A 10:30am tour of the Colosseum awaited me today. Initially I thought I’d be able to use my hop on/hop off bus ticket to get there, but the route started late enough it wouldn’t be possible. I was fairly close to the San Pietro train station so I hopped a train to the Termini station with the intention to take the metro. Future Rome adventurers should be aware that the walk from where the regional trains drop you to the point you enter the Metro is a long haul. Make sure you allow plenty of time. Already sweaty and a little confused I crammed on the subway with tons of tourists and a handful of unfortunate locales. I can’t imagine what a hassle it must be for locales trying to get to work.
I arrived at the Colosseum where I struggled, again, to figure out where to meet my guide. This is a piece of feedback I’ll be sure to provide them in the future. I walked past the gladiators posing for pictures but stopped to ask the guy selling bus tickets if he knew about a tour group. He pointed me to a scattered group of people I never would have identified as a group. Yay, my people!
It was another really hot day. One thing I can say about a lot of European countries is they are great about providing places for people to refill their water, usually from fountains. Of course the tour is outside but our guide did a great job of doing her longer talks in shaded areas then taking us closer for pictures. As I’m sure you can imagine the complex is immense and there are so many stories. If you go, I’d definitely recommend going with a guide. I feel like I got a lot more out of the experience.
We moved from the Colosseum out into the Roman forum where our guide tried to point out structures of interest. I think its safe to say you could spend an entire day just at this site. Buildings built on top of other buildings, or pieces taking from one to create another. Lots of interesting history behind it all.
The tour was finished so I went across the street for some lunch. I thought I would hop on the bus and stop at the Pantheon but with no streets listed on the tourist map they provided with stops I quickly got frustrated in the heat. I went back to the metro station thinking I’d get that back to the main station where I knew I’d find a bus. The entrance I found only had ticket machines that took cash, and it wouldn’t take anything over a 5 Euro denomination. WTF! I gave up and walked the rest of the way to the main station. By then I was tired, cranky, and over the heat.
I had been staying with a couchsurfing host who was starting to feel a bit needy, always wanting to know where I was, what I was doing, when I’d be back. Earlier in the day he had told me that cleaning his apartment was part of the hosting deal. This was the first he had mentioned it and I’d already taking him for an expensive dinner to repay his kindness. I was put off and the heat wasn’t helping. I made the impulse decision to leave Rome a day early, heading toward cooler temperatures.
I returned to my hosts apartment and cleaned as requested, packed my things, sent a message, and hit the train station. It was going to be a long journey to Switzerland and I thought Milan made sense as a stopping point for the night.
Some hours later but before the sun set I arrived in Milan. Again, I found myself in awe of the beauty of their Central Station. I took advantage of the free Wi-Fi and booked a hotel room online. After a short walk I arrived at the hotel. I walked in and informed the man at the front desk that I had a reservation. His reply “I’m sorry but that’s not possible, we have no rooms available tonight”. I was caught off guard and said “but I just paid for a nights stay, how do you not have any rooms?”. Apparently hotels.com should not have allowed the booking. He proceeded to offer to call some nearby hotels to see if they had availability. He invited me to have a free drink at the bar while he sorted it out.
Success! The hotel next door had space available. He asked me to kindly wait until his colleague returned so someone could accompany me to the hotel. I certainly appreciated the extra effort on his part. Definitely above and beyond.
I got settled in and went right to sleep.