Public Transportation, The Pink Panther 2, and the Eternal City
Can I start by saying, I better have the most intensely defined calve muscles by the time I return to America in May? I completely understand the lack of cars in Europe as it preserves the history and makes it easier to see everything and enjoy the journey from one place to another. But, what I don’t understand is the absence of spas and in particular those that will help massage the miles and miles of pain from your feet following the extensive walking and sightseeing tours. Note to self and to readers- when in Rome- let fashion take second to comfortability and wear tennis shoes, your feet and your legs will thank you.
I understand that Rome, and many other cities in Europe, utilize both the bus system and the subways as the primary means of traveling. I also appreciate that people like my two roommates from Boston can easily adapt to these subway maps and connecting stations. They are helping this blissfully unaware Midwestern man navigate his way through the terrifying yet admittedly easier method of public transportation. It would be a cold, flat lie if I said I hadn’t already boarded the wrong train, either in the wrong direction or just simply a different line a few times since traveling around Europe. However, as my roommates continue to remind me after hearing it from me for the last four weeks at an annoyingly common occurrence- it is all about the experience. Kansas does not prepare one for the experience that is- public transportation.
In all honesty, I found Rome to be such an exciting and interesting place. In high school I spent a great deal of time learning about the rise and fall of the roman empire in my Latin class, the only thing that made studying a dead language less monotonous. Days were invested completely into researching the Greek/Roman gods and goddesses as well as the many emperors, kings, and rulers over the eternal city. To finally be staring at the real Colosseum, or the spot in which Julius Cesar was killed, versus what I read in a textbook or watched on a slideshow in class is surreal. The amount of history and the preservation of it within Rome is spectacular, and despite the massive crowds and extensive distance traveled from statue to fountain, fountain to castle, castle to…fill in the blank, it was an experience I am incredibly appreciative of.
Another thing I found particularly intriguing about my weekend was my visit to Vatican City and the many museums and chapels we explored with in it. Two of my three roommates are Catholic, and I think what I enjoyed the most was watching them be awe struck by the figures, paintings, and structures that were directly associated with the religion that they had grown up devoting themselves to. I enjoyed seeing one of them stand in complete silence in appreciation of The School of Athens, a painting he then told me had been hanging from the ceiling in his room since he was a small child. Here I was, cracking jokes about how cool it was being on location where they filmed part of John Wick 2, or The Pink Panther 2, then realizing how important this city, and every artifact, painting, and person it held was to many of my friends. This trip helped me remember that while places like Rome and Vatican City may just seem like history to me and many others, to people like my roommates, places like these are ones that tell their stories today. The Vatican is home to their religion, core beliefs and values, and I am so glad that I took the time to pause and watch and take note of how much it meant to them to experience that location, it’s something I hadn’t expected but I’m incredibly grateful for nonetheless.
The eternal city has left memories that I hope to be equally as eternal. As my coin left the palm of my hand and entered the stunningly clear, crisp blue water of the Trevi Fountain on the first day, a smile filled my face as I knew I’d make a return one day to the first destination on my semester long journey.
“Hey now, hey now. This is what dreams are made of.”- Hilary Duff in The Lizzie McGuire Movie
(You know I had to do it.)