Taking over Europe one day at a time
So recently we’ve been going on these long walking excursions trying to soak up what Rome has left to offer us as our time dwindles down. Portia and I have been frequenting the Spanish steps (where I got my mom and Nana a pair of sick leather gloves) and vintage shopping around Piazza Navona.
Portia had a paper to write and needed to find someone to interview who had been living in Rome but was from another country. We waltzed into Anima Cafe (the restaurant we mistook for a club one of the first nights here - comical) and our waiter -Ismael - happened to be the perfect candidate for the interview. After questioning whether or not we were a lesbian couple on a date, and then interrogating Portia as to whether or not she had a boyfriend, he agreed to let her interview him the next day.
Panicked, Portia made me come with her. Obviously.
We met Ismael in the center of Piazza Navona and Portia treated the three of us to coffee at a cafe. She interviewed him in Italian, and to my absolute delight, I was able to pick up on 95% of the conversation. He talked about the discrimination he had endured in Rome (broken up with a former girlfriend because her mother insisted she not date him because of his religion) and other aspects of being a foreigner in Rome (even though he had lived there for ten years, he still had trouble finding work - “where are you from? Do you speak decent Italian? Do you have an accent? Do you have your documents?” are common ice-breakers at job interviews. Not normal).
Ismael is from Morocco, and is Muslim. So, one of Portia’s questions was whether or not the events of 9/11 had affected his life here in Rome. He insisted that they hadn’t, but went on to tell us his own thoughts about 9/11. Claiming that he had “watched CNN” and “read so many books,” he (as well as many others) concluded that 9/11 was completely planned by our government in collaboration with the Israeli government, that the “perfect camera angles” and the fact that all the Jews on the floor where the planes hit were “gone” (is this even true?) points directly to this “fact.”
I called mom and told her, to which she scoffed and asserted, “And some people don’t believe the Holocaust happened.”
I have experienced a fair amount of culture shock, but nothing like that. I really didn’t know what to say (not that I was saying anything anyway, I wasn’t there for the conversation, just for Portia’s comfort). I know people have these ridiculous conspiracy theories, but I had never actually MET one of these quacks.
First stop: Dublin
We got to Dublin on Friday (October 22nd) afternoon. The cabbie was particularly nice and, in his thick Irish accent, excited us about the fact that we were staying in Temple Bar (for its proximity to Trinity College Dublin and the consequential fact that it would probably be a shitshow of an area). He recommended that we go to Penny’s as it was the place where all the girls go to get their “cute cheap clothes.” Visions of a Gaelic Forever 21 danced in my head.
Having successfully duped the concierge (we paid for one room for three and managed to pack in six - sly minxes) we headed over to an Irish pub and had the most delicious pumpkin soup I’ve ever had in my life. Portia offended the waiter and as karma would have it, ate shit leaving the restaurant, causing every man inside to erupt in a cacophony of drunk hysterics. I almost peed in my pants laughing. It was rich.
We then headed over to Trinity College Dublin, and walked around the campus, equating it to Trinity College CT’s “older, less cool, but smarter and more refined stepbrother.” Ran around in the bookstore and defied prohibitory signs by stepping on the quad. Walked past a bar but for some reason didn’t have the guts to go inside and instead, salvaging our pride when we realized we had walked into a closed parking lot, pretended to have intended to peruse the closed parking lot. Ran away, embarrassed.
We then hit up Penny’s, which was everything I thought it would be (and more). Headed to the “Thunder Cafe” (an Irish version of Hard Rock - we would soon learn that Ireland likes to take its own spin on American franchises when we found a “TK Maxx” (TJ Maxx’s twin?), an an “Eddie Rockets” (Johnny Rockets’ estranged brother). Very strange) wearing the gold ninja bands we bought at Penny’s. That night, we ventured into M, the club in the bottom of the hotel, while Daryl and Jackie hit up an Irish friend’s house party. Alicia, VA, Portia and I ended up following Armenian boys to an imaginary car and accidentally finished the night in a gay bar.
The next day, we woke up on the early side (which was really an even earlier side - didn’t realize that there’s a time difference in Ireland and that we had slept through daylight saving’s time. What we thought was 12 was actually 10. Thus, we had spent the night before running around trying to get into bars at what we thought was 11 when it was actually 9. Explains a lot). Headed over to the Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Guinness Factory. Guinness is not nearly as good as I thought it would be. Vowed to never drink it again.
That night, Daryl made out with Frodo.
Our final day in Dublin was spent in St Stephen’s Park and walking around Temple Bar. Panhandlers in Dublin are talented. Scones in Dublin are super. All in all, though, it was my least favorite city of the three. We made the mistake of not heading over to the countryside, and Dublin honestly doesn’t have a terrible amount to offer - you can really see everything the city is about in two days. However, it’s definitely very quaint and the people were really nice. Highlight of Dublin: the talented BIM musical prodigy. Oh, and the rolling sunset over the River Liffey. But the BIM’s definitely first.
Was. Amazing. We got to the Czech Republic in the afternoon and, instead of checking in to our hostel as planned, detoured to the Marriott downtown and stayed there instead. Totally unnecessary, but we lived like queens the entire time - I didn’t feel Alicia or Nora in the plush KING SIZED BED we stayed in once. It was almost offensive.
