When in Rome: Week 14

12 Dec

And so, another week has come and gone. Wow. The time is seriously flying. I know, I know, I start out every post saying the same thing, but a) I never know how to start and b) Every week seems to go by faster. I mean, come on, who would have thought I’d be at Week 14 already? It is an odd feeling to think that in 8 days I will be on my way home. I am now able to look at the 10 day weather forecast and will actually experience some of the weather they predict. Incredible. Granted, I still have 1 day of class, 1 final presentation and 4 finals, but I am sure the time will continue to fly.

So this week was quite the week. I guess I can’t complain about class, because I only had 3 days of it. Yes, I skipped school to go on a weekend trip. This is actually the first time in my college career that I have skipped class. What has this trip done to me? But, besides for an incredibly odd and challenging test in my Political Science class, it was an easy week.

It also was my last week of volunteering in the schools. Admittedly, I am glad to be done with it. While it was a fun experience, it also made me realize how much I don’t want to be a teacher. Kids these days are so sassy and it simply does not thrill me. Plus, the fact that I am incredibly impatient probably would not help. But, sometimes the students make funny comments. For instance, this week I asked the cheesy question “What is one of your dreams?” And some girl answered, “To have a boyfriend”. So this made me laugh! Talk about a girl after my own heart! So while there were funny moments, it is nice to have a Monday afternoon off this week.

So on Wednesday night, I made my way to the airport in preparation for my flight to Rome on Thursday morning. Yes, you heard that right, another night spent sleeping at the airport. No, it was not fun. I ‘slept’ under a check-in desk. As you can imagine, the floors were cold, the air was cold, and I was quite cold and uncomfortable. Not to mention, the Wifi didn’t work. Needless to say, it was not the most pleasant night sleep I have ever had.

On Thursday morning, I hopped on a plane to Rome. I had the distinct pleasure of sitting in between an older Spanish couple who both happened to be sick and apparently did not believe in the merits of covering their mouth when coughing. So, I am now feeling a bit sick. Yay. But, they were very friendly and I did chat with them after taking a peaceful nap. The woman showed me pictures of her grandchildren and told me how much she missed them. Then she told me that she just saw them yesterday. As you can imagine, I didn’t feel that much sympathy for her, considering I have not seen my family in about 100 days. But, I politely smiled and nodded along.

Upon my arrival in Rome, I was incredibly nervous. My traveling partner had decided to go to Florence for a day, which meant that I was going to be flying solo in Rome. I was pretty sure that I was going to die. And every person whom I told that I was going to be alone responded with comments about being safe and watching out for gypsies etc. While I appreciated all of the concern, it only made me more fearful of my impending death. And, on all of the websites I read, it said that the thieves target Americans because they are rich. My first thought: great. After all, with my pale skin, freckles, scared face, affinity for maps, and hand clutched on my purse, I practically scream American. But, don’t worry, I survived.

I made it to the hostel safely, although I did get some creepy looks from some passerby. I was doing well (very proud of myself, I was). But then, the receptionist decided to tell me that because I was alone, I should not walk around outside the area of the hostel by myself, because it wasn’t safe. Great. That really quelled my fears. But, I decided to take advantage of my time in Rome and explore the city by myself. With my handy map and incredible vigilance, I took on Rome.

I spent my first afternoon in Rome just meandering around the city. I saw some of the most famous sites (the Colosseum, the Pantheon, a Christmas Market) as well as some interesting places that I just happened upon. I managed to find an Italian History Museum that I perused through. I was able to see the pen that signed the treaty that ended World War I. I mean, how cool is that? While many people might not appreciate that writing utensil, I sure did! It was nice to get to explore Rome at my own pace and really get to see the city. After about 4 hours of walking around, I called it a night, because the sun was setting. Don’t worry, I was safely back in my hostel before the sun set!

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

I do have to say, the drivers in Italy are absolutely insane. There are many crosswalks without crossing lights, so it is up to the driver to stop for the pedestrian. And, they don’t stop! For many moments, I was more worried about getting hit while walking than getting mugged. Although, it probably would have made a good story….

Friday was a long day of exploring Rome. From 8am to 8pm, I was out walking around and seeing all of the sites. My morning began bright and early at the Colosseum. All of the information I read online told me to prepare for lines. So, I made sure to get to the Colosseum early to get a good spot in said line. Well, guess what? There were no lines. So, yours truly was the first one in the Colosseum when it opened. Admittedly, I was actually very excited about being the first one in….

