In my previous post I introduced the problems my family faced when we travelled to Rome in January. Winter City Breaks are not easy with families as the weather is a big uncontrollable condition. Along with the weather these are a few other points to keep in mind when travelling to cities like Rome
When with kids you tend to rush around everywhere and not pay attention to little things. Everyone in my travel party kept rushing here and there, my mother paid the price by dropping her purse. She thought she placed her purse in her handbag that she kept around her body but instead she must have dropped it. She spent the whole evening worrying about what was in the purse: keys of the house, ID cards etc (don’t ask me what she was doing with those things, she is 70 years old). She didn’t have a lot of money in that purse which was a good thing as she keept most of her money in an internal pouch she hid inside her clothes.
Pick pocketing is a big issue in Rome and not only in Rome. There is an Italian program that I like watching on TV that shows how easy tourists are robbed in broad daylight. BE AWARE! Don’t carry your important items in a backpack behind your back or in the zipper of the backpack! I was robbed like that from the tube in London. One can opt to buy one of these well designed backpacks that are not easy to open but still, be cautious.
In a rush we do mistakes, you can get another train, bus or taxi but money is gone forever. Important documents are either to be kept at the place you are staying at or as close as possible to your body. Always do a copy of your documents and keep them separate from your money. Even your cards should be in a separate place, my husband normally holds the cards and I hold the cash. You can never be too cautious on these matters.
Rome is in Italy. Italian food is GOOD! Well, in Rome you will eat like the Romans do – crammed! You must have heard that a good restaurant is where you see the locals eat, right? This normally is very true but you need to understand that Roman restaurateurs like to pack every inch of the restaurant to fit as many people as possible. This could be a good thing if you don’t book as somehow they’ll fit you in (unless you are a group of 20). If you do book, expect the people sitting next to your table practically in your conversations.
If this doesn’t bother you, the next thing you need to do is know is the language. I didn’t find problems in Rome as we all spoke Italian but in Spain we found the language barrier a very important factor. You would think that being a tourist destination famous cities would speak a common language but even though Rome is world famous and tourists are everywhere, the Italians still have a problem in speaking English. The menu might be in English but their understanding isn’t. If you order a plate of carbonara and want it without pepper on top (as is normally served,) then make sure they understand you. There are some good restaurants out there, unfortunately I never found them…you who have, need to contact me to lighten the load for next time.
Rome is built on hills. To see all the attractions one needs to be aware that there is a lot of walking! Many cities are done walking so forget your stillettos at home!
We had to do alot of walking in the freezing cold with two pensioners, 2 kids and my sister’s family. Finally, we split up and my sister did her own thing. We made sure to use the facilities in the best way possible. For example, to go to the zoo in Rome the best way is to walk into the park of Villa Borghese, rent a family tuck-tuck and ride there. Enjoy the scenery of the gardens and if the day is nice enjoy some time on a paddle boat too.
Alas, with the party that I was in this was far more than possible. So, instead we caught a tram that took us uphill to the road that led to the zoo. The zoo is wonderful it actually is an animal rescue park and worth the visit. I think this was my favourite place but may be because the kids enjoy seeing animals more than historical places. It could also be the fact that there was a reptile house and although normally I stay in these places for maximum 15 min, this time I wanted to stay there all day due to the warm air.
Another way my little party went around was with the hop-on-hop-off. We passed places and took photos from the bus as to stay out of the cold. One of the stops we got off was the Coliseum but the wind here was blowing so strong, it literally took our breath away. Normally there is only 20 – 30 min between one bus and another but this was too long to stay in the cold. My mother ended trying to catch her breath in the train station. The bus tour cannot take you to certain places that are in pedestrian areas, so do expect some walking. You could always see Rome like in Audrey Hepburn’s movie renting out a Vespa …but that was based in summer.
Continue ready Rome – Part 3