As has been our habit for the past few years, we met my stepson in Rome. He stayed at the same Daysleeper B&B in fact, although, being a first-class only travel kind of guy, he wasn’t too enamoured with what to him was downmarket – no room service, no forelock tugging staff and ambient noise from the street three stories below. The roaring vehicles, horns hnking, the squeal of the trolley wheels and the periodic ou-ah, ou-ah of ambulances and police cars were just the hum was of regular life going on. (since we’ve returned, it has struck me that North American life, especially in the country with the windows closed, pulses with silence instead.)

Hub and I loved the place – it has tremendous reviews on TripAdvisor and for Rome, the prices were reasonable (snacks and a bar fridge with breakfast goodies) and Francesco was a charming host. We’re Class C accommodations folks and we have never had a bad room. Wine money=wine taste in where to lay your head. Even better, it was convenient to the sites, the Termini railway hub and to the subway.

On our first day, we walked to the Colosseum, the Pantheon and Circus Maximus. It was hot. Not warm, hot.  Gorgeous weather. The sidewalks were in worse disrepair than in Bangkok, all rutted and half-asphalted over. But it was amazing. Half of the Colosseum was shrouded in tarpaulin and scaffolding but it was still breathtaking. The crowds were massive. The cold water sellers were doing a roaring business. Strolling from one ancient building to another, the word ‘awesome’ comes to mind, not as a description of the newest cupcake flavour but as a true reflection of how viewing these ancient wonders grips your senses.

And the skies – a crystalline pulsing azure that is peculiar to Mediterranean countries I think. I couldn’t get enough of it!

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It’s mind-boggling to think that these magnificent enduring structures were built without laser sights, cranes or cement mixers. The detail in the carvings and friezes is breathtaking. How did they get those soaring domes ceilings constructed or lift those huge marble crosses and carvings into place so high above our heads?

The thing is, when we trod the dusty rubble of the Acropolis in Greece, I was hit with a visceral sense of the history still living there. In Rome, not so much. I think perhaps it’s because so many tens of millions of oblivious tourist feet have trod those sacred places for millenia. The energy has been dissipated. Aside from wonderment at these creations of man’s imagination and the thousands of slaves who toiled and died for centuries, I got no sense of the spirits that may have lived there. Nevertheless, the experience of seeing and touching those Roman artifacts first hand will stay with me always. I said a prayer of gratitude.

I walked 9185 steps – 6.38 kilometers on our first Saturday in the Eternal City. Captivated by everything I saw. Ah, the joy of good shoes (customized NikeID Free 5.0 and orthotics). Day One ended with a brace of ice-cold Birra Moretti and a serving of lasagna so rich and so delicious it made my brain fog.