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Just not enough dive time.
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We did Rome over Easter and here are my thoughts about the trip in case anyone else is thinking of doing the same.
First off, I'm a fussy old git and I doubt I would ever find perfection in anything, so take that on board straight away.

The arrangements
I booked the trip up using Expedia, return flight via Alitalia, BA was about the same price, I just thought Alitalia being the national carrier might be better (more on that later). Heathrow rather than EasyJet out of Luton/Gatwick as I wanted to do it with a bit of style, Heathrow allowed me to drive us and also book an Exec lounge to get away from all the other people. My wife isnt a good flier and the last thing she needs is a load of other people getting on her wick, the flight was scheduled for 9:30 am outward and 17:10 inbound, unfortunately I couldnt book the exec lounge on the way back. I also chose the better (for us) food option of fruit/veggie instead of fish/curry etc.
The hotel was the 4 star Trilussa Palace in Travestere, a place more suited to locals than tourists (so their website said) and not a chain hotel, I chose a room with AC and breakfast plus Queen sized double bed. This was after all my wifes birthday treat.
I also booked up transport to/from Rome Airport to the Hotel to avoid any further stress inducing worries to jangle the wife's pre-flight nerves.
Everything went extremely smoothly on the Expedia site, flights etc were confirmed (seats to be allocated on arrival/check-in apparently).

The Trip
We arrived at Heathrow, parked teh car, caught the shuttle bus all in good time i.e. 1 3/4 hrs early. Checked in and headed for the departure lounge, passport control etc went smoothly, apart from having to dump a full sealed bottle of water into a bin, new security measues were to blame, not a big deal really but a tad annoying as we were unaware of the restrictions on water. Up to the lounge a nice peacefull wait, it was then I noticed we had different seats, different in as much that they were different rows!!! so much for alloting us our seats on arrival, or even advising us of the seat positions. Wife starts to get very nervous about sitting between 2 people she doesnt even know. I sorted it out on the plane, very kindly a lady allowed us to swap window seats so we ended up in the same row, but I wasnt too impressed with Alitalias idea of seat allocation. One family were seperated by 7 rows. Flight was ok, pre-arranged meal was a figment of my imagination apparently, they only do one breakfast meal, take it or leave it, I left it, so did a lot of other people. They suggested it was for the return flight.
We were met at the airport and ferried to our hotel, be nice though if someone told Italian cab drivers one hand on the wheel is regarded as a UK minimum as is not being on a mobile (not hands free obviously) whilst jesticulating to the other person with the 'spare' hand. Speed is something Italian race drivers do for a living, cab drivers dont need to be quite so fast or cavalier with their charges, I felt we were fortunate to arrive in one piece.
The Hotel is in an area that is Ok, bit of graffitti here and their and not as bad as some of the other areas we sped through on our way in. The room itself was fine and had a lovely bathroom. I couldnt get the AC to work, it was 25c in our room, neither was their any tea/coffee making facilities (which we have come to expect as fairly standard in the UK havent we?) Oh well we werent in the UK so why should we take things for granted. Apparently the AC doesnt get turned on until June/July in most Italian hotels, according to room service anyway, I may check that out later. The Hotel was very close to a bus/tram stop which whilst being perfect for getting around did mean the window in the room had to be left closed at night so we could get to sleep, or might have done had the room not been quite so hot (no AC remember!!). So far I was less than impressed, but just accepted these things happen in Italy and didnt want to spoil the break.

The Visits to the Sites.

Later, need to go to the Dentist to get a broken tooth fixed!!

Matt
 

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Atomic Blonde and Midjit Idjit
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Hi Matt

I hope the rest of your trip got a bit better and that you enjoyed the Travestere area, despite the misgivings with your hotel.

I never did get round to sending you the name of that restaurant :embarassed: so I hope you had some nice meals anyway.

Sorry to hear you've got a bad tooth.

