The Roman Redemption

Duh-duh-na-nuh! The Pantheon!

After leaving the Vatican, I set off for my final major destination. The Pantheon.

Home to Victor Emmanuel II, padre della patria (or father of the fatherland for those of us that don't speak Italian).
Home to Victor Emmanuel II, padre della patria (or father of the fatherland for those of us that don’t speak Italian).

Not exactly hidden away, but also not out in the open, the Pantheon seems to appear before you as you emerge from the tiny, narrow streets of pedestrian Rome. Free to enter, the Pantheon is yet another Roman “must-see”, but it definitely doesn’t take much time to see it. I suppose that’s the beauty of its circular nature.

The grand entrance
The grand entrance
Raphael's tomb. It was very hard to get a good picture, but this was the best I could do.
Raphael’s tomb. It was very hard to get a good picture, but this was the best I could do.

Once inside this great circle, you are invited to walk around the outer perimeter and admire all the graves of fallen emperors, kings, and notorious individuals of the past. Here you will find not only the grave of the first emperor of Rome, but also that of Raphael. Unfortunately it was raining the day I visited so the inner portion of the Pantheon was completely roped off. At first I didn’t understand, but noticing the immense pooling of water that was gathering in the center of the structure, I began to put two and two together. But no matter. The floor of the Pantheon was constructed to be slightly concave, so as to prevent any serious damage caused by natural elements.

Trying to be artsy on my iPhone. But you get the point, rain on the floor and all.
Trying to be artsy on my iPhone. But you get the point, rain on the floor and all.
Inside the Pantheon
Inside the Pantheon
IMG_3633
Just a glimpse of the massive columns and art masterpieces.

Fortunately, it was not as crowded as the Vatican (though I don’t know if ever I will again be in a place that is) so I was able to make my round and exit with my dignity in tact. I was a bit lost though, and miserably wet. I know I’m a Pacific Northwest girl, but that only means I know rain, not that I particularly enjoy it. The Piazza della Rotonda, where the Pantheon is located also hosts a borage of cafes and gelaterias; and they all had wifi. I would’ve been open to a nice cup of Italian gelato (had I not been already cold as ice), but opted for a cappuccino instead. Now, I had been told by many that coffee in Italy should not cost you more than €1 maybe €2. However, due to the touristy nature of my surroundings, every cafe was charging €4 for their smallest coffees. All I needed was to find my way home! Luckily, a friendly waiter from New York sympathized with my plight and let me “look at the menu” while I got on Google maps. Once I figured out my route, I snuck out the door and headed for my temporary home.

Another famous square, Piazza Navona, west of the Pantheon
Another famous square, Piazza Navona, west of the Pantheon
The Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone
The Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone
The Neptune fountain
The Neptune fountain

After spending the day in a moist mosh pit of tourists, I was pretty much done with people. At least for a few hours. I gladly took the R&R at the hostel over venturing out into that mad house of a city again. But the evening was far from over.

During my stay in Rome, I had been trying to reconnect with the Hawaiian guys from the plane, but the lack of a stable internet connection had thwarted both our efforts to communicate. Finally, on both of our last nights, we were able to meet up. Around 6 o’clock I went to meet them at this hostel bar/restaurant called The Yellow. Now this is where I should have stayed! I haven’t seen the rooms but the bar was great, and the food was even better! Not to mention cheaper than what you might find out on your own. At any rate, we all hung out for awhile, catching up on our stays. The Hawaiians not only shared my feelings of disappointment but multiplied them tenfold. Being island boys, they too rarely come into contact with so many people in the same place. So we bought a few beers and clinked our pints to the joy of leaving Rome.

The Yellow bar was quite a happening place that night, with an open mic night followed by a burlesque show. First time I had ever seen burlesque a) ever and b) at a hostel bar but, why not?

Our crazy group!
Our crazy group!

Before starting the main event, we had made a few interesting friends. First was the group of gorgeous silver fox Italians. They were out celebrating the birthday of their friend, and what a merry occasion it was! They bought pitchers of beer and were sharing with the whole table, teaching us how to speak Italian (really just “Happy Birthday”), and dancing with the guys at the bar. They may have only shared our table for an hour or two, but it didn’t take long for them to feel like good friends.

Since it was getting closer to showtime, the place was packed! Not wanting to miss any of the action, we left the sanctity of the booth and wandered out into the open sea of drunk twenty-somethings. This is how we met Jack and Melissa. Jack, originally from Wyoming, is captain of a yacht that sails wherever the owner wants to go and is never chartered. Luck guy! Melissa is from Paris, but was in the process of moving to Sofia, Bulgaria to start her own cosmetics company. Even though it was hard to hear, due to the noise of open mic night, I managed to keep up conversation with both of them as we exchanged information about one another. I was blown away by the commitment Melissa had for her passion to produce and distribute a whole new line of cosmetics. Her goal seemed monumental to me. Then, talking to Jack about his background, I was again flabbergasted. Coming from Wyoming, he knew he wanted to work on boats so he moved to Florida and somehow got a job across the sea working on a boat until he eventually became a ship captain and now sails a rich old man around the world. And these two had only just met each other the night before, but they were so inspired by each other’s passion for their dreams and decided to continue their travels together.

Me, Cody, and Melissa. Jack was unfortunately not pictured.
Me, Cody, and Melissa. Jack was unfortunately not pictured.

When they asked about me, I wasn’t quite sure what to say. My whole life goal post college was this trip to Europe, so now that I’m doing it I wasn’t sure where I was going next. So far, during my travels, I entertained the idea of doing an international exchange to a Spanish speaking country, where I could teach English whilst improving my Spanish. Another idea that had recently sprouted was doing another trip like this one, but to Southeast Asia instead. When I told Jack and Melissa that I would most likely go home and work a minus job for a few months, they both shook their heads in disagreement and disappointment. Jack told me about his own experiences and reiterated that something somewhere will work out if you want it to. In his mind, I should have blown off my flight home and just gone straight over. To quote him exclusively, he told me that if I go home, “I will end up pregnant and stuck for the rest of [my] life”. The thought is terrifying.

So I thought about it, and I realized they were right. Maybe not about the pregnancy thing, but about doing what you want when you want to do it. Youth should not be wasted on the young, because the young should be out living and doing all the things that they can’t do when they’re old and tied down. Right now, I’m the freest I will ever be in my life, and I didn’t even really realize it until that one night in a bar in Rome, talking to two people that appear to be the poster children for spontaneity. I wasn’t going to go right away, but I decided that I am going. Look out world, this little lady is going to Asia (link to come once trip is planned)!

In the end, Rome wasn’t one of my favorite places, but it was home to one of my favorite nights. I suppose it has been redeemed, even if just a little bit.

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