Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A friend of mine — we’ll call him “Bobby” — has been turning me into Encyclopedia Roma lately.
“Bobby” has been posting fast and furiously on Facebook lately about his excitement about a trip he is about to take to Rome later this month. Every time he posts about his plans, and seeking out advice in a round-about way, however, he gets about 10 mostly useless responses from other people.
You know the type of people I’m talking about. They congratulate you about your travel plans, and maybe even claim to be envious of you, but they offer no insight into the city. The conversations tend to go like this:
You: “I’m going to Paris!”
Them: “OMG, I’m so jealous! I went there two years ago, and had a great time. You’ll love it. Wear a beret for me!”
It has all the insightfulness of a moss-covered log.
Each time “Bobby” posts something about his travel plans, he gets 10 variations on the “OMG, I’m so jealous!” post from his other friends. They are followed by post from me that tends to look like a bunch of rambling by comparison, because I’m actually offering him advice, since I’ve been to Rome.
While everyone else, including other people who have been to the Eternal City, are professing their jealousy, I’m spouting off, “You’ll want to visit, here, here and here. There’s a great little boutique named such-and-such located at so-and-so that you’ll really like. The best place to people watch is at this spot, and beware of the people wearing gladiator costumes because they’ll rip you off.”
At one point, “Bobby” wanted to know where he could meet some Italian guys to flirt with. I told him about a middle-aged men’s boutique shop owner who got more than friendly when he was showing me some clothes he was selling (maybe “Bobby” would be more receptive to that than I was).
More recently, he was grumbling about the flight to Rome lasting nine hours. I responded with something about the variety of entertainment options now available on planes.
I then got down to the nitty gritty advice about flying into Rome’s Fiumicino Airport. “Hopefully, you'll have a window seat, too, because as your plane makes its final descent into Fiumicino Airport, you're flying over the Mediterranean coastline,” I told “Bobby.” I quickly added, “If you're on the right side of the plane, you can watch the coastline during your descent (since the airport is on the coast).”
Then I offered my personal advice on getting from the airport to the city, because it actually takes a little bit of time, maybe as much as 30 minutes, to get from the airport to the city.
“Don't waste your money getting a taxi at the airport — it’s likely very costly,” I explained. “They have a train that connects the airport to the Stazioni Roma Termini central train station in Rome ... and it costs like 14 Euros to ride the train into the city. You can get a taxi at Termini.”
I figured “Bobby” would pay a lot less to take a taxi from Termini to his hotel than he would for taking a taxi from Fiumicino to his hotel.
But, you have to understand, nothing chaps my hide more than the traveler who won’t share travel advice about a locale with other travelers. What is the purpose of traveling in the first place if you are not going to share your experience with others?
You know, if someone is going somewhere you’ve already been, and they mention it to you in casual conversation, they might not want to see your travel pictures, but they wouldn’t mind a little advice. A nice little conversation about some sites they might want to visit, and what to expect from the people over there goes a lot further then another, “Girl, did you hear that Jolene’s been two-timing her man” conversation.
Yeah, they could just go get information out of a travel guide, but who knows your friend better: You, or a travel guide publisher?
And, in the case of “Bobby,” he’s going to arrive in Rome with at least some advice about the city, which is more than he would have had if I had kept my mouth shut.
Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at email@example.com.