(Editor’s note: Blade contributor Peter Rosenstein is submitting blog posts from his transatlantic voyage.)
Landed safely in Rome with friends and travel agents extraordinaire Scott and Dustin of My Lux Cruise. It was a United Airlines business class flight with the worst food I have ever had on an airline; totally inedible. However, the sweetest flight attendant. Patricia Oscarson introduced herself as Trish, our purser. Over the next 8.5 hours, since I can’t sleep on planes, we chatted. This is her 55th year working for United and out of about 25,000 people she is No. 35 in seniority and still going strong — really amazing.
We collected our luggage and split up staying at different hotels. They were off to the expensive Westin Excelsior and I was off to my hotel, The UNA Deco, near the central terminal. I have stayed there before and is a great hotel and very reasonable. They allowed me to check into my room early and by noon I was off for a walk to the Spanish Steps to meet friends Rob and Carlos. We walked around and then did what you do in Rome, stopped for coffee and people watching. Then it was a stop in a local pharmacy to get the required antigen COVID test within 48 hours of boarding the Celebrity APEX on Saturday. While I was pretty sure I would have a negative result, I got one before I left DC, it was a nerve wracking wait for the doctor at the pharmacy to give me the result. If for some reason I was positive, I wouldn’t be allowed on the ship. Thankfully it was negative and they emailed me the result I could share with Celebrity on Saturday morning at the port.
Then more walking around town and back to the hotel to change and out again for a nice relaxed, and really good dinner, at Girarrosto Fiorentino. By 9:30 I was exhausted having not slept the night before on the plane, and headed back to the hotel and crashed; lights on, TV on, nothing stopped me from getting a good night’s sleep.
Friday morning I headed down to the hotel restaurant and had multiple cups of strong Italian coffee, and an amazing breakfast buffet included with the room, to get my day started. Then it was off to wander the sights of Rome. I caught up with Rob and Carlos after they took an early tour of the Colosseum hoping they didn’t get eaten by the lions. I have been in Rome often over the years, the first time being in the summer of 1968 on my first trip to Europe. I call that my “If it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium” tour. If you haven’t seen the movie I suggest you do; it’s a fun 1969 release with Suzanne Pleshette and Ian McShane. About five years ago Italy completed a major restoration of many of their most famous monuments; cleaning decades of dirt from the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain among others, and they are really spectacular to see today. We did go by the Trevi Fountain and waited on line, which went fast to enter the Pantheon. Rome is packed to the rafters with tourists.
But with all the fun that is Rome, I am really looking forward to the main part of this trip, which begins Saturday morning when I board the Celebrity APEX for my transatlantic cruise. My next blog will be from the ship.