Anyway, the Colosseum is incredibly massive and impressive. I spent 2.5 hours walking around and reading all of the signs that explained what went on in its prime. I even saw some of the animal bones that were recovered from animal fights.For me, it was a fun 2.5 hours! I took a ton of pictures, and since I didn’t have a traveling companion to take selfies for me, I attempted (mostly unsuccessfully) to get some good pictures of myself. I was struggling so much on that front that some elderly man actually walked over to me and asked me if I wanted him to take a picture for me… After experiencing the Colosseum, I am so glad that I am not a gladiator. It would not have been fun fighting to the death in front of 70,000 people.

After my marathon at the Colosseum, I headed over to the Roman Forum, which is essentially a large area of ruins. Once again, I took this historical area very slowly (another 2.5 hours) and read all of the plaques and thoroughly enjoyed some Roman ruins. I even saw the place where Caesar was cremated. How fun! So, all in all, it was a very historical morning with lots of walking.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

Inside of the Colosseum

Inside of the Colosseum

Selfie inside the Colosseum

Selfie inside the Colosseum

Just some Roman ruins

Just some Roman ruins

On Friday afternoon, I explored the city again, showing my traveling partner the many historical sites of the city. We ended our day at a pizzeria called Pizzeria da Baffetto (Mustache Pizza in English). The pizza was absolutely delectable. The crust was so thin, that I was unable to pick it up and eat it! I had to cut it with a fork and knife. But, it was easily one of the best pizzas I have ever consumed in my life. A little under a week later, my mouth still waters when I think about it. Yum!

Yum.

Yum.

On Saturday, bright and early, I headed over to the Vatican. Unfortunately, I was not actually lucky enough to meet the Pope (he doesn’t know what he is missing), but I nonetheless enjoyed what Vatican City had to offer. Plus, considering it is its own country, I am saying that I traveled to two countries this weekend.

I started by visiting the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. (Oh, and guess what? No lines again. Shocker.) While the Museums weren’t what I expected, I enjoyed them nonetheless. I was expecting (and excited for) museums filled with Catholic paraphernalia used by former popes. Such as ‘this alb used by this pope’ or ‘this cup touched by that pope’. I mean, how cool would that have been?! Unfortunately, the museums were not like that. Instead, they featured ancient Italian art and historic artifacts. So yes, because there was history involved, I enjoyed them greatly, but it was not what I was anticipating. Plus, I saw my fair share of (mostly naked) Italian statues. I don’t think I ever need to take an anatomy class…

The ceilings of the Vatican were (don’t judge me for describing them this way) absolutely killer. They were indescribably intricate and beautiful. I could make an entire photo album featuring the ceilings of Italy I took so many pictures. And considering how much of a struggle it was to take a picture of the ceilings, I could not imagine laying on my back for hours to paint it. And of course, the best ceiling of all, the Sistine Chapel. Absolutely magnificent. Beyond impressive. The only bad part is that you aren’t allowed to take pictures. But, never fear, with my streak of study abroad rebellion, I managed to sneak some pictures of the ceiling. Plus, it helped that I was short, so the guards couldn’t see my camera as it was hidden by all of the tall people surrounding me. See, there are benefits to being short!

The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel

Some more Sistine Chapel

Some more Sistine Chapel

And so, after a riveting morning at the Vatican Museums, I ventured over to St. Peter’s Square to visit St. Peter’s Basilica. And what an impressive building that it. Seriously, the biggest church I have ever been in my life. Absolutely massive. Besides for an intriguing ground floor, this basilica has a fantastic grotto. It features not only the tombs and remains of some Italian royalty, but also that of some popes. It was awesome to be that close to the remains of so many powerful people. There was just power in the air. One of my favorite parts of St. Peter’s Basilica was the Statue of St. Andrew. And why did I enjoy this statue so much? It is because the statue (St. Andrew) had his arms wrapped around and was carrying a giant tree. Hmm, what Andrew did that remind me of?

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica

Inside the Basilica

Inside the Basilica

 

Giant tabernacle/altar/I don't really know what it is called. Guess I should have paid more attention in religious ed...

Giant tabernacle/altar/I don’t really know what it is called. Guess I should have paid more attention in religious ed…

After exploring the basilica, I headed out for some gelato. I mean, I was in Rome, why not eat my way through it? For those who don’t know, gelato is Italian ice cream that is essentially a cup of creamy deliciousness. I had coffee, chocolate, and chocolate chip. Needless to say, I enjoyed it very much!

Again, yum.

Again, yum.

