April 28, 2013

when i was in rome

I was in Rome, Italy about 5 weeks ago. I went with Rachel. She's my nerd friend, and we laugh a lot. Now it all seems like a dream. A beautiful, wonderful, hazy dream wherein I drank lots of coffee, and saw beautiful places, and walked until my legs fell off.
Rachel took approximately 40,000 pictures, and I wrote a lot of emails to Karen and Mrs. Hoover while I was over there.

This was how it all went down (if I remember right):

Monday: We arrived at our apartment around 10:00 AM. I fell asleep. I woke up. I fell asleep again. Rachel looked forlornly out the window. I told her I wasn't moving. Rachel made me watch a Doctor Who episode which scared the pants off me. I became a Whovian. Rachel felt like a proud mother. We did that for the rest of the day. Redeeming the time in Rome...

Tuesday: We decided to walk around the neighborhood, and see where we were exactly. We ended up seeing a lot that day. The Pantheon, Trevi fountain, a wonderful market at Forno Campo de' Fiori, Piazza Navona, Colonna Traiana. And then all the sudden, we came around a corner and Rachel grabbed my arm and was like, Sunny Jane!!!!! It's the Colo-flippin'-sseum!!!! And there it was right in front of us. We had no idea everything was so close.

Wednesday: The Colosseum! We were too tired to go into it the day before so we walked back on Wednesday. It was wonderful. But it was also cold and rainy. I don't enjoy that. I was over it pretty quickly and ready to find a warm coffee shop.

Thursday: My favorite day! It was warm and sunshiny. And we went to the Roman Forum/Palatino. It's right across the street from the Colosseum. It was so beautiful. There were gardens everywhere, and even though they weren't all blooming, I could imagine how they must've looked way back when Paul was kept a prisoner in Rome. I loved everything about that day.

Friday: My most un-favorite day. We went to Pompeii, and it was gorgeous. It was also somewhere around 30 degrees, super windy, and raining. I promptly lost my religion, and complained the whole day. Rachel told me to suck it up, but I refused. I know my rights.

Saturday: We walked to the Vatican. I was unimpressed until we got to the museum. Then I got super excited, and Rachel was even more so. Then we saw a sign that said the Sistine Chapel was still closed due to the conclave that ended the Tuesday before. Which was a huge disappointment for me. But whatever... I loved everything else. And when that was done we walked to the Spanish Steps and ate gelato, and I felt exactly like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday except my nose was running, and her's never is.

Sunday: They closed down our street and set up the largest market in Italy right there at our front door. I adored the market. I could go to market everyday. It's totally not like shopping in a store. It was wonderful, and even better, I could haggle all the prices down. Then we went for one last walk around the city to say goodbye to all our favorite places.

Monday: We came home. And when we got to D.C., they pulled me aside and searched my carry-on bag because apparently, it looked suspicious. And I was concerned because I had 40 million things crammed in there. So I was like, Careful... everything will explode out of there. And Rachel told me to be quiet and never speak again at the airport or I would get us arrested for being terrorists. But we made it home after 26 hours.

So here are a few of the pictures, and some email excerpts.
But this first email is actually from when we were in Greece. I forgot about it until today, and had to share with you. It made me laugh to remember it.

Today, while out letterboxing, a dog jumped out and tried to bite Rachel. I nearly died. I'm not scared of dogs, but when they sneak up and all the sudden bark in your ear... I did some sweet matrix moves trying to get away. It was like my hips somehow took off before the rest of me. Pretty much gave myself whiplash.  And Rachel went all Kung Fu Panda and roared back at the dog and the dog looked all confused and scared and took off. I laughed so hard at the picture of the two of us. Me running, and her roaring.

And now for Rome!

1. We arrived! Safe and sound so far. Found the right train, the right exit station, and walked to the apartment without getting lost. The apartment is so cute! It also smells like an old folk's home. But there's wifi so whatev!

2. Okay, so this apartment has those security doors where you have to ring the people in from outside and last night, right after we got here, we were both dozing on the couch when all the sudden someone buzzed our apartment from downstairs, and it's SUPER loud and knocked the buzzer phone off the wall. We both jerked up, unglued, and I told Rachel,"You know how King David says his loins melted? My loins just melted. Like into a puddle."

