[It’s been 7 months since this trip and 6 months since I last attempted to update this post. I knew this would happen – I’d get overwhelmed by the storytelling, then I’d drop the trail and pick it back up at some future date, feeling nostalgic. So, let’s pause in the midst of this cold winter and imagine it’s summer and we’re all in Rome. For a refresher, I already said a few things about the days in Rome. And if you want to see other stories, search by categories.]
I can’t even figure out what to say about the nights in Rome. At night, the city felt like it belonged to us. I was exploring with a night-owl friend, someone with a long bucket list and a short amount of time. Thankfully, we both walked quickly and laughed often. And even though we were lost most of the time, Rome is a kind, generous city with beautiful sights around every corner.
We quickly realized that the popular sights held no appeal – too many crowds, too many men trying to give/sell me flowers – so we set off on an unpredictable adventure, turning down any and every street that looked interesting. Somehow, with very little planning (at least on my part), we managed to find everything we were looking for. And I will never forget wandering into an open square in the middle of the night, facing the Pantheon for the first time. The beauty and charm of the city were already apparent, but this building taught me to look for more – it was ancient and huge and it just sat there as the city grew and changed.
Our only mis-steps came at the end of each night, when we remembered that public transit had restrictions. That meant taking a taxi our first night out, which was so terrifying and fun that I realized it’s something to be experienced, if only once, in every city. The second night, after a late, late, so late restaurants were almost closed dinner, a dinner that was so delicious (and late) that I cried tears of joy, we RACED back to the train station, just barely catching the final train. Once we sat down, the fact that we’d split a bottle of wine and I’d just sprinted through one of the most romantic cities in a dress and heels meant I giggled the rest of the way home.
I don’t know where to start, but since I spent the last three weeks galavanting through Europe, and since I took hundreds of pictures and have stories to share, I have to start somewhere.
How about I start at the beginning? Julie Andrews would approve.
Rome, I was not prepared for the heat or the size of your central bus station, nor did I sufficiently research HOW to find the appropriate bus. I didn’t know the correct way to buy a ticket, and it makes perfect sense that a bus driver would yell at me in Italian because of this. I had to forego my romantic notion of fitting in, and was immediately the tourist, loaded down with luggage and dripping with sweat, that begged of the entire bus, “Does anyone speak English?!” None of these things should be held against you, and I maintain that I wasn’t in Rome – but was instead in some traveler’s purgatory – until I was greeted with a hug and a baby by my friends at their front door.
They fed me. They gave me cold water. They listened to my tale of woe with the right amount of laughter and concern. I unpacked my luggage and distributed gifts, then we went for a walk around the neighborhood and through a local park, in the golden sunlight that I soon learned would be a constant companion in this city.
Despite predictions, we did not get much snow last night. Instead, it’s bright and sunny and the ground is dry!
Let’s take a mental vacation to December 2010, when there WAS lots of snow on the ground!
My parents and I decided to drive to Colonial Williamsburg and walk around, in the wind and snow, without paying to enter any of the houses. Somehow we thought that was a good idea. (In the end, we were all very cold and grumpy. But it was still very beautiful outside.)
These are from a few weeks ago, when it was still warm down in the valley but chilly up in the mountains.
You can only reach Stehekin by ferry or seaplane, and after the 4-hour boat ride, we stayed 3 nights in a cabin looking out over the water. These were the most relaxing days of our trip, and we spent one day hiking in the mountains, rented bikes one morning to ride up and down the only road, and I wandered around with my camera most evenings taking portraits of the old vehicles.