Helen xxx
 

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A Moderate from 04/01/07-24/12/12
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Later, need to go to the Dentist to get a broken tooth fixed!!

Matt

Hi Matt

I had a raging tooth ache all weekend .... held in control with excessive amounts of IBUPROFEN and got an appointment yesterday to start root canal treatment :( & :) all at the same time.

I have no pain today and am a much nicer person to be with.

BTW nice report about Rome ;)

Mal
 

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Hi Matt,

No tea/coffee facilities in rooms is not particularly unusual in many places. It can be annoying, but these things are usually mentioned in brochures/websites.

I don't know how you missed all the news about restrictions on liquids at security. :)

Hope the tooth business goes OK.

Adrian
 

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aka Chimp 1 or Mavis...
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....the flight was scheduled for 9:30 am outward and 17:10 inbound....Flight was ok, pre-arranged meal was a figment of my imagination apparently, they only do one breakfast meal, take it or leave it, I left it, so did a lot of other people. They suggested it was for the return flight.

Matt
Matt, I regularily fly down to Toulouse with BA and for a morning flight all you get is an egg mayonnaise and bacon sandwich and an evening flight is a biscuit! If you are in Club Europe you get a 'proper' meal but then the costs are more than they are worth. I wouldn't be surprised that you didn't get much. Sorry.

I also tick veggie asian meal but that means squat on the short haul flights :)

I also agree with Adrian re: the liquids thing, water is a liquid ;) The galling thing is you can buy the same stuff the other side of the security check!

Hope the tooth gets better soon.
 

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I provide much-needed sarcasm.
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I also agree with Adrian re: the liquids thing, water is a liquid ;) The galling thing is you can buy the same stuff the other side of the security check!
The most annoying thing for me is that despite there being the same restrictions EU wide now, it's only UK airports where there's always a queue. Took 20+ mins at Heathrow on Friday and about 2 mins at Copenhagen on Monday.

Jason
 

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aka Chimp 1 or Mavis...
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The most annoying thing for me is that despite there being the same restrictions EU wide now, it's only UK airports where there's always a queue. Took 20+ mins at Heathrow on Friday and about 2 mins at Copenhagen on Monday.

Jason
Try any late afternoon/evening flight out of Toulouse! 20 mins getting through the officious b*stards there!

Although Salzburg on Saturday was 3-4 mins.
 

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I provide much-needed sarcasm.
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Try any late afternoon/evening flight out of Toulouse! 20 mins getting through the officious b*stards there!

Although Salzburg on Saturday was 3-4 mins.
But at Heathrow it's not because they're officious, it's because they've got about half the staff they need, with half the x-ray machines unmanned. But then what do you expect when one company has more or less got a monopoly in the region.

Bali airport still wins hands down on queues though.

Jason
 

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Finless: You couldn't invent him...
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That was a FOUR STAR hotel? I've been in better guest houses by the sound of it?

Matt, are you trying to tell us ............ or your wife, for that matter, anything by booking a queen size bed?

:angel: :):):)
 

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The most annoying thing for me is that despite there being the same restrictions EU wide now, it's only UK airports where there's always a queue. Took 20+ mins at Heathrow on Friday and about 2 mins at Copenhagen on Monday.

