Streets of Rome

Rome has its roots way back in the story of our modern civilization. Way back then the people of this land organized themselves into a force that over time conquered most of Europe and North Africa and somehow maintained that civilization for hundreds of years. It got so big that it had to split into two in order to keep going. I’ve always wanted to come here. Since we are on a city adventure it is nice to be able to include this stop along our journey. 

We woke up close to ten and scrambled to get downstairs while they still served breakfast. After our long journey we both passed out and needed the long snooze. We woke with the journey still on our lips. We laughed about the scramble to get off. We are appreciating the breakfast being served at the hotel. It’s the first one that we’ve had that provides this service. The rest of the place is nice too. We have a balcony that looks out over the street and gives us a partial view of St Peters Dome. We are in a residential area not too far from the road and train station. The room is spacious with a good washroom and shower. In a way we are spoiled a bit. 

We went up to the roof where there is a patio. From there the dome of St Peters Basilica is clearly visible. It’s good to explore what the immediate surroundings have in store for us. This hotel has a nice feel to it and it is an ideal place in which Chrl can finish off her schooling. Even the desk in the room is spacious. It allows her to spread out and have everything that she needs available to her. It’s crunch time for her so she needs to buckle down and finish it off. 

I feel the need to have her have her space. We are in this respect very similar. She needs to be able to concentrate on what she has to do without interruption. She talked about sitting up on the rooftop patio and working. I need to be moving however. There is a whole city out there to explore. This ancient metropolis that has affected so much of this world and continues to do so until today. 

The Vatican is close so I’ll stop there first in order to get a feel for it. The Vatican is one of the smallest countries in the world. It’s power and influence is far reaching however. Faith has no borders and it influences people’s behavior through the hirearchical propagation of a particular perspective through each diocese and parish. The buildings here are monumental as is to be expected of an ancient religion. One that traces its very origins to a time when Rome ruled the world through secular means. Religion being just a whimsical construct reflecting the operatic machinations of upper society. 

The area in front of the Basilica is designed to hold a multitude of people who congregate to listen and experience the teachings related to scripture put into words. On significant occasions this area is filled but today there was space. I was able to walk around and got some tips about navigating this area. On Monday we are going to visit the Sistene Chapel and tomorrow is like to see the Pope and see what a mass is like here. It’s for my parents. 

The roads and paths are made for touristing. Padestrian promenades are everywhere as are the police watching people come and go in the hot summer temperatures. It’s easy to notice the difference between the shade and the sun as it beats down on you. Water and sweat are two forms of the same substance except one comes from the tap and the other through the pores of your skin. I wondered about how long I would last and feel. Luckily there are taps all over that have water flowing out of them pretty much continuously. It drinkable water too. One wouldn’t want people to dehydrate themselves. It’s a bad way to go. 

My goal was to visit the Pantheon. It is a structure constructed in the first century that still holds the title of having the largest unreinforced concrete roof in the world. It is one of the best preserved Roman buildings due to it being in continuous use since its construction. The height and diameter of the dome are the same at 43.3m meaning that a sphere with that diameter would fit inside of it. The walk to that building would take me through some of Rome allowing me to get a flavor for the city. 

The architecture differs a bit from the last couple of places that we’ve been to. The upkeep of the structures hasn’t kept up with their aging process. The streets too are not as smooth as with the other places and cities. That may be due to the age of these pathways. These stones might have been placed there hundreds of years ago making these paths incredibly durable. Cars drive through some of these side streets. One has to avoid them and make room for them as they pass. 

The sense of history washed over me a few times as I walked along. There were many churches all over the place. Each one had a beautiful facade and some were really nice inside as well. Since I am on my own on this adventure I was able to dart in and out taking little side streets and turns as well as going in when the building was interesting enough. I’ve been to many churches now in my day. I like going inside of them because they offer an insight into the culture and history of an area. They are also architecturally interesting as their interiors imbue the space with awe and wonder depending on their design. 

