NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER real time are in [square brackets].

SPECIAL NOTE: For this report, I've again added the feature that a single mouse click on any photo will produce a much larger photo, so you can see more detail. Then use the "back arrow" feature of your browser to return to the text.

Trip Log 18.  Day 18. Last Full Day in Rome

Saturday October 30, 2010. Capuchin Monk Cemetery

It's a little before 8 am, and Sharon is reading Rome's Top 10, to see if we've missed anything she'll be sorry for if we don't go. It feels like it's cold outside.

A few minutes later, we meet for breakfast. Tomorrow's Halloween and departure day for all of us. Sharon has her hands folded together, and she isn't moving - just staring at the floor. She cracks us up when she says very quietly and reverently, "I'm not praying. I'm just warming my butter." {The sisters provide us every morning with a basic but tasty breakfast. Hot water for tea, coffee, warm milk for hot chocolate and big rolls that are kind of like popovers (crusty on the outside and mostly hollow when you cut them). They provide butter (right from the refrigerator, so hard) and many delicious jams, honey and soft cheese to put on the rolls. I discovered a long time ago that if I hold the butter between my hands, it will soften so that I can spread it without tearing the bread so this is what I'm doing. Jerry has an idea and he puts his butter under his hot cup of tea while it is brewing. Great idea, Jerry.}

Sharon surprises me a little by claiming the parakeets. I've already done that in my mind, but we haven't talked about it till now. "I agree," says I. They're the only common ones in Europe, "Rose-ringed Parakeets."

I need some cash, so Jerry and I go up to the bank ATM on the corner. I have two ATM cards, a Comerica Bank card and a Wells Fargo card. The Wells Fargo card has said, at each attempt, "You have exceeded your withdrawal limit for today." Mildly infuriating because I haven't withdrawn euro one on it during the entire trip. A tiny voice suggests that somebody may have your numbers and is withdrawing the limit early each morning. I let the thought go - too paranoid. {We have had similar troubles when we travel before. As a protection, Wells Fargo detects that your card is being used in a foreign country and prevents your use until you call. Of course, we have tried calling before we leave and telling them that we will be in "country X" and still had them create a fraud alert when we start charging on that card. Oh well, better safe than sorry}

The Comerica card is very old, is thin as was the style then (wasn't it? I'm not sure now), and because of the slot I keep it in in my wallet has developed a crack, and partial tear about 3/8ths of an inch from the edge, and traveling about 50% of the length of the card. I can wiggle this little bit, and if I bend it just the wrong way, this entire piece will break off, it's that bad.

Anyway, I insert the Comerica card, request 250 euros, which is below the $300 daily limit. It kicks out the cash, and I request the card back. The "loose" sliver now hangs down just a touch, just enough to act as a "barb", like on a fish hook, and prevents the card from being pushed back out. It tries that three or four times, then stops trying and apparently drops the card into some sort of internal holding place, because now it isn't even trying to give it back. Two other people come up, insert their cards, get their cash, and then get their cards back. No sign of my card. I write down all the info on this ATM location, and we go back to our room. {More on this story evolves after we get back. Look for it.}

It's 9:30 am.

I tell Sharon, and she says, "Oh, well, just another Rome adventure!"

Shirley says she has written down the things she has most noticed about Rome. I say gimme. The items are: smoking, (women's) boots {beautiful!}, scarves {again, beautiful and everyone wears them}, motorcycles, the way people drive, gelato, and no wash cloths. {I've learned from previous trips to bring my own. Is the US the only country where we routinely use wash cloths? Shirley immediately noticed the lack and missed her washcloths in Italy.}

I guess I would add no toilet seats and the Colosseum.

As we begin our circuit around on the HOHO us, Sharon reads that the pine trees that are clipped so the foliage is all far overhead are called Umbrella Pines.

Here are the day's HOHO bus photos.

(L) Love the headgear

There is a building on an island in the Tiber River. I have forgotten the name, but it has been a hospital since the 6th Century. It was dedicated to the pagan god of medicine, and I guess that's a pretty good one, if you need to have more than one. {All the crowds are here for All Saints Day and a public service by the Pope.}

Our neighbors John and Jan spent a day or two in Rome during a cruise in the last year or so, and they highly recommend a certain Capuchin crypt. We are there.

As we approach the entrance, I notice something very subtle, but unmistakably weird. There is a couple with four young girls - clearly a family, all together. He has a camera to take pictures, but he's wearing a motorcycle helmet. Wait. What? Did the six of them ride on his motorcycle? Nooooooo, that can't be it. I don't get the answer to this nice little riddle, and in we go to the crypt. No video, no photos.

