December 4, 2014 3 Comments
“It feels good to be lost in the right direction.” – Unknown
To “get lost in Rome” is as clichéd as it can get, and as such, I tried my best not to, well, be lost in the final leg of our Eurotrip. Being the self-proclaimed better navigator between myself and Kite, the pressure had actually been on since the beginning. I didn’t quite live up to those expectations based on the countless times we got off track (in all countries we went to, actually), so imagine my anxiety when I was mapping our last few routes. Determined to beat the odds, however, I conditioned my mind to be at its most alert, and equipped myself with maps – yes, with an –s, one digital, one printed – as we braved the roads of the Eternal City.
I did succeed at first, having no trouble finding the historic Colosseum. Little did I know Rome was just mocking me. The hours of walking around in incertitude that soon followed was like the city telling me “You think can simply come here and easily find your way? Ha! You fool!”
Finding our other planned destinations, the Fontana di Trevi and the Pantheon, for example, was like an OC travel planner’s worst nightmare. It felt like we were walking around in circles as each turn looked like the previous one. The street signs were a hit and miss. Sometimes it’s where I expected it to be, at times it’s an apparition that teased me with “Surprise!”.
The more steps we took though, the more we learned to appreciate the nightmare as a beautiful dream in disguise. The labyrinthine alleys led us to discover the Spanish Steps (it came out of nowhere, so much so that I wasn’t able to take a proper photo!), made us stumble upon Altare della Patria (apparently considered one of the locals’ most disliked structures ), a totally random but gorgeous church whose name escapes me now, among many other interesting displays of both traditional Roman architecture and contemporary street art. Our biggest “Waaaah! I can’t believe we found this!” moment? Il Gelato di San Crispino. Yep, the gelateria that made a cameo in that small Julia Roberts film, Eat, Pray, Love. My heart still skips a beat every time I remember that serendipitous find. Their crema allo zenzero e cannella is genius, I tell you. Genius!
But wait, there’s more! As if all that wasn’t enough to make up for having us feel like mice scrambling in a complicated maze, Italy gave us the best send-off we can get before our flight back to Manila: a Sunday Eucharistic celebration officiated by Pope Francis himself.
We didn’t plan on it at all as we wanted a stress free, que sera, sera kind of last day in Europe. Kite and I just went there to catch any mass at the piazza, and visit the Sistine Chapel afterwards. The second item on the agenda we didn’t tick off since the chapel was closed during that day (again, we didn’t know), but we weren’t even bummed. We saw Pope Francis for crying out loud! What else was there to complain about?
Seriously speaking, the energy at St. Peter’s Square that time was just something else – calm and peaceful, yet electric and palpable. Being in the presence of the Pope surrounded by a massive crowd of faithfuls at the heart of the Vatican was unbelievably surreal. You know how at certain special moments in your life you get that inexplicable something in your gut that you know for sure you’d never forget for as long as you live? Uh huh. I had that, and I’m pretty sure Kite did too. I’m faaaaar from religious (Kite is), but I wasn’t able to help myself whisper a silent prayer thanking the powers of the Universe for having me experience that divine Sunday morning. 🙂
Realize you are in the right direction not because you’re where you intended to be, but rather because you were led to something equally wonderful?
Feel good about it? Really, really, REALLY, freakingly, awesomely, good about it?
Check, check, and check.