Sunday, 30 March 2014

28th February, 2014. Ciao Roma!

I could never get tired of visiting Rome. I've flown to that city three times and still can't get enough of it, so when my old flatmate and excellent friend, Adrian, invited me over my answer was a definite: "YES!". I closed skype, booked a flight on easyjet, packed my bag, carpooled to the airport and flew over to my favourite boot.

The Colosseum, the Vatican, the Forum, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, and the many more countless impressive monuments had already been ticked off my to-see list yet there is always a new surprise around every corner in Rome. I had my first day out planned with plenty of lone wanders around the city, just me, my notebook and my pen. I'd sketch, think and get wandered away by the city. I put on a light jacket, grabbed my bag and walked to the bus stop only to get slapped by the plan ruiner. As I waited for the bus, the worst downpour I've been unlucky enough to get caught in began. There was no shelter. People started popping up their umbrellas, tightening their scarves. I looked down at my suede covered feet and looked up at my uncovered bangs, sighed, and waited for the bus. Forty-five minutes is what it took for the bus to screech to a halt at the stop and by then I looked like a wet street dog.

Instead of sketching monuments from behind a cup of coffee in a piazza somewhere, I ended up in a gay bar, staring up at rainbow coloured LED lights and drying my feet by the air-con. Located next to the Colosseum, it is impossible to miss with its pride flag decorated exterior. The waiters were kind enough to let me sit with a drink indoors for hours until my socks dried off and kill time people watching. "Coming Out" is the only gay bar in Rome and so it fills up with all walks of life: families, teenagers, elderly, couples, boys with slicked back haircuts, men and women in trouser braces, girls with asymmetrical vibrant hair, bearded men, clean-shaved men, women in heels, flats and everything inbetween. It is a place where categories just don't exist and it felt freeing. I took out my pen and drew a few of the characters that walked through the door.

At least Rome knows how to turn a bad day into a fantastic night. There is a bar called la Mura, shadowed by the walls of Rome in the student district of Lazio, where lost travellers like myself gather every Friday night to exchange stories. I arrived on my own at 9 and staggered out of the overflowing party at 4 in the morning with a group of newfound friends and a warmed up belly full of wine.

There are so many characters I met that night worthy of their own poetry. From the Calatrava-criticising Italian to the dancing Ukrainian but there was one woman in particular whose life story had me vitalized. Recently known as Thyda, this joyful Cambodian used to own a large house in Australia where she'd invite travellers of up to 16 in one night. One day she decided to sell it all and travel the world using helpX and couchsurfing. She manages her business through her smartphone and fills everyone she meets with a 'joie de vivre" wrapped in passion and wit. Thyda is such an inspiration! (Check out her blog!)

As I left la Mura that night it was still raining. My socks were completely wet and the chill stormed through all my clothes. Traveling is not easy, things never go according to plan and the amount of challenging situations you can find yourself in are countless. But for each amazing person I meet and the connections I make, I will gladly throw myself into the unknown, again and again.

1 comment:

  1. I love you and your artistic touch to your blogs. Keep going and keep Inspiring xxThyda