Loading….New Email….Invitation: Day trip to the Beach RSVP Soon!! Coming from an area that is far away from the beach, I’m in awe thinking that the ocean is within an hour-long train ride from my apartment. The invitation languidly sits on my computer screen. On the weekends in Colorado, my friends and I would typically go hiking, spend our money frivolously on unneeded luxuries, and then get into arguments about Peyton Manning and how the Denver Nuggets won’t make it to the championship, sorry Gallinari.
Considering the last activity Romina planned was very fun at Castel Gandolfo and the hot Roman air was beginning to get rather annoying, why the heck not? Time to fill the daypack and take up Justin’s invitation to head on over to Santa Marinella.
The fact that we live in the Trastevere neighborhood makes traveling around to the neighboring cities and towns a cakewalk. With the trusty Roma Trastevere station, adventure is at our fingertips. My roommate and I met up with Justin and Chris the two of the On-Site Coordinators in case you were wondering early Friday morning. The air was already thick with the Mediterranean heat while the Fiats and motorinos whizzed by us with a vengeance. Kevin my roommate goes, “Brah, you think we’ll make it back in time to play some Hearthstone?”
“Kevin, we haven’t even left yet and you’re already thinking about what we are going to do at the end of the day! Just chill and don’t forget to put on sunscreen. You burn faster than gasoline”, I reply. I’m no better to be honest, I put on SPF 80 practically everyday to keep my self from catching fire.
Chris and Justin guide the two of us through the ticket purchasing process. With the Trenitalia machines, it’s practically unnecessary to wait in line to speak with the live person if you can ever find them when they are open! We hop on the train and the ride is filled with yacky locals and sunflower filled vistas. I try to understand what the people are saying around me, but to the avail of my three years of high school Spanish, my efforts rendered fruitless. Justin and Chris constantly talk to the locals here. I must say though, thanks to Silvia our awesome Italian teacher, I was able to pick up that the two peoples’ names were Laura and Giovanni and that they were from Naples. Their conversation was filled with laughter and intrigue. I wish I studied the language more. After seeing Chris and Justin, you can tell that the culture truly blossoms when you can speak the language.
We arrive at our stop and are then gently motivated by the trampling locals behind us to GET OFF THE TRAIN ASAP! You would’ve thought there was rabid dog in the coach. There is a passion here for family, food, style, and the lesser known: entering and exiting all means of public transportation.
After a brief walk past the “Monkey Bar”, we were in what looked like to be a horseshoe shaped lagoon filled with sunbathers, sand castles, sea-soaked swimmers, smokers and something that smelled delicious the latter two are practically omnipresent here in Rome. “Quanto costa per questi ombrelloni?” asks Chris to the bearded guy who looked in charge. “I think he’s just trying to get the cheapest umbrellas around”, murmured Kevin. I took a look at the rich red color umbrellas and the stabile stretchy beach chairs and said, “Dude, let’s hope these chairs are the cheapest ones because this sand is scorching my feet!” To my relief, we got them: two sun-shielding umbrellas and four chairs for each of us.
We stretched out, applied more sunscreen, and took in the surroundings. You could tell this beach was very popular amongst locals as you could let’s say see “the local fashion” amongst its visitors. Guys in speedos and minimally clothed women almost everywhere you looked. All apart of the local culture I suppose. I did not feel too overdressed since a lot of guys our age there wore mostly the swim trunks that I’m used too. “I think I’ll get a speedo too one day while we are here!” chuckled Kevin. I put my palm to my face, “That thing will never see the light of day once we go back to Colorado”. All the power to him though, I must say I do respect his drive to take on local customs even if he risks turning into a tomato on even more parts of his body.
After about an hour of reading Game of Thrones my skin was already starting to feel medium rare. Kevin and I made it into the refreshing seawater after sprinting across the lava sand. Too bad politicians cannot be as transparent as the water is here. I was already up to my neck and I could still see my toes! I turn around and I see Kevin stopped with the water level above his thighs and below his torso. He’s hesitant. “Just jump in Kev! Get it over with quickly and it won’t be that bad!” I shout. “Nooooooo…..” whines Kevin. I leave him to contemplate over his life decisions that led him up to this predicament of getting used to the water.
