Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Back in the Saddle

Soo...I haven't written in a long time, and no one will probably read this, but I'm blogging anyway! I just went back and re-read my last post and it was about our last day in Costa Rica, so I'll pick up right where I left off!

Will and I came back from Costa Rica to some very exciting news, Will was being sent to Rome, Italy on a work trip, and Lockheed said I could go as well!  Rome has always been my #1 place I wanted to travel, not only because of the beauty of the city, but because of all of the Catholic history that can be found there!  Since Will would be there for work, the room was paid for, and he was on a very generous per diem for food each day, so other than my flight and our spending money, we got away with a trip to Rome for an amazing price.  Since the trip was last minute ( 2 weeks notice), Will and his co-workers flew to Rome first class.  By the time I could book a flight, a first class flight for me was a bit out of our price comfort zone, although looking back now, it might have been worth it!

I really almost couldn't believe my "luck", I got married, honeymooned in Costa Rica, and went to Rome in a matter of 5 weeks.  I went from having no stamps in my passport to have two, on two different continents!

Boarding the flight to New York was very nerve racking for me.  Even though I have flown by myself countless numbers of times, I've never flown internationally on my own.  I was nervous about going through customs in a country that I never visited and didn't speak the language.  Luckily, I found some very nice Americans that clearly knew what they were doing and followed their lead!

On both flights (DFW to New York and New York to Rome), I was assigned a middle seat, but again luckily, on both flights there were aisle seats that were available in the exit rows.  More room and aisle seats...yes please!!  Even with the extra room, I wasn't able to sleep on the trans-Atlantic flight, which made me even more anxious.  I knew when I left the airport, I would have to get in a cab and get to my hotel, all on my own, since Will would be at work.  He couldn't take off work, because work was the whole reason he was in Rome in the first place.

After I made it through customs, at about 7 am Roman time, I went outside to try to find a taxi.  Like most airports, taxis are not hard to find, but making sure I got in a legit taxi, with someone who spoke enough English to get me to my hotel was a different story.  I'm sure I looked like a lost tourist, since a man (who spoke very good English) came up to me, tried to take my bag and put me in a private taxi.  Will and I researched before I left the States and I knew that the "official" Roman taxis have the city crest on the side, and had a flat fee from the airport to any hotel in Rome.  When I asked about the flat fee, the man told me that was not what he was offering and walked away.  I found a cab with the crest on the side and felt a little better...that is until he started driving.  Let's just say I spent a lot of time looking down at my phone so I wouldn't freak out that we were about to crash!  Like many other drivers overseas, Roman drivers were a little "less cautious" than I would be.  The driver didn't appear to speak much English, so it was a pretty quiet ride, but thankfully he brought me to the right hotel!  I was able to check in without any issues and went up to my room to take a short nap.

I knew that I needed sleep, but I also knew that if I slept too long, I wouldn't sleep that night, which would make jet lag set in very quickly.  I set my alarm and let myself sleep for 2 hours, then got up, showered, and pulled out my map of Rome and book of sights.  I hate walking around with maps out (makes people look too touristy), so I tried to plan out my sights while still in the room.  I wrote the directions on small pieces of paper that I could take out much easier than a huge map.

Since I was on my own and was still tired, I stayed pretty close to our hotel on that first day.  We were a few blocks away from the Spanish Steps, so I spent a lot of time there, wandering in and out of shops and exploring that area.  I ate my first bowl of Roman gelato (which would be a daily treat for me while I was there) and tried to act like I didn't just get off a plane.  I was pretty proud of myself for not getting TOO lost.  I was able to find our hotel fairly easily.

I went back to our hotel to rest for a bit, and wait for Will to come home.  I don't think I had ever been so happy to see him as I was that night (ok, maybe on our wedding day), but I was so relieved to see a familiar person after being scared and on my own for 36 hours.  Will had been in Rome for a few days already, so he felt a little more comfortable navigating the streets.  While they had rental cars, no one really felt comfortable driving, especially in the city limits, where there are a lot of one-way streets, some streets are restricted, and most signs are in Italian.  We walked around, found the metro station (which I would use often) and had a traditional Italian dinner.  We both fell asleep early that night, since I was still tired and he was exhausted after working all day.

Stay tuned for more posts and pictures from Rome!!!

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