3. I love Rome! We walked FOREVER today. It felt very safe. No weirdos, pickpockets, or amorous men:)  I bought you a scarf, I'm wearing it in some of the pictures. It was raining for part of the day, and at one point started hailing really hard so we ran into a big, gorgeous building and waited for it to die down. I bought the big girls some leather bracelets and the two babies these really cool wooden hair thingys that I found at a toy shop. You would've loved the toy shop! Everything was handmade and wooden. Super cool. Everything is old here. No new building at all that I've seen so far. We bought groceries this morn. There's a little supermarket right down the road. It was pretty cool. It looks like we can walk to pretty much everything so we don't even plan on doing trains or buses except for when we go to Pompeii on Friday. We do the Colosseum tomorrow and the Vatican Saturday. I wish you were here. I love you!

Setting out to see the sights! 

These water fountains were everywhere. I loved them. 

Entering Colonna Traiana 

My first Italian coffee. It was the best. 

Trevi Fountain. You could hardly move for the crowds. This was one of my favorite things in Rome.

The Pantheon. Not to be confused with the Parthenon. As Rachel repeatedly reminded me. 

Rachel chillaxing with Caesar. 

4. We went to the Colosseum today, and just came home. All the walking in the rain finally got to us:) We stopped at a little cafe for coffee and pasta, and it was so gross, but only 11.50 for two of us. And then the guy told us when we went to pay, "20 euro." I was like, whaaaat??? And Rachel gave him a dirty look so he suddenly changed his tune and said, "I mean 11.50!" I was like, yeah that's more like it. He totally tried to rip us off! I'm loving all the walking and figuring things out as we go. And I love telling the vendors" Too much money!" and snorting at them and waving my arms. They all look really disappointed, but I don't feel sorry for them.

Ohmagersh... it's the Colo-flippin'-sseum. 

5. We're having fun here. So much to see and not enough time to see it all. And all the walking! 15 miles, 8.5 hrs walked today. We're both dead now. Can barely crawl:) But today was the 1st sunshiny day here and we took advantage of it by walking so much. It was miserable yesterday with all the rain, wind, and cold. We went to the Roman forum today. (it's right next to the Colosseum) Almost the whole thing used to be a garden and most of it is still pretty well kept. It covers acres and acres. there's a little nursery there where they used to grow "exotic" plants from the Americas:) Like daffodils! Funny. I loved it so much I cried. They had the world's leading botanical/scientific garden there back in the day. And there are natural fountains everywhere. I can't even explain how beautiful it was. We stopped at the first fountain, and I imagined the people that used to come there for their water, wondered how many of the first Christians came there and if there was a girl like me. I wonder who did the gardening back then.

At the Roman Forum/Palatino  

So many gardens and fountains. Sigh. I loved. 

Creeper at the museum

6. No taxis for us. We've walked everywhere. But seriously... I don't know how much more walking I can take. Pretty much collapsed today. Walked everywhere in Greece, and much more walking here. My legs are dead. I literally crawled to the fridge today! Laughed the whole time but couldn't get my legs moving right:) Okay, in Greece you didn't look people in the eye. For one, they wouldn't look at you, and for another, it made the beggers/sellers much more bold when you looked at them.  But in Rome! You look them dead on and they leave you alone. No ignoring the vendors or they'll chase you. But you look right at them with your grumpy face and they back right off. Same with the drivers. They don't want to let you cross the road, but you just step out and stare them down and they stop for you. Even the cafe workers will come out and try to catch you on the sidewalks, but if you strut around and stare at them, they'll be like, never mind. It's actually kinda fun. Like a game. We haven't had anyone mess with us. Everyone said the men would be awful but the East Indian men are pretty much the only gross ones, and they're just trying to sell stuff. It's cold here! And rainy. I'm so glad I brought some of those hand warmer things with me.

We found the best coffee shop. We got little hearts on our coffees:) 

And this was the place to buy coffee beans. I brought back lots. 
It's already all gone:(

