We roam about Rome, stopping to look and talk and eat along the way. My advice, get a local SIM and forget about exorbitant roaming charges.

Close up image of our primo (first course) of cured meats, cheese and flatbread

Our primo, cured meats, mozzarella di bufala, salted flat bread dressed with rosemary and olive oil.

There's nothing better than a guide that has lived in a city and knows you and your taste. Not just your taste in food, but in activities, mode of transport and what you think is uproariously funny. My guide was my baby brother, who has lived in Italy on and off for many years. A few years ago he lived in Rome. I remember him saying to my mother and I as we looked at a picture of the Coliseum, "I used to ride my bike past it every day on my way to work. You never get tired of seeing it". He met me at my hotel, and we we were off. First to find a mobile phone shop where I could buy a SIM to use in my phone while I was in Italy. I highly recommend getting a local SIM. It will keep you from worrying about how much expensive data you're going to have to pay

for when you return home. Buying the SIM isn't intuitive, and there's no guarantee that the people in the shop will speak enough of your language to explain the process to you. Again, advantage ME, my brother is fluent and he negotiated the process from stop to finish. I took two phones on the trip and only switched one SIM. Here's a tip for new players: if your phone is your second factor authentication device for banking and other sensitive transactions, you shouldn't switch out the SIM on that one. Once that business was out of the way, we were off. Off to find a coffee. With caffeine in our systems we were ready to explore. And off we went. We went to the Spanish Steps, down them and around, then back up. Wandering around Rome like locals on a scavenger hunt to see the most of Rome possible in a day. The plan was for us to roam in…

A map of Italy, with Rome highlighted

Rome, it's right in the middle, a great place to start.

Australia is a long way from everywhere. You don't realise how far it is until you're travelling somewhere else. Smart people break their trip half way to wherever they're going. I'm smart, but not smart enough and I'm always in a hurry to get where I'm going. A brief stop over in Abu Dhabi where I was reacquainted with the true but meaningless saying, 'Yes, but it's a dry heat'. When it's 43º C (110º F) hot is hot. Eventually I arrived in Rome. Not quite as hot, but hot enough. I had been studying Italian but discovered Italians don't speak slowly and enunciate with pauses between every word like the App training voices do. I had my instructions from my travel agent on how and where to get the train from the airport to central Rome. Yes, I still use a travel agent. I'll write about why in another post. I had already purchased my train ticket. Huge lines at the ticket

counter with a human interface made me try the ticket machine. They work well, but when it's hot and you're the only one who doesn't read Italian, it can be nerve wracking. But before I could get on the train I had to get out of the airport. Handsome Italian men in leather jackets wearing semi-automatic rifles with the insouciance only Italian men can muster were lounging near the exit. I had my bags. I had my train ticket. But could I leave? I had gone through a line where I told a customs officer that I was on holiday and visiting family. But no one asked if I was carrying any fruit or other edibles. I decided to approach the carefree Carabinieri, but as I approached they became less carefree. I had forgotten that Europe has been subject to terrorist style attacks for far longer than the rest of the world. They looked carefree but they were alert. They also…

Compass on blue print fabric

Let a compass be your guide

Boy it's been a long time, and so much has happened. First and best, I had a fabulous holiday in Italy. A spectacular visit and right in the middle a beautiful wedding where my baby brother married the love of his life in a villa in the hills of Tuscany. Tough life, I know. They live in Florence (Firenze to locals). Don't hate them. Took copious notes and was about to get stuck into sharing my travel tales when bang, quite literally. I didn't get a house dropped on me but I did get hit by a car.  You might guess that getting hit by a car puts a real hitch in your get along.

Many months later and I'm now able to start putting my fingers to work sharing my experiences. I hope I have some readers left. I won't clutter this blog with my musings on having your life interrupted by a driver who clearly wasn't paying attention. I'll be writing about that experience in my other blog, For the Journey where I blog about adventures of the mind, body and spirit.  I won't go into gorey details without warning. This is the second time I've found myself tossed out of my own life onto another path. So I have lots to share that will help others when they get served lemons and they don't really like lemonade.

A stash of books

One of my stashes

I should love them. I'm a lifelong believer in never going anywhere without something to read. About the only time I don't carry a book with me is when I'm taking out the rubbish. E-books,  e-readers and I should be soul mates. They make it easy to take a whole library wherever I go. Who wouldn't want that? With your own personal library at hand, you put an end to wondering if that book you've just started is going to be the right accompaniment to the tram ride or lunch on the go. No more worrying that the cover of the book you’re currently obsessed with tells others too much about you when you're reading in public. And you never have to struggle lugging more than one 1000 page tome with you, just in case. But I've tried and tried, but I just can’t love them. And here's why. First, I spend most of my days working at a computer. I

know, so do most people these days. What difference does that make? I also suffer from dry eyes, and by the end of every day, my eyes feel like they are too big for their sockets and my eyelids could substitute for a rasp. Second, I'm very near-sighted. I can see things close up without my spectacles. By the end of the day, that's how I'm most comfortable reading up close. My eyes are tired (did I mention they are dry and sore?). My eyes don't cooperate with the specs any more. For close work, what that really means is that my eyes are tired from constantly readjusting from close to far work. In the evening or in less than perfect light especially when reading or using my mobile or tablet, I need to take my glasses off. Switching between TV and book or newspaper (yes, I sometimes buy a paper copy that doesn't make me a Luddite or…