Or perhaps just cheap online fights lead to Rome.
After flying from Luxor we spent a few days in a little boutique hotel in the central Campo Marzio area near the Piazza del Paradiso. Here, amongst Renaissance architecture and throngs of sandalled tourists, we rediscovered exquisite Western delicacies that had been absent from the African campgrounds and hostels during our previous four months of travel. The variety, volume, and availability of even basic amenities in Rome were intoxicating and quite overwhelmed me. I would often find myself sprawled out in bed in our air-conditioned hotel room
during the simmering heat of the day, dazed and stupefied, endlessly googling plot summaries of Breaking Bad in-between chapters of Game of Thrones on my Kindle, marvelling at number of bits per second the Wi-Fi connection allowed, while gorging on pistachio ice-cream, washed down with chilled white wine and espressos, topping it all off with a glorious flush of the toilet, if only to hear the sound of cool flowing water filling the sweet ceramic cistern. I felt like Roman Emperor Elagabalus tucking into camel heels and flamingo tongues at one of his feasts.
After this initial period of gluttony we rented a cheap apartment just south of the Trastavere district for ten days or so. We spent our time wandering along the banks of Tiber during the warm summer evenings, gazing up at rose tinted churches and rooftops, grabbing pizza from local trattorias, and formulating the next stages of our travel plans. While fluid and guaranteed to change, they are roughly as follows: ferry from Bari to Greece, travel through Eastern Europe somehow, ferry from Poland to Scandinavia where we will spend a couple of weeks, and finally ferry from Denmark to Iceland where our travels will end sometime in October. You will note that the spine of this itinerary consists mainly of ferries, which is strange after our ferry ordeal crossing Lake Nasser from Wadi Halfa. It could be a form of Stockholm syndrome. I’ll see someone about this fixation when I get home, I promise.
Of course during our time in Rome we also squeezed in the historical sites that make the Eternal City so famous – the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Forum, Via Appia and its catacombs, the Spanish Steps, the Piazza Navona, and Ostia Antica. Fantastic, pinnacles of Western culture etc etc, but I’m that afraid food and HBO TV box sets won this time around. Yes, I’m a philistine at heart.
Next stop – Puglia…