Monday, March 18, 2013

Jen's European Adventure: Being Held Prisoner in Paris, Learning What It Would Be Like to Be On the Surface of the Sun, and Enough Gelato to Feed a Small Country

We're finally on day 10 folks.  Woohoo!

The next morning we wake up at 5:00 in the morning so we can leave by 6:00, so we can get to our flight on time.  We shower, get dressed, and take down our campsite.  Not a single other person in the campsite is stirring, it's dead quiet... and Ben decides to use in electric razor which sounded more like a leaf blower than a razor.  We made him sit in the car while he did it.  Anyway, we get in our car and drive away... well, at least we try to.  When we get to the campsite's gate, it's closed.  And locked.

No one is around, and we have no idea what to do.  I remember them giving us a brochure when we first got here, so we pull it out, and it says that they lock the gate at midnight, and it doesn't open until 7:00.  What?

So now we're locked in our campsite for an hour with absolutely no way out.  We saw a security guard, and Ben thinks it's a good idea to go talk to him.  If you know me, you know that I am not one to push things.  I'm very passive.  The gate is locked?  Fine.  Even though we have a plane to catch, I'd much rather sit it out and hurry our butts off at 7, then try talking someone into opening the gate for us.  Especially since it was our fault.  We didn't read the stupid brochure.

Always read the stupid brochure!

But Ben comes up with the genius idea that it's harder to say no to 2 people.  Um, no.  It's not.  Especially for the French.  And he says that I should come with him because I'm a girl.  Um, again, no.  But I go anyway (I also have a hard time saying no) and we can't find the security guard anywhere.  He's disappeared. (Thank heavens.)  We sit out by the gate where we saw the security guard, and he isn't around, and I'm freezing and tired, so I tell Ben I'm going to the car, and he can deal with the security guard.

So I go to the car, snuggle up in the back seat, and fall asleep.  I wake up to Ben and Josh telling me, "Jen!  Wake up!  The security guard doesn't speak English, only Spanish.  You have to go talk to him."

Okay, let me get one thing straight.  Yes, I've taken 3 years of Spanish.  No, that does NOT mean I speak Spanish.  I can listen to someone speak Spanish and pick up on a few things.  I can read Spanish and get the gist of it.  But in no way am I qualified to have a conversation with a stranger (especially a black, French, security guard stranger) in Spanish.

I'm groggy, and confused, and yet, I'm walking toward this big tall security guard having no idea what to say.  He starts speaking, and I swear he was not speaking Spanish.  It was not like any Spanish I have ever heard.  So I'm just staring at him with this blank look on my face, and he looks at me and says, "Habla Español?"

And I say, "Si, un poco."

So he starts talking to me again, this time a little slower, and I actually pick up on a few things he's saying.  Basically, he tells me that the gate opens at 7, and it doesn't depend on him when the gate opens, it's the manager that can open it.  He tells me that we'll still make our plane on time, and that there's a chance the gate could open a little early, so we don't need to worry.

I thank him, and pass on the news to the boys.  So we sit there for 20-30 more minutes, while the security guard just sits there next to the gate.  It gets to 6:45/6:50, and we start watching to see if anyone is going to come out and open the gate early.  No one does.  At 7:00, the security guard gets up, unlocks the gate, and opens it.

Um, excuse me?  I thought you couldn't open the gate, sir, and that it didn't depend on you.  You liar.

So we drive off while the security guard smiles and waves, and we're all cursing at him under our breath.  We race to the airport, returned our rental car, and then we go into the terminal only to find that we're at the wrong one.  So we race across the airport dragging our suitcases, and get to the correct terminal.  We weigh our suitcases, expecting to be just fine, since we were okay coming to Paris.  But we weigh our checked-in suitcase, and it was exactly the weight (it was .2 kilos under for our first flight, remember), and we weigh our carry-ons only to find that Ben's is exactly the weight, and Josh and mine are over.

So now we're running late for our flight, and we've got too much weight in our suitcases, and nowhere to put it.

