Rome baby! I flew out of Zurich around 3pm and headed to Rome via Munich Germany. I got to the Zurich airport early, so I milled around the shops in the airport to kill some time. The flight to Munich from Zurich is only an hour, so after that quick jaunt it was time to hang out for about 3 hours before my flight to Rome.
I didn't think I had quite enough time to really go far, so I walked outside of the airport to a nearby Deutsche bank to get some Euro again (since Italy accepts Euro and Zurich generally did not). The airport is set up for layovers, with lots of lounges and hangouts and activities as well as directions on how to get to the train and city center. In order for me to get out of the airport in Munich, I had to go through Passport control where they ask me questions about why I'm there, when I'm leaving and stamp my passport. I quickly found the bank and made my way back to the airport, where I decided food would be a good idea and to do a little shopping at the store. I had never seen a regular grocery store in an airport before, I suppose it is quite convenient. When I was done eating and shopping, again I had to go through Passport control to get back to my gate. It was actually pretty quick to get through security, I'm telling you America has one of the most unfriendly restrictive security lines at the airport than I've seen in all my travels.
When I arrived in Rome, getting my luggage was super easy and I was surprised to see that I didn't have to go through any customs to leave. I followed the signs to the shuttles and decided I'd take a taxi to the hotel because I didn't want to lug my suitcase and stuff on a bus then train. As soon as I got outside, I saw so many people. This guy came to me and asked me if I needed a shuttle to my hotel. He had the official badge on so I said yes. He said wait here, I will find another person and you can share the fare. So I stood in the designated spot for about 10 minutes while the guy darted in and out of the crowd, rushing back to me if anyone else tried to entice me to go with them. It was a bit amusing, the guy walk off, another guy comes to me and starts talking, the first guy popping back and yelling something in Italian to the second guy, who then looks apologetically to me and steps away. Finally the guy came back and off we went to the hotel.
My hotel was near the Spanish Steps in the heart of Rome, and the Flumencio Airport is about 30 minutes away. We whizzed through the airport roads, onto the rural freeway and finally into town. The shuttle driver would yell at people driving in Italian, then apologize in English to us inside. It was like driving with a NYC cab driver. Seriously, just like it. I loved the passionate expressions that he had and how he used his arms and hands and face when he was talking. You don't need to know the language to get what he was saying. We drove by some ruins illuminated by light that were huge and interesting, the Colosseum at night and darted through cobblestone side streets to my traveling companion's hotel first, then back through more little cobblestone roads zig-zagging our way to my hotel.
My hotel is a beautiful older hotel on the corner of a busy street. There are no less than 5 restaurants across the street from the hotel, and a Subway up the street. Around the corner and 1/2 block away theres the Piazza Venezia, a hub of Rome that is gorgeous and has the Italy Tomb of the unknown soldier and beautiful architecture and sculptures. I discover that Trajan's Forum is right across the street from Piazza, and I can see the Coloseum in the distance as I cross the street and I'm getting excited about my choice of hotel. I wandered slowly through Trajan's Forum and look at the ruins, lit up by lights all around, and notice that there's a light show of history appearing on the far walls lining the forum. It was so interesting. It shows history of the forums, what it was at one point, that there was a fire, the rebuild and what the forum looked like over the years. It was so cool to watch.
I decided then after my wandering that I probably am hungry, so I walked back to where I saw restaurants, sat outside and had a late night spaghetti dinner that was delicious! The waiter was so great and really protective of me, making sure no one trying to sell anything would approach me while I dined. I didn't get to sleep until around 3am.
- Munich is huge, and the airport is like a city itself
- I'm just now getting some German as I listen to people around me, and I'm headed to Rome :)
- It's warmer in Rome than I expected
- I think the ruins lit up at night are something special to see
- The Piazza is pretty impressive
- Rome stays up late into the night, the restaurants and people were out well past midnight
- Seems as though cars don't explicitly follow the signs and rules of the road
- The language has an interesting rhythm and passion laced throughout