It's been a quiet end to Rome for me. I think I burned myself out a bit with all the sightseeing in the first week so this weekend was very quiet. In any case, yesterday being new year's day nothing was open so I didn't miss much! In fact, I actually had a rather enjoyable day - someone has put up the entire mini-series 'Little Dorrit' (based on the novel by Charles Dickens) on youtube, so I watched all 8 episodes. I know it's not the best way to watch a movie but it's good enough for me at the moment! I think I will buy this version when I get back - it's the 2008 one and it's very good.
This morning I went to Sunday mass at St John Lateran Cathedral - it's Rome's cathedral and where the Bishop has his parish. It follows in the same kind of decoration and architecture as the other Papal Churches (Santa Maria Maggiore and St Peter's, which are by far my favourite so far on this trip) and it seems that I always seem to just miss the Latin masses! No matter, it's just as valid in Italian but I can understand more of it in Latin!
I spent most of this afternoon just walking - it was a bit sunny after a few days of dreary grey so I wanted to get out a bit. Plus, I feel I have over-indulged in the first half of this trip so I could use the exercise. I'm hoping to be more moderate in the next half!
Speaking of which, today I'm exactly halfway through my trip. I'm in two minds about this little milestone - first of all it feels like it has gone fast with all the days blending into one massive blur of experiences. On the other hand it feels like it has gone very slowly. I think it's because of how much I've experienced and fit into these last 5 weeks. Obviously usual life back home is very different, though often just as busy, in that you get into the usual pattern of doing things and it seems that the weeks go by so fast. Because for me on this trip every day is different, the days seem longer.
However, I've put together a little list of things I have learned so far in my travels. Here we go.
1) I am definitely, totally and completely an extrovert. This often surprises people (especially people from school as I was generally more reserved than other students) but this trip has shown it so clearly to me that I re-charge and get energy from being around other people. I've realised this becuase it has been extremely difficult for me travelling alone and whenever it happens that I get chatting to someone I feel a little surge of cheerfulness and relax more. It's not to say that there haven't been times on this trip I have enjoyed being on my own, but in the end I am more energised being in good company than always by myself.
2) Always keep your passport strapped to yourself
3) Travelling takes a certain kind of humility I find hard to act with. Being in foreign countries where you don't know the language or the way the transport system works, you have to ask questions. And inevitably, you're going to get things wrong and end up apologising to people. Sometimes I feel like all I do is apologise - for ordering the wrong way at a cafe, for sitting in the wrong seat on the train because I can't read on my ticket that I have got a stand-only ticket, for walking in the wrong entrance to a building because there are no entry and exit signs. And so many other times. I like knowing what I have to do in order to be in control of a situation and travelling teaches you that you've got barely any control over what happens to you - only over your own actions and how you deal with the situations you find yourself in. I think I have good manners and try my best to be gracious in embarrassment, but I have to admit this has been a real lesson for me in humility.
4) It is possible to use a towel the size of a handkerchief to totally dry yourself and long hair after a shower
5) Education seems pretty damn good in Australia, especially the cost of universities, compared to lots of other countries (this comes from many conversation I've had with people from different countries; I'm not making a judgement call on whether education overall is better in Australia)
6) Always keep your passport strapped to yourself
7) I've yet to have a coffee overseas that has been better than what we can make in Melbourne. Sorry my Italian friends!
8) Chocolate is so much cheaper in the chocolate-making countries, especially in Berlin and Vienna
9) Melbourne's public transport is embarrassingly bad
10) Always keep your passport strapped to youself
11) People do weird things in their sleep (for instance, there's a girl in my hostel room at the moment who is from Peru and will wake up at odd times during the night shrieking in rapid Spanish)
12) It is possible to live without an iPhone. That was a hard habit to break but my hand no longer searches in my pocket for it when I am bored and I no longer think "I'll just look that up on my iPhone!" when I am trying to find a place or need to find something out. Of course, as soon as I get back home the reunion with it will be a happy one :)
Ok, goodbye to Rome then and hello Florence tomorrow!