So Josh threw out his flip flops and, sadly, his Tesco value shirt that we came to love so much, and I said goodbye to my towel.

We threw them in the rubbish bin, and got in the security line, and it was the saddest thing to see our stuff just sitting there in the garbage.  But then Josh asked how I would feel if that was Nadavocha (my elephant pillow pet which I love like it was a real pet) and I realized there could be worse things.

Now, some of you might be asking why we didn't just layer some clothes so we didn't have to throw anything away, but we were in a hurry, and it's not like we brought big coats and jackets.  We would have had to layer a lot of clothes, and just didn't have the time.

Anyway, back to the story.  So we get to our flight, and thankfully, we're on time.

Somehow I got separated from the boys in line, but I stayed where I was, because with Ryan Air you don't have assigned seats, and we wanted to be on there sooner rather than later so we could all sit together and have luggage space.  With Ryan Air, you don't walk down one of those cool hallways that connects the plane to the airport, you walk outside and up the stairs of the plane.  Like movie stars do.  Except that movie stars are walking onto private jets, and we're walking onto what Hell would look like if it turned into a plane.

Anyway, I'm carrying my suitcase up the stairs, when my suitcase, in protest of going on another Ryan Air flight, breaks.  I hear a "pling!" and the handle of my suitcase has come off.  The nice couple behind me kindly hand me the part of my handle that flew off, and now I'm awkwardly lugging my suitcase up the stairs without a handle.

But I made it up, and get a row for Josh, Ben, and I, and we settle in for another 1 1/2 hours of Ryan Air.

We safely make it to Rome (although this time there's not the jingle to welcome us.  Bummer.), and the second we stepped off of the plane, we were sweating.  I don't think I ever stopped sweating until we got back to the UK.

So this is where it gets really exciting.  Before we got to Rome, we could not find anything on transportation.  So we were just flying by the seat of our pants, and hoped that we would be able to find a way to our campsite.

The one good thing Ryan Air did for us was gave us information about buses, so Josh found a bus that would take us to the train station, where we would hopefully find a train to take us to our campsite. We get on the bus, sit in the very back, and there is NO air conditioning, so I literally felt like I was going to die of heat.  It was a long, sweltering hot bus ride.

We finally arrive at Termini, or as I affectionately like to call it, Hell.  We go to a kiosk to buy tickets to where we need to go, and it is the most confusing thing I've ever seen.  There is nowhere that just says, "Hey, you need  to go to this place?  Buy this ticket, your train is this number, leaving at this time."  Instead, it's just a jumbled mess of confusion.

So Josh figures out what tickets to buy, but then we have to find where our train is, and when it's leaving.  After looking around for ages and trying to decipher confusing train schedules, we find out our train is on the other side of the station, leaving in just a few minutes.  And Termini is huge.  So we're running across Termini, dragging our luggage, and we get to our train just to see it pulling away.


So we just sit there, and hope the next train will get here quickly.  Then this crazy lady with gold teeth comes up to us and wants to "help" us find our train.  She looks at our ticket, and points to another train that we apparently need to go on.  Not trusting crazy gold-teethed people, we decide to go ask at the help desk, which is all the way at the other end of the train station.  So it's back to dragging our luggage across the station.  Ben goes up and waits in line to talk to someone who can hopefully help us.  He gets the information that we need, and we find out that we have a little while until our train leaves, and we're all starving, so we eat our first meal in Italy, McDonald's.  (We don't want to break from tradition, do we?)

After eating an Italian meal of hamburgers and fries, we head to our train, which is again, on the other side of the train station.  So we head back, and come to find that the train we are supposed to get on is the one that the crazy lady with the gold teeth told us to get on.  Imagine that.

