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Flashback Friday: Take that, Lucifer! Beating the heat in Rome

Several years ago, ATB#1 Mady and I started a short-lived blog for friends and family while we were travelling around Greece and Italy. We would sit in a cafe or restaurant, drink copious amounts of iced coffee and/or prosecco and write using our Ipads and a tiny wireless keyboard. Today, I share one of those blogs. This was written sitting in a café in Rome, Italy, across from a very nice bag shop. It took several trips back and forth across the street, but Mady bought a lovely leather tote. :)


On Day 3 in Rome, we woke up with a litany of old-lady complaints: achy muscles, swollen feet, sore knees and tendons, and extra-creaky bones. The only sound in the room for the first 15 minutes of our day were variations of oww! and Snap, Crackle and Pop - with no cereal bowls in sight.

To compound matters, the heatwave currently engulfing central and southern Italy (which has been nicknamed "Lucifer") is still raging. We can attest that it's the perfect name: in our ten days in Italy, the temperature has never dipped below 38C during the day (the photo above was taken at 6:30 pm) and we have only had air conditioning in our hotel here in Rome.

In other words, it's been hellish.

The obvious (and likely sensible) solution would be to roll over, pop another Advil, and get some more sleep. But our time in Europe is coming to an end soon, and we are a couple of stubborn old broads not about to let Hades-like weather and age-related complaints prevent us from enjoying the Eternal City.

That said, some adjustments were definitely required. As mature travellers, we've often joked that our long vacations are marathons, not sprints... so we've given ourselves permission to slow down, savour the quieter moments, and perhaps do a little bit less every day - in order to stay healthy and strong for the next day's adventure.

First off, we've adjusted our walking pace. We often joke about the Mediterranean Meander (or, on this trip, the Aegean Amble) but we've basically decided we won't be going anywhere in a hurry. We also tend to choose our path to our destination based on which road has the shadier sidewalks and breezier pathways.

At the end of a long vacation and in tough conditions, pacing ourselves has been key. We try to head to an air conditioned cafe or restaurant during the hottest afternoon hours to relax, have some refreshing beverages, and maybe write a blog post or two (all in the name of productivity!). Most of these spots have free wi-fi and provided you purchase a reasonable amount of food or drink, they'll be quite happy to let you sit for hours and post to Facebook, chat on Messenger, or catch up on email.

These cafe afternoons have had the added benefit of allowing us to chat with our waitstaff, fellow patrons, shopkeepers and other locals during their quiet times. We have had many illuminating chats covering a wide range of topics, from politics to the rationale behind a restaurant's name. These genuine connections have often resulted in freebies at the end of our recovery break, a lovely surprise every time it happens!

We've also upped our electrolyte consumption. You can never have enough potassium or magnesium, apparently.

In addition, stopping at a fruit stand for a juicy peach or nectarine increases our hydration and nutrient count while tasting absolutely delicious. There is no taste comparison to North American fruits. Grabbing a lemon to peel and put into our water bottles helps us get over those increasingly frequent "I am so sick of water" moments.

We've adapted our eating habits as well, opting for smaller, more frequent meals that favour fruit, veggies and cheese rather than the typical three-course Italian lunches offered in most trattorias. This helps keep the bloating and sluggishness to a minimum while also ensuring we stay healthy.

We've also become adept at stealing other people's air conditioning as we stroll past shops and cafes. Many times, one of us notices a cool breeze emanating from a doorway, and calls the other one over to check it out. The Disney Store, while having absolutely no items of any interest to us, features some fine air conditioning. We may not be able to afford anything at Hermes, but browsing is free - and incredibly cooling. (Dear readers: please don't blow our cover). We may also have entered a pharmacy or two (excellent cooling systems!) to try their perfume testers, for extra freshening power. Again, shhhh.

We've had to bite the bullet and use public transit over the past few days rather than walking everywhere. After logging nearly 30 km in two days, we're in no shape for a long return ramble in this scorching weather, so we are appreciating the cool air and rapid transit offered by Rome's buses and Metro system (just don't ask us about the #64 bus - that's a whole other level of crushing hell we want to forget).

Needless to say, our trusty water bottles are always within easy reach. Luckily, Rome is filled with beautifully-carved and decorated public fountains with a ready supply of cool running water, so hydration hasn't been an issue.

I'm sure there are more... but we've been sitting in this lovely cafe near Campo de Fiori long enough - time to head back to our hotel for a quick air-conditioned rest before our evening ramble!


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