Friday, October 12, 2007

European Adventure - Day 15

Day Fifteen, the last and final day of European Adventure. It's finally arrived. Where had all those adventures gone? Our possibilities were very limited as we had a very tight schedule to keep. Tension was heightened due to our drastic looming deadline. We had it so well planned out.

The Wake Up call came at 3:30am. Jeff 'the human alarm clock' Thompson was already up primping himself. He ordered The Call so early cause he thought that WE would need the extra time to wake up. Ryan was desperate for sleep, calling for more time to snooze, I slept in my clothes with my pack on, just because Jeff was saying that we will have trouble getting up in the morning, I did it just to spite him. I had a point to prove by being 1st person out the door.

There were a bunch of people up at the train station to catch the bus to the obscure airport outside of Rome (they were all weirdo's and hippies). It was a 30-40 minute ride bus ride. I was mad at myself for being awake the whole time. Ryan 'the womanizer' Plewe ran into some of his old girlfriends from earlier on the trip in line at the airport. We spent our last few Euro's on snacks at the local kiosk there. We flew on 'RyanAir', the cheap airlines of Europe. On the plane they sold everything: food, drink, lotto tickets, gifts, toys, magazines, and plenty of alcohol (probably even the life vests or oxygen masks too, in case you need them). I even think hey wanted us to Rent blankets and pillows. The lady on the plane next to me won some trip. After we landed she gave me some sweets. There were ad's all over the inside of the plane too, much like a bus (thats probably why the ticket was so cheap). Our plane had problems taking off as well. I remember being ready to take off, then having to go back to the dock, then landing. That's about it. I was asleep the entire ride. Upon landing I noticed that my ears were completely clogged. I could barley hear anything for the next few hours. Thats what being
sick on a plane does to you I guess.

We had a few hours in London to kill after busing into the city for an hour. It was crazy cause everyone was driving on the wrong side of the road! I tried to correct the driver, but he would hear none of it. We made it a point to stop by the Kings Cross train station and visit Platform 'Nine and Three quarters'. It was actually the only thing we did in London (besides Ryan trying communicate with the locals. King's Cross Station was fun cause they had a trolley permanently stuck half in the wall. Dobby the House-Elf must have cursed the wall to close on some poor student.

We stopped by a grocery store for lunch. I was to sick even to eat.

To Heathrow: Ryan was street contacting mostly with people who were super-weird or who didn't speak English. That kid really loves talking to people I tell you. It was like he had to reach a quota every day of 'attempts to talk to people'. When at the airport we had to check our bags due to their weight. I guess I bought more than I thought. It was kind of nice not to have to carry my bag, but I was worried the whole time about what the people on the airlines would take from it.

I tried to get some warm food and hot chocolate while at the airport. I was waiting in line for a while when I heard an announcement "Final boarding call for Los Angeles". My heart may have skipped a beat. I didn't know what time it was so I got real nervous. There was no other choice than to leave my food behind, and Sprint to my GAte, Gate 18. My eyes got real calm as I realized that this is what I had been training for all those months of running late into the night, and climbing all those stairs. I started to sprint toward my gate, as if my life depended on it.
I took a wrong turn due to bad signage. During my split second U-turn, I splashed Hot-Cocoa all over my hand and scalded my angry hand. So hot to drink yet, I had to cut the rest of my losses and ditch it cause it might have slowed me down. Seconds later I was whizzing by a trash can, and was so angry/nervous at that point I just threw my scalding full cup toward the trash can opening and closed my eyes, and didn't care if it made it or not, I had a plane to catch. I was pissed about waisting food and money though, but that thought was dwarfed by another immediate goal of mine (airplane). After sprinting back the 2 gates, then the original 18
gates, I finally come up to a short line of people checking in. I ask the gay guy checking tickets if I had time to go back and fetch my food, but he just laughed and exclaimed "NO". I think I would have had time if I had waited, but it wasn't worth the risk. I'll just be angry at 'Indian run Italian Cafe's in London' for a while. The flight home was one of the most uncomfortable things ever. I couldn't sleep as well as I had hoped. But I did watch Oceans 13 four times. The food on the plane was actually pretty good too.