After a delicious lunch of gelato, I headed to some very popular tourist locations: the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. I must admit, I don’t see the lure of the Spanish Steps. Essentially, it was a small fountain with some steps that led to a church. And, these steps were covered in tourists, locals, and creepy men trying to force sketchy items onto me. So, I did not enjoy seeing the steps that much. But, I did enjoy the Trevi Fountain! It was incredibly beautiful and it is one of the most famous monuments in Rome. Of course, I threw a penny in and made a wish. And surprisingly, the wish was very unselfish. I figure with Christmas as close as it is, Santa has my back, so I decided to wish for something for someone that I know Santa can’t bring. Of course I can’t tell you the wish, but I am sincerely hoping that it comes true!

Trevi Fountain!

Trevi Fountain!

Candid of throwing the coin in the fountain. If the wish comes true, it'll be the greatest cent I have ever spent!

Candid of throwing the coin in the fountain. If the wish comes true, it’ll be the greatest cent I have ever spent!

With time to spare before dinner, I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Rome. I loved getting to walk around the city freely and enjoy Rome on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. There is so much to see and do. Every time I turned around, there seemed to be another church or fortress or ruins to see. It was quite the adventure.

And, dinner, what a delectable experience that was! I like to think of it as a mini-pasta tour. Of course, I was going to have some pasta, because who goes to Italy and doesn’t have pasta? Well it turns out that in Italy pasta is served as a first course. So, I went to one restaurant and had some thick spaghetti (I can’t remember the Italian name and don’t feel like looking it up) with bacon and tomato sauce. It was delicious, but the menu failed to inform me that the sauce was spicy. So, my mouth was burning, but I nonetheless enjoyed the delicious dish. The only problem was the the tablecloth was white. That was a major issue for me. I hope the restaurant didn’t mind the red splotches that were there after I finished eating. Oops. I should not be allowed near anything white while eating Italian food. Afterward though, I was still hungry. So what did I do? I headed to another restaurant where I got free bread (no, it is not usually free in Europe) and free champagne for being pretty. This trip to Europe has proved to me that I really have some game. At this eatery, I had regular spaghetti with tomatoes and tomato sauce. Absolutely delicious. The pasta tasted homemade and was marvelous. Once again, my mouth is watering while I write this.

With my champagne. Yes, I actually liked it.

With my champagne. Yes, I actually liked it.

And, the delicious pasta dish

And, the delicious pasta dish

And the night only got better after the dinner, because I had a cute Italian man tell me that I am beautiful and he kissed my hand. So, after those creepy French men, I am moving up in the world. Like usual, my mother was right!

After that delicious pasta tour, I headed back to the hostel for another early night. Sunday was spent traveling (bus, plane, bus, bus, bus) to get back to my apartment in Granada. Italy was another incredible adventure and I loved every minute of it. The sites were beautiful, the food was out of this world, and history is just in the air. Overall, a fantastic weekend.

Now that I have concluded by European travels, I feel it is time for some commentary.

1) I hate airports. After being in them for countless hours whilst waiting for my 7 flights (and sleeping in one twice), I realized how much I simply don’t like them. First, because of all of the windows, they are always cold. And, that makes it very uncomfortable to sleep there. Second, airports and airplanes involve a lot of waiting. You go through security and wait. They call you to board and you wait. You get into your seat (after waiting) and wait some more. Although I realize the impossibility of it, I wish I could just drive everywhere. Also, airplanes. I will be so glad when I do not have to hear that safety talk again after next Friday.

2) In my travels, I saw a lot of people taking selfies with monuments. In case you couldn’t tell from my posts, I am really okay with that. But, what I don’t understand, is when people don’t smile for the selfie. In all of the cities I visited, I saw countless tourists getting their picture taken in front of a site looking like they were getting a mugshot taken. I mean, what is the purpose of the selfies if you look angry in them? What will you think when you look at those pictures in 10 years?

3) I love Americans. I know we have a reputation for being rude and obnoxious and loud, but it never fails to make me smile when I happen upon Americans in foreign countries.

4) Sarcasm and humor does not translate well. I learned the hard way that it does not translate well in Spanish, but this weekend I also learned that it doesn’t work in English in other countries. Attempts at humor while abroad just make for awkward silences. Don’t try it.

And, that would be the end of my travel commentary for the moment. Thanks for making it to the end of the post. I can only hope that it was a successful procrastination technique for those of you who are still studying for finals. So, for something to make you laugh, here is a failed selfie attempt of mine-

Hint: look at the camera when taking said selfie

Hint: look at the camera when taking said selfie

Ciao for now! T-minus 8 days until I am back in the grand old US of A!

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