Travel ‘n’ Write, Europe, Blog Post 3
So let me tell you about my experience with my first Italian fling. Get your mind out of the gutter . . . I’m talking about my fling with Rome.
Exploring a city for the first time can be a lot like exploring a lover for the first time . . . you learn what you like and what you don’t, what to do and what not to do, whether or not you wish to move quickly through the experience or if you prefer taking things slowly . . . and so on. Too, you decide if it’s a one-day/night stand and call it beautiful regardless, if it’s something you’d like to return to again and again, if it’s a place you never want to come near again . . . or . . . if it’s a place you’d very much like to devour with all of your senses yet again, but life is simply calling you in a different direction.
Yes, Rome . . . my first Italian fling. It all began with Luigi. Those of you who read blog post number due (2) are familiar with the Luigi experience. If you’re wondering how that chapter ended, we paid him 70 Euros when it was all said and done . . . worth it for the simple sharing of the blog post alone (that’s what’s so great about writing . . . you can make anything in your life a story). Rome seems light years away right now even though it was just Thursday that we arrived there. Paradoxically, roaming through Its streets also seems like yesterday. So, with everything fresh in my mind, allow me to share with you five do’s and do not’s that I personally took away from this experience. I don’t mean to kiss and tell but–trust me on this–it’s for all of our benefit.
We’ll call this “Travel 101: 5 Tips from an Obviously Amateur Wanderer”:
DON’T assume that your sort of Uber driver who speaks a different language understands what you are saying.
DO enjoy the experience anyway by conversing in two different languages, by stopping over for a selfie with a panoramic (though unable to be seen at 2 a.m.) background view and by writing about it in your second travel blog post.
DON’T leave your most comfortable sneakers at home because you’re overthinking things and want to wear your hiking sandals that can double for a pair of walking shoes for that one potential hike in the Swiss Alps.
DO learn this lesson via the little blisters you get on your feet, and yes pack light again next time but don’t think yourself out of common sense. Do also, like I did, and ease the discomfort a little by telling yourself and your supportive friend, Tracey, “If I didn’t experience blisters, how would I be able to appreciate not having them?” While this is philosophically true and works to melt away your regret, bring your damn Saucony’s next time . . . they’ll do for that imaginary hike, even if it does become a reality.
DON’T avoid talking with people because you only spent ten minutes a day on your Duo Lingo app prior to coming and you’re beginning to wonder if maybe you actually studied the wrong language.
DO get over your self-consciousness around saying something incorrectly, and just go for it. Savor the experience of attempting to really understand another human being. Bask in the Joy of being entirely present to a conversation. Appreciate the spontaneous and mutual eruption of excitement that occurs when two strangers realize they get each other. Please note: Adding an “a” to the end of every word does not make you fluent in Italian but it does set you up for a whole lot of fun! Try it . . . bathroom-a, couch-a, candy bar-a, “I do not understand-a” . . . see what I mean?
DON’T wait until three triple scoop, creamy, infused with milk gelato cones later to realize you are lactose intolerant (that explains why I never want milk or ice cream at home). Yeah, I definitely DO NOT recommend this . . . I am still getting over this one. On the bright side, I’m hoping this bummer of a fact will keep me from growing out of everything–including my yoga pants–while I’m here.
DO–if you are not lactose intolerant–enjoy as many “gelatos” as possible because they truly are the bomb diggity. Fruit ones, from what I’ve read, are within limits for those of us who can’t do the milky treats.
(I look so happy here. I clearly had no idea what was coming).
DON’T plan everything to a T and then worry about whether or not you dotted all your i’s.
DO get lost . . . often. DO be spontaneous. DO allow plans to change of their own accord. Some of my favorite moments while traveling–and incidentally in life as well–have been the little ones. Tracey and I still crack up about the time we were coming out of a random cafe (where we were looking for assistance on directions yet again) and she said, “Scusi” to the cutie who walked in past us. Very quickly, “Scusi” metamorphosed into “Scusi, Cutie,” and we still say it that way a week later. And then, because we couldn’t seem to find the right stop for the Colosseum, we ended up in a gorgeous conversation with three women from Sri Lanka: they were absolutely lovely, being a mother and two daughters (and the adorable granddaughter to boot). Too, finding our way back to the Colosseum hours later, we found assistance in two Italian women and one Italian man hanging out outside their home (which was an apartment in a tiny alleyway with cobblestone streets). Even further, on the way home an old man showed up to help us find our way at a bus stop: Tracey said, “Was that God?,” referring to “Evan Almighty.” And the list goes on and on and on. Perfecto!
Speaking of going on and on and on, I could go on forever but my chariot awaits. For now, there you have it, five little things I learned from my rendezvous with Rome. Curious as to whether or not I’m going back for more? Well, since you asked, we have a date again on Monday . . . I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I’m seeing other places . . .