Pickpockets and the Port

Up at seven, we got ready, finished packing, and enjoyed our last breakfast at Boscolo Astoria. Even though the train station was just a short walk away, we didn’t want to haul our bags across the cragged cobblestone streets, so we called a taxi to take us there.

At the Firenze Santa Maria Novella Stazione, we awaited our train for Roma Tiburtina, but its time was slowly getting pushed later and later. Panicking, we wondered how we were going to make it to our cruise ship on time. I (being the action-taking sort of person) left my luggage with Julianna and Baba and ran to find help. I found the customer service, and luckily everyone spoke English. I explained that we needed to get to Rome by a certain time, and they said we could catch the train leaving any minute and wrote down instructions and seat numbers. I ran back to where the others were standing and waiting with our luggage, and explained to them that we needed to – pardon the expression – haul ass to the train.

We originally booked our rail tickets here.

We fled with our luggage and found our seats. We were separated, but at least we were on the train. It was not long before the bullet train reached Rome, and at the station we went outside to look for a cab to take us either to Civitavecchia (the port) or to the other train station in Rome.

The cab driver we found was monolingual and I had to be very smart with my hand gestures to communicate. After trying to say Civitavecchia and him not understanding me a few times, I pointed to my wrist (time), made a cash motion with my hands, and pointed at our cruise documents. He finally understood. He wrote down 2 hours on his paper and 100 euros. I said no. I pointed to the address on the paper I had printed with all our directions of the Roma Termini Stazione and made the cash motion with my hands, and he wrote 10 euros down on the paper. “Si!” we agreed and hopped in. The cab driver was crazy and so were the roads in Rome. I couldn’t imagine driving through the city myself, even for the short time we were in the cab.

At Roma Termini, I once again left Julianna and Baba with our luggage, as we were already being approached by gypsies asking for money. I found a machine to buy and print tickets, but it wasn’t in English and I couldn’t figure it out. A girl offered to help me, and at first I said no but then she started doing it for me anyways. After my tickets printed, the girl stood there with her palms open asking for money. (Note to self, be strong and don’t accept help in certain places. In Canada, I’m used to accepting help from people because we are generally friendly and polite and do things from the goodness of our heart, in another places, they usually expect you to pull out your wallet to put food on the table.) She had already seen my wallet when I was paying for the tickets so I gave her a couple coins. She asked for more and I had to strongly say no.

I ran back to Julianna and my Baba, mindful of my bag, and told them we had to hurry to the train because it would be leaving shortly. It took us a while to find the platforms, and even longer for our train. It was due to leave any second. I started running and my sister and grandmother were falling behind. Two young girls approached me and grabbed the handle of my luggage, asking where I was going and they would help me. I held on tighter to my bags and thanked them, but told them no. They kept a grip on my things and persisted, saying they could show me the way. I let out that I was going to the port, and they started running with me saying, “This way, this way! Porto, porto!” still pulling on my bag. I told them to leave me alone.

They left my side finally, only to go after the others. They each had a hand on Baba’s bags and wouldn’t let go. We arrived at our train, and I wasn’t even sure it was the right one. The girls had already started throwing our bags on board. I kept telling them no and that we could do it ourselves. We were overwhelmed.

They put us in a private compartment on the train, and stood at the door demanding money. My baba started pulling out her change bag; I told her to stop and told them no. She gave them a few coins, and they stood there begging for more. I stood up. “No,” I growled. They started to make another peep. “NO!” I stood my ground. They retreated. I stood, shaking and sweating.

Happy we were on board, I was still worried this was the wrong train. No one was on board. Our train was supposed to have left already and this one was showing no signs of moving. I went and looked around. I peered out of the train’s door. I couldn’t see any signs. I paced the isles. Finally, people started to join us. They looked like tourists. I couldn’t tell if anyone spoke English. I overheard some people talking about Royal Caribbean and I felt at ease. Then I saw those girls again. They were bothering a few Asian ladies for money. I stood by watching. The Asian ladies immediately started speaking their own language, pretending they didn’t understand. After an evil glare from me, they went away. What an adventure.

When the train started moving, we were glad to get going; when we saw the sea from our window, we were thrilled. We listened carefully for “Civitavecchia” and soon found out it was pronounced “Chivitavekia”. Luckily, we got off at the right stop. A lady was waiting at the small station, holding a sign that said Royal Caribbean. I went up to her smiling, and she gave us instructions on how to get to our cruise ship. We took the bus from the station to the port, (which you cannot walk to, despite what it says online) and started the boarding process. It was roasting out, but we were so glad to have finally arrived.

I have no pictures from this time, as we were in a hurry. I wish I had taken a few photos of the train stations, and of the insides of a train, but sometimes it feels invasive to other passengers. I have learned that in future travels I will schedule time just to stop and “smell the roses”. I wouldn’t recommend cutting your traveling as close as we did. I hope you enjoyed my written-only post!

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