The whole family is so excited to begin our Mediterranean vacation. I’d pre-planned our packing, and we’d “practiced” traveling on long flights earlier this year when we went to Guam, so are were ready! Vamonos!
Our trans-American flight has cool touch screens in the seat-backs, so we enjoy listening to free music and watching the geo-flight plan. My hubby and our two kids sit together, and I sit across the aisle. When we need to communicate, we type notes in my phone and pass the device back and forth. We change planes in Chicago, fortunately we are not delayed 12 hours as our extended family had been the day before. The trans-Atlantic flight has no special screens, however, although they do serve meals. Our excitement is such that we barely sleep at all, despite almost 16 hours of traveling. The kids have cleverly packed backpacks, chock full of activities and books. Myself, I begin reading the travel journals of a dear friend.
We land and have to wait an hour for our pre-purchased airport transfer. During this time I speak to an information kiosk attendant, and call the local number for the travel service hub. I am reminded that customer service is different here. They actually tell me to be patient. And they left me on hold for 20 minutes, never to return. Nota Bena: just grab a taxi.
Neverminding that, our transfer brings us to our hotel. It is before noon, so they seat us in a comfortable waiting room off the lobby and serve us coffee and water, saying our rooms (yes rooms, plural, as our family of four requires two rooms in Europe) will be ready in twenty minutes. It’s easily forty minutes before we are granted keys, and our rooms are on different floors, 6 floors apart. We text our extended family, as they are finishing their tour of the Colosseum. We arrange to meet at a café just across and above the metro station. We drop our bags in the rooms and don’t even change- grabbing a taxi to the Colosseum. It’s delightful, zipping around Rome in a little taxi. I snap pics of random signs, colorful alleyways and everything. Suddenly, the Colosseum is before us. It is majestic, just like in the Lizzie McGuire movie. (Yes, this is the movie that came to my mind at the time.)
We have been practicing basic Italian, French, and Spanish all summer. I’m ready to Ask, “Dove la café…” when my hubby hurriedly interjects in English and we get our answer. The café is close by, and our extended family is waiting. It’s wonderful to see them. We exchange travel stories and my family orders our meals. I enjoy a caprese salad, my daughter enjoys the Italian equivalent of Grilled Cheese: a mozzarella panini. She rejoices in its stretchy cheese. We decide to sightsee together, requiring 2 to 3 cabs for the 9 of us.
We taxi to the Trevi Fountains, which are under construction and heavily scaffolded. Still I marvel, and we hurriedly walk to the Spanish Steps. Hubby is in what I call Disneyland Mode: a.k.a We Must Do All The Things! Although we are drippy sweaty cranky and maybe choosing to walk this wasn’t the best idea. Happily we wind up at the top of said steps, and I am reminded of the Amazing Race challenge of counting said steps. We snap our obligatory photo ops, including some really cool ones of all the cousins, and a levitating man. We decide to taxi from here to the Pantheon.
Part of me can still hardly believe that I am in Rome! I am trying to remember which Dan Brown novel mentioned the Pantheon, when we decide to get Gelato. It is a much-needed, much-enjoyed treat and we are starting to feel like ourselves again. We walk back across the square to the Pantheon and enjoy the statues and the dome inside. We meet another family from the San Francisco Bay Area, they admire hubby’s Golden State Warriors NBA Champions shirt. From here, the extended family decided to head back to our hotel, and my family of four heads to the Colosseum. We enjoy a brief self-guided tour together, my daughter and I pretend to be statues. As you do. Then the girl and I rest as the boy and hubby head to the higher levels and also to the Forum next door. We’ve just added 6 hours of activity to our 16 hours of travel and We. Are. Tired. We head back to the hotel and freshen up for dinner in the hotel restaurant.
At the restaurant, none of our menus show the prices, except for the Patriarch’s. They do not have any non-sugar sweeteners , and they can’t add a meatball or meat sauce to any of the children’s meals. So pretty much if they want protein, it’s a hamburger. This meal is okay, the conversation and company is fun.
We say good night and heads to our different rooms for bed. The girl and I are bunking in one, the boys in the other. But, the A/C is not as strong as in the US, and one room is better than the other, so we trade. It’s all good.
Tomorrow we will meet in the breakfast buffet, before our private tour of the Vatican in the morning, and embark upon our ship in the afternoon!