Saturday, 6 July 2013

High Season

The timing of our trip to Europe was purely decided by my husband's work ... or rather, the timing of his redundancy.  They took ages to confirm, then to decide dates, and so it meant we left about a month or even two months later than I would have hoped originally.  (Though in reality, there is no way I could have organised the trip and got everything ready at home in time).  So.  Here I am in Rome.  In July.  

Travelling through the Middle East for the last few weeks was fine, as it is getting hot (and when I say hot, I mean HOT - 47 degs C was the hottest day), and so it is the low season there.  Tourist numbers were low, even in Israel.  But here we are in Rome.  In July.  With the rest of humanity.

Or so it seemed today, as we ventured into the centre of the city, to retrace some steps from our first visit here 15 years ago.  The tourist spots and routes thronged with people.  The Pantheon was full.  I remember being there in November 1998, standing inside in silence, with only two or three other people there with me.  Today, there were hundreds.  Lots of American accents, some German and some very pale Scandinavians.  All it seemed with at least two kids in tow.   Have I mentioned I detest crowds?  Especially in the heat?  

I have never before truly appreciated how lucky I am to be able to travel outside school holidays, and to be able to avoid the peak season in Europe in summer.  Even Bangkok at Christmas/New Year is better than this!  

And yet, because we have the luxury of time, because we're living in an apartment (airbnb - thanks Nicole for the recommendation you didn't realise you had made) in a real, middle/working class, section of Rome, we can escape the tourist routes.  It made me feel sad for all the tourists, because only about 50 metres from Piazza Navona, there were beautiful quiet streets, the type of streets you go to Italy to see, and they were empty.  Stuck to a timetable - not just because of kids, but with jobs too - the tourists missed these streets, the streets that were always my enduring memories of Rome, long after the Colosseum or Vatican.  And here at my apartment, there is a small street market every morning just two minutes walk away, just past the bar where we can get coffee in the morning, and beer/wine in the evening, and just past the small pizza place, and just before the gelateria, and a small square where people sit in the evening.  And even though I am in Rome in July, I know I am still lucky.

14 comments:

  1. I love love Rome.
    Enjoy!

    PS: you are now exactly 750 kilometers from my home. So close!

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    1. I know! We're getting closer!

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  2. It took me about 3 trips to like Rome at all. It's probably because the last trip, we stayed in a B&B run by or for nuns or something, so we finally had somewhere nice in a quiet neighborhood to stay. My first trip, we stayed at a Hilton, and it was fine. My second trip we stayed in a B&B near the Vatican on a main street where they had a freaking parade Christmas morning (after we had been to midnight mass). Third time's the charm, I guess.

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    1. We loved Rome on our first visit - hence our willingness to return, 15 years later, this time for a month. I hope we still love it after this!

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  3. Ohhhhhh...it's not possible for me to travel during off season 'coz of where I work. Unless I ask for an unpaid week off, that is...but generally speaking near Christmas/New Year we need all the staff we have 'coz it's our high season.

    Enjoy Rome and going through the empty streets! :-D

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  4. I would love to see Rome- it's on our list to go together. I don't want to see the big stuff- we will of course- but I'm all about the roads left travelled- the small coffee shop on a side road and a stroll threw an old street. Enjoy it!

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  5. Couldn't agree more with Kasey. I find that discovering a quaint neighborhood, a cute shop, a nice restaurant or cafe, a funny conversation with a local, is what makes my trips; things that are off the tourist path.

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  6. I am so envious of your travels. I really hope to someday. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your trip.

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  7. A year ago, we visited a national park and came back the Sunday before the "start of summer" holiday in the US - Memorial Day. We got up at day break and set out on a very popular hike. We saw five people...no big deal. On the way back (out and back hike), we saw about 400...no joke. When back at the trailhead, the calmness of being alone was now waiting in lines for the bathroom! So, we had our brief glimpse of what summer traveling is like - and decided we will stick with the less popular Spring and Fall...where it is us, the other singles and couples...and the retires!

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  8. Yep, you are lucky. ; ) Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!

    Our wedding anniversary is in July (today, in fact!), but we decided to take a trip to Nova Scotia in mid-September to celebrate our 25th a few years ago. We didn't stop to think that it was also peak hurricane season (!) & there was actually one in the Atlantic -- but we were pretty lucky -- the storm hit Newfoundland instead, & the weather was pretty nice for the most part. There were still bus & cruise ship-loads of American tourists to content with, but tourism season had died down by then (I can only imagine what it was like in July...!) -- and since most the cruise & bus passengers were senior citizens, we were usually the youngest couple in the crowd, lol.

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  9. Sounds like you're having a lovely time! Best wishes to you, and hope it all goes as smoothly.

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  10. Great to hear that you have the opportunity to embrace more of Rome than just the tourist spots. It sounds lovely. So happy for you to be enjoying life in the moment!

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  11. Yah on finding nontourist areas- that is when one see the REAL country!! Have a blast of fun there!!

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  12. Wow, this brings back so many memories of my times in Rome! It's one of my favorite cities. Although I have to admit that my time there was probably more along the lines of the tourists that you encountered. Your out-of-the-way location sounds just lovely. I'm living vicariously through you as I read this!

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