Little Ol’ Me Traveled to Italy

Yes, we’re in Rome – finally! I’m already missing Amsterdam for several reasons, but nothing compares to my excitement for a new adventure.

Traveling Here Was a Bit of a Pain in the Ass

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The Night of No Sleep

Let’s flash back to February 3rd when I shut my laptop after finishing the last post. Shan and I headed into the city center one last time to say goodbye to the friends we made at our favorite bar, Café het Dwarsliggertje.

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Lucas, Shan, me & Razvan

I didn’t drink because I knew we had to leave our apartment in Zuid at 4 am to catch our plane at 7 am – our airline sent us an email warning of congestion at airport security (ugh) so we had to get there extra early. That didn’t stop Lucas and Razvan from pouring us tall Heinekens! It’s not easy refusing free beer in Amsterdam…Shan was polite and drank a few.

Hours of conversation and listening to ABBA flew by and before we knew it, it was 00:10 – we had to catch the last metro to Zuid at Centraal Station by 00:30 🙃 Damn the person who stole my phone – that was my watch, too!

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Day or night, Centraal is a beaut

The rickety and slow tram #4 took forever to get to the station and of course we missed the last metro. Our passes weren’t valid for the night bus, which is an alternative way to get to Zuid, so ya girls took a $35 Über to get to the apartment (am I supposed to hate Über? oops). It was 1 am by the time we got back – mind you, we still had to clean the place to leave it in decent condition.

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Somehow we scrubbed everything and shoved our belongings into our suitcases. Three hours later we were at the airport and off we went.

Arriving in Roma

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From the Fiumicino Airport we bussed to Termini Station (half the price of taking the Leonardo Express train), which is around where our Airbnb is located. We walked a half hour with our tiny-but-heavy suitcases to the house I’m writing this from.

The first thing I noticed about the streets was not people laughing while eating pasta and drinking wine in cute outdoor restaurants, but spray paint…everywhere. And trash. I didn’t take any pics of it but I’ll surely have to so I can show you what I mean.

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My face walking out of Termini seeing graffiti and garbage

I was kind of disappointed, honestly. Though I kept telling myself to erase all expectations of our destinations, I had Rome on a picture-perfect pedestal thanks to Lizzie McGuire and every other movie that puts a filter on this city.

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That means you too, Mary-Kate and Ashley

I was definitely getting ahead of myself because I’d yet to see the city center, and I’m the genius who decided to Eurotrip in the middle of gloomy winter.

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I’ve realized that I need to wait a while before throwing my hands in the air and becoming flustered – new places take time to adjust to. I’m in freakin’ ROME. ROMA. ITALIA. EUROPA. UNA FANTASTICA VACANZA, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!

🇮🇹

Relatable Song of the Moment

This one’s an oldie but a goodie. Though the message is about soaking life into your soul and not through the camera lens, I can’t help but hum this when I reach into my pocket for my non-existent phone every time I want to snap a quick pic. I’m telling myself there’s a silver lining to not having a computer in my hand every second of the day #NoCameraPhone #NoChoice

Shoutout Time 🕣

I’d like to take a minute to shoutout two people I couldn’t live without – Shaun aka Kreayshaun Ondabeatz & Julie aka my boyfriend aka Joolay. I miss the days I’d wake up and run with a blanket over my head into your beds to talk about life or ice cream or whatever was the most important thing going on that day. I miss you both and you are the Gordo & Miranda to my Lizzie 😘  #baci

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Overall, Rome has been quite the ride so far. I’ll be posting about my first trip to the city center along with all of the other great experiences we’re having. Stay tuned!

✌🏼

$100,000 Goes to Whoever Wants to Take Half of My Luggage Off My Hands

I’m sitting on our grey L-shaped couch of the AirBnB slobbering up one of the 100 Grand candy bars that managed to make it all the way to Amsterdam with us…the rest of the snacks didn’t have a chance. THANK GOD this chocolate is with me right now because if I didn’t have these…so help me God.

I need a minute to indulge as I recuperate from the past eyebrow-twitch-worthy 24 hours we endured from the moment we left the United States. I have not slept, I’ve eaten garbage that’s tasted like garbage, and I need a shower and a nap.

