Anyway, we took the overnight train on the way up the coast. (Seen above, the train on the boat. Yup, they separate the cars and load them on the ferry between Messina and the mainland....pretty cool.) A good idea in theory, a theory that excluded my being a sensitive and picky sleeper. So I didn't get very much sleep. And I don't particularly like travelling in the dark. I like to see everything. Maybe I'm a control freak.
So by the time we arrived we were exhausted. After dropping off our luggage at our B&B (cleanest accomodations I've ever inhabited... highly recommend it), we headed to the Brazilian embassy so my friend could do her business. We ended up being there for 4 hours. Chalk it up to the combination of Italians and Brazilians running things. She said it first. As I waited I even nodded off for a few minutes here and there despite somewhat sketchy company. By that time I didn't care.
The rest of the day was pretty much a bust as we were so tired. The next day we headed to the American embassy so I could drop off my paperwork. Night and day, the difference between the two embassies. I had an appointment so was let in promptly at 10 o'clock by the guard... not a minute sooner... and though I had to run around the building because of bad directions for a few minutes I finally got to speak face to face with an immigration officer who went through my paperwork, paper by paper. All in all, I think this made the whole trip worthwhile.
The rest of the day we tried to pack in as many sights as possible. What can I say? We saw a lot of the sights everyone has seen on TV and in books. Meh. Sure it's a city loaded with history but I can't say that I really felt the vibe. Just not my type of place I guess. So now I can say I saw these places in person. Yay me. Also, I'm allergic to Rome. I've never suffered so badly from itchy throat, nose, eyes and sneezing as I did those three days. I haven't even had an inkling of allergies in the past couple of years. I don't know what it was, but I was in agony the entire time.
Not that I discourage anyone from going. I'm sure a lot of people could get a lot out of being there. Maybe it's cause I live in Italy. Maybe if I came straight from North America having never lived abroad, I might be more amazed. But Paris amazed me, so there goes that theory. Amazed me but didn't surprise me. Neither did Rome. So far I haven't been surprised by any place. Except for maybe Sicily..... surprise! it's a second-world country!
That night we got together with a woman who studied piano at my university. She and her husband were very cool and our time with them was definitely a highlight. He is an Italian concert pianist and had some great stories about playing various gigs across Europe.
The next day we visited the Vatican. This time we took the train, a very crowded train. We didn't go in to the museum, but we did go in to St. Peter's Basilica and caught the beginning of a mass. That was pretty cool. I've always been interested in Catholic masses, being a non-Catholic. Growing up Protestant I always felt that my church lacked history and the sense of solemnity I enjoyed at mass.
I don't know if it's Rome in particular or the fact that I was with a woman and not my husband, but waiters and other random men were quite flirtatious. There was a waiter on the last night with whom I spoke French that was very interested in giving us his phone number and showing us Rome "le soir." Being very tired and skeptical of his intentions, we executed a "mission impossible" type return to our hotel in order to avoid further insisting.
Speaking of tired.... I'm still very tired. My body hasn't decided if I'm still suffering from allergies or I caught a bonified cold. So I am going to bed now. J gets home this week. I'm an excited flower.