The Pantheon looked it’s age from the outside. It looked quite impressive and imposing. Inside the shape and design of the dome gives the space a feeling. The regularity of the design with simple square insets that both lighten the roof and create a pleasing look. The walls of the Pantheon are covered in marble. This is a durable product that was available to the people back then. Everything that they wanted to produce that was ornamental and statuesque was made or covered by marble. I walked around the space talking pictures trying to capture the space as well as possible. It was hard to do as I had to contend with all the people inside the place. 

Now that I got to my destination it was time to go back. I told Chrl that I’ll be gone for four hours. The Pantheon is about thirty-five minutes from our hotel but I know that it will take me double that to get there as I’ll be taking a meandering path to get back. Meader I did down little streets with fewer tourists on them. The way I walked did take me to some squares and other interesting buildings or structures. The temperature was hot and my stomach began to gurgle so I found some shop where I procured a sandwich and some fruit and then found a spot by some old ruins to consume it all in the shade. There was a sign indicating that this corner houses a cat sanctuary. It was a bit too hot for the cats to be out and tourists kept walking down the stairs to look for them. 

Back at the hotel we embraced like two people that haven’t seen each other for a long time. Chrl told me about her adventures in studying. Wifi connectivity on the roof was non-existent. Then it was too hot and then she made the error in plugging in her tablet to a non approved plug creating problems that scared her. I chuckled a bit at this news and plugged it in to the correct plug. It was working fine. 

She was on a roll. She needs to submit one final paper. The one I proof read before getting to the hotel was really good. I’m starting to understand her position in these topics and how they reflect the person that she is. Chrl has helped me understand women a lot more. By doing that she has helped me understand her. This work that she is doing now is something that I never had any idea about or at least didn’t realize how deep the issues go. She does need to finish it though and I suggested that I go find a laundry place to wash what needed to be washed. It would provide me with another opportunity for a little adventure. 

I grabbed the zip locked bag of detergent that looks like a pile of coke. As I pulled it out I had a grin on my face that she responded to with laughter. It’s a good thing they haven’t been more thurough with their checks. I was looking forward to explaining this bag of white powder to a border guard. I shouldn’t be saying that in case I will have to on our next flight. 

With the bag packed we walked to what she thought was a laundry place nearby. It turned out that it wasn’t so I searched the interwebs for answers and choices. I found one that was similar to the laundrymat in Barcelona. All coin operated machines little interaction with people. The prices were reasonable according to the reviews. I should probably leave some regarding the places I’ve been to on this trip. No point in reviewing the Eiffel Tower or the beach but little places need reviews. It’s just so time consuming and the reviews aren’t shared between platforms. 

Anyways I looked up how to get there and we embraced once again before heading off in our seperate directions. Chrl was going to continue her work while I was off to the laundry mart. The bus stop was nearby and I stared at the sign to find meaning in it. Staring at things for long enough induces some mental capacity that slowly finds something to begin understanding of he whole. I looked at the oracle map in my phone or is it on my phone?

All the bus stops are listed in order. I had to go three stops on a particular bus but I soon discovered that multiple busses from this stop go there. Then transfer to another bus that will whisk me to within a whisker of the place. It’s kinda far to be going to do this but there aren’t really many choices here in this area to do this task and there are too many items to wash by hand. The bus finally came and I had some change handy to buy a ticket. Once in the bus I looked around and discovered a machine. There is no way to buy a ticket. The bus driver is isolated from the public. As we were moving down the street I realized why he needs to focus on the road and not on the passengers. Hold on for dear life!

As other people got on I noticed that few of them bothered to check in with whatever means they were paying for their journey. They must have some kind of pass. I got off at the transfer point and then tried to look for a place to buy a ticket. There must be some shop nearby that does. There were a few convenience stores but no sign that they did. I continued to walk and ones from consulting the oracle that the place was t too far now. I was walking along the river but far from it and to my dismay didn’t see many shops along the way. Soon I reached a point that allowed me to cut through and shorten the distance that I had to walk. The path took me through narrow streets that housed a lot of different shops and restaurants. I had thoughts of bringing Chrl here later for dinner. There were neat little street art pieces all over the place. One of them said Banksy on them but judging from the style and tone it seemed like a satirical piece meant to play on his fame to say something about society and the state of avant gardé art. 

