|Boarding Flight in Helsinki|
Oh man! Finally on my train to Naples, but not without a few bumps along the way. As far as my flight, it went great. Interestingly both at Helsinki and in Rome we got on and off via an outside ramp and then shuttled to the airport. I was impressed with Finnar. Even though it was only a three hour flight, they fed us lunch, tea, and chocolate. More than what I would expect from the average US flight. We even got in a little early, and it wasn't long until I had my baggage and was off to the Leonardo Express to Rome. Although I had previously purchased my ticket for an hour later, I was permitted to travel on an earlier train. The Leonardo Express was a very nice ride. It gave me a quick view of the Italian countryside and city. Four things, make that five things popped out immediately. 1) There is A LOT of graffiti everywhere and on everything. 2) The Italians are certainly not Dutch or German! Particularly in respect to neatness and cleanliness. 3) Italians appear to love their plants. Almost every apartment has plants, trees, vines, etc. covering their small porches. 4) Italians appear to love warm colors. Nearly all of the buildings are shades of yellow, orange, brown, and red. Very few of the cooler colors. 5) The relationship between ancient and modern go hand in hand. The old has been adapted, built around, or incorporated altogether into everyday life. Some of the old looks stately, but a good deal looks trashy.
Although got an early train from the airport, there was no way to change my ticket from the Roma Termini to an earlier train (even though there were plenty of empty seats). Not only was I now over an hour early for my train, but it was also running late. With lots of people coming and going (not all travelers), and I a tourist with all my luggage, I didn't really want to go do any exploring. Particularly with Rome's notorious pick-pocketing thieves. ... One little story from earlier. There was a boy at the baggage claim who was very excited about having arrived in Rome, but his fascination was on Rome's notorious pick-pocket experts. He kept walking around his parents and siblings, pick-pocketing their luggage telling them "Rome is for pick-pocketing," "You better watch your luggage!" "Oh, you lost your [water bottle], better be more careful!" and the like. Although kind of funny, it was a reality reminder that Rome is not a place to let one's guard down.
|Roma Termini with "less" people :)|
Back at the train station I found a spot away from the crowds where I could watch the billboards for my train. While there I had a couple people come up and ask me questions. Although I have no idea what they were asking, as I don't speak Italian, they were certainly did not appear to be reputable individuals. One was asking for change, another to sell me something, and another upon discovering I did not speak Italian asked it if I spoke Duetch (German), I replied "English" at that he shrugged his shoulders and walked off. In each instance I kept my distance and my eyes keen on any motions near my luggage. Paranoid, probably. But I wanted to be safe than sorry. Thankfully there were no problems. Finally when the train did arrive close to 10:00 PM, the coach car that I was supposed to be in was locked. Thankfully, I wasn't the only one, but as I do not know the language, I could not understand the instructions in which I was supposed to do. Rather than complicating matters by trying to clarify, I just acted confidently and went and found an open seat near the middle of the train. Now I'm waiting for my arrival at Napoli Central (Naples). Hopefully this transition will go a bit smoother than the lost one. :) I guess these are some of experience that come with a good bargain. While waiting on my train at Roma Termini, I looked up the cost of an earlier train: over six time what I paid for mine. On a more positive side, I think I've figured out the basics of the Roman train system ~ we'll see how well I do when I go to Pompeii tomorrow. Oddly enough, it's about halfway into my train ride, and they still haven't checked my ticket. Perhaps they don't care who's on at this hour of the night.
After thirty seven hours with only a few hours of sleep, I'm ready to find my hotel for the night! Perhaps when I find internet I can find an Italian/English translation app. :)
Note to Self: airports ate a bad place to exchange one's money. I knew this, but my other options weren't better. ! I had read banks are the best place to exchange one's money, but most banks will only do transactions with their customers (at least that's what I read before coming.) At Helsinki I only exchanged a little bit as they were seven cents higher than the current exchange rate. Then in Rome, I needed to exchange a little bit more, but the airport was now twelve cents above the current exchange rate! Although good for now, I'll be keeping my eye out for a better deal. The best so far has actually been the train station where it was six cents above the current exchange rate.
|Hotel Ideal (in the distance - next day)|
Update: Little over halfway and after several stops, there was a gentleman who came through and checked our tickets. Upon arriving at the Napoli train station, I quickly found my hotel and checked in. The doors were already locked, but I had messaged ahead that I would be in late, so they had someone waiting for me. After deciphering his Italian/English and with a few corrections, I was glad to settle into my bright orange room. My first item of business was to find a location in the hotel where I could connect to the internet to message back home to let Ruth know I had made it in safely. I found enough signal one floor down and a few rooms over. ... One thing the pictures cannot tell is the noise level (or at night, the lack of it). Italians do not seem to use much if any air-conditioning or fans, so the hotel was dead quiet. Something like when the power would go out in the dorms and you can hear every noise across several rooms if not the whole floor. Soon enough I was sound asleep awaiting the next day's sightseeing.
|Finland from the Air - lots of Islands!|
|Dinner on Airline - Very similar to the lunch I bought at the|
airport, except mine was in a sandwich. It was something like
egg salad and coleslaw mixed together. The one at the airport
had a little bit of spice to it.
|Coast of Poland|
|Italian Countryside - getting ready to land!|
|And yes, I have a bidet ;)|
|Room at Hotel Ideal|
|Room at Hotel Ideal|