The Italian Job: Selfie Sticks, Hustlers and Ancient Edifices

...Good Evening

It's very awkward stepping off a plane into a foreign country and attempting to ask for directions. It's assumed that the blonde lady at the small help desk knows English, we're not the first English travelers but it's a "different" situation to be in nonetheless. Praise the lord she ended the eight second awkward silence with an American greeting. I felt right at home.

I feel hostels receive a bad reputation especially from my father, he never forgets to bring up that awful Eli Roth horror film. However, to be fair I've had absolutely zero experience with them. Never stayed in one and never seen one in the U.S. as far as I know. With that being said, I certainly lucked out on this trip. 20€ a night secured me a clean bed, private bath and a supermarket within spitting distance. Oh, and two showers a day. What more could I have asked for?

Remember that's just Ciampino. A small neighboring urban area two train stops from the center of Rome. What was waiting 15 minutes away? Well, I told you. Selfie sticks, hustlers and ancient edifices. 

Actually what was waiting 15 minutes away was a relatively run down McDonald's. In all honesty I'd have to say this McDonald's adjacent to the train station in Rome was the worst I've ever stepped foot in. Perhaps because of the warm welcoming I received. I attempted to fit in immediately by ordering my breakfast in Italian. I simply read the text under the #1, nothing special. Eggs, bacon and an english muffin. Success!  

The food tasted and looked just how you're imagining. Extremely salty, soggy bacon and not nearly as pretty as the picture depicts on the menu. Whatever, it's McDonald's, I wasn't expecting anything else. As you can imagine, I didn't finish my entire English muffin for reasons that don't need to be touched upon. I had planned on giving the garbage another morning snack. However, a random Italian, Gypsy or whatever they're claim to fame was had a different idea. A thin woman strolls up to my table looking as if she's about to execute the greatest heist in history of Italy. For all I know, she did. She reached down, snagged the unwanted half of the English muffin and skipped off.  Well... that was unusual. Welcome to Rome!

What fuels the economy of Rome? It's a perplexing question and you'll never guess the answer. Not olive oil or pizza. Not even gelato or exceptional wine. Selfie sticks! You can find one of those suckers on any and every street corner. Who would have known such a simple, relatively stupid tool would fuel the expenses of so many Italian street vendors (I hate selfies; I've taken one and failed miserably). They have Miley Cyrus to thank for their pocket change.

Tourists and heavily armed soldiers fill the streets of Rome. It's a lot like Washington, our own capital. It's nearly impossible to snap a great shot of one of Rome's hailed wonders without a fellow tourist unintentionally photo-bombing you. You're not going to succeed in taking a picture of a marbled Abe Lincoln being the sole focus of the photo. Same applies for any of the several Roman edifices. Tourists are everywhere and I now have an immense appreciation for anyone who can get a pic without any unwanted distractions. They deserve a pat on the back. Way to go man!

With that being said, the city is beautiful, spectacular, breathtaking, marvelous... You get the point. 

I don't consider myself to be overly religious by any means and I wouldn't necessarily side with any religion. I'm a believer but I could never wrap my head around the different religious concepts. With that being said, I still appreciate religion as a whole, especially in the Vatican City. I was lucky enough this weekend to take part in prayer in the Sistine Chapel under the mural's of Michelangelo. How many can say they've done that? I'm not entirely sure what we we're all praying for as the worship was in Latin, but I understand each of us had our own invocations. Secondly, I took part in a Latin mass in St. Peter's Basilica. Again, I can absolutely appreciate the monumental circumstance I was apart of: a religious ceremony in perhaps the religious capital of the world. Those two events may not have been on my bucket list prior to Friday but they very well should have been. 

Saturday brought more tourism and a tale I'm not proud to tell truthfully, yet I will. Beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky. It couldn't have been nicer and I couldn't have felt better. A brisk walk to the Colosseum helps relieve any stress or worries that may have accumulated over the weeks. Who or what could possibly turn this smile into a salty grin of hatred and disappointment. A fake Roman centurion will definitely do the trick. So here I am with my two travelling partners 50 feet from the Colosseum when we're approached by two jackasses (not literally donkeys of course) dressed as ancient Roman soldiers. Our heads we're not on straight as an antique world wonder was smiling back at us. Yes, we were suckered into to thinking these two fellows were genuine and offered to take a FREE picture with us. 10 euro the drain and into those bastard's wallets. In all honesty that's not what I was pissed about. 

That damned swindler put his bulky Roman helmet on my head! But Jared, it's such for a quick shitty picture. I don't care, he ruined my hair that morning! As embarrassing as it is to admit, I try to look relatively presentable each and every day and when some random moron ruins a good hair day, I feel I have the right to be salty. I'm the one that sounds like the moron but I promised I would tell it like it is. To my own discomfort, that's the way it was. I was upset the man affected my appearance in a negative way. End of story.

Before I wrap up I must mention I did eat pizza and gelato. Both were very good and I'm happy I splurged a bit. When in Rome! I'm hoping my many pictures paint a better picture of the weekend and the scenery I came across. As always, thanks for reading and I apologize these posts are becoming a bit sporadic all of a sudden.