Monday, May 07, 2007

Roman Holiday


The trip to Rome was everything we hoped it would be. Exciting, relaxing, romantic. Having never been there before, Michael and I followed a tourist-by-numbers outline, featuring a coin toss and a wish at the Trevi Fountain (it totally worked, Troy was alive and well when we returned!), a wing and a prayer at the Vatican, a guided tour of the Forum and the Colosieum, some clothes shopping and hanging out on the Spanish Steps by moonlight. Along with these typical activities, we did manage to stumble upon a few fun and unexpected things, like the Keats-Shelley House on the Piazza di Spagna, where the likes of Byron, the Brownings, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Oscar Wilde and James Joyce were known to hang out, finding inspiration in celebrated "centro storico." The house is said to be just as it was when John Keats traveled to Rome to spend what were to be the last few months of his life in a vain attempt to stave off the inevitable effects of consumption. Nearby we had our first real Roman dinner at the wonderful Fiaschetteria, a place recommended by a friend. I had pasta alla amatriciana, something I'd never even heard of before (bacon in tomato sauce? sign me up!). Everything was so delicious, from the bread to the antipasti to the wine. (Little did we realize that by Day 4 the mere sight of pasta and pizza would start to make us physically ill. How much of that stuff can one person eat?! And do these people ever stop eating gelato??? What's the big deal anyway? It seemed just like ice cream to me, which also doesn't excite me! But anyway.)

Then on Wednesday night I had the (tennis) thrill of a lifetime when we were sitting in our favorite cafe (read: we freak creatures of habit had already found a place to go three times a day while we were in town) when I noticed someone who I said "looks just like Roger Federer." Michael quickly -- and astutely -- said to me, "That is Roger Federer, you idiot!" Next thing I know I see his girlfriend Mirka and some other guy walk by too. Of course, it's the one night I didn't bother bringing my camera with me, so after quickly combing the streets to see if anyone was selling disposable ones I realized desperate times called for desperate measures. Next thing I know I got this crazy taxi driver -- who just happened to be the first Italian I encountered who didn't speak perfect English -- to take me to my hotel (in the pouring rain, going 60 kph) and back in record time ... just in time to run into Roger on his way out after a late dinner (he must have just gotten there following his exhibition with Nadal in Spain). He was gracious (don't be fooled by the "perturbed" look on his face in the photo with me, but why does he seem so much happier to be around Michael????). And unlike most famous people, he's every bit as tall and sturdy as his official profile claims ...

Despite a couple of minor things with waiters trying to pull one over on us, by and large, everyone is Rome was really friendly. Ironically, things got a little ugly with the Micks when we were checking in at the airport at the Aer Lingus counter and the inexperienced young ticket agent became flustered with our itineraries and eventually threw our passports back to us and told us we'd have to let one of the other women check us in. It was all very strange and she didn't really communicate what was going on. We were the first people in line for check-in but by the time this chick fiddled around at the computer for nine hours we suddenly realized there were nearly a hundred people in line behind us. When we attempted to move to another agent -- as we had been told to do -- the Irish crowd got hostile toward us and this Maureen O'Hara lookalike started pressuring her husband to physically stop us from "cutting" in front of them (his elbowing Michael only served to make things worse). When Michael and I wouldn't back down, explaining to her that we had been there long before them and that the agent had told us we were next, things got even more tense as Maureen began explaining to us that she "didn't like" our "attitude." ("We have a flight to catch," she exclaimed, as if we were there to hang out.) When Michael shot back that we were all going to the same place (our layover was in Dublin) and that he didn't appreciate her husband's elbow in his side she went crazy SCREAMING at Michael to "JUST SHUT UP!!!! SHUT UP!!!!!"
Next thing we know the whole crowd is weighing in on the "fight" and I hear whispers of "Of course the Americans think they should go first" -- never mind the fact that we HAD GOTTEN THERE FIRST. It was all rather comical given the fact that Michael and I both think of ourselves as being so "Irish," yet we quickly realized they all thought of us as being anything but. It all blew over when we finally got checked in, but as we were getting off the plane in Dublin we could see and hear this group of passengers pointing at us and saying, "There's those Americans!" They were right, though. They all went home and we got on our connecting flight to JFK. Americans, indeed. Now would somebody please give me a drink with more than one goddamn ice cube in it!!!

13 comments:

CJ said...

Sounds as if you had a great time. Dam so much trouble for a pic. Thats my luck the one time I don't have my camera and someones not wearing panties.
Great story about the airport confrontation.
What did the waiters do to you? No daily specials?

DWQ Online said...

Go Americans. :) LOL

Great pics, funny stories. Sounds like a blast.

Tightrope Walker said...

Glad you liked Rome. As a Roman who lived in Dublin (and now lives in the US), your Aer Lingus experience brought back a few memories.
BTW - gelato and ice cream ARE the same stuff and you find great ice cream here. Yet if you make Amatriciana at home use "pancetta", not bacon ;-)

David said...

It was many years ago, but eating gelato in Italy for the first time was like discovering a new world, so much better than American ice cream. But recently I think the US has greatly improved their ice cream so it probably matches Italy in deliciousness.

You had your picture taken with Roger Federer. I would have done the same thing.

Ed said...

Sounds like a great time. Rome is definitely on our "to do" list (as well a few other places in Italy)! So jealous about Federer... the somewhat snarly look only makes him sexier... haha... though glad to hear he was nice, I would have hated to have my illusion of him be wrong.

Danny said...

First, So happy that Troy is looking/feeling better, for however long it is. Second, so happy to hear about your fun times in Rome because I'M going to Italy for two weeks in Sept/Oct for my 40th birthday... I want SPECIFIC details/advice for my 2 or 3 days in Rome!!
By the by, always have your camera with you on trips. You need a thin, non obtrusive one that fits in a pocket. It always happens, that one time you don't have it! Just sayin' all...

J. David Zacko-Smith said...

Cool! That's almost as good as the time I sat next to Chris Evert and Andy Mill in first class on my way from LA to NYC - we talked for hours. I also met Andre Agassi years ago at a dinner in Manhattan (my cousin's company, Smith-Barney, used to get a box at the US Open and we got invited to everything).

Sean said...

Please tell me Roger smells good. He always does in my fantasy, where we meet and he asks if I want to be his hitting partner. I'm not sure if he means that as a double entendre, but I always say yes.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you guys had a great time.

Nice Pics

Anonymous said...

I am glad you guys were able to have a great time on vacation together.

Rome, Italy what a nice place for vacation with that special someone. I am so jealous Kenneth.

john v. said...

Enjoyed reading about your vacation and so glad you guys got to go on a "real vacation!" I'm so happy Troy is doing better!! Please pet him, scratch behind his ears and hug him for me!

Anonymous said...

Kenneth,
You always seem to sneer in your pictures. Are you not happy taking photos?

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous.

I have never met anyone that likes to have his picture taken more than Kennethinethe212. "Take my picture Michael!"

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