Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Very Belated Spring Break Travel Post: Rome, Part 3: London?

Hi! So, it's taking me a really long time to sit down and write, but I AM still working on putting my Spring Break travels into blog form, one city at a time.

Last Time: I spent an AMAZING three nights with my four amazing friends running around Rome, including ridiculously cheap coffee, seeing the Pope in person, and a LOT of gelato. It was going to be hard to tear myself away.

This time: Off to London to visit my cousin Kayla Epstein! At least, that’s the plan.

Valerie, Jackie, Monica and Candy were going to stay in Italy and explore Florence and Venice, but I couldn’t pass up the fortuitous opportunity to visit my cousin in London who just HAPPENED to be studying there the same semester as I chose to study abroad. Candy and Monica were at Monica’s aunt’s house, and Valerie and Jackie were still sound asleep (it was around 6AM after all) a I crept out of my hostel room in order to check out and make my way to London.

If you’ll recall, the guy at the front desk had advised me the previous day that I could save a lot of money if I simply caught an airport bus in the city rather than paying the 30 Euros the hostel would have charged to drive me to the airport directly. In this conversation with the front desk guy, we had discussed 1) the specific hour of my flight, 2) the time that I would need to be at the airport by, and 3) the time that it would take me in the morning to walk to the Rome Nord train stop, since I would have to leave the hostel so early that the hostel’s shuttle bus wouldn’t be running, which, when you combine these three things, means that he SHOULD HAVE understood that I would be CHECKING OUT of the hostel reeeeaaallly early in the morning.

SO, imagine my surprise when I leave my room, (already having been nervous about waking up in time, getting to the Rome Nord station by walking before it was even light out, catching the Rome Nord train, finding the airport bus in the city, and then making it to the airport on time), and the lights are completely OFF at the hotel’s reception area. The whole area is deserted, except for a young Italian gentleman who comes up to me in order to communicate in very broken English that the reception area DOESN’T OPEN UNTIL 7AM, which is at least an hour AFTER I have calculated that I need to check out by in order to catch the bus to he airport. I’m already freaked out and really upset that the guy the night before didn’t think it was necessary to tell me this fact, so I tell this guy that I desperately need to check out. To which he replies that he doesn’t understand OR speak English. I guess the site of me holding my luggage, flapping my arms from side to side in order to show that I needed to be on an airplane very soon, and frantically waving my credit card in his face was enough for him to take pity on me, because even though he obviously did NOT work in reception (he could barely even find the light switch in the office), he managed to help me check out despite the language barrier. It was kind of a struggle (i.e. he had to ask me how much I owed the hostel, and then I had to show him how to use the credit card machine), but in the end I had said “grazi” about a million times, he had said “Good luck with”, adding the“flying” motion with his arms that I had used early, and I was on my way in the dark towards the Primo Porto Rome Nord train stop.

Note to self: No matter what, DO NOT LET YOURSELF BE SEPARATED FROM YOUR PASSPORT. If Jackie hadn’t asked if we could leave our drivers’ licenses instead when we checked in, and if this young man hadn’t been there to take pity on me, I wouldn’t have been able to get on my next flight with my passport still locked up in the hostel office. I know it sounds like an obvious piece of advice, but when you are SO EXCITED to be arriving someplace, sometimes you forget the basics.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I walked through the dark on the side of the Roman road for much longer than I had been told I would need to, had the first Euro I put in the machine eaten, and eventually got on the Rome Nord train (which was late) towards Termini. Still worried about getting to my flight on time at a faraway airport, but mostly because I was thinking back on three of the most amazing days in my life and because I was sad to be leaving Jackie, Candy, Monica and Valerie, made me start crying, and I couldn’t stop until I reached the Termini stop.

This was the slightly harder part, because while I knew that the bus picked up from Termini, it was very obviously a terminal for a LOT of public transit vehicles in the middle of the busy city, and I wasn’t sure exactly where I should be going. I asked some officials if they could help me in English, and they were really nice and gave me really specific directions, which I only kind of understood. I ended up walking in a straight line for a while past a lot of city buses, until after what seemed lie ages I finally found the row of airport buses. Big sigh of relief. I ended up choosing a different, cheaper bus company than I had originally been looking for, and as I sat down on the bus, this amazing feeling of satisfaction washed over me. A much bigger feeling than if I had had no trouble at all finding what I was looking for. The bus driver took my 4 Euros and told me he liked me (Italians!) and we were off.

It turns out that I had planned on being WAY to early for my flight, because I ended up having a lot of time to kill once I got there. I had had to leave the hostel so early that I hadn’t had time for caffeine, so I decided that my almost-heart attack in the morning meant that I definitely deserved an overpriced cappuccino at the airport bar. BUT, Italy pulled through AGAIN, because my (amazing) cappuccino only cost 1 Euro 40 (!!) and my croissant only 1 euro. As much I was thrilled to be seeing my cousin in London, it was this kind of thing that made it hard to leave Rome.

Next time: LONDON!!!!!!!