I have recently come across my travel journals from some of my trips way back when. Reading through the entries has been so much fun, and I thought I would share some bits and pieces. So here is one entry from my backpacking trip through Europe right after I graduated from college.
Monday, June 18, 2001
Today was an incredible day! We set out with the intentions of renting bicycles and seeing Rome. We had originally wanted to rent scooters, but decided with the price and the maniacal driving of cars and scooters, we would be wiser to rent bicycles. So we went to Eco Move and Rent, and got ourselves some bicycles. But fancy our surprise when we got them outside and found that they are actually ghetto-cycles, rigged to fall to pieces and drain your meager travel account in maintenance fees. So, despite my scooter apprehensions, we shelled out some more money and traded in our death traps for a blue–no, a sparkly royal blue–scooter. S, having had experience driving scooters, decided to drive, and after a 5-minute crash course on the basics, we were off.
We started off shaky. As it would happen, S’s scooter “experience” was a once-around-the-block and she was actually quite nervous at the prospect of holding someone else’s life in her hands on a little scooter, being barreled past by cars and other, more experienced scooter drivers. Additionally, as our official navigator, her task involved not only gassing and going, but trying to navigate the roads in the estimated direction of the Vatican.
As we neared the Vatican, the stress level of driving for S and my own stress level of having no control had become more than enough to encourage us to pull over, grab some lunch at a little pizzeria, and then walk–yes, abandoning our poor scooter–to the Vatican.
At lunch, some people told us that the line to the Vatican Museum was about 5 blocks long. Too impatient to wait in the line, we opted to just take the scooter back and visit the Vatican tomorrow. The only hitch: we had decided that I should give the return trip a whirl and drive the darn thing. So we turned the scooter in the right direction, secured our heads in our bright red helmets, and were off.
Just as shaky as S had been, I tried my best to maneuver the beast on the road. It was difficult trying to figure out braking with my hands, leaning as I turned, etc. But suddenly… I got it! And by the time we rounded the corner to the rental place, I had no intention whatsoever of returning our scooter prematurely. So we continued on our adventure, shouting, “Roooooomaaaaaa!” as we traversed the streets of Rome. With me driving and S navigating, we made the perfect scooter team!
We revisited the Fontana di Trevi, zipped around the busy streets of Rome, and finally made a stop at the Colosseum, where we enjoyed a long line and an incredible touristy experience. Walking into the Colosseum was crazy, hard to believe we were really there. The incredible architecture and the background of its unbelievable history just fascinating us as we made our way around the historical landmark.
And then we had to leave in order to return Romana (yes we named our scooter, and no not very originally) to her home in time. In spite of the hurry, we still had fun on the ride, pushing through traffic and taking the roundabouts in sets of 2. But then it was all over. As we parked our trusty steed back at the Eco Move & Rent, we gave up our fantastic adventures of the scooter life and returned to the simple life by foot.
Tomorrow… the Vatican.