There’s nothing quite like learning to navigate a new foreign city on your own, without any help from the internet.
I don’t know much Italian at all, not even the “essential phrases” that the internet says you ought to know. I figure it just adds to the sense of adventure and danger, not knowing much of the lingo.
Thankfully because I travel in the US a fair amount I know how to get around and am not shy about asking ignorant questions. I navigated the airport easily and the trains that took me into Rome, since everything is designed for ignorant tourists anyway. Again, the language barrier really isn’t much of a barrier. You can get by just with hand gestures in a pinch.
People (Americans like me) in the airport seemed to think that I looked like I knew what I was doing and were asking me questions. That was amusing, since I only look like I know what I’m doing and sometimes I don’t even manage that very well. Several American tourists were asking me how to use the ATM machine, or something along those lines. I’m not really sure what happened. I probably just used hand gestures.
As I rode into Rome by rail, a lot of the vegetation was very similar to my part of CA. Lots of ivy, oleander, azalea, thistles and the like. It’s hot like Cali too. There were a couple of shanty towns along the tracks, buried in the vegetation, buildings made out of blocks and metal siding and tarps. Not a sight I expected when I first set out. California has similar things, although ours are more hidden by brush and mountains. That’s a pretty dangerous part of Rome, where you should never venture on your own.
I walked to my hotel from the train station and met two of the most hilarious hotel proprietors I have ever encountered who have treated me like royalty since I got here. My room is absolutely gorgeous too, with a balcony.
Probably my favorite part of today was the time I spent sitting in the shadow of the Vatican, simply enjoying the view. I didn’t feel up to standing in a mile long queue to get inside, especially in the blazing sun in July, though I might try when I come back in a couple of weeks. I was pretty tired anyway and needed some time to simply think and recenter myself after all the chaos of traveling. And there is a lot to enjoy just by staring at the architecture and the statues.
The whole time I was surrounded by people, but it didn’t get to me at all like it normally might. Nobody bothered me at all, or tried to talk to me. I could just sit and look and relax. And watch other people. Many, many selfies were taken by carefree, happy-go-lucky tourists brandishing their selfie sticks.
Maybe my obvious lack of selfie-stick was the reason why people didn’t seem to think I was a tourist. Everyone else has them and waves them around all the time.
I didn’t take a single selfie. Instead, I enjoyed sitting and thinking, without having something to do. It was great. I think everyone should do it a lot more often.
I have no idea what I’m going to do tomorrow, but that’s OK. That means that there are more possibilities. And winging it is always a fun adventure anyway.