I had a lazy day in Rome today after a crazy morning.
This morning, I was scheduled to take the 5:45 am shuttle from the hotel to the Tel Aviv Airport. I dutifully set the alarm on my iPad, which had not failed me thus far. However, when I went to bed, the iPad had only 7% left on the battery. That should be enough, yes?
When I woke up, it didn't take me long to realize it was too light for 5:15 am. Panic! Yet with some vestige of hope, I raced to get dressed and get out the door.
I should explain that yesterday, the hotel explained to me that it was in a jam with an incoming group, and would I be willing to take a room in a nearby guest house to help them out. Since the whole three week program had been such a bargain, I said sure. However, when I sought out my new lodgings yesterday afternoon, they didn't know anything about it! Uh-oh... But after a call back to the hotel where I'd been, we straightened it out, and now I would be staying at another nearby guesthouse--this one closer than the other. This will figure in the ensuing story...
When I got down to the desk, I could see it was around 6:20 am. Too late! In any case, I raced up the hill to the hotel, to see what my options where. When I got there, the clerk was a little grumpy; "we called for you; where were you?" It turns out whoever wrote the note on where I was staying, didn't update it with the last minute change. Still, it wasn't their fault, but mine. I was apologetic. He made a call, and even though I don't know but maybe four words of Arabic, the voice on the other line sounded grumpy, too. But it turned out to be the same shuttle service--which was slated to gather up a group starting at 6:45, and I could be on that.
But would that be enough time? I'd booked the 5:45 am shuttle because I was aiming for a 9:25 am departure from Tel Aviv, about an hour's drive--and then there was all the usual airport stuff, complicated by an international departure. The night clerk didn't think it likely. But I double-checked my ticket: my departure was at 10:25! I had my hour back!
Well, the shuttle was late, and then we had an adventure collecting all our passengers, but I'm going to leave all that aside. We got to the airport in time. The Israeli security was a pleasure compared with the mess we have in the U.S. They didn't degrade me the way my own government routinely degrades everyone who passes through American "security," but they did ask me a bunch of questions (which I'd heard about), but it was polite and I think effective. That is to say, had I lied, I think the agents were trained to pick that up. And let's be very frank: the Israelis are smart enough to see that a chubby, middle-aged white American -- however he's dressed -- is extremely unlikely to be a threat.
OK, enough on that or I'll spoil my good mood.
So the whole airport-and-flight business was fine. I even had reasonable leg-room! Viva Alitalia! I arrived in Rome (the passport ritual was so brief I wonder why they bother, but hey, it's Italy!) and then a driver was waiting for me with a paper bearing my name! Yep--today I was one of those people! And in a trice he was whisking me toward the Eternal City, and up the Janiculum Hill to the North American College, overlooking Saint Peter's Piazza. And outside my window, even after dark, I can espy the distinctive shapes of Roman pine and cypress trees in the garden.
Well, I sat down to rest a bit, and browse a bit online; and to my surprise, the afternoon passed rather more quickly than I expected. It was after 6 pm, and yo tengo hambre! The priest who welcomed me let me know there were some cold cuts in the fridge, but this is Roma! I can do better!
So I got a shower, got dressed, and set off on foot to prowl about the Janiculum Hill. Nothing much up here; so I walked down the hill into Trestavere, and found a place called "DivinPeccato." OK, I'm not defending the name, but it had a nice picture of Pope John Paul II inside. I sat down, and the young lady behind the bar waited on me. I decided this was the time to let the restaurant pick--because, after all, this is Rome! So for me, she picked: Coratella as an antipasto, and then Cacio e pepe as a pasta plate, plus some Chianti. I kinda knew what the antipasto was when I ordered it, but took refuge in my uncertainty; a good thing, because I'd never have ordered it had I known! But it was good, as was the pasta, although I'd have liked a bit more pepper on it.
After a good meal, I trudged back up the hill; and now, after writing this, I think I'll go see if any of the blood oranges they had earlier are left.