After we landed and got off the plane, the only thing holding me back from dropping and kissing the beautiful American soil was painfully tired feet and a blister, and fear of security watching my every movement. After we passed through customs Ryan started singing 'America the beautiful'. It was funny for about 3 seconds, but then he wouldn't stop, I did my best to limp faster than him to get away from his voice, but due to my tired, cramped, blistered feet it didn't work as well as I would have hoped. It was almost just as painful to listen to his singing as it was to walk. The guy at customs wanted to have a big long conversation with me, and I really had
to go Pee bad. For a second I thought he was going to ask for my phone number! Courtney picked us up and drove us around for our victory lap as the crowds of people welcomed us home triumphantly. What a glorious trip.

*Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Oh, and sorry Ryan and Jeff, but this was my version of our trip (they are bound to have a few concerns with the way I described a few of the stories I told). In all honesty we all had a splendid time and got along great. I couldn't imagine going with two funner people than Ryan and Jeff, and I'm glad they gave me the chance to go with them.* Happy Travels.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

European Adventrue - Day 14

Not that you all would care, but deep down it really feels good to tell you that I got another chance to sleep in, so refreshing, so relaxing. Now, thats what I call getting up on the right side of the bed.

Because of the late hour, Jeff almost missed Breakfast cause it was taking him so long to 'primp' himself up for the day. We never would have heard the end of that if he didn't get his breakfast! While I was eating, the crazy old server lady brought me some sort of dirt flavored coffee rather than my usual Hot Chocolate. She must be in league with the local Gypsies. To punish her (and the rest of the breakfast crew) I ate twice as much, leaving less food for all the others, making them work harder and also look bad, and they'd have to clean that many more dishes. Ha! I showed them.

As we were checking out they told us we'd get a special 'rick steves discount' if we paid in cash. We were all for that discount, but seeing that it was the end of our trip, we were budgeting to run out of cash on the last day, which was this day, this very evening. We made a quick trip over to the local neighborhood ATM machine. It seems like the transaction would be easy, but NOPE. It didn't want to take my atm card, so I had to run over to another place and use my credit card. We finally got out of the hotel around noon. Poor waisted morning.

This day was a free-day for us. We'd already done all the big important things that we'd planned out, so today we were looking for new adventurous things. But first in preparation for leaving the country, we went to find a cheaper place closer to the train station. As we did that I noticed people making-out all over the place. Not as bad as Paris, but still pretty bad. After we arranged to go to our obscure airport in the early morning, we hopped back into tourist mode.

First on the agenda was One more picture of the Colosseum for Ryan. He really just wanted one more for some reason. I guess the three other times we stopped by there, he just didn't get the exact angle he wanted. It worked out cause it was the first in a line of nearby sites to stop by. We also stopped by the Circus-Maximus ruins, and the Mouth of Truth, and stuff like that.

One place we ended up after a little game of 'getting to know the buses' was Castle Angelo. Its the Place where the Pope will take refuge if the Vatican is ever attacked, and where the old popes are buried. The only cool thing about this place were the views from the top. This was to be the last Euro-Adventure-Climb that we would make. We had hiked to the top of so many places.

We went back to the Pantheon for a late lunch. At this point in our trip we were all worn out, but were dedicated to finishing with honor. We all were going so slow. after lunch we passed a bunch of stores that reminded us to get more souvenirs for others. This took forever. Ryan wanted more ties, then Jeff wanted shoes, and Jim wanted more chocolate; then Ryan wanted a suit, then Jeff wanted another pair of shoes, and on and on and on. I was so bored with watching them think about getting stuff, or trying crap on. It became physically painful by the end. I thought that Ryan was worse than a girl with shopping (don't get me wrong, its OK if girls do that, but this was Ryan!) Ryan would go through each tie on the rack, just like Jeff would go through each croissant in a bakery.

Hours later we switched our bags to our new hotel. We soon noticed why the new place was so cheap. Not the greatest place one could find, thats for sure. We wandered around a little more, but we knew it was time to say our last good byes. We had dinner at a McDonald's. On the walk back to our place, it was like walking through TJ at night, Scary. I left McD's earlier than the others. Everyone there was smoking, and it was killing me (literally) and Ryan was enthralled with checking out 13 year old girls, Jeff didn't trust him alone so remained with him, so I just left and met the others back at the flat, followed by a short night's sleep....

