When in Rome
On Saturday, May 12th, with more stress in my little body than any hand squeeze, stress ball or mediation could handle, I checked in for my first international flight. I boarded my flight in a double-decker plane--which A) I was completely unaware that existed, B) was informed that I would be 1 of 460 other passengers. It was a gigantic plane and an incredibly long flight.
Upon boarding, I quickly introduced myself and became friends with the man flying along side me. His name was Michael, and he was kind of enough to video our flight's departure for me. (Michael, here is your credit for the great footage, thank you, man in t-shirt.) During the flight, we spoke a great deal of his hometown in Scotland and the cultural difference between the United States and the Unite Kingdom. The conversation of culture cared from topics such as fashion, language and odd idioms that both culture frequently use. The conversation also ventured into the different history of each country. The conversation broke as we both decided to watch our free in-flight movie. (For those of you wondering, he chose an Indiana Jones movie, and I watched a historical, Winston Churchill movie.) IT was when dinner was served that we began talking again, this time he mentioned the large American restaurant food servings--a conversation I have heard from many people that visit the US. With my own interest in psychology and human behaviors, I have done some light, restaurant research, so I shared some insight on the different aspects such as the music played and colors used in restaurants. It was a fairly interesting and conversation-heavy flight, and a fantastic way to land in the UK.
When landing in London, I had planned to catch a shuttle into town to explore a tad, however, I accidentally took the wrong shuttle to the wrong terminal, and WOW Heathrow is an ENORMOUS airport. By the time I finally made it back to where I started, I was hungry and over it, so I went into the restaurant at the airport and sat at the bar. The European futbol games were on, and if there's anything I've picked up from dating Andrew, it's the appreciation for futbol. So I ordered some calamari and got ready to watch the games. A patron of the bar who had been seated before me began to make conversation. He was also an American, and he was traveling back from the Middle East where he had attended a continuing medical education event as he was a surgeon for spine infusions. With him also being American, our conversation focused more on our careers. He gave me advice he wish he has been told while school, and he mentioned the whiskey he had tried while abroad. Also crediting Andrew, I mentioned that I am a big fan of whiskey, and with that he paid the tab, and introduced me to an incredible whiskey haven within the airport.
There I tried samples of blue and black label scotches, and a professional connoisseur lead us in high-end taste testing. After certain drinks, he would add drops of water to open up the aromas and the flavors, and it was actually really surprising how much of a difference that made. I was blown away by the expansion of taste from just a few drops of water. After the tastings, the surgeon spent 99 euros on a bottle of Japanese whiskey. He explained it was some of the best he'd ever had, and after purchasing it, we had a serving of it each before I boarded. And with that, I sent off to Roma.
In laying in Roma, I realized I was going to have my first customs experience. My hands were sweating and I felt as though I did not have enough information as to why I was there. When I was finally there to get my passport stamped, she did not even look at me or ask further questions, quick stamp and away I went. I wanted to laugh at my nerves, but I was also glad to be more cautious than not. It was in Roma that I met a friend of the family. Her brother and she had kindly taken the time to pick me up from the airport. When we got into the car, she joked about how the rules of the road were nonexistent, and I soon experience just how nonexistent those rules were. Cars drove on the dividing lines, motorcycles bobbed and weaved in a fearless manner and I realized the road was full of compact cars for a reason. At one point, we passed two cars by going between them on the dotted line! Trying to make conversation and likely, to focus less on the driving, I began talking about futbol. Truly not understanding the gravity and really not knowing much other than what I am told, I mentioned the Liverpool v. Roma Champions League game. As her brother realized I had some kind of tie to the Liverpool team, he darted off the main road and pulled up to the first bus stop where he said to get out. After a pause, he cracked a smile then jetted back into traffic.
After getting settled in her apartment, we walked to a pizzeria where I also had dinner with her 13 year-old son. He spoke a lot and he shared his experiences in playing futbol, as he plays for the Roma youth team!! We talked further about what he enjoys while I tried supply, which a mozzarella rolled in rice then fried, which was amazing. I also tried fried mozzarella --never disappointing--and some kind of fried pizza dough? Really not sure what it was, but I could have eaten an entire table of it. Her son ordered a margherita pizza, and I ordered the ortolans pizza. It actually translates into "from the green patch," and it had eggplant, basil, mozzarella, red peppers and artichoke hearts. It was phenomenal and the crust was out of this world good. We were then served Limoncello, a drink to finish the meal. It was incredible strong, and sole liquor made with lemons. The strength of the drink pushed me over the edge into exhaustion from the traveling.
In the morning, from the balcony within a neighborhood of a million people, I watched the sun rise over the city of Rome. It was beautiful. My time in Roma was short, but it was as sweet as the gelato the Italians had perfect.
I mean, leaving the city without a cone of gelato would have been absolutely shameful, right?