Conversation on the plan ride to Rome:
Wilson 1: "Hey, they speak english here right?"
Wilson 2: "I guess we're about to find out."
Having done zero research we arrived in Rome surprised to learn the metro we required was on an impromptu one-day strike, our cell phone was kaput, 26 attempts later the pay-phone still had us beat and no one spoke a lick english. BUT instead of panicking realizing we were not going to be able to make the commute necessary to get our apartment, we celebrated Italy with our first glass of wine... in the bus depot. Who cares!
Armed with a map and vague idea of how the metro system worked, we quickly found our groove and mastered the narrow streets. We discovered that in Rome it is socially to eat margherita pizza daily, Santa travels by bike or vespa, audio-guide phone are all the rage but look awfully silly, and oh yes calories don't count (I hope).
In December, it is still warm enough to enjoy gelato! As if we needed an excuse.
Initial travel plans included discussions about training all across Europe hitting as many countries as possible before our return to Canada. 'We're young! We're adventurous!' we gushed over Skype. And then, we became caught up in our Swedish and Kenyan travels and booked 5 days Rome.
This may have been the smartest (and only) trip planning decision we made in advance. Friends, do not involve transfers and trains when you are concurrently lugging around 50+ lbs of the last four months with you. Luggage slows you down. Luggage is hell. To make matters worse, I was maneuvering a self mcgyvered rolling suitcase held together by a few Swedish bolts and nuts...which I am very proud to say, made it all the way to Canada!
It is a good thing we spent 5 days in Roma because apparently our return to this beautiful city is not guaranteed. At the infamous Trevi fountain we opted to chuck our coins as hard and as far as we could, only later to learn that you are supposed to delicately drop the coins over your shoulder. This action apparently guarantees your return to the city. Whoops.
Other travel mistakes were made, with numerous photos of us posing outside St. Peter's Basilica, which we mistook for the Vatican. So embarassing, maybe it is time for standardized testing in Saskatchewan.
Despite our mistakes, we had an amazing trip filled with random adventures. Our favorite Italian adventure by far involved signing our lives away to rent two helmets and a vespa. That experience deserves a post all of its own. For now, a teaser:Running a very close second in favorite Italian activities was a sport we like to call 'afternoon people watching with wine.' I am a pro.
After "people watching with wine," exploring the streets and markets with a buzz makes for good fun and good photos.
Finally, an afternoon spent in the Vatican. Sitting in the Sistine Chapel learning how the Pope is elected while taking in the art filled walls is a humbling experience.
A lesson in margherita pizza making at our favorite restaurant just down the street from our apartment, Ristorante Mama's. Here we met our guardian angel who graciously chauffeured us around Rome, learnt that Spanish can help in understanding Italian, and enjoyed a couple meals with Italian locals eager to share their table.
The sheer size of the Colosseum is impressive and left us silently staring at the ruins. Sans audio guide we enjoyed imagining what it all looked like years ago. Where did the emperors sit? How did the animals get in? Where are these trap doors we can hear guides speaking of? We spent evenings googling the answers to all our questions. The internet is a beautiful thing.
And there you have it. Roma according to the Wilson sisters!
Needless to say Rome was oh so good to us.
Final lesson learnt: Life is better when you lather all food in balsamic vinegar and olive oil.