For the bus drivers at least
09.07.2010 - 09.07.2010 33 °C
To make certain we have an authentic Roman stay, there is a transport strike today. Starts off in the Metro, but spreads to the buses too. We are left outside a metro station studying the locked gates. We then walk to Termini where we wait in vain with hundreds of others for a bus to somewhere, anywhere.
It all stopped being used in the 5th century after earthquakes damaged it and the Goths turned Rome into a back water. It was amazing that Rome had 1.5 million residents in the 1st century AD, then down to 20,000 in the middle ages to leap back up to 400,000 in the renaissance. The arena is huge and stretches miles above you, but there is also a basement under the arena where all the gladiators and slaves were held before the fights. Them and all the wild animals could be wound up in lifts to pop out of the floor of the arena. Just as well politicians these days don’t stoop so low to buy a vote. After we have taken photos all around the place, we head out and over to the forum.
Again it is a bloody hot day, and it is great to be able to grab cool water out of the fountains all around Rome. Got a good tip from some other tourists: freeze some water in your drink bottle the night before and you have a lump of ice there to cool down your water all through the day.
We go over there via the Palatine Hill, where lots of the emperors built their residences, trying to outdo the memory of the previous. Most of the palaces need plenty of imagination to see them in all their glory, as all that remains is the brick skeletons.
We trek over through the whatsit’s gardens and drop down into the Forum. Again it takes imagination to fill in the details but there is a lot more here than on the Palatine hill. There are plenty of marble bits lying around to give you a good idea of what sort of decoration you would have seen on the buildings. And if you step back you can get a good view of... the next group of Americans steamrollering through to get to the Pantheon, Vatican and the Trevi fountain before hopping on the bus to Florence tomorrow morning.
We also head over to the Trevi where we are bowled over by a couple of busloads of Japanese tourists, followed up with a left hook in the form of a Con Tiki tour. We join in with everyone else and throw our coins in the fountain. The fountain police blow us up for having our feet in the pond, so we give others our seats on the edge. This is one Roman fountain you do not want to drink the water from.
Then we head back on a leisurely bus trip back to our apartment, and after grabbing some supplies we settle in for a great home cooked meal and a bottle of champagne. Send off an email to Malaysian to see why we cannot check in over the net.