1 December, 2011
Rome has taught me one vital thing. Never book a Bed and Breakfast. I don’t care whether it’s the cheapest place in the world. I think B&Bs are really only meant to be a couples thing.
Finding the ‘Confort B&B’ was much-like looking for Wally in one of those really horrific puzzles where everyone was Wally. Except, there was nothing like the ‘Confort B&B.’ It was tucked away inside an apartment building near a park and a few shops. The door to the establishment was, in itself, lost amongst other the closed doors of shops on either side. In front was a dodgy market (there seem to be a few of these in Rome) where a shopkeep is selling his possibly looted wares.
Before I completely destroy this place, let me first draw attention to the name of this establishment. ‘Confort.’ When I first booked this place I presumed it was a spelling mistake. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable assumption considering that ‘confort’ is not a word – not in English. It does actually mean ‘comfort’ in Italian though, so top marks on appealing to a local audience.
So I turned up outside the door of the apartment block and hit the button to call ‘Confort.’ This is how the conversation went.
‘Hi, I’m Dale – I have a reservation’
‘FIRST FLOOR. FIRST FLOOR. FIRST FLOOR. FIRST FLOOR.’
Upon hearing this rapidly repeated phrase my hope was that ‘first floor’ wasn’t some form of trauma signal. I remember in primary school we were told that if we were being mugged/harmed/sexually assaulted the best thing to do was to scream FIRE, because people don’t care about you if you’re just screaming aimlessly or begging for help because you’re being bashed to death – people only care about protecting their stuff. I can imagine in practice this wouldn’t work though. I’m being killed and screaming FIRE with my last breath. The neighbours hear me screaming and both think ‘WAIT! I’LL CALL THE FIRE BRIGADE.’ Whilst they’re calling triple 0 I would be dead.
Of course, there’s the other occasion where they come out and scare off your attacker. Then they ask you about the fire and you’re like ‘there was no fire, i just really badly needed help.’ Then some old person goes crazy at you and makes reference to the story of the boy who cried wolf.
*spoilers* the boy ends up being brutally murdered.
Anyway, I made my way inside the building after hearing the repeated instructions to go to the first floor. Inside there was an elevator which didn’t have any walls. I thought that was pretty cool. Didn’t look very safe though. But I guess if you got stuck you could call for help pretty easily.
I met the owner of the place. She seemed okay, but then her maniac of a double personality occurred as she reverted to the socially inept ‘FIRST FLOOR’ persona.
‘ohhh, is it just you? On your own?’
‘Yes. Just me’
‘You have double bed though?’
‘For just you?’
*frown/quizzical expression* ‘yes…’
WTF people. Has a single person never slept in a double bed before? This was still one of the cheapest places in town despite the fact it had a double bed. I must have been pushing this place to its very limits. What is this madness?!?!
But once I got into the room, I was pretty sure the room was made for sexytimes. Well, for fertility at least. There were baby pictures everywhere. Above the bed.
And even when you looked in the mirror when on the bed.
It was kind of freaky. I don’t know how anyone would have been able to get it on in such an environment. You literally cannot escape them watching you. For angels, those babies are very voyeuristic.
That afternoon I walked down to the Colosseum. It’s actually HUGE. I was really in awe of its size. I don’t know how big I expected it to be, but it’s ji-normous.
When you get down to the square in front of the Colosseum you will discover that a lot of people yearn to take advantage of tourists. I saw three morrocanish/Spanish/Indian looking guys running away from a couple of police officers carrying a bunch of scarves in their hands. I’m presuming these were stolen. Then they went around and basically harassed people to buy them.
Their marketing strategy was genius, as was observed when they approached an American woman.
‘YOU BUY 3 EURO’
‘oh, no thank you’
‘no, i’m really fine thank you’
I think I could learn a thing or two about negotiating from this gentleman. Clearly stolen goods though. That American woman could have found herself in some pretty hot water. I don’t know whether the law in Italy is the same as in the Netherlands, but it’s illegal to buy goods which are stolen or a reasonable person would believe to be stolen.
The dodginess doesn’t end there. There are gaggles of people dressed as gladiators and such. Don’t take a photo with one of them though, they’ll expect you to pay them.
I really enjoyed my first day in Rome. It’s so freakin old. It’s insane. And the ruins are HUGE. The whole Roman Forum area is insane, as are any of the old fountains or statues or anything.
Lingering in the back of my mind though was this slight worry that I may have been in the country illegally.
This was the first time I’d traveled inter-country in Europe by plane. I wasn’t entirely sure whether I needed to have my passport stamped at the airport. In the airport there were two ways to go – ‘flights from within the EU’ and ‘passport control’ (or something of the like.) I decided I’d just walk through the EU door, then if there’s no passport check or anything there i’d just walk back in.
I walked through the EU door and was immediately outside of the airport.
Tried to walk back in the door. Doors are one way.
I think I’m allowed to do this though – there are free movement provisions within the EU treaties which I think apply to anyone who’s a resident in some capacity. Because I have the working permit thing I think it applied to me? I have no idea.
*spoilers* no one ever checked my passport and no one ever caught me, so maybe I’m just a freakin’ master criminal. Admittedly though, I was keeping 50 euro handy to bribe anyone who even thought of looking for a stamp in my passport. Judging by the gladiators and the scarfmen, I think people would have let me go and kept their precious Euros.
I also visited Naples and Pompeii. Pompeii is also so incredibly huge. The size of it is intense. It’s so easy to get lost. It’s an entire town. I just thought it was a few streets, but it’s huge.
Also, these early kind of buffet/take away outlets were there. They had these slabs of rock which have bits cut out where they could sit pots or bowls or plates or whatever in. Pretty cool.
They also had a few of the bodies of the victims of the disaster. I don’t know if it’s very ethical to keep these bodies and display them. Just doesn’t seem right when you step back and look at the 30 tourists going camera-happy on it. I felt the same way at Dachau Concentration camp, when an Italian kid of was taking photos of a crematorium like he was some form of paparazzi. There are some things which are sacred, I guess. If you want photos like that you can google them FFS.
I guess it’s difficult though where you draw a line. I definitely took photos at war memorials and at some of the war cemeteries.
Italy was fantastic though. It’s very big. I think to do it right you really have to travel around a lot.
You will notice that I have left out the Vatican. There are so many awkward moments that it comprises an entire post in itself. I try and keep a word limit on these things so I don’t burn myself out. Obviously I lack the stamina and libido to continuously attempt to satisfy you with my LOLs.
Love u long time