Wednesday, November 10, 2010

When in Rome...drink house reds, not whites.

I arrived in the train station in Rome famished and scoped out my favorite little grocery store (with normal priced, not train station/airport priced items). I bought some snacks and another one of the tiny juice boxes of wine I had on my first day in Rome and Italy oh so long ago. Andrew and I took a bus back to his apartment in Monteverde outside of the city center. As we were riding in the bus I look out the window and, "Holy poopy, that's the Colosseum!! It's real! It's huge! And it's right there, right out my window." I look around like a little kid who just told a GREAT story expecting everyone to be in just as much excitement as I was. I was shocked to discover that no one, not even Andrew seemed to really notice that ginormous famous structure just out our window...I suppose if you see it everyday it could be different. My first night in Rome Andrew and I headed out for a night on the town with one of his friends. This is when I realized I wasn't in the Veneto anymore and now it's safer to order a house RED wine rather than a house White. Egh...I didn't know white wine in Italy could taste so bad, I think it was really Yellow Tail Chardonnay in an Italian disguise. Egh, shivers. Needless to say we ended up leaving this wine (glass and all) on the bus. At the end of the night we stopped for kebabs and I ate some fast-food Indian style...egh, more shivers. My stomach was KILLING me the next day. I literally felt like I had a knife in my tummy when I woke up. From now on I will avoid fried rice balls with mushrooms and tiny patties of spicy eggplant stuff.

My second day in Rome I started with a run through a very large and very beautiful park. Once again I was in childlike amazement as I ran though structures and up to statues that were ages old and still so wonderfully beautiful. I noticed again that I was the only runner in the park who seemed to give a crap about the amazingness surrounding us. What is it with Romans, don't they know what they're living in?? After the run Andrew and I got geared up for some Piazza-seeing. We started with Piazza Novona. It was filled with beautiful buildings, artist outside doing their different trades and selling their work. We found the best Gelato place right to the side of a Church (thanks to a suggestion by Sharon). This was the first time that I took notice of just how many tourists were in Rome. Most people in Rome don't even look Italian. It's reminds me of the New York City of Italy. Always something to do, people from all over mixed into one city, more tourists than locals...I also found it interesting that one the bus ride home there were literally more people on this full bus speaking English than there were people speaking Italian! We had an easy night in. It was also laundry day, long overdue. I was down to my last pair of pants that didn't smell THAT bad and one last shirt that had only been worn one other time. We played board games with Andrew's roomie who is from, where else, St. Louis, MO!!! And we drank red wine that they bought at the corner store on the $3 special, they were reds from the Veneto. Made me miss my Italian home.

Day three in Rome started with a trip to the Colosseum with a planned trip to the Vatican City. We waited in a very long line just to get to the ticket office for Colosseum. Although, since we didn't hit high tourist season we did manage to miss the 3 hour waits I've heard so much about. Once we got in, we walked around for a bit, took in the amazingness of the pure old beauty of the structure, and then decided to skip on the Roman Ruins across the street (because neither one of us know what they were) even though the ticket for the Colosseum included entrance to the other place as well. We would've gone, but we really wanted to see the famous painting in the Sistine Chapel and we wouldn't have another day to do so. So we went to the complete opposite side of town and made it to the St. Basilica just in time to wait in another ridiculously long line. You might also notice in my pictures that the square was really really trashy. Quite literally trash everywhere. I couldn't help but think, "How can they let the most holy place because some dirty?" My answer would come later..Once inside the church my eyes were glued to the ceiling trying to find the painting. I walked around and admired the beautiful cathedral and existed a confused little girl. Where was that stinking painting. So I asked a tour guide. The painting was in the museum. "Okay, so how do I get there?" "Oh, the museums close at 4 on Saturday."... it was 5:00pm and my heart literally died. My spirit crushed. I had wasted an hour looking for the painting in the wrong place. I had missed one of the things in Rome I had really wanted to see, and now I may never see it. Sunday was set aside to go to Pompeii and Monday was a national Catholic holiday so quite literally EVERYTHING would be closed and Tuesday we left for Hungary. Let this be a lesson people, DO YOUR RESEARCH. KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING. Luckily, for me, this was not a sad ending. Andrew realized and reminded me that we weren't leaving for Hungary until 9:00 at night and would have time that morning to go back to the museums and see the painting. Okay, my spirits were lifted so we decided to go back to Piazza Spagna, which I went to my first day in Italy, to have a drink. When we got off of the metro there was a lot of confusion and noise. We were sure someone had gotten mugged or something bad was happening and then we came up out of the metro and we had our answer. The lines were packed with teenagers, children, and supervisors all wearing the same shirts in different colors and chanting cheer camp type cheers. We had stumbled upon a Catholic youth rally, a traveling youth rally that had been to St. Basilica's earlier that day. These kids were everywhere. We skipped Piazza Spagna in an effort to avoid them. We found a place off another piazza and enjoyed a good happy hour with some happy hour snacks, which they aren't quite as generous with in Rome as they are in the Veneto. Just as we were leaving the kids started to march by in groups, no doubt on the way to their next location. We more or less sprinted in the opposite direction. I'm telling you, these were the MASSES. Later on that night we met with Andrew's friend Jen for dinner at a pizzeria in Piazza Santa Maria, a very busy and lively piazza and were were sitting outside and I was the lucky one who had my back to the road. I'm pretty sure I almost got hit 4 times by cars or scooters passing by. Later we went to see Jen's friends tiny quaint bar that can only be described as a Barnes and Nobel, meets quirky boutique, meets chic bar. I sat in a hand chair and flipped through an Italian Vogue. It was a fun experience and the owners were great, and interesting, people.

The next day was Sunday and I started my day in Rome. I went back to the strange stuff next to the Colosseum because I had paid to see it, I had time and I was going to see it! I'm so glad I went. It was the Roman Forum and Ruins and I enjoyed it way more than the Colosseum. First of all I didn't even realize the entrance was the entrance because it was slightly raining, kind of early, and there was no line, at all. I walked right in. This place was huge and had so many beautiful ruins to see. Sometimes I wasn't really sure what I was looking at until I read the description on the board and realized it was something really cool I'd heard about in school a long time ago. I walked around here for 2 hours, in awe the whole time. After my stroll through the Roman times, I headed to the train station to get the next one out to Napoli and Pompei.

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