“I know it’s going to be some bullshit” – Ben Lander, toilet paper hero and winner of Spring Break 2016

Spring break 2016 is a wrap, folks. Time to get back on that Dublin grind after spending a lovely – and long – week in Italy. Something I liked about the first three days in Florence: the pillow on my Airbnb apartment’s bed was to die for. And you know, the art. Something I didn’t like about Florence: the sheer amount of stairs I had to climb. Something I liked about Rome: the amount of glorious green space in the middle of the city. Something I didn’t like about Rome: the pedestrian motto of “cross and hope they stop” and the freaking selfie stick salesmen shoving selfie sticks in my face while I was trying to walk.

But let’s break it down a little bit. I’ll try to keep in under 5,000 words. Okay, 6,000.

Saturday March 12 – Dublin to Florence –

Four words to describe the day: Why no toilet seats?

Our plane was at 6:30 am from Dublin, so we got up at 2 freaking 45 in the morning and had a chatty taxi driver to boot. All was well until we arrived at Termini Station in Rome to take a train to Florence. Like any human with unfortunate timing, I had to pee about 15 minutes before the train was supposed to leave. Plenty of time right?

No.

The bathroom at Termini had barricades. You had to feed the angry potty gods an entire Euro – more than 1 US dollar – before they would let you in. Okay fine. But when I got in, I discovered that almost none of the toilets had seats, most didn’t have functioning locks on the doors, and most of the toilets themselves were broken so as to continuously flush on endless loops. 1 euro for a barely functioning bathroom? I had to do the old squat-and-pray routine and when I tried to get back out, the barricades got angry at me and wouldn’t open. People from the other side were yelling at me in Italian and I just needed to go catch my train. When I finally did get out, I found Jess looking for me and she. was. pissed. She basically dragged me by the ear through the station so we wouldn’t miss our train.

And we didn’t. So that was grand.

Quick description of the Italian countryside through train window: rolling mountainous hills, palm trees, vineyards, and lots of dirt. Italy didn’t look like I expected it to, but I don’t know exactly what I was expecting. Ya know? I also could have lived with the constant ear-popping on the 1.5 hour train ride. At least it was purrrrty.

We were pleased to find that there were even more assault-rifle armed men in both Florence and Rome than we’d seen in Belgium, or anywhere for that matter. I definitely had said guns waved nonchalantly in my direction more than once.

Our Florence apartment was easy to find and our Airbnb host was really sweet (which reminds me, I still need to write her a review). Our first encounter with her, in fact, was when she practically threw herself out of an upstairs window to greet us. So Italian. The apartment was very posh even though I somehow got landed with the smallest bed. At least my pillow was bomb. Side note: the bathrooms in both apartments we stayed in had bidets, which we didn’t really understand and left alone. I may or may not have spit my toothpaste in it one day. We knew they were somehow intended to clean your nether-regions, but couldn’t visualize how this worked. If you too are struggling, I’ve looked up a helpful and appropriately weird tutorial, which you can find here. Viewer discretion is advised (I’ve always wanted to say that).

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Sunday March 13 – Florence –

Uffizi Gallery

Three things about this experience:

  1. The gallery is smaller than I expected, but still rather massive with some 100 different gallery rooms, all pretty small.
  2. There was a painting of Jesus with an Illuminati symbol above his forehead in rapturous golden sunlight. We all know what this means. (probably, not really)
  3. Botticelli’s paintings of women are even more glorious in person. Seriously, go see them. And the Venus of Urbino by Titian. GO.

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Duomo Bell Tower

So the Duomo is basically what makes Florence, Florence. It dominates the skyline and is the most ornate building I have ever seen. The exterior is composed of such fine details, statues, and stone of green, pink, and white. Pictures will never do it justice.

Rick Steves said we didn’t need to book tickets in advance since lines weren’t very long. Rick Steves is a liar. We waited a half hour to get tickets to all the Duomo’s various sites, and since we were already at the Bell Tower, we decided to climb it.

