This weekend I celebrated my 22nd birthday while in Rome. What kind of life am I living?! Emily and I will sometimes just stop and say, "Is this real life?" Rome was a very beautiful place and I am so thankful that we were able to visit! Fun fact: We later found out that we managed to book our trip to Rome on an Italian holiday. All of Italy was off of work on Thursday and Friday. Lucky us.
We arrived Thursday night and went straight to our hostel. We tried to pay upon arrival but the credit card machine was not working. We went to our room (a 6 bed female dorm) and met our roommates. There were two girls from Switzerland who were visiting Rome. There was also a girl from New Jersey who was studying abroad in London this semester. They were very friendly girls and all of them spoke fluent English (yayyyy). We were starving at this point, so we went to a nearby restaurant and ordered pizza. I'm not sure if it was because I was so hungry, but this pizza was awesome! By the way, my Spain students have realized that I like to use the word "awesome". They say it is a very American term. When I ask them how they know what awesome means, they start singing the song "Thrift Shop". Oh wow. American music is everywhere! My students learn the words to songs without even knowing the meaning of the words they are singing haha! This is just some food for thought for you guys!
Friday was my birthday and we went on a hop on hop off bus tour. Last weekend was freezing in Paris. This weekend was rainy in Rome. I would much rather sit on top of a double decker bus and be cold than sit up there and be wet. There were some breaks from the rain and we were thankful for that. We went to the Colosseum and went on a tour! Ahhhhhhhh it was so cool! I truly am fascinated with how amazing this city is. I thoroughly enjoyed walking through such a historical place and reading about all of the artifacts. We rode the bus around the city and got off at the Trevi Fountain. We each took turns throwing a coin into the fountain. This promises that you will return to the city of Rome. After waiting in rainy lines all day, we were pooped. We went back to the hostel and rested before going to dinner. We met up with the rest of the WKU girls and walked to a local family-owned restaurant. They make their own pasta at this place! I ordered pesto spaghetti and it was awesome!!! I also ordered a large water (I never get enough to drink) and they brought me a water bottle as long as my torso. That was awesome too! (I might start purposely over-using the word awesome).
Saturday consisted of going to the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. Salesmen greeted us as soon as we got of the bus and tried to offer us their tours. If you took a guided tour, you were able to bypass the long line outside and you had someone to tell you what everything was. We went to the introduction of one company and they were very convincing. They told us that the line was 4 hours long to get inside! If we paid 40€ we could skip the line AND have a guide. We thought that was just way to dang much money for this place. We decided to wait in the line. The problem was that we could not find the line. We kept walking around the Vatican and could not figure out which line got us inside! We also found out that the Pope was there performing a confirmation service to a big group of people. We finallyyyyyyy got in line and only waited 40 minutes. Then when we went inside to pay, we received a student discount for our age! I paid 8€ to go inside. I believe we made the right decision to wait in the line haha. This place was crowded. I can't even figure out how to explain this to you guys...maybe a mosh pit at a concert combined with the most intense Black Friday you have ever seen. It was crazy is what I'm getting at. We were shoulder to shoulder with people and squished together. To walk, we all basically looked like penguins...barely moving our feet while balancing against the bodies around you. I'm pretty serious when it comes to my personal space, but that was out the window at this place. We moved throughout the Vatican like this for almost 3 hours. I was so happy when we finally left the place and could breathe again. I wanted to go to the Pantheon, so we hopped back onto the bus. The bus dropped us off and we had to try to figure out how to walk to the Pantheon in the pouring rain. We could not find any of the streets on the map and we were worried about getting lost. We were wet and tired so we decided to go back to our hostel area and eat dinner. We ate at a nice little restaurant and I had some amazing tortellini! We went to the hostel after that and sat in the kitchen and talked to our hostel neighbors.
Sunday morning could be a scene directly out of a movie. I am not making up this part of our trip that I am about to share with you....
We tried multiple times over the weekend to pay for our hostel. Each time, they told us that the credit card machine was not working. Saturday evening, they told us that someone was coming at 11pm to fix it and we could pay when we were leaving the next morning. There was a shuttle bus that we needed to catch at 5:30 to make it to the airport on time (the next one didn't come until 6:30). We woke up before 4:30, packed, and made it to reception at 5:00. The credit card machine was not working. They told Emily to just to go an ATM on the street and withdrawal the cash to pay. She ran down the street and I went with her. She put in her debit card, entered the amount to withdraw, and then decided to do a different amount so she hit cancel. The machine said that the card would be returned within 30 seconds. We waited and waited and then a sign popped up that said she waited too long and she would have to contact her bank. The dang machine ate her debit card! She ran back to reception while I tried to push buttons and get the thing back out. Nothing was happening. The little bank would not open until 9:30 am. We were supposed to be almost to Barcelona by then! I ran back to reception where the desk clerk was trying to say that one of the others should try to withdraw money with their card. Heck no! We did not want to be without another debit card!! We told him we had to leave and that we would pay online. He could not authorize this so he had to call his boss. He could not get ahold of his boss. I just want you guys to imagine the pure panic we were experiencing at this point. He finally went downstairs to wake up his boss. It was getting way too close to 5:30 to stay any longer. We ran downstairs and met them on the front sidewalk. We had to convince them that they already had all of our information and credit card information online and we could pay like that. They seriously took forever to make a decision. The manager said it would be fine. I looked at my watch and it was 5:28. We had 3 blocks between us and the bus. We ran and thankfully made it to the bus before it left! We were sweating and out of breath but we made it!! The good news was that we made the bus and flight. The bad news was that Emily's debit card was still stuck in a machine in Rome. Later, she was able to contact her bank and cancel her card. This was another one of those moments where we just looked at each other and said, "Is this real life?"
I am thankful to be back at my apartment in Barcelona even if it is cold and rainy here. Also, I think that I caught a cold from being out in the rain all weekend. I am asking for prayers for our WKU group as we finish up our last week here in Barcelona. We are all very ready to get back to the comfort and convenience of America haha. I hope all is well back in Kentucky!!!