Friday, December 23, 2011

Leaving the Eternal City

The good news: 

I am not dead, I have survived finals, airplanes, and the welcome home crew. 
I have recovered from jetlag.
I am now going to relate to you my last few hours in the beautiful city of Rome. 

Basically that means that you are really excited and can't wait to read the rest of this post! How thrilling!

Forgive me because part of this was from about 4:30am at the airport and such, so I'll do my best to piece together the good parts. 

And here we go!

Technically I have been up since about 7:15 on Friday.  Currently, it is 5:37am on Saturday and I am in an airport. I will admit that I took a bit of a catnap before I really left the apartment at 3:30 this morning.  Now keep in mind that I have been a very busy little munchkin.  For instance, after enjoying our last night at Ombre Rosse, and watching Roman Holiday (yes, I finally got around to it.  I personally think it was more fun to watch after living in Rome for four months.) I immediately went to bed so that I could wake up bright and early and do some damage on that Italian High Renaissance Exam. Favorite way to start a day? You betcha. That exam is a whole different can of worms, but I’m willing to tell you about the rest of my day. So after I managed to survive the test (with or without Carolyn’s help… 3 not on the list? Really Carolyn?) I talked to a few people from my class and then leisurely walked to Campo de Fiori.  Where I made a last minute souvenir purchase, and then swung by that yarn store that I mentioned earlier.  Yes, I caved. I bought some incredibly soft yarn just so I could make a hat. Unfortunately, before I can even begin to think about that hat I have about 3 other knitting projects to get to work on.  So I’ll let you know how that turns out.  (To give you a little hint about how wonderful this yarn is, Erica described it as no longer fabric, but goo. I don’t know how I feel about that, but it seems relevant.)

Moving on! So I then walked all the way back to the apartment (a lovely little stroll) to a group of panicking roommates who were freaked out that I didn’t answer my phone and was waaaay later than the exam should have taken. But they quickly forgave me and everyone was content listening to The Muppets Christmas Carol (a splendid little beam of light for any occasion).  So after our little freakout session, I began my whirlwind packing tour.  Since I have been the last to finish with finals (that sucked), I was also the last one to pack. Thus, while everyone else was frolicking and having a jolly time packing, I was barricaded in the library with large academic picture books and attempting to study. And after some frantic packing and singing of Christmas carols, we headed back out to return our bricks, I mean cell phones, and to explore the city one last time. This meant giving one last patriotic send off to JCU, and traipsing around Via del Corso and eventually ending up at the Trevi Fountain. 

Now there are two sides to the Trevi Fountain. One can be seen during the day, and a totally different aura happens at night that you just have to experience for yourself to really appreciate it. The crowds and tour groups are much diminished for one, and the four of us were able to find a seat and just enjoy watching the fountain for probably close to an hour. If this seems like a waste of time to you, you haven't been there.  

After making our wishes and doing the Gustie Rouser one more time, we headed back home to change into something a little bit more dressy and go to dinner. There we traded our secret Santa gifts (big hit, we're cool people) and proceeded to make our way to this 4 star restaurant that we had found with the help of our ever fancy guide books called Ferrera.  

Though right in our backyard (relatively), we had never stumbled on this little jewel before. With their exquisite wine list, we had a delicious time eating and being generally jovial. At midnight we left the premise and I began my stop watch.  Yes, that is correct, as a good speechie, I brought a stopwatch with me to Europe and now seemed like the perfect time to use it. Why? Because I had just begun the longest birthday of my life. 

So considering that I had been awake since 7:15 that morning, and I had to leave my apartment for the airport at 3:30am, there was really no point in going to sleep, so let the packing festivities begin! We went back to the apartment to do some last minute packing and such.  And around 1:45, I just couldn’t stand it any longer and took a cat nap until 2:45. But of course we were all terrified of not waking up for our flights, so there we were, all falling asleep, all with the lights on. At 2:45 I woke up, threw the last few things in my bag and called it a night. I made sure that everyone got up to wish me off (it did include a few tears, and not just because of the early hour) and I rolled my way out of the apartment for the last time.

