It was supposed to be a question, but as their cheaply made umbrellas were shoved into my face repeatedly, it had become more of a command. The rain rolled down my forehead, falling from my lashes as I blinked.
“No thanks, no thanks” I repeated over and over to no avail.
Street vendor after street vendor attempted to thrust their umbrellas into my hands. My new Columbia raincoat was sufficient enough, and I was actively attempting to avoid everyone. But my nerves were weak from hunger, from our janky hostel room, from the constant drenching downpour dripping from my lashes.
We were traipsing around the city, attempting to find a Hop On Hop Off bus ticket booking place. I adore these bus tours as they give you a quick way to see the city, plus to get your bearings. However, we searched and searched the streets unable to find a trusty looking place to purchase them. More agonizing vendors approached us offering us their bus tickets, but we pushed past them, determined to not be scammed. We stopped at a café, eager to escape the drizzle and do a quick search online.
We were lost. Not physically, we were only four blocks from our hostel, but mentally, I had never felt so unprepared!
We couldn’t find where to buy the tickets in person, and to be honest, I can’t remember why we didn’t purchase online. I know some tickets have to be printed, so maybe that was the reason. However, it was far too wet to be walking around the city all day, especially with our cameras on us.
We exited the cafe and a few minutes later, came across a newspaper stand. “Mi scusi, parla inglese?” (Excuse me, do you speak English)” I asked, butchering yet another beautiful language, but being greeted with a response of “Si! How can I help you!?”
I was so excited to have someone speak English to us! Surely this was a sign!
“Yes,” I began, “we want to book the Hop On Hop Off bus tour. Where do we buy our tickets?”
I’m sure my mouth hung open as she pointed past us to a STREET VENDOR, “They sell the tickets.”
I don’t know how well I hid my shock. “Really? They’re selling real tickets?” I honestly half-expected to be sold a receipt for a hamburger instead of a bus ticket, I wouldn’t have known the difference.
“Si! They sell the tickets. They’re the only place I know to buy them.”
I had to walk past the ‘umbrelly’ vendor again to get to a ticket vendor.
“Umbrelly? Umbrelly?” Again, with the pushy sales tactic, nearly placing the umbrella into my hand! I couldn’t take it anymore. Between booking the nastiest hostel known to man, not sleeping well because of construction, and being drenched, I was going to snap.
Here it came, the word vomit.
“I don’t want your freaking ‘umbrelly’!” I screamed.
In one split second, I had become a crazed English-speaking woman on the loose. The vendor jumped back in fear as though I had unleashed my inner beast. I could almost feel the claws sliding out like a taunted animal and the skin on my body turning into a hairy monstrous mess. The street vendor apologized in Italian and cowered off, disappearing back into the crowds where he could be anonymous.
Krystal gazed wide-eyed at me before laughed aloud, having not expected me to lash out in rage. In all our years of friendship, she had rarely seen this side of me. Despite drenched like a sewer rat and shivering in the chilled January temperature, I decided to shake it off and not let anything else bother me, especially not another obnoxious, scammy ‘umbrelly’ vendor.
It was day two of continuous rain in Rome, and we were determined to see the city before our morning flight out.
We approached the ticket vendor, purchased our tickets with cash, and found a bus to board. Shockingly, they accepted our tickets and let us finally get out of the rain. We climbed to the covered top deck so that we could take in the sights, and only became wet again whenever our bus driver took a corner too fast. Which was often. Have you been to Rome? They all take corners too fast!
Our bus made the circle around Rome, stopping at places such as the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, The Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and The Vatican.
We rode along excitedly, finally seeing the city from the safety of a mostly dry seat. We had our headphones plugged into the bus and translating the Italian audio guide for us to English, so we could follow along on the tour.
Blissful, we sat enjoying our tour. Let me rephrase this; We sat blissfully ALL DAY LONG. Aside from our visit to The Vatican as the rain let up, we didn’t leave the bus. We just circled Rome and circled Rome and circled Rome some more! It was like the Merry Go Round that never stops!
It ended up being a fantastic day in Rome despite the tragic weather and the peddlers!
Take note though, the tour buses can be very packed!
With all the street vendors selling tickets, the companies have no idea how many passengers they have at any given time. At The Vatican, we were pushed aside by other passengers to board the bus despite having been the first people waiting at the bus stop. Thankfully, one of the ticket vendors saw this happen to us and was an angel, making the customers allow us on first as the next bus arrived nearly thirty minutes later.
If you are ever in Rome and feel trapped inside because of the weather, just purchase a Hop On Hop Off bus ticket and go along for the ride! I honestly couldn’t tell you which bus company we ended up using, but you can find them here and decide which company best fits your need. I highly recommend purchasing in advance when headed to Rome. Despite the weather, the peddlers, and the rude bus riders who pushed us aside, it really did beat sitting in the hostel and missing out on Rome!
Have you experienced a torrential rain while abroad as well? What did you do to pass the time? Tell me in the comments below!
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