Rome 4: Coliseum – Awesome! Vodafone – Grrrrr,

STILL trying to get a working SIM card. The Vodafone one is still not working of course, even though it is now domani! Back to the store. I got the same guy as the night before who tried to tell me later. I was having none of that, so he phones customer service and I wait and wait and wait and wait…….… Well, you all know what it is like spending many minutes or hours on the line to customer service. I think it is even worse watching someone wait! And all this time a little voice in my head is saying “This is your last full day in Rome and you haven’t even been to the Colosseum!” Time to use my secret weapon — my Italian tutor! 

Ring, ring, ring, ring, oh no and then “pronto”. “Va bene!” I explain to Cristina what is happening and ask her to speak to my “customer service” guy. I tell her that what I really want is a refund because obviously Vodafone is going to continue to be a problem. I hand the phone to the store guy who tries very hard not to take it, but I can be pushy too, and eventually he has no choice. I have no idea what was said, the conversation was far too rapid for my baby Italian, but he called a different phone number and actually spoke to someone! After only another 15 minute wait a solution was found — they would give me a new card. Now you have to wait an hour for the card to work, so I figure this is Vodafone’s tourist scam because eventually we just get need to get on with seeing Italy and screw the phone. I mean I saw some lovely fountains and piazzas when lost. Perhaps they also get a kickback from the taxi companies. Now, I wasn’t sure I wanted another Sim card from Vodafone as it required showing my passport and signing all these contracts again, so I started to say, “Wait, I’m not sure” but he was already serving another customer. “Uno minuto, I want the card.” “Sorry” he says, “You will have to wait your turn now.” Well, I can do a really good death glare, so after a few seconds he asked the signora to wait and got me the damn card. Ah but I neglected to tell you that I had stopped at Wind on the way and also gotten a SIM card from them, plus a freebie extra 100 gb card. I guess it was in case I got really lost and used up the 35 gb on the regular card. So now I had 2 SIM cards. One that worked and one that I was pretty sure would not. Plus I had signed contracts for restricted goods and I’m not sure having 2 of them from different companies its strictly legal. I could be involved in a black market for SIM cards LOL. C’est domage as the saying goes. I’m going back to the hotel for a quick bite and to shed a layer of clothing before Pearl and I head off to the Colosseum!

Back at our home away from home I gave pearl some food and water because animals first! Then I made myself a plate of olives, cheese and bread that I had picked up at a deli the night before — the perfect lunch. Given that we were short on time and there was still so much to see I decided to ask the concierge to order us a taxi. I figured we could take a taxi to the Colosseum and then work our way back home via the Forum, the temple of Rome and Venus, the Pantheon and a walk along the River Tiber. Super! The taxi was to arrive in three minutes! Fifteen minutes later I called up to reception and told them to cancel the cab. We walked a little ways and then I flagged down a cab. I didn’t want to spend this last full day in Rome wandering aimlessly around the streets. Also, I was hopeful but not completely sure that the Wind card would work better than the Vodafone card. Our taxi driver spoke only a few words of English and I speak only a few words of Italian but we managed to have a conversation nonetheless. She told me all about her daughters, although, about the only thing I understood was that one was 15 and the other would be seven in March. No matter, it was a lovely ride through Rome and my poor tired feet appreciated the break. Pearl also loved riding in a car for a change instead of being dragged over cobblestones. 

What can one say about the Colosseum other than wow! Everywhere you look in that area you’re surrounded by the many ages of Rome. Wandering around the monuments was was a perfect antidote to just worrying was about what was happening with my mom. We arrived at the Parthenon around 12:30 PM which meant it was only 6:30 in the morning at home. My family had been staying up most nights at the hospital and would be rising late, so I had hours before I could contact them and get a reply.

It didn’t look like it on the map of Rome that I had,  but actually everything I wanted to see other than the Parthenon was all connected. I think the best thing it’s just to post pictures.

