European Adventures, Honeymoon Day 4 – The Colosseum & Navigating Rome While Handicapped – Chapter 5
For previous honeymoon posts, click on the links below:
Chapter 1 – Arriving in Rome & Wedding Memories
Chapter 2 – The Vatican
Chapter 3 – The Sunset Bus Tours
Chapter 4 – Downtown Rome and a Scary Experience
A quick note for anyone that hasn’t read previous chapters, the information is broken up because of journal entries written while on the trip. Anything quoted was written while traveling, and usually written the day after the events, so when you’re reading it in past tense, it’s not as strange as it sounds. I’m really happy that I kept a journal as we traveled, it reminds me of things that I might have forgotten. As we get ready to embark on another big trip, I purchased journals both for myself and for Kaden. It is an amazing way to jot down little memories from the trip, the little things that get lost in our memories, but add so much!
September 19, 2011
Well, we are on the ship! So much has happened in 24 hours! But I will get back to the story in Rome. OUR story in Rome, our honeymoon story!
So, I was in immense pain, injured at the hotel. And it’s our last day in Rome, and I can’t walk. Awesome, right? I woke up and cried again… so upset with myself for ruining this trip not just for myself, but for Tom as well. I kept apologizing and he kept stopping me, and after a few minutes of emotions and him comforting me, we decided to make the most of our last day. I started using the hotel wifi to Google how to see Rome in a wheelchair. After all, most cities in the US have ample handicapped accessibilities built into everything. Rome has to have citizens that are handicapped too, right? Yeah, not so much. This city was built so long ago, it’s not exactly accessible. Caesar didn’t have to deal with the ADA and regulations, right? So no such luck. While I was trying to figure out how to hobble around the city, I was more and more discouraged. I tried to grin and bear it, but not only was the physical pain bad, but I was upset that my stupid ankle gave out while we were half a world away from home. I sighed and tried to make the best of things – it happened, there was nothing that could be changed now, and I didn’t want to lose anymore time. We hobbled down to get some breakfast, with Tom’s help. Breakfast was in the basement of the hotel, and the lift (elevator) didn’t go to the basement. That was a rather interesting trip. I really thought that I was going to have to sit on my butt to get down the stairs, and images of toddlers going up and down the stairs in my mind didn’t help. But we made it!
We were both starving because we didn’t have any dinner the night before, so we sat with my foot propped up and relaxed for awhile. After the trip down the stairs, I was in no rush to go back upstairs, so we lingered for a little bit. The breakfast at the hotel was so good, I was perfectly happy to sit there and enjoy myself for a little bit. I realized we couldn’t sit there all day though, so we made our way back up the stairs – again, a trip that took entirely too long for my tastes. We got back up to the room and Tom got me all set up with my Nook and ice on my ankle, and then he went out to find a drugstore. Before he left, we tried to translate phrases that he might need. It was SO tempting to translate funny things for him to mess with him, but I knew that wouldn’t go over very well, so I behaved myself. We were trying to figure out the best way to explain what had happened to the pharmacist. It turned out that the guys at the front desk were definitely more reliable with translation than Google translate. Paolo & Benny at the front desk at the hotel was amazing! They were football players – and in Europe, football means soccer – and told Tom that they sprained their ankles all the time. They recommended a specific cream with painkillers in it that would help the swelling, wrote it on a business card, and sent Tom on his way. Luckily, all of the drugstores – farmacias – are marked with a big green cross over the door, usually lit with neon lights. I have dealt with sprained ankles before, and at home, I use an air cast. In Rome though, the pharmacist didn’t appreciate Google’s translation of air cast. He told Tom it was wrong. No offer of corrections or help, he just kept repeating that it was wrong. I guess they don’t have air casts in Italy. Although later on the boat, one of the directors had one, so I’m not sure where she got it. Tom came back with some very expensive ibuprofen and an ace bandage, unable to find the cream.
