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  • Friday, July 3, 2015

    There Will Be Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

    Maybe I'm just too old to share a bedroom. The moan coming from the bottom bunk was gutteral. Not one of pleasure, thank god. You never know in a hostel, but this wasn't that at all. It was more like the moan of some poor soul writhing around in hell.

    "Hmmmmn.. hmmn.. hmmmmmmnn.. hmmmmmn."

    All that was missing was the gnashing of teeth. I tossed and turned. This wouldn't bother me as much if the snoring of fellow hostelers hadn't become such a problem. When I'd wake up early to start my day, it wasn't for having had enough sleep, but because there was no point in trying anymore.

    "hmmn.. hmmmmmn.. mmmmmmn."

    I put in earbuds and opened the nature sounds app on my phone. The soothing sound of a waterfall. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

    "hmmmn.. hmmmn. hmmn."

    I turned up the volume.


    "HMMmm.. Hmmm. Hmmm."


    The waterfall was now loud enough to cause premature hearing loss, but the moan was so guttural it vibrated the bed. I took out the earbuds. Not even Niagara could drown that out.

    "Grit-grit-grit-grit", came from the other bottom bunk. I sat up. The moaner's girlfriend was a teeth grinder. What an adorable match made in hell.

    "hmmn.. mmmmmnn.. hmmmmmn."


    I fell back down on my pillow and stared at the ceiling. For hours, I slept in five to fifteen minute increments. My anger boiled. I hadn't had proper sleep in days. The snoring I had heard over the past couple of weeks was inhuman, but this combination of moaning and teeth grinding was a first for me.

    "hmmn.. mmmmmnn.. hmmmmmn"



    A snore came from the girl on the second top bunk.

    "Are you f-ing kidding me!"

    It was a hosteling trifecta. Too bad there weren't any more beds for a representative from the night terrors sleep group.

    "hmmn.. mmmmmnn.. hmmmmmn."



    The rage. Oh sweet mother of god, the rage.

    "hmmn.. hmmn.. mmmmnn.. hmmmmmn"


    "zzZZZzzz.. zZZ-hnk-glugk-ghlghl-pfaahh............. ZZZzzz"

    My anger finally boiled over. I bolted up and shouted. "Oh my God! Shut The HELL UP!"

    All three beds fell silent. "Oh man..." I thought. "What have I become?"

    The moaner stirred on the bunk below me then sat up. Maybe wondering what just woke him. Immediately feeling remorse for my actions... I pretended to sleep.

    He lit up the room with the flashlight on his phone then moved to the chair by the window. I fell asleep and woke up a half hour later. His flashlight lit the room. He hadn't moved. He just sat there, still and silent.  Surely he knows he's a sleep moaner. Somebody must have told him by now. He was probably keeping himself awake to spare his fellow hostelers. I felt bad, I really did, but I also wanted to break his damn flashlight!! What is your problem?! There are people sleeping in here you jerk!! I covered my eyes with my pillow and tried to go back to sleep.

    A few minutes went by and I was awake again. The only light outside the window came from a streetlamp glowing in the fog. A new foreign city for me to explore in a few hours, but I needed sleep and the moaner was rustling through his stuff. I noticed the shower running. The teeth grinder's bed was empty. Were they leaving because of me? I rolled over and went back to sleep with a pillow over my eyes.

    I woke again from the sound of the door shutting. I looked around the room, their luggage was gone, beds empty. I may have slipped a little closer to becoming an old curmudgeon spending his final years yelling at kids to get off his lawn, but at least I could get three hours of uninterrupted sleep.

    The next morning I asked the snorer if she knew anything about our noisy roommates.

    "Do you know if they had to get up early for a flight or anything?" I asked.

    "Yes," she said in a Brazilian accent. "Last night I hear them talking about having an early flight."

    "Oh good," I said. "I thought maybe they left because of me. Did you hear him moaning in his sleep?" She shook her head.

    "It was so loud it shook the whole bunk."

    I pointed at the other bunk. "And then she started grinding her teeth," I said, leaving out the part about her snoring. "I yelled at them to shut the hell up, and then they got up and left. I feel bad, but I haven't had a good night's rest in..."

    "Oh, is that what you yelled last night?" she said. "I just thought you had night terrors."

    Sunday, May 31, 2015

    My First Day in Rome

    After leaving Paris, I flew to Rome for the next stop on my grand finale tour of Europe. Had I realize how cheap it was to fly around Europe, I may have had a very different trip. My Paris to Rome ticket was just $21.80. Less than the cost of a 10-mile taxi ride in the states.

    With my morning spent traveling, I didn't have time to properly see the major sites in Rome, so after settling into my hostel, I just went for a walk. 

    My first stop was the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs, a church built inside the 4th century frigidarium of the Baths of Diocletian.

    The Baths were used until the siege of Rome in 537, and about one thousand years later, a section of the remaining structure was adapted into this gorgeous church by Michelangelo.

    Just inside the doors is this sculpture of St. John the Baptist by Igor Mitoraj. 

    Before building up the courage to leave everything behind to have an adventure, heading out my door for a walk only ever led to cornfields and dogs chasing me. Life is significantly more interesting now. 

    Rome was already worth the $21.80.

    Not every turn on this rainy afternoon stroll led me to something as fantastic as a basilica designed by Michelangelo, but every turn led to something interesting and new to my eyes, which I suppose is the point.

    Like this real life Geppetto I spotted working in a toy and puppet shop.
    And, although under maintenance, the impressive Trevi Fountain, one of the most famous fountains in the world. 

    I didn't get to see it functioning in all its glory, but I found what the workers were doing to restore the 18th century fountain just as fascinating. 

    I walked miles of roads and alleys taking photos of anything that was unlike home. Like the numerous scooters, which unlike in Indiana, are respectable forms of transportation and not just vehicles for those with one too man DUIs.

    The rain never let up, but I'll take a rainy afternoon with my camera in Rome over a sunny day at work.

    As much as I didn't mind a little rain, I looked for every opportunity to duck out of it for a while...

     Oh perfect... a covered porch.

    This is Rome's Pantheon, built during the reign of Augustus from 27 BC to 14 AD.

    It has been in continuous use throughout its entire history.

    Just waiting to shelter me from the rain for a bit.

    After a day that started with a 3 AM alarm clock and a rush to an airport in Paris, I found myself on the other side of Rome with a camera full of new memories and a long walk back to my hostel. I decided to call it a day and plan my day two in Vatican City.