Into Rome

Worst. Hangover. Of. The. Trip.

I wake up and my eyes are sealed shut. I pry one open with ma fingies. Where are we? An asylum? I scan the room. Simon is sleeping on the floor on top of some blankets. Guess we must have snuck him in here last night?

I lean over and grab my phone to check the time. We’re an hour late for checkout. “Fuck! fuk fuck fawk…” Mackay jumps up looking like it’s time to fight, “What’s up? What’s going on?” “Supposed to check out an hour ago.” He’s throwing off the blankets, “This shit again.”

Simon rises to a seat on the floor, “Where am I? Haha” “Fuck dude. That was a doozy last night.” “What time did we get back?” I check my phone, “I’ve got pictures of us in a park at 930am.” Mackay reads my mind, “Fucking Bulgaria all over again.” “Pretty much. Minus Peter…” “…humping a rabbit!” Hahahaha

We gather our shit together and scrape ourselves out of the room. Bag feels like it’s a million pounds. Legs are heavy too. “So struggly!” “Rome sounds impossible today.”

We walk passed the “I’m planning to get really drunk” stamp and can’t even muster a joke better than to just point and say, “Yup.” Guess we should have gotten stamped last night.

Front desk doesn’t care that we’re late. We leave the keys with minimal interaction with the guy. Get out to the streets of Bologna and have no idea what to do with ourselves. Brains are vacant. “Food.. I guess?” “Hermf”

We settle for the first thing we come across, plant our bags, and get a table out on the sidewalk. Slump into some seats like human bean bag chairs.

Simon is leaning towards leaving, “Alright boys, I think I’ll head out.” I get up for as good a goodbye hug as we can put together. “Great hanging, man. Sorry I was so spicy last night.” “Ah no worries, man. It was one for the books.” “That it was. Say bye to Cheryl for me “

And he’s off. Hopefully it won’t be another coon’s age before I see those two again.

We get food and suds but it’s barely helping. Mackay has his head in his hands. “Might be the hangover of the trip right here.” “Ya. The no sleep thing doesn’t help.” “Nope.” “Well the good news is, all we have to do today is get to one of the coolest cities on the planet.” “Ya. Don’t see any way I’m hitting the town tonight.” “He says…” “…before one beer. Yeah, yeah I know. I dunno man. Shit’s rough.”

We chill street side for a while. Gathering the energy to get to Rome. We’re both useless. Not even talking. Two zombie lumps on a zombie log. I get another beer after a while since Mackay is in and out of consciousness still while we sit here. Not really in a rush, a little recovery time won’t hurt. At least until we have the capacity to make decisions again.

Some lasagna may help?

MacKay comes to, rubs his eyes and seems rested enough to carry on. “Bag walking?” “Ya let’s do it. Looks like there’s a train soon.” “You look into any hostels?” “Booked us at a place called Yellow hostel. Looks baller actually.” “Nice. Let’s mosey.”

We get to the station and pick up two tickets on the bullet back to Rome. Train comes and we hop on. Soon after it gets going the ticket dude comes by and asks for our tickets. We show him and he says, “These are not the right tickets.” “We’re going to Rome, right?” “Yes, but this is for different train. You will need ticket for this train.” “Ahhh… well that sucks.” “You can purchase now? From me?” 

I take a look around and match signs on the train with our ticket details. Just making sure we’re not getting scammed here. Sure enough, we are on the wrong train.

“Pfffft… how much?” It works out to about a hundred bucks each. Ouch. “That’s two hundred dollars stupid tax right there.” “Worst hangover ever.”

We find some open seats and now it’s my turn to crash.

We detrain in Rome. Our Naples experience has my guard up even though I’ve been to Italy a few times before. But right off the train and it’s already apparent that this is much better than that. Open, spacious, room to breathe. MacKay immediately has the same thoughts, “Yep. Better than Naples.”

And this girl on the wall is thinking the same thing.

Yellow Hostel

The hostel is just a couple of blocks North of the train station. We come around the corner and there are multiple wooden and stone buildings all painted yellow and a handful of restaurant and bar options outside with patios opened up right on the street. “So is the hostel actually the whole block? Or what?” “Ya, looks like it. The map says this is Yellow Square.” 