We took a little nap and relaxed for a bit, hoping that the swelling would go down. I read to Tom about the Colosseum and Roman Forum, since we missed the tour. The rocks in a field. We fell asleep for another siesta and woke up wanting and NEEDING to get out of the room. Tom helped me down to the computer to book our train tickets while he went back out to another farmacia to find the special cream. This time when he came back, he was carrying the cream, and crutches. *sigh* I was NOT happy to be on crutches on my honeymoon. How messed up is that, who DOES that, really!? The crutches were a lifesaver though, I didn’t even think of them. When I first saw them, the feelings of frustration flooded over me again, until I started using them. I was SO grateful to have them, and Tom was happy to have me mobile again. I was upset at having missed the Colosseum tour, and my chance to take a picture that I had wanted to take for SO long, so we decided to give it another shot. We walked to our spot (Forno Feliziano) to have some lunch, which was a bit of a spectacle in crutches. Remember how I said that Rome isn’t exactly handicapped accessible? Cobblestone streets and teeny tiny sidewalks aren’t exactly conducive to a woman on crutches either. But it worked. Thus began our last night in Rome.
Pizza & a sandwich at our spot. A happy place. We were out of the room and out and about again, not all was lost.
Tom was now officially in love with prosciutto. He at it on everything. And the somewhat odd norm of American music, punctuated with Italian commentary, continued. Get this – we enjoyed our meal not to the sounds of beautiful Italian music, but to Bruce Springsteen. Oh yeah, BORN IN THE USA. It cracked me up to be sitting in this beautiful restaurant that was a local hangout and NOT a tourist attraction, and hear that song. Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake were popular in Italy as well. For all of the art that is born in Italy, I guess music isn’t a strength. I really loved Forno Feliziano. It was truly OUR spot.
We decided to take the Metro for the first time to the Colosseum because the station was close. Remember, I’m the awesome chick that looked super sexy on crutches, so distance was a concern at this point. So the metro should be pretty easy, right? Again – handicapped accessible entrances and options are everywhere here, especially with public transportation. WRONG. The Metro meant 10 flights of stairs at Ottaviano. I’m not even exaggerating, TEN FLIGHTS. I’m pretty sure everyone behind me was rather annoyed. No, scratch that, they were downright angry because I was so slow down the stairs. Ouch. We finally got to the train and a very polite Roman woman offered me her seat. I guess not everyone hated me. We rode the VERY full train to Termini to switch trains – another four flights of stairs that were not anticipated. Yay! It was definitely an adventure. Finally we arrived at Colosseo and climbed even MORE stairs to get to the straight. At the time I wasn’t happy about the stairs, but when we arrived outside and saw the Colosseum in front of us, I was SO glad we went back.
PS – you will notice that you won’t see crutches in the photos… I was so upset about having to have them that I insisted they not be in any pictures.
We walked (hobbled) around the Colosseum to look for the best angle to get the photo that I wanted so much. We walked around the entire thing. Think about that for a moment… THE ENTIRE BUILDING. Again in hindsight, not the brightest idea ever, but the photographer in me was winning out over the common sense and pain in my ankle. I was pretty pleased with myself and was getting to be VERY good on my crutches. And of course, what does everyone do when they’re walking around the entire Colosseum on crutches? SHOPPING! The Romans know where the tourists flock, and they want to make sure you go home with every souvenir you could possible dream of. I found a dagger for Tom – a gladiator knife for his man cave – and a gladiator helmet for Kaden. Priorities, ya know. The sun set and we got some amazing shots. The angles that I wanted were of course, not at my eye level. So I was holding myself up with one crutch, and trying to lean over with the other, while holding my camera with a VERY heavy and large lens on. I kept my strap around my neck just in case the camera fell, but Tom was more worried about me falling, and would stand wherever I was leaning. I’m sure he was slightly freaking out that I was positioning myself in the ways that I was, but he knew that was an argument he wouldn’t win. I wanted my photo, and nothing was going to stop me from getting it. We came all the way back to the Colosseum just to get it, and damnit if I wasn’t going to get the angle I wanted!