We spent the first day in Charles Square, the historic district. Walked around and did touristy things, checking out the astronomical clock, New Town Hall, etc. We eventually ended up on the most ridiculous looking bike ever made and got lured into doing a pub crawl by a group of ridiculously good looking men. Great decision - ended up at the 5 story club that night with boys from Rome and danced until the wee hours of the morning.
The next day Will served as our tour guide and we crossed the Charles Bridge, replete with amazing views and awesome eastern european street band performances. Fought the urge to dance and headed over to the castle and St. Vitus Cathedral, which was completely breathtaking - Alicia was overwhelmed, and when her camera broke I definitely thought she was going to have an aneurysm. Will kept us laughing by mocking every tour guide we’ve ever had, holding his umbrella in the air and actually reciting bits and pieces of info from a tour he had overheard the day before… Wildly entertaining. That night I had a LAMB KNUCKLE at the amazingly delicious restaurant by the hotel, and Portia, Daryl, Will and I ventured off to the Beer Factory and then back to the 5 story club. Certainly a solid night.
Our final day in Prague was spent in the Jewish Quarter and ended in the Museum of Medieval Torture. Alicia, Nora and I discussed the likelihood of one of us ending up like a character in Taken. They agreed that if it would be anyone, it would be me. Bitches.
The last dinner Nora Alicia and I ate at U Prince and I had an insane Sole with walnuts and mashed potatoes. Under candlelight and the heavy influence of wine, we nagged about boys, our education, and the type of person Trinity breeds as opposed to who we want to be. Went back to the hotel for our final night, and, donning my new “Czech Me Out” sweatshirt, turned on some trippy ass Eastern European cartoon and passed out.
Almost lunchtime - I’ll save Vienna for later!
Daryl fell in a canal.
Went on an impromptu trip with Alicia to Florence Saturday afternoon (which, in and of itself is absolutely ridiculous: that I can hop on an 1 1/2 train and end up in Florence. Apparently I’ll never get over the fact that I’m in Italy). We went out to the most ADORABLE dinner with Alisen and Nora, and proceeded to go to Bigallo (the three-drinks-for-ten-euro death special) and then to Space. On the way to Space, we witnessed the most ABSURD D.U.I EVER. The girl sped past us, smacked into a car, opened her door and started puking everywhere. We hailed down an ambulance (feeling like genuine heroines in the act) to no avail - they got out, assessed the situation as acceptable, AND DROVE AWAY. It was out of control. The rest of the night was spent dancing, eating cheeseburgers and paninos, and threatening innocent bystanders’ lives. Florence is literally the most quaint and endearing city, and yet it makes me lose my marbles. Shit goes down when I’m there. I love it.
Guess I should probably recount other tales from this semester:
Florence group trip -
The first day we got there, toured around the city, saw the David in the rain. Waltzed through the Uffizi and saw Caravaggios and Bottecellis (the Birth of Venus!). We came back, napped, got dressed and headed to Bigallo. Every single person on the Rome program was there, and every single person left the bar completely blackout. I pranced around with Will (apparently - don’t remember that at all) and ended up at Twice, a different club. A game of hide-and-go-seek (for Portia) and a few casual DFMOs later, ended up back at the hotel. This was the site of Alicia’s infamous back-sliding and consequent instructions to meet with Livio for a behavioral meeting. Everyone on the program got in trouble.
The next day I miraculously woke up in time for our walking tour, which wove through San Lorenzo and the Medici Tombs. That afternoon, Jackie and I went to the top of the Duomo, which was utterly magical. The view from the top was not to be believed, and although it was about 500 steps to the top, it was without a doubt worth it. We met up with Portia and Daryl, found a hole-in-the-wall boot store and went to TOWN. I bought a pair of gorgeous gray booties and Jackie and Daryl made out like bandits as well. That night, we headed back to Bigallo and then to Space. Came back and absolutely did not wake up in time for the walking tour in the morning. All in all, it was a great trip.
Still need to re-cap Dublin, Prague and Vienna but I need to read Vittoria Emmanuel’s sonnets for Michelangelo for a 15 page paper first. No big deal.
Munich: Lenny, Michael Ritter. Hofbrauhaus. Liter beers. Weinerschnitzel. Schweinhexn. Greek/German/Indian restaurants. Marienplatz. Austrian dinners. Amusement park rides with Michael Ritter, discussing professions under the statue in the park. Waking up at 5:30 in order to drink beer. Cute boys from Denison. Dancing on tables and being told to get down. Dancing on tables and being told to get down. Dancing on tables and being told to get down. Consequently getting kicked out of Oktoberfest. Donning disguises with Virginia, getting back in. Amusement park rides with Mara. Italian dinner in Munich. Disgusting conversations in the hotel. Returning with a massive smile.
To do: Dublin, Prague, Vienna, Barcelona
About to have a behavioral meeting with Livio.
One of the kids here (from Swarthmore) djed at Anima a few weeks ago. Decided to download his mixtape and was pleasantly surprised. Goes by DJ Gordon Gekko. (The reason it seems cut up is because the mixtape is supposed to be played as one continuous track)
Alisen tomorrow, Munich in two days!
As for now, I have to go prepare an oral presentation I have in 5 hours of the Sistine Chapel. FML
“Sei troppo bella!”
“Me incontra alla stazione di treno.”
“Nooo, I am a normal man.”
Alicia and I have experienced these pick up lines (for lack of a better word) at various times throughout the trip.
If you come to Italy watch out for Tommaso and Jimmy the Mechanic.