Going Places Educational Travel Blog - Part 1: Rome, 20 Years on
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November 12, 2014

Part 1: Rome, 20 Years on

educational travel rome italy

By Julian Moseley

If it were not for a strange and tragic turn of events, I would not have been flying over the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Rome.

I was last with a group from Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1994, and since then I haven’t been doing tours anymore really, although I did take a group from California around Spain a few years ago as a kind of “hey, let’s see if I can still do this!” exercise.

I’m normally tucked away in an office somewhere, either in Madrid, Paris, London, or at Passports’ world headquarters in Spencer, Massachusetts.

It’s pretty exciting to be on the road again, but scary also. I spent a couple of days rushing around getting ready and thinking “gosh, how did we used to manage before we had the Internet?”. We had to have guidebooks and maps, and if we didn’t have the right ones at hand, we had to go out and buy them. So time consuming! Now we just go to Wikipedia or Google Maps and download stuff.

Back in 1994, not only did we not have internet, but we didn’t have cell phones either, something which is barely conceivable today. Of all the industries that have benefited from the advent of cell phones, tourism has to be the winner in first place. On a typical tour, you are so dependent on connecting with other people, on being in a certain place at a certain time. Things which can be so simple and stress-free when everyone has everyone else’s cell phone number, used to be at times a nightmare of complications and frustrations, and yet somehow we all managed, without having nervous breakdowns all over the place.

So the dusty, dry Spanish landscape is replaced by the cool, blue Mediterranean; which in turn becomes the relatively lush Roman countryside, and we’re in Italy! It’s funny because each time I go back to Italy I find that I’ve forgotten (somehow) how wonderful so many things are. There’s a pleasant surprise awaiting me at every turn – quite often minor things – and often to do with food:  the smell from the bakeries that is unlike that of any other country; the way things are so nicely displayed in general (I took a photo of some sachets of sugar on a bar because I was so impressed by the artistic display); the fresh basil; the inexpensive but delicious take-out pizza that is ubiquitous these days; the beautiful pastry shops and cafés. In terms of food, Italy has it well and truly nailed down, about that there is no doubt. Other countries strive hard to succeed, but Italy just does it effortlessly.

After a short coach drive I’m already at the grandiose Termini Station, trundling my suitcase through the immense concourse. I think of Mussolini - and resist stopping for a panino - gosh they look so delicious - no, later Julian - first to my hotel. I’m there, thanks to Google Maps.

I’m in The Eternal City, suitcase in room, the Colosseum is two blocks away, and there’s that panino waiting for me in the café next door. Maybe a cappuccino too.

Ciao, Roma!


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