Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Things we learned while abroad Pt1

We're back! Believe it or not, it was really great to finally be home. We had a very interesting and mostly fun trip, but in the end, there's no place like home. Even if you have to come home from the Bahamas to a foot of snow and below freezing temperatures.
These next few posts are gonna be huge and I don't want to send everyone into mini comas, so I'm going to break up the pics into sections and do it over three or four posts. Nobody wants to see 400 pics of places they aren't familiar with, so I'm just going to pick a few of my faves and hope you like them too.
I'll start in Rome, where finally landed after 36 hours of travelling to discover that our room wasn't ready and we had to sit through an hour of tour orientation. Keep in mind, we haven't slept, we've have had very little to eat and what we did have was plane food. All we wanted to do was grab some food, shower and collapse on nearest flat surface. So instead, we sit through orientation that once again makes me understand the importance of the two week waiting period to get a handgun. When it's over I ask the ladies running the tour if we have a room yet. Nope. No room. And strangely now we can't find our luggage. When we ask where it is, they tell us that it's in our room. We tell them that's great and ask for the keys to our room. They tell us we don't have a room yet. I won't go on here as this conversation went on like this for about 5 minutes and I couldn't find a handy brick to bonk myself over the head with anywhere. It felt like the Italian version of Who's on First. The monkey finally gave up on the tour ladies and talked to the front desk and got us a room key. Guess what awaited us in room. No really, guess. NOTHING! No bags. At this point even the charming even-tempered monkey is cursing. He goes back down to the lobby (pretty sure he was afraid I still had enough strength to commit grievous bodily harm upon the tour guides) and finds our luggage in a hallway at the back of the hotel. I think the tour guide told him it wasn't ready yet. How he managed not to slap her by this point is beyond me.
Day 1, Ancient Rome
Now when we booked this tour they listed off all the things we would see in each place. What they neglected to tell us is that they really mean "see". We drove past them at 60k in a bus. A bus that I managed to throw up in for about 30 minutes, missing part of the tour. The monkey and I are not totally old yet and in reasonable physical condition, so we spent our free time really exploring and going into the places that we'd passed by on the bus. We walked all around the People's Square, the Forum, Pantheon and the Coliseum. It was great. Rome is very interesting as all of the ancient buildings are in the midst of a large and fairly modern city. The size of the old temples was awesome. Incredible to think that they were built with no machines. Everything was stone and brick overlayed with marble and beautifully carved.

We took a cab back to the hotel that night because we so tired and it was a very Roman experience. Roman streets are very narrow and the cars are very small, but there's tons of them. Almost all the cars have scrapes along the sides and numerous dents. We found out why. Italians are insane. Our cabbie had a smoke in one hand and his cell in the other, he passed stopped traffic by driving down the centre line into oncoming traffic and would turn around to say apparently hilarious things to us in rapid fire Italian at about 100k. We managed to catch the words "Mario Andretti" and "Ferrarri". It sounds scary but it was actually fun and really gave a bit of a feel for the city.

And Jen, you're the winner of the blog contest. Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of yarn from Florence, rum from St Maaten, olive oil from Sienna, sugar from Guadeloupe, a leather bracelet from Tenerife, a key chain from the Bahamas and a lovely Costa cruise lines floaty ship pen. Contact me through my hotmail address so I can send you your loot.

Any guesses as to what this sock represents? If you said the amount of knitting I did in the past three weeks, you're right. Sad isn't it. But I read 5 books. Do I get any points for that?


LisaK said...

I missed you and I'm glad you're back!

Lavender said...

Hey! Welcome home! Looking forward to reading about your travels. I know...I'm strange that way - I really do like reading other people's travels. :)

Uli said...

So far so good........ glad you didn't knock yourself out with a big brick. :-)

karen said...

I love your description of your cab driver. Apparently, red lights are only a suggestion. I had Pete as a driver, and to preserve my sanity, I focused on the scenery, rather than the traffic.

I learned to shadow Romans when crossing the street -- once I stood at a crosswalk that said "Walk" but could not bring myself to cross. Another time, I stood petrified on a painted island, while cars came at me in three directions. I got a tip from one of Pete's coworkers -- do not make eye contact with the driver -- use your peripheral vision, then step off the curb and move at a constant speed across the street. It worked, and soon other tourists were shadowing me. :)

Melanie said...

God, I'm surprised you didn't kill the tour guides! How did it take 36 hours to get to Rome? I'm glad you enjoyed it despite the inauspicious beginning, and I'm glad you're home again.

K. said...

Sometimes tour guides just suck butt. Then again...you were in Italy so it can't have been that bad... Love that sock colour btw!

Glad to have you back!

Anonymous said...

welcome back!

i have a package all ready to send off to you, as soon as I get my sorry arse to a post office... :)

vanessa said...

ya know, if you didn't pack any yarn you would have had tons of time to knit ;-)
glad you had a good time!