June 15, 2006
Okay! Still with the Italy recaps! I’m slow. Sorry.
Thursday was our free day, meaning we didn’t have any scheduled tours or ‘excursions’ as they liked to call them. So for one thing: WE SLEPT IN. The first few days we were fine, running on adrenaline and excitement. But after 3 days in a row of getting up earlier than we do for work and walking around the city all day, we were tired.
After a relaxing morning and breakfast in the hotel dining room, we headed out to do a bit of souvenir shopping. We went to a small grocery store and bought olive oil (WAAAAY cheaper and MUCH better than what you can find in the US), pesto, olives, wine. You know, authentic Italian stuff :) Funny that our souvenirs were mostly food and alcohol (I also bought 2 shot glasses from the vendors on the street- but I guess that would fall into the alcohol category again, wouldn’t it?)
Then we had lunch and headed to a museum. We saw a few pieces where I was like ‘Hey! I remember seeing pictures of that in art history! And now here I am!‘ but other than that it was really just a nice, relaxing way to spend the afternoon (and stay cool in the air conditioning!) We pretty much felt like dorks having fun at a museum. Dan did lots of thinking and oohing and wondering how they did the stuff they did ‘back then’:
Isn’t he cute, all curious and thinking hard there? (He was looking at a model of an ancient temple that had been built right where we were standing. There were little plastic people on the one side, showing where we were standing in relation to where the temple was. Yeah. Dorky.)
And of course we couldn’t get out of a museum filled with famous ancient art and artifiacts without acting like 12-year-olds. (Except I messed up the angle on this one a little bit- but you get the idea. Finger -> Nose -> Dan giggling)
After the museum, we did something a little bit adventurous: we hopped on the Metro (subway), SWITCHED to a new train system, and headed 18km out to the coast. BY OURSELVES. WITHOUT A DECENT MAP. Yeah. And we still weren’t all that great at speaking the language, so points for us on the bravery side. Actually, we probably owe this trip to our guide from the tour company- she gave us the names of the stops and told us we would be fine, and we believed her. Turns out, she was right!
We were fine. It was a hot, sticky 30 minute train ride, but it was interesting. Graffiti in Rome is pretty rampant. It’s not seen as something evil or gang-related like it is here in the US (pretty much if I wandered into a neighborhood that looked like most of the streets of Rome, I would high-tail it out of there QUICK.) It’s just what people do, apparently. Which is kind of a shame because there were some pretty old buildings with stuff spray-painted on the sides, and because of the delicate nature of all the old ‘stuff’, they can’t clean them like they normally would in order to get the graffiti off. And the train was no exception- one of the line maps closest to us on the train was almost completely sprayed over, so of course I started panicking, thinking we wouldn’t know our stop. Then I realized there were like 8 other ones I could see just fine. Panic over!
We got off the train in a small town called Ostia. It was a nice little town, much quieter than the craziness of Rome. The only problem we had was finding the beach. We thought it would be a lot easier than it was, and if we’d stayed on the train 1 more stop it probably would have been. Instead we stood there, trying to feel the ocean breeze and using our gut instincts (ha!) Eventually we saw a break in between some buildings and I saw water- the Mediterranean! Woohoo!
Naturally, I had to make a big scene and take my shoes off and splash in the surf. Who knows if I’ll ever get back there in my lifetime, and I was TOTALLY putting my feet in the Mediterranean. I even started freaking out when we couldn’t find public beach access- the first few spots we saw were all private areas for hotel guests. But after walking a bit, we found a spot. And some seashells!
We only stayed at the beach for about 30 minutes before heading back towards the train station. Which was another adventure because we got so turned around on the way to the beach. But we made it back and were on the train heading ‘home’ to our hotel. We had a nice dinner outside at a ristorante with a nice view of the Colosseum and wandered the streets for a bit in the evening. It was a great day- our first shot at attacking the city by ourselves!