Now that I’ve finished looking through all the South Padre snap stories, I figured I would write this quick post before I took a shower and deleted all of my social media forever (kidding, mostly).

I got back last week from a trip to Italy. I flew in on Sunday to stay in Florence with Lana (longtime friend from the U) and her roommates in Florence, and their flat with 20 foot ceilings and a view of a nice (slightly noisy) club across the narrow Florence street. It’s interesting to see the differences in accommodations between countries. Norway goes for the simple, communist-looking, concrete-poured, hill-top Nordic village look. Florence is clearly aiming for something more contemporary in their flats. To each their own. I like my village.

Anyways, Florence was much more than I had expected. The Duomo is the epicenter of Florence. Lana previously bought tickets to climb the domed structure. I’m terrified of heights and she has a fear of tight spaces, so a portion of the day was spent with pep-talks and nervous half-smiles. The climb kicked my ass, to say the least. A portion of the hike up the Duomo was in a narrow passage inside the dome itself. I wanted to throw up or pass out, but instead we kept climbing the 600 year old monster. After a nice 20 minutes or so of constant heart palpitations and distracted conversations we made it to the view overlooking all of Florence and the hills in the distance. The views were amazing, easily the best the city had to offer. You could see every last sepia-toned home and shop. The Duomo was a subject in AP Euro (Shoutout to Mr. Vandeberg) that I remember well, so the historical context of the building made it all the more valuable of an experience. We also got to tour the inside of the building, although the supposed “crypt” was less skulls and eerie tombs  and more gift shops and roped-off areas. Can’t have everything.

The rest of the day was spent wandering the streets and taking in the different lifestyle in Italy. I ate so much gelato and pizza, and I didn’t bankrupt myself doing so. Take that Norway.

The next day I took a train across the Italian countryside to Rome, which probably would’ve been a nice trek, but I was too tired to see most of it.

Rome was an interesting experience as well, if for no other reason than I did it by myself for the one day I was there. Although, by the time I got to Rome, I was sleep deprived, homeless-looking, and had a mangled beard that made me look like I washed up on one of the nearby beaches. I genuinely felt bad when I walked into any shop or gelato place because of how dirty I was, but, along with my big travel pack, I meandered around the streets looking for old rocks and buildings in the city.

I came across the Colosseum and Roman Forum. I toured both. The Colosseum was amazing and easily one of the most memorable and surreal experiences in Europe yet. I stopped and read nearly all of the historical plaques, and took the site in for all it was worth. The Roman Forum, on the other hand, was not as rad. I should’ve done my homework on it more, because the entire time I was there I wandered around thinking “the fu** is this?” At least I can say I was there? I don’t know.

One goal I had in Rome was to find a hole in the wall pizza place in some back alley or street and try it out. I found exactly that. The place was called “Pizza” and it sat neatly in a back alley around the Trevi Fountain area. The joint was run by one guy who beckoned me into his establishment and told me all about his pizzas. So of course I ate there. It was good. Afterwards, I went to the aforementioned Trevi and tossed a single Norwegian Kroner in there. I hope the government isn’t collecting the tourist money that gets thrown in, they will be sorely disappointed. I think 1 NOK is like 1/10 of a Euro?  Needless to say, I’m probably too cheap to have my Trevi fountain wish come true. I’m sure it requires at least a 50 cent piece.

By this point I was so exhausted that I went to buy a coffee, sadly for me Italy doesn’t believe in filtered coffee so I had an espresso.

Here’s how you know I’ve never had an espresso: When I bought the drink, it came out in a tiny espresso cup, as these things often do. The cup had a little grip on the side that I slid my middle finger into when I pulled it up to take a sip. When I tried getting my finger out of the grip again, it was stuck, like a ring thats too tight around a sausage-looking finger. I kept struggling, looking around to make sure nobody was watching me. I ended up spilling the last sip of my espresso all over the counter, unable to really clean, with one hand stuck to my coffee cup, the other frivolously cleaning with the tiny napkin I got with the drink. The old lady next to me took notice. She didn’t say anything, just pondered over my struggle. I tried everything to get my finger out, and after 5 or so minutes of squeezing and pulling it was still stuck. I took one more long look around and walked out, with the tiny cup still attached to my hand.

So now its about 6 PM. I look super dirty, mostly because I was. I was sweaty. I had an espresso cup inexplicably attached to my middle finger (sort of symbolic if you think about it), oh and my phone was dead! So Rome was really taking a toll on me. After leaving, I went to the first alley I could find and wiggled and pulled until the espresso cup finally came loose. I set it neatly on one of the dumpsters and looked for a place I could charge my phone. Being the ratchet street creature I was at this point, I sat in a booth at the nearest Burger King next to the outlet. I ate a double cheeseburger, and cried a little inside.

I finally made it to my hostel later that night after wandering around the city some more and called it a day. I had an early flight to Amsterdam and then Oslo the next day.

My return travel was going smoothly, until my flight to Amsterdam was delayed. Which was fine at first, I had a two hour layover in Amsterdam to serve as a buffer for the lost time on the first flight. Sadly, my flight was delayed again, then switched to a new gate, then delayed yet a third time. At this point I was nervous. Mid way through the flight, the attendant came on to give instruction to passengers who would surely miss their next flights, myself included. I got to Amsterdam, went to their info desk, they gave me a ticket for a 6 AM flight to Oslo the next day, and a voucher for 10 euros at any of the eating establishments at my terminal. At this point it was about 4 PM, and those 10 euros had to last the next 14 hours. I was fully prepared to sleep on a bench in the Amsterdam airport, when I was fortunate (for the third time) to receive a standby ticket to the earlier flight to Oslo at 9 PM.

So after all of that, I was back in Kringsja (my student village) by about 12:30 AM, having not slept in Amsterdam after all.

Anyways, life in Norway since then has been good. Classes are going well. I just got back from an 8 AM seminar on women’s rights to land and property, which is actually a very frustrating issue, believe it or not. It’s nice having classes on a topic that get you fired up. I think thats a good sign.