As I got closer walking along a path taking photos of this street art a gentleman standing outside his shop noticed and said “a lot of people take pictures of that.” We proceeded to talk by relaying pleasantries about where we are from and what I’m doing. I realized that I could ask him about the bus ticket problem and he explained to me how to go about procuring some and where. I thanked him and we shook hands. He said that we came to Rome at a good time as many people are away on vacation. It’s quieter in the city. 

The laundry came first. I spotted shops that had the symbol that I needed to look for to get them tickets. They are located in tobacconist stores and are indicated by a white “T” on a blue background. The laundry attendant guy was terse with me regarding getting change as I looked at the machine controlling the laundry machines. He helped me get this thinking part figured out faster. As the wash began to cycle I went to the shop to get those tickets and a snack at some other shop. After getting back to watch the laundry I tried to look for a restaurant so that we can have dinner. 

There wasn’t very good connectivity where I was. I spent a lot of time trying to wait for things to load. I gave up soon and just sat there after transferring the load into the dryer. There aren’t too many things so eleven minutes is reasonable. My attention turned to the music videos on the television screen up in the corner. It was some Italian pop singer singing about love for some woman who alternatively looked distressed and then in the throes of passion half naked with him. Then all of a sudden some gangsta looking guy starts rappin’ in Italian. The song continues and the desert scenes are interlaced with city scapes and flying helicopters. Slow motion effects are widely employed to add drama to the video as well as passion to their expressions. They really have something for each other. A lust that holds no bounds. I’m overdramatizing it. The announcers between the videos are radio DJs with smooth radio voices. This is all happening live. 

The way back according to the oracle is different from the way I got there. No matter I had a ticket now. In fact I bought extra ones for later. It gave me a chance to ride on the tram. These ones here looked cool although a bit worn from use. It came soon enough and whizzed me to my next destination where I had to walk a block to the bus stop. The tickets give you 100 minutes of travel time one way. As I got off the tram I noticed the building in front of me. It was monumental to say the least. I had to get a photo of it. It is the Altare Della Patria or the Altar of the Fatherland that commemorates the coronation of the first King of a united Italy.  It’s quite the monument. 

The bus ride was eventful as more and more people kept getting on piling on top of each other. Some old guy was pissing off a woman on her phone. He kept inching in trying to hold on. She wasn’t happy with his method. Soon I was back and we embraced again and realized we were both really hungry. With better connectivity I found something that was close to us and made a reservation. As part of some promotion we got a discount on the food if we ordered a certain amount of it. 

We walked hand in hand to the station and took a train one stop. I couldn’t validate the tickets anywhere so they haven’t been used yet. I suggested we walk the ten minutes to the restaurant. Chrl’s been cooped up in the room while I’ve been exploring. She is getting her first taste of Rome. We are both intrigued with the look and feel of this city. I like it here and it’s had a really good impact on me to see it. The restaurant was this little place on one of the side streets. I reserved an outdoor seat as it is more in tune with the weather. We were greeted and sat by the waitress. The likely manager of owner presented us with his English menus and explained how the discount worked. After a while he came back and quipped “are you guys ready or should I give you another thirty minutes?”

We were ready and made our order. Some pasta for Chrl and some risotto for me along with some wine and appetizers. The tables around us slowly filled with other customers and we chatted and joked with each other about different things. We seem to be able to chat, stay silent, and joke with each other quite easily. Communication is key they say in any relationship. It is especially important with someone with whom a life is shared. 

Time is short right now to finish much of the detail. Needless to say we walked around a country literally. The Vatican being an independent state within Rome constitutes the smallest country in the world. Weird set up that was set up with Musolini back in the 1930’s. We wanted to see how it looks like in the night. Entrance to the square was restricted and others were checking out the Basillica in the night sky. There were many homeless people sleeping just outside on cardboard. They were earlier trying to eek out a living asking people for money. Strange contrast. At the hotel the food and wine put us to sleep. 

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