Monday, October 7, 2013

Italy 2013: ROME II

Does anyone remember the episode where Michael Scott talks about the one time he went hunting and killed an animal and you learn from this story that he is painfully good at drawing things out? Well that's kind of how I feel about finishing our Italy photos. I mean its been almost 1.5 months since we were there, and today I'm just now posting the final batch of photos. But ya know what? Sometimes things just take a while. 
So here we are, our final day in Italy! 
 Our main trip for the day was the Vatican and St. Peters.
 One of Joey's highlights was The School of Athens. He couldn't believe it was bam! Just right there.
And the Sistine Chapel was again, so gorgeous. Luckily it was less crowded so we had more time and space to really take it in.
 We sent postcards from the Vatican to our parents, plus one to our own home so we have a postcard from the Vatican to go with our other keepsakes.
 Next, a short walk to St. Peters.
And I'm happy to say that tourists there that day were much more well behaved that the last time I was there.
Since we had a full day of traveling the next day, we decided to have a low key afternoon so we could pack and rest up for our trip back home.
We stopped by this cute place the day before after stumbling upon the macaron boutique, and we knew this was where our last official meal in Rome had to be. And it did not disappoint! Unfortunately up until this time, the food in Rome had been quite underwhelming, so it felt good to finally find a great meal.
 We also got to try zucchini blossoms and pink peppercorns with our dishes--always fun to try new things!
 We loved our lunch so much, we got two of their sandwiches to go to have for dinner in our hotel later that night.
After lunch we took some time to walk around and explore, which included going by the Spanish Steps again, grabbing some tiramisu gelato (not as great as the one in Florence, but still yummy), and unsuccessfully looking for a few more gifts for friends and family. Oh, and being harassed by one of those creepy flower selling guys who persistently shoved roses (only my most hated flower) in front of me and followed us around despite being told we weren't interested, and then swearing at me when, fed up with him following me, I told him to go away. So that was fun. He must've felt really good about himself.
After returning to our cute hotel room for the night we got to packing---which is definitely very nerve racking when you have oh, almost $100 worth of outstanding olive oil in glass bottles that you'd rather not have break in your luggage. But I'm happy to say every single olive oil bottle and candy bar was intact when we arrived in South Carolina! 
After packing we snuggled up in bed with episodes of 30 Rock on my iPhone, our sandwiches from Ginger, and a few more macarons before we made our best attempt at getting some rest for our trip home.
Oh dear, our trip home. Things started out ok enough. We allowed plenty of time to get to the metro, then metro to the train station, and train station to the airport. And while checkin was a little haphazard at the airport, we made it through security and whatnot with little issue. We had some spare time before our flight boarded so we decided to hit up the duty free store with our last few euros and grab more olive oil and candy for our friends that watched Marley and Remy. And then things got ugly. As we start boarding, I get pulled to the side to have my bag searched. And that's cool, except for when the woman started throwing things out of my well organized bag only to shove them back in--nevermind that several of the items were fragile. Then I go to grab my bag, and all of a sudden she's running her hands down my body and pushing my arms up in the air to search me. Umm, I have no problem complying with searches, but you have to ask first before you just cop a feel. So I was pretty salty about that. Then, our plane gets delayed because they didn't plan for enough fuel. So we wait over an hour, which I wouldn't normally have a problem with, except the window for our connection in Chicago was short and I already knew customs would take forever. 

Fast forward nine hours, and an hour or so before we're supposed to land, some jerk of a flight attendant loudly swears at passengers, so of course everyone gets grumpy about that, understandably. When we finally land, we were somewhat relieved to see that they gave those passengers with short connections a little orange pass to bypass the lines for customs, which is great, except for when TSA agents don't do their job and actually enforce them. One agent told us that we could only get ahead if other passengers were willing to let us go in front of them. So what's the point of the orange bypass-the-lines ticket?! Here's the thing, dummy agent: even if their flight isn't for another three hours, no one is going to let someone else go in front of them. So we just sat in line, while our plane got ready to leave the terminal in 30 minutes. Oh and did I mention we were at O'Hare? Not like that's a big airport or anything. Miraculously, and despite even more hiccups and unreasonable policies, we somehow managed to make it to our flight, and even got a chance to use the bathroom which, given the circumstances, was asking a lot. Hmmm....perhaps I'm still a little bitter about that whole experience....

We eventually made it to Charlotte NC and our first goal was to find a Five Guys and eat a big, fat, juicy, American burger. And somehow, that made things a little bit better. 

After a restless night at a hotel, we set out for Charleston and getting back to the life we had essentially been gone from for three months. We picked up our Remy and Marley and did some grocery shopping so that mustard and soy sauce were no longer the only items in our fridge. 

Despite my little rant about our flight home, our trip really was amazing. It was so fun to explore Italy with Joey and share that experience together. We learned new things about other cultures, and actually found more that we appreciate about our own. I've always been adamant about the need for Americans to get out of their bubble and see other cultures and ways of life beyond our own, but I gotta hand it to America, its really got some good things going---as hard as that may be to believe during this whole shutdown nonsense...but I digress. 

We're happy to be back home. We're happy to have gone to Italy. We're happy to have travelled all summer. We're happy to be together. And despite all of the junk life brings, we're just happy. 

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