Friday, May 3, 2013

New Venture

Since many of the emails I've received are about the topics of love, sex and relationships, and not really about my MisAdventures, I've decided to start a new blog about love and relationships:

it's called He's Not Your Boyfriend

Come over and check it out.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Interior Design 101

So as I mention in my bio, I've been tinkering around renovating and rehabbing homes. Truth is though, no one will care if the walls are new, if the roof is new, if the plumbing is good or the electrical works..if the house has no real design or is designed poorly.

In my business, I come across a lot of people who think if they buy a bunch of stuff and throw it in a room, they've made a home. Tsk, tsk, tsk...what a shame. People see me doing what I do, and always ask for advice. However, I make my LIVING giving my advice and even going so far as to put the space together, so I can't assess your space for free. I'd love to, but...if I did, I'd be broke, and me being not cool on so many levels. So instead, I've decided to occasionally address random questions I get on a general basis. If you want me to look at your space and give you my opinion or even redesign your space, email me here and we can work something out.

Rule 1- A space should make a statement about its owner.
Often, I meet people who have mismatched furniture, some that is either a hand-me-down or old, some inexpensive and screams cheap and the more current items clash with the old. The only impression someone coming into it can leave with is that the owner doesn't care about what their place looks like, is too cheap to invest in some better quality furnishings, or just has bad taste. If that is the impression you wish to make, feel free. But, it won't help you if you're someone who likes to entertain. Believe me, you and your place are being teased.

Rule 2- Never expect to fully put a room together in a short amount of time.
When people tell me that they have a tight budget, and don't want to hire someone to decorate, I always ask them how quickly they expect to have a cohesive scheme in that area. As a designer, it's my job to work fully on creating a complete space from four raw walls. This can include painting, refinishing floors, laying down carpets, finding area rugs, etc...and all that is timely. The average person works full time, wants some aspect of a social life or time to relax and may even have some time commitments outside of that. The last thing they want to do is try to decorate. So, if you decide to tackle a room, don't expect to have it be exactly as you imagine in the span of a day or two. Some people are lucky, they can go to one store and just get everything and be satisfied, but in my opinion, it's best to take your time. You might get all the furniture from Store A, but Stores B-R might have the accessories that really bring it to life. It may take a while to get it complete, be patient. Otherwise, hire someone and they can have it done much quicker.

Rule 3- Windows need something at them other than paper shades.
Paper shades are for when a site is under construction, not for once you've moved in and living there. They tatter, they lose their adhesive ability to the wall and bottom line, they are ugly. Please, please, please...if you've been living at your place for over two months, BUY SOME CURTAINS! JC Penney and IKEA sell sizes for all range of windows very inexpensively. I see them all over the place and it just irritates me....beyond all reason.

More rules/guidelines to come in further blogs...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hard Times


I decided to change up the way my blog looks and restart it, simply because I'm restarting myself. Life is nothing but challenging and engaging, and I've decided that I need a new perspective to match the way I'm going to see things. All that black and dark...wasn't it.

I have been given some big hurdles in my life, moreso than the average twenty-something, and I've done my best to overcome them. Sometimes I've failed, most times I've won or learned how to deal, and the lessons I've learned along the way have helped form me. I've been cynical, naive, angry, frustrated and impractical. But despite it all, I've had big laughs and big tears and can say now that I'd not have wanted it any other way. Each time I get knocked down or kicked in the gut, I've taken in the pain and moved along, chugging to my destination. I've screamed at people I love, kicked holes in walls, stood in the rain until I could feel the water saturating my bones, and I've managed to come up stronger.

This new perspective is going to be shared on this blog, which I will be using as my outlet to whomever wants to read it. I start it out as a woman who has no responsibility to anyone to censor myself, just me and my mind.

With that, I


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Where have all the bloggers gone?


As you know I went on hiatus. I hadn't planned on it, but I wasn't really in the state of mind to write much of anything. I got a better grip on what I was dealing with and decided to return to my blog as my life is evolving quite nicely, and I wanted a way to record it while still asking aloud, "Is this normal?" Meanwhile, I look up and a lot of the bloggers I interact with...are gone.

Some may have changed their blog names, but others are just MIA completely. Did everyone abandon blogging for Twitter and Facebook? Too much online and social networking caused the blogs to overload completely....

Something to think about. Meanwhile, I'm here and I'm gonna write, to my heart's content.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Common Questions I'm Asked About Europe

When I tell most people I've gone to Europe, there are usually a range of questions that come with that topic of conversation. So much so, I find that I know what questions people are going to ask...well before they even ask them. Even though my trip is a year old as of May 16th of 2010, I'm still regularly asked questions...and so I've decided to put them here, and answer them, in the effort to help others plan their own trips, not to just Europe, but anywhere they can imagine.

Did I feel safe? Was it scary to travel alone? Did I worry about getting lost? How did I keep my belongings safe?

Well, isn't it always a little weird to walk around in a city that you've never been to before, and do so alone? Doesn't matter if it's in another country or state. Crime happens. People get robbed, mugged, beat up, or worse everyday in areas where there are lots of people. But, if you worry about what will happen, you'll never do anything. If I had that attitude, I never would have gotten on that plane, went to the airport or even bought the ticket in the first place. The same rules apply as to when you're alone in any city, like not advertising or allowing people to think you have a lot of cash on you, don't walk down any dark alleys late at night, etc. Follow your gut. And don't let anybody outside the Sacre Coeur in Paris put a bracelet on your arm. Traveling alone wasn't as scary as it was sometimes a little awkward. But after you've managed one meal in a restaurant alone as well as a canal ride, the next ten or so are a breeze. I downloaded apps that featured city metro bus and train maps to my iPhone, and I found I used that more than a city map. I didn't worry about getting lost, for some reason, I had an innate sense of direction. I kept my belongings locked up in a locker at the hostel, and I was the only one who had a key. My mother had a key here in Chicago, and best believe, if I'd lost mine, she'd have been fedex'ing that key overnight.

What's the best ways you saved money on the trip? How did you get from each city (London to Rome, Rome to Paris and Paris back to London)?

The best ways I saved money was to pack effectively. I traveled on a small airline that went from region to region, but they were big on baggage fees. I was gone for three weeks, but I only packed a week and a half of clothes, knowing ahead of time that I'd have to do laundry. I also made sure that I kept a daily budget and stuck to it fairly religiously. I bought an Oystercard in London that I still have as an souvenir. It saved me a lot of money on the train. I also took advantage of the duty free (tax free) shops in the airports, buying whatever toiletries I needed there instead of in the cities, where the prices would be much more expensive. There are many airlines that fly to many different regions in Europe, RyanAir, AerLingus and EasyJet are three I can think of, offering fares as low as $20-$60 per trip. Realize though, each airline has STRICT rules, and if you don't follow them you will have major headaches. Make sure you know and understand them all before you even think about booking a ticket, which you need to do pretty much as soon as you know your itinerary.

What is the biggest culture shock you received overseas? What are things Americans who've never been overseas would be surprised to see or experience? Any stereotypes that are true or false?

In Rome, there is a lot of ease and slow pace. But the cab drivers are CRAZY. I thought New York cab drivers were bad...the ones in Rome put them to shame. Also, the poverty in certain places is a little off putting. However, the biggest culture shock I received was shopping for deodorant. It was EXTREMELY difficult to find some in smaller neighborhood stores. I luckily found a trial size in the bottom of my bag and that was able to last for the duration of my trip. As a result of the deodorant shortage, there was a lot of FUNKY encounters. Even now, I can close my eyes and that pungent, wet and onion-y smell comes wafting back into my nose. The stereotype that Parisian women are any more fashionable than American women is also not as prevalent as one would think. Plus, people are a lot more affectionate. You go to the bars and it's normal to see everyone in the bar making out with each other, whether they know each other or not. I saw it in London at the IceBar (a bar built solely of ice, and you wear these massive coats), in Paris (even on the streets, lol) and in Rome (everywhere also).

Were there any weirdness with the different kinds of food that they eat versus what is normal American fare, even if it might be Italian, French, etc?

The food itself is smaller portions. However, Europeans eat more often than we Americans do, so if you keep that in mind, you won't go hungry. As a result of the portion size being smaller, flavors are richer and more...luxurious. People aren't as worried about fat content as they are in the States. Going to a Starbucks and getting a low-fat macchiato might get you some weird looks. Also, it was hard as hell to find soy milk. So much that I skipped eating cereal and drinking coffee, etc during my trip. It wasn't worth the headache. Europeans have really cornered the farmer's market concept, and some of the best fruit I've ever been fortunate enough to taste was the fruit I bought in Rome outside the Coliseum. Some people may hesitate to try outdoor food sold like that, but it's well worth the risk. It's also easy to eat well and inexpensively while in Europe. Just be sure to try the croissants in Paris, the espresso in Rome and the hamburgers in London...and be sure to do plenty of walking! I did and ironically, I LOST weight.

So, you stayed in hotels or motels or hostels? What was that like? Are they like the ones in that horror movie?

In order to save money, I stayed in hostels, which are like dorms. Most rooms are shared, with bunk beds, and like hotels, each person has a key or keycard. The cheaper the room rate, the more roommates you'll have. The ones I stayed in were all recognized by Hostelling International, the biggest group behind hostelling travel in the world. Not all hostels get their stamp of approval, and each place has to not only maintain their facilities, but also their safety guidelines to meet their criteria, which is audited by them officially every year. They also will revoke a hostel's inclusion on their material if they get enough complaints from guests. The one I stayed in Paris was the nicest, the most modern, with a full restaurant and bar in the lobby. The floors were female, male and co-ed, and bathrooms were filled with stall showers. Everyone got a large bin to put their belongings and lock it, and it was fine. The London hostel had a bathroom right in the room, with laundry, a kitchen if you wanted to cook, as well as a bar in the lobby. The Rome one was the least modern, with no elevator (and I had to climb five flights to get to my room..imagine doing that twice drunk), but had the best bar and the hottest bartender. No psycho killers wanting to sell my body to an illegal hunting group. I had one stalker, who actually followed me from Rome to Paris and stayed in the same hostels as me, but he was a sweet stalker and left after he realized I wasn't interested.

These are just some of my questions I get. If you have any additional, hit me!



So circumstances in my life have kept me from blogging for a while. I wasn't really in the right mind to write and then edit it, I honestly don't think I'd have been able to edit it, and anyone reading it would have wanted to find a nice white room with padded walls for me. Anyway, I made an executive decision to leave the blog alone, and to resume it when I was in a better emotional space.

Well, that time has now come. I'm back. Expect postings from me at least once a week, and feel free to leave me questions/comments and even inspiration for future posts. You'll see that during the hiatus, my life has changed and as a result, this blog will begin to reflect that. It's still my misadventures, still told in the same way...just more.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Parisian Perfection


So the plane gets into Paris around 8pm, and because I landed in a smaller airport, we had to take a bus into the city. I was grateful that we did, because it allowed us the opportunity to see the French countryside. Unlike in Rome, where I felt history, in Paris I just felt. No matter that the city itself is gritty, unforgiving and much dirtier than I'd imagined, there is LOVE everywhere. I arrived at night, and spotted at least 8 couples making out as I forayed my way to the hostel. I would see couples kissing all throughout my journey in Paris. I will tell you this, there is something in the air in Paris. I don't really know what it is...whether it's a smell, a sensation or a feeling, but it's like aromatic euphoria. Every time I would get angry, stressed or sad, I'd breathe that air in, and it seemed to say, "Chill, you're in Paris." That's pretty much how I felt. Like I was in a dream, and couldn't wake up. But, after my first night, I really didn't want to.

Ironically, though I considered Paris to be dirtier, the hostel itself was MUCH more modernized than the one I left in Rome. It had internet, a bar, a sauna and decent showers. I was more than excited to see the showers that didn't soak your feet because the drain was too slow. I have to admit, I also had another reason to get excited about Paris, and that reason was waiting for me at my hostel. I was very glad to see the reason, my buddy Terry, live and in the flesh, and after being solo for a while and fighting off some loneliness, it was nice to have some company. Together, we saw the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the River Seine. I actually enjoyed just being lost in Paris, randomly walking down streets just to see where they led. Surprisingly enough, none of the alleged Parisian crime affected us.

After he left on the third day, which did make me sad, I decided to take advantage of some of the other sights of Paris that we didn't see together. So, I found a free walking tour of the neighborhood Montematre, where all the artisans reside, and the home of the famed Moulin Rouge theatre. I caught the Paris metro to the train stop, got out and walked around for a bit. While doing so, I stumbled upon the first and only Starbucks since London. I went inside, and it felt less like Starbucks and more like a Parisian cafe, which appealed to my tourist side, but the slightly homesick for America side was expecting to see the Americanized version of which I've become accustomed. Imagine my disappointment, as I was searching for something, anything, American to forge a temporary connection.

After I took a deep breath and got a dose of "Chill, you're in PARIS!", I quickly recovered, found my tour and discovered my favorite parts of Paris, Montmatre. Full of hills, monuments to artists, little squares of people singing and dancing to well performed music, it was the infusion of spirit that I needed. Walking around some parts of Montmatre is like accidentally stumbling into a quaint village, while other parts seem to exist as its own city, independent of Paris. There are plenty of affordable and not so affordable shops to get food, clothes and mementos. It is hilly, so good shoes are definitely required, but the views of Paris and the cityscape from some particular streets is absolutely breathtaking. I started to get sick for my mom, not because I missed America, but because I wanted her to see the things I saw...and I knew that she'd be one of the only people I know who would see them the same way I would. Plus, watching her climb up these hills would have been a hoot. Although I would have gotten smacked for making fun of her arthritis.

I completed a staring contest with the local scam artists, who gather in the square below the Sacre-Coeur. The scam is simple, and it scares many tourists, enough so that they give you a lecture about it on the walking tour. It works like this: they come up to you (and usually they are African men), pretending to know little to no English, and they tell you that they want to give you a friendship bracelet. (In some cases, they don't tell you.) Before you can reply with an "ok", they slip this string looking thing around whatever arm you have available. Then, as you try to walk away, you realize they are holding the end of it. The scam comes in when they tell you that they want a certain amount of euros to release you. Depending on how scared you are, how little you are, or how big they are, it can range from as little as 5 euros to as much as 50 euros. I spotted this con being pulled on many of the unassuming tourists, and after accidentally bumping into some of the guys pulling it, I realized the con was that their english was pretty perfect. However, the face I was making must have been incredibly scary, because I found that they never even thought of messing with me.

Later, I was convinced to go on yet another pub crawl, but unlike the one in Rome, this one sucked. The places they were stopping seemed to be very....low rent, and the drinks were weak. So, I made an executive decision to ditch the crawlers, and go walking around downtown Paris. Yeah, that might not have been the smartest decision, but I did it. And, I managed to stumble into a not so great neighborhood. I saw some guys who were pointing at me, and began to walk behind me. I kept the eyes that grew on the back of my head on them, and decided to cut back across the rue (street) to return to an busier one..and through an alleyway. Moving quickly, and losing sight of the guys following me, I felt relief. I stepped onto the corner, and in doing so, I found a tiny slice of Parisian heaven.

Understand that I know some French. I'm nowhere near fluent, like I wish to someday become, but I surprised myself with being able to go to the store, read signs to do my laundry, pay for Metrocards, order bread, find clothes and manage with basic conversation. I amazed myself at how much I really knew. With that in mind, my Parisian heaven, was a place where English...was out the window.

It was a tiny lounge in the basement of a coffee shop that sold genuine African food. Greeted by a beautiful cocoa-skinned woman in all African garb, she beckoned me inside. I walked in, not because of her, but because of the smells. There are no words in any language, English or French, to accurately describe the loveliness, divinity, mouth-watering, passionate, salivating awesomeness of that smell. A combination of rice, spice, seafood, chicken and was heaven. The beautiful woman told me to call her Maman, which is part of the word "bonne maman" which means grandmother, even though she looked like she could be my sister. Without much of a discussion, she asked me if I was hungry, and I nodded. She asked if I liked lamb and I said no, and then she disappeared. Music was thumping, people behind me were dancing and gyrating, really just having a great time. I watched Maman, hard at work at a small stove off to the left and in front of me. I couldn't see what she was doing, but I sat patiently.

After being hit on by two guys, one of which I kept turning away from because of his rank breath, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to face a smiling Maman, who held a bowl in her hands. She extended it out to me. I peered inside, not knowing what to expect, but found the most beautiful looking pile of rice and peas that I'd ever seen. "Pour la vegeterianne" she says, smiling. (For the vegetarian, which she assumed I was). I dove into it....and it was FANTASTIC. A simple meal cooked well. Sauteed tomatoes, yellow rice, onion, garlic, and big beautiful peas. Sigh. I would find this place and go there twice before I left Paris, and the people tried to get me to teach them English in exchange for food. I explored, but never found nicer and warmer people than in that little lounge. Paris, I'll be back.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Roman Sentiments Part II


So first, I have to apologize in the delay between blogs. I've just been busy. But anyway...back to the Rome trip.

The idea of a pub crawl is something I'd never experienced before in life. It's a genius idea actually, if you think about it. In a pub crawl, you pay the operator (usually a local promotions company) a set amount of money, and you get to go from club to club over the span of several hours. Because you paid the fee to the promoters, you don't have to pay to get into any of the clubs, and usually you get a wristband that allows you some deep discounts on drinks at the various clubs. Well, this pub crawl I joined did all that, plus they gave us shots as we walked along the club route. I didn't know that they would be doing so, and had a couple of drinks before we left, So, by the time we reached the 1st stop of the evening, I was more than a little intoxicated. (Sorry, Mom). I also have to add that the pub crawl gave me a chance to actually walk the streets of Rome, which are amazingly beautiful at night.

Roman nightclubs make me feel like I've decided to climb into a time capsule and travel back ten years. The decorations are dated, along with much of the music, (they played YMCA by the Village People for goodness sakes) but there is something magical about these places. Unlike American clubs, they have a feel of someone's living room and aren't the cold and unfeeling places I've seen in past club outings. The people there are focused on two things 1-having a good time and 2- drinking. If you come across as not doing either, you should be prepared to spend the night alone. I was able to do both until 2AM. The Kissing Hour. (cue "doom" music) It is an unofficial rule in Roman partying, at least in all the clubs I visited, that everyone start kissing when the DJ announces it. Well, the DJ announced it, and I look to my left. Kissing. Look to my right. More Kissing. Look in front of me, MORE KISSING. The crowd parts, and an attractive but sweaty Italian guy comes a-walking in my direction. At this point, I only had two options. Deal with him directly...or run. I chose the latter, hiding out in the unisex bathroom.

After all the kissing was over, I emerged from the bathroom and decided to walk back to the hostel. I did so without a map, and really was able to take in the city. Of course, I made sure to not freak out my Mom and I did so with two guys I'd met who also were staying at the same hostel as I was. I'd be grateful they were with me, because not less than one block from the club, a random Italian homeless man began shoving roses he was selling in my face. Then he tried to hug me and touch my butt. The guys stepped in and got him off of me, and we made our way back to the hostel, which was a long walk, but we made it safely.

Over the course of the next few days, I would see all Rome had to offer. I went to the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and the Vatican. I ate such wonderful Italian food and drank fabulous wine. I even made friends with the staff at a wonderful restaurant called Miscellenea (find a review of it here), where Mikki, the manager, and his waitstaff made us feel like we were hanging out with friends instead of in a place of business. So much so that we could have gotten away without paying, they were so relaxed about it! It's right near the Pantheon, but only open for dinner. If you go to Rome, you must visit, if not for the inexpensive food, have a glass of the 2 euro 'sexy wine'. Unlike regular red wine, it is made from fermented strawberries, and not grapes. As a result, it has a smooth sweet taste and smells like fresh strawberries. I bought a bottle home with me, and my mom can vouch that it is amazing. I intend to go back and get more.

There are some aspects of my trip to Rome that I hated. So while I talk about how magical Rome is, and how you can smell the history and touch buildings that are older than Christ, there were moments where I wanted to leave. Walking around for two hours looking for a bank was one. Being propositioned as a prostitute was another. An Italian man asked if I had a hotel and if I would sleep with him for euros. After being disgusted and walking away, another Italian told me that because of my complexion, people would mistake me for being Brazilian, and the Brazilian women are perceived to be thieves, prostitutes and otherwise of bad moral character. It explained a lot of some of the treatment I received, but didn't make much sense because I spoke no Portuguese, had an American passport and an American accent. But they were convinced. A vendor spat into a sandwich that he tried to sell me which led to me screaming for my money back and having to call the police, a lady followed me around in a store because she thought I was going to steal something, even though I had no place to put anything, and I was glared at in many places. Later, I would find out that Brazilian women broke up a lot of Italian marriages and used to openly be spat at in Rome as they walked through the Piazzas. I was just grateful that never happened, because I'd be in Italian jail right now for murder.

While I enjoyed the beauty of the city, the saliva-free food, the wine, the architecture, I found myself more and more ready to leave Rome behind for Paris. The last night I was in Rome, I went to bed early after eating a three course meal for only 10 euros (about 16 dollars), made sure my clothes were clean and ready to be packed. On the plane, I found myself wishing that I'd been able to share the experience of Rome with someone else, and for the first time, I felt lonely. I watched out the window as the plane propelled up into the air and shut my eyes, wanting to get to the destination I was the most excited to see: Paris, France.

As I sat on that plane, I thought about my trip and realized I'd miss Rome. It's a city with so much history and beauty. Places like the Campo de Fiori look beautiful at night, as well as the lights all lit up on the Tiber River. The Vatican is breathtaking, as well as Saint Angelo's Castle. The Pont Angelo (Angel Bridge) lined with majestic angel statues that literally take your breath away, the clear blue water of the Trevi Fountain, the powerful emotions when looking at the Spanish Steps as well as the Tomb of's a city that serves as the model for many American cities. If you have the chance, do go see it for yourself. Even though I had some downs on my trip, I don't regret going in the slightest.

Before I knew it, the plane was landing outside of Paris, and the next leg of my journey was soon to begin.

Next Blog:
Parisian Perfection


Ashley Robin

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Roman Sentiments


After I said a goodbye to London, rode a train and arrived at Stansted Airport in the suburban London countryside, I would get on the flight from hell and head to Rome. Not only did I arrive at the airport entirely TOO early because of my own poor planning, but I was tired from being out the night before TOO late. I got up too late, and rushed, breaking my neck and not realizing that I could have taken my sweet time and arrived just like I wanted. However, getting there so early allowed me to experience what the airport SHOULD be.

In a word, Stansted cannot be described. It's clean, sunny, bright and people are really happy to be at work. Well, except those who work for RyanAir. (I'll get to that later). The airport is totally state of the art, with internet stations, showers in the restrooms, duty free shops like Chanel, M.A.C., Sephora, and a full fleged deli with caviar...sigh. Duty-free shops are simply places in the airports overseas where you can buy things and not pay taxes on them. Unlike America, where you pay MORE for goods at the airport, in Europe, it is LESS. Hindsight, I would have bought more from there. This is what it looked like.

Well, the flight from Stansted to Ciampiano Aiport was interesting. I'd never seen anything like it. The flight on RyanAir was more like the Wild Wild West. Passengers were drunk, flight attendants rolled the cart down the aisle selling food, then trinkets, then liquor, then jewelry. Random babies then began to walk up and down the aisles, and then they started to cry. There was a smell of body odor that ran rampant, and the Italian lothario on the flight proceeded to make his way down the aisles flirting with woman after woman, and by the time he got to me, he reeked of rum. People were not wearing their seat belts when told, the flight attendants were screaming at was pure insanity. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I instead shrugged my shoulders and did a lot of head shaking.

Finally, I was off the flight and in Italy. Signs were in Italian, people spoke Italian. I landed at night, in an empty airport, and I got in my hostel late. I managed to drag my hefty bag there, and fell asleep. The next morning, hungry and out of money, I searched for a bank. In doing so, I would get my first taste of true Roman hospitality.

"Get out!" were the first words I heard upon surrendering my purse to a locker, and walking through a kind of revolving doorway that locked as you stepped in, which was unlocked by bank staff. I was confused. I'd said nothing and done nothing, and after walking in triple degree heat, I did not understand why I was being treated in such a way. I asked if they knew how I could get money from my account, and after rudely being told that my business was not wanted or desired, I was escorted (and I use that word nicely) out of the bank and into the street. I started to walk away, until I realized I'd placed my purse in a locker. I went back and after some fussing at the guard, I was able to retrieve it, safe and sound. It would take me almost two hours to find another branch, one in which my money and my business was appreciated. It happened to be in a tourist-y area, where I should have remained.

As I did in London, after getting enough money to last me for a moment, I began to explore my surroundings. However, while I was amazed by the history, and noticing the buildings and underlying beauty of Rome, I began to notice something else. People...were staring. At me. And I didn't know why. I walked along the Tiber River, down to the Campo de Fiori and watched the city light up at night. I walked past Termini station and down into Chinatown, where I scored two of the most comfortable pairs of sandals I've been fortunate to wear. However, I felt like people were staring. When I got back to the hostel, I asked why the people of Rome might find me so interesting and got no reply from the Australians who worked the desk. I showered, went out to eat my first Italian meal and shrugged it off.

My first Italian meal was pasta, of course. I washed it down with a Coke, and it's pictured to the left. It's known as a local seafood special, and consists of mussels, langoustines (shrimp), scallops and clams tossed with olive oil with garlic and a hint of basil on a bed of linguini pasta . The plate doesn't look too big, but it was deep and cheap and orgasmic. I found myself eating here everyday, where they knew me as an American, and because I tipped well, they took care of me. I was so hungry on my first visit, that I ate this bowl and took another as a take-away (to-go)! Hey, why not, I was on vacation! Who cared if my waist expanded? After a night of walking around, I settled in my room and went fast to sleep. The next day, I did not wake up until around 430pm. I didn't realize I'd slept so long until I looked up and realized housekeeping had managed to clean all around me. Invigorated, I decided to try my hand at a night of Roman partying in something called a pub crawl.

To Be Continued in:
Roman Sentiments, Part 2