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It all started when we checked our bags in at Newark, NJ around 2:30 pm. I was the lucky gal to discover the hidden fees of this stupid little airline called WOW (I’m sure it’s because of all the fun surprise charges!) and paid $120 for how freakin’ heavy my bag was. I’ll admit I overpacked…but should I pay $20/kg for this horrible mistake I’m still dealing with? I don’t think so…because wait until you hear what else these kilograms made me deal with.

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The first flight was cool – we boarded at 6 pm and sat next to a cop from Brooklyn and another cop and a pilot. We had great conversations, exchanged weird stories you’d only tell someone you’d never see again, and landed in Iceland in time to transfer to our flight to Amsterdam. I watched a Bob Marley documentary and I didn’t sleep a wink.

The flight to Amsterdam consisted of a crying baby and someone listening to Beyoncé too loudly. I didn’t sleep on that flight either, and we flew into the sunrise of 5-degree weather of the Netherlands sleepy and unprepared for what was next.

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When we landed, we talked with the woman next to us who was in the middle of an extravagant holiday. The guy across the aisle made conversation with her, and so we met Aidan.

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I’m pretty sure Aidan is synonym for Angel because this guy was sent from above. He’s from Washington, D.C., and he got us from the airport to the Central Station to the metro to Rembrandtplein, which is right near our temporary home. I know I summarized all of those things into one sentence, but that would’ve taken us ALL fucking DAY if it weren’t for this guy. Aidan, if you ever read this…good karma is going to bring you some reallllly good shit.

“You guys don’t travel often, do you?” – Aidan

He chose to spend his day helping the two clueless tourists who brought one 50 lb luggage too many – each – and patiently waited for our huffing-puffing selves to make it across the platforms and the escalators and everywhere else we traveled this morning. AND he offered to help us find bartending jobs at one of his regular spots! We friended him on Facebook and plan to meet up with him later on tonight when we look and feel like normal human beings.

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Is this real life?

When we found our apartment, a nice young man helped us carry our 50 lb bags up two steep-ass flights of stairs. Generous me only had like €2 in my pocket after spending the €20 from Steph’s cute card on transportation, so I gave the poor guy a $10 bill that is absolutely useless to him. If you thought Shan and I would be smart enough to have gone to the ATM or converted some currency before this point, guess again!!!

I think the way today unfolded is one of those circumstances people allude to when they say “you’ll figure it out” without actually knowing how. Shannon and I didn’t know how we were going to figure it out, and we were fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time with a generous stranger and an easygoing kid. I wonder how many times that’s going to work until our luck runs out, but add that to the list of things we’ll “figure out“.

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To the friends and family reading this rant – I hope the worst of it is over. Typing this now already makes it into a funny story, so at least something good came out of it.

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Next Steps?

Our objectives are to:

  1. Find a place for February.
  2. Get a job. (Maybe that will be solved tonight when we meet back up with Angel? I mean Aidan 😉)
  3. Ship some of these kilos home or straight up get rid of them – because I am NOT going through the same sweaty struggle it took to get where I am right now. My arms are currently jello.

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Until then, ✌🏼

Flip-Flops, Not the Sandal Kind

I guess this is what learning to deal with ambiguity feels like. This is the worst case of flip-flopping that I’ve ever experienced, and I’ll tell you why.

When you commit to a decision you’ve made, it’s a marvelous freedom.

Yes, it is. I’ve decided to live abroad next year, and that’s a no-brainer. Decision = done. No matter what, doubt will not conquer that idea because the roots are already well down into the ground.

But, I have no idea where I’m even going. A lost work opportunity in August, perilous research September thru October…November was for learning how to accept my decision and confiding in those who will actually hold me to leaving the country next year. By December you think I’d have a freakin’ clue as to where all of this work is taking me…

I’m back to offering a little faith in the company I work for. Another meeting with someone in a more powerful position brings the possibility of my career expanding overseas – right after I accepted that loss. Funny how corporations work. That brings me to Glasgow or Antwerp. Otherwise it’s onward to Amsterdam.

Yes, I’m tired of conflicting visions of the future, but I am in no way defeated. I’m taking this as my first life lesson of this entire experience, which is to ride it out. Keep the energy flowing into the universe no matter how much of a beating it’s taken so far. There is always more where that came from. I’m not taking no for an answer, so it’s time for myself to buckle up if my savings is all I’ve got to start with.

✌🏼