Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Fairly Atraumatic Journey

Sorry it's taken me so long to start posting again, but I only got back from Rome on Saturday, and I've spent most of my time since then uploading some of my holiday snaps to Flickr, sad git that I am.

We flew on Czech Airlines to Rome via Prague. We chose Czech Airlines because they were cheap, but I did have slight concerns about boarding the plane and finding propellors attached to the wings. I was very pleasantly surprised: the plane looked like any other Boeing 7whatever I had travelled in, the food was marginally better than average, and there was only a slight delay in our departure for Prague. I've never been to Eastern Europe, and I had visions of Prague Airport being like something out of a John le Carre novel! It is, in fact, a small but expanding international airport with better facilities than many I've visited.

Rome Airport was also a lot posher and better organised than I expected from our previous visit 5 years ago. Our suitcase actually arrived, and we didn't have to wait too long for it. We stepped onto a train that left immediately for Termini Station. After the customary attempt by the taxi driver to rip us off for the short journey to our hotel, we ventured onto the streets of Rome for the first time.

Driving, or being driven, in Rome is a frightening experience for the uninitiated. The streets are extremely noisy: often for no apparent reason. There are hundreds of scooters, and a growing number of tiny cars, not all of which are made by Smart. There don't seem to be any lanes, as such: cars going in roughly the same direction appear to flow (albeit somewhat turbulently) like fish in a shoal. Assertiveness is the order of the day, for only the strong survive (or at least accumulate the fewist dents)! Cars are parked on every available space: and some that aren't really available. If you leave too much of a gap between you and the guy in front, some smartass will stick a scooter or a Smart car in it!

We finally arrived at our hotel, which was supposed to be much fancier than those we usually use, and imagine my astonishment to find that it was. Blimey, I thought, if this carries on I'll have nothing to whinge about!