Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September 1st - Arrival in Rome, Italy

Wednesday, after an overnight flight on Delta #168 from JFK airport New York city, and my point of origin - Pittsburgh, PA. We landed at Leonardo Da Vinci airport in Rome, Itay. The flight was smooth but late leaving by 1.5 hours from New York on a Tuesday evening.
I met a number of American-born women married to Italian/American men who were travelling to Rome, Italy and small villages & towns of their husband's ancestral homes. The women were trying to be somewhat fluent in Italian, while the men held little or no interest in learning their native language. Many had been to Italy before, while for others it was their first trip. The next step in entering a foreign country is always and especially Italy is the maneuvering through the Immigration agents. At this time, with the arrival 2-3 flights of people (400-500) were trying to get through all at the same time to three Italian Immigration agents at their booths. Lines formed on all sides of the room, there are no guideposts, there was nor order, it was a free for all. But some left quickly as they read the above lighted sign which said "Members of the Common European Union" glad I figured that out in Italian, so the frustrated Americans became somewhat cooler as myself as it appeared a large portion of the crowd was 'line-jumping.' oops! I made some incorrect judgements there. While standing in line, I met a young family from upstate New York who were travelling compliments of the "Make-a-Wish" Foundation, they were going to be in Rome Italy for a week. I did not inquire about who was experiencing some illness, that could be terminal. This was their first time to Italy,and had some questions that were difficult to answer and give instructions all within 20 minutes while sharing the long line. They were going to be met at the terminal by a guide to get to their hotel and be given some basic facts to survive the city,etc.I have stayed at a small Bed&Breakfast in Ostia-Antica,a family run business from my 1st trip to Italy. It is in the ancient of the Port city of early Roman times, there the ruins are as comparable to Pompeii.I was given instructions to take a COTRAL bus to Lido, and then take the Metro subway 2 stops to Ostia station, to arrive at the Bed&Breakfast. Attempting to carify instructions with the concierge & some waiting passengers (all in my minimal Italain), who gave me too much false information, including there are no buses to Lido, only taxis. I was carrying my printed E-mail instructions from the B&B and I proceeded to follow them to the letter and safely arrived after a fast bus &subway system through the town of Fiumicino. The next feat is to climb & drag your luggage over the blue-metal pedestrian overpass to the B&B which by the way is only 200 metres over the Autostada. At this point it is nearly 1:00pm, I am tired, hungry and very thirsty.
I paused at the Bar/Restaurant at the entrance of the station. I recalled the young owner was named David, with Italian/Australian parents. I now inquired in Italian about David the now former owner. I learned from Alex, a tall Romanian young man, that David is now an owner of a Pizzeria outside of Ostia-Antica.
So I settled at the food bar for a cold ice tea & a hot cheese,Salami Pannini,and to polish it off I bought a Gelato with whipped cream & pistachio nuts on top. I love Italian foods. I love being in Italy. With food for the journey,I made my way over the bridge, and got settled at my B&B. In the evening, I spent time with the owners' son who speaks English, while I am trying to make conversation in Italian, he is indulging me in English. (smiles). tb continued.

September 2010 - 2nd day in Italy
Thursday - awakened @ 6am by a rooster next door to the bed & breakfast, but I fell back to sleep until 8 am. After some breakfast (prima collazione)I walked over to the Post Office to mail some postcards.
I took some light lunch of a soft Italian bun with some cheese, followed by a nice pear.
Then visited the Castle there which was built to protect Pope Julius. This was a free tour, and I was able to converse with the Italian female curator. Met and chatted with a German couple, who knew 'little' Italian.
I visited the Ostia Ruins, and was impressed with remains of site. I met another couple from the USA at the ruins. I took a snack of biscotti and water at the Cafeteria and bought two small 2011 Calendars.
I attended the Messe(Mass) @1800 the local parish,it was the 1st day of Our Lady of Good Counsel festival.The priest was Father Neil, a Phillipino, who spoke fluent Italian. He as been the priest there for 20yrs.
After a dinner at the Barco Restaurant, which was Veal Scallopini, salad and wine, I returned to the Bed & Breakfast to chat with Mauro & Anna. I was able to use the computer of the house too.

Friday September 4, 2010
I slept 12 hours. After breakfast, I left Ostia-Antica by Subway/Train for the Basilica of St. Paul outside of the Wall. While getting off the Escalator and managing my luggage, I fell at the bottom of this fast moving device and received a wound to my left Elbow. Thank goodness for packaging a small First-Aid kit, that I was carrying in the Tourist shoulder bag. OUCH. I recalled minor cuts on arrival to Rome last time and then having to search a Mercato (grocery store) near my hotel to find Band-Aids and the language barrier. Moral of the story: pack a small First_Aid kit.

Well, I finally got to the Basilica which is not far from the subway and little walking.I wanted to visit this Basilica as the last time I was in Rome I did not make to it. After a great tour of the Basilica and staying to pray for awhile, I arrived at the Termini about 4pm. I called Alexius, a gentleman from a the English-speaking Charismatic Prayer Group in Rome, to confirm the 4pm prayer meeting on Sunday.

I bought an Italian Phone card, which took some time to locate a vendor selling them in the Termini station,this was another small time consuming frustrating event. After settling into my Hotel Salus, near the Termini, i returned to eat Dinner in the Termini. After this, I bought a Train ticket for Assisi to depart Rome in the morning.
I called my Wife back in the USA on a credit card to let her know of my safe landing,only to learn back home in the USA, this can be costly. I was not given the 7am wake up call for the morning, thus I hurried to the station without any fluids or breakfast, and missed the morning Train to Assisi, due the fact I read the Platform instructions incorrectly. Well, at least I was not alone in this new venture, because I met a Muslim man, who spoke great English, but not a word of Italian, together we walked back from the long East side platform to the ticket office, to revamp our tickets and get information about the next train to Assisi. This man has studied Law at a university in the state of Washington, and was proceeding onto the University of Perugia the next city to Assisi, his plans are to study International law until the Spring of 2011, and then return to his native country to teach at a university. He was in is 40's,married and with 4 children, living in a family compound in his country of Afghanistan.
Over the next 2 hours, we spent time talking about Muslim tensions with the USA, his Muslim faith, and answering his many questions about Christianity. We finally got our train to Assisi, and sat together only to further our discussions. He pulled out a letter in English with instructions for him on his arrival to Perugia, with some assistance from an Italian teenager , who sat across from us on the train, I engaged him in Italian to be his "guida" (guide) at the stations in Perugia and assist him on arrival to Perugia. We parted at Foligno as I had to change trains for Assisi. My missed train was to be a fast train, having misse it, I was delayed for an earlier arrival to Assisi, to meet my Tour operator there and begin the 8-day Franciscan Contemplative Hermitage trip in and around Assisi. I did arrive about 3pm in Assisi.
On the next train I met a young couple from Oregon, Jessi and Sarah, and David and Janet from Dallas, Texas who were traveling Europe.