18 September 2008

Embark on Mission: Rome. Bus leaves Manchester, Liverpool airport bound at 4.15am... Mars off to a slow start after not being able to sleep in anticipation of seeing her parents again after 9 months. Arrive at airport, check in, board flight, find seat in emergency exit row all with mimimum of fuss.

Arrive at Rome Ciampino airport 10.40am, local time. Exit plane, go through customs, recover bag with minimal fuss again. Things appear to be going a little bit too smoothly... Try to locate ATM in arrivals hall as no Euros in posession and need to pay for bus into town. Where is ATM? No ATM in sight. Wander around looking for ATM. Definitely no ATM. Go to currency exchange, ask where ATM is. As suspected, no ATM in arrivals hall. Ask if i can withdraw money from UK bank account at currency exchange, answer negative but am informed there is an ATM in departures hall.

Leave arrivals hall and get thwacked in face with the hot hot heat outside. Wander around departures hall looking for ATM. No ATM in sight. Ask currency exchange where ATM is. Locate ATM and insert card. Card rejected. Go back to currency exchange and ask if i can withdraw from UK back account; affirmative. Hand over card and am informed 'not Maestro, only Visa or Mastercard'. Hand over Australian Visa. Need PIN, have no idea of PIN. Problem. Hand over Australian Visa Debit, insufficient funds. Real problem. Go back to ATM and attempt to over draw on Austalian Visa Debit. SUCCESS! Over draw account, am thwacked (again) with charges, but finally have Euros to be able to catch bus out of airport.

Arrive at Termini approx. midday. Text dad to inform of imminent arrival. Hop off bus and wander around looking for dad. See Forrest Gump looking character - have found dad. Dad appears to be styled by Tourists R Us and is wearing trousers with runners, a shirt tucked in, cap and backpack. Reunite with dad and his wife etc. Eat mediocre lunch.

Walk to accomodation. Settle in, crank a/c and nap. Leave late afternoon to walk down to Trevi Fountain. Arrive at Trevi Fountain along with 2000 of our closest friends. Dad and wife obsessively paranoid about gypsies and pickpockets. Realise with some level of horror that they are both wearing money belts. Enjoy Trevi Fountain, no gypsies in sight. Eat dinner of... pizza! Quite nice.

Begin walking back to accom... 9pm at night and still 30 degrees. Mars wants to catch taxi (it was a long walk!) but dad and wife obsessively paranoid about being 'ripped off' by taxi drivers. Suggest going on train. Wife over rules contention and we walk. Get back to near hotel and wife decides she needs milk, for cups of tea. AT 10PM! So we wander, aimlessly, for an hour in 30 degree heat looking for an open shop to sell her majesty fucking milk. Mars highly irritated but attempts best behaviour. Irritation impossible to conceal.

Arrive back at hotel, sleep with ear plugs and air conditioning, wake up and everything ok. Mars uncharacteristically indecisive, trys on many many outfits for the day. Dad and wife don't know what to make of scenario, luckily they are slow at getting ready too. Finally ready to leave hotel when i catch sight of dad in full tourist paraphenalia, complete with 'special' hat (white, broad rimmed) that is made in Canada for purposes of Canadian Army. Indestructible, i am told. Looks ridiculous, but we proceed.

Catch big red open top tourist bus and circle city taking in sights from above. Stop for lunch in nice restaurant with out door eating area. Wife kicks up a fuss about how it's probably going to cost more to eat outside and that we should eat inside. Dad and i already seated - i aint moving. Wife not happy and for probably the only time on that trip, she doesn't get her own way. Eat lunch and hop back on the red tourist bus. Wander around Roman Forum and Vatican City. Mars finally cracks at wife at some point - cause and effect of the heat, no doubt.

Day three, arrange custodial hand over. Work out where on the map mum and her middle-aged-lover are staying, lo and behold it's on the complete other side of the city. Meeting place, Vatican City - slightly ironic. Catch local bus for one euro and go for brunch with dad and wife (ok to sit out side this time after we weren't charged extra the day before) and wait for mum and middle-aged-lover to arrive. See mother bounding through crowd towards me. Reunite etc. Pleasantries exchanged between parental factions. Most bizarre experience. Take photo.

Go with mum and middle-aged-lover to Trevi Fountain (again). Look in market stalls, find first husband selling pizza in take away shop. Eat pizza in take away shop. Slowly. Go back to hotel as mum tired after only arriving that morning. Play on mum's mini computer by the pool all afternoon before dinner in hotel restaurant. Early night, go to bed, sleep with ear plugs, wake up everything ok.

Catch local bus to Mussolini Museum. Decide big red open top tourist bus is the go - all aboard (again). Circle city until we arrive at the Collusseum. Go in, find guide, listen intently, take photos etc. Finish at Collusseum and need to pee. Find toilets, dry retch at smell, decide i can't go in there. Sit and procrastinate for 20 minutes before finally deciding to just get in. Got in.

Wander around Roman Forum, find guide, listen intently, take photos etc. Am informed of another 'special' guided tour we can do around back alleys with secret stories, ending at hidden wine bar with best food in Rome. Fall for it.

Find guide, listen intently, take photos etc. (It was a really good tour actually, we went to all these little pokey churches you never would have known were there - i touched a Michaelangelo statue!)... Went to wine bar, drank much wine (was good) and ate spaghetti and meat balls (also good). Went back to hotel for sleep etc.

Last full day - mum's birthday. Went to the Villa Borhese for wander around gardens. Wandered, took photos etc. Had some lunch and a drink on the 'posh street', booked restaurant for dinner on posh street before travelling by taxi back to hotel. Had drink in hotel bar by pool, got ready to go out to posh restaurant - outfit styled by a combination of H&M and Primark. Tried to hold head high.

Went to posh restaurant, choked at prices and tried to decipher menu. Drank wine and listened to piano man playing Elton John covers. Ordered food, ate it, drank wine, enjoyed it, watched mum go red as she got a 'shout out' from piano man and he played Volare dedicated to her, requested by the middle-aged-lover. Had a good laugh and nice evening. Poor mum, didn't actually get any presents for her birthday. Mars releived she didn't have to pay the bill which ended up being over three or four hundred euros or something. Ouch.

Back to hotel for night cap before packing suitcase. Mother calculates what time i need to leave for bus in the morning and then adds an hour to be 'on the safe side'. Go to bed, sleep with ear plugs, wake up at 6am. Quickly pack up last things, say bye to mum, hop in taxi to bus station, hop on bus to airport, arrive at airport over 3 hours before plane due to take off. Wait, plane takes off. Arrive back in Liverpool airport to rain and freezing, catch bus back to Manchester where it's also rain and freezing.

Home sweet home.


Felix for Zosia said...

what is it with dads and stupid hats? This is from an email my sent me a few days ago:" ...the people are friendly. Many of them recognise me in my akubra during the day, postie cap in the evening" ...

kiki said...

i can't get over the fact that somebody read this...

Thursday's Child said...

Hehe. Your Dad had a Tilley hat on! My Dad has one too - and yes, they are indestructible.