I knew five minutes into our three hour guided tour of the Vatican, that I wasn't in the right place. Ju had booked the tour from NZ. It's something she'd always wanted to do. Last time I had been in Rome I'd deliberately worn shorts so as to be rejected at the door. This time I was in longs, and I got to hear about the Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Painters and Pope's who have lived here for 1000 years. It all went over my head, except the part where one Pope cut off the genitalia of all the naked statues. My eyes watered. At least we were part of a small group, and were able to sneak past the huge queues. Wow. This is the off season and it was crowded. I'd hate to be here in July.
I really enjoyed the stroll back to the hotel, following our noses through narrow streets, and happening upon interesting
Piazza and activities. Not for me the following of the tourists bible....the Lonely Planet.
I had deliberately got out of Rome after getting my USA visa. I wanted to share the sights with Ju, and I needed to get away from the crowds. The plan had been to visit Cassino, as 18th Feb was some sort of anniversary of NZ troops fighting there. But I got sick, and stumbled upon the Wiki Hostel. What a fortuitous find. So relaxed, quiet, lovely staff, and in a really lovely setting. And only minutes walk from an ancient city, which was tourist free, and from a railway station, if you really needed to visit Rome. There were only a few guests, but they were all very interesting.... the Canadian teacher on half term break from her Windsor school, the German Musician, who spoke unaccented English, having a week away, and the Mexican, and Italian, and English, and Austrian volunteers working at the hostel. Check out the websites: Wiki Hostel.net, Noborderonlus.org, enjoyroma.eu, and enjoyitalia.eu.
But the highlight of the week, no the month, nope the last several months, was meeting Ju at the airport. It's amazing how fast the last months, that I've been counting down, have gone, compared with the time between her plane landing, and the lady herself appearing through immigration...... but I was still smiling. I knew she had bought me Marmite, (and bike parts, and Squirt Lube, and new glasses from Shatksy's, and new ExPed mattress from Bivouac ). But she was knackered. Thirty plus hours flying can do that. We spent the next three days seeing Rome, and I was smiling the whole time, because I got to share the experience......
Fiona went in for service. Ju's bike got rebuilt. We ate at really expensive resturants. Ju drank wine. We stayed in a nice hotel, with really pleasant staff, thank you Livia. And then we jumped on our bikes and rode through the morning traffic, until we found a cycle way along the river Tiba, that took us out of the city. Our first day on the bikes, following a busy country road, up along a ridgeline, with amazing views over surrounding valleys, and hill top villages, ended with an adorable campsite next to a river. I'm back doing what I really enjoy, and I'm sharing the experience with someone I love. Yep. I'm smiling.