7. Okay, so yesterday was... not fun. Well, Rachel enjoyed it. Not me. First, we walked to the train station. Took over an hour but that was ok since we've been walking for hrs everyday anyway. Then we managed to catch the right train (catching the right trains and making the right connections all day was nothing short of a miracle. Seriously, we flew by the seat of our pants and were pretty much running blind.). Then we made the right connection to a commuter train to Pompeii. And that commuter train was the only time this trip that I thought we'd get kidnapped. It was a ghetto train. Scary train. But there was a really, really pretty man that sat across from me and kept giving me pretty eyes... which was awkward since I couldn't look in front front of me without making eye contact. So I stared out the window for 45 minutes while he stared at me. I got a crick in my neck. Then we got off at Pompeii. And. it. was. freezing!!! And the wind was howling. And I was wearing a light jacket. I was pretty much crying. Even Rachel was cold, but she sucked it up and enjoyed herself. I didn't. I blubbered and wanted to leave. Towards the end the wind died down so that was better. But then it promptly started raining and that was worse. So anyway, we only had two hrs there because we had to make the train connection so we left. I was happy and Rachel was bummed not to have seen everything. Also, a guy there told us there were no bathrooms, and made us use the bathroom in the ticket office... which you had to pay 50 cents for! And no toilet paper! And the girl in there who let us thru was so rude! What a rip off! And he lied too because there were free bathrooms farther on.
Anyway, we took the creeper train back to the big train, and the big train took hrs to get back so we walked home in the dark. Which turned out to be fun. And Rachel and I were so paranoid that if anyone actually had jumped us, they'd had gotten the surprise of their life. We were ready to take giants down. She had an umbrella, and I had an ink pen for protection. One time Rachel came up behind me and I nearly stabbed her in the neck with my ink pen. But the city at night is beautiful, and made up for the disappointing day.
I'm glad we went though because I would've regretted not going. Once in a lifetime chance and all that.
But on the bright side, Pompeii was pretty amazing. There were petrified bodies there. One looked like a small person and it was sitting with it's hands over it's face. Which was actually pretty awful. Made me cry. You know whoever it was knew they were about to die and were just waiting for it. And there were HUGE garden areas too. Which I loved! Big trees, fountains, and long walkways. So pretty. But the best, most beautiful part was Mt Vesuvius. Wow. Even from the train, my jaw just dropped at the sight. Strange to think something so beautiful killed so many people. It had snow all over it (like I said, it was freezing.) And the bay on the other side was equally gorgeous. With all the little houses right on the water just like you see in pictures! I just can't believe they were actually able to dig out an entire city like that. There was even a little mini Colosseum there, and an amphitheater. And I took rocks!
So that was yesterday.

On the first train to Pompeii. All smiles. 

On the creeper train to Pompeii. Smiling was over...

Rachel having a grand time. 

Me not... 

He wasn't having a very good time either.

8. We heard people cheering last night, not sure if it was over the pope or not, but it prompted us to check the news... and there was the new pope:) There was prob more celebrating at the Vatican. I'm just glad we'll be able to go inside.

9. Went to the Vatican today. We left the Basilica, and went to the museum.That was stinkin' AWESOME! You'd have died. So much to see. Lots of it was closed off, including the Sistine Chapel. I literally cried. Was so looking forward to it. But whatev. Everything else was great. And I went to the Spanish Steps, and had gelato in a cone just like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. And it was the best gelato. It's the best in Rome... We've walked past the Colosseum everyday. I just love it. Walked in the dark tonight again. Almost took out an innocent jogger practicing for tomorrow's marathon. He came up and went past and left me and Rachel flailing our umbrella and ink pen in his wake. Then we sat down and laughed our heads off. Rachel was like,Can you imagine the headlines tomorrow if we'd have actually gotten to him? Good thing he was running fast.

So, so beautiful. 

I hung out with the Swiss guard. I liked their sleeves. They were real big. 

We stopped for gelato on the way to the Vatican museum. The waiters just stood there staring at us creepily.
I was creeped out. 

Oh look! It's Audrey Hepburn! 

The view from the top of the Spanish Steps.

10. Home tomorrow! Yay! I'm very glad to come home. This has really been lovely, but home is home and I'm ready to be there instead of here. And guess what? Just looked out the window and the market was there! They set it up on our street!

(Later that day)
11. The market was so wonderful. At first, I was disappointed in it. The 1st booths were lame-o. But then suddenly... awesome stuff! And I'm totally a haggler. Without even trying! I just didn't want to pay the prices so I set things back down and shrugged like, oh well. Then suddenly, the vendor was like,"Sister, sister!!!! I make deal! You want instead 20 euro, I give 2 for 20?" I was like, no thanks. So he was like, "how much you pay?" SO I was like, well this is cool. And I told him, "Two for 12 euro." And he was like,"Ok". And that created a monster. From that point on I tsked, and snorted, and frowned, and waved my arms, and refused all the outright prices and got pretty much everything for like a quarter of the asking price. I LOVED it!

My goodness, I complained about the weather a lot. And my aching legs. And I'm definitely a tighwad. And why in the world did I cry over everything? But, we had a great time, me n' Rachel. We'd go again.

She Who Obviously Hates The Cold