WOW!! Welcome Roma!

WOW! Where do I begin? I left Bellinzona, Switzerland early teamsters early morning on a train headed to Milano, Italy. Upon arriving at the Milano train station, I had to find a place to get a supplemental ticket for my Eurail pass, after stopping at the information desk where a cheery railroad worker was yelling out information. People would poke their heads or entire bodies inside to ask their question(s), and he would shout out their answers. Well I went downstairs next and waited in line for about 30-40 minutes to get my ticket on the bullet train to Roma. After walking back upstairs I discovered a “last minute” bullet train ticket stand alone ticket counter. One would think as much as Amazing Race as I’ve watched I would have known to look better. Well the railway waited till five minutes to departure to announce the track number. Once on board it was smooth sailing at 300 kilometers per hour towards Roma. The entire trip including three stops before Roma took a little over three hours.
Once the trained pulled into the Roma station it was time to get my Roma Pass, and change some U.S. currency. Once I achieved those two things it was time to find St. Elizabeth’s convent where I would be staying the woman who sold me the Roma Pass wasn’t to helpful, neither was the information guy, now I should have printed out directions to the convent before I left Switzerland. However, the convents two sentence directions made me feel confident I could find it on my own. After walking for about an hour, I was tired, thirsty, and ready to fall over. That’s when I got the best help I could. I stopped in a carry out, bought a water and asked directions. He then walked me outside pointed the way, he even asked the woman next door if his directions were correct, which they were. Turns out I was only a five-minute walk away.
Checking in? It freaked me out a little, when I walked up to check in and the Sister says “James Thomas?”. For a minute I thought “how does she know who I am?”. Any guesses? Well I was the only one who hadn’t checked in yet for the day(plus I totally look like a James). Luckily for me a German tourist came in and helped me check in, due to my lack of Italian, as well as the Sisters lack of English. Upon reaching my room it was time to shower. Only problem, someone left his shampoo in Switzerland. I was in no mood, cold shower, then find dinner. I was too tired to walk any further than I had too. I went to a place nearby and ordered a shrimp salad to go, oh and a “water”, which upon close examination(I.e. after I bought it) realized it was an Italian Bira. I’m blaming walking in ninety degree heat for over an hour, on my poor meal, and beverage choice. After my “Italian” dinner, I wondered the convent and to my surprise discovered a beverage vending machine. It contained the following twelve ounce Italian Bira, Italian sparkling, natural waters, and Pepsi. I bought a water and headed back to my room to get settled, then crash.
The following morning I had to be at the Vatican Museum by 8 a.m. sharp! Before I left I became a museum patron for a small donation due to my age. Glad I did! Arrived got in early to the sistina chapel, then to the painting restoration lab, paper lab, and photography lab. Got to tour with 25 year patrons, and part of their family. Very nice people from Chicago. After the tour, I thought I’d walk back to the convent after taking a taxi there. Big Mistake! Let’s just say I’ve walked in some parts of Roma, that I am certain only locals have walked. After about five hours and probably over twenty miles walking I stumbled into the convent, pretty much like Clark Griswold stumbling out of the desert. In one of my favorite movies “National Lampoon’s Family Vacation”. I went straight to the room and showered with the body was I bought on my walk, scratch that….trek back. Why not take a cab? I was so upset at myself, I didn’t want to “cop out”, and take the easy way back.
After showering, a brief nap of an hour. I headed down to the Fiddler’s Elbow(since 1976). Yes, an Irish Pub in Roma. Well they didn’t serve food, however anther Irish Pub down the street and around the corner did. I ate there. Food was fantastic! I had a spaghetti, and a Cremè Carmel for desert. Then it was back to the convent to grab my phone so I could reach the WiFi at the Fiddlers Elbow, where I have spent the last half-hour typing this on my iPhone with one thumb, and one Magners cider. I may have one more before heading back to the convent. Only problem is the Sisters lock the doors at 11 p.m. SHARP!! I may not have Internet while in my dads village. I take a bus from Roma to the village, a little over five hours, then I’ll be back in the families Swiss village early Sunday. The Italian village is so remote only accessible by car or bus. Here’s some pictures from my convent room.

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