I went to Italy with my friend Brianna Griffith, she was originally my very first greenie on the mission and we went on a cruise together in February 2011 and while on that cruise we talked about going back to Italy. Then in May 2011 she came up to Utah for a friend’s wedding and we decided that we really were going back! It’s thanks to her that we actually bought our tickets and planned the entire trip.
Brianna lives in California now, but the best priced tickets for both of us were to leave out of Salt Lake International, so she flew up to Salt Lake the night before. I picked her up and we went and stayed at my Aunt and Uncle Taylor’s house. They were so nice to let us have a nice, comfy bed in the basement and get up early enough to take us to the airport before they had to be at work.
I had a bunch of pre-trip butterflies in my stomach and try as I might, could NOT get to sleep. Or stay asleep once I fell asleep… not to mention the hours that Brianna and I stayed up reminiscing about our time together on the mission.
We wondered, would we be able to understand rapid-fire Italian again? Would we be able to speak rapid-fire Italian again? We talked about the foods we missed and the ones we wanted to try to find, we remembered people we wanted to visit and other crazy stories from the mission.
Finally the morning arrived and we headed out to the airport, successfully remembering everything and understanding just how useful our backpacks were going to be on this trip.
After a fairly uneventful flight to Boston we then had to traverse the Boston airport (without luggage, thankfully) and get to a completely different side of the airport in one hour. The TSA guards told us the craziness of the terminals is due to Boston being such an old airport. Whatever it is, I didn’t love it, but we made it out and back through security and to our gate with just enough time for Brianna to get some Euro and get on our AliItalia plane headed to Rome!
The meal on the way over was decent, I tried hard to sleep so I could pretend that I had a night before we arrived in Rome.
We arrived in Rome at 7 a.m. Roman time and got to experience our first try at speaking Italian when we got a shuttle to take us into the city. Except when we spoke to them in Italian, they would answer us in English. Either our accents have gotten really bad, our Italian was worse than we thought or they just use English because it’s easier and they are used to using it at “touristy” places.
After being dropped off at the train station in Rome we hooked our backpacks on, bought a map and figured out where in the world our hostel was. We lucked out because it was just right down the street from the train station.
We were not sure what to expect from a hostel, so we were pleasantly surprised to find our room large, clean and the beds fairly comfortable. We shared a room in Rome with four other traveling girls, we didn’t really even talk to them, one was from Portugal in Rome visiting a friend, two were from France and we didn’t even see them except asleep in their bed (that sounds creepy) and one girl was from Australia, didn’t speak Italian and was just traveling through Italy alone. I was really impressed- she must have been so brave.
After dropping off our zainoni (huge backpacks) we grabbed our map and headed out to see the Vatican museums, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. We were told to go there first because there was a riot going on at the Colosseum and they had closed it down to tourists. We were more than happy to avoid riots, so we went with the rest of the tourists to visit a different country, the Vatican.
I remember feeling very weird to be getting on a bus, in Italy, with my “companion” in jeans to go see a tourist site and not feel like I had to shout the gospel out at the top of my voice. We drove by the Colosseum on our way to the Vatican… it’s so surreal how it is just an every day thing to see ancient places that are recognized world-wide on something as normal as a city bus.
Stay tuned for my next post about our trip inside the Vatican!