The 11th of June technically arrived at midnight as it does and with me sitting at the bar of an Irish pub on the Via Nazionale which is the large and very grand “main street” of Rome and runs down the Quirinale hill. The pub is called the Flann O’Brien and I shall deal with it later when I find the images. The reason I was there was that it seemed to be the only gig in town as the Byron across the road had already shut and it wasn’t even half past midnight yet.
I certainly wasn’t going to go off in search of a nightclub as I did not even do that when I was a young man. I did know a bar called Twins just round the corner that was a great little place during the day and weekday evenings and stayed open until all hours but at the weekends they took into his thump-thump-thump noise which passes for music these days and so that was not an option. Then I had a completely lunatic idea, of which I am frequently capable.
I skulled my pint, bade the barman who actually was a genuine Irishman remarkably, wandered straight across the road to Macdonalds and bought a bag of their appalling food. My feelings about that particular bunch of health bandits are well-known but I has just taken it into my disordered little brain that it would be a fun think to do, eat that garbage in such a high-class hotel with 24 hour room service.
I also made sure the night porter could clearly see it as I bid him a cheery “Ciao” and the look in his face was priceless. It tickled me somehow, sad as that probably is. I also thought it would make a great photo and it was duly taken and displayed for your hopeful amusement here. Obviously, I could not finish it so I binned the remainder and off to my big comfy bed. Lest anyone should ask, no I am not going to write a full review on a Macdonalds!
What happened next was almost inevitable. I arose, performed my ablutions and went straight across the road to the George Byron pub. On the way, I did manage a few more imges of the really rather swanky Quirinale Hotel as displayed above. In my defence I should point out that it was nearly 1400 by that time although that was merely because I had slept in after the night before’s performance! What in the name of everything under the sun was a scruffy yob like me doing here?
According to my trusty little camera I even ate twice that day, a plate of sandwiches that were given to me in the pub whilst watching the football and what looks like a Pizza Romana to me and is a great favourite. I obviously had my “when in Rome” hat on. It looks very nice although I was damned if I can remember eating it when first I wrote this piece. Still it saved the poor cleaners having to fumigate my smelly fast food emporium on the first floor again for which I am sure they were grateful.
If you count the Macdonalds from the previous evening that means I had eaten three times in 24 hours which is more often than I do in a week sometimes.
Nothing much to do today except shift myself to my new place of abode and have a few beers. The former was not going to be a problem as I was inadvertently travelling so light and the little rollalong case, although by now pretty sick, was struggling on manfully. Even if I had to carry it manually I could still do it in temperatures that were getting hotter by the day. Still, I could not complain as I had come South for the heat. The latter task will never be a problem for me!
I did achieve one thing though, whilst looking through the day’s images to compose this piece. I solved the great pizza mysterymentioned above! For anyone just landing on this page there is indeed a better than evens chance that I am crazy but allow me to explain. in the entry for the previous day (remember I am re-hashing this from pieces I wrote for another website over a year ago) I mentioned that I could not remember where I had eaten pizza the night before but when writing this subsequent entry it all came back. It was a place called Restaurant Zeus which was literally bang opposite my hotel and no more than five minutes stumble from any of the three local bars I used to infest. I use the word advisedly!
The walk from one location to the other was no more than ten minutes but it did allow me a glimpse into the sheer beauty that is a sunny day in Rome. I had a feeling I was going to fall in love with the city and so it was to prove.
I had booked into a place called M&J hostel which is very centrally located about five minutes walk from Terminii station which was one of the reasons I chose it. I’ll not go into the ins and outs of it just yet as I like to “keep my powder dry” as they say. I’ll tell you all about it later. Suffice for now to say that I could not check in but the manager / owner or whatever he is and who proved to be a surly bugger at the best of times eventually very graciously agreed even adknowledge my presence (apparently he was training new staff) and to let me leave my small case behind the reception desk so I did not have to sit there all day waiting for him to deign to deal with me..
The images on which I am so reliant when writing blog entries indicate that I appear to have taken myself into a swanky hotel for a drink and probably just to cool off in the air-con. I don’t even recognise it but I do recognise the next place, Guiliani’s which is somewhat of an institution here.
It is rather flash and a place to see and be seen, with prices to match which is why I was very shocked at the absolutely abysmal state of the toilet facilities as I trust the mages show. I have seen tidier in hard rock / bikers bars in the roughest ends of many towns. Utterly disgraceful. On the upside they just keep feeding you the most amaing “bar nibbles” which more than sufficed for lunch for me which offset the inordinate prices somewhat.
After another session of sitting outside another bar I really have no recollection, not because I was drunk but because I didn’t take any images and consequently have no visual frame of reference for the rest of the day so I’ll sign off here.
After moving to the hostel I was going to chill out and do a bit of “light” sightseeing not like the groups of usually unhappy looking Koreans, Chinese, Japanese and Americans (mostly) being hustled along the Roman streets by some idiot waving a flag or an umbrella. It would drive me mad. After that I was going to decide the next move as I knew that time was running and I needed to get to Canada, not yet imperative but I was aiming for later that month or early July as I thought that was when the Canadian “season” started weatherwise.
Everything changed dramatically when I met Mauro!
One day in mid June I was walking past his little gastronomia and fancied a coffee so in I went and ordered one (in Italian, it is only two words of two syllables each which is about all I can master) and he immediately said to me in very good English, “are you English?” and I explained that I wasn’t but I lived there whereupon we took to chatting. He had sussed me that quickly. He speaks excellent English as he lived in London for a couple of years and within a few days we had become friends. He really is a lovely bloke and I’ll go further into details in the next journal entry.
The upshot of the whole thing was that I got into one of my travel ruts. It was just so pleasant to sit there all day drinking Moretti beer, reading the newspaper and chatting that I quickly lost all impetus to move so I didn’t. I refer to it as travel inertia as I have mentioned before. Napoli and Sicilia will just have to wait for another time.
Much more of Rome to come so stay tuned and spread the word.