Jason
Last month it was 15 mins at Heathrow and 30 minutes at Geneva :(
 

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Just not enough dive time.
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The Saga continues :)
Day 1 saw us deciding to get a tour bus ticket, hop-on, hop-off thingy, great value at 20 Euros for 48hrs or 16E for 24hrs, we took the 48hr option for the extra 4 Euros. It really allowed us to orientate ourselves around teh city and at the same time work out what we wanted to do and in which priority. To be honest in the time available and our desire to try and chill out we knew werent going to be able to do much in great detail. We wanted to do the Sistine Chapel (doesnt evryone) but worked out at home that a 4hr tour was going to be too much for the wife's back. We jumped off the bus and went to St Peter's sq, tourists everywhere and long long queues. We were approached by a young American guy asking if we wanted a tour of teh museums and the Chapel, you have to do the museums before you can get to the Chapel, cost 25Euro plus 13 admission ticket, everyone has to pay the admission price. Being sceptical I thought it was a scam and he'd take our money and disappear. We were assured that wouldnt be the case, the cash would be collected once we were inside. We accepted that offer. What followed next was worth the 25 on its own, we walked around the block and joined an enormous queue, Michael (our guide) then explained, he'd stay in the queue whilst we went and got some food and drink in a local cafe, he would then send someone when he was almost at the entry point and we'd all join him. It saved us over an hour of queing. He guided us through the museums with great skill, knowledge and humour, the 25E was a bargain. We saw the Sistine Chapel and we were not dissapointed, it is magnificent, the story of how it happened as relayed by Michael was fascinating and the day was a highlight in our lives. Be aware though that although talking and photography is prohibited in the Chapel it would appear that some people can neither read nor hear the recommendation, particularly American and Japanese tourists, despite the guards requesting silence at approxiamately 30 second intervals. Shame.
We also visited the Spanish Steps, Spanish Piazza, the Piazza Popollo, we saw Castle S'Angelo and the Trevi fountain (yes we threw coins in there) and walked around the Coloseum (although we didnt do a tour, perhaps we should have). We toured the city several times on the tour bus and were in awe every time.

Local trams/buses were incredibly cheap at 1E for 75mins travel, compared to London costs anyway.
Food wasnt really a highlight, very plain and broadly the same in every restaurant. Prices varied enourmously and for very little reason really e.g a coffee opposite the Colosuem was 3E but in a back street with little or no view of anything 2E and finally in a cafe apparently in a 'famous' street (not near anywhere I could find in any of my books apart from being famous once in the old days when Italian film starlets might be seen) cost 5E (or a local beer was 8E for a 330ml bottle - Nastro Azzuro).

Piazza Narvona was truly beautifil and had good restaurants, the prices werent too bad either. We had a 2 course meal plus wine for 80E, given the location it seemed about fair. A similar meal in the street previously mentioned was 110E.

The Journey Home.
As expected the taxi to the Airport was manic, slightly less rapid than the inward ride but this time the driver felt it was safe to use two non hands free mobiles simultaneously. Alitalia once again had selected two seats in different rows but the check-in girl sorted that out for us. The pre-arranged meal (the one the inbound flight said would be reserved for the homeward leg) never materialised, why am I not surprised. We got back to Heathrow caught the shuttle bus back to the carpark and found chewing gum had been stuck to the top of my wife's shoes, what a lovely welcome to the UK that would have been for a tourist. We spent 6 days on Italian public transport, never felt threatened (and we accidentally left the City one night to end up miles from anywhere in a dodgy looking suburb), never got any dirt on our clothes or felt we had been overcharged, back in Englan 10mins and had a pair of shoes ruined on what was in effect a private bus service.

Conclusions
Scheduled flights wouldnt seem to be worth the extra expense, there is slightly more leg room, reserved food just doesnt happen and seat allocation isnt even up to a budget airline's standard. The homeward leg was delayed, due to late arrival (I dont think it was actually as we could see the plane ages before take-off) but a new take-off slot was found for us quickly, so we still arrived back in the UK on time, woukd that have happened with EasyJet, who knows. Having flown every weekend for 2 years with budget airlines I dont think they are too bad given the price difference, so its either a budget job or Club class I think if you want to experience a different level of service, Economy is just a tad better than budget.

Summary
All in all I absolutely loved Rome, some small problems existed but they in no way overshadowed the experience, I would go again tomorrow. The hotel was very good really, I would certainly recommend it. Flights - go budget. Get a tour bus ticket. Get a guided tour (but be carefull). Go at Easter time, any later and its going to be too hot/crowded. If you get a chance then do go it will be worth it despite the minor/trivial irritations in my view and I'm a picky old sod.

Matt
 
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