Rome Day 2

7 06 2010

And so the first full day of my Roman holiday begins with my alarm screaming at me: OI YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE ANY FUN, NOW GET OUT OF BED AND LEARN.  It was 8:30 and I had an appointment with the Pope at 11:00. I left my new great mates in their beds still giggling at the previous nights exploits and set off on foot.

Stick the kettle on Benny XVI

On my map of Rome my hostel was in the bottom right hand corner and Vatican City was in the top left but after 40 minutes walking I was nearly there so stopped for my first Italian cafe latte of the holiday only to be served by the rudest woman in the city (I know this because I made a point of meeting them all) but she was typically Italian and sexy so I forgave her. The combination of heat, walking, croissant and coffee only aggravated last night’s belly full of beer but what did I care, I was on holiday and so I continued.

Reaching the Vatican I was stunned by the size of the queue to get in (I had pre-booked, ha fuck you queue losers), it took me ten minutes to walk the length of it. I had overestimated the size of the city and arrived an hour early, bollocks anyway I could have spent that hour in bed.  I gave the man at the door a charming Irish look of innocence and he let me go through anyway and after changing my ticket for another ticket and then going through another gate I was at last getting an education. Though it soon became clear I wasn’t the only person to wish to pop down to pope town that morning, the place was rammed; really these people should be at home it’s early on a Monday morning.

I got overexcited an raced toward the Sistine chapel but after what seemed like forever I still hadn’t seen anything familiar and every room I went in had paintings on the ceiling. I began to worry, maybe I missed it? Maybe it’s really small and shit? So I called my brother: “Stephen where’s the Sistine chapel I’ve been walking for ages?”

“You’ll know it when you see it.”

“Is there curtains in it?”


“I’m in a long corridor with paintings on the ceiling and curtains.”

“No it’s huge you’ll know it when you see it.”

“Ok, I better.”

And I did and it was awesome. In fact it was so awesome that after spending half an hour there I left jumped over a barrier and went through the whole museum again. A bit slower this time and took in all the stuff I’d rushed passed earlier. The statues of  the Roman emperors, including Claudius, I read a book about that lad, Claudius the lame. Nice statue mind. The Raphael rooms which were amazing and with Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel I had only two ninja turtle artworks to go to finish my list. I took a holy crap in the Vatican, changed into my shorts and I needed a rest so I aimed for the hostel.

I treated myself to an Italian ice-cream and oh my life they are the best in the world and this inspired me to conduct an experiment to see if the body can be sustained by ice-cream, pizza and beer and am glad to report that over a short period this kind of diet is actually favoured by the body and mind but don’t expect an easy time having a poo. Crossing the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II I felt every bridge in the world should look like this. On my 4 HOUR walk home I did my touristy duty and stopped to take as many pointless pictures as possible. A right camera happy tart. I’d heard a lot about the Trevi Fountain and it looks lovely and all that nonsense in pictures but my word it’s busy and surrounded by the cheap tacky nonsense that normally annoys me so much in London but today I’ll stop and have a root. I take in as many churches and basilicas as I can and it’s all so stunning, eventually I make it back and crawl upstairs to an empty room, lovely.

Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II

Being the excitable type I just can’t sleep and, though my legs feel like they’ve being on a death march, I have to go out and soak up more of this wonderful city. I limp back to the Colosseum for a proper look and standing outside a very friendly ticket seller approaches me and we strike up a conversation I debate doing the tour right away but my feet are about to fuck off and leave me there so I buy a ticket for tomorrow and crawl, defeated by exhaustion, back to the hostel. The Americans are there feeling equally leg raped and everyone gets a bit of kip.

When we wake up it’s pub crawl night. Hee hee hee. €20 a ticket and you get a free t-shirt? Sold. The first hour of drinking is free? My good God is this actually real? I’m in. A quick beer with the holiday team in the hostel and after calling Sonny a girl for about ten minutes he agrees to join us and get pissed. There’s not really much point trying to get an early night considering the state we’ll be in later when we crash back into the hostel.

