Hi — I really enjoyed the interview that you did with your friend, but, pardon my asking, what was the point? While it was clever and interesting, I don’t know what I was supposed to get out of it. Please don’t take my criticism as rudeness. I’m genuinely curious.
First, dear reader, I am not offended by your email or question. Second, you gave me an idea for a great post!
I think that a common theme can be seen from my interview with Daniel and that is this: Rome is a big place, there are thousands of things to see and do, and you are not going to be able to do them all in six or seven days. You won’t be able to do them all in two weeks. My interview with
Daniel showed that you will not be able to see it all.
Also, Daniel did something that many travelers do not: plan.
Some people feel that planning takes away the spontaneity of travel. Sure, you have a point, but this is Rome! And there has to be at least one thing that you want to see while you’re there: the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, a particular museum? Whatever it is — plan to see it! If you are going to Rome during a particularly busy time (such as the summer, Easter, Christmas holiday), it will take time to get through lines and waiting at some monuments and museums can take a few hours. Waiting to enter many popular museums and sites might be the norm, especially during the peak seasons (summer months, Easter, etc.). Plan your trip in such a way that you do not spend large chunks of your time simply standing around doing nothing. Even if you abhor turning your trip into one long itinerary, take the time to plan, and you’ll be able to see the things that you want.
Daniel was also smart because he did not expect to see everything in Rome. I always like to tell people that Rome was not built in a day, and you certainly should not expect to see it all in one, either. It is just too big, has too many wonderful things to see, and it would completely ruin your trip to speed your way through the city and all it has to offer. You would have to get back on the bus or metro almost immediately after arriving at a place that you would never be able to enjoy anything! Picking a few things to see and then making side stops along the way is more enjoyable, and it also allows you to see things that you might not have planned to see. Let serendipity be your friend. Also, you certainly do not want the pain in your feet or your blisters to be the highlight of your vacation!
Another important piece of information we learned from Daniel is to be prepared. Daniel had a fine time in Rome even without the bus schedule. If you plan to use public transport, take the time to study it and use it to your advantage. Even Daniel admitted that he wished he had a bus schedule and knew it better — he might have done and seen more.
Daniel’s choice of breakfast also demonstrated something important: even though Italians and Germans live on the same continent, there are still a lot of differences, especially when it comes to eating breakfast and finding a place for lunch. This confuses many travelers who head to Rome, especially those of us who eat when the Italians do not. Consider taking snacks with you as you walk about the city. There are supermarkets all over Rome as well as street vendors who will be more than willing to sell you some fruit, juice, nuts, candy bars and whatever else you may wish to munch on.
If a cornetto and espresso is not enough for you at breakfast, don’t be shy about ordering something that will keep you full and energized. Rome is best seen on foot, so you will need a lot of energy for all that walking! But remember that in Italy, especially in the warmer months, the dinner hour can begin as late at 9:00 PM. Be flexible in your eating habits if you can!
Oh, and remember Daniel’s quip about how he couldn’t throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain because he had spent it all on bread? In Italy, a coperto is a surcharge that you pay when you go to any restaurant and it covers the bread/breadsticks, table coverings as well as the glasses, the water and other incidentals. It’s pretty hard to avoid, but many restaurants state the coperto outside so you know what you’re paying for. Even if you do not eat it, you are still going to be charged for it. It’s how restaurants work in Italy, and I do not think that there is much one can do. Make sure you check your bill carefully. In the past, some unscrupulous restaurateur have gouged unsuspecting tourists, so it never hurts to take a quick look at the bill before you pay.
And finally, the Italian language! Daniel speaks English, German and Spanish fluently, so he has an advantage over many of us who simply struggle with their native language. Even with the little Italian he knew, Daniel still managed to get around, order food and have a wonderful time in Rome — and so can you!
As I always say, turn lemons into limoncello and accentuate the positives! No vacation will be absolutely perfect, and there are going to be times when you will just have to let the waters of Rome roll off your back. You will have a better trip for it!
Coming soon: look for a review of the Rome mTrip app!