Daily Update

Work is draining the life out of me. I was switched from working with correcting someone else's constant errors, to fixing old errors, and working under the pressure of a deadline. As soon as someone tells me that there's a deadline I start getting nervous.

Last night after working late, I ended up seeing a movie and eating ice cream:) I got home late and had to chat with Josh for a while about Stuff.

Work is busy.

I'm listening to someone try to explain something to me right now.

Lunch was sponsored by Jamba Juice.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Daily Update

Peter has been driving me up the wall at work. He keeps un-fixing stuff that I fixed months ago, so now I have to go back and re-fix it all, AND hold his hand throughout the whole process so he doesn't do it again. I've really been trying not to be rude to him about it too.

Last night I went running. It was even a different venue. Kristen took me up to the Yangtze region of China it seemed like. I had chosen all the previous places to run, but this time she was in charge, and wow was it different. We immediately start off by going over what seemed like mountain ranges, and back down through valleys. I did my best to keep up with her but she was racing through all the different regions like a mythical pink and yellow colored Phoenix Bird. I was like the mere Bengal Tiger, as I would race through the forested regions briskly while dodging many of the locals and other annoying native animals. I did my best to keep up with her and luckily she would wait for me at certain points, otherwise I would have gotten lost in this treacherous Chinese region. KA warned me about being attacked when we started, so I was on the lookout as we ran through populated areas of the land. As we would go down hills, I would remain at the same pace, but Kristen would quickly disappear into the distance as she floated down using the wind to carry her. I didn't have wings, so I had to claw my way through people and forests.

We had one of our last flag football practices last night. It went well for the most part. My body was tattered and bruised from the adventurous trek I had just endured, so I wasn't that effective. I was already tired by the time we started, and my sweat ridden sweatshirt kept the air around me cooler than it should have been. I must say that our girls are definitely better than theirs.

Later I stopped by Greenfield to talk with Josh, He wasn't there yet, so I just interrupting Maggie's fashion show, and Emily's Musical reenactment of 'Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat'. Then when Josh AND Jeff show up, I realized it was going to be a late night.

I'm listening to my co-workers talk non-stop, either to each other, or to themselves depending who they are.

Lunch was sponsored by Marvin's Diner.

European Adventure - Day 13

Catherine left at crack of dawn, I think. But we didn't notice cause we all got up pretty late.

We went to the Colosseum today for starters. It was almost noon when we got there, so we weren't in the best position Line-wise, so when I heard about a 'tour' going on, I strongly urged the others to participate, and they did so begrudgingly, but it saved us at least an hour in line.

From there we followed another tour around the Palatine Hill, its where the emperors private estate was. The tour was led by some architecture student in Rome, so yes, we bonded. After a very informative tour, and a long wait in the heat of the day, we also walked through the Forum. I had seen it all before so I wasn't as interested, but there were a lot of building chunks laying randomly on the ground.

Our hunger took us to a nearby restaurant, which was the very same place that Eric recommended to me right before we left America. It was OK, but Good for I-talian food. We all got pizza's. I got something normal, and the other two got a creation with cheese, zucchini blossoms, and tuna on it. Not my most favorite pizza in the world, Papa John's still has my heart there. We topped lunch off with a king sized Gelato of exotic flavors. I then forced the guys to go with me to the Piazza del Campidoglio, which was designed by Michaelangelo. I really wanted to go into the museum there, and did so as the others rested outside in the piazza and enjoyed the entertainment of a wedding party wandering nearby. The museum didn't have all that I
was expecting so I made it a short trip.

We then wandered for a while and ended up at the Piazza Navona. It is a large plaza that takes the shape of an old Roman Circus. It was filled with street performers and artists work and cafe's galore. I loved this place. I shopped for watercolor paintings for at least an hour before the others told me that it was time to go find food. I reluctantly went with. We found the local favorite. It wasn't to bad. It helped us recover from a mediocre lunch. After words we wandered some more, but I went back to Piazza Navona to get more art for Brothers Wife. (How awkward would it be if I forgot to get something for them?!) So while the others rested some more, I fluttered around this plaza comparing and analyzing art. I could have stayed for a
while but the shops were closing and the others pretty much forced me to leave. So then we went Tie shopping. I had to stalk up on my I-talian tie collection after all.

