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Archive for August, 2009

No public transportation today, so that was nice. Hung out around Ostia and laid on the beach all afternoon, lunch at a delicious kebab place, did some grocery shopping and some reading. Had dinner with the woman I’ve been sharing a room with, and was planning to call it an early night. But what melodious sound reached my tired ears? The glorious English language. Some Canadians checked in today after spending a week in Barcelona and Paris, and they were quite amazed by the quiet of this hostel. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but it is rather empty right now. In fact, the first new arrival until the Canadians was a bird that flew into our room. He was quite nice, but didn’t speak English, so our conversation was rather nonexistant.

I went and played pool with some of our neighbors to the north, impressed them with my Texan take on the second person plural pronoun, and somehow lead them to believe that I would be a suitable tour guide for a walk around the area. 45 minutes later, we happened upon a concert in a piazza I had never seen before. There is so much going on here, it’s fairly certain that you can find a festival any night. But they were impressed with my losing the way and finding the way cool Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd cover band. Until we realized that band had finished nearly an hour earlier, and this was someone entirely different. But still good, y’all would have liked it.

Found some gelato, which was delicious and made me even more excited about Florence, which has some of the best gelato in the country and is where I will be tomorrow – assuming I get on the right train and don’t end up in Sardegna. From the piazza back to our hostel was about a 5 minute walk, but they were kind and pretended to appreciate the earlier surprise fitness test. Afterall, it’s so important to figure out where things are!

Anyway, the best part of it was one of the guys has my same camera, and let me borrow his charger – hooray!

Found this pretty scene on my trek to the train yesterday.

Found this pretty scene on my trek to the train yesterday.

Look what I found! St. Peter’s

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jmc 028

Me and my homies chillin' outside the Basilica

I think I would be creeped out thinking about how many random people around the world might have your picture in their living room or on their blog.

think I would be creeped out thinking about how many random people around the world might have your picture in their living room or on their blog.

And speaking of creepers .. but I just couldn't resist. It was so beautiful and Italian and a good start for my postcard company that will hopefully take off and make me millions with no real effort from me.

And speaking of creepers .. but I just couldn't resist. It was so beautiful and Italian and a good start for my postcard company that will hopefully take off and make me millions with no real effort from me.

Likely off to Florence on an early train, but who knows. The place I’m looking to stay there is a camp ground just outside the city with a great view and bicycles but limited internet access. But, if you send me your address, I’ve heard of this odd form of email where you actually rely on -get this- people to deliver your correspondence. I’m eager to find out what that’s all about.

Ciao!

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After suffering a debilitating panic attack and a crushing wave of self doubt, I decided a nap would be a good idea. Woke up from my nap at 8:30am, cursing jet lag but feeling slightly more sane. Spent the morning getting myself together then ended up having one of the most eventful days a Roman tourist could ask for (Michele, enter roamin’ / roman joke here.) The only downside was the untimely demise of my camera battery. Actually, that wasn’t the only mishap. There’s never just one.

My hostel is great because it’s right on the beach and just a quick 15 minute walk to the train station. Unless you’re me, then it’s an hour of inadvertant sightseeing that, in a happy accident, ends at the station.

The trains are generally reliable and quick, which is also great for someone like me who likes to explore the line in the opposite direction, twice, before deciding to take the ‘correct’ route.

After all that fun, by the time I successfully found Rome and ultimately Vatican City, I was plum tuckered out. I wandered around the Basilica, gazing in wonder through sleep glazed eyes at the art and history and bronze encrusted popes that decorate St. Peter’s. After, I sat on the ground outside planning my next move. I decided not to attempt any more sights and just follow one of Rick Steve’s leisurely walking tours, which started at the Campo Fiori. I located it on my map, and despite all the contrary evidence, felt confident in my navigational skills.

A couple random, unrelated to Campo Fiori streets later, I stopped in the middle of one of said roads to take a perfect picture of the Basilica. Instead, I saw a blinking light, flashes of my past, then darkness. Dead camera. Extremely unfortunate given what was to come, but onward I wander.

