Hello from Italy! As you can probably surmise, everything with my visa went through swimmingly; it was delivered to my door about 6 hours before I left for my flight. My mom dropped me off at the airport, and a 1-hour check-in line, £250 charge for my extra baggage, and a ridiculous security line later, I successfully made it to London. And-get this-somehow, after all my finagling with the Consulate, I managed to skip customs all together. The trick is to fly through Ireland, tell the passport person you're just traveling through for a connecting flight, and voila! No customs. Not that I had any intention of skipping it, but apparently any old Irish vagrant can come into the UK without so much as a second glance, so who am I to argue? And they say that UK border patrol is tough...
My first day in London was a little rough...a friend of mine met me at the airport to help me with my ridiculous amount of luggage. Of course, this meant toting upwards of 300 total pounds of baggage through the London public transportation system to get to her flat, which is-naturally-about as far from Heathrow as you can get whilst still in the same city. Not nearly the effortless task it sounds. But, after blood, sweat, and the intense desire to cry if not the emergence of actual tears, we made it, and I even managed to meet Jon at the airport and get him back to the house without getting too horribly lost.
The next day we left for Rome, and almost immediately made friends with 2 French girls and an Aussie who were all at the same hostel. Although I haven't studied French since high school and was embarrasingly bad at it even then, I surprised myself by conversing (rather rudamentarily) with the girls, one of whose English was about as limited as my French. Needless to say, there was a lot of miming. But, as we all met at a pub crawl and were under the influence of a massive amount of Italian beer, it didn't particularly matter. We got home at 4am (I was forcibly reminded of the all-night frat parties that I was so fond of attending at age 18), and the next day Jon and the girls went to the beach, while Tom the Aussie and I nursed our hangovers. Last night we all went out for a real Italian dinner, complete with uneven tables in the street, bottles of wine, reeeeeeally good cheese, candles, and small cars whizzing by the table so close that I feared losing a foot if I let my leg wander past the edge of the table. A true Roman experience.
Our new-found friends all left today, the girls for home in France, and Tom for who-knows-where, so Jon and I went to the Roman Forum and the Colliseum by ourselves. Just as awesome as I remember it. It was stifilingly hot outside, but what can you really expect from the south of Italy in September? Tomorrow we're going to Vatican city, then it's off to Positano and Venice, and then back to London so that Jon can go home and I can start my new life. Anyway, as this entry has gotten far too long (I thoroughly applaud any who read this far), methinks I will say good-bye for now. Ciao!
P.S. I also found out today that my best friend Grace, who is expecting a baby, is having a boy! I get an almost-nephew! Thank God-I wouldn't have the faintest idea how to talk to a little girl, having been thoroughly ensconsed in tomboy-hood for as long as I can remember. Congrats, Grace and Brad!