When the pain started to get worse, we hailed a taxi back to the hotel. I didn’t think I could do another 15 flights of stairs, especially not after the excursions of the day. Tom didn’t trust taxis anymore, but we figured it out and had a great driver this time.
Our last night in Rome was amazing, in spite of my ankle. We even took some time to just sit at the base of the Colosseum under the lights, to take everything in. Maybe it’s because we didn’t really go “clubbing,” but Rome was so calm at night. The noise of the tourists and traffic settled down, and the lights were beautiful. St. Peter’s at night was a happy place, and the Colosseum at night was another. I told Tom that we should definitely make out, and he said no. This time, I knew this was an argument that I wouldn’t win, so I settled for some kisses while sitting in one of the arches of the Colosseum, surrounded by beautiful lights and history. When we got back to the hotel, hunger hit us, HARD. We didn’t want to walk anywhere though, I was still in quite a bit of pain. Plus, I STILL hadn’t tried Limoncello yet. A MUST in Rome, right?! So we went to the hotel bar.
Definitely another experience that I wasn’t used to. I’m used to larger restaurants with a separate kitchen. The bar was completely full – all four tables. Benny was our server and he was crazy busy. I think he just had a couple of hot plates behind the bar – there wasn’t a separate kitchen. He was SO much fun and nice, we were teasing him about ice buckets and he was such a good sport. At one point he said that he was going to have to get his Jets to help him… we about died laughing. It was like we were sitting in a restaurant with a group of friends. We talked with the other guests and had a relaxed evening, complete with more spaghetti carbonara – Tom’s new favorite. With prosciutto of course!
Here are some random memories of Rome that I jotted down, things that I don’t want to forget:
- The Russians that took our spot on the open bus – how rude!
- American music all over – the Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga & Cyndi Lauper.
- The very stinky man selling purses that wanted to follow me to the ATM – a little creepy.
- Tom’s “20 gallons” of beer at the Trevi fountain. I couldn’t help it, that was the only size they had! And it wasn’t 20 gallons, Mr. Drama.
- Waiting 20-30 minutes for our check at Roman cafes – everything was a little slower, it took some getting used to.
- Pasta is not a meal there, it is the first course. Our servers were always disappointed because after pasta, we were full!
- The cab driver that took advantage of us – jerk!
- STRONG coffee at breakfast. Tom’s grandpa says “that’ll put hair on your chest” – not sure how I feel about that.
- Instant coffee everywhere – what is it with Europeans and instant coffee?
- Our charming neighbors next door at the hotel talking about the bidet – “a clean ass is a happy ass.”
- The very clueless British woman asking our Vatican tour guide of Michaelangelo was gay because the Sistine Chapel people were “so muscular.” The look on Mariachi’s face was hilarious.
- Ringtones on cell phones all sounded like circus music
- I told Tom I couldn’t shave because the shower was so small – he said I answered one of the great questions of the world – why European women don’t shave. TINY showers!
- My awesome super-safe husband that drives like a grandpa in Roman traffic, I thought he might have a heart attack from being a passenger.
- I’m so proud that I never said “when in Rome…” even though it would have been totally funny.
- Pop – soda – Coke – Sprite – whatever you call it – is not near as sweet in Rome.
- The super scary lobsters that were still alive at the restaurant and calling out for help.
- Nutella EVERYWHERE. In individual packets, perfect for putting into your camera bag and licking later. Not that I would do that. Sure.
- Smart street salesmen – wraps at the Vatican to cover your heads, umbrellas for the top of the bus in the sun – they KNEW what you needed and cashed in!
- Gelato for the first time after St. Peter’s at night. Coconut was unbelievably yummy!
Chapter 6 coming soon – boarding the ship!