Thursday, November 27, 2014

"It's better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times"- Asian Proverb

My trip to Rome was awesome. Dakota, Kelsey, and I got to spend more time together, and we were able to explore a new city and see prominent historical monuments.

The weekend started early Sunday morning where we all met at 5:45 am to walk to the gates of the school for our taxi. We all were exhausted, but were super excited for our trip. My roommate called a grand taxi to take us to the airport the previous Friday, so we stood at the front waiting for it. For some reason, the taxi never came and we were left standing in the rain at 6 am with no way to get to the airport... We walked back to our dorms in hopes of finding someone who was out that early that could call a taxi for us and we happened to find a group of kids willing to help us out! We called seven grand taxi numbers and not one answered, and as the clock ticked by, Kels, Dakota, and I were convinced we would miss our flight and never get to Rome. We decided to call a petite taxi to take us to a grand taxi station instead, which ended up working and we were finally able to get on our way to the airport. It did not take too long once we got to Fes-Saiss to board our flight (which was delayed about 30 minutes anyways) because security in Morocco is almost non-existent. We slept on our three-hour flight to Rome and once we arrived we were hungry and ready to explore the city! We took a short bus ride from the airport to Termini Station and it was only a five-minute walk to get to our hostel, Alessandro Palace. We booked three beds in an eight-bed room which only cost us about 60 USD for three nights! The hostel was very nice and we quickly put our stuff in our room and headed out to a restaurant on the corner. I ordered a latte and a mushroom pizza. Dakota and Kelsey both ordered pasta and coffee, so I would say we all started the trip off on the right foot! We then bought a three-day metro pass and took a train downtown to explore for a little before heading back to the hostel. When we returned to the hostel, three new people were in our room; one was from Australia, and two were from America. We went downstairs with them to the bar and hung out for a little while before heading off to bed.

I would like to start this next paragraph with how we woke up the next morning at 8am ready to conquer the day, but unfortunately, before 8 we were woken up at 5am by the three people also in our room playing "Turn Down for What" with a strobe light. This is what I would consider a rude awakening. We were all peacefully asleep when about five people, completely drunk, came into our room yelling and playing that song over and over again. They woke us all up and invited us to go to the Colosseum to see the sunrise. When we said "no", they continued to stay in our room for the next hour being ridiculously obnoxious and annoying. Looking back, it was absolutely hilarious because now we are fully rested, but during that night, I am pretty sure we all wanted to kill them. Three hours later, we woke up...again...and got dressed and took the metro to the Colosseum. We walked around for about 45 minutes trying to find a place for breakfast, and after a crabby morning, we finally found a place that served eggs, toast, and bacon. Pork products are not available in Morocco since it is a Muslim country, so eating bacon while in Europe is a huge deal for the non-vegetarians. We were able to get some coffee into our systems and then bought tickets with a tour group for the Colosseum.

The Colosseum was breathtaking. It was so huge, and had so much history. I am really happy we decided to go with a tour group because we were able to learn about each important piece of history in the stadium and did not have to navigate it alone. I couldn't believe that I was actually seeing the Colosseum. I have heard about it thousands of times and never expected to be standing in it. We then tried to find this Virgin Temple in the area because Kelsey really wanted to see it since she loves Roman Mythology. It started pouring while we walked around so we tried to hurry and find the temple so we could get some lunch. We finally found it and then ran to the bus station to get on a bus to take us to our hostel. We ate sandwiches and took a short nap before waking up to explore the nightlife of Rome. We went to a nice restaurant where I got gnocchi and cheese before getting some much needed gelato. We found the Trevi Fountain, but it is under construction until 2016, so we could not really experience it fully, but we all still made a wish! I have been wanting to see the Trevi Fountain since seeing it on the "Lizzie McGuire Movie" when I was really young.

The next morning, this time at 6am, we were woken up AGAIN by the noisy guys sharing our room. Once again, they had a strobe light and played "Turn Down for What" while asking us to go see the sunrise at the Colosseum. We were not amused. I ended up getting up and taking a shower, then going back to bed after they left before waking up at 9am. Dakota, Kels, and I decided to go to the Vatican and then work our way back to Termini Station through the major shopping area and the Pantheon. The Vatican was split up into the museum and the Sistine Chapel and then the Basilica. We opted for the museum and the Sistine Chapel since it was too expensive to do both. The museum was really cool because it was full of artifacts and intricate statues and artwork. The ceilings were always ornate and we spent a couple hours walking around. The Sistine Chapel was really just one giant room and then they tell you not to take photos, but I took one anyways because I was so excited to see the famous Michelangelo ceiling. We then got some pie across the street (soooooo good) and then started walking to the shopping district. The shopping area had H&M, Cartier, Longchamp, Gucci, Prada, and so many more awesome stores. We say the Spanish Steps and we then tried to find the Pantheon. After a lot of back-alleys and walking in circles we finally found it. The Pantheon was cool, especially the ceiling, and we stayed in there for a little bit. We then went back to the hostel and took a nice nap before heading out to dinner. We got back at about 9pm and went to bed since we had to wake up at 3:30am to catch the bus back to Rome-Ciampo Airport. We returned to campus at 11am, and then went to Gender and Politics at 1:40 and we were exhausted but so happy.

The trip was really amazing. I know I didn't mention it, but we were laughing almost every second. I am so lucky to have found such awesome friends. We have spent more time together than apart, and I know leaving in three weeks will be absolutely heartbreaking, but we already found the halfway point between our houses and are looking forward to the summer. Today is Thanksgiving and I am so thankful for being able to study abroad. This is truly a life-changing experience and I am growing so much and experiencing life in a way I never thought possible. I am thankful for my family and their continuous support for my endeavors, I am thankful for my friends, and I am thankful for having the opportunity to experience life. This is my first Thanksgiving away from home and I am going to miss the food we order from Boston Market (just kidding Mom :) ) but on campus, we are having our own little Thanksgiving feast and I am looking forward to it! This weekend Kelsey, Dakota, and I are heading to Chefchouen (The Blue City) and then we have our last two weeks of classes and then finals begin!
You can't say you went to Rome without at least one photo of a fountain.

The outside of the Pantheon.

My illegal photo at the Sistine Chapel. Breathtaking.

Left to Right: Kelsey, Me, Dakota

The Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine!

The inside of the Colosseum, it was so cool! I definitely could not see the Games though if I lived during those times.

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