Random thoughts from an American during his 2nd trip to Europe

I have a confession to make… I never had any desire to visit Europe.  Suffering from a combination of overzealous Team Americanism and a preference for visiting sites of natural beauty like the Painted Desert or Ventana Wilderness, I just did not see the point.  Kathryn practically had to force me to take the extended layover in Paris on our way to Cairo.  I absolutely fell in love with Paris, but for some reason I was still resistant to the idea of taking a whole vacation to visit Italy.  The trip to Rome is my favorite vacation of all time.  I count Kathryn’s influence as one of the biggest blessings of my life.

Some of the random thoughts I had while experiencing Rome:

1 Depending on level of desperation, the dollar you spend to pee is either the most aggravating or satisfying of your life.

2 I found out why Italians make great race car drivers.

3 Italy has way more laws than us, but its cool because they are more suggestions than laws.

4 Americans invented the institution of McDonalds yet we are the only ones who are forbidden the beer necessary on site to choke it down.

5 Travel in the off season. If you do and are stuck having to eat in the “tourist trap” section of town, find the places on Trip Advisor with poor scores but the dominant comment being “good food but poor service.” Every time we did this we ended up with a fantastic meal, good price, and a wait staff that was happy to have customers.

6 The worst street pizza in Rome is better than 99% of the pizza sold in the US. That being said, take the time to find a pizza even the Romans consider good.

7 My biggest fear was the language barrier.  It is much better described as the language Maginot Line.

8 Despite being warned otherwise,  every cab driver we came in contact with was honest, friendly, and expected no tip at all even after finding out we are American, and seemed genuinely appreciative for a small tip in thanks for the extra info they provided on our trips.

9 The Rome metro is a simplified version of the DC metro. Only 2 lines, one crossing station, and you buy tickets for time not distance. The only thing less simple than DC is that you do not have enough eyes, hands, nor concentration to cover every one of your pockets and bags. Consolidate anything you cannot do without into one pocket and keep your hand in it.   I had some kids try to pickpocket me and all they got was the photocopy of my passport in my jacket pocket, and they dropped that at my feet.

10  Visit the Borghese no matter what.  Skip Musseo Altemps if you need something to give time-wise.

11 Life is a grey area. Does red mean stop?  Only if someone is coming and they are not slowing down. Is that rose really free? As long as you don’t touch it. Is the cab fare 10.40?  10 is fine no problem. Did we say 2pm? We meant some sometime between noon and dinner.

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