Shanghai, where I had an overnight layover, is where the trouble started. Again I felt thrust back into a place where I didn't understand anything or anyone and I had a gnawing feeling I was being ripped off with every step I took. Maybe my month in Australia made me soft, or maybe I was just overly eager to get to Italy, but I really could not wait to get out of there. It was about 7PM and my flight out to Rome wasn't until about noon the next day so I figured I would get out of the airport and maybe find myself a hotel. I didn't need a visa for such a short stay so I might as well take advantage of the opportunity to see the city. But I also didn't want to be too far from the airport, which left me in this awful in between place. There was not much to do or see and the hotel I stayed at was expensive and ratty. Maybe I should have just slept at the airport. And, once again, it was HOT! Like over 100 degrees in the shade hot. I know it's not right to judge a place when you haven't really explored it, but Shianghai was not impressing me and I was more then happy to head back to the airport early the next morning.
My flight to Rome was longer than the previous leg, so I expected the same treatment as the day before. As I stepped into the plane I was unpleasantly surprised to find an older, dingier cabin, with less leg room and no seat back monitors for entertainment. This was going to be a long 11 hours. To make things even better we were stuck on the tarmac for 2 hours with hardly a word or explanation. The staff was unhelpful and just couldn't be bothered with you, unless they were scolding you for listening to your music on your iPhone or having your seat too far back. So I guess I see where the negative reviews are coming from. I was at least lucky enough to fall asleep for that last 4-5 hours of the flight. When I woke up we were making our decent into Rome.
Being tired from the nearly 48 hour trip I was not ready to handle getting to Rome 2 hours late at around 9PMto discover that the hotel I pre booked was either a €75 cab ride or a near 2 hour trip on public transportation. (Note: there is more then one airport in Rome, so check and make sure the hotel you book is actually near the airport you are flying into). So, I ended up in Roma Centrale at about 10:30PM with no hotel and no clue what I was doing (great planner...right here!). I started walking the street thinking that there has to be plenty of hostels in this general area. Wrong. Ok, B&B's then. Sure, but they are expensive...really expensive and all booked since its the start of the tourist season and its 10:30, going on 11 now at night. A guy on the street stops me and tells me about a B&B not far, and for me, only €10. Uh...I don't think so. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Just as I'm heading back to the train station, and feeling desperate because I'm thinking that I'm going to have to camp out somewhere in the station, I pass this sign for rooms starting at €50, and 24 hr reception. I decide to take a look as one last ditch effort. I had to walk through a small alleyway and around a corner to reach Hotel Robinson, but when I got there and found a little old woman behind the counter, and the lobby glowing warmly my spirits lifted. The woman was really kind and spoke pretty good English. Luckily enough she had just one single bed left for €50 and I jumped at it, even though that's like $75 and way above my budget. Who cares, I was home in my tiny room, barely larger then my kitchen space in my NYC apartment. The bed was clean and comfortable and the shower was hot. I was happy, and I would figure out the rest in the morning.