Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Old School - I got a toilet seat

Back in the day before blogs existed, I sent out mass e-mails to friends and family with all my doings when I was living abroad.  I saw some of these in my e-mail account and thought I'd share some every once in a while.  If I edit anything, I will bold that.  The following is an e-mail from March 2005, when I was working in Rome.

That may seem like an unusual title, but its true, I
just got a toilet seat. If you've ever been to
Europe, you know its fairly common to not have a
toilet seat on public restrooms. it is however
unusual to not have one in private homes. For the
first few weeks I lived in my apartment, we didn't
have a toilet seat but now we got one.

On other apartment situations, I believe my roommates
hate me. This is mainly due to the fact that i had my
three loud dirty friends stay here about 4 days after
I moved in. I specifically asked my landlord if I
could have people visit and he said yes, but the day
he was installing my toilet seat, he told me that my
roomates were complaining. Since we made it through
those few days, everything should be okay now. the
rest of my guests should not be nearly as loud as my
fraternity brothers.

My last letter was quick and that is because I was in
a hurry as we were leaving that day to go to the
Almafi coast. If you've never heard of the Almafi
coast it is the famous two lane highway (that is a
generous description) between Sorrento and Salerno,
south of Naples. We rented a car from a place near
Villa borghese, about 20 minutes by public transit
from my apartment. Just Lukin and I went to pick up
the car. It then took us 45 minutes to drive back. 
The streets of Rome are crazy, very difficult to drive
and very difficult to navigate. We picked the others
up and there were five of us in the car. Lukin was
driving, i was navigating and Aaron, Kyle and Julie
were in the back seat. (Julie is a Danish girl we met
on Sat night. Lukin asked her if she wanted to come,
she said yes, and surprisingly did come with us.) We
drove a Renault Scenic, which cost us about 35 Euro
each, including the extra insurance.

We loaded the car with our stuf and a case of peroni
(cheap, but delicious Italian beer) and tried to get
out of Rome. There is a big loop around the city that
connects you to the Autostrada. Since I had no idea
of how to get out of the city, we just tried to drive
in a straight line until we hit the loop. It took us
a little while, but we made it there and had a fairly
uneventful drive to Sorrento. The only problem was
the Autostrada just stopped and we had to get off, but
this led us to Sorrento without problem.

When we got into Sorrento, i had looked up a few names
of hostels and addresses, but we really had no way of
finding it. We had no map and no street name is valid
for more than 10 blocks. As we were driving around,
we drove right past the hostel, stopped and got beds. 
We stayed up for a little while, but basically went to
bed as we didn't get there until 1130.

The next day we got up around 9 and left the hostel by
1030. We headed for the coast road, but the traffic
was horrendus. There turned out to be an accident in
front of us. Once we passed the accident, the only
problem was the narrow roads. This presented a huge
problem as we found ourselves between hitting an
oncoming car or a parked car. Lukin chose the parked
car and broke our side mirror. Oops, good thing we
got the extra insurance.

The Almafi coast was absolutely beautiful and was
absolutely terrifying. The roads were so narrow and
so curvy. I wasn't driving, but just riding in the
car was scary. I have never felt car sick before, but
I did here. We stopped in Positano, home of the
famous Lemoncello. then we drove to Minori, where we
sat on a decripit old pier. We eventually made our
way to Salerno, the end of the coast road and our stop
for the night. 

In Salerno, we found a place to park our car and went
in search of our hostel..We miracuosly found the
hostel in just a few minutes, without using the
directions. We then went to the beach. The beach was
disgusting and dirty, but there was a nice little
boardwalk, where we sat and drank and people watched. 
After a few hours there, we went to eat dinner. We
all had some type of seafood pasta and it was
delicious. All the fresh seafood and stuff - yummy.

After dinner we went back to the beach and just talked
and watched people. Kyle and Aaron were a little
drunk (read alot drunk) so they went back around 930. 
Julie, Lukin and I stayed out late until about 12. 

The next morning we left Salerno anddrove back to
Rome. We returned the car without a problem (except i
think I gave myself an ulcer from Aaron's driving). 
We took a little nap and the guys went out exploring
Rome for the last time. We met up at the Spanish
steps and then went to dinnner. After dinner, we went
to my firend Joe's house where they were having a
little party. When we left there, we decided to walk
back home.

As we were headed up the great road of the
reconcilliation (built by Mussolini as a great
entrance to the Vatican) it was approaching midnight. 
Literally, as we stepped into St. Peter's square, the
bells of the Church began to ring in the new day and
my birthday. the others sang me happy birthday in
front of the great church. it was a very surreal

The next day we all got up early, the guys to catch
their flight and me to go to work. I gave a tour on
my birthday and right after it was over my parents
called me. After the tour, i went out to lunch with
one of the other guides. That evening, I decided not
to go out (mostly as all my friends either were
working, hungover, or left the country that day). 
Instead I went to a movie. I saw Hitch, which was
okay, but nothing spectacular. Then I went home. Not
the best birthday ever, but fairly enjoyable.

Yesterday, i gave another tour and then went shopping
at the bookstore. I bought two books - An Italian in
America and Deception Point by Dan Brown. Then I
spent most of the evening at home relaxing and went to
BellaRoma for dinner. bellaroma is the other hostel
owned by the same people as sandys and Ottaviano.

Today the Vatican was closed for St. Joseph's day. 
Sincwe I couldn't give a tour, i went to the Colloseum
to follow one of our other tours. I followed that
twice (I get to follow it again tomorrow). I decided
to walk a little way back rather than take the metro,
which gave me a little entertainemnt.

If you didn't know, today is the second anniversary of
the Iraq war, so there were major demonstartions
across Europe. Here in Rome was no exception. I ran
into the rally and followed to Piazza venezia, past
Largo Argentina, towards Piazza navona. All the
traffic throughout centro Storico was shut down. 
There were no cars anywhere. it was really
interesting to watch the whole thing.

I'm against the war (I have been from the beginning),
but I am not against the United States. Watching these
people lump all Americans with the warhawks in DC
really annoys me. Pollitcal discussions aside,
watching a massive demonstartion and march is
amazingly interesting.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and I am planning on going to
see the papal blessing and Shelley comes tomorrow.


Me, Aaron, Lukin, and Kyle on the Almalfi Coast (2005)

Drinking beer along the sea in Salerno (2005)

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