The following post, and all subsequent posts on Rome, are excerpted from my paper journal. I arrived back in the USA safe and sound on July 31.
I arrived in Rome with little difficulty. The only hassle was the change in the luggage limit to 33 to 20K in Kiev. I was a little bitter about the extra charge, but there was no way around it, except to abandon a good chunk of my cloths at the airport, which I was unprepared to do. The six hour layover seemed interminable, but in the end, I suppose it could have been much worse.
The airport shuttle driver drove me around a bit on the way to the hotel and gave me a good view of the Papal Square. The center of the city is beautiful. I was surprised at the amount of graffiti, however; it is everywhere and on everything.
I am staying at the Hotel Gambrinus, which is very nice. The room is small and the bed is passable. I don’t intend to spend much time there, so that should not matter much.
After settling in at the hotel and a quick dinner at the hotel restaurant (Lasagna Bolognese- the best I ever had!) I went for a late night walk. The first stop was the Spanish Steps, which are stunning. There is a view of St. Peter’s from the top. Huge crowds of people were just hanging out, singing, laughing; you had to maneuver around them to walk down. A fountain at the bottom was very crowded with people drinking and filling water bottles.
From the Steps, I wandered to the Trevi Fountain. The fountain is breathtaking; photos do not do it justice. Again, there are big crowds of people, taking in the sight. The amount of water running from the fountain is amazing, all the more impressive because of its age. The sculpture work is beautifully done, especially how the building melts into the fountain.
From Trevi, I walked to the Tritone Fountain, which was pretty desolate and anticlimactic after the last two stops, but impressive nonetheless.
My general impressions of Rome after a late night walk—Rome is a beautiful city. It is showing a little wear and tear but has a real majesty. There are many public fountains, 4-500 years old, which still work and provide cool, clean water to the tourists and locals. The inscriptions are in Latin, so I will have some practice while I am here.