rather one person decided and the others followed like sheep) to walk from the airport to our hotel. After all, it was right around the corner, which turned out to mean dragging our cases and maneuvering a wheelchair over broken sidewalks that turned to grass and then dirt and ended up in construction sites, forcing us to turn around and maneuver back the other way. We must have crossed 20 roads, Shade’s wheelchair crashing over curbs like a tank. And because we aren’t very bright, after we had checked in to the hotel, we decided to walk back to the airport to catch the bus to Crawley to go shopping.

IMG_2171IMG_2173But this morning, we wizened up and waited for the bus that pulls up at the hotel entrance. As we sat on the benches waiting and gulping down an 8-pack of Carling Black Label lager, a family of six walked by, rolling their suitcases behind them. They looked a bit rosy cheeked. “Did you walk from the airport?” I asked. “Yeah! And got lost, too,” huffed the dad. See, we’re not the only stupid family traveling in Britain.

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Checking in at the airport was smooth except that as we went through the x-rays, my bag got pulled to the side. It seems I left one of the Carlings in the case. Oops. The attendant gave us an ultimatum: you can either throw that away, or drink it here. Brett and I made sure that that beer can did not go to its grave unopened.

The flight to Rome was uneventful, though we did get to practice our Italian thanks to my handy Learn Italian app, which loudly pronounces chosen phrases so you can repeat them or just annoy the neighbors crammed next to you in the flying cattle car. We were babbling in broken Italian across the aisles much to the disdain of the many Romans on board. Mi dispiace.

IMG_2203 IMG_2206 IMG_2208But the little Italian we picked up helped when we landed. Two lovely Italian girls came to escort Shade off the plane and into his own private van with wheelchair lift to the main terminal. They chattered to us in Italian for the entire journey, guiding us through the short line of customs (the Shade advantage strikes again) and through baggage claim. We managed to understand enough to find out that one of them had eight dogs and two sheep, which she added were not for eating, only for petting. Shade even got in the language game with a Grazie and Per Favore.

A van driver was waiting for us at the exit. Aitza had arranged it weeks ago. On the drive to our apartment, Mayan decided to try out some of the phrases in my Learn Italian app, pressing this one in the dating section, “Io non lo faccio senza preservativo.” It means, “I won’t do it without a condom.” I thought the driver was going to swerve off the road into the Tiber River.

IMG_2215At about 10:30 we pulled up outside our apartment. Brett’s sister, Andrea, met us outside. She got here yesterday. The place is lovely. The solid wood front doors are about 15 feet high and arched at the top. We’re on the third floor, so Shade took an ancient elevator up. It’s one you might see in a Hitchcock film, with little wooden closet doors inside, and a wire door outside, and it creeps up the middle of the marble spiral staircase.

The apartment is 100 years old, which I guess is fairly new in Rome, but stylishly eclectic and modern enough in the toilets, TV and kitchen. It has six bedrooms and a living room. Mayan had fun working the seven big locks on the main door, some which look like they belong in a bank. I’m not sure if that makes me feel safe or nervous.

IMG_2211 IMG_2214We had to dump our bags and hurry out to get some food. I thought Rome, like New York, stayed up all night, but many restaurants close between 11 p.m. and midnight. We found a charming little pasta place a few blocks down where the owner, Stephania, served us bruchetta with fresh basil and tomato, and then dished up heaping plates of spaghetti, tortellini, linguine, and other carboholic fantasies. We downed these with a couple bottles of red wine. Aitza and Shade had stayed in the apartment to shower and rest, so I asked Stephania to cook them a bistecca i veduras, which is a big ol’ steak and grilled eggplant, peppers and squash.

Forgive me if I’ve butchered any Italian in this blog. I’m doing it from memory because as I write, the wireless is acting up (it’s a 100-year old router) and I can’t Google the phrases to check them. Tomorrow, we attack Rome like the barbarian hordes.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Aura
    Jun 09, 2013 @ 23:15:37

    Great to know you guys are doing just fantastic. It seems like an awesome trip!
    Auguri per Shade e per tutta la famiglia! Buon viaggio di ritorno!

    Reply

  2. Tami Stueve
    Jun 10, 2013 @ 09:14:43

    Thanks for making me laugh today. I really that hat shades wearing.

    Reply

  3. Tami Stueve
    Jun 10, 2013 @ 09:15:23

    *like* the hat!

    Reply

  4. Marcy Dyal
    Jun 11, 2013 @ 00:21:57

    Enjoying every word and living vicariously through them…. =) Shade looks mahvelous by the way!! (as does the rest of the fam)

    Reply

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