Eventually Kevin made it in all the way and we tossed the Frisbee around that Chris brought. The wind must have picked it up when I threw it because it went into a crowd of people nearly knocking over someone’s beverage in the sand. I’ll admit I am not the best thrower in the world so all the blame cannot go to the wind.
A little further out into the distance, seaside rocks were visible as if to blockade the beach from any impending danger that lurks below. The rocks were easily accessible and we could even see people chilling out on them. “Chris! You wanna swim out there?” I ask. He told me before what he and another student did during the Castel Gandolfo Day Trip. Knowing that, there’s no way he will pass this one up. “Sure, let’s do it!” Chris says. He gave his cellphone to Justin and pleaded with him to put more sunscreen on. Justin remained steadfast that he did not need any. Defeated, Chris put his belongings in his daypack and started toward the water with Kevin and I.
The journey began. After running track and even the occasional 5k, I still got pretty tired rather fast to my chagrin. I kept at it, even at a slow pace. From the shore, the distance looked like it was pretty close, but after a subsequent Google map search I learned it was a little over a 100 meter stretch. Chris made it to the rocks first and kept his eye on Kevin and I, as we were getting closer. He even had lifeguard shorts on making his demeanor even more comical. After reaching the rocks, we were able to climb right up and see out into the distance. I figured if you took a kayak and went straight down, you would run into some islands off of Sicily or eventually into Tunisia. After thinking about the 5 euro per half hour rate for the kayaks here, I concluded that this venture might not be the most cost effective.
The three of us struck up a conversation with a lady who happened to be from the USA. She was with her husband, three sons, and two daughters. We laid out on the sun-cooked rocks with the saltwater still clinging to us. The friendly lady cheerfully asked us whereabouts we were all from. For some reason Chris is strangely proud to be from Massachusetts as he bantered on and on about skiing and changing seasons. Kevin and I say that we were from Colorado and her eyes lit up. “No way, we’re from Boulder!” she exclaimed.
I typically take people whom I meet everyday back at home for granted, but I must say that meeting someone on a random beach outside of Rome from the same state is something special.
We talk about the fresh air, the mountains, and of course the XXXXX. We learned her name was Michelle and that she was 49 years old. We asked her what she would tell herself if given a chance to speak with herself at the age of 21. She answers, “Take care of yourself health wise. I do not have large regrets I would tell myself to avoid…. Not a day goes by though where I am not thankful for my health, especially after seeing others my age who cannot do many of the activities that we’ve grown accustomed to in our youth.
Splash! One of Michelle’s sons jumps off of the rock and dives right into the water toward the shoreline. “C’mon Michelle!”, screams the son. At the time, I thought it was rather strange her kid called her by her first name. “That’s my cue” Michelle goes as she skips and launches off the rock face into the sea. Her and her sons all swam together like ducks in a pond. Kevin hung out and pondered at the important affairs of the local sea urchins as Chris caught some rays. As the sun started to strengthen we decided to head on back to camp. The tide gave us a boost back making the swim a bit easier.
We returned to find Justin under the umbrella eating what looked to be the best gelato ever at the time. Chris proceeded to take us up to the same gelato place with sunscreen promptly residual on my hands. The guy working the gelato could not have been older than 16. I ask for a cup of banana and cioccolato fondente everybody learns the gelato flavors really quick here of course. I must say, it was one of the worst flavored gelatos I had ever tasted since being here. The banana they used must’ve had relations with a lemon gone astray but the cold treat was refreshing all the same.
We hastily go back to the chairs with the lava sand sticking to our feet. Jump ahead a lazy half an hour of napping we made it back on the train and pretty soon Kevin and I are back at the apartment. Salty hair and crispy skin we both made it back without a burn, thankfully. Unfazed, Kevin starts complaining that the game developers have interrupted Hearthstone and that he cannot access it on his computer. That’s fine by me, we both have unfinished papers to write. Thank you Chris and Justin for showing us a great time!