Happy Sunday! In case you didn’t get the chance to think about today’s date yet, it’s 5/10/20. And if you wanted to figure out the next number in the sequence, it’d be 40! Okay, enough math; I know, I know — it’s Sunday! If you didn’t get a chance to read yesterday’s post - “it’s the vatican, not the vatican’t” - you can do so by clicking here. It was all about my experience exploring the Twilight-and-Harry-Potter-condemning Vatican City (and aside from my teenage-girl-inner-rebellion, it was beautiful).
But today’s post is one for the places and people I saw after I took the morning tour of the Vatican. One of my favorite things about living abroad and getting to do all the traveling I did was, of course, the new people I got to meet on my travels, but even more importantly, the friends I got to reunite with in a country foreign to us. So far I’ve only really written about a couple of the wonderful friends who came to visit me while I lived in Ireland (and there were even more I can’t wait to write about in the future), but today I get to write about friends I got to meet up with while traveling!
After my tour of the Vatican, I wandered around the city streets for awhile, trying to find the appropriate metro to take me where I needed to go. There had been construction going on for a few metro stations, so the one that I needed was actually momentarily closed. As I was accustomed to walking everywhere in Dublin anyway and running the long distances for marathon-training, I didn’t mind getting in the extra steps. I pulled out my paper map (yes, because I am a dinosaur… and because I wanted to save my phone battery. I had unlimited data for $20 a month on my European sim card. That's it. $20 a month for a phone. What are we even doing in the US? Seriously.) and got ready for adventure. As I started looking at the map, I called out to a friendly looking woman to confirm my location. As it turned out, she was actually an Irishwoman also on a short holiday. We bonded very quickly and excitedly when I told her I lived in Dublin! She stopped and we chatted for a few minutes before we both laughed because we both had no idea where we were. She pulled up the area on her phone and recalibrated us to our location, helping me get my sense of direction for my map, and then headed on her own way! If that woman ever reads this, I hope she knows how excited I was to meet her and to share that moment of Dubliner excitement with her!
I ended up walking another two miles to the next open metro stop, but it didn’t bother me one bit. As I was walking, there was another beautiful ancient Roman ruin in what felt like every few feet. It was definitely one of those holy-sh*t-I-need-to-pinch-myself moments as the self-awareness of absolute gratitude hit. I was truly savoring the moments of the walk to the metro, taking in all the sights, sounds, and beautiful weather around me. I made it to the metro stop, hopped on, and looked around at the other passengers as I rode. It reminded me of the times I’d ridden the subway in Manhattan, the L in Chicago, the Luas in Dublin, the trains in Moscow, and even the metro in Los Angeles. Sure, people may have different genetic features and styles of clothing, but if you strip all that away, you still see what’s there underneath all the societal expectations: single people, tourists, couples, and families coexisting together, minding their business, going about their days, and doing the best they can. In the current global climate where all of us are missing the things we got so used to in our daily routines and possibly even took for granted, I am definitely missing those most basic, mundane experiences that are actually quite beautiful when you stop and think about them.
When I reached my metro stop, I hopped off, took the stairs to the surface and noticed a beautiful open field the length of multiple city blocks. I vowed to look at it later, turned left, and headed into a restaurant called Rosso where I ate delicious spaghetti carbonara and had lunch with my friend Bob and his wife Rosie while it down-poured rain! We chatted and caught up on our lives, had delicious food, and traded travel tips and experiences. After lunch the sun luckily came back out and weather cleared up, and we all walked to see the Bocca della Verità where we then all stuck our hands inside the mouth to see whether or not the Mouth of Truth would bite off our hands; luckily, none of us were liars, so we all still have our hands! After we were proven to be truth-tellers, we wandered around the Santa Maria in Cosmedin Catholic Church, taking in the artwork and decorations in front of us.
It was so great to see Bob and Rosie in Rome, especially after having spent so much time solo-traveling through Rome and Venice beforehand. I was able to offer them some tips on where to eat in Venice, and we agreed to hit up Harry Potter World in Florida one day, which is something I will definitely want to do once it is allowed. After we said our goodbyes after a few really great hours together, I walked a couple miles to find the Trevi Fountain, which was so much larger than I had ever imagined.
I threw three coins into the Trevi Fountain because as the legend has it, one coin means you will return to Rome, two coins means you will return and fall in love, and three coins mean you will return, fall in love, and get married. Being in Rome and tossing the coins into the Trevi Fountain was something I’d only ever heard of or seen in movies, and now I was getting to do it. Regardless of whether or not legend rings true for my life, those coins are collected and donated to Caritas Roma, which helps support the poor and homeless communities of Rome. Even if I don’t return to Rome one day (which seems unlikely), I’ve already fallen in love with the city not only based on the amazing experiences I had there, but also due to its charitable acts.
After such a long, amazing day touring the Vatican, catching up with friends, and exploring more of the city, I decided to head back to my AirBnB and make dinner there so I could get a good night’s sleep! I have to say, I purchased maybe 3 euros worth of pasta and sauce from the local market near my AirBnB, and for about $4 I had the most delicious homemade pasta I think I’ve ever had. I’m sure I overcooked it because I’m Irish-American, but I still dream of that pasta sometimes and how easy and delicious it was to prepare.
Well, this post ended up being longer than I’d originally planned, but that’s what Sundays to do me! Especially when I get to write about catching up with old friends in new places. Have you had that experience - the kind where you get to experience a new place with someone who’s been a part of your life for a long time but in a different country and context? It wasn’t the only time it happened while I lived in Europe, and I can’t wait to write about the other times it happened, too! If you’ve had it happen, I’d love to know - subscribe in the e-mail submission box below, follow me on Instagram or Twitter, or reach out to me on the “contact” page. I’m so happy you're here and that I’ve been getting a lot of really great, fun-to-read stories, questions, and feedback from a community all over the globe. The stories I’ve gotten to read recently bring me such smiles, and I am so grateful for it! Especially during this time of uncertainty and pandemic, it's important to surround yourself with good; we're all in this together. I couldn’t do this without you! So THANK YOU!
P.S. - If you want to catch up from the beginning on this series of adventures, here's a cheat sheet to the posts (in order in which they were published):
1. Won't you join me?
2. grateful for starbucks and sandymount strand
3. Once Upon a December in the National Gallery
4. plant a smooch for that gift of gab
5. may the 4th be with you: Dingle style
6. cinco de mayo: the best Mexican food in Dublin
7. pizza in roma
8. mussolini’s window and the philosophers’ metro stop
9. father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife
10. it's the vatican, not the vatican't