Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Midget Fighting a One Legged Man

I made a last minute decision to spend travel week in Rome, and because of the last minute nature of my choice, I could not get a seat on the same flight or a room in the same hostel as my friends. It was my first international flight by myself, and I had to get to Victoria Coach Station at 2 AM to take a coach to  airport. I did not have access to a printer, so my coach and plane ticket were not printed. I tried calling a cab but they refused to pick me up because I did not have a UK phone number. I could not find the coach and there were people sleeping around the deserted, locked coach station. I consider myself a well traveled, level headed person, but I was terrified. Then this hysterical Russian lady came up to me telling me how she missed her bus and she is stranded in London without any money. Not completely sane at this point, I thought to myself "what if I miss my bus too! I will be like this hysterical Russian: penniless, helpless, and stranded in London. I will have to sleep on benches and wash dishes at a chinese restaurant that deals drugs in the back alleyway." I forgot for a moment that I could have stayed in my London flat, and that I had access to money. No sleep, freezing weather, stress, and hysterical Russians is a recipe for an international travel disaster. I am glad to say that I made it to Rome safely.

I had been to Rome before, but if there is anything that I have learned on this trip is that you can never "check off" a place; there is always new things to learn and explore. (Yes I know that last statement sounds like a fortune cookie.) I visited the Colosseum again on the first day in Rome. What did I learn on this second rendezvous?

  • Rome exceles in recycling building materials. For example, the Colosseum's stones--that housed the slaughtering of thousands of christians--were used to build St. Peter's Basilica. 

  • Warm up acts during gladiatorial games included women gladiators and a one legged man battling a midget. I'm curious to know the statistical outcomes on the latter match-up. I should give SNL this tidbit so Stefon can incorporate it into his upcoming visit on Weekend Update. Honestly, the Colosseum sounds like one of Stefon's wild parties: New York's hottest new club is Vini. It has everything: tigers in diapers, armor filled with jello, christian martyers break dance fighting, vestal virgins, vomitoriums, Bill Murry impersonating Socrates, and a midget fighting a one legged man.

  •  Speaking of vomitorium, that is the Latin word used to describe the hallways in the Colosseum. 50,000 people exited the building with in 15 minutes. Impressive. Too bad Italians no longer have that same efficiency in public transportation--don't get me started on escalator use in the metro. 

  • Gladiator's acknowledged the vestal virgins on their way in. Actually, I just wanted to say vestal virgins so I had an excuse to post this picture. Confession: I thought it was "vessel" virgins, and after writing a description of this picture on facebook, Abby corrected me. "They are not the Virgin Mary!" They are both revered religious figures that are virgins: same difference.

  • I recalled a line from the "historically" accurate Gladiator when imagining 50,000 people in that mammoth structure: "Rome is the mob. Conjure magic for them and they'll be distracted."  (Much love, Derek Jacobi.) We were reading Julius Caesar while in Rome, and while reading the play those words and the Colosseum continually came to my mind. We are seeing an RSC production of Julius Caesar set in Africa. I watched a short video where they discussed how contemporary western society does not have an equivalent where the people, the mob, changes the course of politics, but Africa governments are overthrown quickly by the people. Needless to say I'm extremely excited. But I digress...  

After a day of hysterical Russians, midgets, the Colosseum, veal with peas in a white wine sauce, and a shower, I still glad to be back in Rome.

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