Today we checked out of our luscious hotel in Campagion Lupia. I started missing it immediately when we pulled away from the worlds smallest train station platform. Our plans today consisted of partaking in the actual city of Venice. We were in the outskirts of the city and because there had been both a train and bus strike yesterday we were unable to get into the actual city. However, today we determined that we would get into the actual city. We managed to do that, however as the entire area had been on strike there were quite a few people that had the same intentions as us. So when we got off the train, we were greeted by a flood of people and their luggage. The throngs of people made us change our mind. Plus the fact that we had to lug around Genghis Khan (our pet name for Isabella's 40lb luggage) for the day. So we hopped on the next free train to Rome.
It was a 6 hour train ride that was so boring I actually nodded off (I've never done that before). Half way through however it started filling up and we had to give up our seats as people came in with reservations. So we sat in the hallway of the train and joked about how we would go into the couchette (little rooms inside the trains that had seats that could slide down into beds) that we were outside of and wake the sleeping people.
Well the conductor came in and ordered the sleeping people to make room for the people waiting outside (like me and Bella) and then he ordered us in. So there we were sitting across three guys we had just made fun of earlier and said we were going to wake up. But surely they didn't speak English. Ha. They were Irish and understood English perfectly. Fantastic.
Bella has no inhibitions so she started cheerily chatting them up. They grudgingly answered her questions before they started to really warm up to her. Meanwhile all I could do was try to repress my gag reflex from the horrible man odor that was contained in that couchette and smile. After a while though when my nose became desensitized, I joined in the conversation and enjoyed their stories for the next hour. They were backpacking and had been to quite a few places and had insulted a few people along the way. They entertained me and Bella till they got off at Florence.
Me and Bella continued to ride the train and got off when we arrived at our destination, Rome. Arriving in Rome has helped me realize how important first impressions really are. Rome, at first glance, is not impressive. Regardless, I tried to keep an open mind as we wandered around the station trying to figure out what we were doing. I realized I was getting hungry, so we decided to feed our empty stomachs with whatever looked like it was reasonably priced and tasty. We passed a few restaurants within the station and I nearly cried when I saw a restaurant with the sign Roadhouse Grill.
In one moment I was in Rome, then a second later I was at home; mentally I was home. Seeing that sign made me miss my culture, my American-ness, it made me miss my English language, it made me miss Gainesville, it made me miss Archer road, it made me miss my family, it made me miss everything that contributed to who I was. I now understand when people come to America from another country and have a hard time letting go of their own culture. It's hard.
We walked outside the station to a little restaurant and had some pizza which wasn't too bad. I tried to get some water, you know regular tap water but the lady kept trying to sell me bottled water until I finally made my point. She gives me this cup, a cup about the size that the dentist gives you your fluoride in, with a bit of water in it.......don't be so generous with your water.
I have found that staying hydrated in Europe is a bit of a challenge. In the states, you can get tap water pretty much anywhere. In Europe, they sell you bottled water and give you tiny cups of tap water, should you not want to pay for it.....kinda like me. Coke, sodas, pop, whatever you prefer to call it comes in a can the size of a RedBull, or if it doesn't come in a can, you get it in a cup and they'll charge you for refills. Europe wants you to die by heat stroke if you're poor. So I guess I'm going to die by heatstroke. Anyway, I just needed to complain about that.
After our late lunch, we go down to the metro. Now when I say down, I mean the pit of hell. 5 long flights of stairs down, oh, and Europe doesn't believe in elevators. So we haul my luggage (aka baby Kahn) and Bella's luggage (Genghis Kahn) down those 5 flights and manage to make it to the bottom after we passed purgatory. We board the metro to Floriana (or some name like that) while trying to not make it obvious to surrounding passengers that we were breathing heavily and seriously out of shape due to our luggage. We were on it for about 3 stops when we realized we were going in the wrong direction. Half-tired and delirious we giggled about it and laughed about something regarding a troll and pink hair (something that now I only half understand....it was a long day).
We got back on the right metro and headed in the correct direction, only to get off and get on another metro going in a different direction. After that we had to get on a train that took us to Saxa Rubra, then take a bus to Porta Prima, then take another bus to our hostel. It took as long as you can imagine that it took. About 2 hours from Rome to our hostel.
We arrived at our hostel, Camping Tiber, tired and anxious to get some sleep. We checked in and walked to our room. It was....interesting. I always have to remind myself to lower my expectations when I know I'm going to be sleeping at a hostel. Simply put, I was glad to have a bed to sleep in, a shower to clean myself in, and a roof over my head. Never mind the mattress was questionable and the springs squeaked, the shower only had cold water, and there was no air conditioning; we had a place to sleep, that's more than some people have. Still I'll never forget the sound of Bella's voice echoing in the bathroom when she quietly told me she missed home and wanted to go home........I knew exactly how she felt.