Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Modern Day In Ancient Rome (a.k.a. awesomeness)

(way late and never completed, but counting it as an update even though it's out of order and incomplete)

We wake up some time between 7-8 and immediately open our window to the view of the sea. We begin casually getting ready for the day, enjoying the muffled, quiet morning sounds of the seaside wake up around us. We get just cute enough for the pictures, grab our backpacks and head out. We grabbed some chocolate-filled croissants at a little bakery near the bus stop. WHOA! That is one fresh and tasty croissant! I am not usually a huge pastery person but had to try one per the Italian brothers' (from the planes) insistant. Man oh man am I glad they committed me to that one! Y. U. M. M. M. M. M. So tastey I couldn't even think what I was supposed to do to the machine that pulled up at the bus station....oh yeah, get on.

Bus ride to the train station. Train to ROMA! We take the train to the end of the track: The Pyramid station. Yep. There's a giant, ancient pyramid right there when we get off in the heart of a bustling modern city...with tiny cars. Hee. The contrast of now and then is an unusual mixture that is hard to wrap your head around (never really did understand that expression, but it gets my point across). It's like my mind keeps trying to make tangible the connection, or maybe moreso the separation of the vastly not so different eras. Either way, it's awe-inspiring and cool.

We start walking toward the Collesseum with the help of Christy's slight broken, yet efficient Italian and some helpful locals. However, we get so caught up in every "little" (yeah, right.) ancient building (door) along the way. Christy and I both apparently have a love of beautifully and textured doors-a passion that perhaps I never would have been aware of had I not gone to Italy. Anway, I like cool doors.

We find ourselves first reaching The Forum. That's THE Forum. We walk along an outside gate looking for an entrance. We start to get a little further from the Collesseum so decide to just role with it and see THE Forum first. We end up taking the long way around. I dig it. We got to see more of it and experience it's vastness. We hiked up a long but not too steep hill on the far (uh, far being the side furtherst from the Collesseum. I don't know if it's east or west or what.) On our climb up this hill we meet a very Italian, very kind, old gentleman, who is thrilled to share his love of his proud city with us. He expressions largely and openly as he tells us how grand Rome is. (From what I gather) He starts talking about food, then gets all excited and tells us where we should eat. AWESOME. I love getting the dish from locals about where the real food is. He lovingly draws us a map, smiles with a little bit of an honest boast and wishes us the best in our travels. I don't know if he actually whistled as he walked away or if his personality just whistles in my imagination. Either way, he has a welcoming spirit and good heart.

The largest portion of this day can probably best been experienced through pictures. So here they are.

After some great sight-seeing and good company (Christy and I travel well together), we decided to go to lunch at the place whistling spirit man had directed us too. The food was good. Just good. The company...heh heh heh...was cute. There was an adorable, big-eared little boy sitting behind us and to my right. Being a picture person I was trying to shyly snap a few shots of him while waiting for our lunch. (None of them came out great as I was trying not to use my flash.) Christy has a sweet camera and was taken with the little guy as well. She turned to take snap her picture and obtained quite the crusty look from mamma bear for taking the picture. Oops. We both felt pretty badly. Oh. And all the while sitting behind Christy, facing me, was a fairly, okay-looking guy with very pale, translucent eyes. It was difficult for he and I to avoid eye contact as we were exactly in each other's line of sight so we spent a lot of time looking and trying not to look at each other. You know how that goes-the whole, I swear I'm not staring even thought I'm staring thing. Anyway, truth is I was staring a little bit. They were crazy. Pretending to be taking pictures of the little boy and the vast array of wines behind him I snuck a few of him in as well.

He finally finished his lunch and was gathering his things to leave. (I was kind of glad to have him out of my direct sight as that whole game gets a little awkward after a while.) I sharing just this thought with Christy when he suddenly appears next to Christy. While I was busy trying to see him he had grabbed a chair from the next table and decided to join us. "Do I at least get to see the picture you have taken of me?" Crap. He said it absolutely no inflection and if anything seemed a little genuinely annoyed. After the death glare from mamma bear I felt horrible and didn't know how to respond. Again no flash not great pics...and certainly not justifying of the color of his eyes, which he himself discribed as being "clear". And yeah, they kinda were. But because the picture weren't good I had deleted many of them and lamely replied to him that I think might have deleted them. I found left on my camera and embarassed him with it. He was extremely camera shy, yet very photogenic (great lines and coloring). I dont' think he could get a read on us just as we couldn't get a read on him so it took a few moments for us to relax together.

His name was Adriano. He was originally from Rome but currently resides in Florence. He is shy, embarrassed and a little awkward in his conversation with us. I don't think he is used to getting so much attention from blonde foreigners, but was trying to seize the moment I suppose. He complimented us on our eyes as well. (p.s. Christy and I do not have the same color of eyes. Both blue yes, but not the same color. However, in every single picture of us our eyes appear to be precisely the same shade of blue. Hmm. Weird.) Blue may be rare in Rome but it's not nearly as rare as Adriano's color. Anyway, he too, became excited about telling us what to see and what do-what's great that tourists miss (sadly, with only one day in Rome we're kinda insisting on the biggie's...at this in this city, and won't have time to see all this favorite places). After several minutes of conversation he bid us farewell. Christy and I sat and digested for a while before heading back out.

As we exited the restuarant Adriano zooms by and honks at us. Wait. He's pulled over and is gesturing us to come. We head out to his car where he hands over a bottle of wine, one of his favorites that he had gone out and bought for us. With the instructions to, "keep it cold and drink it slowly" we, being flattered (trying to contain our excitement), accept the gift and once again part ways. Okay, that's like the most perfect souvenier ever. A bottle of Italian wine, from an Italian man, who you met at lunch in Rome, at a place another Italian man told you to visit. It doesn't get any better than that. And my favorite part is that you can't plan things like that.

We head back toward the city center (just a few blocks away) and almost get hit by an ambulance in our exubarant delight. We end up on the other side of the street in a park area. As we are reliving the moment we are thoroughly chewed out by an Italian woman who thinks we are not respecting "her country" by ignoring ambulances. Look lady. It had nothing to do with it being an Italian ambulance. We would have gotten nearly killed by any make, model, or nationality of vehicle at that point. We get it. We're stupid tourists. Move on. Like we don't know we almost got killed. Anyway, don't get hit by vehicles in foreign countries, even if you're excited and having a great time. Just look both ways before crossing the street, okay kids.

As we amble through the park we begin to get a bit sleepy. We find a nice place at the edge of the park, slightly elevated about ground level of the street below with a perfect view of the Collesseum and nestled down on the lawn at which point Christy says one of my favorite quotes from the trip. "I'm glad we're old enough to admit we need naps." I smile and dose off. This and other similarities in our travel styles is why I think the trip went so well and why we are planning another one from around the same time next year.

We did more site-seeing.

Spanish Steps, proposal-busking, no eating.

Trevi Fountain

Plaza of the People

Communal Nap



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