14.05.2012 - 14.05.2012 76 °F
May 14th, 2012
Three days ago we woke up at 3:00am West Coast time. Today, we are walking up 8 hours ahead of West Coast time at 3:30am local time. Sound horribly confusing? Yeah, my body is saying the same. But it is worth it because today is Italy day! We will be landing in Rome around 9:30am. David was up to take us, and I was already sad as we walked to the car. It really has been such a pleasure to be with these people in such a quaint and relaxing place. David dropped us off with a fond farewell and we made our way through the airport to our flight. As we were getting close to Rome, Nicole looked out the windows and said she could definitely tell we were over Italy. You can see the coast in the distance, vineyards everywhere, and orange rooftops. It does have a different feel to it. When we landed we went straight to catch a shuttle to the area of Rome where our apartment is. I've said this before, but it warrants saying again. Drivers in Rome are crazy. You know how we pretty much stay in the lines, stop for pedestrians and obey speed limits? Yeah, the lines here or like guidelines or suggestions. If you are a pedestrian they won't hit you, but will go inches behind or before you. And they must go through brakes like Casey goes through ice cream with how fast they stop and start. Our shuttle dropped us off of Rome Termini (it's the train station and major bus stop) and we walked the remaining 15 minutes to our apartment. Katarina, the lady we are renting from texted me and told me she won't be able to meet us for an hour and half. So Nicole and I decided to walk around and get used to the area, maybe find something to eat or a grocery store. As we poke our head in various places, the language barrier smacks you right in the face. We are staying in a very local part of Rome. I have not seen anyone that even remotely resembles a tourist other than us. I find all those same fears that I had before in France of trying to speak the language. No matter how much I practiced before hand, or how many words or phrases learned, it is still hard to find the guts to actually use the language. It is a very strange thing that is hard to describe without actually the reader having actually experienced it themselves. It's a profound isolation to be around so many people and feel like you can't communicate. We finally stopped for some pizza and the lady new some English. I took advantage of that by asking her how to introduce yourself or what to say when you enter a shop. She seemed happy to help.
Katarina met us at the apartment just after we got there. She is probably in her mid 30s, very good English and extremely nice. Se greeted us with a slide and a handshake and took us up. You see, unlike the last trip I took where Casey and I pretty much stayed ion hostels, Nicole and I are renting an apartment in the aforementioned (yes, I just used aforementioned) local part of town. So all around the square we are in are shuttered Italian windows with laundry hanging out to dry! The apartment is awesome! It looks more like someone's home than a rental place. We have our none large bedroom, a bathroom with toilet, sink, shower and washer, and a full kitchen! We will show you pictures. Katarina wished is a good trip and we decided to take a nap. Yes I know we are in Rome, but the nap was vital, it helped us enjoy a very very fun rest of the day.
About 4pm we left our new home and walked toward the center of Rome. We are only 25 minutes walk to the Coliseum. Before we made it there, I took Nicole in for some gelato. Do you know how much a cat likes catnip? That's how much Nicole likes gelato! She got some chocolate fudge browny nut thing that brought cries of delight with each spoonful. But that isn't even the best part. Let me paint the picture for you. The weather is mid 70s with a hot italian sun. We are walking down the middle of Rome, eating gelato, on our Honeymoon, and up looms the coliseum. Massive in between the building in the area! Does it get any better? Nicole couldn't choose between pictures, gelato, or holding my hand. We walked all the way around the huge monument to the entrance. Here we were met by a tour company that offered us the last tour of the day. We were all for it! We met some people from San Francisco just before the tour started. This tour was 100% better than the last tour I took. Our roman guide, Isabella, had a fire and passion for the history of this city. She made our tour so amazing and so full of info, and I am grateful we got her. Some things I learned. The Coliseum is a nickname and the real name is the Flavian Amphitheather, built by the ruling Flavian family. Most of the damage caused to the coliseum was not by the earthquakes, but rather by people over the centuries stripped it of its marble and iron. Did you know that the coliseum had a skin of marble? The whole thing! And that the iron pins used to the hold blocks together were taken out in several places. This place used to be the ritz, literally. What we see now is such a paltry vision of the splendor. Construction was started 72 A.D. and finished in 80A.D. Only 8 years! There is a ton more to tell!
After the tour we went on the Palestine hill weigh a Canadian tour guide. He wasn't very good in my opinion. Then we walked up toward the Fountain di Trevi. I'd never been in the daylight and it was really really cool. Nicole wants to take about a million pictures of us. The Indian (from India) guys were there offering to take our picture, but little do they know, that I know, as soon as they take the picture, they won't give our camera back until we pay five euro. I didn't want to go to jail for smashing a little man. We ran into the family from San Francisco again here and we each took each others picture. It was nice go see someone we "knew". By this time we were starving and walked up to a little hole in the wall Italian run restaurant. Oh. My. Goodness. Was that food ever the best thing I've ever had. Italian bruschetta, pesto and chicken! The food here is so much lighter, with much more flavor. It is the best! We then went for another million pictures in the dark to the Fountain di Trevi and decided to make our way home.
In the metro station we met a D.C. born, now Italian resident who helped us get the right direction. When we disembarked, we had to up the escalators to get back to ground level. However, instead of going up the up escalator, I thought it would be fun to run up the down escalator. However, this escalator just happens to be 3 times longer than most. I made it up just fine and Nicole followed me. She, however made it to just about the top and then got really tired. She was practically running in place. "Stephen! I can't make it!" pant pant huff puff! She was running out of steam, slower and slower. And then, I'm pretty sure fear kicked in for her as she realized she might not make it. With many a shriek and puff she finally made it up! She was panting like she'd just escaped the jaws of death. I tried my hardest not to laugh, but sometimes I'm a bad husband. it was sure a memory!