Ben needed to fill up his water bottle, so we were standing there outside of the train, and I'm not exactly sure what happened, but this guy comes up to us, and made it seem like the train was leaving.  So we yell to Ben to hurry up, because we were NOT going to be missing our train again.  There's another girl with us, and we all hurry onto the train, helping each other with our suitcases.  Then, this Italian kid starts haggling us for money, since he "helped" us get our suitcases on the train.  Really, I think he helped get one of Josh's suitcases up.  All he did was touch mine, but I was the one that put it on there.  We keep telling him we don't have any change, and that we didn't even ask him for help, and then he goes to try to get money out of the other girl, who replies with, "I'm not giving you any money!  He (pointing to Josh) helped me get my suitcase up, you didn't do anything!"  Way to go, girl.  Anyway, our train finally is about to leave, so the kid has to get off of the train, because he doesn't have a ticket.

I don't know if I've ever been so happy leaving a train station before.  I mean, it was the most confusing, stressful, and tiring hours of the trip.  I told Josh I never, ever, ever wanted to go back there.  He told me we had to go back in order to go home.

I just tried not to dwell on it.

We get to our stop, and we still have to get to our campsite.  They have a shuttle, but we had no idea when it was coming, or if we'd even be able to use it, since we weren't checked in to the campsite yet.  So we start walking.  It was SO HOT.  I mean, I was dripping in sweat.  And I don't drip with sweat.

We're walking along the side of the road, trying to not think about how hot and thirsty we are, when Josh makes a comment about his suitcase.  His wheel was completely broken.  It wouldn't turn anymore, so he was literally dragging it.

I don't know what happened, but I lost it.  Having just gone through Termini Hell, walking in this unbelievably hot weather, and feeling completely exhausted and spent, I just started laughing.  (As you can remember, that's what happens when I have breakdowns in other countries.  Not by crying or getting angry, but uncontrollable laughter.)  I couldn't even walk anymore I was laughing so hard.  It was just the cherry on top.  After all of this, Josh's wheel was broken.  Of course.

After I gained control of myself enough to walk, we continued on.  Luckily, it was mostly downhill after a while, but it was a long walk.  Just when I was thinking I was just going to stop where I was and sleep on the side of the road, a shuttle comes around the corner, and stops for us.  We get on, and sit down next to some opened windows, and it was a gift from heaven above.  It was beautiful.

We get to our campsite and find a drinking fountain, and drank as much as our stomachs could hold.  Then Josh checks us in.  I was reading some of the different signs they had up at the check-in, and it said that you can rent towels!  Yahoo, I don't have to use my shirt to dry off!  And then I found out that my bungalow comes with towels for free.  Yes!  That made me not miss my towel that I had to toss in Paris so much. Our campsite is beautiful (I can't believe I didn't get a picture of it.  But really, if you were in my situation, the last thing you'd be thinking about is taking a picture).  But I scrounged the internet, and here are the best pictures I could find:

Seven Hills Village
Look at all of those trees and shade, glorious shade.
This is what our bungalows looked like from the inside.
This is them from the outside.
So we go to our bungalows, and they are literally saunas.  I mean, there was absolutely no relief in them.  I just laid on my bed and felt the sweat dripping down.  So we decide to go find some shade, and rest for a little bit.

There's a grocery store/restaurant near the entrance of the campsite, with a nice patio with chairs, tables, and best of all, shade.  So we just sat back, relaxed, and made use of the free wi-fi.  But here's the problem.  It was Ben's birthday this day.  He had made plans to go into Rome and see some of the sites, but we did not know how long it would take us to finally get to our campsite, how hot it was going to be, or how darn tired we would be.  Honestly, after going through Termini, nothing made me want to get back onto another train and try to find my way around a big city.  I don't think I would have wanted to go even if someone told me Zac Efron was waiting with an engagement ring on the train for me.  I mean, that's how exhausted I was.

So after we sat for a little bit and relaxed, (and apparently after the boys had a bit of an argument... I'm glad I wasn't there for that.), we decided that the best thing to do was wait until the next day to go into Rome, and that for tonight, we would get Ben some birthday gelato.

So we got back on the shuttle, and got off at a place we thought would have gelato.  Everything was closed, so we just wandered around until we found a grocery store.  We figured it wouldn't be the best gelato, but it's better than nothing, so in we went.  We finally found the gelato, as well as some more water bottles, and plastic spoons.

