The greatest mystery on this trip, for me anyway, was this: I’m used to walking a lot on trips like these. I am not used to my body rebelling so vehemently against the notion. My feet don’t hurt as much by the end of the day as they did a week ago (they still protest when there’s a lot of standing still to be done), but right now I have a severe cramp in my right calf that makes every alternate step an ordeal (that’s new, started this evening) and blisters on both heels left over from Paris. The one on my left foot has become big enough that I’ve named it Alphonse and should probably get it tennis lessons.
The likely culprit for all of this, I’ve realised, is that I failed to break in my new sneakers before I left. This could account for many of my woes. That and the 2.7 km hike to today’s destination, which ended in a gravel road up a savagely steep hill. Blaming the cramp on that. Tomorrow’s hotel may include a bathtub, which could help; tonight’s hostel has a bathtub, but no plug, making it more of a tease.
Ian’s greatest mystery is where his alcohol tolerance went between Rome and Florence. On our last night in Rome, he drank an entire bottle of Chianti, while giving me a hard time for sticking to Coke as I wrote my last entry. He was buzzed. On our first night in Florence, we hit the bar/pub district for dinner and hijinks. We each had a bottle of wine, then hit a pub across the street where Ian had one beer and I had two highballs (what was I going to do, NOT order the drink called “Sexy Motherfucker?” That’s crazy and you’re crazy for suggesting it). I was nicely buzzed.
Ian was demolished.
I was lucky enough to get him back to our hostel before his internal switch flipped from “Everything is amazing” to “I can’t stop throwing up please kill me,” but the switch was sudden, savage and lasted into the morning. We’re still not sure why that happened.
But back to Rome for a minute
We landed late in Rome. It was past 11 at night by the time we got our bags and left the airport. Sidenote–there are no immigration checks in the EU. I am getting no stamps in my passport. Doesn’t seem fair at all, since I, like many frequent travelers, enjoy the record of places visited a well-stamped passport becomes.
I digress. I’ll try to make up some time here. It was late, we took a cab because we thought our hostel had a midnight curfew (nope), I’ve seen car chases in Bond movies that looked safer than what Italian cabbies get up to. The point is, arriving that late never gets you a sense of a place. Unless it’s some brightly lit City That Never Sleeps like New York or Tokyo: those places can bustle at 11 PM. Most others, no. It’s just a lot of dark and mostly empty roads between you and where you’re sleeping. Maybe the occasional prostitute that briefly makes you panic that your cabbie is taking you to a brothel (left over paranoia from Cambodia, is all).
We arrived to find that we had a third roommate, whose belongings suggested “female,” but who was nowhere to be found. “Well,” I thought, “Guess she’s having a good night.” And then because society is still deeply flawed, added “At least I hope so.”
While the night is dark and full of terrors, she did make it back safely at some point after Ian and I went to sleep. And she turned out to be delightful. Emily from Seattle was so thrilled to encounter fellow English-speakers that she quickly decided to spend her last morning in Rome with us. As neither Ian nor myself had anything remotely resembling a complaint, we headed out to grab breakfast and wander the Colosseum area before seeing her off on her train to Naples. She even helped us mock and slander a friend back home via video message. Our time in Rome was off to an excellent start.
That feels like it should be foreboding. Like I’m about to say “If only it stayed that way,” promising tales of doom for next time. Well, sorry, but I blew our biggest doom story when I opened this blog talking about Ian’s hangover. Rome went pretty much swimmingly. There were, however, some complications in Florence, but they’re hardly doom and gloom stuff.
Here’s a sampling of our Roman adventures to wrap things up.