Wednesday, May 18, 2011

a birthday in rome. im okay with that.

warning: this post is ridiculously long and detailed. mainly for my own benefit and my mothers enjoyment. scroll through the pictures and you'll get the gist. 

little ellie vs big ellie

im old. i dont know when this happened. i still feel like im seven playing in the backyard, not wanting to come in for dinner. but today i turned 21. i can now drink- water, lemonade, sprite. anything i choose. (but no alcohol for me please). and whats a better place to turn 21 than in rome? im pretty much the luckiest. its the truth.

the one hard thing about having a birthday in rome is no family or friends (besides cali, holly, and lauren of course) and no cake. it just didnt feel like my birthday, if that makes any sense. it was an amazing day in rome. AMAZING. but i kept on forgetting it was my birthday until someone would say something and i would be jolted back to the reality of the date.

this blessed day started with a breakfast buffet in the club/cafe below us. it was only 3 euros if you were staying at the hostel. that had wonderful croissants and pastries, and pineapple juice! i love pineapple juice i have decided. my stomach however does not.

buffet love
after consuming much food we went back upstairs and the hostel worker gave us a map and pointed out lots of places we should go. her map was way better than the one i had, and ended up being a saving grace throughout the day, and she pointed out other places we hadnt thought of. and then we were off to explore ancient rome. on the way though we had our first "italian man" counter. when crossing the street, a man pulled down his sun glasses and asked which one of us was single. im sure i giggled, and then we all awkwardly responded "uhhh none of us" except for cali who actually isnt single. he then asked us where we were from and such, and it just made me chuckle. they have no shame. its great.

off to explore rome in our one pound sunglasses
we saw so many beautiful churches, it was hard to keep them all straight. we saw Bernini's grave, Michaelangelo's Moses, amazing cosmati pavement, and the most ornate churches of my life.

the first church of the day
all of the churches were so ornate and beautiful, but they all started to run together
bernini's grave
michaelangelo's moses. ps cali likes this picture because the sun makes us look angelic
along the way we had italian man encounter two of the day. where we were offered free gelato as we walked past this small street. he was funny as he yelled ciao bella, discount, free, come back. once again i couldnt help but chuckle. as we got closer and closer to the Colosseum we started seeing more and more street venders. you name it they sold it. sunglasses check. purses. check. parasols. check. and they were very "in your face" for lack of a better way of saying it. but one guy tried to sell me sunglasses while im wearing sunglasses mind you, and asked how much mine cost- well thanks to primark they were only a pound. moral of the story, he thought i was crazy.

we eventually got to the colosseum and it was amazing! and i mean amazing. it was huge. and old. and huge. and old. and it made you feel like you finally made it to rome. there were gladiator soldiers you could take pictures with, for a price of course. and tourists galore. we had heard from everyone not to go in because it was over rated and expensive. so we just walked along the outside and peaked in through the gates to get a better view.
we love the colosseum

 our way of seeing the colosseum. cameras with zoom are great for getting close
while walking around we ran into a group of 4 french couples, where the wives were taking pictures of their husbands so tried to motion that we could take a picture of the whole group. the one wife i was talking with spoke very very little english and i speak very very little french, but we figured out that one wife was missing so we waited for her. it was such a neat experience of trying to communicate, and just how genuine people of the world can be. we heard all about the pickpockets and the peddlers, but the sweet tourists. they didnt tell us we would be seeing them.

lucky for us they had a public restroom at the colosseum, unlucky for us- only two stalls were working and there was a huge line. but there was a worker lady who was motioning for me to use the boys room. so she lead me in (note boys were still using the bathroom) and to the stall. i felt quite scandalist being in there, but it made for a good story, and got me a lot of weird looks.

blog notes. this is how we kept track of all we did, this  is while we were waiting for people in the bathroom.
after the colosseum we walked down past the roman forum and palatine hill (once again we didnt go in to save money, which i love) you could see a ton of ruins from the outside and it was just as beautiful. but had italian man encounter three of the day with a parasol salesman who called me beautiful, sweetheart, and love of my life. he would walk away and then come back with more lines and offering me half off. i have decided if you need a self esteem boost go to italy. also if you want crazy men to hit on you, go to italy.

palatine hill in the background.
old ruins. there were these red flowers pretty
we just kept exploring and coming across cool buildings along the way and a way cool drinking fountain. rome has all these spikits that have water flowing from them where you can drink or fill up your water bottle. they are old, adorable, and really help you stay hydrated. 

caesar! he's the coolest.
so at this place there was a huge convention going on outside. something for either china or japan because there were a lot of asians there. but it was fun to watch even though we had no idea what was going on. also this is where we tried to find a spot to try for lunch.
the cultural heritage building. this helped us find our way a lot of the time. it was huge and bright white. and lovely.
 but what goes better with water than food, so the search for food began. we eventually found a place that looked okay but got roped into it when the waiter came up and hugged me and led me to a table. another lesson learned, hosts like to do all they can to get you to come to their restaurant. lucky for us though the food was delicious and not too expensive. when we left he gave me another hug, but then my lovely companions informed him it was my birthday which led to a double cheek kiss. once again- comical, a little awkward.

our yummy lasagna. so so good.
the waiter.

after lunch we headed over to the birkenstock store (shoes that are known for being extremely comfortable and durable) where i got a pair. i probably paid a little too much- but i need a good pair of shoes since my tom went missing (ps we think it got lost when the laundry people came, it might have gotten picked up with my sheets- whoops)

yay shoes.
then it was off to the trevi fountain which was absolutely beautiful. there were tons and tons of people, and the sun was blazing down. so we got our first gelato of the trip. I got hazelnut- which i am addicted too. soo delicious. we then just sat at the fountain eating our gelato and soaking in the italian sun.
i wish i may, i wish i might
yum yum

unfortunately, being the cluts i am- i spilled something on my dress. lucky for me there was a fountain of water- so taking cali's suggestion i washed my dress with trevi water. and it did the trick.

after that we were off to the pantheon. yes, we are still on the same day. the walk over there was lovely and we passed some very quaint streets that just screamed italy/europe. i could have wandered those streets all day and been blissfully happy. i also became obsessed with buildings, and took way too many pictures of them. im thinking i should have been an architect. at the pantheon we saw them filming for a tv show called basket wives, which was cool- but ive never heard of it. inside the pantheon we just sat for a few moments because we were all beat from the day. i couldnt help but think of angel and demons while we sat there. how robert langdon had to run all over rome saving the world. 
the pantheon.

filming basket wives.
this was a good capturing of our tiredness at this point. everything was soo cool, but we were  so sleepy.
after the pantheon we just wandered and went in a few shops on our way to the spanish steps. we went in one store that was way cute- but way expensive. and we looked at a lot of shoe stores in hopes of finding cali wedding shoes, with no avail. we stopped in a gelato store that looked absolutely amazing and was huge, but we were still full off of our gelato before, but it was AMAZING. they had suckers with the popes face on them- hysterical.

its the pope!
there were all these street venders with these cool squishy guys. they would throw them all the mat and they would splat and then go back into a little ball. i was fascinated by them, but didnt buy one. tempting, but not very useful.
we eventually made it to the spanish steps which was beautiful. we were wandering around by the bottom when holly and lauren ran up to us with flowers in their hands saying that a guy had given them to them for free. (nothing is free- even if they say it is) and right behind them was the guy, he offered to take a picture for us, and then started saying in broken english- coin, you give me small something. frustrated we gave him coins, and learned a very valuable lesson.

us with our roses
we spent the next little bit just sitting on the steps soaking in italy. it was absolutely gorgeous. we then made our way up to the top where there was a church to explore. on the way we passed a guy selling purses (one of my goals for the trip was to get a cheap, most likely fake, italian leather purse) and one caught my eye- the salesman was there in seconds. i asked how much and he said 30. the purse was great, but didnt fit in the cheap category. so the hagling began. i said i wouldnt pay more than 20, he offered 25. still saying no i wont pay more then 20, cali came in with 'its not worth it ellie, lets go' agreeing i started to leave when he calls out 18. hagling done. purse bought. he also found out it was my birthday and gave me a little pincoio guy figurine that we had seen throughout italy. i have no idea the significance behind him- but it was exciting.

i love her. this was how we felt during the trip too. no worries.
we then went into the church just in time for vespurs. we sat, listened, fell asleep, the whole shabang. 

at the top of the spanish steps.

making good use of our roses, and about to start our modeling career. we are cool

after than we made the trek to dinner. the hostel worker had shown us a place on the map that was supposed to have 'the best authentic italian' so we made our way to the other side of town for some scruptious dinner. it was a long, but fun walk. at one point we ran out of sidewalk, but we got to practice our balance beam skills and it was great. we finally made it to the place- more ready to eat than ever to find it closed. holly used her little italian language knowledge to figure out that it was closed on wednesdays. just our luck. but we found another place call Il Grallino, which was amazing! the waiter spoke very little english, and we spoke very little italian, making ordering very exciting. it gave me a better appreciation for non english speakers in the states. it was so hard to not be able to express myself in a way he understood me. but we made it work, and the food was delicious.

closed. so so sad.
the most delicious bruschetta in the world. im not a fan of tomatoes but i loved this. so good!
we got fettucini, when they brought it our we were very confused. who does fettucini without alfredo? cali and i split, but she laughed at me when  i went to cut it in half, and that i would cut my pasta.

cali and i became pro at entertaining ourselves while waiting for the others to finish. it started with a funny face competition, which she won, and then moved on to making the most of our roses.

we had a lot of fun. we are cool. cali made the roses kiss, and then showed her love for sean using her rose colored glasses. badumbchu

there was a group of italians next to us (ps we have a skill of going into a place where we are the only people, and by the time we leave the place is crowded. we thought it was because we were that cool, my guess is we just eat earlier than everyone else) that were the best to watch. every time a friend came in they would all get up and hug and kiss their cheeks. they had such a zeal for life! it was amazing!

on our way home- we had a ton of energy. im sure we looked crazy. but in doing so i wasnt paying attention to where we were going and got us lost. and by lost i mean- we went the complete wrong direction at one point. i went into a cafe at one point to ask directions and the people there were so nice. one guy who was at the counter offered to buy my birkenstocks (which i was holding at this point, i switched into them but then they hurt my feet because they werent molded yet, so i switched back) and i tried my best to explain i had just gotten them, he was the funniest. and then the worker guy gave me a plastic bag for my shoes and they all pointed us home. cali was great and lead the way, as i was tired of leading, and distraught that we had gotten lost. we made it home, a little later than hoped, and all crashed.

it was a crazy day. jammed packed with italy. but amazing. a great day, a great way to turn 21.

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