414 steps later, I was about dead. But the view was really something. Florence is magnificent from above for its mountain surroundings and orange-red rooftops. The sky was incredibly blue and the though the wind was a bit chilly, we stayed on top of the world as long as we could bear. My legs were shaking after descending the stairs. For some reason, I just flashed back to the 1999 song Butterfly by Crazy Town, which talks about shaking legs in the chorus. Of course, the connotation is different. Or maybe the band just really wanted to climb a lot of stairs with the girl they’re singing about? It’s possible. Also shout out to the D.A.R.E shirt one of the band members wears in the video.

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Duomo Baptisery

The best part of the Baptisery was the ceiling, which was covered in golden paint and had Jesus with one thumb facing up and one facing down. The up-facing thumb pointed to the heavenly pictures. The down-facing thumb pointed to the hell-bound demons. One guess as to which illustrations were my favorite…

I interrupt this regularly scheduled programming to bring you a moment of female empowerment

We had lunch in a weird cafeteria thing near the Duomo. I had a thermos full of rice like I did every single day of the trip. But none of that matters. Flash forward to right before we left, when I went upstairs to use the bathroom. As usual, there was a massive line for the women’s bathroom – eight people when I joined – and not a single person queued up for the men’s. This is one of my biggest pet peeves because it’s not women’s fault we take longer to pee from a biological standpoint than men do. So why do we always have the same or less stalls than men do? Equity, not equality in this case, would be far more ideal. Anyway, after the third man to climb the stairs, eye the line of women and not men with relief, and go straight in to pee, I got fed up. So I marched to the front of the line and went into the men’s bathroom. I wasn’t deterred by the sheer amount of piss that was literally everywhere – floor, toilet, sink, wall. Really, if anything I was impressed by how little somehow has to care to make such a mess. I cleaned up the seat, hovered, did my business, and left feeling empowered. Another woman went in after me, which made me feel proud for leading the heard. I later ran into the guy who’d gone into the men’s room before me. I call him Piss-man in my head. Here’s a picture of him.

This is seriously what piss-man looked like. Just add a fancy fur-hood coat and less smiling. Photo from Pinterest.

This is seriously what Piss-man looked like. Just add a fancy fur-hood coat and less smiling. Photo from Pinterest.

The Dome of the Duomo

Yes, the dome of the Duomo is painted in a lovely mural. Yes, you can climb up through the dome’s inner-workings to get to a viewing platform up on top of the roof, even high than the Bell Tower.

463 steps later, my legs felt two times their normal size in some super-human like state beyond pain. I felt I could go 463 more when the shaking commenced again.

Again the views were worth it. The climb really wasn’t that bad this time because the cave-like darkness of the dome’s staircases were clogged with humans, mostly men, who wouldn’t make room for Jess and I. So we had lots of time to catch our breath. I really was reminded of all the times I went caving in Tennessee and Kentucky when I was younger. There were no windows and everything was a little damp, the concrete slanted and curved to hold up the dome.

There were also two viewing platforms below the painted dome, wrapping around the perimeter on the inside, overlooking the cathedral below. Let’s talk about this painting for a second. It was your typical mixture of heaven and hell scenes, my favorite being that of a demon eating a man whole. The longer we looked at it, the more flaws we saw – cracks in the dome ceiling, places where the paint had rubbed or simply fallen away. It was actually incredibly flawed, but at first glance, it was a harmony of color and balance. Or something.

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Duomo Cathedral

I’ll say only one thing about this cathedral: Bruges ruined Jess and I for cathedrals. We were not impressed by anything in it other than its sheer size. We are Cathedral-snobs, officially. Our membership cards are in the mail.

