As I mentioned in a previous post the British Council organized a 2 day induction course for all the British Language Assistants that had been placed all over Italy to meet up and learn more about what our roles as English Language assistants actually entailed. So taking advantage of this opportunity to visit Rome, a few of us decided to arrive a few days earlier to do a little sightseeing and exploring, and I’m so glad we did! Having been in Italy for only 4 days, I was definitely feeling homesick and I was glad I had the trip to Rome as something to look forward to. The long weekend really cheered me up and being surrounded by people who were also going through the same things as me made me feel like I wasn’t in this completely alone.
I decided to get the train from Bari to Rome…a lovely 5 hour trip, not including the hour and half trip from Martina to Bari Centrale. It was a tiring day but I couldn’t wait to see everyone.What made it even better was when I found out that I didn’t have to change trains after all and I could spend the next 5 hours sleeping/reading without worrying which train I was getting on next. I arrived in Rome at 20 past 5 and I was met by the girls outside the station (they had to come and find me as I came out of the wrong exit – no surprise there!). Our hostel was in a great location, just around the corner from Termini station. I must admit I was a little worried about staying in this hostel, as after booking we decided to read some reviews (probs should have done it the other way round!) and anyway, most of the reviews seemed pretty negative. I’m talking about things such as: bed bugs, creepy owners and everything being very dirty. However, I’m glad to say that it wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly 5* accommodation but that’s not what I was expecting anyway. The room seemed quite cosy and the owners seemed friendly enough. (Maybe too friendly when he tried to teach us Salsa dancing, but they were harmless)
The first night we decided to go out for pizza of course, since I’d arrived in Italy I had been living off pasta and food that I’d brought from England, so eating an amazing pizza was definitely a treat!
After pizza, we did a little walking around for a few hours and returned back to our hostel most us being pretty tired from travelling. The following day we decided to spend the day trying to fit in as much sightseeing as possible. Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side and it rained most of the day. We didn’t let it ruin our day though; in fact we took this opportunity to make a fashion statement. We bought some ponchos from the many men walking around Rome trying to sell them. Not only were they cute but they actually kept us dry! By the end of the day the whole of Rome was wearing them, we are such trend setters! 😉
With the help of a sightseeing open-top bus we actually managed to see a lot more of Rome than we would have by foot from the beautiful Coliseum to the Trevi fountain. There was something to look at everywhere I turned. It was all so beautiful. There was so much to see and do that I wish we had more time. The bus journey around Rome was possibly one of the most entertaining bus journeys that I’ve ever been on. The rain was continuing to fall and being on an open top bus, you can imagine how wet we got. They did put a cover which sheltered us from some of the rain – however, poor Becca got soaked whenever the bus turned a corner and all the water would come rushing through. One of the funniest things I’ve seen – ever.
As evening came around we were pretty fed up of being cold and wet so we decided to be lazy and get a Chinese takeaway and take it back to our hostel. I know what you’re thinking…
You’re in Rome surrounded by amazing pizza and pasta and you choose to have a Chinese?
Yes, I regret it too! The takeaway was really disappointing and was definitely not as good as one from home.
The next two days in Rome were spent near the Spanish Steps, at the British Council induction course. I found the course really help and it gave me quite a few tips and ideas on lesson plans, class management and games that I could play with the classes. It was also a really good way to meet other assistants from other universities, and the best bit was the amazing free food and drink. (At one point I went up to the buffet 4 times and got various pastries, they were amazing). Our last night in Rome we decided to again have pizza, you can never have too much! (We learnt from our Chinese takeaway mistake!) and we did a bit more sight seeing, Rome is so different at night than it is in the day, but still so beautiful.
On the last day of our Rome adventure, we had to go in for our last bit of our induction course, and some more free food and drink. I was so sad that this trip was coming to an end that and I was anxious about my year abroad finally beginning. I was wishing that I could stay for longer, I wasn’t ready to leave just yet.
Be careful for what you wish for.
So on the day when we were all meant to make our ways to our towns and schools Italy decides to have a transport strike. There couldn’t have been a worse time to strike. However, I was told not all transport links were effected, only some regional ones. My train to Martina was a regional one and yes, it would have to be one of the only ones affected. I phoned the school telling them my problems and they assured me that they hadn’t heard about any strikes, although I had told them that I phoned the train company and they’d clearly said they were on strike. My train to Bari from Termini was thankfully not affected by the strike and I decided to travel back to Bari and then decide what to do when I got there. Regardless of what my school had said, of course the trains to Martina were on strike. So the only options were to stay in Bari the night or take a very expensive taxi back to Martina. Seeing as I was starting school the following day, and the fact that the school did not believe that there was a strike that day I thought my best bet was to take the taxi back to Martina. I couldn’t have been more upset to return to my empty house, but what made it worse was when I got in the electric had been cut off. It really was a definition of a nightmare day. All my food in the fridge had gone off, and I was forced to take an ice cold shower in the pitch black.
So Rome began on a high and ended on a low. My first encounter with Italian strikes couldn’t have gotten much worse and I’m sure it will be the first many. On the whole though, it was one of the most amazing weekends, I had such a good time. So many memories, definitely a trip to remember!
I can’t wait for another trip to Italy somewhere, just hopefully this time I will be able to get home!