Outside the Parthenon they were just lines and lines of tour buses and hop on and off buses. No taxis to be had. We had only walked about seven or 8 km so far that day (we had been averaging 13 km) so I thought that it could be a lovely walk home along the Tiber river. Now, neither Google maps or Apple Maps are particularly good at navigating Rome so getting lost is not completely my fault. Yes, I did have a map but it only showed major streets and sometimes those would suddenly be blocked by construction. No matter, I knew that if I headed towards the river that I could find my way back. We ended up walking through a beautiful park with an excavation from Rome BC at one end. I had planned to stay on the east side of the river until I could see Saint Peter’s basilica. The road had other ideas though. All of the sudden I was at a bridge that was more or less a highway crossing and I had to either go back a ways and cross over to the other side of the street or use a pedestrian walk to cross the Tiber. I decided to cross the river and I’m very glad I did because we ended up in Trastevere, an area of Rome that I thought we’d have to miss after all the trouble with Vodafone (grrr). 

We found a lovely little café with a nice warm heaters on the patio and I had a beer with free potato chips and crackers while Pearl had a little water and some kibble. I do believe that the potato chips and crackers were the first free things that I had in Rome. We were on a quiet little side street end it was the perfect time so I FaceTime called my sister Teresa, the only other wired sibling, who was at my mom’s bedside. Teresa, Brian and Joan and I chatted for a bit. Deathbed conversations are a bit strange. Although, you would think they would be all tears and sorrow, often funny stories are related and there is as much laughter as tears. Apparently, strange requests are also a possibility. For example, one of my sisters asked me to buy a linen undergarment — I think it is called a cassock — for her son who is about to be ordained. I don’t know, but perhaps since I was near the Vatican I could get underwear blessed by the Pope, but I seriously had no room in my suitcases! During this rambling conversation with multiple siblings, my mother came to for a few minutes, long enough to ask “Is that Gina?”. I was so happy that she recognized my voice and I got to say I love probably for the last time. It seemed like a good time to end the conversation and start back to the hotel. It gets dark very early in Rome, and we needed to leave while it was still light enough to navigate. According to my feet, that did not matter. They refused to walk any further and instructed my brain to get a taxi! I complied.

I needed to pack anyway because I was having the big suitcase shipped to Siracusa. Theoretically, Pearl was supposed to travel in her soft crate, so that, my small suitcase, my camera bag and a small knapsack were all I could handle. A knapsack and a suitcase may seem like a lot for one week, but keep in mind, that Pear’s stuff took up most of the knapsack and my laptop was a prohibited shipping item, so really it was not that much! Okay so, pack, repack and try again. Enough I need dinner! The streets were a little busier on Thursday night and the restaurants a little fuller. We walked, in the wrong direction of course, to find this little pasta place with rave reviews. I had already decided on pasta with pesto, although by the time we got turned around the right way and arrived there it was closed. So sad. I guess it is mainly a daytime place. Back to the drawing board or at least back towards the hotel where there were a multitude of places. But first, we had to make another wrong turn. This time we walked through the gates of the Vatican. How was I to know? There are gates everywhere! I did get to meet a Vatican guard! He was kicking us out, and was wearing the regular, not the colourful uniform, but so what, I got to meet one and spend a little time at the Vatican LOL.

Swiss Guard at the Vatican

Enough about my navigational challenges! We found a little place just around the corner from the hotel, okay it was chosen partly so I could find my way back to the hotel. We sat at an inside table because I though there would be less distractions, especially dogs. At first Pearl was constantly getting up and down and checking people out, but she only barked loudly once, and then she actually lay down! I ate my meal in peace! It was so lovely to sit at a table, like a grownup and eat my, you guessed it, linguine con pesto with pollo arrosto for a secondi.

I asked for and received a better wine. A Valpolicella, not my favourite, but at least it was a 2016, not a 2019!

I took the pollo arrest and some pane with me to eat either for lunch the next day or on the ferry to Palermo the following evening. AND my Wind SIM card had worked all day and was still working. Time to go home, call home and then get some well deserved rest!

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