I make it a policy when I go to a new country to experience 3 things; the post office, a bus and the train. With this policy I have found that it is amazing what you actually manage to see and do on your trip!
We booked our train tickets to Rome the night before and were up early for a three-hour trip from Jesi in the east of Italy. We knew the time that the train was due to arrive at Roma Termina, so at this time we jumped off the train at the station, but something felt wrong. I couldn’t see a sign saying Roma Termina, or any name at all. I asked an elderly woman standing close to me on the station. I can’t be sure but I think she told me off in Italian and promptly walked away. Feeling panicked I asked a younger man who was hopping on to the train we had just departed if this was Roma Termina. He confirmed my suspicion that Roma Termina was actually the next stop just in time for us to jump back onto the train before the doors closed.
The Colosseum was magnificent, it was everything I expected it to be and to walk inside the Colosseum while reminiscing on the history of the gladiators was truly magical. What I didn’t expect was the magnificence of the Trevi fountain. Although I enjoyed seeing the Colosseum, it lived up to my expectations, while the Trevi Fountain was so much more than I expected. It is better to experience the world with out pre-conceptions.
From here we ended up jumping on a bus to the Vatican City. I have been on a couple of bus rides on this trip to Italy and the bus drivers are very friendly and don’t seem at all bothered about your ticket, they just kind of presume you have one and you’re an honest person. Maybe it’s the weather.. who can be grumpy when it’s so sunny! I noticed people filling up their water bottles from small fountains around the city. For 1 euro for a bottle of water I was able to drink fresh cold water throughout the day.
The underground or Metropolotina in Rome is fairly simple, with only two routes to decide from, this is a lot easier than navigating around the London underground. The problem is that there are fewer options to enter the Metro around the city than there are in London. We walked around Rome all day feeling like tourists as we consistently consulted our map of Rome. At the end of a long day we headed for the nearest Metro that would take us back to Roma Termina, only to accidentally come across the Spanish Steps, an atmospheric setting in front of a magnificent fountain and the place where Keats died at just 25 years old.
I find catching a flight or a train last-minute very stressful and always make sure I arrive at my destination in plenty of time. We were at the train station an hour before the last train was due to leave. We found the platform and picked up some snacks for the journey back. Everything was going well, but as the time drew close to the hour we sat at the platform wandering where our train was. The tannoy suddenly piped up with a message in Italian that the Ancona train, our train, was now due to leave at platform 2Est. A man who I had seen wandering up and down the platform suddenly asked us in English, ‘did the tannoy just say 2 Est?’ We told him it did unaware that Piano Est actually meant platform East. We watched the man literally run across the train tracks and scamper up platform 1. He could move pretty quick for a hefty man! Now we were worried, we didn’t want to leave the sanctity of platform 2 but this was the last train back that night and we didn’t want to miss it!
I have been to train stations in the past where there is a small additional platform further up for local trains. I made the decision, it may have been the wrong one, but if we had stayed or run around to platform 1 we would have missed the train. I ran over the train tracks and we started running down platform 1. We were going to miss our train. Then the Carabinieri (Italian military police) showed up in one of those platform buggies, they let us hop on and drove us to platform Est. We arrived at the same time as the hefty man did puffing up to the train. It is incredible how often the Universe will leave signs to help you on your journey. If the hefty man had not mentioned platform Est and if I had not seen him run over the train tracks I would never have followed and we would have missed the last train home. The signs are around you all of the time, but maybe you just notice it more when you are travelling! When you are travelling your senses are more alert and your mind is more open.