Duomo Museum

This really nice museum was full of all the sculptures and stonework that once adorned the Duomo, but has been replaced by replicas due to wearing. As evidence of this, most of the statues we saw were missing noses. It seems the rain particularly likes to eat statue noses along with the spare finger, toe, and occasional arm and male genitalia. We saw a Michelangelo, which we weren’t expecting to see, and also Donatello’s wooden Mary Magdalene carving, which is very creepy.

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Monday March 14 – Florence –

Bargello Museum

So, every museum in Florence and Rome basically had metal detectors and security a step away from airport levels. In order to eat my thermos rice each day for lunch, I had to carry around a metal spoon. I wasn’t necessarily surprised when it set off the security alerts. I was surprised when they asked me to remove the knife from my bag. I pulled out the spoon and waved it in their faces and they laughed, haha, because clearly I was not a knife-wielding art destroyer. It reminded me of the time the government blew up my hairspray, but that’s a story for another day.

Highlights of the Bargello:

  1. A painting that may or may not have portrayed a woman being gang raped by ten or so men while she was tied to a pole.
  2. A sculpture of Jesus that may or may not have been done by Michelangelo.
  3. A lovely wide-open courtyard where Ben, Jess, and I sat and discussed HGTV, of all things.
  4. An old fountain featuring a goddess squeezing the water out of her breasts and another woman at her side, fountain stream coming out of a whole in her – yes – crotch region. Art is fabulous.

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Boboli Gardens

So much green grass and beautiful blue sky that I never see in Dublin. It was glorious. The hills were steep to climb, but the gardens were regal, truly. The hill splitting the park right in half was an ideal sledding hill, lined with trees and sculptures like something out a movie. There were lovely fountains everywhere and little paths that no one else was on.

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At the Porcelain Museum, which was placed at the top of the garden’s highest point overlooking Italian countryside, Ben found some pottery that he really liked, as demonstrated by his standing in front of it saying that he really liked it. We also saw a CAT from one of the windows bathing in that lovely Italian sunshine.

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Also, there was a Costume Museum because why not? The ceilings in each room were stunning, more so than the dresses on display. It was a pleasant surprise, since I was expecting peanut costumes and wigs everywhere.

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Piazza Michelangelo

SO MANY STAIRS

Also, there was nothing particularly Michelangelo-y about this piazza except a replica of one of his sculptures. The real draw was the nice city view and the pretty garden we stumbled through on the way back down.

 

Duomo Crypt

When you hear “crypt” what do you picture? Cob webs and mummified corpses, surely. That’s what I was expecting anyway. What was actually in the Duomo’s crypt was a bunch of rock and a museum talking about the Duomo’s construction. I wanted dead corpse fingers. I was not impressed.

Where da bodies?

Where da bodies?

Santa Croce

We had some extra time, so I suggested we go to Santa Croce, one of Florence’s other big cathedrals. It cost us 6 whole euros to get in, but we decided to anyway. It was not as fanciful as the Bruges cathedrals we stumbled into for free, but we got our money’s worth by sitting on a bench and talking quietly for forty minutes or so.

But wait, there’s more.

The cathedral actually had a museum attached that we found about thirty minutes before closing time. We weren’t particularly interested in the exhibits, but it made us feel better about the money we spent to get in. My recommendation is to skip Santa Croce unless you really like Jesus.

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Ponte Vechio

This was basically just a cool bridge across the river with expensive jewelry shops and such. There were lots of sketchy dudes selling prints of famous paintings and little toys, and as we walked along the bridge, they kept looking over our shoulders and quickly packing their goods away, joining the rest of the crowd like nothing had happened. We looked for the police or some reason they might have felt the need to all pack up and leave, but found nothing. Clearly they were hiding cocaine in those little wooden figurines.

ponte vecchio

Tuesday March 15 – Florence to Rome –

I take full responsibility. I really do. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize my roommate and friend, Jess. She did 90% of the planning for this trip to Italy, including all the ticket booking and research and lots of other stuff. Ben did the other 10%, putting together itineraries and such for each day. Major props to them. They also navigated the entire time we were in Italy. I didn’t touch a map even once. So basically I woulda died without them.

That being said, they didn’t include the Galleria dell’Accademia in our itinerary! They thought it was too expensive and we wouldn’t have time for it, and I thought it was on the itinerary because, you know, Michelangelo’s David is there. A miscommunication later, we realized it was too late to book tickets and our only chance was to wake up butt-dawn early and line up in the unreserved line, hoping to get in before our train to Rome.

God, Barney, Obama – somebody was smiling down on us. We made it in the first round of people from the unreserved line by TWO PEOPLE. That’s how close we were to missing Michelangelo’s David!!! I felt a kind of pure joy that I rarely do as an adult, and did a little dance.

We got to see Michelangelo’s unfinished sculptures, which looked so cool, like people trying to get out of the stone. David was even more massive and incredible than I expected him too. The museum was also full of sculptures and paintings of powerful and empowered women exploring their sexuality, and I appreciated that so much. I am so very grateful everything worked out. I would have been so sad otherwise, and Jess would have blamed herself and the world would have ended.

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Train Ride to Rome

In my rush to get to the train station so I didn’t have to be carrying all my belongings on my back, I forgot to say goodbye to the Duomo and Florence until it was already in the rearview. All well, we were Rome bound and I ate my thermos rice with a broken plastic fork because you gotta #makeitwork.

When I felt the first stomach pang as the train was slowing down at our stop, I was worried. For good reason. I was in Rome twenty minutes before my bowels lost their damn mind. Luckily, I made it to our Airbnb apartment in that amount of time. Our host was outside waiting for us and we had an awkward elevator ride up. It wasn’t until we were safely inside the apartment that my bowels began to erupt. I barely made it to the bathroom, trying to be sneaky about it so our host wouldn’t know. I was terrified at how loud I thought I was being, which made me laugh, which made everything happen faster. I could not help but laugh out loud at the situation I found myself in, on a freaking toilet in a random apartment in Rome. The good news is I have no idea what was wrong with me but it quickly went away and I went on with my life. Our host had no idea where I disappeared to either, so that was reassuring.

The coolest fly you’ll never meet.

I’ve named said fly Jimmy. He was buzzing around our apartment while we chilled and waited for our ticket time at the Borghese Gallery. He was a very large fly, that Jimmy. He kept flying into the window, which sounded like a human hand tapping the glass. When he flew out of the room, we were pretty pleased because Jimmy was an annoying fly. Jess was in the perfect position to watch the fly zoom into the bathroom, make a U-turn, and come careening straight back at the doorway to our room. For some reason, we all thought this was cause for alarm. Jess was yelling at me the shut the door, so I slammed it using my foot.

BUT WAIT

One milli-second before the door slammed shut, Jimmy came swerving on in, totally fine and probably shitting himself. It was a movie-perfect moment for Jimmy, and we lost our ability to breathe from laughing so hard. How ridiculous that Rome has superhuman flies. Of course they would. The Illuminati strikes again.

The moment you’ve all been waiting for…

We tried to leave our apartment when it was time to walk to the Borghese Gallery. That’s not a lot to ask, right? You just open the door and leave. Right?

Not in Rome.

Our host specifically said not to lock the front door with our key, which we understood as “don’t you dare put that key in the lock.” She we walked up to the door and pressed every possible button and lever on it from every possible angle. After about 3 minutes, we were exasperated. We were trapped in our freaking apartment! This is how it would end!! We would miss our ticket time for the Borghese Gallery!!! We were nearly at the point where we were going to call our host, and at this point I just started taking photos because it was so unbelievable that we couldn’t get out. There was no door knob to turn. This wasn’t Murica. The gorgeous photo montage below is the result of this ordeal. Ben ruined the fun when he put the key in the lock and the door opened very easily.

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WE WERE FREE

Palm trees of freedom.

