Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The "When in Rome" Weekend

After an action packed 48 hours in the eternal city, I can now officially say that Rome is somewhere not to be missed. Seriously, DON'T MISS IT. Upon arriving at 8pm in the airport, we hopped on a bus to the city center where our hostel was located. Also, when in Rome you walk into your hostel room to two Korean kids in whitey-tighties playing cards on the bed. When in Rome your Brazilian friend Thiago also convinces them to come out with you to the club that night.

Remi, Tenzin, and I met up with Thiago and Oliver from Stanford in Madrid, and Ali and Raechel from Stanford in Florence. It was definitely a solid group to spend the weekend with - a big shout out to all you guys for making the weekend one I will never forget. Friday night we all went to a supermarket and bought wine, beer, etc., found a sidewalk cafe where we hung out and then later went out dancing until late in the night. Thank god for the two American girls with us because one major social difference with European girls is that you cannot get them to dance with you. Apparently, in Europe dancing with a guy usually means you are also going to go home with them later that night, so you can imagine our excitement that we had two American girls there for the nightlife. (Side note: I still can't figure this one out because the level of PDA in Europe is absurd: make-out sessions, hands down peoples pants, basically anything goes in public yet girls will not dance with you in the club. Strange place this Europe is.)

Saturday: A lot of people decided to sleep in from an exausting night out, but when in Rome and you only have 48 hours, you have to make the most of your time. Remi and I got up at 9 and went to the Coliseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. It's incredible to be standing in a 2000+ year old building where gladiators used to fight to the death. It's just as incredible to walk through the ruins of the Roman Forum where markets, commerce, and trade used to take place. And while the Coliseum was incredible (everything in Rome is), it was actually one of my least favorite things I saw. After the tour, we had an incredible lunch - the best bruschetta possible and the best gnocchi I've yet to have. Phenomenal food, just a shame that the best meal we had was also the 1st meal of the weekend. Later that night, after it finally stopped raining as it did all day Saturday, we went to the Vatican for sunset (see picture below) for one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. Vatican City (St. Peter's Square) was by far my favorite spot in Rome for the weekend - whether religious or not, it's incredible to stand in the modern day heart of Christianity which dictates so much of our way of life and culture.

Saturday continued: Saturday night we all went out to the Spanish Steps pub crawl, where we (thought we) were celebrating Tenzin's 21st birthday. At the first bar, you could drink all the wine and beer you wanted for the first hour. Next followed 2 other bars in the city where you were given shots upon entering, wrapping up the tour with entry into a club to end the night. The bars were a ton of fun and I think we all had way too much to drink. The club was pretty fun, fairly strange though. They had 4 or 5 platforms for dancers to preform, 1 preformer who was an older guy who came out every few minutes in different costumes such as Popeye, Elton John, and then made an appearance as Hitler. I know...strange. Nevertheless, we all had a phenomenal time and Tenzin had a great 1st 21st birthday night.

Sunday: Woke up and went back to the Vatican. We split half and half - I went with Raechel and Oliver to the Vatican museum and saw the Sistine Chapel while others went to Vatican City to hear the Pope speak. The Vatican Museum is incredible - there's honestly entirely too much artwork to even be able to process it all. Upon leaving the museum, other sites I saw in Rome were St. Peter's Basilica, some castle, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and other random ruins, rivers, and roads. By the way, as one could naturally assume, the gelato in Rome should not be missed. It is very cheap and very delicious. Hilarious moment Sunday: after thinking for the past month that Sunday was his 21st birthday, Tenzin finally looks at a calendar and realizes that his birthday is actually on Monday. Worked out well though cuz we went to a sweet Tapas bar last night to celebrate once more.

Overall, Rome was an epic weekend that I'll remember for the rest of my life. A big thanks to our whole group who really made the trip, and my boy Thiago - always good to see you bud; get ready for Paris. Also, I'll be posting links to pictures from Rome and Berlin, so hopefully I will be able to make it fairly accessible so you all can access them.

When in Rome...

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