Arrivederci Roma - Packing, merlot and Signore Bancomat

It had started out badly from the get-go.  Hustling to catch a taxi to the airport, bags in tow, my pink-sneakered feet splish splashed their way along the pavement, hoping beyond hope to snag that lone speeding cab.

You know the type of day when anything and everything goes awry and nothing goes according to plan.  My, those mischievous travel gremlins were laughing it up at my expense, when they thought it amusing to disrupt my travel plans and cause a bit of havoc and excitement as I attempted to catapult myself to the tarmac on time.  Missing my transatlantic flight would most definitely suck, as I would then have to spend the night snoozing in the airport lounge, un-elegantly sprawled out on the rock hard plastic molds that doubled as chairs, counting out my last remaining coins, in my desperate attempt to score a cappuccino or better yet, a vino, and soak my misery away, as I would then have to figure out an alternate route home. It didn’t help that I had spent every single last bit of change on acquiring that limited edition “soft as butter” bronze hued wallet, the coveted ”to die for” companion to my priceless designer Italian satchel. Like, there was no way that I would even consider selling my “one of a kind” exclusive handbag in order to finance an airplane ticket home, so, being broke and penniless in a foreign airport thousands of miles from home, was not the most desirable situation to want to have to be in.

How did this happen and how did I manage to get myself into this predicament? After all, I had stuck to my age-old travel rules of retiring early the night before and more importantly, of being all packed and ready to go upon waking. Or had I?

Despondent that it was my last night in magnificent Roma, my pink-sneakered feet had reluctantly traipsed back to my slummy hotel (located so far out in the suburbs, it might as well have been situated in Australia -more on that later) “oh so late” as they had scurried about town, snapping photo after photo of anything and everything worthy of digital documentation, acquiring last-minute trinkets, as well as scouring bolted down shops for a couple of bottles of Italian vino, souvenirs for home and for my “packing party” that was to take place later that evening.  Pray tell, what exactly is a “packing party”?  Well, in pink-sneaker terms, it is just that – an event where you have a bit of vino and throw some clothing into your suitcase, have a bit more vino and continue packing until your belongings have been neatly lined up in your carry-on bag and suitcase.  

It’s remarkably amazing how incredibly well packing goes with the help of a glass or two of Italian red wine as it somehow takes the drudgery out of the dreaded task of trying to figure out how to transport all of your shoes, boots and handbags home in just one suitcase. Yup, just one mid-size orange piece of luggage, ready to be hauled half way across the world, preciously holding all of my meticulously searched for valuables. My plan of merlot indulging and suitcase cramming went along swimmingly well, as the usual hours it took to fill my valise ended up taking a lot less time than anticipated, permitting me the luxury of spending the remainder of my evening sipping vino, writing post-cards and day-dreaming about my Italian adventures.

It therefore baffles me that upon waking, my belongings were still strewn about the hotel room, my suitcase only half-packed and the hotel proprietor banging incessantly on the door, screaming (I kid you not) that the taxi had just left without me in it. Yikes!! To make matters worse, my “out in the Italian suburbs”  inn didn’t accept credit card payments, only cash and I was forced to march to the local bancomat – accompanied by the hotel manager - down the street to withdraw some money from a lone graffiti covered bank machine that looked like it had seen better days.  Still haunted by my bancomat escapades in Firenze, I cringed in horror at the possibility of being stranded in suburbia, forced to wash dishes and do laundry as live-in help, until I had earned enough Euros to pay the bill – all because Signore Bancomat refused to spit out a couple of colourful bank notes and grant me access to my cash.  For if the shiny new bank machines in Florence flat out declined my Canadian bank card, I can surely expect much of the same from a random hole in the wall scribble defaced bank machine located in the middle of nowhere.  It therefore both puzzled and shocked me that the banking Gods were in a favourable mood that rainy day, happily spewing out a handful of Euros, thus further perplexing me as I continued to ponder the intricacies of the very mysterious Italian banking system.  Go figure?

Needless to say, my pink-sneakered feet actually hoofed it to the airport in time, as the kind owner of our “random hole in the wall” B & B personally offered to drive me to the airport, so concerned was he that I might miss my flight due to his original miscommunication to me with regards to the hotel’s cash only policy.

Now that’s what made my Italian journey so memorable - random acts of kindness from complete strangers willing to help out a damsel in distress – thus ensuring that a foreign visitor feels welcome and at home in a strange land. In all of my years of travelling, despite having encountered a couple of blips and hurdles along the way, I’ve come to realize that despite our diverse customs, heritage and language, when push comes to shove, we are all united as one.

Arrivederci Roma!!  See you on my next visit!!

Come traipse around Roma with me…you never know what adventures await…

Next week – where do my pink-sneaker footprints end up??

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