When we left the grocery store, we realized it was too hot to carry the gelato all the way back to the campsite.  It would be a gelato soup.  So we found a rock wall on the side of a busy street, and sat down and started eating.  We sang Ben a (probably pretty pathetic) song of Happy Birthday, and passed the gelato between the three of us until it was all gone.

We made our way back to camp, and we decided to eat at the restaurant at the campsite for Ben's birthday dinner.  Ben got pasta, and Josh and I got pizza and pasta to share.  It was delizioso!  And we sat out on the back patio, and it was a gorgeous view!

After filling ourselves with delicious Italian food, we were ready to call it a night.  I went to the shower room, and remember how I said I took the worst shower of my life in Paris?  Ya, it doesn't even compare to this shower.  I went into the stall, and I was immediately overwhelmed with the smell of toilet.  The walls looked pretty unhygienic, so I had to undress, while making sure to keep my flip flops on my feet, and not touch the walls. I turn on the water, and step from the small "changing" area (which was barely enough room to stand) to the shower stall.  I look at the walls and they're covered in bugs.  Covered.  So I take off one of my flip flops, and spent the first five minutes of my shower hopping on one foot killing bugs on the walls.  And then I had to take my shower really being careful not to touch the walls, because they are now covered in dead bugs.  And then as soon as I dried off and changed back into my clothes I started sweating again, so it felt like my shower didn't even do anything.

So I went back to my bungalow, cracked my window, and called it a night.  We had decided that we would wake up early so we could get to the Vatican before the line got outrageously long.  I woke up early to my alarm, and went to the bathroom to get ready.  There was literally no one else up.  Italians just don't believe in waking up early.  I was a little curious about the boys, because I thought I would have crossed paths with them by now.  After I finished getting ready, I went to the boys' bungalow, and what did I find, but two boys still in their beds, sleeping.

So I wake them up, and go back to my bungalow to read while they get ready.  They claimed they had set both of their alarms, but they didn't go off.  But don't worry, we still left at a decent hour.  So we get on the train and get to Rome without incident.  We went to the Vatican first, and I was worried about this.  I had heard that the line to get into St. Peter's Basilica was always long - at least 2 hours of waiting.  And, as you know, it was HOT in Rome.  And you had to wait in the sun.  And you can't wear shorts when you go to the Vatican, so we were in pants.

But we get there, and there was close to no line.  We basically walked right in.  It was absolutely amazing.  Once again, I'll just show you with some pictures.

The famous Pietà.  It was amazing.

The altar above St. Peter's tomb

The next stop was the Sistine Chapel.  This is one of the top things I think of doing when I think of Rome, but surprisingly enough, I heard from quite a few people that it wasn't worth the wait.  Well, I flew all the way to freaking Rome.  I think I'm going to see the Sistine Chapel.  We walked there, following various tour groups so we wouldn't get lost, and thank heavens, we could go inside!  We started following signs that led to the Sistine Chapel, and yes, there was a line, but it was constantly moving, and you got to walk through the Vatican museum, and see tons of amazing paintings, statues, maps, etc.  So I wasn't bored for a second.  When we finally got to the Sistine Chapel, we walked in, and there's no picture taking, and you're supposed to be quiet, out of respect, and it is PACKED.  There were security men that would every so often yell, "SHHHH!" or "NO PICTURES!"  But it was absolutely amazing.  In my opinion, it was totally worth going to.  Sorry, no pictures to show you on this one.  I'm a rule follower.

Here's another 3-headed shot outside the Vatican.  This is one of my favorites of us.

We left the Vatican Museum, and realized just how freaking hot we were, so it was gelato stop #1.  It was a tough choice deciding what flavors I'd get, but I ended up getting Strawberry and White Chocolate.  We sat outside on the street, at these cute little tables with flowers on them, and enjoyed our cool treat.  And oh my, oh my, it was delicious.