Palm trees of freedom.

Then Jess forgot the tickets and she had to go all the way back up six floors to get them.

Borghese Gallery

If Florence is a city of stairs, Rome is a city of hills. I hadn’t had any water bottle issues at any of the Florence museums, but the lady in high heels and bad lip liner manning the door of the Borghese gave me a lovely sneer when I said the words “medical condition.” I have room for those eye rolls in I don’t give a f*** land, sister. Also at the coat check, I could check my bag but not my coat. What???

I didn’t pay as much attention to the art in this museum as the ceilings, which all works of art in themselves. There was one photo that was so freaking great I bought two post card copies of it. Fantastic. Look at that cheesy smile. It’s Abbie as a man, or something.

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Villa Borghese Gardens

After the gallery, we popped a squat on an old stone wall in the park outside and watched doggies run around the old horse track there. We sat for a good thirty minutes people watching. My personal favorite was the man kick-boxing with himself. Also the dog that found a stick three times the size of his own body.

STATE OF OUR ROME APARTMENT ADDRESS

  • There was a picture of a horse penis on the wall
  • No microwave, not enough toilet paper
  • Bed = nice
  • Front door that doesn’t open without keys = fire hazard
  • That is all

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So many motor scooters. So little toilet paper. Also shout out to my bank account that dipped to 3$ on this trip. I somehow magically knew the perfect amount to withdraw at the ATM. I’m a wizard.

March 16 – Rome –

Colosseum, not Colosieum or Colosiuem or Colonoscopy

We couldn’t figure out what line to get in and life was chaos for the first fifteen minutes, but the Colosseum was pretty rad. It was hard to picture it in its glory days, but the ruins themselves were still incredibly impressive. We stared at them for a good thirty minutes.

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We walked over to the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill. And on the way, this ridiculously long headline almost happened.

American college student beats 7th man to try selling her a selfie stick in span of 2 minutes with selfie stick

These guys were like vultures. Worse. Ambushing vultures who just shouted “selfie stick!!” over and over at you like a cult. They would stand in a line and keep asking you because maybe by the tenth time you would decide, yes, you did actually need an effing selfie stick. It was quite disgusting to see how many people – mostly thirty or older – who purchased and used said selfie sticks. God have fear for what our photo books of the future will contain.

Roman Forum and Palantine Hill

The old ruins of the Roman Senate were quite beautiful, massive, and sprawling. There was so much to look at, and we did most of that looking for the hill overlooking the area. We saw some lovely orange trees and I craved a cheeseburger relentlessly. We saw bunnies, very very large bunnies that were not afraid of people. They stole the show from those dusty old Romans. 10 out of 10, would bunny again.

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Trevi Fountain

Three fragments to describe this experience:

  1. People everywhere, likely trying to pick some pockets.
  2. Such water and blue sky and lovely stone work.
  3. Throwing coins into the fountain, wishing for a cheeseburger.

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The Spanish Steps

Two words: under construction

Ten words: I sat on a boat-shaped fountain while they climbed them

Thirty-three words: Some scam artist tried to shove flowers at Jess, forcing her to grab them so he could demand money. She punched him in the face. Not really, but that would have been great

Something you should try: pasta butter soup. No strainer in the land of pasta? Simply put butter in the pasta water and slurp that goodness up. Make sure you get photographic evidence of this, and be sure to eat straight from the pot.

Our apartment had four cheese graters and no pasta strainer. Let that soak in for a moment.

Thursday March 17 – Rome – 

The Rome metro is overcrowded to the point that I was fully standing near the middle of the train and my face was still being shoved into the glass over someone else’s head. But it’s fine, because we had an appointment with the Pope.

Interesting note about the Vatican Museum: since the Vatican is its own freaking country, they can make their own rules. So that means they have no maximum capacity or the usually mandated amount of fire exits. Basically it’s the perfect place to host a terrorist attack, but hopefully the terrorists don’t know that.

