Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Rome Blog

Hey Folks-

So... one of the reasons it's taken me over a week to discuss my trip to Rome is that the whole thing happened so fast and was over so fast and yet I saw so, so much. It's taken me a bit of time to process it, and to be honest, I'm not entirely sure that I've processed it fully just yet.

Still... I've been slacking on blog entries, and the trip to Rome was a big part of the reason why. Also, it was cool and I have lots of stuff to tell you... In no particular order or coherance:

-- Do everything you can to sleep on the plane. Seriously. The 6 hour time change will fuck you up. My flight departed around 5:30PM on Thursday and I got in around 8 AM on Friday. It's very disconcerting to skip night time altogether. It was light out when the plane took off, they had the shades closed on the plane, and when we got into Italy it was light out. Basically it was like living in Alaska. And I was so, soooo tired by around 5 in the afternoon. I ended up sleeping from 5PM to 7:30AM on Saturday. Just sayin'... be prepared.

-- Traffic is awesome. See, the thing is, in America we're soft. We're cushy. We follow the rules. Not so much in Italy. First off, there are very very few big cars. I drive a 4-door Honda Accord and my car would not fit into most parking spaces. I don't recall seeing a single SUV. Most of the cars around the place are like those little Smart Cars. Tiny. And there are all of these Vespas and Vespa-like scooters. And they're insane. The scooters zip around all willy nilly. The cars park on the curbs and they smack into eachother to make more room places. The buses (of the public transportation variety) are apparently allowed to do whatever they want. There was at least one instance of me being completely ignored by a bus that decided not to stop. Oh... And the best thing about the traffic? There's an unspoken agreement between pedestrians and traffic where the pedestrian will be allowed to cross any street at any time as long as they can get themselves across said street without being plowed down by the totally un-slowed oncoming cars. It's great because nobody waits. Everyone has full accountability.

-- The most amazing single thing I saw? St. Peter's Basilica. It's at The Vatican, which is awesome in itself. St Peter's is the largest church I've ever seen, and not by a little. It's effing HUGE. Like... I've been to some pretty large churches in my time that would literally fit INSIDE St. Peter's. So really, just the scope of the structure itself is incredible. If you add to that the dozens and dozens of priceless statues. The paintings. The mummified remains of popes. (that's right). The place is this crazy combination of pure majesty of faith (even if you're not particularly spiritual) and artistry and kinda creepy pack-rattedness (I mean... dead popes... right there.) I didn't even get to see the museum (Sistine Chapel) because it was closed the Sunday I was there. It's almost worth it to me to go back to Rome just to finish seeing the Vatican.

-- The strangest thing? The ruins near the Pantheon (another totally amazing place) where all of these cats live. Dozens of them. It's adorable and fun and cool and there are tons of cats.

-- I may be the only person who could go to Rome, one of the World's capitals of Cuisine, and LOSE weight. I lost 7 pounds in the 3 days I was there. The main reason is that since my surgery I still have a pretty difficult time eating things like bread and meats and pasta. That makes eating almost anything in Italy pretty difficult. I'm not saying I didn't try. I had some good melon on my first day. The mixed cheese plate included some of the best parmesan cheese I've ever had. I had some pretty rockin' gnocchi. Still... it was rough. And kinda torturous. Fucking pizzas were everywhere. Yes... pizzas were literally having sex with each other. It was crazy.

-- While hostels are cool and very inexpensive... they are not to be entirely trusted. On my first night, someone parted me with about 30 Euros while I slept. On the other hand, I met some really cool folks and I learned the rules of Crickett and taught an Australian girl the rules of Baseball. A true demonstration of diplomacy. (though Crickett is nearly incomprehensible)

-- I think my favorite single thing was this little fountain at the base of the Spanish Steps. I know it's kinda weird, with everything in this amazing city splayed out for all to see, but this little fountain of a boat that has sprung a leak just has so much character and grace and whimsy. It makes me feel like there was a sense of humor, even back when all of these masters were creating these incredible works of art. Occasionally they just wanted to make a boat. I love that fountain.

-- There's something really cool about being in a place that has seen so much. If you're in America and something is "old" it's like... 150 years old. In Rome it's like... 2500 years old. That thing has this huge historical footprint. And everything there is like that. I love that you can walk down the street and end up passing some little fresco on the wall of some building that's 500 years old. I love that these little churches or buildings have been standing for longer than the world even knew America (AS A LAND MASS) existed.

-- Lastly for this blog, I think it's really pretty amazing to see the power of the Catholic Church demonstrated for you in such definitive ways. I mean the organization, not the religion. The best example I can give is the Pantheon and the aforementioned ruins with the cats. The original structures were built around the same time. Within a hundred years or so...and one of the structures was sort of commandeered by the Catholic church and one wasn't. Can you guess which building is still standing and in perfect, pristine condition and which one is...well... a ruins? You see that kind of thing EVERYWHERE. Secular structures are falling down. Churches from the same time period are perfect. It's very interesting.

(In case you wondered... that's a Pope.... from the 1600s.)

-- Oh... for real the last thing... Flying Business Class is pretty effing awesome.

In any case, I had an awesome time. It was so cool to see my sister having such an amazing experience and really taking the reins in a pretty material way. She was the one leading, and that's for sure. She had that shit on lock. And I only embarassed us once or twice with me sad attempts at even the most basic Italian.


Andrea said...

Sounds like an amazing trip! Once in a lifetime kinda thing. I'm not sure I would be down to stay in a hostle tho, your brave! Your pictures are breath taking! Hope good ol' US of A isn't going to be a dissapointment now lol...

Beefy Muchacho said...

The US is never disappointing. Haha...and Hostels aren't like in that movie. Not bad. Good folks there.

briana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
briana said...

Great entry, brother! I was getting worried that I wasn't going to be mentioned at all, but you pulled through. Especially on that last sentence "...with me sad attempt..." haha, excellent. Obviously english is going well, too.

SO glad you made it out here :)