I’ve travelled enough that very few things ‘worry’ me while travelling. While many of my co-workers travelling with my on this trip are worried about typical international concerns like current exchanging, finding food, and pick pocketing – I’m typically most concerned about finding a pool and the whole experience of getting into it while in a foreign city.
This is because information on pool availability (even though I use Swimmersguide.com) is hard to put together for most international locations. There isn’t a way to visually map out all the locations yet, so sifting through the list of 80+ pools manually is really difficult. But, I e-mailed the guy (Bill) that runs Swimmers Guide (who I’ve talked to before) and he was able to give me an export that I could then quickly map out and find my nearest available pool. Before long, I had a plan of action.
It involved a short walk to the Metro (subway), and then a ride on that for about 15 minutes, and then another short walk to the pool. Simple enough, right?
Ummm…no. This is because nobody in Rome seems to know about other parts of Rome. Which, the more I thought about it is kinda logical (and a trend I see when overseas). See, in the US we drive our cars quite a bit, which means we cover a lot of ground in the huge radius around our homes. So I generally know where most major/semi-major streets are within a 10-20 mile radius of my place. But if you are more transit dependent (trains/buses), you probably aren’t as aware of these other streets (aside from your own) since you visit them less frequently. Anyway…suffice to say there was much confusion.
See this street name on my little paper? Turns out it’s not the same as the one on the sign. Who would have thought a few extra characters (Valle) would matter so much.
It turns off I got off a subway station two stops too early, then walked down the wrong street for over a mile (a long time to walk even past a Catholic Walking Processional), then had to backtrack, go down some more wrong streets and then get back on the subway, then get off the subway, wander around some more lost, then find a specific bus, get on the bus, and then get off at the right place (which I didn’t), and then finally find a place with a tiny little sign. It sorta looks like this:
From there I made it inside and quickly paid. The guy gave me a discount…which was cool. I think he was just entertained by the fact that some random American would show up at his pool and we did chat a bit. I did think the little lesson price sheet was pretty interesting – amazingly cheap:
Then I turned and looked at the pool. Holy crapstick was it busy! It had 6 lanes, with some lanes having at least 6-7 people in them. And the last lane had floaty people in it.
So I suited up (including the required swim cap, which I had brought) and headed on in. I asked which lane to join and was shown the second to last one with a bunch of random non-swim-team members doing various aquatic acts resembling water based movement in it. So I jumped in, and started circle swimming. All good!
Well, eventually I realized that Bikini Girl (in my lane) was re-enacting swim styles from Titanic so we all (the other 3 swimmers in my lane) took turns sighting and making quick passes, always being aware of each other.
I went to go make the pass, and quickly sighted – all good, I was about 5-10 meters from the end of the lane and could see the incoming dude standing at the end watching. So I logically presumed he wouldn’t start swimming head on. However it turns out I shouldn’t have included logic in this lane.
About 4.8 seconds later as I’m at full acceleration swimming as hard and fast as I can past Bikini Girl…crunch. Failboat – of the head crashing variety. While I was technically at fault, he takes a fair amount of fault for being dumb enough to start swimming head on into me instead of just waiting a few more seconds to finish my lap.
I was mostly fine post-collision, but he was doing his best to feign injury and moping about. I apologized a few dozen times, and I continued swimming while he continued whining. Both of us ended up with some small cuts and perhaps a bit of blood. But given the water clarity, a drop of blood was probably the least of our concerns. After a bit I noticed he had waved over the manager. The manager was a Northern Scandinavian dude who I had chatted with earlier and given me the discount.
The dude I had head butted was kinda complaining and whimpering a bit in Italian (I don’t speak Italian, but he had the whole whining act going on). To which the manager dude pretty much responded: “Oh…poor baby, do you want me to kiss it to make it better?…H.T.F.U.”. It was hilarious.
The manager then checked to see if i was OK before throwing Bikini Girl off into the floaty lane to do whatever. Order was restored to the universe, though whiney guy took the first opportunity to leave the lane when something else became available.
Eventually the lights went out. But it turns out this was sorta like Cosmic Bowling, as I and a few others just kept on swimming. Oh, and Italian Opera music was playing in the background. Pretty awesome. I was the last person to leave just before 11PM.
I would repeat the whole thing over again on Friday night, except this time with much more precision in the Tom-Tom navigation department…and no head butting. I was again the last person out of the water at exactly 11PM. Seconds later they put on the cover, which I thought was interesting for an indoor (and already overly hot) pool.
1) Nobody seemed to swim more than 50m continuous. Everyone always stopped at one end or the other. Perhaps sprinting is their thing.
2) They were unable to choose a place other than the middle of the lane end to stand at, thus making flip turns really difficult without drop-kicking them every time. I noted that virtually nobody did flip turns except the swim team guys.
3) The floaty people violated the ‘keep all body parts and objects inside the vehicle at all times’ law. The number of times I got bonked (or hit) with a floaty toy or their legs sticking out of their lane and into my lane was beyond count. Normally one would get upset, but that’s hard to do when it’s a 7-8 women in their mid-20’s in bathing suits, leading to…
4) Nobody in the pool was overweight. Nobody. Everyone was very slim and fit.
5) They love breaststroke…and the doggie paddle. Not so much freestyle.
Other Rome Stuffs:
I had Friday off work since we finished stuff for Rome on Thursday, so I wandered the city a bit (actually, for 8 hours nonstop, totaling over 10 miles of walking per Mr. Garmin). Here’s a few of the 1,000+ photos I took during the three days I was there, in no particular order:
Workers way up high on the upper rim of the Coliseum:
This one below is HILARIOUS. My co-worker took a taxi, and he was given this for a receipt. Note it says Taxi up in the top, but also check out the left hand side text. The best part will be when he has to hand in this receipt to the accounting folks.
Here’s some inside the Vatican:
Below was cool, got some cycling jersey’s. But it was also a Massive Moment of Fail (MMOF). We had initially been planning to go to Naples for the day instead, but one of my co-workers (he with the car) decided against it. So we stayed in Rome. It was while at this sports shop we learned that the Giro Italia was actually finishing the stage in Naples that day, and the train ticket was only $10.50 (about 2 hours away). Massive bummer. Had we found out an hour earlier, we could have made the finish. Sad Panda. :(
The below however made me happy panda:
In the market, hopefully the dog isn’t on the scale next…
Speaking of food, you see these little snack trucks everywhere in Rome. It’s my belief they should also be along the side of long running and triathlon races.
With that, I’m outta Rome and onto my next destination – which involves one medium size plane, one big-ass plane, and a bunch of tiny little planes. Oh, and about 5,000 or so more miles. More details on that tomorrow.
(Slightly delayed posting by a few days…)