I chose to study abroad in France during spring semester 2015. My friend Amanda traveled with me around Europe for our two-week spring break from the University of Bourgogne: Dijon.
On day 10, we flew from Munich, Germany to Rome, Italy. From the airport we took a cheap (five euros each) shuttle bus to a downtown train station. We then tried to buy metro tickets with the wrong type of machine and an Italian girl tried to help us, but then she bugged us for money as we tried to find a booth with people. We asked someone who worked on a platform and he pointed us to a booth and the lady there pointed us to the right type of ticket machines back downstairs. We found a booth there and bought full day metro passes just in case we needed them, because we had a tour booked at 2:30 p.m. and it was already after noon.
Upon arrival at the correct station, we stopped at the information booth for a map of Rome and also for directions to our hotel. Twenty minutes later we found our street, Via del Corso, at the far side of Piazza (Plaza) de Popolo. By the time we saw street number 38 we were confused to not have found our bed-and-breakfast, Corso22.
We entered a hotel to ask for directions, and the female concierge kindly searched the address for us. She sent us in the wrong direction down the entire length of the street, in the blazing sun wearing pants and sweaters and lugging heavy baggage. We stopped twice more at hotels to double check our directions. The last concierge, at the end of the street, number 281, told us our hotel was back near the Popolo Piazza. We hadn’t eaten all day and were sweaty, feeling like we had heat stroke. So, we asked her to call us a cab, a request she obliged, and our male, Italian cab-driver brought us in a large loop, passing wrong-direction one-way streets, back to the front door of our hotel.
There was no sign at 22 Via del Corso and on the wall, beside the tall wooden doors with golden knockers, was a small white note explaining that reception wasn’t open Sunday afternoons, with a phone number for us to contact them. Due to our phones being dead, we had to go into the Lush soap store next-door and ask the very understanding curly blonde-and-aqua-blue haired female employee if we could use the store phone. The hotel management said to wait out front of the hotel because someone (no identifiers mentioned) would be by to let us in five to 10 minutes later.
It was an un-shaded doorstep on which we waited. When almost 20 minutes had passed, Amanda began walking down the street to check prices of a nearby hotel while I watched our bags. Of course, as soon as she was out of sight, blocked by the crowds of people swarming back and forth, the Italian female administrative agent arrived to let us in. Amanda saw this and soon came hurrying back, just in time to grab her luggage and follow the lady into a long, air-conditioned corridor.
At the end of the hall was a set of tight and short staircases, leading up to the hotel office and rooms. The lady gave us a set of keys, demonstrating which keys went with which doors, and let me pay for our stay with my Visa debit card. At this point, Amanda and I had long since missed our tour, so we settled in to contact our mothers. Finally, I changed out of my sweaty and disgusting clothes, while Amanda just stripped down a layer, having worn several.
We walked down our street and through a sort of artsy/folksy festival to the Colosseum. Unfortunately, we went the wrong way around and missed the last entrance time of 6:15 p.m. by one minute. We found a Subway to eat at on our way to the Trevi Fountain: basically an excessively large and ornate cement-marble wishing fountain, which was under construction. There was a topless tunnel over the area which is usually filled with water.
Following the masses through, we headed back down a side-street to our hotel. Before going in, we checked and found that the gelato place across the street would be open until midnight. Amanda and I left again to check out a large bookstore I’d seen, but it was closed. Stopping at the gelato place, I had them break a 50-euro bill by buying five euros worth of five-scoop gelato in a waffle cone. Amanda had hers in a cup and didn’t even finish it! It was a wonderful treat after such a crazy day. I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow.