after two solid weeks of moving about through four different countries and attempting to navigate four different languages (only one of which i spoke more than three sentences of), i somehow find myself back in rome. this is the first time that i've spent more than three nights in any one place in over two weeks and truth be told, i'm only really beating my previous record by a night anyway. i had intended to spend two of these last nights in the famously beautiful cinque terre but i couldn't muster the energy (or justify the spending) to do so.
i guess i should backtrack a bit and at least give you a cursory review of my travels so far.
the day after my program ended, my best friend lydia and i took a train to florence. upon getting there, we found that it really wasn't that different from rome and by that point both of us were thoroughly museum-ed out so sad to say, we ran out of things to do rather early. i'm sure if either of us were more industrious travellers or if either of us were the sort of travellers who are awed by sightseeing we could've easily filled up our short weekend. however, us being us we didn't and so we switched out our train tickets so that we could spend a few extra hours back in rome with my beloved roommates before heading off to athens. i know it seems strange, switching up travel plans for just a measly couple hours with relatively new friends but that's just a testament to how incredible my friends are. though it meant lugging my ridiculously heavy backpack through nearly unbearable heat twice in that one short day, it was well worth it as far as i'm concerned. a few stolen hours, the procrastination of time apart, all for the price of an only slightly sweatier shirt that had already been soaked through anyhow. a bargain in my book.
after rome, we were off to athens to meet my other best friend, eunice. we arrived late in the night and only realized on our busride to our hostel that we didn't even know how to say 'hello' in greek, much less anything else. our kind hostel concierge gave us an abbreviated lesson in the language so that when we left to mykonos the next day, we knew how to say a proper 'thank you' for his kindness ('efharisto!'). the ferry ride to mykonos was long and really felt more like a turbulent flight than a boat trip. the payoff for our rocky travel was the sight of the beautiful island where the three of us spent our birthdays, my birthday was on july 20th and both lydia and eunice were born on the 21st. we spent a day at the beach and though i had braced myself for the topless women, i was not prepared for the trunk-less men. i was going to say the 'bottomless' men but as i found out first hand, they weren't lacking in bottoms or, umm... yeah. let's just skip on to san torini, shall we?
san torini was also quite gorgeous and unexpectedly sparce by our account. we were told that it was twice the population of mykonos but failed to take into account how easily mykonos is outdone (to give you an idea, there are only 31 taxi cabs on the entire island). the big event was our obligatory donkey ride down the poo-smattered steps. it was quite rocky, incredibly stinky, and i just about broke my hand from the death grip i kept on the saddle's metal handle. sadly none of us got to have a romantic sisterhood of the travelling pants encounter with any dashing greek men but c'est la vie i guess? but i'm getting ahead of myself. athens, london, THEN paris.
the three of us went back to athens where we made the arduous trek up the mountail to behold the famous acropolis. sadly, i think my month-long roman saturation of ruins may have tainted my experience and the slieu of sweaty tourists certainly didn't help either. the real athens highlight for me was the custom made greek sandals i got from the famous poet sandal maker on agias theklas. this little shop is world renown for it's simple designs that have been sought after by celebrity and royals alike. with the utmost care and attention, they measure the sandal to your feet, nail in the straps where they fit best, and all for the bargain price of 27 euro. the pair i got was named after john lennon, who some forty years ago got the design that became his namesake and had his feet fitted by the poet sandal maker himself, the father of the man who fitted mine.
in athens, eunice and i parted ways with lydia and headed off to london. of all the cities in my month of travelling, london was the city that i felt the most immediate affinty towards. perhaps it was the seattle-like gloomy weather, maybe it was the quaint boutiques and shops, or MAYBE it was the influx of delightfully gangly, nearly irredescent, deliciously nerdy english boys and their adorable accents. who knows? whatever it was, i felt at home.
after london, i left eunice to meet up with one of my roma roommates in paris! we did a whirlwind tour of the city in three days and hardly got to see everything there was to see. we got a good glimpse of monet, said 'waddup' to the mona lisa, and climbed up the ennumerable steps to the semi-top of the eiffel tower. we did a few other things (including but not limited to a devastating encounter with a maggot who we found AFTER we had finished two.thirds of our salad) but mostly it was just quality time spent together topped off by a tearfilled goodbye.
and now, finally, i'm back in rome. it's much lonelier here without all my program peeps to keep me company. i really think i fell in love with the group during our month together as they showed up in my dreams almost every night since i left them. it's only in the past few nights that they haven't been greeting me in my sleep and in a weird way, it only makes me miss them more. still, it's nice to be in a city i'm familiar with, free of a set agenda of things to do and see.
that's all i have the energy and time for i'm afraid. i've already kept a hostel mate waiting far too long for the computer. i'll try to muster up some more substantive reflections upon my arrival back at home in (and i can hardly believe this) just three more days.
i love you all. i miss you all. i'll see you so soon.