We made it! We are on the ground in Rome and we’ve already been fleeced as tourists even though we were on hyper-alert. I had to laugh at what easy targets we made, despite being “seasoned” travelers. It happened right at the airport, when I went to a special counter to buy tickets for the train that goes from the airport to the central train station in Rome. From there, we had planned to take a taxi to the hotel. Total cost should have been no more than 36 Euro. First mistake: not buying the tickets from an “official” bigliettiere and/or an automated kiosk. Here’s how the conversation went.
Me: Due biglietti a Leonardo da Vinci Express, per favore.
Agent man (answering straight back in English): If you want to take the train, you can wait 30 minutes, OR you can take a shuttle bus that will leave in only 10 minutes and set you right by the taxi stand and metro entrance. If you take the train, you will need to walk 1 kilometer to reach either.
Me: How much does the bus cost?
Agent man: 15 Euro per person.
Me: That costs more than the train.
Agent man: Yes, but you are in a much better position once you reach the station.
Me (to Phil): You know, if we’re going to do that, it’s only 15 extra Euro to take a taxi straight to our hotel. They have a fixed fare of 50 Euro.
Agent man: Just so you know all of your options, I can have the driver drop you off right at your hotel for 40 Euros total. No extra charge.
We agree and immediately regret it. As we’re walking away, I suggest to Phil that Mr. Agent Man is probably getting a commission for every bus fare he brings in. We proceed to wait until AFTER the Leonardo da Vinci train comes and goes, and then pile into a van with 8 other people. Luckily, Phil and I were in the very front, so we had the added benefit of riding right in the rear end of every vehicle that was in front of us (although truthfully I’ve experienced much crazier driving in both Greece and Paris, so that part was a bit of a letdown). We drive right by our hotel and proceed first to the train station to drop everyone else off. Then we circle back to our hotel. The driver carries our bags 10 steps to the gate of the hotel, stops, and makes it clear he’s waiting for a tip. We have no small change. I ask, “Cambio per venti Euro?” which translates roughly to, “Do you have change for a twenty?” He takes the 20, gives us 10 back and walks away. Total cost of the trip = 50 Euros. Same as if we’d had a private taxi all to ourselves direct from the airport to our hotel.
But you know, I didn’t really mind. It just means we’re really in Italy, where “getting taken for a ride” is both literal and figurative, and I AM SO GLAD TO FINALLY BE HERE!!!
Another mistake we made: expecting to find lunch at 3:00. When are we going to learn that you cannot eat in the Mediterranean between the hours of 3:00 and 7:00 p.m.? Same thing happened in Athens when we went looking for an early dinner on our first night at 5:00 and people laughed in our faces.
Luckily, I came up with a perfect solution. Eat GELATO for lunch! So I had my first taste of the “real McCoy” gelato and it was orgasmic (pardon my explicit description but it’s the only word that will do – trust me).
Ciao for now – back soon. 😉Categories: Italy, Travel · Tags: Gelato, Italy, Rome, Tourist Trap, Travel