It all started here...

It all started here...

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Civitavecchia/Hilton Rome Airport/Ostia Antica -- March 7, 2015

Disembarkation day. It was not easy to leave our home for the last 21 days but we must accept the reality of life. The fun is over and we have to go back to our normal daily living wherever that may be. One positive note was that the weather that day was one of the best throughout this trip!

Back at the port of Civitavecchia.

One last breakfast at Cagney's.

Steak and Egg

Crab Cakes Benedict

No lines for the complimentary shuttles.

We have used Romecabs several times previously and were happy with their service. This time we tried the airportstaxitransfers which was just as good, and cheaper. I have booked a 6-person van for the three of us originally but ended up with two more passengers from our roll-call. Each of us shared the ride for 25E each which was a real bargain. Originally I planned on booking the coach transfer from Smartcruisetour for 20E pp. But the idea of taking the shuttle to the gate and then transfer to the coach did not appeal to me. For a few dollars more our private transfer was much more efficient and less hassle. In fact, we arrived at the Hilton before those who took the coach and they had to leave the ship before we did that morning. Our problem was meeting up with our other riders who waited outside the terminal while we waited inside. We finally met up and boarded the nice, clean van with our driver who was waiting right at the exit holding a sign with my name. We had just one drop-off scheduled, at the Airport Hilton. But one of our rider needed to be dropped off at terminal 3 and the driver had no problem making the extra stop.

Hilton Rome Airport

This was our second time staying here at this airport hotel, so it was like coming home. This hotel is very convenient because it's right across from the terminal with a long connecting walkway. We had a real early flight the next morning and being that close to the airport was definitely important. NCL also had a temporary service desk there on embarkation day for those who booked hotel stays with them.

When we arrived, our room was not ready. Being a gold member of Hilton Honor, we were given key cards to their Executive Lounge on the 5th Floor so we could relax while waiting for the room. Don, who was on our transfer with us, had no access to the lounge but we had no problem bringing him along. We could have left our bags with them and go sight seeing, but we just wanted to drop everything off first before going out. So, up to the lounge we went. After staying in the lounge for about 20 minutes, we were told that they had to close for cleaning. OK, back to the lobby one more time!

Enjoying some refreshment in the lounge.

We checked into our room that had a view of the long walkway...

and the train station.

This room on the Executive floor was spacious and well-appointed. It had a walk-in closet.

One of the benefits as HH gold member is the upgrade whenever available to the Executive floor with lounge access.

Breakfast and free wi-fi was included also, but this time we did not even have time for breakfast the next morning.

Ostia Antica

The Airport Hilton provide complimentary shuttles to Rome city center which we used last time staying here. This time we wanted to check out Ostia Antica which is suppose to be near this area. I asked the hotel clerk to call a taxi for us which she got out with a push of a button. The taxi/van was actually waiting outside the hotel. I have asked the clerk about how much it will cost us to get to Ostia and she said around 20-25E which was about what I have read on cruisecritic, and everyone else suggested to take a taxi. We did not expect that this taxi driver was going to pull the trick on us because we trusted the hotel. 

Right after we got on, the driver put his hat over the meter. That's not a good sign already, and we had our sensors on.
After about 20 minutes, we arrived at the gate of Ostia Antica and he charged us for 40E. I told him that was not what the hotel told me. He defended himself by saying it's a flat rate and the hotel was wrong. Then MOR asked him for a receipt. As he was scrambling back and forth and around the van to get a receipt, he acted like he was calling someone. Finally, he gave us a receipt of 30E and said he called the hotel and told them they should not tell guests the wrong information. What a...

I told him to take off that hat and show me the meter. I could understand that they need to make more money than what the meter says, but don't try to cheat, people!

On the side of the van...
When we purchased the tickets at the gate, I asked the young man there how could we get a taxi back to the hotel when we are done. He said he could call a taxi for us if we leave before 4 o'clock. By now, we were not sure if we could trust him or anyone else...

There are a lot to see in Ostia Antica and amazing in it's own way.

You could really spend a whole day here but after the many ports that we had been in the last couple of weeks, I was kind of 'ruins overloaded' by now.

After having a bite to eat at this cafe, the two of us just sat under the shade as ChC went on to explore more on his own.
It seemed like that there are more locals visiting this site than tourists. By accident, I overheard an English speaking woman passing by and I asked her if she knew where the train station was. Apparently she has family here in Rome and she came here on the train so I asked the right person. 

