What a day what a day what a day!! Wowwwwwwww!!! Experienced my first snowfall... And it was in ROMA!!!!! Even the locals were in awe since they said it never snows here. It snowed allll day, but thank god we were inside for most of it, touring the Vatican, which is another reason my day was incredible. The Vatican. THEE Vatican. Are you kidding me!?! Never did I ever think I, Ashley Cramer from Pasadena, would be touring the Vatican, and on one of the rare snow days that Rome has. But it gets better, oh yes it does my friends. I finally was able to contact Chef Sartini, who I will be working for in less than 9 days. I've been trying to get a hold of him (whether it was me finding a phone to call with, figuring out the correct country codes, or having wifi/service to get the call to go through) for a few days now. And I finally got through! Want to hear my plan of attack?? Yeah you do! Here is how it went:
Woke up this morning at 9am with a pit in my stomach, thinking of finding a way to get a hold of chef, my language barrier, the cold weather, usual travel worries, etc. I remembered I was in ROME and getting ready to tour the Vatican, so I smiled and wore 3 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of pants, tank top, long sleeve, turtle neck, 2 coats and my down jacket topped off with my scarf and hat. I was ready. We sardine canned ourselves into the metro and got to the travel agency with whom we booked the tour with. The guy at the desk said we were waiting for a few others to join and we would start the tour in 30 minutes. So ash and I went next door to the cafe with free wifi and sucked down our tea and cappuccino. I meanwhile tried to call chef (from Ash's phone) and Skype call him (after purchasing $10 worth of minutes) and still couldn't get the call to connect. Our tour was just about to start so I had to give up. Feeling anxious and somewhat defeated (I was suppose to call him 3 days ago), ash said " ask the travel agency to help". GENIUS! I asked the guy at the desk if he could help me call a San Marino phone number and not only did he help, but he let me use his phone AND THEN translated the whole conversation for me, setting up a time and date to meet up (that was also the moment I found out my future boss speaks only Italian)! I thanked him over and over for his help and went on my way to the tour, feeling very excited and thankful.
Then reality hit: my boss only speaks Italian. Ohhhh godddddd. I figured as much but a small bit of me hoped (prayed!) that there would be a miracle and he spoke both English and Italian. Nope. Not so much. Soooo although my job thing is settled, I'm still feeling unsettled. How in the hell am I suppose to do a good job (my job or any job) if I don't understand what is even being asked of me? I knew of all these things before I got here but I think reality just hit me hard. Like a thick thick wall... Oooh boy. As I usually ask myself: what did I really just get myself into?? Haha is funny as much as it is frightening.
Anyways, let's back it up a bit. Barcelona was such a great environment! Ashleigh and i got in to many deep conversations over wine/coffee about the past, our traveling, the future and fate. We felt very connected to Barcelona and learned so much in our 3.5 days there. Our last day was spent with our new friend Juan, who we met through Tincho, showing us Gaudí's Park Güell, la boqueria, la rambla, and small alley ways in Barcelona. Beautiful day and I wouldn't ask for any other ending. We did the touristy park, the food lovers market, and the local's street shopping which was awesome! My favorite, of course, was the boqueria, which had the most insane ingredients used for the local cuisine. I saw all kinds of organ meats/ meats (hearts, livers, stomachs, tripe, pig feet, heads, cow tongue, etc), cheeses, produce and more. Definitely one of my favorite markets so far (along with the borough market in London). Ash, Juan and I took turns buying cheese, olives, bread, prosciutto, strawberries, avocado and tomato that we prepared for our dinner that night. We had a wonderful finger food spread back at the hostel, where we ate the fresh market food, sipped red wine and the Sauternes I bought in Paris, and talked about travels. It was a great way to end our awesome time in Barcelona. We both fell in love with the city and it's people and were sad to leave (yeah, we actually did shed a few tears)! Thank you Juan for showing us around and letting us be tourists :)
We arrived in Roma, around 9pm so it was dark and we couldn't see any of the city. We found our way to the hostel, a few blocks from the train station we were at, and immediately asked for a good place to eat. Half a block away, we entered our first Italian eating experience. Oh. My. God. FAMILY!!! Doesn't matter who you are or where you come from, you're family. And I'm assuming because we were two blondes entering a literally underground Italian restaurant that we stuck out pretty easily. I attempted speaking Italian to which the server smiled at every time I spoke, probably because I sounded like an idiot. But I spoke anyways. We ordered risotto and carbonara and a bottle of chianti. There was a boom box in the corner of the room playing 80s music and a bunch of Italian men sitting at a table nearby, trying to smile and get our attention. I was smiling so much; the whole vibe of the restaurant cracked me up!! I loved it. The server brought us complimentary limoncello and then the table of Italian men came over to pour us more limoncello! They wanted to know where we were from and talked to us briefly. As customers left the restaurant, they would leave and say ciao or buona sera to EVERYONE upon exiting. Sooo much fun. I loved my first Italian experience and will remember it forever.
Yesterday, we toured the colosseum and saw a lot of ancient ruins. It hit us that we were in one of the oldest cities in the world. This was the first time that we cold actually see the sitting since arriving and we were blown away. We ate pizza, bruschetta and beer for lunch for 10€ and then for dinner we had pasta, soup and a giant bottle of wine for 14€. Crazy!!! I love the atmosphere here. Is scary and different but I like it. Italians are in their own little world and they love it which makes me love it. :)
Ashleigh and I also met a nun today who we didn't know was a nun until we were done talking to her, she introduced herself as sister Maria. She was all bundled up and talked to us about Italy through an american perspective since she was from Philadelphia. We told her about us, me being a cook and Ashleigh being a dancer and she told us how much she appreciated our art. At the end, she said " I would wish you luck but I don't believe in luck. I believe in destiny. And I want the two of you to chase your destiny." The whole conversation made me smile. Because last night, over our pasta and soup, Ashleigh and I toasted our wine to being here officially for four weeks. About a month now. And I quickly took out my journal and wrote before I forgot the train of thought in the heat of the moment:
It has been 4 weeks since we left home. We flashed back to where we were. The first thought I had was a flashback to the airport in LA where I first carried my bags. The first time I carried my future life on my shoulder and in my hand. I had no idea what I was getting in to. No idea what I would taste, see, smell, or feel. I held my own life, my self, and my bags for the first time and I was scared. I was excited, but scared. And here I am now, having been through what I've been through, stronger, braver and more confident in who I am. One month ago, I could not have said that and here we are now, different people. This has been the longest, most challenging month of my entire life. Easily. And here we are smiling and toasting over spaghetti and soup in one of the oldest cities