Three Classic Mistakes

I arrived in Roma this afternoon. I flew RyanAir (go team, go!) down from Stansted, which was an experience. Walking across the tarmac in London, under a slate grey sky, with the smell of jet fuel pervading my head... brought back all sorts of strong Navy memories. I was telling someone just the other day how closely I associate smells with memories. Who was it?

Anyway, although I had been forewarned, I made three rookie mistakes as soon as I arrived in Roma today.

Classic Mistake #1) "Make sure the taxi uses the meter." At Termini, I tossed my bags in the trunk of the first available cab (after determining that it looked official), asked the driver for via dei Riari in Trastevere, and away we sped at gutwrenching speed through the streets of Roma. After several near misses with other cabs (cute how they roll down their windows to talk to each other, while driving at full speed), scooters, ancient monuments, etc, when my heart had finally climbed out of my throat, I noticed that not only was the driver not using his meter... the cab apparently didn't own one. I refuse to tell you how much the ride cost.

Classic Mistake #2) "Make sure that the taxi drops you off at the door, not down the street." The feeling of the cab slowly decellerating should have been the first indication that something was wrong. I know now that Roman taxi drivers usually maintain a speed above 60 miles per hour until they are approximately parallel with their intended stop, at which point they veer sharply to one side and halt screechingly, in such a way as to both block traffic and toss their passengers about forcefully. My taxi did nothing of the sort. After making several circuits of the same five block stretch (much like an ancient charioteer in the circus, I like to imagine), my driver pulled over and proclaimed "Eccoci!" ("Here we are!"). We were clearly not. Nevertheless, we were close, so I piled out, paid, and relied on own my exceptional sense of direction and own two feet to get me the remaining four blocks.

Classic Mistake #3) "Make sure that you have the correct address." Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems entirely sensible to assume that number 48D is a flat in the house labelled 48, yes? Upon entering the gate of via dei Riari number 48, while searching for a buzzer to ring flat D, I was charged by a man yelling "Che fai!?! E un ospitale!", Roman for "Get the hell out", apparently. Number 48D was the next house up the street. While beating a hasty retreat out the gate of 48, I noticed a small sign on the wall that said Dipartimento Salute Mentale. No comments please.


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