Micro states of Europe travel blog

Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore

One of the Four Fountains

Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli interior

Got maybe a bit of sleep but mostly rest, tossing and turning. It was rather warm in the cabin. Eventually a continental-type brekkie came around after 0600. Same was more than ample.

The green fields of Belgium were the first bit of Europe I saw, a continent a bit unsure of itself these days with the Russian bear around, Brexit and the Donald all complicating life to various degrees. Touched down by 0705 for the short taxi to the gate. A long walk to customs and then into the rather old baggage area. Signs described Brussels as 'The Heart of Europe'.

The gaggle of heavily armed military personnel was a reminder of the senseless horror the airport endured all too recently.

Found an Alitalia desk re when I could check in for the 1125 flight [now was fine]. Off toward A gates through a collection of boutiques first. Sat down at the eventual gate, fiddling around for an hour trying to connect in vain. A few walks whiled away the time prior to boarding.

Alitalia 159 was an older A319 with one aisle and three seats in economy on each side. Could barely stay awake for the roughly two hours gate to gate. It was a long bus ride to the baggage area.

Signs for the train were clear for the most part, another good walk involved. My kiosk did not seem to work so got my ducat for the Leonardo Express the old fashioned way. Timing was good, not waiting too long for the 1423 departure for Roma Termini, the main train station just some 10M walk to the hotel.

I did the trip in reverse when in Rome last year, some recollections refreshed: it is not really fast and the scenery is nothing special. It nevertheless served its purpose.

Arrived at 1455 and off to the Hotel Eurostars International Palace on Via Nazionale, passing the Plaza of the Republic en route. Looks like there is some gay pride parade in the offing by the colours and attire.

Found the Hotel Eurostars International Palace readily enough. The guide Peter was in reception. Seems like a decent chap. He's of Indian background, recently married and living in Pretoria, South Africa. My roomie was out and about.

Good thing I do not suffer from triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13: it was check-in area 13 in Trawna, carousel 13 for the baggage in Brussels and 13 in the group. Got the wifi details for an email home. Not many outlets in the room. I hate the set up where power only works in the room when you have the room card inserted. At least with a roomie we might be able to finesse things some days.

Off to cover some old ground again to fill the late afternoon, first heading to the Basilica Papale Santa Maria Maggiore. Soldiers and machine guns were evident as was a trip through an airport-style security area. There was some sort of mass going on so the visit was circumscribed but the interior was nevertheless worthwhile.

After the basilica, I ran into the gay pride parade trying to head back so caught a bit of the colour. I then returned to the four fountains' area for another bit of photography. I don't think last year I entered the Chiesa de San Carolina alle Quattro Fontane. It was a small church where you could even repent in Malagasy.

Wended my way toward the Piazza de la Republica, spotting the Chiesa de San Bernardo alle Terme. Its interior was under construction, highlighted by priests chanting behind the altar.

Last up was the Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, the former venue of the Baths of Diocletion. The church took up just the Tepidarium portion. The original structure was roughly 360 meters by 360 meters. The present basilica barely used up parts of a third of that structure.

Back to the room to meet Lou, a chap from NYC who voted for the Donald! He's big into US military history. Seems like a decent fellow.

Down at 1830 to meet most of the group [one joined during dinner, arriving late]. There are no couples which is quite odd. Peter took us to a restaurant he had evidently used in the past. Had a liter of beer [too much] and a Romano pizza [very good with its capers and black olives in particular].

Back to the room for a bit. Took a shower to try to help with the sleep. Not sure of bed time.

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