There are drunk-proof signs along the street that guide you where you need to go, be it the bar, restaurant, various lettered yellow buildings with accommodations, the ATM, toilets, etc…. We head up the main steps following the sign for check-in. Up to the front desk and they’re currently helping a couple get checked in so they give us a buzzer and a beer. “Gotta like that system.”

We take our check-in buzzer and look around. There’s a cool lounge area here with a pool table and colorful murals. 

“This place seems pretty sick.” “Yeah it does.” An Aussie dude steps around the corner and overhears us, “Oh yeah. It’s really sick. Hundred percent sick hahaha.”

His name is Jack and he’s from Melbourne. He’s been here for 6 weeks. Funny dude. We shoot the shit for a hot minute before the buzzer goes off. “Cheers Jack, we’ll catch you around.” “For sure boys.” 

Up to the front desk and they describe the set up to us. It is the whole square out front. Bars, restaurants, shops, etc…. They give us a wristband to prove we’re staying here that also gives us a discount at all the places in the square and 20% off tours. 

Front desk dude escorts us across the street explaining all of this, walks us into one of the yellow buildings, and takes us to our room. It’s simple and basic, but that’s all we need. AC, a couple of beds, and a private bathroom/shower. The only piece of decor is a Godfather movie poster in Italian. It’s great. And nice to have a place to crash for multiple nights.

We drop our bags and take a minute to see where we are in proximity to the Roman sights/sites. “The Colosseum is basically a 20 minute walk straight down the street.” “Ya might as well, eh?” 

The Colosseum / La Biga Ristoracaffé

We stroll south-wise passed the train terminal again and further into the city. Amazing place. Modern meets old. Clean and open spaces. Ancient ruins and buildings scattered everywhere. Crazy fountains with intersections made around them. Not sure why I was expecting a dirty shit city but this is definitely not that. It’s way way the opposite and we’re gratefully enjoying it.

And then in front of us down the street we can see a world wonder starting to fill our view: The Colosseum. Colossal indeed, it looks majestic all lit up softly in the evening glow. 

The street sits a level or two above it. Wow, it’s immense and amazingly well preserved. How has this thing survived wars and the elements sitting here in the middle of the capital? Amazing. 

There is a restaurant right here across the street. It’s called La Biga. “Probably expensive, but you wanna grab a beer here?” “Well ya. You can’t beat the view.”

It is not overly expensive, surprisingly, and we throw in some arrabiatti, lasagna, beers and some no fail olives. “This is ridiculous dude. The Colosseum is right there. Right there!” “Haha ya, I thought beers would be 20 bucks here for sure.” “Look at that thing..”

“I mean.. if you’re going to sit for a beer in Rome, this seems like a good spot.” “The olives. Every time. Delicious. Olives in the eastern hemisphere just suck I guess. But ya, the view is nuts.”

The servers here all seem fun and lively. They’re joking with the customers and laughing it up amongst themselves. We call over ours to order up another round. He sees our bracelets, “Yellow bar!” “Yeah ya, we’re staying there.” “Every time I go there, I pick up girls. Going there tomorrow, it’s going to be crazy.” He’s animated haha, “American girls, so crazy! All the time I take one home. Love that place.” He throws his arms out wide and tilts his head back “Welcome to Rome baby! whoooo!”

Lol, this guy’s a riot. We’ll call him Player Bro.

At the next table over a new guy brings out a cigar and calls our server over. “Can I smoke this cigar?” Player Bro starts chuckling, “No. Only drugs. You can only smoke drugs. Do not light that unless it’s droga. hahah!” Cigar Guy takes that as a yes and lights it. Player Bro waves the smoke into his own face to catch a wiff. “Ahh man, it’s nothing. Where’s the drugs? You need drugs maaaaaan hahaha!”

MacKay is shaking his head, “This place is the shit.” “Yup.”

