Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rome, tax police,and the downside

Wow, Rome has been amazing so far. Many days ago, (sorry for not blogging in a while) Scott and I went to the coliseum. We got a tour with an English speaking guide (as recommended by some other American and Canadian hostel dwellers). The tour was fantastic and it even included a little tour at the end where we were told all about a large section of pagan ruins that is located next to the coliseum (temples, churches built on temples…ect). Scott and I toured Rome on our own during the afternoon. We saw all kinds of things that were built around the time of Christ if not before (crazy!). One of the hardest things to get used to in Rome are the rules of the road. Cars here have to stop for pedestrians…this is very confusing to my well trained “look both ways before you cross the street” mentality which has been well reinforced by Glasgow. Apparently in Rome people just cross the street when they feel like it and the traffic waits for them, I’m really glad I don’t drive here as this would be very frustrating to me. My strategy for crossing roads in foreign countries is based on the padding theory. The theory goes something like this, So long as there is someone between you and the on (or potentially on) coming traffic you have padding and should therefore cross the street. Your chances are better with locals as chances of actually having to use the padding are greatly reduced.
The day before yesterday, Scott and I got on the metro and rode it to the other side of Rome. We joined the same tour guide we had the day before, but this time for a tour of the Vatican. We did this for two good reasons. First there is over 9 miles of different walking paths through the Vatican. Secondly it is estimated that if you spent one minute looking at every piece of art in the Vatican you would be there for some 12 years (We just wanted to hit the important stuff). Thus we greatly enjoyed the three hour tour (although our feet didn’t). We got to see everything I wanted to…which was mostly the Sistine Chapel (we took a few illegal photos inside). That evening Scott and I were out and about seeing other historical parts of the city. We paused on the Spanish steps…the significance of which is still questioned by us. On the steps we were hailed by Amber and Jessica (I met Amber on the flight over the Atlantic, she’s studying in Edinburgh). We found it odd to run into each other again somewhere so very far away. We decided to get back together that evening, in the meantime Scott and I went and found a fantastic Italian dinner. The dinner was so great (slow) that we were very late for our evening meeting. We tried to make up for it by buying them drinks at a local pub.
The next day, Scott and I tried to find a local vineyard to go tour, but we failed. So we settled for a trip to the Mediterranean coast. The weather was beautiful although a little chilly and the coast was different than we expected. It was much rockier and less sandy than we were used too. This offered less water playing, but some fantastic pictures and experiences with waves crashing on the rocks (mmmm sea air). The weather in Italy has been much more like home. It’s been warm most days, often with a breeze. The evenings have been cold, and there was even a huge rainstorm that hit us one night.
Last night we had a female roommate who was from New York. I’m pretty sure she stayed in the room the whole day…and she sure could snore (on the bright side she left us a little note saying it was nice to meet us and good luck on the rest of our journey). The next day Scott and I got on a train heading to Venice. We had to carry our luggage all about the canals because we were mostly out of euro’s and the baggage holders didn’t take card. I decided to buy something in Venice from an outdoor vender, but I only had 2.80 Euros left and the item I wanted was more. The very nice old gentleman who owned the place let me buy said object with some American dollars as well. As Scott and I are walking away (out of sight of the dealer) we get hailed by this guy. He flashes a badge and says he is French tax police. He asks me how much I spent on the item…I was a little taken aback and didn’t really want to answer in case the really nice guy who sold me said object was going to be in trouble, so I stalled. He didn’t like me stalling so he made sure we understood that he was the police and dragged his buddy over (both were in civilian clothing). I finally divulged what I had paid and had to explain that I had paid with two currencies. They said thank you and that we were not in trouble at all, so Scott and I went on our way. We snapped a few photos and ate a delicious lunch/dinner. Then we had to hop on the bus out to the airport (Ryanair never lands people conveniently in the middle of any city, their airports are always on the outskirts).
Our flight into London got delayed so we missed our hostel. Thus Scott and I slept …or attempted to sleep in the airport. This helped make the whole day in London seem boring. Maybe we were just sick of looking at old stuff. Anyway, we did London pretty well for a day. We saw Buckingham palace, Big Ben, the London Bridge and more. The only thing we really missed out on was the changing of the guard. Scott and I were so sleep deprived that we decided to find a local theater and just watch a movie. We watched Duplicity which was really good. Then we walked by Buckingham palace on our way to the bus station where we caught the midnight bus back here to Glasgow. We arrived yesterday morning at 7am. I got about 3 hours of sleep on the bus.
Just to kick me in the pants, my 11am class teacher didn’t show up to class (I could have been sleeping). I made the final housing payment before looking at my bank account, thus my bank account, for the first time ever, was almost overdrawn (thank you mom for saving me). Add to this the fact that I don’t have a summer job lined up. Oh, and we found out while on spring break that our group project for TICF got a 38 (all 4 group members put in at least 32 hours a piece on that thing)…ick. So it looks like I could easily fail classes this semester, which would mean that I won’t have enough credit hours to hang on to scholarships...the worst part of which is that I supposedly won’t know whether I passed till it is too late to take summer school classes. Yarrgh!

I guess you could say that the party is over and it is time to sober up.

1 comment:

  1. This clip http://www.viddler.com/explore/dtooearth/videos/7/ should bring back some fond Rome traffic memories ;-)