Each time we would wander around we would pass the Pantheon. It was another awesome building. From the outside its not much, but you get close and realize how massive it is, then go inside and then you will be utterly amazed. It was a touristy place so there were Africans selling purses, and sunglasses. What made this place memorable was some annoying blond American high-school chick who went up to each salesman and informed them that she would spend 5 Euro on a purse, then ask them which one she could have for that price. They all just ignored her, which made her mad. This happened at least three times, once at each purse vendor. By the end she was forced to march over to her friends with no purse and tell them all that they
were cheap rip-off's anyway. I enjoyed this scene.

Every few days instead of washing clothes, I'd just throw them away. I did double up on t-shirts, and I did have 1 pair of shorts and 1 pants the whole time, but underwear and socks were destroyed after a single use. This made it easier to travel in a back pack, and it continually made room for the good that I had purchased.

I hope you all understand what I mean when I create my own words or phrases, and that When I write I-talian, you are supposed to read it like "EYE-tal-Yen", just like I say it:)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Daily Update

Last night we had a BBQ for FHE. It was nice, as I took pleasure in socializing with many friends of mine. The activities were winding down a little early for my taste, so a few of us took the after party up to Diddy Reese.

I have a 'No more than once a Day' policy for Diddy Reese, so I opted for some ice cream instead. We also ran into a bunch of other kids up there too. Within one of our conversations Ryan brings up to me that 'Somebody' asked him about something I wrote on my blog. It was the 'Sink as a Urinal' story from Switzerland. Well, he made the mistake of bringing it up, cause one other person saw us laughing, and wanted to know the details of our laughter. So between me, Jeff, and some of Ryan, we told the story for the whole crowd. Followed by a few others. It was hilarious.

A bit later I remembered that Allana had to go, and since I was her ride, I figured that I'd round up my group and exit the scene. It turns out that Laural was in mid conversation with Jeff, so my actions were conceived as questionable; so she asked in a funny manner if she "was boring?" So I, in a funny manner, respond "ya, don't be the last to know" type response. Well, turns out I don't think I know her well enough to speak 'unfiltered' like that yet, or at a level 6 on the funny-o-meter. She got a little nervous, so I had to back track a bit. I tried to remind everyone that I was making a 'funny' attempt. I need to have my filters re-checked.

I'm listening to Gossip-radio right now. I have to keep up on whats happening with Britney and Lindsey.

Lunch was sponsored by In N Out.

European Adventure - Day 12

The typical breakfast consisted of Crossaunts, toast and jam, fruit cocktail, cornflakes, yogurt, Milk, or Hot chocolate as options It was usually enough to keep us going well into the 'lunch o'clock' hour.

After breakfasting ourselves, we went to a kiosk in the train station to buy a Rome Pass which let us ride the subway and buses, as well as gave us hefty discounts to all sites and visitable museums.

Our first stop was the Vatican. We wanted to be there by 9, but got there around 9:30 (thanks 'extra long breakfasters') and the line was already at least 1-2 hours long. As we exited the metro I noticed the already long line, so Ryan and I made a dash for the presumed last current place in line. Jeff got upset cause it wasn't the correct way to the entrance. As Ryan and I ran out of sight I yelled "then go that way, then we'll see you at the back of the line". I think they went his way, cause it was 20 minutes or so before they showed up at our spot in line. Oh ya, and the museum opens at 10 am, 30 minutes from now.

It wasn't long before some I-talian character in a safari vest approached us and asked if we wanted to join his tour group, thus skipping the whole 'line' thing. Now, cause Jeremy and Eric did this mere weeks before and loved it, and recommended the same to my comrades to do the same. Jeff didn't seem to want to, but after Safari-Dude took us from the 90 min wait mark to the 10 min wait mark, I was thrilled and it only cost us 25 Euro. And Get this... Our tour guides name was Luigi, and his buddies name was Pepe. We felt it necessary to call out his name every 2 minutes to ask some random question and yes we said his name with the thickest fake I-talian accent what we could muster.

