Rome Italy - Italy / Western Mediterranean Cruise

Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Normally I have oodles of fun preparing for trips - exploring the history of each location, watching every movie I can find set in the location, and so on. But in April 2014 I was completely swamped with work. I'd been swamped for months and months. So this was one of the first trips I'd taken in a long, long time where I barely did any research at all. I didn't choose the tours or investigate or anything. I left all of that to my mom and sister and knew I would enjoy whatever it was we did. I was going to let fate take its course. The travel group my mom went through for all of this was Online Vacations.

So I barely began packing the morning of the flight. I have one big four-wheeled semi-hard-sided luggage which is my staple for traveling - it's the largest allowed size for planes. I also have a four-wheeled laptop case which is my traditional carry-on. I had both of those to nearly their weight limits. I was bringing my laptop, Kindle, two cameras, plus all sorts of other things. I had warned all my editors and other people that I'd be off-line for two weeks. But I did still need to prepare for emergencies. On past trips I'd had to rebuild my forum server from a hotel room in Lviv, Ukraine and fend off hackers while in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean cruising toward Bermuda. So these things can happen.

At around 3:30pm Bob and I headed off toward Logan. He dropped me off, the agent station was completely empty of a line, and as luck had it I ran into my sister at that very moment. So despite coming from different directions we managed to perfectly find each other. It took probably under a minute to be on our way to security.

Italy / Western Mediterranean Cruise Security was really intriguing. Let me try to explain this. In the past I'd seen TV screens with boring videos running on them, for people to watch while waiting in line. The videos would talk about the items one could carry on, what not to carry on, and so on. Few people seemed to watch the video.

They were trying something new. They had a white life-sized cut out of a human being. Projected onto that was a video of a human being talking to you. So it looked as if a real person was standing there talking to you. The person in the video stood perfectly still so their body didn't leave the cut-out shape they were projected onto. The result was fairly creepy but also quite intriguing. It was like an android was there speaking at you. I wondered if people in line tried to talk back to the person.

There was nobody in line, though, which was also great! So we breezed through and soon were at the restaurant, having a pre-flight meal.

Soon we were on the plane, no problems at all. And we took off for London! We were on British Airways and the flight was lovely. My good friend, Peter, had recommended we pre-order the curry and we did. It was delicious. As an added bonus we were served first.

Italy / Western Mediterranean Cruise I would have gotten lost at Heathrow but Jenn kept an eye on me and we ended up in the right place. We had to wait in a large, central area until they decided what gate we should go to. One of the restaurants there was named Giraffe so I took a photo for my friend, Jeanne, who likes giraffes :). They claimed to have wi-fi there but despite trying for most of the layover time, I never got it to work properly. Then we were off again! Another few hours in the air, and we were arriving in Rome!

The Online Vacations people had arranged a shuttle bus between the airport and Rome itself, which is about an hour trip. They said they'd meet us after customs. However, they actually showed up in the baggage claim area. They gathered up a small group of people, and one of those people had lost a bag so the Online Vacations person went off with them to file the proper paperwork, which was good. However, despite us pointing out to them that they had met us in the wrong place, they never went out past customs to look for our missing group members. Finally after an hour we all moved as a group through customs, which was an unmanned set of counters. And, sure enough, some of our group was out there in the outer area, frustrated that they couldn't find us. Still, we all now moved on to the shuttle bus.

The drive into Rome was quite pretty. We eventually got to H10 - the cheaper hotel option where some people were staying. Jenn and I were quite thankful that Mom had upgraded us to the next hotel up. This one was quite far outside the city and also was in a seedy area. We now drove in to our hotel - the Grand Hotel Palatino - which was located only blocks from many of the major attractions. We saw all sorts of beautiful buildings and piazzas on our way in, and finally we were at the hotel.

Check-in was quick and easy, and we went up to our room. Italy / Western Mediterranean Cruise

At this hotel you needed to leave a key card in a wall slot to power all the lights and outlets. All of those turned off once you removed the key card. So things you might want to leave charging would stop charging. We got a room key each, and that way we could leave one in the slot and use the other to go in and out of the room.

We took a nap, and then later on we met up with Mom, Len, and two of their friends, Ron and Ann-Marie, for dinner. We found an open-air restaurant. It was delicious. I had a tomato-with-mozarella salad and then steak in sauce for my main meal. Both were huge, and I couldn't finish it.

Then it was back to the room where we collapsed :).

I only used my Canon S100 (the smaller of my two cameras) today with all the traveling. I took 170 photos.

Italy Flight and Touring Photos - slideshow

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