Day 5: arrivedérci roma
Courier arrived 40 minutes early, but I was almost ready for him to whisk a suitcase off to Siracusa to be waiting on my arrival. Now that everything was packed except for my pyjamas I thought to myself “brilliant idea sending this bag on.” There was still a lot to carry: my carry-on bag, my knapsack, Pearl’s sling, Pearl’s travel crate, my camera bag and my purse, but it was manageable. The sling, knapsack and my coat (or one part of it) ,if the day warmed up would all fit in Pearl’s travel crate which had a sleeve that fit over the handle of the carry-on suitcase, so camera bag and purse over my shoulders and across my body, suitcase with travel crate in my left hand and pearls leash in my right. Va bene, we could do this!
After a couple of days off almost going away, my never ending cold was back, so sad. My nose was constantly running and I had a nasty cough, so I decided that we would just have a very quiet last day in Rome and leave for the train station around two. And then I tried to put on my compression sleeve. Excuse the profanity but, “Oh shit!” Both my hand and arm were hugely swollen, worse than they have been in a long time. Scratch the idea of taking a train to Civitavecchia. I called Victor at the front desk and asked him to try and get a private car to take me to the ferry in Civitavecchia. He said he thought he could find out and he would call me back within 10 minutes. Amazingly it was probably only five minutes. Victor may be the only person I met in Rome who’s 10 minutes are less than 10 minutes rather than more than 30 minutes! Success! I had a car for the hour to hour and a half journey to Rome’s Port city. It was not cheap at €140 but, it was necessary. I knew that if I tried to drug luggage and pearl on and off transport my arm might be tripled in size by the end of the day and that gets dangerous. So screw it! Life is short and death is long. If there is a way to make life better why not take it!
I brought all her stuff down to reception for Victor to keep an eye on and Pearl and I went for our last ramble around the neighbourhood. Wow what a difference the day of the week makes! We wandered over to St Peter’s and the Square was full of people! There was a huge lineup encircling the whole square of people waiting to get into the Basilica. Earlier in the week in the mornings, there had been a few people and at times no people waiting in line! Heading in the other direction, we wandered down to Piazza del Risorgimento and sat in the sun for a while. It was about 8 or 9 degrees celsius, so it felt quite warm in the sun. La Piazza del Risorgimento is a good place to people watch, so we stayed for an hour or so, until lunch time.
I tried again to get some pasta at Pastasciutta. Today it was open, but there was a huge line up and I’m not good at them at the best of times. Not feeling well and having a restless dog with me, made this place a no-go. I decided to go back to Ristorante Da Marcello where I had dinner the night before. They also make their own pasta, they welcomed Pearl (including bringing her a dish of water) and it is very close to the hotel. If you ever go to Rome, I highly recommend it! The address is Borgio Pio, 87, a short walk from St Peter’s piazza. Pasta Carbonara or Alfredo hmm? I went with the Alfredo thinking it would be slightly less heavy and it was delicious. Pearl had some kibble and a drink of water and lay down for a nap while I ate, so all was good.
After a delicious meal (for me and Pearl seems to like her kibble too) we went back to the hotel to wait for our car on the roof garden. I took the opportunity to Facebook with my siblings before heading out to sea and being completely incommunicado for many hours. I told my mom I loved her and she seemed to be a little more aware for a moment, but I was probably imagining it. My mom was getting morphine every hour and really it was just a matter of when, not if she would pass, so I knew this was very likely to be my last goodbye to her.
A few minutes before 3 pm Victor came up to the roof to tell us the car had arrived. He sent us down on the elevator and followed with our luggage which he handed off to the driver Giovanni. Once again I was glad that I had changed my mind about the train. With massage, the swelling in my arm had been slowly decreasing, but juggling luggage might have reversed that improvement. Good bye Rome!
Pearl and I slept on and off on the ride to the port, so the time passed quickly. Every so often I would wake and look at the countryside, but often there were tall sound barriers hiding it, so I would nod off again. We got to Civitavecchia in record time – 65 minutes, but then we had to find our way. Silly me, I had assumed my driver would know where he was going, but that was not the case. He followed the signs to the dock for my ship only to be told that we had to go back, so that I could check in. Giovanni was very nice about this. He found a place to double park and showed me where the correct ticket place was. Minutes later, I had my tickets, had had a chance to pee and had gotten some water. NOW I was ready to board!
