How did it all go so bad, I always ask myself that question every time I think of the city to be honest. Rome was a place that I had wanted to see my entire life, a place I had studied and researched since school, The Romans are my favorite group to have roamed the planet so going to the city was something I couldn’t say no to, even if the bus ride would be 3 hrs and 100 Euros, it would be worth it! We got up very early that morning, 6 I think it was and got ready for the first bus from the hotel down the big hill we were on into the town of Sorrento where by a Mobil Petrol station, our tour bus would pick us up and drive us to Rome….being twenty minutes late wasn’t the best start but they had other people to pick up so, let’s move on.
We napped and chatted amongst others as the bus headed North, stopping twice along the way at rest stations where we bought lunch and it was here that I got into a talk with a man from East London about Football which was a lot of fun because he didn’t tear my team to pieces and respected them, which was a nice change, not that my fiance could care, not a great football fan but the one thing that had annoyed me about this man prior was how he leant back on his seat on the bus. You see he was sat in front of me with his wife and he always leant back and moved the chair onto my knees as he slept and snored out loudly, as we began to chat, I was tempted to ask him to stop what he was doing but as we chatted, I forgot all about it but weirdly after we set off again, he didn’t do it anymore..strange?
As we approached Rome, I got very excited as we went round road after road after road, so many turns onto other roads, it was like going around a maze but as we passed an old Aqueduct, we began seeing the city and wow, so many cars with dents in them, I think every couple of cars….DENT! must be a lot of crashes in Rome or something? We were meant to have an hour to explore the legendary Coliseum, see where all the gore, guts and blood were spilled so long ago by the Romans and as we queued up, we saw how busy it was, it was here that the day descended from amazing to nightmare.
The issue wasn’t that we were not told that the queues were going to be massive, which by the way, their were no warning whatsoever by the company at all but that all the other groups in the area were in the much shorter queue with passes that let them skip the main queue…why didn’t we have that, I just traveled 172 miles after getting up extra early for this and paid 100 euros! where was my fast pass?! After 40 minutes we had reached the end of the first straight line and were about to go around the corner where we saw that the line was much longer than we first thought. one by one, people from the group gave up and went back to the bus, complaining and groaning about what a waste the morning had been, after a 3 hr bus ride from Sorrento all the way to Rome, they had not been able to go into the Coliseum! I can see where some would think, You only had an hour, what would you expect? so why didn’t Thomas Cook give us more time to get through the queue and get around the Coliseum?
So eventually, we conceded defeat and went over to the others when we were given the chance to have our picture taken, we were so annoyed about the events that we didn’t take it into consideration that it might not be what it seems. They took the picture on my phone and then demanded Euros for it, 40 in fact! or they wouldn’t give me back my phone! this just added fuel to the fire as I reluctantly gave in and paid them, only to be hassled and followed about by someone selling bracelets, he even tied it on me, despite me walking away and saying No! time and time again! only 5 Euros but it was literally a piece of string! Someone from the group had tried to get to me before all of this happened but it was too late!
Back on the bus, I was annoyed! Very in fact, it was a disaster as far as I was aware but perhaps, going to the Vatican would make things better, seeing the place where the Pope was could perhaps lift up my spirits! Long shot but heck, miracles happen, right? Long shot, I know and most on the bus were fuming as well…how the tour guide whose name I won’t mention still had a smile on her face was unbelievable, did she really think everyone was having a good day…I didn’t see a smile on anyone’s face…a couple were crying at the back of the bus, it was their last day before they went home, not the best way to end a holiday!
St Peter’s Basilica was the next destination, sounded great, a building I had always wanted to go and see BUT as we approached the Vatican, our Tour Guide mentioned that the Bus could not go inside as an event was happening so we would enter the city on foot! Ok, not the worst thing in the world but as long as we got inside the building unlike earlier! Yet…when we enter the Holy Place on foot, we are told that the queue would be long again as the place was packed with groups from all over Europe! Another thing we had not been told about! We approached the Basilica and the queue was an estimated Three Hours….WE HAD Three Hours until we had to be back on the Bus to go back to the South of Italy! WHY?! What is going on here? Everyone was furious as the realization that their day had been wasted!
I remember been given the option to be able to go off on our own and look about Rome, yet deciding to not take it because I really wanted to see the Coliseum, If I could go back and change things, I would, I would have gone off from the group and seen other attractions in Rome and had a good day! 100 Euros wasted, actually 140 if you count the 40 I lost! After being disappointed multiple times, it was time for something good to happen and here it is, we saw a group of couples that we had seen during the day and had talked to a bit, they invited us to go along with them and get some Pizza from a restaurant which we agreed to.
We all had a good moan and groan about how the day had panned out, everyone was planning to complain to the travel company’s headquarters and we were included, being misled and not informed of the events going on, even though they knew they were happening as they were planned for months before hand was unacceptable, I would have gone to the Island of Capri for the day instead but we chose Rome!
The nice gesture was after the group heard about my run in with the gladiators that took my money, they purchased us both a Pizza which was lovely and did cheer us up somewhat, the restaurant was the best bit of the day, we made friends which we saw for the rest of the holiday! every morning afterwards, we’d point each other out as we boarded the bus and talked about…Rome ha ha, we were the last couple to complain, everyone else had done it the moment they went back to their Hotels! and we saw the art of Human Kindness to strangers. I wasn’t put of Rome by this, if I go back, I bet the experience will be so much better because I’m wiser now and know what to watch out for.
Alas, as we rode the bus back 3 hrs to Sorrento, I felt drained, angry and let down…a day of our holiday wasted, luckily the other excursions were awesome and the Tour Guides were amazing…it’s just a shame that on the one trip I was most excited about….the tour guide was beyond useless, never stayed with the group and wandered off…showed no sympathy when someone complained WHICH WAS A LOT OF PEOPLE by the way! was no where to be seen, only when we had to go back to the bus….on the other excursions, the Tour Guide was always close by, friendly and professional, in fact this is the only day ever on any holiday I have been on in my life where the Tour Guide is what ruined the day!
Next Time I go to Rome, I’m making the most of it and if someone asks to take my photo, I’m just walking on, end of! The tour guide was unfit to be a tour guide because…she did no guiding at all…just took us to the place and buggered off for a couple of hours…unprofessional in my opinion, could explain why the city was jam packed when the bus driver easily could! the representative of the tour company was annoyed that she was so useless and insisted that we complain! that says a lot, unfortunate but that was almost a year ago now, we’ve moved on and accept that misfortunes on holidays happen sometimes.
Italy is a wonderful place and the events that happened to me can happen in any city in the world so I will go back to Rome and have a much better time of it this time!
You ever been to Rome before? What was your experience like?