Day One – Rome
With just a few hours in Rome we wanted to pack in as much as possible. Rudy, our tour/driver, arrived at our hotel at 7:30 am. Starting early is the way to beat the crowds. Top sites included the Pantheon, Coliseum, Forum, Vatican square, Jewish Quarter, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Roman baths, aqueducts and yes, 65 Gelato places. (We enjoyed a large scoop at Bar Gelateria adjacent to the Trevi Fountain.) And it wasn’t just the sites, we got a history lesson — the ancient aqueducts are still used today, (you can drink the water from any of the aqueduct fed fountains) the Roman baths were heated and the Coliseum was once covered in marble. We learned that the Romans conquered the Greeks, but Greek culture conquered the Roman culture, politics and architecture. For sure Rome never had any zoning laws–the beautiful and massive Trevi Fountain is closely flanked by apartments and shops and the Pantheon is in the middle of a regular neighborhood. And as we travelled the narrow Roman streets we were forever seeing ruins. In the beginning some seemed like an eyesore, but in Rome it’s ancient history and we soon learned to appreciate the unbelievable past.
And we needed to take a slight detour. Matt’s luggage never made it to Rome. So with Rudy’s help, Amanda, Scott and Matt hit some shops. Rudy pointed them to a street with the best prices. (Sad to say, his dollars still didn’t go very far.) Still needing some necessities, Rudy knew of a cheap, Chinese owned shop at the port. Fifteen minutes later we boarded the ship.
Thank goodness great customer service isn’t dead. Upon hearing about Matt’s luggage’s fate, Holland America, (who was not at all responsible) offered to do his wash for free for the whole cruise, give him a free tux rental, a toiletry kit and made several calls to Alitalia (unfortunately to no avail, but that’s another story). On the topic of customer service, we were aboard ship when hurricane Irene hit the east coast. The ship allowed many people to call home for free to check on their families. Thanks Holland America!