The tour was alright, I wandered around and only listened to him half the time due to his thick accent. He ended his tour as we went into the Sistine Chapel. Lots of people there and Every single one of them (us) was taking pictures! despite the signs they had every where, as well as 6 guards posted around the room, also telling everyone to be quiet every two minutes. After a while we left to go back to the museum artifacts area. Well I thought we did anyway. Jeff and I were walking for a while before I realized that were down two people. Ry-guy, and Cat. We waited in place for 2 min before I volunteered to go search for them It took the whole 10 minute walk before I found them all the way back at the very place where I thought we had decided it was time to leave, in the Sistine Chapel. At first I was confused at their lack of following us, and when I listened to what they were talking about I was down right mad. They were trying to discuss what Catholics believe and why. The same irrational topic we've already discussed 10 times this trip. How, ... why would you spend Jim's valuable time talking about something you really know nothing about, and you've already beaten the topic dead in my opinion, proving that you know nothing about their beliefs and are unqualified to talk about! But no, they were lost in conversation.

I eventually pressured them into leaving and we got some pizza in the cafeteria. One thing is for sure, the food in the cafeteria of the Church Office Building is much better. We found our way over to St. Peters Basilica. Its the largest building I've ever been in thats for sure. Tons of dramatic sculptures, Mosaics, dead saints, and stuff like that. We even looked at the tomb of where the apostle Peter was supposed to be buried. The whole building is absolutely massive, and impressive. While wandering around we ran into the group of 'French Canadians' who were on the tour with us. The guy looked exactly like Henry Winkler (The Fonz - from Happy Days). It was interesting talking with them. Throughout our conversation they would recommend places to eat or drink, and we told 'Henry' that we don't go for wine, or coffee, or his favorite espresso. So he exclaimed " what, are you Mormon?" So we were like, "up, actually yes, we are." So then we(he) talked religion, throwing his points of view in as fact here and there. Luckily they had to go, cause I was really done with listening to him ramble on and on with Ryan about what Catholics believed. Oh Ya, Henry Winkler's daughter wanted me. She kept asking me questions about California, and if I needed a new roommate. I had to let her down, cause I'm not really into 'half French, half Canadian, half Italian girls'.

We then went up to the Dome. Of course we had to pay more for it, which was again annoying, and even more annoying was only after I hiked up all those stairs is when I found out that I payed more than everyone else! I payed twice as much as they did. I somehow felt like I was funding terrorism, and didn't know if I had the guts to confront the demons who have stolen from me. Ryan said that he had my back, if needed, but I wasn't sure what kind of which craft they had at their disposal, so I just let them have my 3 extra Euro's. I was belligerently pissed and maybe said some things I shouldn't have. It was the old Jim though. At that time I was at the height of my Euro-sickness so it only made sense to blow my nose everywhere possible (I'm referring to a 'farmer blow', or a 'snot rocket') So while on the roof of St Peters I cleared my nostrils out as much as necessary for my breath-ability, and revenge for over payment.

Baths of Diocletian, then Caracalla: On our way to these Bath Ruins, Ryan ran into some other Americans. He was trilled as could be. He practically invited them to move in with us on the spot. They were coincidentally going to the same spot that we were, so Ryan bid them come with. Now Jeff and I knew that we didn't want to hold hands with these three new additions to our group, so we, leading the way, briskly walked toward there we thought the Ruins were. As we got to the gate, the time must have been 5:59 and 30 seconds, cause the second that Jeff and I walk through the gate, the angry I-talian Mobster Gate man slams the gate closed pretty hard. He must have remembered that we kicked their asses in the war, cause he was that angry. Jeff and I got our tickets, and then the others show up Only to be warded off by the angry Mussolini-like Gatekeeper. Jeff and I yell while walking away "Don't worry, we'll take some good pictures for you." As I secretly grinned reaping the rewards of a decent walking pace with the admittance to this extraordinary site. We do the quick tour, lasting only 5 minutes, I snapping pictures on the run practically.

Hunger was setting in so our next move was to find food. R.S. had somewhere in mind, so we found a quaint little place to enjoy our food with Ryan's three new boyfriends. Don't worry Mom, I was nice to them even though they were 'different' than me. The food was good, Better than 'Mama Esmeralda' from last night. After Dinner I went home to put shoes on. My feet were angry with me. By night, they were charbroiled black on bottoms and sides.