Whenever I detect someone alone behind me, I being to dart and weave and pointlessly cross streets like a really bad secret agent. But today I had my nose in a map, my head in the clouds and I didn’t know I was being traced until a kind man asked – in Italian – if i needed help. He politely introduced himself, looked harmless and kept his distance. That’s when I knew: I was about to get Taken.

I immediately started spinning a web of lies to conceal my identity and tried to remember the self defense move my soccer trainer showed us in 9th grade. Between my convoluted Italian, backtracking on my story and forgetting what I was pretending, I think I told him I was a Californian football player staying in the Florence train station for the next four weeks.

But that didn’t dissuade him. He took me. First to the Campo Fiori, then the Piazza Navono, then the Pantheon, then the Trevi Fountain, and finally the Spanish steps. I was exhausted from all the hiking and appreciating and speaking 4 hours of spanitalish half-truths. Also, I was unsure how to disappear out of this, since he seemed intent on making sure I arrived safely; he had correctly assessed my inability to navigate.

We rode the train together and I faked my stop, which was his real stop, but claimed I was going the opposite way and truly desired to walk alone down the unfamiliar Roman streets in the dark. After giving him my phone number, social security number, email address, and local and foreign addresses, I ducked back into the station.

Actually, we were headed to the same town, and it seems he lives very close to where I am staying, and i realllly wanted to ride on his motorcycle (true story), but my little sister is always tells me to ‘make good choices’! So, after waiting an appropriate amount of time, finding a toilet that let me pay for the pleasure of using it and purchasing a second ticket for the same trip, I returned to the platform right as my train arrived. Che fortuna! Unfortunately, good fortune greatly bores me.

At the next stop, I faked myself into thinking that I was going the wrong direction and quickly jumped off the train. As the doors closed behind me, I began to think the decision may have been a tad bit hasty. And completely wrong. But, whatever. I was at the colloseum stop and hadn’t eaten since my gourmet gronola bar of a lunch, so I left the station to find food. Luckily, there was a rather unappatizing but edible snack station right outside. I bought a pizza, sat down, and enjoyed the history and the blood of ancient gladiators shimmering in the moonlight. I finished my dinner, returned to the station to buy a third ticket for the same trip and return home.

After that, the ride was uneventful. Particularly the part where I waited for the tram for thirty minutes and hand wrote this update.

Like my camera battery, I need to recharge. I’m thinking a day at the beach is just the ticket – and not the kind you have to pay for three times.

No pictures today, but I’ll leave you with my boy David, who also sometimes questions ‘Is this real life?’

 

mom and dad – please don’t worry. this kind of mayhem is not unusual for my life. it just usually occurs in the usa. and without your knowlege. i’m alive and well and doing fine. i love you!

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Il primo giorno

The day in pictures, because I’m too tired to tell stories.

And Im pretty sure I overpacked

And Im pretty sure I overpacked

Dont know when Ill be back again..

Dont know when Ill be back again..

My bed for the next few nights, in a room with 5 other girls.

My bed for the next few nights, in a room with 5 other girls.

Walking around I stumbled upon this awesome festival.

Walking around I stumbled upon this awesome festival.

Also, Happy Birthday to my wonderful mother. Miss you!

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1130: Definitely shouldn’t be using my quickly dwindling preparation time to set up a travel blog, but it’s much less intimidating than tackling my never ending to-do list. My clothes are all in the backpack that will be my dresser and closet for the next seven weeks, but that’s about as far as I’ve gotten.

Plane leaves Houston at 19:55, layover in Heathrow, land in Rome tomorrow at 19:10.

Time to run those final 3249 errands and practice tromping around in my hiking shoes with a bag the size of a mid-sized child on my back. Ready or not, here I go!

4:17: Ok, bags are mostly packed. There’s not too much time before we need to get out the door, but I think it’s worth it to take a luxurious shower. Who knows what sort of bathing conditions lie ahead! Dad is getting ready too, we’ll be off to copy some important documents then to the airport before long. I got a camera, so when I figure out everything and have some internet access, I’ll hopefully be able to load some pictures!

Ciao, y’all. I’m headed to Europe 🙂

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