Article in the Kingston Daily Freeman

Imagine this headline in a secular paper in New York: Tillson author parents with help from God. Well it's true! Read it on-line and support these kinds of articles with a comment.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

All Roads Lead to Rome, but Don't Ride The Rails! Part1

I just came home from a three week trip to Europe and have been deciding what to write about. I didn’t want to sound like just another tourist or travel guide, so I’ve been thinking on this—something historical and profound while I contemplated my visit to the Coliseum or ancient Roman Forum. Instead I will post this warning, All roads lead to Rome, but stay away from the public transportation system!

My first incident occurred just after stepping foot onto Roma Termini terrain—the main railway station of the legendary city. It is a choking tangle of tracks and trains—fast, local, regional, semi-regional and a metro system with no maps designed to confuse even a New Yorker! Instead of purchasing tickets from a metro machine, you have to hunt down a tabacci (tobacco) shop around the corner, which might lead you further into dark corners and mysterious territory. Yet there is a feeling of exhilaration as you hold the prized ticket in hand, thinking your quest is almost over—little did we know it was just warming up to a nice Roman sizzle, say thirty-seven degrees Celsius. (Look that up in your conversion charts—it’s hot!) For over an hour my daughters and I circled the network of long corridors with trains screeching and clattering. My daughters wore backpacks, but I was thumping my rolling suitcase up and down stairs, with no escalators and no ramps. We were guided by well meaning, though mistaken Romans. It didn’t help that I was asking for the train to Porto Maggiore rather than the tram. After being spun around one last time like a contestant for pin the tail on the donkey, we were pointed in the right direction and good thing because I was about ready to pin that tail on the next victim who steered me wrong, even though it belonged on me.

Once aboard the tram, remembering the importance of validating a ticket in order not to incur the wrath of the conductor or a stiff fine, I shuffled toward the yellow meter box, only to be jerked off my feet as the train rounded a corner and I was thrown into its accordion like fibrous being…truly Roma had swept me off my feet! I pried myself and my luggage from the mouth of the beast, dusted myself off and found the nearest pole to cling to, but still my ticket was not validated. After several erroneous tries, a bewildered looking young man inserted his ticket and then helped me with mine. My daughters followed, but no one else who boarded even looked like they knew what the machine was…it was there to bewilder and entrap tourists.