Today was kind of a mix bag of activities. After an early breakfast, I enjoyed the quietness that exists in Vernazza before all the tourists congregate in the streets. Once the internet cafe opened, I uploaded yesterdays posting then grabbed my backpack and headed off to the train station for my trip to Rome.
The first hop was just a short one from Vernazza to La Spezia. At La Spezia I caught another train that took me all the way to Rome. At La Spezia I tried to reserve a seat on the train to Rome, but couldn't. The woman at the ticket window didn't speak that much English and the two intercom system didn't work that great, so I don't know if it's because you couldn't reserve any seats on that train, or because there were none that can be reserved left. I met up with other tourists in the same situation, yet we all managed to get on the train and make it to our destinations. When the rail attendant came by during the journey I showed him my rail pass and he was satisfied with that.
While I was at the train station I ran into that Australian couple who were on their way to Cinque Terre the same time as me. They ended up having to get accommodations in a small place south of La Spezia, making it a bit inconvenient to visit Cinque Terre to the north of La Spezia.
My train to Rome was rather uneventful. I met some more Australians on the way to Pisa and then had some quiet time for the rest of trip to Rome. On the way to Pisa I shared a cabin with a woman from Australia and her son, who was about 12. They were about one month into their own 2 month trip through Europe and were on their way to Pisa to meet up with her husband. He couldn't get the whole two months off work, so he was coming in to join them for two weeks. They will be visiting Pisa, Florence, and then Cinque Terre together (they have reservations for Cinque Terre!).
Once I got to Rome I immediately started hunting for some accommodations, which I learnt is a BIG problem at this time of the year. All of the Rick Steves' picks where basically booked solid and so was almost every other place I walked into. I did manage to get a real nice room for tonight at one of the places co-located with one of Rick's picks and have another place, an 'apartment', lined up for the next 3 nights. I was not able to see to second place that I will be staying at, but I'm quite sure it won't be as nice as what I have for the first night. This place is huge, about 3 to 4 times anything I had so far, with a king size bed, coach, and satellite access for the plasma TV. What is surprising is that it's cheaper then what I had in Paris and the price includes breakfast.
It took quite some time to find the apartment I will be staying at tomorrow. The girl at the hotel here found me one place nearby, but it was way over priced, so I went hunting on my own. I checked almost every hotel I encountered as I walked from the north east area of central Rome to the south west near the Coliseum and it wasn't until I got down near the Coliseum that I finally found something.
From this experience and that in Cinque Terre, it's clear that this is not the time of the year to visiting Italy without a reservation. I really wanted to stay in Rome 5 nights, to give me an opportunity to do a quick day trip down to Naples and Pompeii, but that was not possible. The best I could do was 4 nights total. Apparently there's some big military parade on Friday and because of that it will be impossible to find a room for Thursday night.
I haven't made up my mind were I'm going next, but it looks like I will be heading north because this area and anything further south is already in the middle of their peak tourist season.
Here's a few pictures from today.
In case you didn't believe how many cats are around Vernazza, here's another couple pictures of a few more just hanging around like me waiting for the internet cafe to open.
That's right, once the internet cafe opens a few of these guys will wander inside and take up a quieter place to sleep under the counter. The stairs to the left of the internet cafe, where the cats are currently hanging out, is the start of that huge climb up to my room. It's also the start of the trail that goes south to Corniglia and the one I did yesterday up the hill behind Vernazza.
Someone asked me how it can be 103 steps up to my room. This picture should give you some idea. As mentioned above, the climb starts down by the internet cafe, just to the left of where this picture is taken, and it makes its way up through that gap between the buildings in the top and center of the picture, then it turns left and goes up even more. My room is slightly above and to the left of this picture. So you see, from the other side the buildings didn't look that high, but from this side they are stacked almost like lego bricks up the side of the hill.
The building below the clock tower is the local church.
Here's what it looks like in the church.
One last picture of Vernazza before heading off to Rome. Here we see some early morning activity in the harbour. Someone was wondering if the water body along the coast near here is more correctly called the Tyrrhenian Sea. From my map it could be. The label closest to the area is the Mediterranean Sea and a bit further south below La Spezia and Pisa it shows the label for the Tyrrhenian Sea, so I'm not sure which is more proper to use. The water near the town is crystal clear and you can easily the bottom and fish swimming around but you can also see a bunch of trash. I don't know if that trash washed up from far away or if it originated locally, either by tourists along the coast or those riding in the boats, but it's kind of a mess - as nice as the place is it is not perfect.
On my way to Rome I didn't take many pictures. That's because I spent the first part of the trip talking with the mother and son from Australia and the rest trip reading and trying to make plans for after Rome. The only noteworthy picture I did take was this one of a farmer raking hay. I thought it was interesting because he seemed to be going about it just like the farmers back in Saskatchewan do.
After finding the apartment I will be staying in tomorrow I was right next the coliseum, so I took the opportunity to visit the area.
This is the Arch of Constantine that honours Emperor Constantine who legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire.
This is the Arch of Titus that honours when Rome put down the Jewish revolt in Jerusalem in 71.