Monday, December 31, 2007

Our arrival in Rome...


Our arrival in Rome did not go completely as planned. Our flight was two hours late leaving from Prague and this caused the van that we had hired to take us form the airport to our apartment to not be waiting - however the company replaced the van with 2 cars. I had hired the van because it was a lot cheaper than 2 cars, and you would think I would still get the lower van price because it wasn't our fault that the flight was late. But you would be wrong. The 2-car 30 minute ride from the airport to our apartment cost 120 Euros ($175). Ouch. That was about $75 more than I had planned.

Our apartment was in a four story building on a very narrow street (typical for Rome) about 4 blocks from the Colosseum in the oldest part of Rome. The owner of the apartment was supposed to be there to open the apartment and give us the keys - but no owner in sight. The two cars drove away leaving us on a back street in a strange city at night. We waited a few minutes before I called the company that we had booked the apartment through. He was supposed to be there, they said, but they would call him on his mobile phone and get back to us. 20 minutes later I called back and they said that they had left a message on the apartment owner's voicemail. I wasn't impressed with the progress, so I asked what Plan B was. They said they would start looking for another apartment to put us.

Another 15 minutes went by and I watched the luggage while Kathy, Danny and Noah went exploring the nearby streets. An Italian couple carrying shopping bags walked up to the main apartment door and opened it. I figured we looked strange waiting by the door with several suitcases so I said that we were waiting for the owner to let us into one of the apartments. They motioned us inside and it turned out that the man was the brother of the owner and he had the keys. Apparently the owner was out of town for Christmas. They were nice but there was no explanation as to why they showed up 2 1/2 hours after our scheduled arrival time. I was almost glad our flight had been late.

They showed us around the apartment, which was quite nice, and then left. A few minutes later the phone rang and it was the apartment company telling me they still hadn't heard from the owner and had arranged another apartment for us. I informed the company that we had been let in by someone else and it was news to them. It seemed that this is the Italian way of life - letting things happen as they happen.

We did some quick unpacking and then went to find dinner since it was now after 7 PM. There were many restaurants in the vicinity and we ended up picking one just down the street from the apartment. It had outdoor seating with space heaters - and since the temperature was about 50 to begin with we decided to eat outside. The service and food were both very good and by the time we finished we were tired from the travel and excitement of being in Rome so we went back to the apartment and got ready for the next day - Christmas Eve.

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