Saturday, May 19, 2012

Compound blog – Days 1-3 in Rome

As I write this it’s 11:37 here and 5:37 back home. I have had a killer time down here and we pack every minute into the day that we can. Hardly a moment goes by (unless we’re eating) when we aren’t on our feet finding another monument or church to check out for photos. This is why I haven’t had the time to sit down and write like I wish I could have.

So I’ll probably leave something out, but hopefully I’ll think of everything. In the present, my feet are sore, I may be getting a little more tan, and I can’t tell if the jet lag is over or not, but I’ve never seen a place that brings a feeling to me like this one. 

The people seem less diverse (on the surface, don’t read into that too hard) than back home. They’re almost exactly what our instructors and guides told us they’d be: prideful, easy to annoy and just as easy to turn around and laugh at something else. Many send intense, irritated or untrusting faces your way. With that in mind, they can surprise you too by being witty, engaging and eager to help if you do by chance speak to one. I know only a handful of words in Italian. I try to avoid this whenever possible; I feel like I might make them intense, irritated or untrusting. I kid.

Of course you see many people earning change on the street by playing instruments and the like. Some are just begging. Some understand English well enough to give great instructions. Some just look at us funny. Middle-Easterners will try to sell you either a shawl (spelling?), laser pointers or other toys. Sarah, Michael, Zach and I spent a night messing with those guys, most fun I’ve ever had. We spoke to them in made-up languages and one guy actually saw how little euro I offered and gave me some money to go away. First time I've been considered a hobo. I used it to buy something else off his friend. Least I could do. 

Backing up, Briana and I had a mixed-experience flight(s). Tri-Cities put us on a grunge plane to Charlotte, a short 20 minuteish flight. We really didn’t do anything besides become reacquainted with that roller coaster feeling in your stomach when you drop altitude. Spent a little too much time in the Charlotte airport after that; the Mexican was great though (Chihuahua cheese? They grind up little dogs I guess).
The big flight, the 8 hour one over the Atlantic was pretty calm and quiet. I got the privilege of sitting in the window seat, Briana got the privilege of sitting next to me and getting awkward up-close time whenever I had to get up to use the bathroom. Don’t ever pee when there’s turbulence by the way, you’ll hit your head. More than once. 

The food was what you expect, coulda been worse. Briana said it was like prison food but the prison pasta wasn’t so bad. They’ve come a long way on in-flight movies too. Saw “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” which was “meh” but after that I caught “Chronicle”.
Let me stop right here for a minute. Chronicle is intense.
Shaky-cam films bring mixed reactions from people nowadays, but it’s a character-driven and highly rewarding film that hits its last 30 minutes and just pours it on. Ignore the haters.

We got only a little sleep; Briana more than I. Keeping awake did afford me catching some pretty crazy night views over the Atlantic. The pictures describe it better than I could in words.
The airport at Rome was hectic to say the least. We had sat pretty close to two of our classmates without realizing it until sometime in the flight, one of which had her luggage in the wrong area. So that was probably the longest 30 minutes of her life.
Fortunately Jeremy was right there to greet us when we finally made it to the exit doors. Getting a taxi at that airport wasn’t exactly simple in that chaos. Briana got to take one earlier with a little more room to breathe. Thought I might not see her again. Luckily we found a taxi/bus hybrid that was packed (really) full of kids I’d never met before, so we sort of shook hands in the space we had in the back.

And a word on the taxi drivers in Roma, and drivers here in general: they’re nuts. They make a case to do arrest-worthy maneuvers 40 times every time you get in one, but they’ve got it down to a science. Honestly riding with them is awesome at this point. Traffic and parking are most unpredictable things here; people get tickets for minor infractions while bigger offenders go unpunished. It boggles the mind. 

Also, lotta scooters and bikes. I will have one, one day.
This has taken me so long to write, because I haven’t had hardly any sit-down time, so right now it’s really day 5, but I’ll try to condense it down.

Our apartment in the trastevere is a mix of new and old. Overall it’s pretty sweet, cept for the showers. Scalding hot or frigid cold. 

We’ve been to too many places for me to remember off the top of my head, but off the bat, the Spanish Steps, the Roman Forum, the outside of the Colosseum, the Trevi fountain (personal favorite), Fontana della Barcaccia, the fountain of the four rivers in Piazza Navona, The Statue of Giordano Bruno, Santa Maria del Popolo, and St.Peter’s Square. Pics on facebook tell a better story though.   

Last night would have been our first taste of the nightlife, and we found it surprisingly accessible. Some other Americans out gave us a bad name though. Even their own kind couldn’t stand them. The wine is excellent, what we’ve had of it. One bar owner loved us for some reason. We made his night. Maybe it was just our tabs. 

From now on, my theme will try to aim more towards capturing artists of all sorts, visual, musicians, etc. so be on the lookout for those.

Miss you guys back home, and wish you could have tagged along!
--   L

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