I guess eating gelato made us realize we were hungry for real food, so we went to a pizza place that we found on one of the roads.  It was cool, because you went it in, and they had big rectangle pizzas sitting there, and you chose which one you wanted, and told them about how much you wanted, and they cut it off for you, weighed it, and heated it up for you.  While we were waiting for them to heat it up, we noticed something called Arancini, and of course, the man behind the counter told us how delicious they were, and that we should try it.  So, as typical Americans would, we listened and bought some.  And they were delicious.  They're basically just fried rice balls, but seriously, it was delectable.

Then we sat and ate our pizza.  Josh managed to spill sugar all over the table (Why did we even have sugar?  I don't know.), and we didn't have any napkins to clean it up, so we asked for some, and they just told us to leave it and they'd clean it up.  We were all embarrassed, but oh well.

Then we walked down the street, and went into I guess what you would call a convenience store to buy bus tickets.  We were told by the Waby's that we needed to make sure that when we get our tickets, we needed to validate them on the bus.  The police will come around and check, and if you don't have a validated ticket, you'll get fined.  So after buying our tickets, we got to the nearest bus station, just to realize that the bus we wanted was just pulling away.


So we stood on the side of the road, waiting for our next bus, for nearly half an hour.  Our bus finally came, and we get on.  We see the machine where you should validate your tickets, but, no one is near it, and none of the people that got on the bus go close to it either.  Not wanting to get fined, we try to stick our tickets in the machine, and it doesn't do anything.  It's broken.  So we don't validate our tickets, telling each other that we'll validate them on the next bus.

But we don't.  Nobody in Rome ever went near the ticket validation machine, and we didn't either.  No policemen came around, checking tickets, we never got fined, and we ended up spending 1.50 for our transportation that day. Schveet.

Our next spot was the Roman Forum and Colosseum.  The bus turned a corner, and there was the Colosseum, just sitting there waiting for us.  It was absolutely amazing.  Another one of those, "I can't believe I'm here!" moments.  Josh had seen both before, and was still having the same... ahem... problem as he was having in France, so he decided to find some quiet spot, eat gelato, and relax.  We set a time and place to meet up with Josh, and Ben and I got off of the bus and started searching for the Roman Forum entrance.  

You see, one ticket can get you into the Roman Forum and Colosseum.  The line for the Colosseum is always incredibly long, and the line for the Roman Forum is short.  So what you need to do is go to the Roman Forum first and buy your tickets there, and then you can skip the line at the Colosseum.

Simple, right?

Wrong.  In America, at every tourist location, there are signs pointing you in the right direction.  Big signs, saying "TOURIST ATTRACTION!  10 MILES AHEAD!"






Well, it's not like that in Europe.  You have to know where you're going, because they're sure as heck not going to point it out to you.  We walked along the street for the longest time trying to find that stupid entrance.  We followed groups of people, we went to every single place that looked like it sold tickets, I think Ben even asked a few people, but to no luck.  I was about to give up.  It wasn't worth wandering around in the heat for this long, and, I'll admit it, I was super annoyed.  Just when I was about to call it good, we hit the jackpot, and found the entrance.  (I don't even remember how... I think a good Samaritan led us in the right direction.)   Just to add salt to the wound, it was a place we had walked by when we first started searching, but thought, "No way, that can't be it.  It's tiny and hidden.  That wouldn't be the entrance to the famous Roman Forum."

No I understand why the line is so short.

Still in a bad mood, I buy my ticket and we start walking around the forum.  It was the hottest part of the day, and all I could see was dirt and stone that could barely be called a ruin.  I thought, "This is so stupid.  And I just paid money to see this.  And wondered around for who knows how long.  Josh was the smart one."

But as we're walking around, we start seeing more and more, and it was actually fascinating.  All of this stuff had been built thousands of years ago, and it was amazing that some of it was still standing.  It was so cool to picture people walking around and living there back in ancient times.  That stuff always seemed like myths to me, but this really brought it to life.

My favorite part was the marketplace.  First off, because it was shady.  But mostly because I could so clearly picture local merchants selling their goods on the street.  And I felt like I was in Aladdin.


