Katherine spent almost all yesterday picking out things to do today in Rome — she found an art supplies place, several Lush shops, and an original language cinema so we could go and see Alice in Wonderland!
But, most importantly, my very talented and wonderful mother found us a forum in which people had discussed where to find Vegemite in Rome! We’d never thought we could’ve gotten this miracle substance, this nectar of gods, this dubious breakfast product in Rome! We contained our excitement lest we be disappointed but firmly decided to go there first.
So, we set our alarm for the outrageously early hour of 8am, to get the 10am train into the city. 8am: Piece of cake. No pre-11am mornings are going to get us down. We just made the train after a slight navigation hiccup (I blame the GPS signal, which seemed to be on the fritz during the morning).
We arrived at Termini station in Rome, and wandered around the station a little aimlessly for a while until we found a place to buy the train tickets we couldn’t manage to find at the station in Castel Gandolfo. Then a little more wandering until we located the right platform to take us to the land of Vegemite. It was all quite familiar, after coming here with our friends Tim, Jen and Annie a few months ago. Only, the metro warning signs are even cooler, now:
We arrived at Ottavio station and I confidently led us off in the opposite direction to where we should’ve been. Some back-tracking and much peering at street signs feeling like proper tourists and we were on track. The iPhone’s blue GPS dot was blithely wandering off on its own, leaving us to fend for ourselves, but we managed, and soon found our destination: A deli called Castroni’s, on Via Cola di Rienza.
We entered and walked along by the shelves, peering hopefully at the produce. Then:
Ah! Oh, joy! Vegemite! Marmite too, although we’re not interested in that kooky foreign muck.
We also found a couple other things, including peanut butter, which subsequently turned out to be quite fiery! So, quite thrilled, we headed onwards with our prize.
The streets in the area were quite pretty, cobbled and lined with flowering pink blossoms.
We crossed the Tiber and wandered down Via del Corso, grabbing gelatis in the process. We ate them sitting on the steps of an ancient building, watching the world go by, including several bizarre four- or six-seater bicycle things go by, like two tandem bikes strapped together side-by-side with one or two steering wheels at the front. Oh, and guys blowing bubbles at passers-by with little toy bubble guns, which was oddly intimate. Stop bubbling me, man. I’m trying to cut back.
We visited the nearby Lush shop (I told the dude that vorrei mangiare tutto — those Italian lessons are finally paying off), then wandered around for a while. We were surprised to recognise a lot of the streets from our last time here with Tim Jen and Annie. We actually covered a surprisingly large amount of ground last time!
We found a place that sold pizza by the slice, and got a few very disappointing slices (our first bad Italian food experience, I think!) to eat sitting on the outside of Piazza del Popolo, watching the not-very-good Statue of Liberty busker fidget and shift around. I remember us chuckling at that on our last trip.
We went and saw Alice in Wonderland at the cinema nearby, which was absolutely freaking brilliant. We both want to jump Johnny Depp’s bones. Funny being on the other end of foreign-language film.
When we got out of the cinema, we were surprised to see it still light, with lots of time, so we wandered off south to go find Katherine’s art supplies store. When we were done there, and ready to go home, we were dismayed to see my iPhone’s battery had died, leaving us mapless! While I was entertaining thoughts of finding a shop somewhere that would let us charge the iPhone for twenty minutes or so, Katherine had a slightly more pragmatic (I say ‘stone-age’) idea: Buy a cheap tourist map of Rome. Fine, have it your way, Katherine.
Armed with the dead-tree version of Google Maps, we were back on track and found our way back to the station via a very, very crowded supermarket for bread (to have with our Vegemite!!), in which I was accused of looking like Jon Bon Jovi. We arrived at the station with minutes to spare, and off we rattled back to Castle Gandalf, and stumbled our way home through the dark. Vegemite on fresh bread!