Thursday, May 15, 2014

Semana Santa: ROMA! (Part Tres)

If you ever ask me about my time in Rome, I'll probably roll my eyes and let out an over dramatic sigh.

We had a rough start in Rome.

It all started at the Prestwick airport in Glasgow. That airport is tiny. The wifi doesn't work. You have three options and a convenience store for food. That's it. One of my least favorite airports ever.

Next thing you know, our flight was delayed. Hooray. 45 extra minutes in that place was just what I wanted! However, Ryanair is pretty good about scheduling extra time into their estimates so they can be on time 96% of the time (actual statistic). I didn't think much of it.

We boarded our plane without any problems. Then, right as everyone was getting ready for the doors to close, the flight attendant at the front of the plane says, "Ma'am, that is inappropriate behavior. I'm going to have to ask you to get off the plane." I've never seen a passenger get kicked off a plane before. Whatever she did must have been bad. The pilot came on the speakers to let us know that they had to take statements and do some paperwork before we could take off. Half an hour of paperwork, four police officers, and several statements later, we were ready for takeoff.

Well, we weren't getting to Rome on time. No big deal. We just wanted to go to sleep when we arrived anyways.

The flight was a long and bumpy one. When we arrived in Rome, we had to circle the airport for over an hour waiting to see if the weather would clear.

It didn't.

We were deferred to another airport. The pilot had no idea how we would be transported to the original airport (where our hostel was located). We simply got off the plane and aimlessly wandered around for an hour before someone said we should check the bus line for buses. No Ryanair official announced anything to anyone. We all just had to ask bus drivers and airport staff.

We finally found the bus that would take us to the correct airport, but when we arrived, there was even more chaos (and in the pouring rain!).

Happy Easter from the bus in rainy Rome!

Two flights were diverted. And those two planes were supposed to be taking passengers elsewhere from the original airport. So, there were four flights of people all at this tiny airport and all stranded with absolutely no information. In fact, Ryanair staff simply left the airport and said to check back in the morning. One girl told me that they had gotten to the boarding gate and then got on a bus (assuming it would take them to the new airport). Instead, it dropped them off at the entrance of the original airport without explaining that the flight was cancelled entirely. We explained what happened to us and they were shocked that no one had mentioned this to them. We wished them the best of luck getting home, and headed outside to try to get to our hostel. I ended up chatting with a Scottish family who asked if I knew anything. I told them about circling the airport and finally landing elsewhere. They said they were thankful that everyone on that plane was safe (such a sweet family). We then stood in the line to catch a cab.

But wait! There's more!! Taxis weren't showing up to the airport, and those that did insisted on charging extra for the "late time" and "large amount of people waiting." Totally illegal, by the way. The city has set fares from both airports.

We talked to a few locals and they helped us figure out how to get to our hostel (wait on a taxi and tell the driver that you know the city fares before he takes off). We shared a taxi with two Spaniards (who thought we were Spanish) since we were all going to the same place.

Scariest taxi ride ever. Worse than Morocco. The man was FLYING and was obviously infuriated that we wouldn't pay his extra fees. When we got out, he tried to charge us double for being two separate pairs. It's at that point that I got into a fight with a taxi driver.

Yep. That happened. Mr TaxiDriver started speaking rapid-fire Italian before realizing that I was speaking Spanish. Then, after measuring me up, he started speaking to me in slooooooooooow English like I was an idiot. He got a Southern scolding in Spanish and English at that point. Italians think they're passionate. They obviously haven't met an angry Southern woman in the pouring rain at one in the morning. That taxi driver was a complete jerk, bless his heart.

We got to our hostel quite easily after that. It was clean, nice, and the staff was friendly. Our heat didn't work at first, but they came in the middle of the night to fix it.

It was the deepest sleep ever.

I woke up looking like this. Ready to take on Rome. No rainy chaotic night can overcome me.
Judge away. This selfie completely fits my attitude from that morning!

We woke up later than we originally planned, but we were well rested. We grabbed a cappuccino (Italian coffee was amazing!!) and a croissant before taking the train into town.

From there, we wandered down the main streets until we got to the Roman ruins. The line wasn't bad at all. That park is HUGE. It doesn't look big from the entrance. Looks like it will take twenty minutes tops. No. We could have easily spent all day there. We spent a few hours meandering through the park and taking silly photos before heading to eat and go to the Colosseum.

Gelato! Yum!!!

The Colosseum. 

The thing that blew my mind about Rome is that everything I went to see was thousands of years old. And I could touch it. Sorry, my American is showing. We put up walls and glass around anything that's over 150 in my country. It was so mind blowing that I could sit on ruins in the Roman Forum and nobody batted an eye. I felt like this: 

Yeah... that reference just happened. Go with it.

From the Colosseum, we wandered around town for a while (getting lost for about an hour, which was my fault, sorry!). But we found quite a few well known places.

 After all that, we just wanted pasta and a warm bed. We stumbled on a place that looked promising. When we were seated, one of us had to basically crawl into the corner. I chose to accept that challenge. We made friends with the table next to us as a result!

Pretty good food. Great company.

It wasn't fun being tired with full stomachs and trying to find our way back home in the drizzly Roman night. However, when I saw this, I knew I was on my way home: 

For those of you who don't get it, I live close to Memphis, TN back home. I just tell people I'm from that area if they don't know where Arkansas is. Finding Memphis Hotel was basically finding home!

We eventually made it back to our hostel. We settled in and geared up for our flight the next morning. 

Lines were crazy at the airport at 5 AM. 


We made it on the plane and to Madrid without any problems. In fact, while we were getting off the plane, I spotted a Razorback symbol. It threw me off seeing it outside of my apartment. I immediately asked the guy wearing it if he was from Arkansas. I met my first random Arkansan while traveling!! From NEA at that! Small world. 

I committed to taking a photo in every airport when I use my passport. The no makeup and sleep deprivation left me no choice but to cover most of my face and add a filter. It's for your own good, really. 

So. Rome was chaos, but it was amazing! We got to see the Pope on huge screens in the city center. We had a million street vendors claim that they loved us in English (does that ever entice a woman to buy from you?!). We saw the main sights and had a blast on our last day of holiday.

I do need to give some fun facts about life and Semana Santa:


1. A scam artist in Paris grabbed my wrist. I hit him with my water bottle and cursed at him in Spanish. 
2. Grocery stores were hard to find in Paris. 
3. The people of the UK are the friendliest Europeans I've ever met. 
4. Dublin bars aren't typically open all night.
5. Jameson is no longer produced in Dublin.
6. Today is San Isidro in Madrid.
7. I'm going to be the new Spanish teacher at Harrisburg in the fall!
8. I bought my season tickets for Arkansas State football this week
9. I'm almost done with professional development for this school year.
10. There are only four weeks of school left before summer. 
11. I'm going to London, Istanbul, Athens, and Milan before coming home in about 40 days. 
12. I'm super indecisive.
13. I need to finish my PD before Saturday so I don't lose a burrito bet. 

Well, that's all I know for now. I need to post about Barcelona. But I can summarize it for you if you want a sneak peek: Friends, Food, Beaches, Burn, Ow, Food, Friends, Ouch Sunburn, Monserrat, Road Trip, SleepyKirt. 

Hope all is well with you. If you're reading this from Arkansas, I'll see you next month!


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