If you're planning to come to Europe any time soon, bring only black clothes. We first noticed this funeral look in Munich and figured that it might be a northern Europe thing, but even here in Rome, everyone wears black, all black. A woman might have a bright scarf wrapped around her neck and a very daring man might have a gray coat, but that's about it. At home I feel like a conservative dresser, but with my soft pink shirt and Ken's yellow one, we stood out like two tropical flowers.
Nevertheless we were surprised how often people came up to us asking for directions. Some of them even spoke Italian. Rome is a city of tourists, no matter what the season. Some are here for religious reasons; others because it is one of the most famous cities in the world. Justly so – you can hardly turn a corner without coming to an amazing church, Roman ruin, magnificent plaza.
Because we have been here a few times but a long time ago, we thought we would revisit some of the “must sees.” It's easy to take a tour, but they are quite expensive for those with flabby US dollars. The names of many of the major sites are familiar, so we decided to buy a three day metro pass and go it alone. These days it's so easy to research the sites both before and after a visit via the web. There are only two major metro lines. It is very difficult for the Romans to build anything below ground, because they are always running into ruins, so building the metro is slow going. Each stop on the line is near major tourist attractions, so we decided to ride to the massive Piazza Popolo and work our way back to the hotel, riding and walking.
We didn't go inside any museums. It was so much fun to linger and people watch. Even the tiny little cars double parked and up on the sidewalk were interesting. Every time we got close to a major sight, the Trevi Fountain for example, the crowd thickened and we knew we were getting close to something important without even looking at the map. The Spanish Steps were a surprise. In the summer they are bright and colorful, covered with flower pots. Today they were as gray and drab as the people climbing them. As we climbed, we noticed that they were covered with a model of the Berlin Wall, commemorating the recent twentieth anniversary of the fall.
Eventually our feet gave out and we boarded the "hop on, hop off" bus and rode up top. Few people joined us outside in the breeze. The temperatures are in the 60's, but for many of these folks that's cold enough to wear down jackets, snow boots, and gloves. There are many more Asian looking people here than we remember from before and in many cases they are doing the sorts of jobs you might stereotypically find Mexicans doing in the US. They tend to be especially bundled up.
After an affordable lunch at McDonald's which we never patronize at home, we ate a pasta dinner at a local neighborhood spot. As McDonald's we also could use the bathroom for free; later on in the day we had to pay $1 for the pleasure. For dinner we had two pastas, shared a salad, had water and coffee and paid $75. We are thankful that our hotel comes with a decent breakfast although coffee, a necessity in the morning is not included. The breakfast room is about the size of our RV and the preparation area is within it. The largest thing in the room is the coffee machine, much larger than the frig or microwave. Perhaps we are helping to pay for this monstrosity. We are thankful we are getting on the cruise ship soon.