My tips-list will follow after the short story to give you some idea of what happened to me on my first day in Rome. Here it is.
Benvenuti a Roma!
Should I start from that I woke up at 2 am that morning or from my arrival to the destination? ..The latter is better.
Ok, so thank God, I had enough of common sense to print out my reservation confirmation before the flight – it had the address on it. When I arrived in Rome, I realized that neither my Russian nor Finnish simcard does work in Italy. As you can probably guess my Internet and GPS were dead too, so I had to search for my “shelter” the traditional way: when I arrived at Basilica San Paolo metro station, I bought a map of Rome and went outside the metro.
I felt helpless, to be honest. I was so lost and exhausted – that day, about a thousand times I regretted that I’m not a backpacker and that I have to drag my luggage with me the whole time.
Searching for the bnb
As I came out and spread the papermap to find my bnb on it, I could not concentrate… Maybe because I needed some glucose to recharge my brain, maybe just because didn’t sleep enough the past night. Feeling disperata I started asking passers-by if they knew where my street is located. Some of them spoke English, some of them didn’t; anyway, everybody “Google-mapped” the location and told me to go either “a destra, a destra” or “a sinistra“. After numerous attempts I realized it’s not helping.
It was getting a bit chilly cause the sun has already began to go down. I stopped and unzipped my case to take out the coat. “I may be lost, but I don’t want to get cold too” I thought. Zipped my burden back – “ok, now, all set. Let’s go.”
I walked straight until the intersection. “What now?” ….
“Ok, let’s stop another stranger.”
– Scusi, parli ingliesi?
He says something that I think is not even Italian.
– Ahah, sure! How can I help you?
Ten minutes later we are following his phone’s directions. (Let’s call him “a kind stranger). The kind stranger is now carrying my luggage, so I finally feel like a proper backpacker; not that it would suddenly transform me into an experienced traveller but I certainly feel much lighter, both literally and figuratively.
Because my new friend’s phone is especially slow, we find the place only after an hour. During that time, we also decide to stop by the WIND store to purchase a functioning simcard for me. I think I bought the least profitable simcard you can imagine: it’s valid the whole month and activates itself only after one or two hours. Anyway, I pay my 25 euros hoping it’s not a waste and I will be able to call home to say I’m fine (yes, totally).
So, yeah, 6pm, we are standing in front of my bnb. I’m pressing the bell-button…
Suddenly, one of the dwellers comes out the entrance door. My friend/interpreter explains him the situation in Italian and the guy generously lets us in.
As you can guess, nobody’s behind the door. We try phonecall. Just useless. From now on, I count every minute because if I don’t act fast, I may end up in I don’t know where. Seriously, nothing like this has happened to me earlier. I’m 4000 km away from my home, I’m hungry, tired, homeless and the only acquintance I have is the guy that met only few hours ago. I have to say though, that no matter how much I feared to trust my stranger, I actually did – he was helping me out the whole evening, plus we were chatting, which, quite well, kept me busy and didn’t let me freak out.
We go downstaires and encounter another dweller of this house. He gives me a sympathizing look and suggests a hotel nearbly.
40 more minutes and we find the hotel. The San Paolo Hotel looks very nice and when I come in, my thoughts take over the reality and I imagine myself jumping into a soft fluffy bed…
– “Sorry, we have no free rooms for tonight” says the receptionist.
– Can you call the hotels around and ask if they have?
It takes me somewhat 20 minutes to understand that if I don’t take the room for 90 € per night, I’ll have to continue searching.
– Tell them I’ll come.
Now, we go back to subway to take a train to the neighbouring station Piramide – there should be my new “home” for tonight. It’s already dark. We cross the street, like typical Italians would, on a red light. I see some construction rising up – that’s the Piramide. Looks very ancient. No wonder, it was built 12 BC…
The next thing I see is a little park on the left surrounded by a fence, on the right, on the other side of the road lots of pink trees. It’s funny how absent-minded I become seeing all those things. I suddenly find that I’m enjoying this.
My companion tells me this is the area known for good clubs. “Yeah, totally suits me” I grin. On the turn a destra, I see a hotel…
Because you already see the subheading below, this story is coming to an end. The hotel I saw was mine. We came there at 9-10 pm and I checked in. The kind stranger walked me to the room and said he has to go. I gave him a tight hug and thanked the universe for this day – never have I ever made such a trusty friend in such a short period of time.
I fell on the king size bed and hoped I would manage to move my limbs tomorrow. “From this moment, I don’t make plans. Let’s think about tomorrow tomorrow.”
The outcomes of that day:
- My bnb bailed on me (I get it, of course, I came much later than my check-in time should be, but still)
- I was crazy hungry
- My body was supertired
- I was in Rome
- I had an adventure
- I was alone but not alone
- I survived
- I got a room with a double bad plus one single bad, so if I felt like changing the bad I could do it 😀
- I learned a lot about Roman lifestyle and history from my brand-new friend
TIPS FOR YOU:
- If you are booking a bnb or anything other than a hotel, make sure there are other options nearby.
- Remind your accommodation provider that you’re coming one day beforehand. Send an e-mail or call. Mine didn’t write me back when I did that, but I thought it’s because of the high-season they must have or someting.
- Buy a simcard at the airport.
- However, in case you feel risky and adventurous, don’t do anything mentioned above.
- Go solo and go and talk to local people (only keep in mind not all of them might have good intentions when they see a girl that’s lost and is asking for help, luckily, not my case)
If you are a female solo traveler:
take as much stuff with you as you can take but not carry – just to make it more adventurous
- I won’t tell about safety precautions and the value of self-defence classes. That’s obvious anyways
- in general, don’t get paranoid, people there are quite helpful and understanding (though, not all of them understand English). So, learn a destra & a sinistra, at least.
- You may learn some more phrases in Italian and then your converstaion with Italians will get more interesting.