Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Roman Holiday with Antonella and Clifford the Big Red Guide Dog
Rome was wonderful--mostly because we did the best thing ever: we hired a guide! Her name was Antonella and she was like taking your high school History teacher on vacation with you. Actually, it was even better, because she knew where she was going without a map and she knew Roman history like the back of her hand and no cheat sheets needed.
Our friends had suggested hiring a guide before we left. It was expensive, but considering how much we had already invested in this trip and our fear of mugging, we went out into the streets and subways of Rome with Antonella. She was as cool as a cucumber, and she showed us how to navigate Rome like a local.
However, as soon as Antonella left us at the turn off for the Trevi Fountain, all of our city savvy walked off with her. Yes, map in hand, I learned that if I tell you to go in one direction, you most certainly should go in the other. Paula and I spent 2 hours trying to find either the Trevi Fountain or the Spanish Steps. We didn't care which, we would have taken any landmark that we could locate.
The boys dragged along behind us, hot and dirty, looking like they were wandering the desert. Exasperated, my son, took the map and looked at it for 30 seconds. He then led us exactly where we wanted to go with exactly 10-15 minutes in travel time between each landmark.
At that moment, we knew we had found our own personal, free tour guide: Clifford the Big Red Guide Dog. I've often referred to him as my overgrown puppy. He is 5 foot 8 in height but all 7 year old boy in his actions. It's like a huge, giant tail wagging and knocking over a shelf of crystal figurines.
I'd been calling him Cliff for most of the trip, now he was Cliff with skills. For the remainder of our journey, we'd just show him the map, and off we went with confidence.
Directionally challenged parents take note: the simplest answer might be standing right beside you!