A synopsis of Katelyn & Nicki's visit to Rome for spring break :)
I never really bought into the whole “honeymoon” phase of culture shock. I really just thought my abroad experiences were destined to be incredibly amazing and wonderful all the time, but I finally understand what the “negotiation phase” is.
I had a fantastic time hiding Katelyn and Nicki in my apartment for a week: it was almost like harboring fugitives…fugitives who happened to be my sister and my cousin who were just visiting me for spring break. I picked them up at the airport (because I do not think they would have been able to get to Rome proper by themselves), and literally attacked them both and cried when I saw them coming out of the international arrivals gate. Neither of them had slept at all and they were both in desperate need of coffee, so we hopped on the train and headed back to my apartment.
I am pretty sure they both wanted to kill me on that first day. First of all, we walk everywhere in Rome—something that neither of them were used to. Secondly, I threw their jet-lagged bodies into a sightseeing frenzy almost immediately. We dropped our stuff in the apartment only to head back to the metro to take it up to St. Peter’s to see the Pope! I do not know if either one of them were impressed (I think they were just exhausted), but now they can say that they saw the Pope. We went into St. Peter’s and I finally got a reaction of them—they were both floored by the massive basilica. I am still amazed by it every time I go in (that was my fourth time inside since I had been in Rome). Since they were dragging their feet and I could not get them up, we went home so they could nap. I do not really know what a four-and-a-half hour sleep is, but I think it is way more than a nap. I was tired so I conked out for a while as well.
The next day we were way more productive. I took the girls to see the Pantheon and a pretty church I visited the previous week with my art history class. We had lunch with my friends at Miscellanea, our fave hole-in-the-wall spot with 4 Euro paninis and 6 Euro pizza (thanks Rick Steves). After lunch we walked to the Trevi Fountain, and I forced them to be ultra-touristy and throw a coin into the fountain. I threw one in, as well, so I do the math correctly, I should be coming back to Rome at least four times in my life. That would be awesome.
It was a gorgeous day, so I took the girls up to Villa Borghese—the huge park where the Borghese Gallery is located. We did not go inside the Gallery, although I would spend all day every day in there looking at sculptures by Bernini, Canova, and other, and paintings by renowned artists like Titian and Caravaggio. Instead, we rented bikes for an hour and bombed up and down the hills of the park. I discovered some parts of the park that I had not known before, like a small lake hidden by a ton of trees. There were people in small rowboats in this lake, making the scene movie-esque romantic.
Tuesday I had class all day, so Frick and Frack had to fend for themselves. I left them the keys to my apartment and gave them explicit directions to the Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill. I was happy to find out that they had successfully completed their task of seeing these things and they made themselves lunch. We all got changed and headed out to dinner at a place in one of my guidebooks. I had some awesome pasta with prosciutto and mozzarella cheese, and Kake and Nick had broccoli and sausage pizza.
We then met up with my friends at a place called Mood, which is where the “honeymoon” phase of my life abroad was rudely interrupted. Mood is this cool lounge/bar where we like to go on Tuesday nights because we do not have to pay a cover charge and they have fun deals. Apparently our entire program also decided to go that night so Richmond pretty much took over the entire area. For some odd reason, I was in a bit of a funk and just was not being myself. My friends were dancing, but I opted to sit with everyone’s purses to make sure they were OK. I just wanted a few minutes to reflect to myself, so I did not mind sitting on a pile of fleeces. Brenna and Dana quickly came over to me trying to convince me to get my butt up and dance, which I did not do immediately because of my current post of purse-watcher. Eventually, reluctantly, I got up, leaving my purse and a few others sitting at on the couch. There were a few of my friends sitting on the perimeter of the couches, so I just asked them to keep half and eye on our stuff.
I danced with my friends and Katelyn and Nicki for a while, and then we decided we wanted to go back to the bar for a break in the intense exercise we were getting. I went back to get my purse, and no one was sitting there. I grabbed the strap of the purse and immediately noticed that it was significantly lighter. And then the worst: I reached into the purse only to grab hold of a couple of lip-glosses and a tampon or two. No phone, no wallet. The phone was not a big deal at all, but my wallet held my student ID card, my debit card, credit card, and about 40 Euro. UGH I felt so stupid, so idiotic for even leaving my purse on the table in the first place. I specifically bought this one so I could leave it slung across my body all night and would not have to worry about it! What possessed me to take it off, I still have no idea. Maybe I was just sick of it, I am really not sure. Fortunately I was stone cold sober, unlike most of my friends, and was a lot calmer than if I had been intoxicated. Luckily I was able borrow Brenna’s phone and call Daddy, who played savior and cancelled both the credit card and the debit card immediately. The suddenness of it all was the worst part, I think. I just did not expect anything like that to happen to me because I am usually super cautious with my purse and belongings I take out with me. The second I was careless, some sketchy man saw my purse and grabbed the contents. In the large scheme of things, if that was the worst thing that happened, so be it. I was not hurt, nor was anyone around me. I do know a girl who had her entire purse taken—phone, house keys, wallet, camera, everything. At least mine was not that bad. Still, it put me in a funk for the next week and a half, a funk I had a hard time getting out of. Katelyn and Nicki could not have been greater—they were so funny on our walk home trying to cheer me up and make me feel more comfortable and better about the situation. They were spinning the situation into ridiculousness, so I had to laugh. When we got home, we all crawled into bed and fell asleep immediately, trying to forget the events of the night.
It kind of put a damper on the rest of their time with me in Rome, but we still made the time fun. At least it happened near the end of their trip, so we did not need the credit card for anything, and ended up just cooking in our apartment and being really low-key for the rest of the week. On Wednesday we just walked around the city picking up souvenirs for the respective family members and got lost in the little alleys around the Trevi Fountain. We stopped in an enoteca, or wine shop, so the girls could pick up some limoncello (which I think is disgusting). What we did not realize, however, is that we walked into a wine shop with a free wine tasting. The girl who worked there let us taste all kinds of Italian liquors—including the limoncello, which I almost spit back out all over the poor girl. She gave us this lemon cream stuff, grappa, and some kind of chocolate liquor which was actually really good. It was quite the experience.
On Thursday I had class again, although I just wanted to skip class and hang out with the girls all day. Unfortunately, though, I had a midterm and could not miss it. The girls went to the Vatican Museums because I told them they could not leave Rome without seeing the Sistine Chapel. They successfully navigated the metro by themselves to and from the Vatican Museums, which I was thoroughly impressed by. They spend the rest of the afternoon walking up and down my street shopping and getting last-minute gifts. We went out with some of my friends and stayed out pretty late for their last night…the girls were set on staying up all night, but we all ended up falling asleep, only to rise again at 4 to catch a cab to the airport. I fought back tears when I had to say goodbye to them, but watched them get through security safely. I took the train from the airport back to Rome, crawled back into bed and slept all day. It was so good to have Katelyn and Nicki, I am so glad they decided to come visit me for their spring break when they could have done a number of other things ☺.