3. May 12th. Wednesday
I woke up this morning looking out the train window at the French countryside. Hedgerows and rolling hills covered in vibrant green grasses. Small towns nestled between or on tops of hills, occasional squared fields of intense yellow flowers.
We just now pulled into Dijon and are stopped at a station. The town’s gothic cathedral and ancient houses loom on the hillside. A brick wall embankment against the train station looks 300 years old and holds a sign that says “Dijon-ville” and is rusted with its age.
I told Laura yesterday evening that the last two days of exploring Rome, having no cell phones or internet, the styles of the Roman shops and coffeebars, and travelling by train makes me feel as though it were 1935. The aesthetic of Dijón only reinforces this feeling.
Awoke on the top bunk of a sleeping car on a train to Paris. Peered out from under a plaid wool blanket to see green countryside dotted with old french farms, churches and clusters of cows. What a wonderful start to the day! Cherries, cappuccinos, and croissants for breakfast. A quick recap of a day spent in Rome. We arrived on Sunday, May 10 at 10am. The airport was calm as we walked through the terminal and anticipated the next 24 hours. Passports stamped, money transferred, train tickets to Roma Termini, arrived at the train station and began our search for a hostel. This is the point where we should have immediately stowed our luggage because walking through the streets of Rome with even our small bags proved quite difficult. Many stairs, cobblestones, and crazy traffic left us tired and frustrated. We finally located an internet cafe and looked up some hostels. The majority were booked, but we found one possibility and proceeded to make it our mission to locate it. Another metro train to Termini, luggage stored, our first meal of the day at 5pm: cappuccinos and proscuito with brie on a baguette. We sat in silence. I will admit to feeling overwhelmed and tired already, wishing we had booked a hostel in advance, bought better shoes, and packed only backpacks. We walked out of the station and into the rain, realizing I left my raincoat in the luggage locker. Thankfully the hostel was close, had a room with six beds for 17 euro each, and a rooftop garden with fig and lemon trees.
I fell asleep almost immediately; awoke to darkness and loud laughter on the street below coming though our open window. Even though we felt disoriented from the days events, we shook off the jet lag the best we could and walked into the Roma evening. Already late, many places were closed but we found a small wine bar across the street from our hostel. A bottle of vino and a pizza proved to be the perfect meal and a remedy to restore my spirit. Amos and I shared a cigarette and struck up a conversation with the gentleman across from us when Amos offered his photographic skills to take a group photo. Our first acquaintance with another traveler; Adam from Toronto was traveling through Italy for three weeks. He shared some highlights of the city with us, as well as an excitement about photography. We ended the evening with a stroll through our section of the city, back to our room to meet three travelers from Spain, finish a bottle of wine while playing sudoku in bed. In that moment, I felt quite content.
Day two in Roma before we left for Paris was a flurry. We saw so much, it seems to blend together in one magnificent mound of ancient history, classic Italian shops, and the rhythmic Italian language that was all around us. We saw many more monuments and ruins than we can name or could name by seeing them. Colosseo, Pantheon, Isola, Tiberina, the oldest Jewish district in Europe, Area Sacra, Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, Palatino, and everything in between. We successfully walked two unintentional circles, since the Roman streets are a bit hard to navigate, especially when in a rush to see a few things before catching a 6pm train. Looking back we thought it would have been great to spend an additional day and put Paris off for another, but perhaps we’ll just save more Roma for the next trip to Europe.