31 August 2010

more catching up

After Kyle flew out on Friday morning, I returned to Rome via the da Vinci Express Train, which goes between Fiumicino Airport and Roma Termini Station in about 30 minutes. Once at the airport, I experienced a startling realization: I had nowhere to sleep that night. I'd been so busy showing Italy to Kyle, and I hadn't had any wifi for a couple of days, and I'd made zero plans.

I ran to McDonald's and bought a fruit and yogurt cup so I could use their wifi, but my battery ran out within 45 minutes, and I still had no plans. My next great idea was to wander over to the ticket machines and just play with some different itineraries. I thought of people I could call to stay with, but only one place seemed to make any sense: Baiardo.

It hurt my pride a little bit to have to retreat there, but I knew it would put me in great position to go to Nice the following Tuesday (which I'd already reserved), and it was really beautiful and relaxing, so. . . why not? The biggest problem was that, as it was 10am, it was too late for me to leave and hope to arrive in Sanremo with time to catch the last bus up the mountain, so I'd have to wait until Saturday. This gave me a couple more options: find a place to stay the night in Rome and take an early train out, or take a night train and get into Sanremo the next morning. I briefly did the math in my head and determined that it would be more economical to sleep in a bed on a train than in a cheap bed and then take a train the next day. With the price information up on the screen in front of me, I called one of my bosses and asked him if there would be a bed for me up in Baiardo. He said yes, and that they were already expecting me. Even though I knew that this only indicated that he was confused about when I'd get there, it felt like someone was waiting for me at home, and that was nice. I bought the tickets, and then set about waiting the 14 hours until I would be able to utilize them.

How does one set about entertaining oneself in one of the largest train stations in Italy for the better half of a day? It's a trick question, actually, because it's impossible. I sat in front of a cafe for a couple of hours drawing, then I did a few laps around the mall in the basement of the station (please keep in mind that I was dragging my suitcase with me and carrying my backpack on my back), then I set up in a different cafe for about 4 hours. Around this time I started to fall asleep, so I began chugging soda, and then I did some more laps. By the time 9 pm rolled around, I had visited almost every store in that mall, sampled chocolate, eaten Pringles and sandwiches, spent about an hour in the bathrooms just because they were that clean and they gave me a place to do my hair and wash my face, sketched another few frames of SuperGuards, traversed the three levels of the train station countless times- I mean, clearly it was a highly productive day for me. But at this point, I was fading. I ran to the grocery store to pick up a salad and a mozzarella ball to put in it, and then found a table up top where I could enjoy my dinner.

Opening the mozzarella proved to be more difficult than I'd expected, because they package it in a plastic bag with water so that it will retain its freshness. Unfortunately, I had nowhere to drain it, so I could only try to open it without making a mess, and then hope to lean it against something. Part one of this plan failed, however, when a waiter walked by my table at the wrong moment and subsequently had his arm doused in cheesy water.

I spent another hour up on the top level before finally going down to the middle to wait for my train. I picked a spot next to a group of girls travelling together so that I would look like I was with them, instead of alone. I proceeded to paint my nails, change the laces in my shoes (I bought bright new laces at the Foot Locker in the train station mall because my black softball trainers are on their way out and needed a bit of sprucing up), and listen to my mp3 playa for an hour and a half before boarding.

So I don't know if I mentioned how awful my last night train experience was (I was trying to sleep sitting up, in a compartment stuffed with five other people), but this was the complete opposite. I don't know if I've ever slept so deep as I did in that tiny bed, with one bed above me and another below me, in a dark compartment, rattling along through Italy. I was actually really sad to wake up and have to switch trains in Genoa, because my Intercity train to Sanremo was not nearly so restful. I did get to see a storm over the ocean at 6 in the morning, which was absolutely beautiful, but a little more sleep would have been nice.

Before I knew it, I was back in Sanremo, and it was drizzling there as well. I holed up in a cafe until the next bus left, and then I called Jimmy up in Baiardo to give him a heads up that I'd be arriving. He was kind enough to meet me at the bus stop and carry my suitcase all the way up to Casa Cinque at the top of the town, and help me get everything sorted as far as sheets and towels and whatnot. He also informed me that communal dinners were no longer offered, due to the low number of tutors and it being the end of the season. That would have been nice to know when I was near a grocery store.

I spent a lot of that day in bed, as did the girl in the bed next to mine (she was looking a bit rough after what had apparently been a long night). When the evening rolled around, I put together some mashed potatoes (Jimmy had been good enough to give me the last of the potatoes from the storeroom) and went down to the town center with some of the girls. There were some fun people in Baiardo, and we had a good time chilling with the townspeople at the local bar.

The next day was also pretty uneventful. I got some food together to make dinner later, and just chilled out, as far as I remember. A few of us set up shop down at one of the bars and just talked about girl stuff and sang Motown songs at the top of our lungs (as soon as the locals' concert had finished, of course). That night, I made pasta with pesto, some potatoes and onions, and caprese, and everyone who didn't have their own food came over. It ended up being a pretty big group. My favourite thing about cooking for big groups is that it automatically excuses you from doing dishes.

Afterwards, we went down to the town center, where they'd set up a stage as part of the local Ferragosto celebration. Ferragosto is a little similar to the whole White Night thing in that it celebrates the end of the summer, but that's about all I know about it. There was a band playing though, and couples dancing in a little dance area, and then all around there were tables set up, and they'd gotten together a little snack bar as well. It was fun, but surprisingly cold.

The next day, I went into town with a few of the other tutors. Some people had to go work orientation, others had to attend orientation, so there was quite a bit of shuffling going on. I got lunch in town with a few really cool people and then hung out in the office the rest of the day to take advantage of their wifi. Then I took the 5:40 back up the mountain to start prepping group dinner.

It was spaghetti and tomato sauce that night, with a mangled tortilla de patatas (everyone said it was good even though I didn't have a tortilla turner to do it properly), some salad, and more caprese. Afterwards, we went down to the Ferragosto festival once more, where it was the Night Dedicated to the Children (basically an excuse for some truly awful juvenile karaoke). We had a few drinks and then decided that we should 'improve' things by doing a song or two ourselves. I did proceed to sing backup for a lad from Liverpool named Dave on the song 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood' (don't hate, they only had like 5 songs in English so our options were a little limited). While onstage, I found a basket full of hats which all said BAJARDO on them (still not even sure how to properly spell the name of the town because I see it written with both an i and a j), and I figured I had earned one, so I just sort of wore it off the stage. I still have it, and I intend to cherish it for the rest of my life.

Post-karaoke, we returned to Casa Cinque, and a few of us did some stargazing on our balcony before it was finally bedtime.

The next morning, I departed on the 7:40 bus so that I could catch an early train to Nice. . . but that's another story for another day. Hopefully tomorrow.

No comments: