So where did we leave off? Oh yeah - we headed out into the city for some dinner - leaving our suitcases in a pile in the kitchen.
We had picked a restaurant and chose the most direct route, then set out. Katie and Jamie came prepared with laminated colorful maps of the city. Ryan and I brought nothing. So we followed along like nonchalant children, enjoying the setting sun against the scattered ruins and statues, snapping pictures, catching up, while Katie and Jamie navigated us to the restaurant. Periodically the head of the line would stop to check a street sign and verify our position on the map. The periodic stops became more frequent and the nonchalant children began to wonder if they should offer to look at the map with the responsible map-bearer. We had missed our turn. Jamie had highlighted the route on the map but I suppose we were all feeling a little nonchalant and or fatigued. We ended up walking towards Firenze (according to the sign) and had to turn around. Then we came upon a huge ruin. This must be the Colosseum! No....I dont remember it looking like this. True its a greyish brown mass of building thats mostly all fallen to rubble but I do remember it being a bit more..... round...and surrounded by tourists. It was not the Colosseum. We walked a bit further and low and behold...the Colosseum! At this point we had given up on the fancy restaurant (I believe we had spent close to two hours walking kinda in a oblong? Am I exaggerating? In any case it felt long and we were already tired) so we decided to jump the metro at the Colosseum and go to the Spanish Steps where there were sure to be restaurants.
The sky an ever darkening blue when we got off the metro, we stumbled out in to the big square next to the Spanish Steps. Jamie had a place marked that we had found on the internet so we wound our way down the small streets towards our destination. I'd like to insert here that this area is IMO one of the prettiest of Rome. We found ourselves in a back alley street covered in ivy vines and romantic yellow street lights and stumbled upon the restaurant we were looking for. It looked perfect. Eclectic. Small intimate tables covered in bright red tablecloths with little white doilies topped with clear blue plates and art posters and mirrors everywehre and a wall made of horseshoes, plus several different cakes sitting up on the bar ready to be whisked out into the dining room to temp the patrons. We walked in and timidly held up 4 fingers. Reservations? Well..no we don't. All booked? Ugh.
We sadly walked back down the romantic alleyway. I had seen a street that looked bustling and foody, so we walked down that way and chose one of the first we came upon (our moral was a bit low at the point as was our energy). The waiter pointed us to a long table at the back of the restaurant and we took our seats and quickly decided on our meals. Then we waited. I was hungry and thus a little impatient but knew from experience that things in European restaurants just dont move that fast compared to American ones. It seems to me that Europeans spend 80 percent of the time talking and socializing and 20 percent of the time actually eating or dealing with the menu or check. Not so back in 'Merica. If I come to a restaurant I want food, and I want it fast.
Our orders we taken by a waiter who seemed a bit stiff and bored and without too much of a wait our food came out. An amazing meal would have lifted our spirits and prepared us for the night in the living room. Instead we got a mediocre tourist dinner (insert a comment made by Ryan about me being a food snob). Jamie's even had a bonus hair in it. We chowed it all in no more than 15 minutes and were ready for the bill. After waiting a bit I prodded Ryan into asking for the bill. Our waiter appeared again, making a bee-line for the kitchen and Ryan waved him down and asked if we could please have the check. The waiter scoffed, turned his head, and kept walking. You will have to ask Ryan for a recreation of this action. I didn't see it as well as he did. Suffice it to say it wasn't very polite or waiterly of him. He then proceeded to make us wait a good while before he brought it around. Grazie.
Walking back to the metro I could already feel the pressure mounting in me. Oh my god - I talked a bunch of my friends into the trip from hell. I was starting to feel pretty anxious and guilty. While I couldn't say that I was responsible for the things that had so far been going wrong - I did kinda feel responsible for the happiness of the group. The trip was my idea to begin with and as I had been living in Europe I was kinda supposed to be our resident "expert" and, regardless if it makes any sense or not, at the moment I feel like Europe is my home. And I'm kinda proud of it. I love it here. And I wanted them to love it. But Italy just wasn't selling it. I hoped things would be smoother for the rest of the trip.
Back at Alice in Wonderland we found a new group of poor tourists in the living room. We learned that they were waiting to be taken somewhere that night. No sign of Maxi. No sign of the beds he had promised. We resigned ourselves to the inevitable. As soon as the group in the living room left we pulled all the cushions off the chairs and couches and threw them on the floor. I pilfered the linen closet for sheets and towels. Ryan took advantage of the bathroom being open and hoped in the shower. Another group showed up of two travelers. Seems they were also staying the night. They pitched camp in the kitchen on small couches we had just derobed. We felt bad a gave some pillows back. As soon as Ryan got out of the shower it was siezed by the lucky group of American girls who DID get rooms. Poor Katie was determined to have her shower and sat up reading for a long long long time until finally she got her turn to take a shower. Exhausted Ryan and I awkwardly curled up on the cushions of the floor while Katie and Jamie shared the slouching couch. At 2 in the morning some American girl was still plugging away at the computer in the next room.
I woke up early the next morning, very briefly, when someone came in. The cushions had all slid out from under me during my sleep. Katie was perched precariously on the very edge of the couch while Jamie had sunk into the depths of the back of the couch. And, as usual, Ryan had rolled as far away from me as possible - which mind you wasn't very far this time as he was already sleeping up against the protective wall of suitcases we had erected the night before.
I couldn't wait to see what surprise "arrangements" Maxi had made for us, but as it was still too early to be up, I pulled some cushions under my sore limbs, scooted closer to Ryan (now he really couldn't get away) and went back to sleep.