I also made a friend while I was here.  I was standing in the sun, drinking from my ginormous water bottle, looking at some ruin, and this man comes up to me, and asks me how I'm doing.  So we start talking and I tell him I'm from Utah, and he had actually been there!  He said that he has some friends from Salt Lake.  I asked him if he liked it, and he said no, it was too dry.  I had to agree with him on that part.  We had a nice little chat, and then parted ways.

After getting our fill of the Roman Forum, we headed to the Colosseum.  It was just as spectacular as I thought it would be.  And it made me really want to watch Gladiator.

We couldn't get a 3-headed picture for this landmark, because Josh was off sitting in the shade eating gelato somewhere, so this will have to do. 
So after walking around in the sun for a few hours, we decided it was time to go back, but first, stop and get gelato.  So we walked along a street until we came across a gelato shop.  We found a nice looking one inside a restaurant, but with an opening on the outside so you could order from the street.  I don't remember what I ended up ordering, but it wasn't as good as my first one.  I think it was lemon with something else.  But it was in a cone with a cookie thing on top, so it was still good.

And man, that thing melted sooo fast!  It was a race trying to eat it before it turned into gelato soup.

We found the Piazza Navona, where we told Josh we would meet him.  Ben and I didn't see him right off, but there were a lot of people around, so I sat down while Ben went to look for him.  Luckily, I had the guide book, so I could learn all about the fountain I was sitting next to.  It's called the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or the Fountain of the Four Rivers, for those of you who don't speak Italian.  The four men on the statue each represent the four major rivers in four continents: Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas.  You might not care about this, but I had a great time studying it.

That's one of the coolest things about Rome.  Ya, you go there expecting to see amazing things like the Colosseum and the Vatican, but then you'll just turn a corner, and all of a sudden there's this gorgeous fountain or building with all of his historical significance that you've never even heard of.  It's amazing.

Anywho, back to the day.  Ben found Josh, and we headed off to the Pantheon next.  Josh told us he had gone to a concert earlier that was in the Pantheon, which was pretty darn cool.  So Ben and I went in and walked around, and, what can I say?  It was amazing.  My favorite part was learning that some of the columns are the original columns.  I don't know why I find that so fascinating, but there you go.

Our next stop was the Trevi Fountain.  But can you guess what we did before we went to the Trevi fountain?  That's right, got some gelato!  I got biscuit (which is cookie, for all of you non-Europeans... even though I'm sure a lot of you know that already) and nutella maybe?  I don't remember exactly, but I do remember that it was delicious.

We took a picture before this, and none of us were holding our gelato high enough to actually see it in the picture.  So we took it again.  Josh forgot to put his gelato up until the very last second, but it was too late.  The picture was already taken.  For some reason I thought it was hilarious, and couldn't stop laughing about it.  Probably still the jet lag.
We got to the Trevi Fountain, and it was beautiful, but oh so crowded.  And there was some sort of construction going on by it, so it kind of took away from the majesty of it.  But it was spectacular, nonetheless.

The last place on our schedule for the day was the Spanish Steps.  Apparently, it was the best to go there at sunset.  So we started on our way, and got oh so lost.  Ben was our navigator, and we stood around Parliament for about 20 minutes while Ben got his bearings.  We finally made it to the Spanish Steps, and Josh and I went and sat down.  (I'm not sure where Ben was... taking pictures probably.)  Josh and I see some men walking around with roses, trying very forcibly to make people buy them.  I mean, they were basically sticking the roses in the girls' hands.  Josh and I looked at each other, and we knew they were coming for us next.  And what do you know, but they spotted us, and rushed over.  I sat on my hands, saying, "No!" and they eventually went away.  But that happened about 8 other times, except sometimes it was beer they were trying to sell.  So just know that if you ever go to the Spanish Steps, you will get haggled.

But the view was beautiful.  And we got there right in time for the sunset, so they turned on the lights on this quaint little street by the steps, and it was beautiful.  I could have sat there forever if it weren't for the men with the roses and beer.