And we’re off, first pub: the people participating in our pub crawl people are the only customers and I’m straight on the mother’s ruin, that’s lovely gin and tonics by the way. We’re telling some new people about the Wildebeest and Scabbie from last night and telling of our relief that they’re not here when I turn round and… Oh for fuck sake. There’s Scabbie waving at me. I wave back and with the subtlety of a kick in the balls walk to another room. I get chatting to a Canadian and an English man about football (sounds like a joke I know, Irishman Englishman and a Canadian in a pub) and after having had to listen to all the nonsense about baseball and American football for the last two days I relish a real conversation about a real sport. I am, however, rudely interrupted by the Wildebeest trying to pry me away. One of my world famous glares soon puts an end to that unwanted attention.

The night involved, surprisingly, visiting lots of pubs. There was a terrific menagerie of nationalities and I was the only Irish person. By the end of the night I had made friends from Holland, Brazil, England, Croatia and Canada (lots from Canada). Now the one thing I am great at when I’m either alone or pissed is dancing and Rome wasn’t going to go without a demonstration. It was while shaking my toosh that it came to my attention we had an actual break-dancer k in the group. While he was doing his thing my American roommate (one of the brothers) decided: bollocks, he’s not getting all the attention and, after clearing a space for himself on the dance floor, made to slide across it. Alas he didn’t so much slide as hit the floor, stick on all the spilt beer and bust his chin open (titter titter). When I eventually finished laughing I realised that the brothers had gone so Sonny and I hightailed it home. Well… we must have… that is to say I woke up the next morning in my own bed.


Rome Day 1

3 06 2010

And so it was; I came in over Rome trying to get my first glance of this historic city but finding my view impeded by the happy, kissy, get a room couple in the seats between me and the airplane’s window. It would be another hour before I saw the city and then it would be at street level. When I finally rolled in on a Terravision coach my first impression was: Wow, look at all the graffiti. The route the coach took into the city managed to avoid all the sights and upon arrival at the train station we spent an entire day in a traffic jam (well maybe 20 minutes but I’m rather impatient). People had been warning me all week about the pickpockets in Rome and I was on the defensive in this, not very attractive, area of the city. After parading up and down via Vincenca with my luggage for a while I found my hostel.

First impressions? I liked it. Good clean place and friendly staff. Up to the room and I’m greeted with the sight of three Americans trying their best, but not very well, to hide the disappointment that I’m not hot or a chick. After a quick introduction I make my excuses and arrange to meet in the bar later for a beer.

Collosso (First view)

Armed with a map and holiday buzz that’s growing I decide to take a wander to the Colosseum. I don’t so much wander as run and then, turning the last corner, there it is. I stand in the road like some class of a gobshite staring at this fascination. It’s inspiring, even by the standards of stadia built today this building screams at you: I’m the nuts. I’m worried about getting too close because I know I’ll stay here for the three days when I recall the invite to drink wonderful beer with my roomies. So about turn and back to the hostel.

I came to Rome on my own with the intention of an educational holiday and a learning experience. The night that followed decided otherwise. The only thing I love more than beer is fun and when the two are combined, well that’s just awesome. And combine them I did. Within a few hours I’m discussing some of the most vulgar aspects of ex girlfriends and dabbling in some mild international joshing. “Oi Yank, you come to Rome to eat cheeseburgers and insist that all the locals speak to you in American?”

“No I came for the ice cream and to be as loud and obnoxious as possible”.

“Good man”.

As the evening progressed all the satellite travellers moved to our table and with a group of about ten we giggled, pissed, farted and drank the evening away.

Somebody had drunken fumbling with girl we would later nick name The Wildebeest and somebody else had some slap and tickle with an old bird that became known as Scabbie. I was one of those people but I’ll refrain from saying which. Those stragglers who joined our group assumed I was lifelong friends with the Americans after listening to the utter abuse we were giving each other. Somewhere in the back of my brain there are memories of walking some women home and doing things that would make a bishop turn his back on the cloth. After an hour of giggling I finally went to sleep. I had to go and see the pope in the morning.

The travellers