When in Rome do as the Romans do?

We took the hire car into Rome with Peter and Heidi to explore the city before we left for France.

We got a car park right near the Colosseum, so cheap 1 euro per hour such a good deal! However, the coffee and croissant we got at the café was not such a good deal. 16 euro for 2 coffees and 2 croissants, this was very expensive. (This is nearly 30 Australian dollars) We have only been paying 1 or 2 euros for a coffee. That’s tourism I guess.

We decided to go with a guided tour of the Colosseum and while we were waiting for the guide one of the local Indian street touters sold us all a bottle of water. He started off with 2 euros each but Heidi bargained him down to 1 euro. He seemed a bit nervous and really fast doing the deal and then we found out why. We had no sooner got the tops off the water and 2 plain clothes policemen on motorbikes zoomed up and nabbed him. They were quite mean to him and took him away, but they also emptied out all the other water bottles he had!

We have noticed a large Polizi presence in Italy, more so than in any other country we have visited so far. A lot of plain clothes officers also. There’s a few types of police here, Polizi and Caribinieri. Not really sure who does what and really hope we don’t find out!

So we had a good tour of the Colosseum, and I have to say what a blood thirsty lot the Romans were! Not only did they enjoy watching Gladiators fighting to the death in the arena with swords, they also threw in Lions and Tigers to add to the excitement. Then when they got bored with that, they filled up the lower part of the Colosseum with water, where the men had to fight in boats. BUT! They imported Crocodiles from Africa and if the poor guys fell in the water, well that was the end of them. We did marvel at the construction of the Colosseum, how they managed to build these magnificent structures in those days without cranes amazes us.

We then jumped on one of the get on/get off bus tours around Rome and explored the city that way. We got off at the Vatican and had a good walk around. There was a very long queue to go in so we decided against that. It’s a very beautiful city and we generally don’t like cities but we enjoyed our day out. Unfortunately it ended badly with the bus driver telling everyone we had to get off the bus and go onto the next bus, but the next bus wouldn’t let us on and had the door locked and even though the assistant from our bus was asking him to let us all on (about 12 people) he refused and drove off. Turns out they close at 6:30pm, and this was just before 6:30pm, he had other people on the bus so was going to the next stop anyway, but just didn’t want to let us on. We ended up having to walk back to the Colosseum. So, our advice is, that if in Rome don’t use Green line Tours go with the Red bus tour company, I am sure they won’t be as rude as the driver from Green line Tours!

 We had to wait for the weather to improve for our trip from Rome (Ostia) to Corsica (a French Island) so I spent the day yesterday cleaning, the outside of the boat and Robbie did more maintenance and cleaning in the engine room. It does seem to be never ending the list of maintenance jobs, well if you want to keep on top of things it seems that way! The marina (Cantere Nautico Altamarea) we have stayed in is really cheap, 15 euro per day, including power and water and the dock is very dodgy and crooked, but it was great for us and they had security at night, so although it doesn’t look the best, it was a safe and economical option for us while we left the boat for a week.

We had to do some research on my Visa situation. I emailed our friends Mark and Jennifer from “Starlet” the Nordhavn 46 that have been travelling in the Med for a number of years, they were really helpful. I ended up emailing the French Embassy in NZ to get the correct information. We are almost at our 90 day time limit in the EU. We got a bit panicky about me, Robbie is exempt as he has a British passport as well as his Australian passport. In the EU there is a thing called “Schengen” which is an agreement between the majority of EU countries excepting a few, that you can travel within and between the countries without a Visa for 90 days, in any 180 day period. To cut a long story short, because I am travelling on my New Zealand passport (Southern Star is registered in New Zealand) I am very lucky as it turns out New Zealand has a special bilateral Visa waiver with most of the European countries and a Kiwi can have 90 days in each Schengen country, as well as the 90 days within the 180 days. This means we have no drama for the remainder of the time we will be in Europe and don’t have to go to the bother of applying for Visas in France or Spain. A big relief!



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