Monday, June 22, 2009

The BEACH! - Sunday

We finally got Internetworking tonight after several days in which the network dissapeared. We're still at the window.
-D on Monday

I really wanted to get to the beach. It's been a couple of years since I've been to any beach. My swimming trunks have almost regained that new car smell. I came across Ostia ruins in Rick Steve's guide book and noticed it was close to a beach. There is a train that goes that way, and it is the closest beach to Rome.

I woke up before the alarm, ate a quick breakfast, packed a super quick lunch, and ran out the door to catch the 7:39 train. When I got to the station, it said 8:20 for the train (we can't find any documentation of the weekend schedules at the station). So I headed into Albano and tried the Cotral bus. It came at 8 am. When it says Rome, it really means the closest subway stop to us, Angina. I noticed that Angina has an Ikea (not exactly American but it inspires good feelings) and a McDonalds - definitely worth checking out later (Yes we will somehow drag a new bookcase across the Atlantic because they pack those things so tight). So the trip worked out to be: Walk to Albano Center - Bus to Angina - Subway to Termini - Transfer to Subway to Pyramide - Transfer to train to Ostia - Catch number 7 bus to beach. I left the house at 7:30 am. I saw the Mediterranean at 11 am. But it's the beach so it's worth it.

I walked for several miles; the beach keeps going, with people and vendors along the way. There are substantial dunes with trees and a strip of sand along the sea. The water was not North Carolina August warm, but it still nice for a short swim. I like to walk at home, maybe a couple of times a week, but here I'm been walking like ... a guy who walks a lot (or like a guy after his second DWI conviction - is that appropriate?).

I decided to leave time to get home, so I headed back around 3 pm. Shortly before I left, there was a min-cyclone - a tornado looking spiral out in the sea. It was unusual enough that everybody was grabbing his cell phone to take pictures. That was followed by very dark clouds. People streamed off the beaches. I noticed something very un-European. A few people went to the bus stops. But a flood of cars headed out of the many small parking lots. A lot of cars. A lot of motorcycles. It hit me: Italians don't like public transportation any more than Americans do. Europeans are supposed to be environmental and maybe their incredibly tiny cars (do tall people just not drive here?) make them more so than Americans. But they still like to drive many kilometers. They want to go to the beach in 40 minutes, not 180 minutes. And when America spends billions more on public transportation, people will still prefer to drive. Going to a city center may be easier with a subway, but moving around the city can be slow, very slow. Some times the trains just stop on the tracks for ten minutes. Then when they go, they travel at around 30 miles an hour.

And on the bus ride home, there were cars everywhere. Most things are closed on Sunday nights, so I don't know where they are going. I also noticed the two lane each way divided highway was almost an interstate, but it had crosswalks - no lights or anything, just frogger-style crossing.

The way home was also slow; this time I tried a different bus that was supposed to go directly to the Eur Fermini station. However it went in a loop and then proceeded back to the stop and then onto many other stops before getting to the subway station. We are learning these buses the hard way. I think the time was similar to the train. Then a subway, a transfer to another subway, and the bus. So around 4 hours of beach for 7 hours of traveling. I really like the beach; I might try again tomorrow. 5 hours to Wilmington, NC for some beach time and sea food has always been a good day trip.

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