14th April 2013
· Started the journey with the 3 am Lufthansa flight from Bangalore to Frankfurt. First time in my flying experience I got some sleep during the flight (instead of watching as many movies as I can) because I do not have time for that once I land.
· Landed in Frankfurt at 9 am local time. The scenery before the landing was very picturesque. It looked like a valley with settlements in groups. I couldn’t get my camera (phone) for some pictures. After a leisure stroll through security check and passport verification (they stamp on the EU visa) came to the boarding point to Rome flight. Completed the book Salvation of a Saint (a Japanese thriller) which I had got in Bangalore.
· Started from Frankfurt to Rome at around 12.30 am local time. When we arrived in Frankfurt it was so cold, I had to wear my jacket. But by the time the flight was half way through to Rome, it became quite hot. Got to see the Swiss Alps from the flight. God…what a sight it was. It was like watching the opposite of Grand Canyon. Snow covered peaks everywhere. It was magnificent.
· Landed in Roma, Italy at 2.30 pm local time. Baggage collection took an awful lot of time. One sad thing that happened was that in the flight they gave us snacks (a sandwich) but it was a non-veg one with Chicken and cheese. So all I could get hold of was a cup of coffee and some apple juice. I had booked a taxi to my hotel online that way I had less pressure when I landed in this new place. Thankfully my taxi person was waiting with my name written on it and I can bet that he cannot even pronounce first half of it correctly and guess what he can speak only little English , so the whole taxi trip was a very quite one..
· The route to the hotel reminded me of SFO… small roads, cars parked on both sides, ups and downs, regular traffic signals etc… Except that there were no sign boards in English and since it was Sunday it was almost empty and so I could get to the hotel in almost 30 mins. The taxi rate is around 60 Euros. Tipping is expected.
· Pineta Palace, the allotted hotel as part of the tour is a small hotel with small rooms (so small that I couldn’t fit myself comfortably in the shower room…and in the bed, all I could was lie on one side…thank fully I was the only one using the room so I clubbed both the beds together to get more space). There is no free wifi (extra charge of 10 Euro’s for 24 hrs.) But the position of the hotel is so secluded, it is very serene. I got a balcony in my room. I guess all of them have it. I could see the neighbor’s balcony. Thankfully, no one was occupying that room. It had centralized A/c. The outside temperature was around 21 degree C so it was quite warm, but by the time the day started to end, it got colder and colder.
· Since I was very hungry, I went to the lounge bar for some snacks. Ordered a cappuccino and a pizza Margherita (Do you know that Pizza Margherita became popular in Italy after it was prepared by Napolitans, people of Naples, in honor of Queen Margherita of Rome with the pizza showing the flag of Italy i.e, tomato, cheese and basil for red, white and green …) and guess what.. the pizza was big enough for four people.. good god….now I am stuffed till the morning breakfast.
· Met the tour director (a young Croatian woman around late twenties to mid thirties) in the lobby at 6 pm. She explained the details of the tour especially the ones that will be done in Rome for now and the rest will be explained as and when we go. Seems like we will be covering around 4000 kms by bus. Got introduced to very two cute old ladies. One is a New Zealander and the other is a Scottish but settled in New Zealand. They are touring this on their own. Seemed like around 65+ or so. I liked them instantly. I am not sure of whom else I would get to meet, because most of them have come in groups. Also saw a Srilankan family of 5 people. Need to get ready for breakfast at 6.30 am tomorrow. The tour starts tomorrow around 7.15 am. Pretty early start as we have only tomorrow for the whole of Rome. Let us see how it goes. Even though I slept well in the flight, I am still beat. It’s better that I get my beauty sleep otherwise I might not be fully conscious for the things that I will be seeing tomorrow. The excitement begins.