When the trains in Italy break down and you are stuck with a carload of Italians, they like to hypothesize about what has happened to the train, what might be happening to fix it, and when they’ve finished with discussing it amongst themselves, they use their cell phones to call whoever is waiting for them. I was viewed with suspicion, being unable to participate in any of these exchanges.
I did make it to Rome in plenty of time to find my hotel and wander around, but after an early dinner (which is against all the rules), I headed back to my hotel only to get turned around at dusk, whereupon there was thunder and lightning and torrential rain. In the end I found the hotel again and was asleep by 8:30.
The next day, I went to the Vatican to see a fresco by Raphael. There were other things to see along the way, like the Sisteen Chapel and a lot of headless marble statuary, but I had this one thing in mind: “The School of Athens.”
Of course you walk or ride the subway in this city. Or you take a cab or a bus. People live far away and ride the train in to the city every day. It is thrilling to step on a Metro North train on a platform in sleepy suburban Bedford or White Plains or Rye and step off in Grand Central Station in the heart of bustling mid-town Manhattan. Even closer to that too-good-to-be-true feeling is taking a comfier, quieter, and more expensive Amtrak train from Rhinecliff to Penn Station, with a view of the Hudson almost the whole way. Some activities, though, require that a person still own a car. Owning a car means that a person needs parking.
Because we live temporarily in mid-town Manhattan, we had a number of options for choosing a garage, since there are a number nearby. We chose a 24-hour garage, since those that do not carry this designation are not open on Sundays. Based on the number of cars that magically appear on our block on the weekends, when I guess it is legal to park on the street, I have reason to think that there are people who use these Monday-Saturday garages, and move their cars Saturday night and then again before 8 am on Monday morning. After six weeks of living here I still do not understand the parking rules for the streets of Manhattan. Whatever the details of the parking rules of Manhattan streets, they are neither easy to find out nor easy to follow. Apartments, too, have rules like this, like 28-day lease cycles, or pet weight limits, or condo owners who can sell the unit out from under you, or co-op boards that can turn you down as a resident because they don’t like you.
Our car is monthly parker number 58. When the car is parked, it is sometimes spirited to a deep parking dimension, and notice of needing the car must be given the night before. Calling an hour in advance of needing one’s car is only sometimes considered enough notice, and I was told last Tuesday, when I called and said I need the car at 1 pm that I couldn’t have it. I then asked for 2 pm, which was granted after the fellow on the phone consulted with someone else. For this level of service, we pay $375 per month.