It’s my first big trip to Europe. I’ve never been before, and I’m going alone on a partially escorted tour. London, Paris, Venice, Florence, and the tour finishes in Rome. Except I’m staying on, spending the weekend in Sorrento before returning to Toronto.
The entire trip went smoothly. I chose a Monograms Tour because they look after the hotels, transfers, and luggage, and leave you with nothing but free time to do what you like in each city.
I’m staying at the Hotel Cicerone in Rome. After goodbyes to my tour friends, I’m on my own. I settle in for a long train trip to Naples, followed by a strange train ride to Sorrento. It was more like riding a subway system, stopping in every small town along the way, before arriving at my destination. I’m excited to go past Pompeii, knowing I’ll be returning this weekend.
In Sorrento, I’m staying at the Hotel Central. It’s a bit of a long walk along the Corso Italia along the cobbled streets. They are happy to see me, since I had booked this hotel so far in advance.
They ask for my passport, as every hotel does, and that’s when I discover it is gone. Nowhere to be found.
The police are called, and I have an appointment for later that afternoon. They give me a lovely room with french doors opening to a balcony. My room faces the street, with a view of the mountains in the background.
Now it’s time to prepare. I do the one thing I hate, which is paying for hotel WiFi – and send a mass letter to friends asking for names, addresses and phone numbers, so I’m prepared to get a new passport. I leave the hotel and go to the police station, where a pleasant officer takes my information and gives me a copy of the police report. Back at my hotel, I contact the Canadian Embassy in Rome, but they remain non-committal. I may or may not get a replacement passport, but they are certain I should be there first thing the next morning with five references and any ID that I may have.
I wander around Sorrento for a while, have dinner, then return to the Hotel Central. They are very understanding as I cancel my reservation, and assign me a small fee, which I felt was more than generous of them. I book a taxi for 6:00AM, since that’s the only way to get one.
The next morning, I take the taxi to the Sorrento train station, pass by Pompeii again, change trains in Naples, then get a taxi to the Canadian Embassy in Rome, arrive shortly after 9:00AM – it’s a long trip.
Forms are filled out, then I’m sent to get my passport picture taken. Having no sense of direction, I get lost trying to find my way back to the embassy. Once I am there, I hand in the pictures. It’s now noon, and the embassy closes for two hours for lunch. Everybody must leave, and take all your stuff with you.
Rome is having a nasty August heat wave, and I’m dragging a huge piece of luggage through the cobbled streets. I find a place for lunch, where I’m seated at a table for six by myself. It’s early by Italian standards, so I’m one of only three in the restaurant. Within an hour it’s full.
Once I’ve left, I still have time to kill. In the heat. A man walking by senses my plight, and speaks English. He directs me to a nearby park, which is very close to the embassy. I sit there for some time watching the world go by.
Back at the embassy, I go through security again, then up to the passport office, where I given my new passport, with a white cover! It’s a temporary document, if memory serves good for thirty days. My new official passport, which will only be valid for two years, will be waiting for me back in Canada.
It’s now Friday, and my return flight to Canada is Monday afternoon. I’m already booked at a hotel in Fiumicino near the airport for Sunday night, so I call them and arrange to spend the weekend.
There wasn’t much in Fiumicino, but there was lots of places to walk around, a bar, a grocery store to get beer to take back to the hotel, which had a nice outdoor patio on the third floor. They also had free bicycle rentals, and of course there was a very long beach along the Mediterranean Sea.
Relating my story when I got back to Canada, I got no sympathy.
Where did you spend the weekend? A beach motel on the Mediterranean.