I am in Rome!
My trip TO Rome was awful. I became quite ill on both legs of my flight - and the take-off of the plane from Philadelphia was extremely turbulent, horrid, and gross: the plane dropped (ahh!), rocked, and people swore and gasped, etc.
"So THIS is what I've gotten myself into," I thought, and regretted ever stepping on the plane.
But now I am here and Rome is quite interesting. I'm not going so far as to say "awesome" or "super-duper," yet, but it isn't as foreign as I expected it to be. Oh, sure, there's the whole "crossing the street" thing, weird labels on everything, forward men, different store practices, tourists galore, and a host of differences that I need to adjust to. Yet, in all, it's feel is similar to that of the Bay Area (San Francisco, in particular).
So far, I have been mistaken for French and Italian but not American (until I do something stupid like not printing the tag for vegetable/fruit purchases). Che fa complimenti!
I have also discovered that you don't need to stand in line for the General Papal Audiences. The Swiss Guard, you see, don't mind letting the individual here and there in - particularly, I think, if they're pretty young women. While many forlorn tourists thronged behind the area reserved for the general audience, I and another girl approached the Swiss Guard and tried charm. And lo - we got within 15 feet of the Pope.
Sadly, I have no very good pictures because this persistent man in front of me, wearing a blue shirt, insisted on standing on his chair and obscuring every view and shot that he could... So I have shots of a blue shirt as this man heroically threw himself everywhere but where he should be. But I saw the Pope! And he has a very cute accent when he speaks in English.
Certain things are much easier than I thought they would be - so my apprehension is quite a bit lowered. Phew.
Ciao, ciao, ciao, ciao.