Tales from Italy - Day 1 April 23, 2005

Before I started blogging, I used to just send an email home to a few friends & family of my travel adventures. Recently, I stumbled upon the emails that I sent home from my first trip to Italy...a 60th birthday trip for my mother. I thought I'd share those emails with you over the course of the next week or so...

Tales from Italy - Day 1 - ARRIVAL IN ROME
Welcome to Italy...or so we thought. How about there is no customs in Rome. We walked off the plane, waited an hour for bags that did not arrive with us, and then just walked out of the airport without so much as a how do you do or a by your leave. Good thing we're not on the wanted list.

Our flight out of Philly left an hour later than planned, so we arrived in Paris at the same time our connecting flight to Rome was boarding. After an OJ Simpson run through the airport, we made it to the gate as the doors to the plane were closing. They let us on, but doubted our bags would make it. They did not.

So we get to Rome, and stand around with a million other people arriving in Rome to see the inauguration of the new Pope trying to find our luggage. Lots of priests and nuns from all walks of life/nationalities. While standing there waiting for the luggage, I felt a hole being burned into the side of my face by some man. I turned to look at him in hopes that he was the Italian Stallion, and found out that I was being visually molested by a priest - an American one at that. We exchanged pleasantries, but it was quite obvious that he wanted to take the collar off for a moment or two of carnal knowledge.

An hour later, no luggage and our "private car" left us. I managed to get someone to call the agency and get them to come back to get us. We then put our lives in the hands of the "holy see" as the driver took off like a bat out of hell through the narrow streets of Rome.

The Westin Excelsior is beautiful. We arrived looking appropriately exhausted and were treated to a free cocktail on the house while we waited for our heavenly beds. We finally got our room and decided to go out for a walk. We walked to the Spanish Steps where there were artists and street vendors doing paintings and portraits. We plan to go back to get our portraits done like we did in Paris.

Then we braved the Metro - which the Romans call "The Underground" and went to St. Peters Square and the Vatican. It is much more beautiful in real life than on TV. Standing in the center of St. Peters Square - which is round - was breath taking. You don't notice the beautiful columns surrounding the square on TV. The throngs of humanity was intense. People from all over the world just walking around, hoping to have a space to stand for the 1st Mass on Sunday. They had chairs set up for the VIPs. We have a tour on Monday so we didn't stand in line to go inside. We did some window shopping and mom added some Roman Soldiers to her Fontanini collection.

We mosied back to the hotel. Took longer since the travel fatigue started to kick in and we realized that going back was uphill. Do not daydream or gaze off while walking the streets of Rome or you might wake up next in the hospital. You are taking your life into your own hands in the streets here.

We arrived back at hotel - still no luggage - and had dinner in the bar where we sang along with piano guy who played all American songs. There must be some VIPs besides us staying in Westin, since there are camera crews and lots of body guard looking people hanging around.

We passed out in the Westin Heavenly beds. I managed to get my ear plugs in before mom started sawing down entire forests. We received a call at 3 am, announcing our luggage had arrived. We had some XS Energy drink explosions in our luggage but no damaged. Lost 5 cans of liquid crack. We might be able to ration - doubtful.

Well, we are going to try and go back to sleep for an hour or so before we have to get up. Off to Naples and Pompeii tomorrow. Stay tuned for the continuing saga of "Sandy & Lisa Do Italy"