Kim says that “traveling on your own in Europe is filled with adventure and mistakes.” Mistakes also usually cost more money than you’d planned. We got to do both in Rome.
To save money, we had taken a 4-hour train to Rome in the morning. A four-hour cheap train is less than ideal. Just about the time we were nearing Rome, the long train ride had lulled us asleep, which might have caused us to be less alert than we could have been when we arrived. Trying to save time later, we attempted to purchase return tickets before we parted ways—as Jay, the kids, and I were headed for the Coliseum—and Joel and Kim, to the Vatican. We discovered that the ticket people were on strike. Italians are often on strike, and we should have continued to our destinations without worry; but there was that little deal about being back in Pisa before 10:30 or the car would be locked in the parking lot until the next morning— We decided to leave anyway, which was a good thing.
Joel and Kim made sure we’d purchased the correct Metro tickets and directed us to the right train where we got a flash lesson on where to put the ticket to get through the gate. Then they disappeared. We would meet them at a gate near the Coliseum at 5:00. We boarded the Metro with hoards of people, and Helen had her first and only 30 second meltdown when she realized I would hold her getting off the train among the masses. (I was grateful that she looks somewhat like me— and that as she repeatedly screamed, “NO!” she also threw in the word “Granny” every now and then.)
Rick Steves became our hero as we jaunted past the huge line to get our tickets at the less obvious entrance. We ate terrible tasting pizza from a vendor and decided Americans had made a vast improvement on it. We looked at remnants of palaces dating from the foundation of Western "civilization" and kind of wondered why the Romans get credit for that, since I had the unique and brain stretching task of explaining (to a five-year-old) what the Coliseum was and why people would go there to watch lions eat people. Being rather altruistic, Breck kept asking, “But where were all the good guys?” Jay leaned over once and whispered, “In the arena.” On the lighter side, we entertained all sorts of passersby as Breck attempted to eat his large chocolate gelato before it melted.