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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day Two: Borghese and beyond

Before we left for the Borghese, we asked for bottles of cold water at the front desk, and we explained they had better be complimentary, because they had never replaced our broken fridge. They said they would bring them right away, and immediately a woman appeared with enormous glass bottles. We said, "No, we need the small plastic ones to carry around with us. Those are too big and heavy."

Oh, okay, they said. Be right back. Fifteen minutes later we asked again, and finally a woman with small, wet, warm plastic bottles appeared. They had been trying to cool them under cold water. Really? A Radisson hotel has no plastic water bottles in a refrigerator anywhere? We told them no freakin' thanks, walked out, and bought some at the museum cafeteria. We were no longer shocked, just horrified, as usual.

The Borghese is a very strange and wonderful place. It's an interesting building full of fantastic art, and the value of the collection is either astronomical or priceless. The access to this collection is severely limited, so much so that we got our tickets before leaving the States, and if you're going, you should do the same. Go here and bookmark it. This is an excellent service.

I tried to enter this as a link, and of course it came out blank. It's worth C&Ping this into your browser and then bookmarking it, I promise.

The galleries are air conditioned, and you should go lean on the windows in each room while listening to your tour guide, because this is where the cold air comes out. The tour guides know all the dirt on the Borghese family and the artists, and it really makes the whole thing a much richer experience. GET A LIVE GUIDE. Viator will hook you up. A recorded tour is simply never going to be as good.

After the museum tour there was a walking tour of the Borghese park, but as it was arounnd 99 F, we chose a taxi back to the front of the Termini instead. Why? Because we heard, and correctly, as it turns out, that there is a very controversial new statue of JP II out front. The taxi driver knew exactly where, thank God, because there's a LOT of construction. JP II was beatified in May of this year, and the train station was renamed for him, and they put up this pigeon-catcher, er, statue. The controversy is that it looks like Mussolini and provides shelter for drunks. You can decide for yourselves.

Following this mini-adventure, we went back to the hotel and to the pool! At last! Doesn't it look nice?

Radisson BLU soft-surface skating rink.

You can't see it, but trust me, the entire deck is splintered wood, the water is frigid, as in unbearable, even on a hot Roman day, and the rails on the adult pool are so loose, you are safer just using the stairs and your own balance. Otherwise you might rip the thing out and stab yourself with the rusty, jagged edge. PLEASE click on the picture. All that wood is a lawsuit waiting to happen, and note the ONE swimmer on an excruciatingly hot day. And you know what else? The pool is open to the public. That's right; it's not even exclusive to guests. And even with that, no one is actually in it except for this poor child who was thrown in by her brutish companions a moment sooner.

Like all the other adults, we sat on the bottom of the kiddie pool, which, because it was so shallow, was a tolerable temperature. The kiddies were a bit baffled by this behavior, but they managed. And then, of course, we wondered why they hadn't just filled some plastic bottles out of the pool and given them to us when we were leaving that morning. We would never have guesssed!

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