... And on the 12th day of travel, Rachel said, "let there be a blog post!"
So she saw that it was done. She saw that it was good.
Hi my loves! Or should I say, 'ello! Bonjour! Ciao! Hallo!
No matter the language (but yes, let's stick with English) the silence on my part is being put to an end! Consider this an official declaration. I'm sure by now you thought (hoped?) this day would never come, but I'm back to prove you wrong and fill you in on my latest European endeavors. I intended to begin this, oh, like twelve days ago, but then traveling chaos happened and exploring happened and lack of sleep happened and wifi didn't happen and neither did free time in general and now it's September 1 and I'm in Rome (ROME!) and on the tail end of my trip. Wow!
First and foremost: wifi, pronounced "wee-fee", in these parts is a lot like men: when you can find it available, it proves itself to be rather untrustworthy and unstable, appearing at the most random of times with promises of eternal happiness and connection, only to quickly disappear, unannounced, taking any and everything you ever thought you had together and leaving you questioning your entire existence.
What I'm saying is, wifi can be hard to find around here, but Hana and I have gotten good at learning the tricks of the trade in becoming exceptional wifi scouts and bandits. As a non-experienced-yet-slowly-learning-traveler, I feel as though it is my civic duty to share some hints with the curious outer world. Write these down:
Starbucks is a trusty source of wifi (except for in the entire country of Italy, where Starbucks is nonexistent. I KNOW, every white girl's biggest nightmare). Buy a cheap shot of espresso or an over-decorated marshmallow on a stick and sit in the chill, comforting, air-conditioned environment that is Starbucks. Your second best bet: desperately find a tacky tourist-focused restaurant that is boldly advertising "FREE WIFI!" on the city's Main Street, eagerly ask the waiter for the wifi password before you even get a menu, and sit through a could-be nice meal in pure silence as you and your traveling partner-in-crime catch up on all of your social media sites in a mad frenzy. OR, when a random locked WIFI demands you enter your local telephone number, you make something up and cross your fingers that it works. Desperate times call for desperate measures, my friends. One soon finds while traveling abroad they are not above any of the aforementioned behaviors. However, it is nice to be forced to disconnect for a small while. I don't think I would have appreciated the Eiffel Tower or the Roman Colosseum if I were fixated on constantly refreshing my social media feeds. It's refreshing.
Roughly switching gears here (in my head this transition makes sense.. But honestly I JUST HAVE SO MUCH TO TELL YOU I can't help but word vomit it all over the place. Proper, chronological organization will come with time, I promise). Hostel life has honestly been exceptionally better than I ever hoped for. I worried often beforehand about little things like rooming with strangers, location of each hostel, and amenities and overall hostel quality, but each place we've stayed so far has exceeded my expectations. We've gotten along with all of our roommates - some older, some who only spoke Spanish (unexpected bilingual perks), and many our age, all on a similar backpacking trip like our own - and really quickly formed a strong friendship with a few, to the point where we've been able to go out together and really get to know each other. We've met people from all over the globe, all with different stories and experiences, but one common quality inevitably bonds us together: a love of travel. I never dreamt it'd be so easy to form a friendship with a complete stranger off of a similar like for experiencing cultures and seeing the world. Our roommates have been little Godwinks on this journey, and upon looking back I've realized that God placed me with each of those girls at different points in the journey to help fulfill something within me I been yearning for. Our free-spirited, kind, worldly Australian roommate in London inspired me to be be less timid and more brave and confident as I learned to navigate a big, foreign city. In Paris, we roomed with a couple of older Spanish-speaking women (one from Argentina, the other from Uruguay) who not only comforted me with the familiarity of a "foreign" language that I love to practice, but filled the role of a loving, older relative as I began to feel a big defeated and homesick (because, FRENCH. Oof). Our other roommate in Paris, from California, was like a long-lost sister. Hana and I quickly made her our own and she joined us in our Parisian explorations, bringing an exciting mix to our pair. Our roommates here in Rome, two friends from England, have provided us with our first personal interactions with culture differences. While English culture is nothing drastically different from the US, we have spent so much time talking about small culture differences, especially within schooling (at "Uni" ;)) and social customs. Our world is so big. So fascinating. And our God is even bigger and better!
We have one final night here in Rome before heading off to Munich tomorrow afternoon. I have enjoyed my time in Italy but cannot wait to see what Germany has to offer us - honestly, as long as I can find Wienerschitzel in a Biergarten, I think I'll be content!
I so badly want to begin writing about our specific adventures in each city, but in complete honesty, doing any type of writing on anything other than my computer set up in a proper ("proper," listen to me! I've been hanging around Brits far too long) work setting gives me anxiety. I can't bring myself to type an anthology on my mini phone screen where it's unnecessarily complicated and borderline impossible to format posts and add photos. If this is going to be done, it shall be done right! ;) so I will leave you with the promise of more to come, and one little memento that pretty much sums up this entire journey thus far.