Dad was on his last ounce of energy when we finally stumbled into our hotel last night. It was a long train ride, followed by another train ride, followed by a taxi to the hotel. We’ve made this mistake two years in a row now: booking a hotel near the airport rather than next to a metro station. I followed this up with another mistake. I scheduled our flight to leave at 7pm today not at 7am. I must not have been paying attention when I booked the flights. So there we were this morning at a hotel 5 kilometres from the airport with nothing around us and an entire day tragically looking like it’d be lost to boredom. Of course, we could take a cab into the metro and then the metro into Rome and then a train back to the airport but all this would cost quite a bit and probably lead to my dad’s early demise. What would we do with our bags? We could go spend the entire day hanging out at the airport! Please, anything but that.So, late last night I decided to rent a car. I could run to the airport in the morning (it is only 5k) pick up the car and we could do a little exploring. This would solve the luggage problem as well as keep me from walking dad to death. I dragged myself out of bed this morning and set out to run to the airport. I took my passport, driver’s license and credit card (I booked the car online the night before). I felt impressed to take along a few coins. Maybe I could buy a water at the airport. The run was going pretty well for the first 3k. Then I came to the bridge spanning a little river I don’t recall the name of. There was no sidewalk. A giant 4 lane overpass with no sidewalks and absolutely no shoulder. Dang it!
I ran around the approach to the bridge several times looking for a way across on foot. Nothing! I checked my Google Maps again and scrolled up and down the water way. Nothing! What idiot builds a massive multi-million dollar bridge with no way to cross on foot. You sir or madame are a jerk of the highest order but I forgive you… only because I have to. I thought about giving up and heading back to the hotel. It was 3k to the bridge and I’d covered another 3.5k running around looking for a way across that did not involve becoming road kill. I started looking for people to ask directions from. I love Europeans and their multi-lingual abilities. My entire Italian vocabulary consists of: grazie, prego, sucsimi, bonjourno and ciao (thank you, please, excuse me, hello and goodbye). After a couple conversations (and silent prayers) I learned that a city bus could take me across the bridge for a few coins (glad I brought that change with me). I had to find the bus stop and I had to wait 20 minutes to catch it but awesome! I’d googled it the day before but the local bus schedule is not in Google Maps (giving me the impression there was no city bus to the airport).
I rented a little 2-door Fiat 500. Europeans like their manual transmissions it seems. The last time I drove a stick was in London. I’m not going to lie. I stalled it a couple times but may have also had a little fun on the winding Italian roads. The Romans sure built some great roads. It’s too bad that they haven’t repaired them since the empire fell! The worst roads I’ve ever driven on. Worse than Prince George even.
We drove down to the beach in Ostia, rolled the windows down and cruised the coastal road with the music from my iPod humming in the background. We found a public beach and walked down to the water. A beautifully warm November day. I removed my shoes and waded in the cool waves of the Mediterranean. Sadly the beach reminded me of the UAE, a filthy mess. Rome is essentially an open garbage can and it seems to be the same here. The beach was pretty bad. Despite this there were several people enjoying the day. Kids were playing tag on the beach, lovers making out in the sand, deeply leather browned sun bathers worked on their cancer.
Once we had enough of the beach we decided to take a road trip down to the coastal city of Anzio. The road follows the coast closely in that direction. We took our time and drove with the windows down. Dad snapped pictures from the moving vehicle and I expertly avoided the car sized potholes. We stopped at a gas station in Anzio and got a few snacks. Then it was back to the airport to wish Italy goodbye. Turns out our flight has been delayed several hours. We’ll roll into Delhi about 9am and I’ll go straight to a long board meeting. I may be a little sleep deprived when I write next. Should make for an interesting read.