Rome then Florence in the evening, Thursday 19th February 1998
I must remember how grumpy I become when I am hungry and being refused a table because a reservation is required. Eventually I found the renamed Napoli Restaurant (air-conditioned) and the pizza is about to arrive. I was too late for the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel so I will try and visit on Saturday before I fly home. I bought the ticket for Florence and plan to leave at 6.20pm. Italians are much better at chatting over a meal than many other nationalities; it is an art form. I am feeling recovered. This morning was a quick tube ride to the Coliseum and a walk around the Forum and Palatine Hill; Amazing views, light perfect and weather pleasantly cool. I do not naturally warm to the generalised Italian temperament and style – perhaps I should qualify on which particular days this is true. I have ordered my “Bella Italia” pizza. I am amazed at the size of St Peter’s Basilica. I crossed beautiful bridges on the way there. I sat by a sparkling fountain in the bright sunshine near a group of school children dressed in American Indian costumes. I saw lots of nuns and priests. I feel a little under-dressed in this restaurant. Many Japanese schoolgirls were by the entrance to the Basilica. It is a real luxury spending time right in the centre of Rome or any city in fact. In most cases, real life means living in a suburb or outside the centre, possibly working in the centre of London, but not really living in the beautiful streets and buildings of a capital. I must try and make an effort to experience central London more than I do, although it is impossible for me to live there, I would be financially crippled. I am feeling quite relieved that when I return to London I have a job to go back to and that I do not have to go into hyper-mode and launch a job hunting campaign. By the way, the plane from Bangkok to Rome just skirted the border of Iraq. What a wonderful large pizza even for a Marko! Successful people seem to have an acute understanding of human nature, which transcends cultural boundaries. A passing thought: airport structure for a digital audio transmission database. I am also feeling relief. Some of the places I visited are quite hard work and I am not sure I relish the challenge of an underdeveloped third world country on the next leg of the journey. My only real concern now is taking home 42 Kg of luggage from Heathrow airport. The excellent pizza has just disappeared. More friends have just joined the Italian group late, another flurry of activity and communication. There is great attention paid to dress and make-up – perhaps I should adopt this quality and see what happens. No real worries are going through my head. It is 3.00pm and the restaurant is almost empty. There is evidence of a band in the corner. I had a large chocolate ice cream earlier in the day. I must say that the ticket man at the station was exceptionally helpful, compared to the other Italian officials I have met so far. Italian women are certainly more attractive than English ladies are. I need to sit and relax. Remember a healthy diet when I return! The sun was strong today. I have had an amazing trip but am looking forward to home. I guess it is because it is the first holiday I have had when I have had my own home to go to. I have accumulated plenty of souvenirs and so many photos.