As promised, vacation chronicles.
This is going to be a rather long post, so take breaks or something.
Itinerary: Rome, Venice, Milan (with slight alteration towards the end, stay tuned.)
Rome Day 1
Right off the bet the trip didn’t start off that well. Because I arrived to Rome scoring a sad panda look (for non-make up wearing people it’s when your mascara does dark circles around your eyes). This was all because I decided to wear one of them eyeshade masks on the plane, thinking I’ll look cool. The joke was on me, as I went through passport security looking like a crying hooker.
Self-esteem slightly damaged, we arrived to Rome center via the train (helpful tip: Rome has trains) and wobbled our way to the hotel. Because the streets are covered in cobble stone, and despite their initial aesthetic appeal, your feet will learn to hate. Speaking of feet and hate, we walked 12 miles on the first day. Which was kind of stupid because that left us almost nothing to see on the second day. Also, the sole of my foot turned into a giant blister which meant I was limping the rest of the trip and we limited our walking distances to about 10 miles a day (which means we’re crazy and we still walked a lot).
Initial impression of Rome was mixed. Maybe that’s just how history looks – nostalgic and disappointing. Something important was there, it’s not anymore, but there are walls to prove it. Maybe I’m just being an asshole.
Don’t get me wrong all the historic attractions, monuments, and statues were impressive and grand. Sometimes they felt unnecessarily big, even the trees, mostly of course grand, but also just ridiculously fucking huge.
Rome Day 2
I woke up with a thought ‘oh goddamnit, we have 6 more days of sightseeing’. Beach side vacation in Mexico seemed very appealing at that point.
But we loaded up on some expresso, which I have to say was really good, and I came to regard as tiny shots of life forces that coupled with curiosity make you cover impressive geographical distances.
The day started off at Villa Medici that scores an excellent view of the city, and makes it perfect for a morning selfie.
Then we saw a bunch of other ancient elaborately arranged piles of stones: piazzas (plazas), churches, and obelisks. That look like long narrow pencils or penises, whichever. That is obelisks do. Piazzas and churches look exactly like they sound.
Fun fact; don’t bother to learn any Italian because almost everybody understood English. And I did just fine using three words ‘Ciao, quanto, and grazie’ (eng: hi, how much, thank you).
Food is good, so just eat. Don’t expect too much variety though, because in Italy they mostly serve, surprise – Italian. We are spoiled with choices in New York, and towards the end it did get a bit repetitive and sort of ‘I can’t take any more pasta!’ So pack some spam. Kidding. They actually sell spam in stores there.
The best impressions were from wandering through the streets. Although probably not recommended if you don’t have a GPS or a reasonable sense of direction. The city is pretty big and the streets are European and confusing.
Venice Day 1
Now, this definitely was something unlike anything, in other words, impressive and gorgeous. All the buildings, architecture, canals, and boats, and even painted poles sticking out of water – it was all there. It was also rotting and soon to collapse one day, but hey not my problem.
There weren’t any cars because there aren’t any roads. All the going-abouts are done via boats, even public services such as police, and delivery, and buses, which are not actually buses but are boats that in general sense behave like buses and follow specific routes. And they have a fun name ‘vaporetto’. Do vaparett yourself around Venice (I’m coining a new term).
There are gondolas, of course, all over the place. Every local resident seemed to have been a gondolier. But they’re expensive and I don’t imagine them being much different from a ride on vaporetto. So save yourself some bucks and spend them on drinks.
Speaking of which, a must have drink while in Venice is Sprits, which is a drink that originated in Venice and arguably stayed there because I haven’t heard of it anywhere else. It is a combination of local liqueur Campari, and seltzer, and some other secret ingredients. It serves as an excellent subject matter for picture taking that is sure to put your Facebook community into fits of jealousy, which in combination with the drink itself is an excellent way to end your day.
Venice Day 2
Slept in late because by this time, you start realizing that life force is a very much measurable and limited unit of energy.
Regardless of which, you can’t sit still for too long because you’re in Venice for Christ Sake. And getting lost in the streets is simply magical. Until, you start walking in circles then it gets a tad bit annoying. Streets are narrow and a lot of times lead to nowhere or lead to beautiful discoveries.
Such as this one time we could hear somebody playing a violin in their home. Maybe they were actually paid to sit at home and play violin for tourist’s amusement, but I like to believe it was some poor, hungry music enthusiast (poor and hungry are requirements). Or this other time we were having lunch in a small restaurant and a bunch of kids started playing soccer, legitimately with an actual ball, not a video game. Maybe they were a paid tourist attraction as well. A lot of things were too good to be true so I’m going with a conspiracy theory.
By this time, I noticed that every shop, restaurant and bar was playing American music, which was kind of annoying and ruined the whole sound track of our trip. At one point, Britney Spears came on with ‘Oops, I did it again’ and that moment you knew we are definitely doomed as human species and the end is near.
Venice Day 3
All the major attractions covered, this day was dedicated to aimless wandering, which meant covering every inch of the city left unattended.
We went to check out Biennale di Venezia, which is a famous exhibition of contemporary art. It’s sort of the birthplace of all contemporary art. Or in human words all the strange and weird things with a nametag art get their start there. Don’t worry it’s only twice a year, it ends October, and you should be ok to go after that. One thing that I found pretty kick ass was this.
Then we went to check out a local cemetery. Just because it’s part of a life cycle, people. And it didn’t feature crowds of tourists, probably because it’s not an obvious point of destination. And we found a grave of a prominent Russian poet, Joseph Brodsky, not that you care, but now you know.
The day ended with some rain at the city’s most famous Saint Mark’s square, which was sort of gorgeous in it of itself. I might be romanticizing somewhat much, but fuck it. I think it’s allowed when you’re in Venice.
Milan Day 1
So this was our last day before we left and it was supposed to be in Milan, but it sort of wasn’t. Because we met with some acquaintances and they took us to the sea. Two hours’ drive away to be exact, not that I was counting. The city was Genoa, right on the shore of the Mediterranean sea, and it was breathtakingly beautiful, if you will. Plus no walking was involved, so this was a day very much anticipated and appreciated.
Then we had dinner in Milan, at a cool market place. It looked like something out of Williamsburg. Milan itself reminded of a European type of New York – business professionals, and hipsters, and immigrants. Home was calling.
Oh, and we stayed in a hotel that was inside a museum. That’s what you call going out with a bang.
And finally the end.
What I leave you with is – nothing. Make your own judgements, besides I’ve typed enough here and if you got this far, be proud of yourself just for that alone.
P.S. Gladiators, I salute you! (that’s a movie reference)