View of the Spanish Steps, zoomed out.
Zoomed in a little closer... is that Jen and Josh?
Sure is.  Josh's face more accurately describes how we're feeling.

This street was a lot cuter when they turned the street lights on.  Just trust me on this one.
After we sat for a while, it was time to head back.  We decided to try taking the subway to get to our train instead of a bus, so we walked all the way to the train station, only for it to say that it was closed, and that we needed to take a bus.  So we walked all the way back.  We get to the bus stop, and get on a bus that will take us near where we want to go.  After we get on and the bus starts moving, we realize that the bus that would take us right up to the train station is right ahead of us.  At every bus stop, we debate getting off of our bus, and trying to make it on the one ahead of us.

I was adamantly against it.  With all of our lousy luck on this trip, I was not going to push it by trying to get on that other bus.  I would rather walk an extra 10 minutes at the end of the bus ride, than miss the bus ahead of us, and have to wait an extra 45 minutes for the next one.

So we didn't go, even though Ben was urging us at every stop.  There was an old clergyman and his wife sitting in front of us, and at one stop, they hopped off, and got on the bus in front of us with no trouble at all.  After that I felt a little foolish, but I'm sure that if we had tried to do it, the bus would have pulled away before we got on.  I know it.

 So we end up staying on our bus, and have to walk back to our train station.  But I don't regret it.  If we hadn't walked back, we wouldn't have been able to see Rome at night.  Including this:

It was much more beautiful at night.
When we got to the train station, we followed the signs that told us which train to get on (we were a lot better at this than when we first got to Rome), and guess what?  It led us to the wrong platform, so we missed our train, and had to sit at the station for an extra 40 minutes, waiting for our next train.  We passed the time by playing "What Italian Word Am I Saying?"  I would read an Italian word out of the translation guide in our tour guide book, and the boys would guess what it means. I'm sure the Italians around us were entertained.

Meanwhile, the entire evening, I was wishing and praying and hoping and pretending that the next morning wasn't going to happen.  Remember how we had to take the hot, long walk from the train station to our campsite?  Well, we had to do that again the next morning.  You see, the shuttle didn't leave early enough for us to be able to get to our flight on time.  So we would be able to experience this walk again.  But this time it would be 5:00 in the morning.  And instead of being downhill the whole time, it would be uphill.  I was seriously dreading this.

Finally our train comes, and we are on our way back to the campsite.  When we get to our stop, we wait for the shuttle to come, just sitting around.  We wait for about 15 minutes, and decide to just start walking back, because we weren't sure if the shuttle was coming this late.  As we're walking, we realize that the front desk closes at 11:00, and it's 10:45.  We need to check out, because they definitely won't be there at 5:00 in the morning (Italians don't do mornings... you'll learn more about this later).  Then, we realize with horror, that they have our passports.  They needed them when we checked in... I don't exactly remember why, but I'm sure it was a good reason.  If we didn't get there before they closed, we wouldn't have our passports, and wouldn't be able to get back to beautiful, 65 degree Scotland.  Now, Italians aren't exactly precise people, so we realized with pits in our stomachs that the front desk could already be closed.  So, dear Ben started to run back to our campsite to get our passports.  This was after an entire day of walking around in the million degree sun.

Josh and I power walked half of the way, and then realized it would probably be easier just to run (since it was mostly downhill), so we did that half of the way back.  The whole time I was thinking, "I'm going to have to walk up this tomorrow morning... I'm going to have to walk up this tomorrow morning."  It wasn't the most pleasant thought.

When we got to our campsite, Ben had made sure that the lady stayed at the desk for Josh and I (he wasn't able to get our passports for us... imagine that.  But it was a good thing he ran, because she was closing up when he got there).  We also realized we needed to do laundry, and paid a whole 10 to use the washer and dryer.  Sheesh.

Well, you'll have to wait until next time to find out if I survived the hike the next morning (although, the fact that I'm writing this now probably gives you a hint...).  We're almost done, guys.  See ya next time.