Ryan didn't want to say good night to his new friends so early, so we all wandered down to the Colosseum to take pictures and eat Gelato. As I was staring into the darkened Colosseum some strange Gypsy lady floated towards me. I jumped a foot as she startled me. I immediately covered my pockets and ran away. Ryan actually had my back and was watching the situation from 30 yards back. As I ran away, he laughed at my fright. But this lady only moved with the shadows, and didn't seem to have any feet, she just floated around like one of the Dementors like on Harry Potter.

Ryan kept barging in on me in the shower again. Silly Ryan. He just can't stay away.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Daily Update

This was a busy weekend. My brother Joe was in town, like I had mentioned earlier. We hung out. On Friday evening we went to Chris N' Pitts. It was just as good as it ever has been, except this time we sat in front, in a booth, and the server wasn't as on the ball as the people who serve in the back. Man was it good!

On Saturday morning Joe and I drove out to Grandma's house. For the drive we stocked up on breakfast food from Marvin's Diner and Stan's Donuts. It was awesome! The eating festival that any Boy scout would love. Joe wanted to test out my favorite eating places, and I think they passed. Grandma is doing OK. We went to lunch with her and our aunt and uncle. They are always 'interesting'.

Saturday night we went to a Football game. Man did it not go well. USC lost in case you haven't heard. I had to shake my head a few times, but they didn't do that well. While leaving it was funny how dramatic people were acting about the loss. Come on people, its not the end of the world!

On Sunday morning I made breakfast at my place during Conference with some friends. It was scrumptious. I love pancakes, eggs, and potatoes. I listened, but I was lazy the entire day, and I felt good about it. Then some of us went to Jeff's place for dinner. It was yummy. Then we watched Napoleon Dynamite. Jeff was laughing hysterically the entire time. And I was laughing at Jeff Laughing the entire time.

Did I tell you all about my work-buddy Peter last week? He deleted a bunch of important stuff, so I was called in to fix it. So when I get to work this morning I'm immediately asked where the 'back up' files are. 'Someone or something' deleted a good amount of work under Peter's care. This is stuff that I had done months ago, so It was pretty annoying to me, that and I had to spend 3 hours fixing all the stuff that mysteriously disappeared.

I'm to tired to listen to anything right now.

Lunch was sponsored by The Corner Bakery.

European Adventure - Day 11

We woke up pretty late today, big surprise, I know. It was around 11am and check-out was by 12. Ryan felt it was his day's mission to go for a swim, so Jeff and I just hiked around so I could get a few last postcard-picture. As we went back to the small beach area to pick Ryan up, we found him strutting his 'stuff' amongst all the bikini-babes (they were out in force!) As we waited I had to try out my 'magnetic Jeff' experiment. Every time I would move more than 5 feet, Jeff would wander over next to me. Then I zig-zag back to where I was, and sure enough, he's right there. This went on for a good 20 minutes while we were waiting for Plewe to finish radiating his 'MOJO' to the locals.

On the train transfers from Vernazza to Rome we almost lost Ryan. We were waiting in a small city named La Spezia at the train station when he went to a kiosk to get info about a phone card that he bought two days ago. But one of the 10 people in the country who didn't speak English was working there at the time. Luckily, standing right next to him in line was one of the sassiest model-esque looking Italian girls who happened to speak English and was nice AND helpful. So she stepped in to mediate Ryan's technical telephone questions. After she started speaking he lost track of his question and started to drool. Even after the exchange, Ryan just stood their staring at where she once stood. I had to shake him to get his attention, then even talk him out of trying to propose to her. Sure she was beautiful, but come on Ryan. The temperature is considerably warmer than it has been in the other countries.

It was a big relief to finally arrive in Rome. The train ride was crappy. We had reserved seats, but mistakenly in a smoking section, so we found other seats; but with lots of stops we had to move around for all the other people a lot. We eventually all found seats scattered throughout the train. As we got off the train a bunch of weirdo's would dodge Jeff and his roller suitcase, just to offer Plewe and myself , with our backpacks, places at Hostels. It was kind of funny, cause Jeff didn't understand why they didn't want to talk to him.