Player Bro comes back with our beers and puts them on the table with a wink. He points to one of the servers. She’s a smoke show. “Have you met her?” “Not yet.” “Ahhhh not yet, I like it.” He motions for her to come over and she walks up to join us. Player Bro swings his arms towards us in a gracious, introductory manner, “Meet my friends.” “Hi, I’m Marianne.” “I’m Jonathan, this is James.” “Do you have drinking names?” We don’t miss a beat, “Yeah that’s McBurger and I’m Diesel.” “Ahhh hahahah yes! Diesel and McBurger. Ok, then I’ll be Nuggets.” The four of us are all cackling now, laughter resounding off the fifth floor of the Colosseum.

They both push off to tend to server things still giggling to themselves. MacKay is still shaking his head, “Man, this place rules.” “Ya, we found the right hang for sure.” 

Some sort of traditional Gypsy-type music comes on and the servers all start dancing inside. MacKay is going to the bathroom and has to go passed them so he starts dancing with them all. Everyone’s clapping and singing. The vibe is strong, what is going on with this place? It’s a Wednesday.

Marianne comes back to the table, “Any requests?” “A good song?” “No, no! It must be a terrible song.” “Oh that’s easy. One week by Barenaked Ladies.” “Bare.. naked ladies?” I’m not sure how that became an immediate go to, but the option has been presented. “Yeah. Think you’re gonna really hate this.” “Oh good. That’s perfect.” 

One Week comes on over the restaurant house speakers and Marianne’s face shrivels up in distain. “Yes, I do not like it.” “Right?” She cocks her head and listens for a moment, “Actually I’m not sure. It might be good too.” “Haha riiiight?” 

Another server comes over to see what is going on. She wants to know who is responsible for the dramatically bad shift in music. Marianne introduces us, “His drinking name is Diesel and his is McBurger. I am now Nuggets.” “Hahaha oh good. And this is your music?” “Yeah. We know it’s terrible. We’re very sorry haha.” New Server Girl smiles, “Ok you have to make it up to us with next song then.” “Oh ya, we will for sure.”

MacKay and I have a three second scrum to decide on a new song but really the answer has been with us the whole trip. So we just look back at New Server Girl,  “Ok, we’ve got something.” “Yes what do you have?” “Dance Monkey by Tones and I.” “Tones and…” “I. Like… I… want to hear Dance Monkey.” “Dance Monkey… Ok, let’s see…”

Marianne queues it up. That damn song we’ve been hearing every day of the trip comes on. Let’s see how this plays. It’s an instant win. They love it. It’s going off. People are dancing as they go by across the street. A few new people come and sit down. Everyone in here is bobbing their heads. The servers are all dancing. What the hell is with this song? It’s a dance party here now. We’ve turned Rome into a musical. 

This is silly. MacKay has a shit-eating grin on, “Dude. This is the best. Just doing this in other cities. The Colosseum… it’s right fucking there!” “Well cheers, looks like we’ve done it again.” “Showed up in another city and gotten drunk?” “Basically ya. But also.. I dunno. It just keeps hitting.” “I think we have low standards and high fun.” 

Now that the floodgates are open we drain a few more rounds of barley sauce and start to feel pretty good again. That old adage about the best way to cure a hangover and whatnot. But I think if you can just absorb energy from your environment, that plus a few beers and you’re golden.

We decide that enough damage has been done here and we should look around Rome some more for other stupid shit to get into. We settle up with Player Bro. He pulls on my yellow wristband, “See you tomorrow!” “Yeah man, tomorrow.” Wave good-bye to Marianne and New Server Girl and take to the streets.

Just around the corner from the Colosseum and we’re almost immediately in a stretch of insane ruins and columns all lit up nicely. “Holy fuck. Rome…”

We can see bright lights blazing in the sky off in the distance. They’re skirting across the horizon then shooting straight up. Then back out and spiraling around. An event of some sort? Or a massive club maybe? Reminds me of being in camp watching them test the lights at Coachella on the Thursdays before the festival starts.

“What are those lights?” “Dunno.” “I think this requires some investigation.” “Agreed.” 

We are moths.

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