I went to Italy

July 21, 2014

(Originally posted on my old personal blog, Adventures with KHill!)

It was an interesting experience in Rome this past weekend. I’m going to try not to sound like a brat throughout this post so let me preface the description of my Italy trip by saying that there were highs and lows, as there are with any trip, and I fully understand how fortunate I am to get to go on amazing adventures such as this in the first place. Overall, I am glad I went despite the (mostly self-inflicted) hiccups and feel proud that I paid for and planned a successful trip on my own! It’s almost like I’m a real adult!

SO here we go, beginning with Thursday: Immediately after school, two of my friends and I took the train to the Munich airport and flew out to Italy. Lufthansa is my new favorite airline. The flight was just a little over an hour, and they gave us a nice snack, drink, and newspaper options to read for entertainment. Then we arrived in Italy and hopped on a bus to take to the center of town because it was cheaper than a train, but ended up taking longer than our flight due to traffic. BUT we got to drive right past the Colosseum on the way into town, which was surprising and amazing. We got to the train station and decided to walk to our hostel, which was in perhaps not the safest location with a heated Israel/Palestine demonstration happening nearby. The hostel itself was very nice, however, and had free breakfast, a private bathroom, and what Europeans think of as air conditioning. The location also turned out to be convenient since it was so close to the train station where we went to/from the airport. Anywho, Thursday night I got to eat some real Italian pizza and it did not disappoint at ALL.

Friday: This was the day I realized how hot Rome is. So hot. Hotter than Munich has ever come close to being since I’ve been here. But alas, we went to the Colosseum! It had a crazy long line, but then my friends and I found an info point where we purchased the Roma Pass, which turned out to be the best investment of the trip, and it let us walk straight into the Colosseum with no extra charge. For 36 euros, the Roma Pass gave us 2 museum entries of our choice (which ended up being 3 thanks to a museum ticket lady who gave no cares), free use of public transport, and a bunch of other automatic free entries to different museums. That description doesn’t make it sound as cool as it was. There goes my hope of becoming a Roma Pass spokesmodel. Anyway, we went into the Colosseum and it was staggering. So big. So gorgeous. So incredibly well-preserved through the years. It is crazy to hear about a place and see it in movies/tv for years, then to finally actually be standing there. It’s especially crazy when that place has been around for thousands of years and gladiators (the Roman kind, not the Olivia Pope kind) once stood there. My Colosseum experience probably also contributed greatly to the sunburn I still have. Sunscreen is for the non-adventurous. We then went to the Roman Forum which had all sorts of incredibly gorgeous and impressive ruins, as well as pretty gardens and views of the city. After that, we walked most of the way down this main tourist street where we saw the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps. Pantheon: super cool. Super huge. Super photogenic ceiling. Trevi Fountain: super under construction with no water in which to throw coins, which I am told means I will never be returning to Rome. Is that for the best? Who can say? Spanish steps: Also under construction but still pretty. The most memorable part of this experience was a creepy man coming up and forcing flowers into the hands of my friends and I, telling us we are beautiful and other uncomfortable things, then asking for money. Interesting business strategy. That was one of my least favorite things about Rome. There are so many people everywhere and while I don’t usually consider myself a nervous traveler, many people there made me uneasy with how they were constantly, persistently trying to get money out of me. I’m sure it’s partially due to my inexperience, but I was on edge the whole time and felt like I couldn’t be nice to people without it being received as a sign that I wanted to buy something from them or eat at their restaurant or go on their tour. That got pretty tiring on the first day, and we took the metro back to our hostel. The metro was more crowded than any public transportation I have ever seen in my life and I wasn’t a fan. There are only 2 lines (that I could tell) for a very big city, which means they are so so so crowded. I kept thinking our train car was completely out of space because we were packed in like sardines, but at the next stop, inevitably more sardines would push their way in. We didn’t do much in the evenings, but I was so tired each day that sleep was the best option anyway.

