DM and MM's Italy/France 2012 Diary

Day 2 - Kuala Lumpur to Rome

Sunday, 29 April, 2012

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04:12 Frankfurt time

We're ten hours into this flight, and about 2.5 hours from Frankfurt. It's been dark for most of the flight, but the sun is coming up outside and the cabin lights have just been switched on to serve us breakfast. I tried to snooze but didn't. I skipped the supper meal, since I wasn't hungry and wanted to try to rest. M. isn't feeling well, needing to visit the loo frequently throughout the night.

Frankfurt Airport. 08:24

Well. We're now sitting here killing time until 10:30. Our flight to Rome left at 07:45, without us. Our flight from Kuala Lumpur was half an hour late, which gave us only 30 minutes or so to race the entire length of Frankfurt Airport, including a sky train ride from terminal 2 to terminal 1, then clear passport control and a baggage security check before running almost the entire length of terminal 1 to the second farthest gate, only to find the Lufthansa ladies just packing up and walking away as our flight departed.

Then we had to walk most of the way back down the length of terminal 1 to the Lufthansa service counter and get boarding passes for the next flight to Rome. So now we have a two-hour wait and won't get in to Rome until three hours later than planned. This means I need to phone the woman holding our accommodation for us from here, to let her know we'll be late.

Also, there's no pharmacy here inside the terminal, only outside the security and customs area, where we can't go because we're in transit. The Lufthansa woman at the service desk told us they could bring medicines in for us in an emergency, but there'd be a big extra charge for it. M.'s decided to tough it out for now, but we'll see how she goes in the next couple of hours.

All things considered so far, with us having been travelling for just over 24 hours now, and still over four hours from our destination, this is racking up with our worst flight experiences ever.

10:00

Still waiting to board our flight to Rome. I forgot to mention that on the flight from Kuala Lumpur, about an hour before we landed, a guy in a seat across the aisle and one row in front of us got changed. As in his entire set of clothes, except for his boxer shorts. While sitting in his seat.

I've just phoned Signora Cardelli, the owner of the apartment we're staying in in Rome to let her know that we'll be late arriving. Our flight lands about 12:30 and hopefully we'll be at the apartment by about 14:00-14:30. She said she won't be there to meet us at that time, but her maid will meet us instead!

M. has had some Imodium, thanks to the friendly and helpful Frau Schwab at the Lufthansa service counter. I went back and asked her to please arrange for some to be brought in from the pharmacy outside the security area of the terminal, but when I said I wanted Imodium, she said, "Oh, I've got some of that right here in my bag. I always carry it because I travel a lot." So she gave me two pills from her personal supply, thus saving us a considerable amount of money.

M. bought a pretzel and a coffee while we wait for our next flight. I got one bite of the pretzel before going to brush my teeth, but it was good to get one while we were (briefly) in Germany.

10:06

Just saw waiting to get on to our flight: a woman wearing fluorescent orange, really widely flaring pants and an orange top, accompanied by three young kids; two boys wearing pink shoes, pinks socks, pink shorts, and pink jumpers, and a girl wearing pink shoes, pink socks, and a pink pinafore dress.

In flight to Rome. 11:06

Finally off on the last flight leg of our outbound trip. With that extended stay in Frankfurt, my head is now full of German, which I need to purge and replace with Italian. Frankfurt was cold and overcast, at 15°C. We'll be flying straight over the Alps to Rome, but the cloud cover doesn't look promising for any sort of view. Hopefully our luggage made it on to this flight with us.

Leonardo Express train. 13:37

We finally made it to Rome! The flight over the Alps was very bumpy, with the crew having to postpone the light snack service partway through because of the turbulence. They didn't have a vege meal for M., probably because we were placed on the flight only after missing our previous connection. The snack was a serve of mashed potato salad with a gherkin and a small sausage, plus some crispy breadsticks. The mash was flavoured with gherkin and vinegar I think, and it was very tasty.

