Getting home is never really worth the trouble

Here we are. The last blog post about my trip to Italy in May. It’s the end of an era, and then you’ll just have to hear about my regular life again, at least until our road trip in August.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will I blog about it in one day

The Appian Way

The Vatican Museum is just one long line to see the Sistine Chapel

The Colosseum

All sorts of good things

Skulls and Femurs and Tibias, oh my?

Onward and Upward to Orvieto

We woke up in Orvieto. Unlike our previous hotel, this one didn’t do breakfast in the room, but they had a nice spread in a room off the lobby. They had a cappuccino machine, which weren’t as good as our previous morning cappuccinos. They also had a weird little machine that would hard boil eggs, but we didn’t try that. Evidently it took about 15 minutes! I had some pastries which were pretty excellent though.

After breakfast we went to the farmer’s market in a nearby square.

IMG_3808

We wanted to get food for our lunch, but we also wanted more espresso…we averaged 3-4 espresso shots per day and they were always good, with the exception of the espresso at the Vatican.

IMG_2546

Look at these adorable peach pastries!

We split up again because Julian, Louie and I wanted to go to the Orvieto Underground tour, which would tour some of the caves and tunnels under the city.

IMG_3813 IMG_3814

IMG_3824

The holes in the wall were for pigeons to nest. The Orvietans learned that you could just provide a place for them to nest and you wouldn’t have to feed them…and then you could eat them. Kind of mean, but cheaper than chickens. I wonder what the pigeons thought of all of this. I guess they kept coming back anyway.

IMG_3826

Our tour guide told us that place in the distance that looks like a castle is now a fancy hotel.

IMG_3830

We learned about the caves, and how some of them were originally used by the Etruscans who were the original founders of the town, and then they were expanded in the Middle Ages when more “modern” people built on top. They dug out the rock to build houses on top, and often used the caves for wine cellars or to make olive oil in a temperature controlled place, or to raise pigeons, or simply to store extra junk like a basement.

The tour was interesting and definitely worthwhile.

Back on top at Piazza del Duomo.

IMG_3831

We met up with the others and decided to have our picnic back near the edge of town in a nice little park area. There were several stray cats around who were very cute and wanted food—well mostly cute. One of them had a sad eye problem happening.

This one resembled my cat.

IMG_3833

IMG_3835

We enjoyed some porchetta sandwiches we’d gotten at the market earlier…until I noticed an ant, and then another, and then realized we were surrounded by giant ants! They say you can’t have a picnic without ants, and indeed this was true.

After lunch we had a little more time to wander around before needed to get the funicular down the hill to catch our train. We were headed to Fiumicino which was a coastal town right near the airport.

IMG_3838

Beautiful courtyard we wandered into.

IMG_3842

Three wheeled trucks.

IMG_3844

An archway with a smaller archway…filled in to make a wall.

IMG_2552

Orvieto selfie!

It was downhill to the funicular, and we made quite a loud group each rolling a suitcase on the cobblestones. It was a bit embarrassing but we had no other real option as the bus didn’t run for several hours in the afternoon.

IMG_3846 

Getting on the car. It ended up being completely packed, and I was crammed in the front.

IMG_3850

I had a great view so I took some pictures!

IMG_3851

You can see where the other car passes on the way down/up. The weight of the train car going down powers the one going up, and halfway through they have a double track so they can switch places. I found it a little nervewracking!

IMG_3852

IMG_3854

We didn’t have assigned seats on the train like we did on the opposite route—this time we had a few more stops getting into Rome than before. We were taking the train to the airport actually and then had plans to get a cab to our hotel.

It turns out that taking a cab from the airport to a nearby hotel is nearly as expensive as taking the cab into Rome. I suppose after the taxi driver waits in the taxi line, they don’t want a cheap fare, so they just charge a minimum so it’s worth their wait. It was annoying but I found it understandable enough.

We stayed at the Hotel Tiber which was nice and had a lot of orange. It overlooked the sea (according to the map it is the Tyrennian sea) and was clean and modern. We wandered around the pier area for a short while before choosing a seafood restaurant for dinner.

IMG_3860 IMG_3862

There were dozens of fisherman out when were walking around.

IMG_3866

Neat little drawbridge.

IMG_3868

The view from the hotel.

We ate dinner at a nearby restaurant called Il Moro. It was packed and felt hectic, but the food was delicious and in huge quantities. We totally overordered and left feeling a little sick from overeating. I ordered a dish that was supposed to be fried local seafood. It included what looked like entire small fishes. I thought local would be the best thing to order but I’m not so sure!

We went to bed after dinner, and then woke up to find out that our flight was delayed. After a breakfast on the rooftop floor of the hotel (which was an odd mix of Italian and American breakfast foods), we headed to the airport anyway to check in in case things went back to non delayed, but we ended up taking off at least 1 1/2 hours late.  That meant it would be incredibly tight for our connecting flight. The person at check in said there was a later flight that had space so we didn’t worry.

We should have.

Louie and I watched nearly the entire season of Downton Abbey on the plane ride home. We’d watched one episode on the way out, then 7 on the way home, leaving only one! We just ran out of time. Like on the flight out we’d ordered the Asian vegetarian food, which again was a curry and then some random things later like a vegetable sandwich.

Anyway, we got off the plane and started booking it through customs. We got our bags without too much trouble and then had to take a little train to the right concourse. We had about five minutes until the plane left, but we hoped they would wait on us, and we started running. We got there with two minutes to spare, and the gate was empty. The door was closed and no one was there. After a few minutes a person came out and said she tried to get them to wait on us but that they didn’t believe we would make it in time so they left…basically early. We went to rebook, and only Elliot (alphabetical order) could be rebooked on the next flight. The rest of us were booked through Chicago (from Detroit) to St Louis and would arrive home around midnight. That meant that we’d been up since around 7 am Italian time and would be basically 24 hours of traveling. We were pretty angry at the airlines, and especially at the gate agent in the morning who could have gone ahead and booked us on the next flight home which would have saved us a flight and about 4 hours of traveling. What can you do though!

We had a few drinks and a snack ($50 for four drinks and a sweet potato fries…tuna is very rare here) and then flew to O’Hare, the armpit of America. Well, unless you consider LaGuardia. I hate O’Hare though.

Finally we got on our last flight. I was so tired I felt nauseous, and I tried to sleep on the flight but it was very bright and cold and uncomfortable, and they kept making announcements. Honestly, Delta, don’t make noise on an 11 pm flight! Do like Southwest and dim the lights and SHUT UP. And if you are delaying people for 4- 5 hours I think that drink tickets are in order, but I don’t run an airline. I’m a decent human being.

We got a cab home.

And there you have it. 8 blog posts. 9 days. Italy with my boyfriend’s family. It was a once in a lifetime trip and I’m so grateful and lucky!

People ask, what was my favorite thing? It’s hard to say. I love traveling internationally. I love seeing places that are unlike where I live. I love the history of Europe—I think my favorite thing is seeing how stuff is built on top of other stuff. I loved seeing Orvieto, though I grew up in a small town and I imagine that small town Italy is much like small town anywhere, but with more pasta. I loved the energy of Rome. I loved wandering around. I loved the cheese and pasta and cheap wine. I didn’t love all the people trying to sell stuff on the streets, or how the men are aggressively flirtatious, or all the throngs of people. I loved the espresso and the pastries…

Traveling just makes me want to travel more. The older I’ve gotten the more I appreciate beautiful landscapes, architecture, good local food, and just soaking up the experience of being somewhere else. I take it for granted a bit less than I did in the past, and I can’t wait to get out into the world again! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my trip blog posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them 🙂