Saturday: LOL Saturday morning. We all got up early so that we could “beat the line” in the Vatican. Little did we know, the lines at the Vatican are like the lines outside Walmart for Black Friday, except they are there every day and people don’t try to sell you $60 tours of Walmart while you wait. So we decided to forgo the lines for the Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel due to the fact that we would have had to wait at least four hours. We went around to the main square in front of St. Peter’s Basilica which was absolutely gorgeous. Another cool thing that you hear about for years and then it’s surreal to actually be there. We waited in a much shorter line to get in the Basilica, only to find out at the end that we were not dressed modestly enough to enter. This was kind of hilarious to me because if you looked up “modest” in the dictionary, the definition would be “(n): Kaitlyn Alexandra Hill, girl who gets embarrassed walking into Victoria’s Secret.” But this particular day, I was wearing a tank top and shorts that did not cover my shoulders or knees because it was approx 500 degrees outside. So a couple of my other harlot friends and I decided not to go out of our way to try to get in. I’m not Catholic or overly invested in this particular site, so letting it ruin my trip would have been a waste of energy. Instead, we went to a castle that was free (thanks, Roma Pass!) and offered seriously the best views of the whole weekend. The castle itself was really gorgeous but it was also in the center of the city and had a terrace where we could see everything from the Colosseum to St. Peter’s. Absolutely incredible and worth getting rejected by Papa Francisco. After that, we met up with friends and ate spaghetti before an afternoon of going from free museum to free museum and also hanging out in a heart-shaped park in the city for a long time. It was a really pleasant day, and significantly more relaxing than Friday.

Sunday: Our group kind of divided because we had a couple of different flight times, so two friends and I went to some gorgeous old museums with a bunch of ruins that were free (thanks, Roma Pass!). Side note: Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names of any of the museums I went to off the top of my head. I could look them up, but I don’t see the point in that unless you are using my blog as a travel guide. If you are in fact looking for tips for a Rome vacation, I recommend Google over me. ANYWHO, we then ate some spaghetti (because Italy) and made our way back to the train station to catch our bus. Here comes possibly the worst end to a trip I’ve ever had. We waited about an hour for the bus to get there, then the one we got on apparently did not have working air conditioning. There was actually hot air blowing out of my vent. At first I thought I was imagining how hot it was because I was sitting up at the front, then one by one, different passengers came up and complained to the bus driver in different languages about how hot it was. My favorite was the guy who said his family was melting. Finally, the bus driver had to pull over because everyone on the bus was losing their cool (punny). Everyone ran off the bus dramatically and when the bus doors opened, I noticed that the 90 degree weather outside actually felt COOL compared to the bus. That was when I realized I had essentially been sitting in Hades’ personal sauna. One passenger even threatened to call the police. Like, what would the police do? After fumbling with different controls for a few minutes, the bus driver finally got some slightly less hot air blowing through the vents and we proceeded to the airport with minimal complaining. It was unreal. Then finally, I was back in the safe Lufthansa haven and all was well. It was crazy what a relief it was to come back to Munich. I really do feel safe and comfortable here, which I didn’t realize so much until I went elsewhere. I’m going to be sad to leave in a week and a half. Rome was very beautiful and I’m glad that I visited, but I don’t think I would have enjoyed staying much longer on this particular visit. I would really like to see other cities in Italy someday.

Today: It has been SO nice to be back in Munich, even with the incessant rain we’ve had today. After school, I went to Nymphenburg Castle with some of my friends and it was absolutely gorgeous. It was a quick trip from the part of Munich where I am staying and I really enjoyed seeing the castle and the surrounding gardens. It’s also been nice to be back with my host family. They are so fun to talk to and hang out with and I’m going to miss them a lot! Now, I need to do my homework so that I don’t fail my classes. These would be very embarrassing classes to fail. Ich liebe Deutschland.

Until next time XOXO,

Kaitlyn