Driving to the airport I realized that Italians, no matter what time of day, drive like it’s Mario Kart.  That’s not a racist slur at all, it’s just fact. It’s 3:30 in the morning and there is no real reason to drive like you are avoiding the wrath of God, or the police for that matter, but that’s what was happening. And within 20 minutes we were pulling up to the terminal.

I drag all of my worldly possessions up to the ticket counter only to find that it has no one to attend it and approximately 10 other JCU students patiently waiting in these predawn hours for someone to take the heavy things toward their final destination. No such luck. So I parked my caravan of things and took a seat to wait for an hour before someone decided that it was time to go to work.  That happened at 5. Let’s do a little tally of time spent asleep from the time that I woke up on Friday morning, to when I went to bed KC time on Saturday.  So far, it’s Saturday morning and I’ve been asleep for 1 of 22 hours. After the chaos of getting bags checked in and paying exorbitant amounts of money to get a second one in (because a backpack is not a personal item) through the same security line as the mosh pit style one-except without the problems of Prague. So basically a breeze, to the gate, and then on the plane.

There were two lovely things about this plane ride: 1) I had a row to myself. 2) Because of 1, I got to sleep.
Sleep total: 3.5 hours of 26.5 hours.
When I got off the plane, one of the flight attendants said, “Hey look, she’s awake.” That is the last proof that I have of any sleep I had on this birthday of travel.

In Zurich, I had to re-go through security, which instead of metal detectors and angry people in polyester, it was just a booth of angry people in polyester asking questions. Same difference. So I grabbed a cup of coffee and some breakfast, and waited for the next flight. As that flight began boarding, there was an announcement over the speakers that said something like, “This plane will be landing in Baincorh (spelled phonetically) before continuing on to Philledelphia.” Uh… did he just say Bangkok? That’s in the wrong direction. I will never make my connecting flight. When the announcement was made again, it sounded like Bengal, which is also, nowhere close to Philly, or home.  Crap.

So when I get up to the front of the line, I ask, now where are we landing? “Baincorh, you’ve never heard of it? It’s in your country.” I’m sure Bengal and Bangkok are in my country. To hell they are. “Yeah, Baincorh Maine.” OH. Yeah, I totally know Bangor Maine.


Great, on the plane, there are no personal TVs, I’m going to Maine before going to Philly before going to KC and there’s a balding, dandruffed (didn’t think that would go together), overweight, bouncing man sitting in front of me. Every time he sat back down, he literally bounced in the seat. Talk about making working on my computer a real hazard. None the less, I was sitting next to a fellow art history major who had also survived JCU and we bonded over the Extreme Couponer episode being played. Classy stuff.

Over that 9+ hour flight I think I slept less than an hour, and never well, so we’ll round that down to 30 minutes and add that to the earlier 3.5.  Total: 4 of 36 hours. 

Land in Bangor. It was boring, we didn’t get off the plane, and pretty much got right back on the runway and headed to Philly.  My one discovery in Bangor was that my phone was completely and irrevocably dead. Talk about anticlimactic.

Eventually land in Philly, recheck the luggage, go through customs, and wait for the next and final leg of my rather long journey. Keep in mind that now it is approximately 5 Philly time, and I’ll get back home at 7:30ish KC time. Fast forward (past all of the, they speak English here realizations, and oh wait you don’t need my passport to get on the plane things) and I took a catnap on the plane and that brought my grand total up to something like 5 of 40 hours. Then [drum roll please]


Yes, after all of this time, I finally made it all the way back home. Home: to the little humble KCI airport, to my three mildly crazy cats, my parents, and my own bed. What a lovely thing it is to be home.

We had some Chinese food, and I opened 2 presents (I was not awake enough to open the rest, remember? It was my birthday all during this adventure) and crawled into bed until the next morning.

Since that very long day, I have been reconnecting with friends, getting my technology problem fixed (I’ve joined the dark side, hello iphone?) and knitting like a fiend.  It’s good to see all of these wonderful people, but I also know that the next reunion is going to be located in the more convenient St. Peter. Minnesota style.


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