Wednesday, August 5, 2009


August 6th, 2004 Rome, Italy

Awake early we were dressed before the 7 am bells rang. Watched TV until 7:45 and then walked over for breakfast. Sky is clear. A quick breakfast and then we pulled our luggage down the hill (thank you God for small blessings) to the train station in Manarola. Had to do a down and then up the stairs to get to the train platform. By 9 am we were on our way to La Spezia; arrived timely and pulled our luggage down the steps to go from the tracks to the station. As we started across to the stairs leading up, Jim saw a glass elevator! It had a wheelchair sign on it; Jim said, “we qualify, I’m using it!” He started limping! Bottom line….we used it to go up to the station level. Found the ticket counters and got the reservations for the final two train days that we were not able to get in France. Took quite awhile and she was doing a lot of talking in Italian. Finally, I realized that she couldn’t get us seats together. I said that was ok. I had pre-printed what I wanted on a sheet of paper that I gave to her at the beginning; that helped immensely as my Italian is pretty much non-existent.

Once we had the reservations, we then had to figure out the track number the train to Rome would leave from in two hours. You know me….I got him there early because I didn’t know what we’d face getting the reservations; and the next train from Manarola would have been at 11 am. That would have been cutting it a bit close for the 12:06 train to Rome especially since the trains along the Cinque Terre are known to be late. Jim likes to arrive just in time so he was not a happy camper. When we found our track number we had to cross back over to the center island and that meant another trip down and back up through the pedestrian tunnel. Jim went right to the wheelchair elevator and down we went; walked over to the other side and used another one for the trip back up! People just ignored us so I guess the gray hair qualified; oh yeah…Jim was continuing his “limp”! After we settled down I noticed that there was an asphalt paved crossing at one end of the platform between the three islands. I’m sure it was designed and designated for train personal use only; but people were using it also. I darted across once to use the restrooms while we waited.

Restrooms in train stations are the same all over Europe. The toilets are flat on the floor. This one had a community roll of toilet paper; you took what you needed on the way into your stall. Jim reminds me daily that we shouldn’t travel if we can’t adjust to things that are different.

We had a place to sit down and Jim even walked over to the market near the train station and purchased a soda and a bag of toasted bread for our trip. By 12:15 we were sure that the train was running late. It finally arrived about forty-five minutes late. Got aboard and discovered this train was compartments. Struggled to get to our seats and found American girls in them. They jumped up immediately and moved to the hallway that is about twenty-four inches wide. There are “jump seats” all along the corridor for people who don’t have reservations. We told the girls if they’d watch our big luggage in the corridor we would leave their backpacks up in the rack over our seats. Nice kids.

Enjoyed listening to them talk about their travel experiences with the young American couple also sitting in the corridor with them. They were all four getting off in Pisa for a quick look around before heading into Florence for the night. Our large suitcases really blocked the aisle but no one said anything so we left them there even after the girls removed their backpacks in Pisa. Four hours passed quickly as we read our books and nibbled on some of the extra cheeses that we’d saved from breakfast. At each station the passengers changed and people were moving from seat to seat when someone with a reservation arrived and requested their seat. I would say that at least half of the people on the train didn’t have seat reservations. As we clicky-clicked down the track we saw the Carrara Marble Mountains, a few villages and town as well as vast expanses of the Ligurian Sea and then the Tyrrhenian Sea as we neared Ostia before heading through the tunnels and in to the Rome Termini Station.

Wow…we were able to walk directly from the train platform into the station and out to the taxicabs without going up or down any stairs! The sun was still shining and the line for the cabs was not too long. Loaded the cab and as usual I think he took us the long way to the hotel; but at this point we didn’t really care. By 5:30 pm we were snug in our beautiful room at the La Residenza Hotel just off Via Veneto and south of Villa Borghese.

We’re going to enjoy the next four nights while we become reacquainted with Rome. We have several recommendations for restaurants and places to go from friends that we’re looking forward to enjoying; as well as our own favorite haunts from previous trips. Within half an hour after our arrival the sky opened and we had a full-blown storm with lots of thunder and heavy rain. I think we’ll stay in for the evening and enjoy the nice bowl of fruit that the hotel has provided for us.

Arrivederci from Rome

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

O Wow...such memories. Am so glad that we bypassed Cinque Terre with the stairs and long walks from the station. Enjoyed talking with you yesterday..will try you again soon.