Sam Bowker: The Grand Tour Diary (2005 - 2006)

This is the archived journal of a 2005-2006 'Grand Tour' around the Eastern Mediterranean and along East Africa, written by Sam Bowker, whilst in search of his PhD topic.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Italy - Anna and Sam in Rome

Dedicated to Anna

I have just said arrividerche to Anna as she left for the airport on the green train.

And now I am suddenly feeling more lonely than I have ever felt on the Grand Tour.

The last few days exploring Rome with her have been great. We walked well over 20km every day, getting through every corner of the city centre, all the main shopping streets, restaurant areas, most of the major sites and heaps of gorgeous churches. Rome is the kind of place where aimless wandering is usually rewarding (except, perhaps, in Travestere!). It would have been a very different experience without Anna - staying in dorms, exchanging familiar faces every day, probably more pub crawls and bedbugs. This time, I suddenly had a familiar face around for almost the entire time - a first for a couple of months now. She's extroverted, remembers old mutual friends from our schooldays in Jerusalem seven years ago, and almost exactly as I remembered her still.

We saw the Colosseum, the Palatine Hill, the Vatican museums and held an audience with the Pope. (He looks friendlier in person than you might expect, but I did not get to ask him about the dwarf nuns. Or if he's really a Catholic.) We viewed the Sistine chapel, ate god knows how much gelati, went to good restaurants each night, and found a Cutesy Store. This was undeniably the highlight of Anna's trip - it was a shop of hand-made wooden toys, clocks, and old-fashioned paraphenalia of all sorts. She also collected a few handbags amongst all our shopping. We discovered that coffee in Rome is actually hard to find, but we checked out several places. And all kinds of pizzas and pastas. Heaps of photos were taken, and the tourist map I was given on my first day is so well-worn it can be folded like a rubix cube.

Now I have many things to do - diary updates, postcards to send, hostels to book. The Grand Tour continues from here with another day or two in Rome, dorming it up again, then off to Florence. Seeing Anna again was a highlight, and I'm sure we'll meet again one day.

Maybe in another seven years.


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