Friday the 13th…
If ever there was an ominous day to travel my choice would be it. I also left at the butt crack of dawn, flying out at 5.35am. Luckily it seems as if I got all the good luck from the 13th vs the bad. Everything was on time, I got aisle seats, soso food, great seat mates who took melatonin and then drank 2 complimentary bottles of wine each… good times.
View of Mt. Hood as we flew into Portland, Oregon
I have always said as much as I love travel, it’s the actual traveling part that I dislike, but at least I get to catch up on the latest movies, especially since I can’t sleep on planes. This trip I got to see Sherlock Holmes 2, Hugo and Machine Gun Preacher. The last one was phenomenal, disturbing and inspiring at the same time. Based on a true story about a criminal turned preacher turned guardian to thousands of kids in war torn Sudan. I highly recommend it! I have seen it 3 times now and even though I cry every time at the horror man can inflict on each other the triumph of the human spirit amazes me.
Managed to get a bit of sleep and despite the gentleman walking up and down the aisle after apparently drenching himself in cheap cologne, it was a good flight. My seat mates and I exchanged information and hoped to meet up for dinner and wine at some point.
Deboarding was a breeze, didn’t even have to fill out a immigration card, first time for everything. Got my stamp and then headed to the gate. Really wish countries would get more inventive with stamps, I mean, my Italian one is barely visible, I know they are official and everything but come on, lets have a little fun!
Nicola was the new vet that arrived at Amazoonico wildlife refuge 2 weeks before I left. I wish I could have had more time to work with him. So I was thrilled to find out he was living in Rome and was willing to meet me at the airport! Always a bonus having someone meet you, I am perfectly capable of figuring it out, but having someone take that load off makes landing all that more pleasant.
I am renowned for having a terrible memory when it comes to faces, and I was concerned I would not recognize him after a year, but I needn’t have worried. There he was with his girlfriend (also a vet) and their cute 6month old lab puppy.
They adopted the pup after a complication in surgery caused her to go blind and what a sweet heart she was, also completely adapted to life in the dark. She has no fear and just bounds forward, learning as she goes.
We did a brief city tour and saw some of the sites, even though it was a bit of a misty grey morning, it was still stunningly beautiful. If anything the weather added to the history and ambience of old Rome.
View of Rome from Parco Gianicolense
We walked down little alleys and side streets all glistening in the fine rain. The cobble streets and window boxes were simply breathtaking. I love cities a lot of history.
Alleys and Side Streets
When in Rome, Eat like a Roman
For breakfast Nicola gave me the option of either an American style or Italian style breakfast. I figured I may as well try my first cappuccino, so Italian it was.
On the way back to the car, the little pup found a friend and they frolicked all over nearly knocking over a few people. No one could have guessed at her lack of sight.
Seeing is Believing
Heading to my friend Kate’s apt, my couch surfing host from Australia who kindly offered to put up with me… put me up again :), one of the most amazing historical buildings came into sight. The Coliseum!
Just Coming into View
It’s Bigger in Person
We could only drive by it this time, but planned to come and visit it the next day. I asked Nicola if he was awed every day he drove past it? His response “No! It is just part of the city!” (Please add in your own Italian accent to truly appreciate the sentence). I guess it’s kind of like growing up with monkeys in my garden in South Africa, they were just part of the scenery.
Before getting to Kate’s, Nicola helped me buy a SIM card and then we went and found their apartment.
Nap Followed by Food
It was fantastic seeing Kate again and meeting her boyfriend, Svet, but it was sad saying cheers to Nicola. He worked nights at a local vet and we weren’t sure we would have a chance to catch up again. Oh well have to make another trip to Rome.
I was absolutely worn out and exhausted, got to learn how to sleep on planes! So passed out for a couple of hours. Then Kate and Svet took me out for beer and pizza, I had a potato and rosemary one that was amazing!!
Something I loved from the first time I saw it, was the little parks where the locals came and hung out. There were also water fountains everywhere and the water was crisp and clean.
Our final item for the evening was to go to a famous Tiramisu shop. I LOVE tiramisu and couldn’t wait to try a true Italian one.
Pure Deliciousness in a Personal Sized Box
We decided to join the locals and went and ate our little piece of heaven, we got one each, in the park. A great ending to a great, yet exhausting day.