Monday, July 8, 2013

If we had blogs in 1997: Do you want some formaggio to go with that whine?

The student is acting like a spoiled brat in our next installment of the 1997-1998 journal from Europe. She traveled to Italy for the week long fall break and did nothing but complain. Of course, she was pickpocketed, had food poisoning, and it was raining and cold, but that's no excuse to be standing in the capital of the ancient world declaring hatred for it. As always, spelling, grammatical, and factual errors have been preserved and today's comments are in red italics.

26 Oct 1997

I just realized that I haven't written in a while. Last weekend I stayed in Lux. A lot of people did. Friday night I went to see My Best Friend's Wedding in the Utopolis with Matt, Brad M, Julia, Hans, and Mary. Then we went to Pub 13 and drank Pina Coladas. On Saturday we went to see a concert at the conservatory, then went to an Italian restaurant dans la centre ville that was too expensive for the taste of the food. It was a good weekend.

Monday's Hitler test was too hard, the history paper was crap, and the music test was too hard. It was a hectic week. Hitler test, eh? Relax, it was for a course on the rise and fall of Hitler. Fascinating class. On Thursday we went to Bizarre and had a good time. Bizarre was a bar in Differdange. I stayed home this weekend but am now on a train to Roma. I just spent 3 heures talking to an American guy from the Boston area who is here for 14 weeks. He just finished law school and is traveling through Europe on his own. I can't imagine traveling without a base. Can't believe I ever thought this. If I had the funding, I'd travel the world for years. He got off in Strassburg. Now I am traveling past some mountains in France. I thought they were clouds at first because Ohio sometimes has cloud formations that look like mountains. It's funny that I am in France but the buildings are of German design. As if France and Germany hadn't fought countless wars over territory. I'm glad I am traveling while it is still light.

27 Oct 1997

I hate Rome. Ouch, this hurts my soul. It's dirty, the people are rude, and I lost my alarm clock. I must have left it on the train. I'm pissed. My knee hurts worse than ever, I've had diarhea all day, and now I'm getting a headache. And I lost my alarm clock. Now what am I going to do. I wonder if someone stole it out of my pocket - probably on the train. I think so. I remember putting it in my pocket on the train this morning. And on the overcrowded packed train this evening...Oh, I'm so angry. What am I going to do without an alarm clock?

The forum
Today I saw the collesium, the forum, the spanish steps, and some other old Roman buildings. I will most likely never come back to this city again. I was there this past March. With food poisoning. We weren't there very long thanks to some bad food at an airport in Istanbul. I really want to spend some time there - I would live there in a heartbeat. Now there are three annoying Japanese in my room. I just want to sit in peace. I can't wait to leave this city. I traveled with a girl from Cleveland on the train last night. She's studying in Florence for the year. She was kind of strange. She gave me her address, but I'm not going to call, I don't think.  

If we had memes in 1997, this would be it: 

28 Oct 1997

The entry to the Sistine Chapel. Bad photo, but you get idea on how ornate.
The only good part of Rome technically isn't Rome - it's the Vatican. I got there about 10:30am after riding a packed bus. The first thing I did was go to the Vatican museum (after a meeting with the toilet.) There were a bunch of pots and sculptures and paintings, but the Sistine Chapel was the best. I barely looked at anything else. Next time I go to Rome, I will spend an entire day at the Vatican looking at everything else, and I'll have some knowledge and appreciation for those pots and sculptures and paintings. Then I went through St. Peter's. It was beautiful, but there were more statues of popes and saints than of Christ, which is really bothersome. And the non-Christian tourists bothered me too. I thought it would be this incredible religious experience, but I succeeded in discovering the complaints against Catholicism. Not that saints and popes aren't holy, but Christ is the reason for religion, not them. I tried religion once. Turns out it's not for me.

Obelisk the Romans stole from the Egyptians. Guess they added the cross on top.
I went down to where all the popes are buried then to the cupola, the dome. There is no sign that tells people how to get to it, I guess so they don't have a lot of people going, but Let's Go had the way. Let's Go is a budget guide book. After taking an elevator and over 300 narrow, winding, crooked stairs, I saw Rome from a beautiful view, high up, away from all the dirt and people. It was amazing. The mountains in the distance were spectacular. If it wasn't cold and rainy I could have stayed there for hours. As it was, I was wearing a skirt and sandals (and was very comfortable), which was worse when I got to icy Florence. A skirt? I guess I thought I had to dress up to go to the Vatican? In Rome, the only thing that saved my stomach was gelato. I have no problem eating lots of it. But after the Vatican, I decided I was sick of Rome, so I left. Good lord, this is ridiculous. Two days in Rome and I leave?!?

Pasta bar at the McDonald's in Rome
I went to the termini and had to make a reservation for the treni to Firenze, but the guy at the first ticket window told me to go to the Eurostar ticket windows, which I knew I didn't want. I don't think he wanted to deal with me. But I went to the Eurostar window anyway and made a reservation, telling him my Eurail was my ticket and so I ended up paying $4 to ride the Eurostar to Firenze. It was awesome, except I couldn't really enjoy it because I was worrying about what they'd do if they checked my ticket and it was wrong. But we got to Firenze right before the lady came to check my ticket, so I grabbed my bag and stood at the door waiting for the train to stop. It only took 1 1/2  instead of 2 1/2 hrs and was the most comfortable train ride. They even served peanuts. Quite a contrast to the Roman Metro.

Well, it was freezing when I got to Firenze in my skirt and sandals, and I couldn't find the WC to change into warmer clothes. I didn't want to walk all the way to the hostel I had reservations for, so I walked to one near the station, but it was full. Then I walked back to the train station and went to informazioni to get directions to my hostel. I then decided to change clothes in a corner of the train station because I couldn't walk in the cold wearing what I had on. So I changed and set off for the hostel. When I got there they told me they gave my reservations to someone else because I had not confirmed. It's a HOSTEL, not a hotel. Apparently they don't understand the idea of a hostel. I was so mad, I almost started crying. In my letter to make reservations, I had said I wouldn't be arriving until around 8pm. It was only 7pm and they had already given my bed away. So I started to panic, looked in Let's Go, and found another place in the same area. So I went there, with some difficulty in finding the place, since the numbers for the addresses had two strands of numbers running. I have no idea what this means. Then I waited for a half hour before someone came to the desk. I'm not sure if this is hyperbole. Some Italian lady who wasn't very happy came in and gave me the last bed in the place. Then another guy came in who spoke English and I got a bed. Then I met an Australian girl who's in this room, and we talked a little. Then she left, I took a shower, and it's now ten o'clock and I'm going to bed. I hate Italy. Blasphemy.

Two days in Rome. Geesh. Give me two years there. It's funny now to think about how I had no real interest in Rome back then, even though I minored in history. I'm trying to remember when I became an ancient history enthusiast, but I can't. I'd like to think that this year in Europe piqued my curiosity about it, but this post makes me question that. At the time, I was fascinated by World War II and the Cold War and didn't understand how what happened during the ancient times continues to affect what happens today; I didn't understand how all of history, all of time, is connected. I don't remember when I started catching up on Greek mythology (although I do remember a brief time during childhood in which I was fascinated by it.) I don't remember the first time I picked up Gibbons' The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I don't remember the first time Egyptian hieroglyphics excited me. Sometime after college, though, I fell in love with it all.

Sometimes I wonder if I learned anything in college. Seems like everything I know came after it.

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