I would blog late into the night in the hotel room using the work comp when I was on tour. When on holiday with K, I would seek out comps in cyber cafes or hotel business centres and write taking time out from our time together.
I would write feverishly about what happened that day. It was more like a diary than a travel guide.
Then I stopped.
I got tired of writing when on the go. I still wrote about my travels but often well after I had returned. This allowed me to reflect on my experiences. Probably write more coherently about what I had seen. However, the spontaneity was lost in the process.
This time I decided to change it. I have carried my iPad for the Italy trip. A device I rarely use as I am quite sorted between the iPhone and the MacBook and the office comp. Unlike my mom, who uses my Lenovo, I am not much of a tab user. By the end of writing the post I finally got used to,typing on the iPad and managed to sync pics from my iPhone so yay!
It's going to be a bit of a challenge but I want to write travel on the go posts again which are in the moment. All the hotels we are staying in have free wifi after all. I will use the blog as a diary for the next few days. Not attempt to write 'what to do in Italy posts'. There are those more qualified than me doing that.
Today I will tell you about our hotel, Fabio Massimo Design, which K found through tripadvisor and booked through booking.com.
I will tell you about the warm welcome we got from Loreez who was manning the counter when we arrived after a long Emirates flight (an airline we are fond of) with a customary Ben's cookies stop at Dubai airport with its wonky wifi. I prefer the singapore airport more for a layover because of its good wifi system, availability of public consoles to check mails, shower facilities which are reasonably priced, locker facilities for charging phones, Asian food court & it's easier to get an empty loo to use than in the Dubai airport. Ben's is a salvation though you don't find it in the terminal on take way back to India via Dubai. Also in my last few flights we had long bus rides while alighting and taking a plane from Dubai and no aero-bridge. Changing is better for transits I feel.
Loreez checked us in early at Fabio Massimo though we reached in the morning, upgraded us to a junior suite, which is actually a pretty large room by European standards. Offered us breakfast while we waited and made me some lovely and robust cappuccino. We couldn't have had a better welcome to Rome.
Later in the day, his colleague Rosa, displayed the same warmth and helpfulness in answering our questions and in giving restaurant recommendations. The hotel is on the 4th floor of a residential building with a small lift. We like the room. Location-wise it is supposed to be close to the Vatican. We took up a cab from the airport as suggested by the hotel who was worried that our pockets would be picked in the metro. The cab they arranged for cost similar to what tripadvisor said and the pick up was seamless.
Check our happy smile in the pic as we waited for the room!
Our first lunch was at a place called ristorante L Aquila D'Oro which was recommended by Loreez as a place with good food with plain looks.
He nailed it perfectly. It is a simple place with a kindly grandpa and lady, slightly younger, than him serving. I later spotted what looked like a Bangladeshi cook in the kitchen. Reminded me of the Greek owned Stalactite in Melbourne with its Indian cooks.
The menu had an English version too. I had to order a spaghetti carbonara which I quite liked. I realise where the 'to the tooth' of Al denote came from. The spaghetti had a nice bite and I later learnt from Rosa that the pasta is freshly made. The cheese and the bacon were intensely flavoured. Made me realise that the lack of equivalent ingredient impacts your ability to find Italian food of the same standard in India.
Kainaz's pick of grilled lamb trumped even the delightful pasta. It was seasoned right and the lamb, cooked in its own fat, was very juicy and were served with wonderful Rosemary potatoes.
Lunch cost us 23 euros or so with the bread not charged for unlike what we had been warned.
L Aquila is at Julius Caesar road which is spelt Giulio Cesare here.
Oh and we found out earlier that they say ciao for hello too and not just for 'bye' as we grew up learning.
We followed this with a long but tiring walk with stops at glorious churches (one had a pic of a Pope and Mother Theresa too which excited the Kolkatan in me)and departmental stores like Gap, H&M and Zara. We crossed the piazza del papola but I finally got tired and said we will give the Trevi fountain a miss. That's a long walk from the hotel it seems
Just when I was about to give up, tired after the long walk soon after the flight, and take a cab home we decided to have a gelato at one of the many places on street. This was one is called Wonderful Ice cream.
We took a dark chocolate and cookie mix, which had an actual cookie in it, and brought life back into me and we walked back to our hotel. The gelato cost 2.5 euros for a small cup which was a enough for 2. Helped us save on the cost of a taxi.
At night we misread blogger Katie Parla's directions and went to a place called Osteria Ragno D'Oro at via Silla 26 instead of Romeo suggested by her. The dinner turned out to be great despite the mistake.
My class mate Jonaki, who is married to an Italian chef, wrote to me saying Osterias are a good place to get a feel of roman food.
I ordered a dish called Casio e Pepe, recommended by Jonaki. This was made with pecorino cheese and truffles.
Her in laws would be proud of her Italian expertise.
The aroma and taste of the truffles were truly heady and drove me crazy. Reminded me of the chapter on truffles in Vir Sanghvi's Rude Food book. The spaghetti again sharp to bite and the flavours again of an intensity that can't be matched by Mumbai's Italian places. I need a break from spaghetti now though!
K had a sea bass which was baked and served. The fish was very fatty, seasoned well and a delight to eat. k loved both her dishes, the lamb in the afternoon and the sea bass at night. The waiter deboned the fish and gave it though it did have a few bones still. The fish was a lot juicer than fish served in European places in Mumbai.
Interestingly both places got our food at the same time for both of us as per our request. This is a problem in Mumbai's Italian joints as one of us gets the food way before the other despite requesting to get them together. No such problems at Ragno or earlier at L Aquila despite the language issue.
Mumbai folks need to get their act right on this front.
The only thing bugging about the otherwise friendly service at Ragno was that they kept pushing things onto us but I held my ground and said no to the tiramisu and the salad suggested by them.
The place was quite crowded , had a nice buzz. Reminded us of Locale in Prague. A place we would want to return to.
We got lost on our way back and google maps on the phone held as did bystanders. I was happy to be back I must confess as Rome's reputation as a city of muggers was weighing on my mind and K was feeling cold.
This meal cost us about 24 euros this time too and they charged for the bread. The portions are big and we might share a starter and a mains in the future. The McDonald's and Burger Kings offer you options for much cheaper meals and we might have a few there to balance the budget.
Let's see what tomorrow holds And I hope I can write then. Fighting sleep to write now. Hope you like this post.
Tell me if writing this on the go reads well and is worth it.