Giovanni brought me back to my ship, showed me the walkway for boarding without a car and wish me “buon viaggio.” Luckily it was only a short walk to BORDER SECURITY and CUSTOMS! I had never considered this possibility, but of course, we were going out into international waters. No matter. I smiled my biggest smile, said buongiorno and kept smiling while I put the suitcase on the conveyer belt the wrong way. One guard who obviously loved dogs, he had made a fuss over Pearl while we waited our turn, came over and showed me with hand motions what to do. Then of course I beeped. Ah ha, I showed him my belt and he nodded and said ciao. Bene, bene, bene. I never do anything wrong, but security always make me nervous.
Onward and upward to our cabin on the master deck of the ship Fantastico. I can see how people would be disappointed if they were expecting a cruise ship, but as I was expecting a ferry, it seemed pretty nice to me. Pearl and I each had our own bunk, I had a closet and a PRIVATE bathroom with a shower!
The only problem was there were many signs about all the places that dogs could not go — this included all of the restaurants! After a walk around the fido deck so Pearl could have a pee, we went to reception to ask about this no dogs policy. For this encounter, I carried Pearl in her sling with her pretty pink collar on. A young woman recited the no dogs policy and walked away. What to do now? A moment later the man behind the counter asked me if I needed something. I said yes, I had a meal ticket, but also a dog, so what was I to do? He thought that if I carried her, there would be no problem — Buono! Another walk around the Fido deck and meetings with some other dogs. The meetings with puppies and one with another barboncino (poodle) went well. A meeting with 2 enormously obese bulldogs with service animal vests did not go so well. They lunged and growled at her, so she resounded with hysterical yelping. I’m pretty sure service dogs are not supposed to be aggressive! She also met a young puppy that looked like a wolf and the two of them tried to play as much as possible on short leads so all in all. it was a successful outing. I thought perhaps if we went to the dining room really early before many people got there we would have an easier time getting fed so we did a little tour of the shed to find the snack bar the restaurants in the self-serve cafeteria. I thought perhaps if we went to the dining room really early before many other people got there we would have an easier time getting fed, so we did a little tour of the ship to find the snack bar, the restaurants, and the self-serve cafeteria. Alas, none of them opened until 7:30 or later. Back for another round of the Fido deck to watch the land disappear. I had had a very early lunch and was getting hungry. Remember the polo roster from the previous night? I did. There was also a lovely dinner bun and most of a chocolate barRemember the polo roster from the previous night? I did. There was also a lovely dinner bun and most of a chocolate bar for desert. No need to go to the restaurant and possibly get hassled. Pearl and they were tired and the motion of the boat was making her sleepy. No need to go to the restaurant and possibly get hassled. Pearl and I were tired and the motion of the boat was making us sleepy. Last night’s secondi was the perfect remedy. After our delicious meal, we did another few laps of the Fido dec. Pearl did her business and now we could go to bed. It was not an uninterrupted sleep though. It turns out that Pearl and some of the other dogs did not like the announcements. Especially the foghorn sound they began with! Each announcement was accompanied by a cacophony of barks both deep and shrill. Other than one bark sometime in the middle of the night , for who knows what reason, Pearl allowed me to sleep from 11:30 pm, when the announcements stopped for the night, until 6:30 am when they began again. I was told the ferry normally arrived at least 3 hours late, but we were arriving in Palermo at 8 am, an hour early! This was fine with me especially since Pearl had decided that we were up for the day. I took her out to the Fido deck, because animals come first, and then we went to the bar where I got a donut and a cappuccino. Now we were ready to start the day. I packed up a few things and headed for the elevators — that were out of service! Oh well, we would just go back to the Fido deck and check out the action on shore.
I was gazing at this crazy rock/mountain formation thinking, that’s cool, when I turned around and saw this really amazing view! Welcome to Palermo