First of all, I have to tell you that this trip was a gift to me from my oldest daughter, Laura. She was the one most recently deployed to Afghanistan, for almost 2 years! Ugh! Well, this was her "thank you" to me for taking care of Isabel (my granddaughter) while she was gone! Wasn't that sweet?
To begin - we left Thursday morning, 1 August, and arrived in Rome (via Washington D.C. and Frankfurt, Germany) Friday morning, 2 August. It was a VERY LONG flight!! Not to mention you "lose" 7 hours, so it took us awhile to get accustomed to everything. Fortunately, we had the weekend before us.
My very stylish - and technically inclined - granddaughter, at the D.C. airport!
Hotel Excel, Rome, Italy
It was built around 1900 or so, set quietly just off the main road, with lots of shrubbery and palm trees! I had to remind myself we were in the Mediterranean afterall! As a matter of fact, the view of the Mediterranean as you fly into Rome is breathtaking!! Water so blue it seemed almost unreal!
One of the first things I noticed, in my semi-conscious state of awareness, were the cicadas!! Now, this lady is from the South, and cicadas are just a fact of summer life. But....I have to tell you, their Roman cousins have them beat hands down!! The air was thick with them, and the noise! Good grief!! I have to admit though, it was a welcome "familiar" sound and I immediately felt "at home".
This sweet Madonna greeted us as we got out of the taxi.
Koi pond and fountain, in a courtyard located at the rear of the building, next to the hotel restaurant. We spent many mornings and evenings enjoying the peacefulness of this scene. I was even inspired to paint a watercolor of this, which I'll show you later on. I have to admit, I had all these grand plans of painting several watercolors, but it was just TOO hot!! So this was my one and only. As luck would have it, Italy was suffering an unseasonably hot August, and Alabama was having an unseasonably cool August! Go figure!
One of the first things you need to do is locate your bus stops (unless you lease a car, which is VERY expensive, or take taxis everywhere (which is also VERY expensive). One Euro (the currency used throughout most of Europe, excluding the United Kingdom) is worth $1.33, so you're already at a disadvantage. Personally, I highly recommend using the bus and metro (undergound trains). They're extremely reliable, have reasonable rates (weekly and monthly rates are also available) and stops are located all over the place. So.....you know what they say....when in Rome, do as the Romans do!
The bus we took was #907!! I have to tell you, it was a lovely sight, seeing good old 907 pull up, especially when we'd spent the day walking all over kingdom come! And let's face it, we also had our daily shopping to carry! We decided early on to buy fresh fruits and breads to keep on hand for simple meals, so we didn't spend so much at restaurants. And being in the Mediterranean, the produce and fruit were FABULOUS!
This house was located across the street from our bus stop, which was only about a 10-minute walk from our hotel. One of the nicest things - about Europe in general - is their older architecture!
Isabel, on our walk back to the hotel, after a day of sightseeing. The surprising thing is that only a little further on and to the left, you enter a very quiet side road which is completely surrounded with trees and older houses, with our hotel at the end. It was like stepping from one room into another and, consequently, from old world to modern, and back again.
Okay, now that I've got us started, I'm going to break off here and start up again later. But I promise, it won't be several months later!
Buona notte! (That's "Good night" in Alabamiam!)