SO MANY FRESCOES, observe:

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Just kidding, didn’t want to bore you too much.

The museum was massive and full of wonderful things, but we sort of rushed through because we wanted to get to the Sistine Chapel, which was…

…smaller than expected. And darker. And full of military presence barking “no photos” at us and telling us to squeeze in like sardines. It wasn’t quite what I imagined, you know? It didn’t feel like a chapel because the tourist profit-margin transformed it into something else. All well, at least Michelangelo can paint as well as sculpt because everyone is that talented, right?

Also, we obviously took photos anyway, even though we weren’t supposed to. Who comes all the way to Italy to not take photos?

If you go to Rome, go to the Vatican Museum. It was one of my favorite things we saw, especially the demon baby in the statue room. I dare you to go and find it. I’ll wait 🙂

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Lunch with President Snow from Hunger Games

He wasn’t actually President Snow, but he looked like him, only more Italian. He was one of the waiters at the restaurant we decided to eat at right on one of the wide-open piazzas. It was warm enough for us to sit outside on the patio, which was glorious. My thermos rice was less glorious, as it tasted like corn chips. I knew President Snow would comment about me not eating, and surely enough he did.

“What, are you on a diet?” Laughing, clearly thinking he was a riot.

“Uh, yeah, actually I am.” Not that you could ever imagine what the word “diet” entails, President Snow.

We did not hear another word from him on the matter, or any matter in fact. Leave it me to knock the men speechless.

I was having a hard time eating my corn chip rice while Ben and Jess had my old favorite, alfredo IN ITALY. Shout out to Ben for telling me that I deserve a man who will call ahead to restaurants to make sure they have or acquire food so that I can eat out like a normal human. You a quality friend.

Pantheon

Big building. So pretty. Occulus. Raphael buried there. So. much. art.

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Random Church One

So we stumbled into a random cathedral along the way to nowhere, since we did everything planned for the day super fast. I don’t know the name of the place, but it was a knock-out stunner. Easily one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve been into. Just look.

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We were tired of walking and wanted to sit longer in the beauty, so we grabbed a stretch of pew and stayed there for about forty minutes, talking about how college is almost over and life is happening. We were a little alarmed when an old Italian woman walked up to us and shushed Ben, who was talking at that moment. We were in a church after all, so we thought it was fine, we’d shut up.

But then.

But then this woman had the audacity to turn to Jess, who was wearing a cute romper and black tights. She said to Jess that her dress was too short, and she kept repeating this over and over while Jess’s face grew from confused to concerned to angry. My immediate thought was to stand up and start pushing Ben and Jess to get out of the church. “We’re leaving, ” I said to the woman, cutting her off. She then had the audacity to ask Jess for an offering – a monetary offering – to make it up to Jesus. So she slut-shamed Jess and then demanded money. You read that right. She didn’t even work for the church. She was a beggar, trying to use guilt and shame to get money out of us.

IT DIDN’T WORK

We were livid when we left. We’d been minding our own business and besides, women have the choice to wear whatever they want to. Repeat: women should be able wear whatever they want without fear of being shamed or judged. I think that’s something we could all do a better job of remembering, myself included.

So what did Jess do for revenge? She bought a magnet with a penis on it. GIRL POWER

Random Church Two

I somehow convinced Jess to walk into another pretty cathedral. I snapped some photos, and then we ran before any old Italian women could slut shame anybody.

On the walk home, let’s talk about how many looks Jess got from people – both men and women – passing by. It was a lot. Once the number hit ten, I informed Jess that people were either loving her outfit, hating it, or undressing her with their eyes. Probably all three. She started noticing the full body looks she was getting too, and it was making ME uncomfortable, so I can’t even imagine how she felt. The final number when we got home was pushing 30. Destroy that male gaze, Jess. She definitely made some eye contact with some of the guys, calling them out. So frustrating.

