Feeling Green, Tamara Hodak : There`s only one chance for first impression
Moving to another country is always a hard work. Both phisically and emotionally. You literally have to pack your life into the suitcases and carry it with you to another world. Getting used to different way of living and trying to learn how to get around seems like walking through the maze blindfolded. When you are in Rome, blindfolded is something you must avoid. That is why I took my first month here to explore what city has to offer.
- The incredible size of the city
I made a deal with myself that I will not walk on the same street twice. It took me 3 weeks to see around 30% of the city. It`s huge! I was not aware of its size until I started exploring it. Now that I know what citizens and tourists must deal with on daily bases, made me learn a lot of lessons.
Coming from a smaller country where 30 minues of comuting is too much sometimes and makes people anxtious or even quit their plans, it was hard for me to accept the fact that traveling for 2 hours to get to the office is normal. Normal! Not to mention I have to take a bus, a train and 2 undergrounds.
I leave house at 08:00 and barely managed to get to work at 10:00. For reasons concerning public transportation, being late is commonly accepted. That kind of mindset is rooted in Italians and that is why they are known for being late.
- Coffe lovers who do not enjoy coffee
Turkish coffee is commonly used in Croatia. It tastes like heaven and we like to enjoy one cup of it up to an hour. In bars, at home, at neighbours` home, wherever. Coffee is a part of relaxing ritual that often includes watching tv, reading newspapers, talking on the phone, smoking cigarettes, conversation, socialization, thinking about the meaning of life.
Italy is famous for loving coffee and thatkind of love I still do not understand. Their coffee is served in the super small glasses or cups and it is drank like a shot. Getting into the bar, ordering, drinking, paying and leaving is the process of 30 seconds. Literally.
I learnt, the hard way, that there is a law stating the coffee cannot cost more than 1€. Italians laughed at me when I told them that my first coffee costed 4.5€. Bars cannot charge you much for coffee but they can for service. I was kindly greeted by a waitor in a bar. I ordered my coffe and sat. That was a mistake – I sat. The service of bringing the coffee from the bar to the table, which was 3m of walking, costed me 3.5€. When in Rome, drink wine, not coffee.
Furthermore, it is hard to find a good coffee. I was told that the more Southern you go, the better it gets. I can confirm the information. The worst coffee I had was in Trieste. The best one in Napoli. According to that, Sicily must be heaven. Until I reach Sicily, I will ask my friends from Balkanic countries to send me Turkish coffee by post.
- Streets are museum
Walking from the street into a museum is like going from one museum to another. You are constantly surrounded by anciant history. The old streets around the center are well preserved and there are even laws protecting authenticity. If workers need to dig the ground, they will carefuly remove brick by brick and put it back the same way. If you own apparment in the center, you are now allowed to change your hundred years old window which is probably falling apart.
It gives you better presentation of the past, preserves the culture and makes you experience the real Italian life. Especially if you sit in a small restaurant in one of those streets to have aperitivo and pizza for dinner.
- Lack of snow
Living in the place where temperature dropes down to -20 in the winter and having 1.5m of snow is a regular thing to occur, my Christmas sprit is non existing. Speaking of Christmas spirit, Zagreb got a reward, few years in a row, for being the best destination during Christmas in Europe due to the decorations, fairs, concerts, many things to offer. There is no such thing in Rome. I believe it is because tourists will come here even without such events. Rome itself is amazing and offers unique attractions and parts of the past.
- Unique attractions and parts of the past
This part of the whole impression requires writing a few books to describe. The things I saw only in books or TV, I got to visit and even touch. The perfect description is that I was like a cat in front of a Christmas tree.
There is too much to see. I often get asked what to do in Rome. There is such a simple answer – everything!If you want to visit, make a good research and set well planed timetable. Even after 2 months here, I haven`t seen enough.
Rome is a melting point. There are people from all over the world not only visiting, but also living in the city. Streets are full of cultural differences and it`s a beautiful thing to see. People sharing the habits, religion, national costumes, food, knowledge and experiences is something I yearn for. Different minds can teach you so many valuable lessons and give you knowledge or competences that will make you a better person. In 3 years of traveling, I learned more than I did in the previous 24 years of my life. Having a chance to experience the cultures I still haven`t met in their countries of origin, makes me love this city even more.