Welcome to Rome
We have arrived in the city of pizza and piazza, the place of sophisticated cultural sights and historic relevance.
We dived right in, luggage in tow, leaving Fiumicino airport with a warm breeze blowing through the exit gates, only to be stopped by taxi touts, blocking our way to the ticket vending machines for the train.
First lesson learned: taxi drivers act suspicious, will stay away and use public transport in Rome.
Using public transport was a wise choice.
There were various ways to obtain train tickets at Fiumicino. Facing the entrance to the train platforms were vending machines, as well as small shop stalls and one Trenitalia ticket counter.
The vending machine charged 8 Euros from airport to Trastevere per person- but basically to tutte le statzione in Roma (so the ticket says), the shop stalls demanded 8,50 Euros for the same and Trenitalia matched the prices of the ticket machines.
So Trenitalia should have taken us from the airport to Trastevere Station in a breeze. Two stations and a five minute walk to our apartment.
Being pointed to the wrong train by inattentive train staff, we ended up at Rome’s Main Station Termini.
The weirdest thing was that our train was actually stopping at Trastevere Station, like twice. It just never opened its doors.
Nor windows, which would have been just as helpful, at least to get the temperature back to normal. The trains were heated like we were riding through a snow storm in Siberia. With the outside temperature being over 20 degrees, inside the train we had Sahara summer. Italians do not like the cold. Nor do I. This is perfect.
Stranded at Termini, we at least we learned more about how things work.
Finding the information centre at Termini was… impossible. Despite the signing, it did not exist. Patrolling staff pointed us to an information booth, which turned out to be ‘everything about Rome for tourists but no train info’ tourist counter.
While I was watching our bags and the crowds – very multinational and lots of hyperactive kids – Tomek returned. With no results. He was told to take the metro, then change onto another train.
What? Don’t the train tracks run both ways? It is just two stations back. Tops.
It took us over one hour to make it back.
Luckily, Tomek found a Trenitalia ticket booth and we were back on track.
We had about two minutes to get to platform 29.
So platform 29, makes it, when you consider that we were standing at platform 1…., the furthest one away. We were each dragging 25kg bags, not counting handbags with laptops and stuff. Truthfully, I was only mildly motivated to run with the attachments, of which my bag had given up on its handle and there was no proper way to pull it.
Experienced travelers we are (The One pulling both luggages, then the broken one), we made it.
Out of breath but on the train (yay) and happy, something was odd and intensified with every breath.
The stench of the train’s toilet. I am not a fussy traveler but this was triggering already repressed memories of the loo on the Indian sleeper train to Varanasi.
Maybe it was bad luck but there was more train neglect. Apart from faeces in the air, I picked up various signs of vandalism. Lots of graffiti smears, scratched windows, broken doors, trash (not sure that last one counts).
Actually, the missing armrest isn’t too bad for couples. (I now regret we didn’t test it.)
Instead of an estimated arrival time of six o’clock , it was now about seven thirty. Thankfully our Italian host waited for us at the apartment and offered an explanation for our adventure: We should note that Italians are not as caring to foreigners as in other countries.
Enough lessons learned.
I will come to like Rome as it is.
It is not the trains I came to see.
Can’t wait to wear my new handbag either. (Always to the front and zipped up, of course.)