A wee bit of catching up to do...
Had a lovely time for the remaining part of our stay in Edinburgh. Wednesday saw us perusing the Royal mile and doing some shopping and then I had the great pleasure in catching up with some friends from my hockey days; and fabulous it was too. Mum had a well deserved quiet night relaxing at our accommodation. NB the addition of the tram network to Edinburgh is causing amazing upheaval and opinion seems to be mixed if it is good thing or not. Thursday was another shopping day; unfortunately coupled with quite a lot of rain. We both got a bit wet, but it wasn't overly cold. We met with Kathryn, an old workmate, for lunch and then I headed to catch up with Lindsey, Gabriella and David at their place. Met up with Mum at our changed accommodation, close to the airport, and we had a room service dinner (and very nice it was too). After dinner I had a very nice but quick catch up with Zoe who had arrived in town on her way south the next morning.
It was lovely to be in Edinburgh again. It all seemed very familiar, even if it has been 7 years since I
last lived there. We didn't do too much sightseeing; although the sights are all around you naturally with Arthur's seat, Edinburgh Castle, monuments, fountains and many lovely old buildings. A shame it wasn't better weather, but it was actually nice to be a bit cooler for a couple of days (who would have thought we would have been saying that in the UK!).
Forgot to say; we had breakfast in town on day 2 with Mum pleased to see a Flat White on the coffee menu, and so she duly ordered it. We were amazed to see someone had ordered a red wine (given it was 10.30 am). We were more amazed when it was delivered to our table! It would appear Flat White and Red Wine sounded the same to our waitress (day 3 in her new job). I had wondered why she looked startled when Mum asked what size (coffee) they had, and before the slightly confused waitress could answer, said "I'll have a large". The delivery of the red wine explained all.
So... after a 4am wake up on Friday for our 6.30 flight, we arrived to 29 degrees in Rome. Our B&B had arranged a pick up at the airport (worth every cent) so we got to our excellent accommodation quite quickly. An interesting experience in the Rome traffic to say the least and incredible to be driving in part of the way on the Via Appia Antica (started in 312 BC), past the Caracella baths, past Circus Massimo and over the Tiber before reaching our accommodation (behind Castel Sant' Angelo and near St Peters). A rather frazzled introduction to Rome for Mum. We settled into our accommodation and tried to have a bit of a relax, but Mum was keen to head out. We had decided on an open top bus tour as a less tiring introduction to Italy. Unfortunately the high heat and the battle through the many people to head towards St Peters, where we were to catch our bus (it was a holiday), didn't aid that relaxed start. Eventually we did get on the bus, only to have to get off as they didn't accept cards for payment! So we got on a second bus with cash this time and and made a better go of that attempt. Needless to say it was HOT on the bus even upstairs in the open air (quite humid weather). We didn't do any hopping off as just wanted to get a feel for the key sights in the city. And amazing it was too. Mum has decided she needs another word for describing Rome, as there is so much to see and take in. Quite overwhelming at times.
We came back to our accomm for a relax and in the early evening wandered toward Campo Dei Fiori for dinner. About 20 minutes away at the most. We had a very enjoyable meal and a lovely wander back again via Piazza Navona (where my favourite fountain is).
Day 2 in Rome was another very warm day. This was a public holiday so masses of people everywhere. We walked to the Pantheon (an incredible building) and on to the Trevi Fountain (so many people we quickly moved on). Stopped for Mum's first coffee in Italy, and good it was too. Then we found my favourite gelateria (perfect weather for ice cream). Apparently Pope John Paul used to get his ice cream from here. We wandered back to our accommodation to get out of the heat and relax. Early evening we walked along to Trastevere for a peak into Santa Maria in Trastevere and then searched for a place for dinner. Thought we had made our selection and sat down, but on reflection the surly and ungracious waiter changd our minds for us and we left for a cheap and cheerful pizzeria. Mum in Italian ordered a glass of house wine however it would appear they don't serve only glasses of wine and bought out a half-litre instead. She gave a gasp as it arrived! Needless to say she did not finish it; it was awful! :-). With renewed energy we wandered further afield after dinner to Largo di Torre Argentina; this houses 4 temples which were re-discovered in 1929 when some major building works were taking place. Julius Caesar was killed in the theatre also located in this area. Needless to say the building works came to a halt and instead you can just wander around looking down atnthe ruins. After that we continued on back past the Pantheon again viewing Bernini's elephant on the way and further on toward our accommodation. A good evening's walk.
Day 3 we visited ancient Rome along with 10,000 other people. We made the quick decision to buy our tickets at the Forum (which used to be free but now is part of the ticket for the Colusseum and Palatine Hill). So we queued for about 5 minutes and then wandered around centuries old buildings, temples etc. just astounding the layers of history enveloped in this small area. Buildings were here in the 8th century BC and continued to be built for centuries beyond. We had a look at a display of glass, some of which dated back to a similar time as the buildings with large numbers from 1st and 2nd centuries BC and AD. It was at this point Mum made the comment about a new word rather than amazing! We continued to wander the forum then walked around to the Colosseum for a pause in the shade. Then we experienced the joy of skipping a 2+ hour long queue for tickets at the Colosseum, and went into the ticket holder queue and were soon inside. It was just unbelievable that 50,000 spectators would amass here for events. We didn't stay too long as again, it was HOT, and instead hopped back on the metro for a relax and cool off in our air conditioned accomm. Watched the Jubilee regatta on the Thames and then walked along to the Spanish Steps for dinner and of course some people watching. Huge numbers on the steps and in town. We took a long walk back via Piazza del Popolo and are now safely home and slightly weary underfoot (walked at least 8km today).
The availability of fresh water all arond Rome is great. Lovely and cool and tastes wondereful. I showed Mum the trick of putting your finger over the tap end, so the water comes out a small hole on the top to create a drinking fountain. It was clear Mum had remembered this as I stood 10 feet behind her and got splashed with a strong jet of water coming from the top of the tap and which she proceeded to drink from (shooting excellent quantities of water into and around her mouth). Thankfully it was only me nearly in the firing line as there were about 20 or so people in the vicinity each one to a man staring in astonishment at both Mum and I as we erupted into laughter. We are of course having a most fabulous time.