About Me

My photo
Columbia, Missouri
My traveling closet began halfway across the country three years ago when I left Las Vegas and started my freshman year at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Then it went halfway across the world for a semester abroad in Barcelona, Spain. Now it's back to Mizzou for a final year. I began this blog to detail my European adventures. Though I'm back in the states, the adventures continue.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

When in doubt, say PREGO!

...because it literally means EVERYTHING in Italian. Prego this, prego that... Use it and you'll become a natural Italian speaker! Trust me. :)

My journey to Rome began Thursday evening after acing my Oceanography midterm. (Yeah baby!) I hopped on the Aerobus and headed to the airport. Much to Kayla's dismay, I obviously made friends with some Germans during the ride. What can I say? I just love meeting new people. I told them that my family was from Germany and asked them how they would pronounce my last name since everyone in my family says it differently. It's pronounced All-eh-vel. Looks like we've all been saying it wrong! 

Ryan Air really irked me during this particular trip. Never have they ever checked my liquids, but sure enough! The one time I decide to be sneaky and bring a product that is over the ounce limit, they catch me and make me throw it out. 20 euros down the drain! Then they had the nerve to tell my suitcase - which was COMPLETELY in compliance with their width/length requirements - would not fit in the storage bins. Lies! There were SO many suitcases bigger than mine. Their greedy hands forced me to pay 50 euros to check my bag. To make matters worse, the flight was delayed! This was extremely problematic because I had no way to inform Kayla that I would be late getting into Rome. Our international phones aren't compatible. I was irate I tell you, irate. 

I huffed and puffed my way to an empty seat, giving death stares to every Ryan Air employee that had the audacity to walk past me. Despite my foul mood, the woman sitting beside me struck up a conversation in Spanish. It turns out she is a journalist from Brazil who works in TV production. We talked the entire flight. She even complemented me on my Spanish speaking skills. Talking with her made me forget all about how much I hated Ryan Air. 

After finally landing in Rome, my handy dandy iPhone came to the rescue! I texted my aunt to facebook message Kayla about my late arrival. Miraculously, Kayla happened to be online and everything worked out. 

I took a 40-minute bus ride into Rome's city center and was greeted by a really great hotel. (For obvious reasons!)

I hailed a taxi and the adventure to find my hotel began. After being in the taxi for 2 minutes, the meter was already at 12 euro! You gotta be kidding me! I argued with the taxi driver and told him the price was absolutely ridiculous. He turned off the meter and told me he would give me a deal and charge me 15 euro total. I took it, not knowing at the time that he was driving me around in circles. Oh yeah, my hotel was actually a two minute walk from where the bus dropped me off. Thank you scheming taxi driver for your "deal." He dropped me off on the street that my hotel was supposedly on and told me to walk fast because it wasn't a good part of town. Oh, how wonderful!

I began wandering up and down the street searching for this ridiculously hidden hotel. The name and address on the hotel's website did not match the real name and address. I asked some strangers and somehow managed to find the general direction of the hotel. After walking up four flights of sketchy stairs, I discovered the lobby. There was a Chinese cat picture on the door and no one in sight. The movie Taken briefly passed through my mind. The door was locked so I started pounding, freaking out. This little Chinese woman finally appeared and let me in. She barely spoke English but somehow called Kayla to let her know I had arrived. I don't think I've ever been so pleased to see Kayla prance through a door. 

Luckily, our hotel was in a different, less sketchy part of the building. It smelled of feet and mold, but hey, it was cheap and we were in Rome. How much can you complain? The fact is, you can't. After all the hassle of traveling, it was close to 11:30 pm AKA the perfect hour for some late-night pizza. 

The next morning, we woke up early and headed to Vatican City.

The gang from left to right: Pablo, Paulina, me, Monica, Kayla and Julie

Vatican City was utterly beautiful...down to every tiny detail. St. Peter's Basilica was my favorite. As I wandered through the building, I couldn't help but wish my grandfather was by my side. He had always wanted to visit Vatican City. It would have been an incredible experience to share with him. Despite his physical absence, I knew he was with me in a different kind of way. 

After touring the Basilica, we decided to climb to the very top of it...all 551 steps! 

I snapped this picture half-way to the top. 

It was quite a hike, but the view was definitely worth it. We could see Rome for days! 

After climbing the Basilica, we needed to recharge so we went on a hunt for some authentic Italian pasta. We found a quant little restaurant with incredibly rude employees. Despite their blatant annoyance with Americans/Mexicans/Canadians, the food was still delicious. 

Artichoke Fettuccine Alfredo! 

With almost full bellies, we all agreed getting some gelato was a must! Unfortunately, finding gelato is a bit tricky. When you desperately want gelato, it is nowhere to be found. However, when you don't want gelato, gelaterias are literally on every corner. Needless to say, it took us a few hours before we actually found some gelato. 

Later that evening, we ventured to see the Trevi Fountain and somehow stumbled upon the Pantheon along the way. The dome of the Pantheon was open and the moon sat perfectly in the center. It was quite the sight to see. 

We then made wishes at the Trevi Fountain. I could have sat at the fountain for hours. The atmosphere was just so peaceful and serene. I loved it. 

After walking around the city all day, we were completely exhausted and went straight to bed.

The next morning we explored the Vatican Museum and visited the Sistine Chapel. 

Next stop: The Colosseum!

Julie and I finished touring the Colosseum before everyone else and rushed to make it to the Forum ruins before they closed. We got lost along the way and never made it. However, we did find a cool government building and witnessed some kind of protest called La Destra. 

After another eventful day of sightseeing, we went out on the town. Of course, not before some fancy tea time in the hotel first! 

With about 4 hours of sleep under our belts, we woke up and ventured back to Vatican City (for the third time) in order to attend Mass and see the Pope. The second the choir started singing in Latin, I just about cried. Their voices echoed throughout the entire building. It was utterly beautiful. I could only pick up a few words here and there during the Mass because it was mostly in Italian and Latin, but I am so thankful I was able to go. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. 

As soon as Mass ended, we hurried outside to join the large congregation of people awaiting the Pope's appearance in Vatican Square. The amount of people present was unbelievable. 

At exactly 12 pm, the Pope appeared. I'm still a little in shock that I actually saw the Pope!

The Pope spoke in Latin for quite some time and then suddenly switched to English and gave us a special a shout out! Clearly, he know we were coming. I mean, we are kind of a big deal. ;P Feel free to watch below! 

After the Pope said his farewell, the whole crowd started cheering and a giant circle began to form. The people in the circle joined hands and started to sing and dance in celebration. Kayla and I obviously joined in even though we didn't know the words or the steps to the dance. The circle kept growing larger and larger as more and more people joined in. It was so neat to be a part of it. 

Kayla and I struggling to follow along.

Once we calmed down from all the excitement, we grabbed some lunch at a cute outside cafe. We then returned to the Forum ruins since we failed to tour them the day before. We were a pretty pathetic bunch the rest of the day. We were all SO exhausted. 

We ended the day's festivities with some pizza and coffee right outside the Colosseum before I had to catch my flight back to Barcelona. It was the perfect way to end a wonderful trip. Thank you again to Kayla and her friends for letting me tag along to the end of their Spring Break Italian adventure. I hope I wasn't too abrasive!