Pearl and Gina’s travels
Arrival in Rome January 12, 2020
Will my toy poodle Pearl and I take Rome or will Rome take us?
We arrive in Rome almost half an hour early – va bene! Then we wait and wait and wait for an hour and a half until our promised assistant arrives to help pick up our checked luggage and go through customs. In the meantime Pearl has relieved herself next to a garbage can in the waiting area. She is so very helpful!
Finally a wonderful young man arrives and helps us to get the luggage and escorts us to customs where they were not the least bit interested in the 10 page document that was supposedly required for Pearl to enter Italy. Oh well, onwards to la città. The taxi driver spoke almost no English and I speak almost no Italian and every time I did try, French came out. This lead the taxi driver to believe that I was French Canadian, so he kept using google translate to translate Italian to French for me. Now my French is better than my Italian, but not by much and I was completely exhausted from a long flight with a terrified puppy, so trying to first translate what he said from Italian to English and then trying to translate from French to English was mostly beyond my capabilities!
I had booked an Airbnb apartment in the Prati district not far from the Vatican, but far enough to not be a tourist area. Rather it is a mix of residential shopping and legal offices. I was getting excited driving through Prati on the way to a Roman casa and then – we stopped at our address for the week.
"Per favour signore, sei che questo sia l'indirizzo corretto?" (how did we manage before google translate?)
The whole building was covered in ladders, scaffolding and plastic and appeared to be propped up by boards in many place. Frankly it did not look habitable. Well as long as we were here it was worth a look inside, so I dutifully called the number of the cleaner who supposedly was right next-door and would be over in minutes. Titania answered the phone but spoke no English and just kept repeating una ora, una ora, una ora as I said no, no, no that is too long! She hung up!
I was determined not to be defeated, so I texted the owner of the property. She replied to my text with many apologies and said that to Titania would be there within 20 minutes and if I waited at the bar on the corner she would pay for my coffee. Pearl and I attempted to walk to the bar across the broken sidewalk, but the number of people, dogs and other obstacles defeated us. Gratefully I spied a bench to sit on near the apartment and for the first few minutes it felt great to sit and not lug heavy luggage. For despite my best intentions somehow my luggage ended up being twice as heavy as I had hoped it would be. Va bene. Oh no, the bench was obviously the local dog hangout! My poor tired puppy who just been dragged across the Atlantic ocean was not interested and having dogs bark at her, sniff her or try to screw her so we waited in front of the apartment building under the scaffolding for to Titania to arrive 35 minutes later.
By this point I don’t really care what the place looked like! Pearl and I were exhausted and just need some place to nap for a bit, so I didn’t think about what all that construction material meant for the next morning. It was Sunday, so no one was working. Nor did I notice that the shutters didn’t close until the temperature started dropping. By midnight it was -1° and with the open shutters the apartment was freezing especially the bedroom. I spent the night huddled on the sofa in the living room with a pile of blankets and Pearl to keep me warm. I was tired enough that where I slept didn’t really matter and I probably could’ve slept until well into the next morning had the drilling and hammering not started at 7 AM! They were working on the floor above us! Even when it didn’t sound as though they were drilling through the ceiling there were workmen going by the windows and the door, banging ladders and equipment on the walls. Poor Pearl thought we were being invaded and nearly lost her mind which caused me to lose my mind because she has the highest, shrillest, loudest bark I’ve ever heard!
Frantic messages to the cleaning lady and the property owner about the noise in the cold got me nowhere so I started to look for a new place to stay. Damn the expense there was no way I was spending five days in this hell hole!
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to find a good place to stay when you need one right away? Especially if you have a dog with you and need a place that allows dogs and is quiet so the dog doesn’t bark and drive you crazy! Not costing all of my life savings was also a preferred feature. After a number of false starts I found what I hoped would be a good place to set up home for the rest of our stay in Rome. I’m packed and ready to get out of this place! BUT I still haven’t heard from the landlady or the cleaning lady and I had no idea what to do with my keys so I get in touch with Airbnb. I have to tell you they were wonderful and in less than an hour I had a full refund for my whole week including the service fees, an apology from the landlord and the cleaning lady arrived so I could give her my keys. First though she had to call the landlady to tell her that it was hot, hot, hot in the apartment and make me touch the radiator. It didn’t matter how many times I told her that yes the radiators were hot but with the windows open the apartment was still cold! Then she tried to tell that hotels would be even colder and so much noisier. Everywhere in Rome there was construction and I would just have to get used to it. I just let her blabber. I already had a hotel booked, the landlady had agreed to refund all of my payments and there was an Uber on the way. She might as well have been playing Titania in a Midsummer’s Dream” Out of this wood do not desire to go: Thou shalt remain her whether thou wilt or no” Although I didn’t clap at her performance!
Despite the rough start I wasn’t going to let Rome defeat us. Although I did wonder if Pearl and I were some were starring in some kind of comedy of errors put on for the pleasure of the Roman gods. The driver was late of course. He messaged a few times to explain that his current passenger had asked for a stop and he didn’t know how long she would be, then again to tell me when he was on his way. Not sure why, but it makes such a difference when people explain before rather than after they’ve arrived late. Still tired, I gave him the wrong address, but he found the correct one for me – big tip coming when I remember to do it:) Buzzed reception from the call button and they said to come up to the 4th floor. My lovely uber driver brought the suitcases inside the lobby and left as I stared at stairs! Aha! I remember this from France, the elevator will start half a floor up. Okay I can do this, but no who is that a vision from above? After all we are a stones throw from St. Peters. Ah it is the receptionist. He advises me to take the elevator first, as it is one of the tiny European ones, and wait for him in reception. Not sure whether it’s the gods or the pope one block over but something intervened in my favour. Our room is lovely. Small by North American standards, but a decent size by European standards and from my window I can see the aqueduct that the popes used to sneak out of the Vatican and go into the city of Rome. There are tons of little cafés and restaurants within a block or two and the prices are about the same as the neighbourhood I was in yesterday. There is a no kitchen but there is a little fridge and since I’m in Rome it’s unlikely I would’ve done much cooking anyway.
Didn’t do too much this afternoon just walked around a little had a salad and a glass of wine in a café and brought a pizza back to the hotel to eat while watching Italian TV. Many of the restaurants have heaters and coverings for the patios, so I watched the world go by as I ate my salad outside. At one point a street vendor/scam artist (it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes) started to approach my table. My ferocious toy poodle got rid of him quickly! I don’t think he actually saw her under the table, but as I said she has a very big, loud bark. No doubt he thought it was a much larger animal. LOL Pearl has slept most of the time since we got back to our room. She didn’t even watch me eat my pizza! Poor little thing is even more exhausted than I am. Even though it’s only 8 o’clock I think we’ll both go to bed soon and tomorrow we’ll start conquering Rome.
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