Travelling in May proved to be the right month for us: lesser crowds, cheaper rates, attractions open with longer operating hours, longer daylight, not too cold yet see snowing in Central Europe like Austria, and spring flowers blooming.
Yes, everything seemed to be right for us throughout our 27 days in six countries. We did not fall sick or hurt ourselves…we had enough money to survive… we managed to stick to our tight train schedules except some hiccups in Austria… we managed to catch our flight to Switzerland at the last minute… we didn’t lose our pile of train tickets… and we were not picked or ROBBED!
But, on the last day of our sightseeing in Rome, something sickening happened to us. It was related to our metro tickets. We read some journals about some tourists being confused with the metro tickets in Italy and were slapped with a fine. So, we had been careful in reading those fine English lines among a lot of Italian words on the metro tickets.
We thought a metro ticket was for multiple rides within 75mins; so we rushed through a number of small attractions near metro stations. Then, when we leaving the metro station near Basilica of St Paul’s, a conductor was checking everyone’s ticket before they could enter the metro. We happily showed the conductor our tickets. The panicky feeling rose in my body when he told us our tickets had expired; it was for a single trip within 75mins, not multiple trips. We DIDN’T KNOW that their ticket system works in a way that the ticket can still be used repeatedly to slot it into ticket-reading machines to enter the different metro stations within 75mins, just don’t get caught! And we took it for granted that since the ticket-reading machines could read our tickets meant our tickets were still valid for the next trip, and the next trip, and the next trip…
The conductor brought us to a officer who dressed up like a policeman (or was he?) We apologised to him and explained that we did not do it on purpose. (If we did, we won’t have shown the conductor our tickets and would have left the metro station first to buy new tickets!)
Sorry no excuse. The officer insisted us to pay a fine. Guess how much? €50 for one person! That would be €100 for the two of us! What a heavy fine for ignorant tourists who simply couldn’t understand Italian, how cruel!
We pleaded earnestly with the officer to spare us the heavy fines. But he insisted us to pay. We told him we did not have money left as we would be leaving home the next day. He turned a blind eye on that. He even told Jacky to leave his passport behind and withdraw money from the nearby ATM to pay the fine. Then the cunning officer discounted our fines to a “mere” USD60, instead of the initially said €100, provided that we pay him immediately on the spot. Weird! No choice, I told Jacky I had some US dollar left and we paid him USD60. He did not make any records on our fine and put the money into his pocket!