Thursday, November 29, 2007

Day 7 (Friday) – I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again

It was my last day in Genoa. I had to muster the ‘strength’ deep within me just to drag my self out from the comfort and warmth of my bed for my long overdue morning walk. I’m exaggerating, but you get what I meant.

In the cold morning breeze, I walked up the small alley in front the hotel. I reached a little newsstand. The beautiful lady shopkeeper was busy arranging newspaper and magazines. Except for a few passer-by, the well lit alleys were pretty much deserted. A lady stopped to buy a newspaper. They both took note of me and my dSLR.
Me (with a smile): Buon Giorno
Two stylish looking ladies: (smiled back)
The smiles were some sort of permission for me to continue taking photos in the area. They continued with their daily routine, paying no special attention to me.

I was tempted to literally go up the alley in front of me (the alley have steps and railing). Unfortunately I have limited time and could not afford to be ‘lost’. So I took the alley that leads to the main road, Via Roma. I walked up until the end of the street (which is not that far) and came to a some sort of a round-about, Piazza Corvetto. It was perhaps the busiest streets near the hotel at that hour.

I turned back, crossed Via Roma and headed down toward the hotel. I saw another newsstand. There was a tree next to it. The absence of leaves indicated that winter is coming. I continued walking. I entered Galleria Mazzini. It was as deserted as the road and alleys. Even though it was somewhat ‘in-door’, it was still cold. Imagine my surprise when I saw a lady sleeping in front of a door! I wondered why she was there. Judging from her shoes (shoes with pointed heels), I didn’t think she was a homeless.

I returned to City Hotel for our last breakfast. I took one last photo of the view from my window. We checked out at 8.15am and left for work.

We were on the bus, leaving the office. 30 minutes later, we reached the airport. We checked-in our luggage and loitered at the lobby for a while.

We went through the security check. At the check point, one of our fellow travellers got stopped. The airport security checked the photos in his camera (no photos were allowed at the security check area). To their delight and laughter, there was a photo of his (taken by me) posing next to an airport security car. After the little incident, we headed into the boarding area only to discover our flight was delayed.

The flight finally took off. About an hour later, we reached Rome. We exited at gate A3.

After some confusion, we finally was able to locate our bus. It was already dark. We were caught in a KL-like traffic jam on the highway. We reached the hotel at 7.00 pm. The best way to describe the hotel, Hotel Delta is that it was the total opposite of City Hotel in Genoa. Hotel Delta is a modern building (when compared to other building from previous centuries) right next to a main road, Via Labicana. The bus actually stopped us right in front of the hotel door.

In Genoa, my first thought when the bus driver told us in his limited English to drag our luggage up the cobble stone alley, was, “Oh God! What kind hotel are we staying in!”. While I thought the room in Genoa was small, it was far more luxurious compared to the room in Rome. Not to forget the service. In Genoa, the housekeeping staff left a card with their name after they clean your room. If your room is kind of neat when you left it, the staff would reward you with a candy (that is too sweet for my tooth). No such personalize service in Rome.

At the hotel lobby, I grabbed one of those tourist map. After my ‘exploring’ stint in Genoa, the group leader gave me the task of locating stuff on the map, namely roads that could have halal restaurant. We found one road on the map – Via Merulana.

We walked along Via Labicana toward what I think was east. We passed a lot of small road before arriving to a crossing. Once we spotted the sign Viale Manzoni, we knew we were already on Via Merulana. Our only dilemma was either to head north ward, or south ward. I didn’t exactly know how we made the decision, either we were following my instinct to head north, or because there were some McD sign in the north (on the map). Must be the latter, because if we fail to find the restaurant, we could head to the McD.

At the first ‘friendly-looking’ shopkeeper, we stopped and asked for direction. He told us to go further north. Eventually we realized that the doors along the road were all numbered. The address for the halal restaurant was shop number 271. We were, by then, 70 doors away.

After the long walk, we finally located the restaurant. There were rice briani, kebabs, falafel and the likes of it. I spotted a letter on the wall similar to the one I saw in Genoa. After seeing the portion of rice per serving, I decided to order bread (those round flat bread that looks like a cappati) to go with a plate of meat (I don’t really eat chicken and they didn’t have fish). The shop was patronized by people in ‘dubious’ looking clothes. As simple as we were, we were perhaps more well dressed than the rest in the restaurant. Hence, I didn’t not dare to ‘flaunt’ my dSLR to take photos. I kept it zipped underneath my parka most of the time.

After dinner, we braved the cold night to head back to our hotel. Along the way, there were a lot of graffiti on the buildings. One of the was a anti-US.

We were back at the hotel.

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