Grazie to Alohalani & Kalei for meeting me at the airport this morning. Unfortunately, they had to wait quite a while for me as 2000 people arrive at the new Leonardo daVinci Airport at the same time. It took an entire sweltering hour to get through the checkpoint where one shows one’s passport.

And may I say that most of the 2000 were Catholics? I stood in line near a couple of priests from Chicago and a nun from the monastery in Waialua. Father #1 declared he had been coming to Rome regularly for 25 years and this is the most crowded he’d ever seen. Great.  Who’s the patron saint of crowd control?  Father #2 took off his jacket with the rest of us. Sister from LA via Waialua is so excited that she found that the Hawai’i Catholic gang has a blog:

It took another hour to wait for my one bag, then a train ride to Rome terminal, then a taxi ride through the newly increased traffic and I’m probably going to crash while the girls have lunch.

Last time I was in Rome was in 1992 and I arrived by train. My daughter, who turned 10 on the day we arrived, and I backpacked for 6 weeks through 9 countries, and yes, the count includes the small municipality of Monaco, and even smaller but sovereignVatican City. Travelling with a young girl with different traveling partners at different times, my one rule was that we had to have a roof over our heads every night. No park benches or train stations for us. Sometimes a roof overhead meant a sleeping couchette in a train to our next destination, but we were safe.

I remember being taken advantage of my a taxi driver, and I remember getting pinched in St. Peter’s Basilica (by an old man, yet!), and I remember how in awe I was that the streets upon which we walked were also trod by Julius Caesar.

I’m excited to be here, finally.  My Roman holiday begins!

But first,  zzzzzzzz…


Kim Ku’ulei Birnie  (c)