In at the deep end

Citta di Roma

June 2, 2008

“Err.. Mi… Viagarre… Australia, Via Pakistan, India, Indonesia…” I haltingly explained to the crowd that had gathered to inspect my (somewhat conspicuous) bike.
This drew a rumble of impressed Italian from them, and brought forward a highly tanned biker with a knowledge of English from their midst to translate from me.

We were all stuck there while they attempted to bring down the landing ramp on the ferry from Olbia to Civitavecchia, and while they did so I chatted in what small Italian I could muster and posed for photos.
It was a very strange feeling, something like being a minor celebrity I should imagine; men shook my hand, congratulated me, told me that it’s what they wished they’d done.
I don’t deserve this… All I did was make a decision and follow it through!
Still… The boost to my morale was spectacular…

Eventually somebody arrived with welding gear and after welding.. something we were allowed on, with the assembled bikers at the front of the queue waiting patiently for me to embark first.

It was the slow ferry to Civitavecchia (Rome’s port), though the seven hours of it were interspersed with a myriad of free beers and chocolate from various corners (which was highly appreciated as my budget was, as always, minimal).

As a result of our delay we arrived at 9pm, meaning I had to break my promise to myself not to ride at night.
I rode the SS1 towards Rome, desperately straining in the diminishing light signs of a campsite.
A large sign labelled “Roma” flew by and suddenly I was plunged into suburbs.
“Shit, I’m never going to find a campsite in the middle of Rome”
Another well-lit sign loomed in the distance “Camping Village”.
I pulled up to the reception and after briefly explaining my story to a wide eyed receptionist and walked away with my place booked and the promise of a free beer at the bar as soon as his shift was finished.

The place was unlike any campsite I’ve stayed at before, the bar rivalled anything you’d see in Milton Keynes and was packed full of people.
As I waited I wondered briefly who would come all the way to Rome and then spend the night in the campsite but realised I was there myself so I should shut up.

Free beer! Woo! After more than two weeks of relatively solitary living in Sardegna the busy bar was overwhelming.
My new best friend leaned over and pointed out a beautiful girl over the other side of the bar and confided that he was going over to talk to her.
I shook his hand, “Buona Fortuna!”.
The night went on, and after a few beers I found myself talking to the very girl that he’d pointed out.
I’m embarassed to say I’d rather effectively cock blocked him.
Still, she turned out to be a very friendly American, I think I must have asked her about 6 times where she came from in the US, but me introducing her to Flaming Sambuca rather effectively erased the answer (though I do have a rather detailed map she drew in my notebook!)

The next day after drinking copious amounts of water and eating an entire six pack of croissants secured from the on-site supermarket (this place has everything!) I headed off into Rome to get a photo of me in front of the colosseum!

Good god… Rome is a frightening place to drive around, that is until you get caught up in it.
I blasted through red lights, cut people up, filtered through moving traffic at 30mph and made great use of my extra-loud airhorn.
Nobody batted an eyelid! It was expected, moreover it was what everyone else was doing!
I did tone it down a little after I passed the scene of an (presumably fatal) accident between a car an a scooter however…

After parking next to the colosseum I wandered through Rome, sampling the pizza (which was far nicer than in Sardegna), the ice cream and the beer.
Although full of tourists, it’s a beautiful place, wandering down tiny streets in an attempt to escape the crush resulted almost always in stumbling across a gigantic piece of masonry or marble that had been structurally incorporated into modern buildings…

I’m ashamed to say I’ve taken relatively few photos, somehow the throngs of touristica spoiled the artistic merit…

Still, plenty of time to take photos; all I have to do for today is to book myself into a hostel (as that campsite was fuckin’ expensive) and after that I can wander at will!

Until next time…

  • John

    Sam on the pull surprises me :P

    Sam drinking excessively surprises me more…’s no wonder you couldn’t remember where she was from! (lightweight :P )
    So will the American portion of the trip to go past her house?? ¬¬

  • James

    Good lad, Though i didn´t see any numbers at the end of that post…