Thursday, 21 April 2011


A few years ago we booked a long weekend to Rome. It was booked on the Internet and was cheaper than a package deal. We flew from Stanstead, which was a bit of a swine to get to from West Wales, and meant leaving before midnight and driving overnight. All went well. We had lashed out and booked a car to meet us at the airport, as we were unsure about trains and buses etc. So it was expensive but worthwhile. We stood around in arrivals and eventually found a man holding an old cereal box with Cox written on it. We followed him into the car park looking for the promised luxury Mercedes only to find he was driving a white van! He didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Italian so we piled in the van and set off to the City founded by Romulus and Remus.

The road into Rome is to be honest pretty off putting. We had previously done a day trip to Rome and seen the main sights but hadn’t travelled through the suburbs. It was pretty much like any other city. Graffiti and rubbish welcomed you to the Ancient City.

We were finally deposited at our hotel shaken, hot and a bit dishevelled.

The City was a bit of a disappointment. We had already seen the main sites, which were great, and although there were many other lovely areas, away from those it was dirty and uncared for.

Of course like any other tourist destination you were well and truly ripped off in the cafes. They always brought bread and water and even tried to charge even if you didn’t touch it. The waiters had dirty clothes and fingernails.

Anyway we had any interesting time and saw some sites including some wonderful paintings. My favourites were the Carravagio’s. The sketch above is of Castel St Angelo which has a rich history.

Being picked up by the same luxury hire company was another test of stamina. The luxury car was due to pick us up at our hotel at 3pm. At 3.15pm we got the receptionist to phone the car company who said it was on its way. At 3.30pm we were getting very agitated and got the receptionist to phone again. No answer this time. Ten minutes later the driver arrived in an air-conditioned Mercedes.

However the drive to the airport was the worst thriller ride you could find anywhere in the world. The whole time the driver drove one handed speaking into his mobile phone. He drove at top speed even when approaching red lights and crossing lanes. My hand was being crushed by Alex and she even let out a scream at one point. We were very relieved to reach the airport and find our flight home.

We always tip good service. In Rome we spent very little on tips.

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