Ryan and I are preparing to leave Rome for Milan in our Hertz rental car (it is a massive Nissan EV200 van). We also added the Glass and Tires coverage (we like to insure ourselves to the max), the NeverLost GPS (it is a new TomTom model and a road trip lifesaver) and a Hertz Mobile Wifi package. Yes, we have a unlimited 3G 21.6Mbps daily with a Huawei 3G wifi router that can be shared with more than one device. It saved us the trouble of getting prepaid simcards for both our phones and we now have internet in the vehicle and everywhere else.
In fact, I am typing and uploading this on the highway now. Don't worry, Ryan is driving, not me.
But before leaving for Milan, I thought I'd share some more thoughts and photos on Rome.
After a day of riding around Rome, I have come to develop a strong sense of survival. The drivers mostly treat traffic lights and traffic rules like opinions and the pedestrians are the same.
You know why no one walks and uses smartphones on the streets of Rome? They have all been run over by Roman cars and scooters already. As a friend said, there are only two kinds of pedestrians in Rome: the Quick and the Dead.
The driving here is best described in Hokkien terms as Boh Hew and Gar Gar Lai.
We prepared our Moulton and Bike Friday bicycles in the room and rode out in the slight drizzle. No one seemed to be affected by the rain, gamely queuing to get into attractions like Vatican City.
From what I can surmise, Rome's economy is driven mainly by Bangladeshis selling souvenirs and ponchos/umbrellas when it rains. The hardworking fellows were everywhere, peddling their wares to all and sundry. One fellow I saw offered to shield an irate elderly gentleman with his huge umbrella while trying to persuade him to buy one of his fine mini-umbrellas.
People here smoke a lot. Shopkeepers smoke, young people smoke, and even the cops nonchalantly light up on duty.
Still, despite the smoking and the chaos, it is a beautiful city full of old buildings and history, and streets made of cobblestones that can throw you and your bicycle into the air if you are not careful.
We spent quite a bit of time walking too, to soak in the sights, the sounds and sometimes, the smells. We decided to try the subway here, to get to the Colosseum. You pay a flat rate of €1,50 for a ticket to take the subway in one direction for up to 100 minutes. The turnstiles don't take the ticket back when you exit so I am not sure how this is enforced. Maybe there are random inspections.
You can also pay €6 for an all-day subway pass.
This is the obligatory photo of the Colosseum, or Colosseo, as the Italians call it. Carved on some of the walls nearby, I saw a few maps that showed the extent of the Roman Empire. The Romans certainly owned quite a bit of Europe back in the day.
The neighboring area around the Colosseo is quite pleasant to walk around. We walked into a coffee place and when the barista asked if we were taking away or having here, and we said, having here (it was raining outside).
We should have suspected something when the waiter offered us the cafe wifi password without us asking. "The service very good hor?" we told each other.
Then our coffees came. "The caffè latte very nice to drink hor?" we said, impressed by the taste and the service.
Our lattes cost us €18 total. That's almost S$30. Ouch.
I will leave you with something I read in a travel forum as I was searching for hotels to book:
Where the mechanics are German
the policemen are English
the cooks are French
the lovers are Italian
and everything is run by the Swiss.
Where the mechanics are French
the policemen are German
the cooks are English
the lovers are Swiss
and everything is run by the Italians.