Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What the Fuck, Rome?

So there I am, sitting at a little cafe in front of the Pantheon, enjoying the sunshine and the warm weather, reading a great book, sipping a cappuccino, and letting my legs breath in a pair of cut off jean shorts... when I hear... wait, could it be? Thunder? Whaaat?

So it begins to drizzle. The pages of my book have splashes of rainwater running down the words. The waiters break out the umbrellas, and I do not worry because I believe it to be just a thing in passing. After all, it's still warm and the sun is still shining... when... wait, could it be? IS THAT HAIL? Yes. Hail begins to beat down on the umbrellas that have become more of a force field against the weather than anything else. I move further under the umbrella as my cappuccino gets attacked by small chunks of ice. I like my cappuccino hot damnit!

And yet, miraculously, the sun is still out! The hail then gives way to a brutal dousing of heavy rain. I briefly wonder how I will get home in my flats and shorts and lacking an umbrella.

Gypsies, seizing their chance, spring up like mushrooms in the piazza, carrying an arsonal of umbrellas. The one nearest me offers to sell me one. Five euro? No thanks, buddy, I've got one at home, not that it's doing much good now. Plus, the last one I bought from you gutted itself in the slightest of winds!

What to do, what to do? First step: pay for cappuccino. Second step: make a run for it. The waiter handed me the check. FOUR EURO FOR A CAPPUCCINO? Remind me to never get a cappuccino at a restaurant again, thankssss. I could have bought an umbrella for less than that and got more use for my money. In any case, the waiter offered me a plastic bag for my hair. I accepted graciously, said "Piacere Adam, grazie," and with an audience of the entire restaurant, put the plastic bag over my hair, and ran for home.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bed and I: The Reconciliation

I just got back to Rome a couple days ago, and nearly slept all of those two days. "Why" you may ask. And I would answer: traveling is not for the weak! Especially if you're a cheapo like me.

I had about a week long adventure roaming around Europe with some amazing people, seeing incredible things, learning about the world and myself, and meeting more amazing people. But to get to these places and have these experiences takes time, effort, loss of sleep, and hopefully not so much loss of money. To combat this last part, we had to get a little creative.

For example: sleeping in places I would normally not choose to sleep. Three nights of this journey were spent sleeping in airports. Two of those nights, in London, we had to sleep on the floor. Apparently this is not so unusual for people to do in London, as many people were fully prepared with blankets and pillows. These were the true travelers, the tramps, the ones that give the finger to society and say instead: I will see the world and on my own terms!

So we did as the Londoners did, found a free expanse of floor, used our suitcases as pillows, and tried to fall asleep as we jealously looked on at people sleeping on benches and others who had put together six chairs in order to keep off the floor.

Oh yes, did I mention the floor was stone and extremely cold? No matter how many layers you put on, the cold somehow sneaks its way into your bones and refuses to leave.

We attempted to ward it off by layering pants over pants, shirts over shirts over sweaters over jackets and coats, emptying out our suitcases in the hopes that we could make some sort of semblance of a bed out of our clothes but it was to no avail. The cold still snuck in and set up camp.

Other times we slept in buses while we traveled from here to there, getting as much shut eye as we could. Of course, we did have hostels and beds to sleep in, but the party lifestyle just won't allow for much sleep.

So here I find myself back in Rome, exhausted but happy, hugging my bed as in greeting of an old friend. Bed, I will never take you for granted again.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

How to Save Money, and then Fail

When traveling, it's important to have a financial plan. My friends and I, for example, have an excellent money-saving plan. We're going to starve.

The only problem with this is that we can't seem to keep our hands off of food. We're big fans. Only the other day, my roommate and I went out to get a bite of pizza and ended up eating our way across the piazza.

To practice our financial plan, however, we thought we would give it a go in Venice since we were going to be there overnight. By the end of the night, we were drunk, tired, and most of all, hungry. We followed some Venetian locals back to their apartment with promises of a couch to sleep on, since we didn't have a hostel (another brilliant money-saving plan), and promises of food.

When we arrived, we found the house to be curiously devoid of food. In my drunken state, I felt lied to, deceived, and scandalized. I put on my coat and declared that I was leaving. "FOOD IS THE ONLY REASON I CAME HERE" I explained... until my friends pointed out we had nowhere to stay.

So our gracious host offered up the only food available in the apartment: a loaf of frozen bread... which I proceeded to eat half of. Frozen. Between mouthfuls of icy bread, I inquired of my friends how we were going to starve ourselves during our travels. Clearly this was going to be impossible.

In the morning, I was quite sick. As soon as I stepped off the train, I ran to vomit up a half a loaf of bread into the trash (first checking to see which one was refuse, of course, as Italians are big on recycling). My friend stood by me and asked if I was alright.

"I'm fine," I said. "I just need some food." I think our plan will be a fail...