As we made the journey to find our hotel it got quite interesting. Jeff had thoroughly studied his 'Rick Steves Bible' and (again) thought he knew exactly how to get there, so when I asked where it was, or how to get there, Jeff just assured me its around the next corner, then the next, then that one, oh- wait, we're lost all of a sudden (all while the book lay snuggly in the bottom of his back). Luckily I had a map and correctly redirected us.

I was grumpy for some reason at this point, as we walked. As they led the way, it was at half speed for some reason, unless I was in front leading the charge. originally when we got to Rome, I was going to let/ make them lead the way. But every 20 minutes that plan failed, as I simply can NOT walk that slow.

So we found the hotel and I was the first up the stairs to check in. As I start to do that I see this cute little Red-Head pop her head around the corner, with a bright red face. It was Catherine Cook. She came up to us and meekly said "um, before you check in, can I talk to you guys?" I immediately think the worst. The other two are led around the corner from whence she came for a short discussion. I stood in place still fearing the possible story she was telling the others. I slowly staggered over and it turned out to be nothing. She was kicked out of her hostel, so she had no where else to go, so she changed our reservation from 3 to 4 people. It was no big deal, cause we had already invited her to stay with us. So we had a slumber party.

So after we all settled down and settled into our room, we went to find some place to eat. Jeff and Cat had obviously consorted about this before because R.S. told everyone in his books to eat at only the places he tells you about, so Jeff and Cat follow his orders like mice. I was simply annoyed that they were following R.S.'s suggestions like mindless sheep. But it was their deal so they were to lead the way. I simply hung out 10 yards back, with Ryan, but I couldn't find it in my heart to put my map away, so I'd still bark out corrections from the back seat. When we got their, there was an hour wait to eat outside, so I informed everyone that we would be eating inside that night. So they immediately sat us down. It was an OK place. No menu cause they only serve 1 thing per night. I don't even remember what our 5 course was were. Typical weird Italian stuff: mozzarella & tomatoes, Lintel beans, weird thin raw meat strips, Gnocchi, and carbonated water. Small portions, no special taste, and it cost us 23 Euro per person! Only one employee spoke English too. One chick laughed at Jeff as he tried to ask a question, and the little old gypsy lady running the joint tried to steal 20 Euro from Jeff! How dare she! That little gypsy thief. We, as well as a lot of others had to wait 20-30 min for our bill after asking for it twice. I was pissed, while the others thought it was all OK> Well, I'm not OK with being crapped on. As we walked away I was threatening to write nasty letters to R.S., the Italian government, and the chamber of commerce. It was honestly the worst food I had over the whole trip. Worst experience overall too.

I had to quickly wash down my anger with gelato. Not only was I mad at R.S., the crazy thieving gypsy lady, and the poor quality of food, I was also mad at the others for liking it so much. (honestly Jeff was going for quantity, rather than quality, and he would have liked anything, as long as it wasn't the place from last night.

After the trek to find that place, we were already in the middle of no where, so it was another journey to get anywhere else. At this point Cat had already been in Rome for 2-3 days, so we kind of had to work around HER schedule (what she'd already seen). But this night it worked out to go to the Trevi Fountain.

Its a super cool, extra large Baroque style fountain that takes up most of a public plaza. there were also a lot of people there apparently its a big thing to throw/waste money in this fountain over your shoulder. I strongly objected to performing such an act, so I didn't not participate, even after the others tried to give me money to throw.

Next we went to the Spanish steps. It too had lots of people there. Mostly just loitering locals. One nice thing there was that the fountain at the base of the steps was very drinkable. All the fountains were like that actually. Very nice. As we were hiking to the top I over heard some German kid scream out in pain, It looked like he broke his leg. After 10 minutes of hanging out at the top of the steps we noticed the ambulance drove up to confirm my story/translation.

From there we set out to go home. It was a good distance but there were lots of churches and other cool buildings to see along the way. We got home pretty late.

One thing that I really noticed at this hotel was how much Ryan liked walking in on me when I was in the shower. Sure I shower in the evening, and for a long time, but no matter when it was, he found the chance to barge in on me. I think he was trying to 'sneak a peek' at the goods, if you know what I mean. Italy must change people cause this happened in every city in Italy.