Friday March 18 – Rome –

Yay random metro strikes that happen, of all times, when we’re trying to take a day trip outside of Rome! We thought it was just the metro, which we didn’t actually need to take since we could walk the 40 minutes to the train we needed to get out of the city. So we walked the 40 minutes there, and it didn’t even once cross our minds that the strike might also be there too.

The strike was everywhere we needed to be. Even the locals were confused.

After a solid 15 minutes of heartbreak, I put on my big girl pants and we walked ALL THE WAY across town about an hour to get back to Villa Borghese to go to the Rome Zoo. We almost got hit by lots of cars since crosswalks are rarely a thing, but that’s part of the Rome charm.

Rome Zoo

I was not excited to go to the zoo because it was all the way across town and cost 16 euro, but I eat those words gladly now. The zoo was one of my favorite parts of our entire trip. Who goes to Italy to go to the zoo? You should, that’s who.

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It was pretty empty of people and the animals were super active, and Ben and I had a blast animating them all, giving them personalities, names, and motives. My favorite exhibits were of the various monkey varieties, the lions,  the chimps, and the pygmy hippos.

Da Monkies

One of chilling in his little log tunnel while another one was parkouring off the walls and sucking on woodchips. But my favorite little guy was the one who was sitting way in the back staring at us. It took five minutes for us to even notice us, at which point I started pointing to him and trying to communicate. Slowly, he made his way to the front of the cage, not once breaking eye contact with me. He wanted me dead and I loved him so much for it. He was me in monkey form. Our conversation was glorious.

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Da Monkies pt II

There were some other monkies of some kind in a very large open enclosure that resembled a jungle gym. Lots of them were laying around being groomed by other monkies. There was a little family of momma, papa, and baby running around playing tag. There was a pair of them having some casual sex. Evidently that monkey mounted the wrong lady though, because all hell broke loose and it sounded like one of the monkies was being torn limb from limb. It was very entertaining, and the monkies knew it. They even had some jazzy dances for when the zoo train came by.

Da Lions

I’ve never seen lions at the zoo that actually get up and walk. I’ve definitely never seen a lion give a mating call either. And I’ve super-really not seen a female lion then reject that mating call. They proceeded to lay down facing away from each other, clearly have an argument. The male lion kept looking over his shoulder at her and she was not having it.

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Da Chimps

So there were three chimps, and three of us. Two of the chimps were having a tickle fight, which is a very Jess and Ben thing to do. The other chimp was chilling on a platform in a tree by himself, holding his sad little soccer ball, clearly the third wheel in this scenario. When I came back from the bathroom, the tickle-fighting chimps had disappeared (presumably into a nice bush) and the other one was walking around with his soccer ball looking for someone to play with him. It was tragic.

Da Pygmy Hippo

We saw the hippos once earlier in the day and they were just eating some hay. The elephant across the way was swaying back and forth, which was not a healthy behavior and Jess the elephant lover and heartbroken. When we came back by later, the elephant was still alone, but playing with her ball, which was cute. One of the hippos was gone, but the other one ran and jumped into his pool of water. And when he saw me with my camera, he bared his teeth at me, which now is a lovely cover photo for my Facebook profile. It looks like he’s eating my head. It’s great.

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Friday March 19 – Rome to Dublin – 

We might have almost missed our bus to the airport, but it’s not a big deal. We just got stern with some Italian men and they took pity on our souls. We made it back with little other incident. The best thing about being back?

Irish butter, since Italian butter is a gross excuse for fatty matter. Also, dance parties with Abbie Stoner are pretty great too. Missed those.

But really, the Irish butter. It’s good to be back. And done with this blog post, holy crap. I’ve been writing this thing for 6 hours and can’t seem to make myself stop writing.

Stop.

Now.

STOP.

At least the monkies didn’t throw their poop at me. We also didn’t get robbed at knife-point, or any point. I’m calling Italy a success.