We left the site at around 3:30, and determined to walk to the train station. We had no idea how to take the train but maybe we could find a taxi somewhere. 
We followed the direction given to us and made a right turn on the first street we saw after we exit the ruin.

Walked up this bridge ... cross the highway to the other side.

Looking back at where we came from.

The tiny train station of Ostia Antica was at the bottom of the bridge.
We had no idea where we were going and what to do here. After checking the map of the wall, we figured that if we can get to Porte S. Paolo, there is a connection that will take us back to the airport. 
Now, we just have to figure out how to get tickets from the machine. We finally bought the tickets, it was like 1.25E pp for the one-way ticket but we couldn't find a machine to validate the tickets. We knew how important it is to validate train tickets, right? but nobody speaks English around here! Finally, a young girl who understands a little English told us that it was OK, the tickets were validated when purchased. 
This was a long train ride and we did not realize that we ended up somewhere in Rome when we got off at Porte S. Paolo. According to the map we should be able to make a connection for the train back to the airport from here. Where should we go for that train? Yes, let's ask the staff inside the booth! "Go out and turn right" was what she told us. We went outside and looked to the right, there were many vendors selling stuff along the street but no train station. Look at the map on the wall some more. OK, it looked like there is a building further down the street. So we walked pass the vendors and kept walking to the end of that street and found the train station. Now that we are at the train station, we need to buy tickets. Isn't that fun! We spent quite some time watching people and trying out machines. Some machine only 'speak' Italian, and some do not take money. We finally found one that does both and purchased our needed tickets for 8E each. We did not dare to get tickets for the next train because we didn't know how long it will take us to get to the platform, and we still needed to look for the restroom before we board. OK, look for the yellow machine to validate the tickets. No yellow machines, but there are a couple of green machines so they must be 'it'. A young man helped us get our tickets validated. For .70, we used the restrooms and then headed over to bin 12 for our train. Whew!

We finally got on the train that takes us back to the airport. I am sure there are better ways to do this, I mean to go from Ostia Antica to the airport, but we were glad that at least we were on our way back 'home'. As we were sitting on the train, we couldn't help but laughed at our 'exciting' adventure. Yep, we went the wrong direction and spent about the same amount money wise to get us back but, come to think of it, it was kind of fun! We got to see Rome one more time and now we know how to ride the trains in Italy! Pat on the back!
I am generally a planner, I have to know what I am doing and plan well ahead of time. This accidental trip really threw me off and I was frustrated that everything was out of control. It turned out fine at the end because time was not a factor in our situation. I would hate to be in a situation like this if there is time constrain.

Back to the airport train station. That was our train.

Another one coming in.

The train station is actually connected to the airport. So we just found our ways back to the Hilton.

As we walked back to the hotel through the walkway, we bumped into Dave and Maryanne who were going out to the terminal to find dinner. We bid farewell to this wonderful couple whom we met on another NCL cruise in 2012. Maybe someday we will meet again, somewhere, on a cruise!

That's the hotel shuttle to Rome.

After washing up a bit, we went to the lounge for a light dinner of soup, salad and sandwiches before they close for the day.

This was good enough after all the food we had on the ship.

Have not had a Fanta for years.

The third bed finally arrived after 3 calls to the front desk.

Ready for the night.

Rome-Istanbul-Los Angeles -- March 8, 2015

We had a 7:40 flight to catch this morning, so I got up at 3 and get everything ready. Left the hotel before 5. We were going to take the long walk to the terminal but found out that the hotel shuttle was available so we got a free ride to terminal 3. The young man who took us was so pleasant and helpful we happily tipped him for the ride.

The quiet airport. It looked like some people spent the night there.

We had a stopover at Istanbul airport on Turkish Airlines. I like Turkish Airlines, but I hate the security checks when boarding flights to the U.S. in Istanbul. I know they have to do what they have to do and it's for our safety, but the long wait in line, and the tedious questioning at the gate is just tiring. Once on board the plane everything will be fine, especially if you can get a cup of their homemade lemonade.

Mind you, this is economy. They still give out menu and amenity kits, in economy!

We also had the seats with extra leg space on our flight back to LAX, so we were happy.

Another cruise vacation ended and we had a wonderful time! Next up, a mother and son cruise from LA to Vancouver on Crown Princess tomorrow. That's why I have to finish this tonight!