OK, but my camera has a mind of its own. It IS fully automatic, and it takes one blurry photo, which I share with you. {There are the remains of 4000 Capuchin monks whose bones are displayed here. The rationale seems to be that there is limited ground under the church in which to bury the monks. So after a few years, when someone else had to be buried, they dug up the former residents of the grave, stored the bones and buried the new guy in his place. No one really knows when or how someone got the idea to display the bones in artistic? designs, but many of the presentations are "to represent that all of us will die but life goes on".}

(L) Accidentally taken by my camera. (R) The Hourglass. Can you see it?

When we finish, we have lunch across the road, and Sharon asks me to take her picture as she sips her coffee and displays the gruesome but sacred post card.

I ask Shirley if she has belief, and she says, "No, but I have A Leaf." Just kidding. I didn't ask that, and she didn't answer that. But ain't that one humongous leaf?

We stop in at an interesting looking "everything imaginable" store, and catch this clever product. I'll let you figure it out. Not too difficult.

Then Sharon has an interesting encounter in a leather store. The couple has been running this shop for thirty years or more, and they say all their goods are made in Italy. They warn Sharon not to shop in the leather shop next door. "They are Iranian, and on 9/11, they bought champagne and celebrated. Don't go to that shop," the woman says, "Their items are all made in Iran."

I doubt whether all of their story is true, but it's thought-provoking to hear the story. {That was "Anita" of "Anitas" shop. She and her husband were so proud of their shop and that their products were all made in Italy.}

Sharon wants to do some birding as do I. We know we're pretty close to the Villa Borghese Park, and we expect there are some good birds there. Jerry and Shirley come with us, but as soon as we start doing our birding thing, they correctly decide to go back to the convent. Jerry's back instantly feels better now that he knows he doesn't have to do all our stop/start/stopping.

A restful Jerry says yall go ahead and bird. We're going back to the room.

Off they go, as we notice a bike-renting facility, that rents a bicycle built for four. So I guess it's really a quadracycle, since it has four wheels. All four passengers can peddle.

We get more Rose-ringed Parakeets, no doubt about it. {I finally get to see the bird that I had only heard before.}

Then we go down to an area that is either now, or once was a horse-exercising facility.We see a bird hopping on the ground like a flycatcher, and after some time checking our books, we tag it as a female Black Redstart. So we expect to see a male around somewhere, and BAM, there he is. Beautiful black and grey bird with rusty undertail coverts and white on each wing, on the back.

I find an open internet point on the way back to the room, and I take the laptop there to download email messages while Sharon does some last-day shopping. {Especially getting another carry-on as I have bought so many gifts that I can't get my suitcase closed anymore. I discovered that the zipper on my big suitcase is broken in one place and I'm afraid to stretch it anymore. I find a great carry-on with wheels and snap it up. I also then talk the man out of an item he didn't want to sell as it is perfect for Pete and Stacey. No, I won't tell you what it is, Pete.}

As I'm working away (internet cable, not WiFi, but why am I telling you THIS? I dunno), a loud man comes in, and gets on a computer. He's also on his cell phone, speaking loudly in Italian. You know the type - totally unaware and uncaring of any affect he may be having on anyone else. As he tries to get online, I hear him mutter the Italian epithet, "Minkya," though I doubt that spelling's correct. Now I learned that word from my first wife, who learned it from her mother, who learned it from her mother, in turn. Nona, Nona, Nona. A black comedian I heard on TV once did a clever bit about his "tessacles," and I'll leave it at that.

To my surprise, with the new AOL software, I can no longer simply download all my email messages to be read later, minimizing the online time. Or at least, I can't figure out how to do it, whereas the old software, on my previous laptop was friendly in this regard.

Well, it's back to the room, then out for dinner and gelato (best of the trip) {the flavors all over Italy were amazing. Mango, Pinapple, Nutella, dark chocolate, YUM!}, and back to the room for some packing. No Rummikube tonight, as Jerry and Shirley will be getting up at 3:30 or some such time tomorrow.

We make a plan to check on them ten minutes after their scheduled wakeup time to be sure they are up, and to wave them goodbye from our window as they leave in the taxi.

All of this happens just like that. And just like that, our last full day and night are over

Tomorrow? Well, today really. Barcelona and reuniting with my great college friend, Ramon Laos and his wife Emma.

Previous Report
Next Report
Italy Reports
Spain Reports
Family Trips