As many know, I'm a big fan of high-altitude, spinning restaurants. Indeed, I'll spend about any amount of money and go through most any hardship to wine and dine there. Lacking this, I'll settle for a high-altitude restaurant, preferable one in the open air. I found such a restaurant on top of a snazzy hotel in central Rome.
Now, I'm not the classiest looking guy at this point in time. I'm wearing the exact same clothes that I wore on my first day of the trip and, well, they're not looking too good. Thus, when I walk into this exclusive restaurant, unshaven, knapsack over my back, and probably not smelling terribly good, I wasn't particularly welcome. Indeed, I was given a very close lookdown as the host asked "Can I... help you..?" His voice almost sounded as if he thought I was looking for the kitchen, or the dumpster, and somehow accidentally wandered to the top floor.
I asked in my most pleasant voice "May I sit on your patio and have a cup of tea, please?" Seeing no particular reason to turn me away -- it was a slow night after all -- I was banished away to a dark, remote corner of the patio. And promptly forgetten. Hey, that's fine by me, as I have all the patience in the world.
Eventually they must have realized I wasn't going to be put off by being ignored, so they decided to accept my money and give me tea. I'm in paradise.
From my distant spot I have a perfect view over the other guests, especially a table that was seated about the same time as me (but served well before). This family contained the absolute cutest two girls, dressed in their fanciest clothes no doubt, oggling the city below. Their delight at, well, everything was was extremely entertaining.
As I rationed my tea (I wasn't counting on refills), wrote in my notebook, and watched the people and city around, the clouds on the horizon began to roll in. Though the night started clear and almost warm, the temperature dropped quickly and coats were brought out for and worn by the patrons. A hint of a breeze, and then a hint of a chill wind, and then an actual wind swept along the patio and ruffled the fancy napkins and ornate hairstyles.
The first round of thunder was preceeded by a shriek of glee from the littlest girl at the lightening's flash, and all eyes were on the encroaching clouds ambling towards us from the horizon.
As was inevitable, a brief escalation occured between the wind and rain and the chairs scraping to the middle of the tent, until everyone gave up and literally fleed to the hotel proper. The piano player, who until then had been doing his best to ignore the upcoming weather, carefully folded his music, closed the cover, and then bolted inside -- leaving an amazing grand piano unprotected in the downpour.
At some point the rain exceeded my tolerance, as the tent eventually offered virutally no protection whatsoever, and I headed inside. However, not until after a terribly delightful evening, with good tea to boot.