We landed at Fiumicino close to the scheduled arrival time at 12:30 and then had an interminable wait for our luggage. Customs was ... surprisingly easy. Nobody looked at either our bags or our passports and we simply walked out into the arrivals area. I picked up a €5 phone card from a tabacchi and then we walked over to the train station to catch the express to Roma Termini. I asked for two tickets at a tabacchi there in what I thought was flawless Italian, and the woman said, "Twenty eight euros."

We had ten minutes before the train left, so I raced to a phone and called Signora Cardelli again to let her know we had arrived and were on our way to the apartment. She said she was out of town until Wednesday, but her maid would look after us. But her maid didn't speak any English, so if we needed anything to give her a call. I said I spoke a bit of Italian and we should be able to manage. Then Signora C. said her maid also spoke Spanish, if I knew that. I said I knew a little, but I think I'll probably stick to the Italian.

Via di Pallacorda 11a. 15:20

Finally! We've arrived at our accommodation for the next eight days! It's a rustic but lovely little apartment with a loft bedroom and a view over a tiny cobbled street where the neighbouring buildings have gorgeous balconied windows with columns and Roman style statuary on them. There's also some construction work right across the street, but we'll ignore that.

Rome apartment view
View from our apartment in Rome

The train took us to Termini and from there we caught the Metro three stops to Spagna, at the foot of the Spanish Steps. Then it was a walk down the very busy via Condotti until we arrived here. Signora Cardelli's maid let us in and after some to-ing and fro-ing with the language we paid her the rent for the apartment. We think she said the she would leave it on the desk in Signora C.'s apartment and when she came back tomorrow she would confirm it with us and give us a receipt. At least I hope that's what she meant.

M. has just had a shower to wash off the residue of almost 36 hours of travel, door to door. And I'm about to hop in to the shower and do the same.

19:52

We've just returned from dinner at a nearby tavola calda called La Meridiana that offered a buffet of cold items, full meals, and pizzas. We had a margherita pizza and a funghi pizza. They were thin and crispy and delicious, though smothered with probably a little bit too much cheese. Still, a good hot meal hit the spot and should hopefully send us into a deep sleep when we hit the sack soon.

Rome Red
We know we're in Rome now

After our showers we had a short rest, then hit the streets to have a bit of a walk around the neighbourhood, and also to find a pharmacy to buy some more Imodium for M. There was a pharmacy on the very first corner we came to, virtually right outside our front door, but alas it was closed. It had a list of nearby pharmacies with their opening hours (as, I learnt in reading our guide book on the plane, they are legally obliged to do). The trouble was I couldn't locate most of them on our map. Finally I found one at Piazza Cavour, which was just across the river, about 500 metres walk, which didn't seem too far. We walked across the Ponte Cavour and after a false alarm found the open pharmacy.

Trevi from the side
It was busy at the Trevi Fountain

Imodium acquired, we walked slowly back across the bridge and then over to the Trevi Fountain. The fountain was actually more impressive than I remembered, and so was the enormous crowd of people gathered all around it. The square around the fountain was packed shoulder to shoulder with people, making it almost impossible to get down to the water. There were dozens of tour groups there and hundreds of people taking photos and tossing coins in or just hanging around. And most of them were eating gelato as well. The gelato places around there have it easy, and they probably don't even have to make the best gelato to be assured of selling it by the ton. We decided to return to the fountain early one morning to see if we could capture it with fewer people.

La Meridiana pizza
Pizza dinner

From there we slowly made our way back to the apartment, passing Trajan's Column on the way. We rested for a little bit more before heading out again just after 18:00 to seek the nearest supermarket and some dinner. Signora Cardelli left us some notes about where the best places to eat are, and where we could find a supermarket. So we headed over to Via della Fontanella di Borghese to buy some groceries, but alas couldn't find hide nor hair of any supermarket. And then when we tried looking for the Pizzeria Leon that she recommended on Via del Leoncino, we failed to find that too! And so we ended up at La Meridiana, where we had pizzas for dinner.



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