The completely unfiltered diary of a 24-year-old (week 72)

5 min readNov 18, 2021

Jeez…it’s already midnight. I’m having slight cold feet about leaving. There’s been so much to plan and book and all that. And now there’s a chance that EU countries might impose more travel restrictions. Ok, fingers crossed, hopefully we can still go quarantine-free!

I’m sure it’ll be fine in any case. :)

Alright. Time to sleep.

We’re in Italy!

Gosh. It’s already the second day and it still feels a bit surreal. Well, I’m off work for now so that makes it a lot easier to just forget about work and really relax, like a proper holiday.

Rome has been pretty cool. Lots of old buildings. We’ve been walking so much and I’m so glad Cher is super chill and never whines. It’s also really cool how you can walk maybe 5 minutes in a certain direction, and suddenly stumble across a historical site.

We literally stumbled across about a third of the main tourist attractions this way (including Vatican City — we’d seen it from a distance, from the Castel Sant’Angelo, and thought it had to have a public toilet so we went over. Lol. Spoiler alert(?) yes of course there is a toilet in Vatican City.)

Some other cool stuff. The people here in Rome have been so sweet. We went to a bakery/ready-made food type of place, and got some cheap pasta (which was….well….kind of regrettable) but the guy who worked there was so nice! He explained the menu to us in so much detail, in English, and when we were leaving, he gave us two cannolis for free!

And when we had breakfast in this other place where no one spoke English, the baristas looked extremely busy (baristas always move so efficiently, it’s amazing). But when we stood at the counter looking like lost sheep trying to get a bartender’s attention to order a drink, the barista, a tall middle-aged guy, really nicely asked us what we wanted (or rather, we pointed at what we wanted) and he gestured that we had to make payment at the counter first. And, while we were queueing to make payment (and I’m still not really sure how that whole system works… Do you tell the cashier what you’re having, pay, then have a receipt for it? But what if you don’t remember the exact name off the pastry you want, or some crap like that?) the barista gestured to us again to show that he’d already prepared our food. And when the cashier looked at us and said something, and we stared at him blankly with our credit card held out in humble offering, the barista again shouted over to presumably tell the cashier that these two clueless tourists were ordering pastry A, pastry B, and two cappuccinos. That barista also had a very smooth wink.

In the evening, we got gelato and although the guy seemed like he was in a rush (and I later realize he’d been stirring a pot of jam or whatever it is that people stir in pots at a gelato shop) and he seemed mildly annoyed that we couldn’t decide what flavor we wanted, he seemed to realize we were having trouble picking just one flavor. And so he told us we could actually pick three, even though it was a small cup of gelato. That solved our indecision quickly. And, though he was probably rushing to go back to stirring his pot, he so nicely asked if we were sharing the cup, and stuck in an extra wafer biscuit when we said yes.

Small things that gave me so much joy!

We’re in Spain now. It was actually really exciting to be able to read some of the stuff around, like in the posters and signs etc. And when we went to get tickets for our bus, I got to speak a bit of very broken and very slow Spanish!! It was super exhilarating. Terrible Spanish speaker on the loose in the wild.

Also, on the flight from Italy to Spain (on trusty old Ryanair), I’d sat next to this Italian guy. At first I judged him a little, because he bought scratch cards from the flight attendant when she went on her rounds. I guess the entire idea of buying scratch cards is pretty foreign to me. And it wasn’t even cheap. 15 euros. That’s like, more than my food budget for a single day.

Anyway, in the later half of the flight, the guy took out a notebook with a bunch of really neatly written notes in it. It was a summary of all the tenses in English. Simple past, future perfect, present perfect, present imperfect, perfect imperfect, lol I have no idea what tenses we have, honestly. But there were many. Anyway. Social-interaction-deprived me decided to strike up a conversation with this guy (conversation had previously been limited to “sorry” when he got up from his window seat to use the toilet and I had to make way for him). So I asked him if he was studying English.

We had a nice conversation. I’m glad. He really kept the conversation going, and I felt bad because he kept asking about me and I just didn’t have time/the mental capacity or agility to ask him about himself quite as much. Anyway. I think Italians must be great conversationalists.

Anyway. Spain has been super exciting and I had some kind of conversation with a shoe repair man, because I had to pick up keys from him, for our Airbnb. He was so nice! Though it was a bit awkward at first, given that there was a language barrier and that it felt really weird to walk into a random shoe shop and say, “Hi, you have…keys…for…house…beside…?”

Thankfully he understood what I was saying and I hadn’t just walked into the wrong place and made a complete fool of myself. Ah man. He was so nice! Like a friendly, helpful, Spanish-speaking and shoe-repairing teddy bear.

Alright. Time to sleep. I’m excited to hunker down and settle in this town for the next two weeks.



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P.S. I’m reading this again in week 73, while looking through the pictures in my phone, to check if I missed out anything “important”. Turns out, I did.

Rome was full of these tiny half-cars. I call them half-cars, because they literally look like a car that ended prematurely halfway through.

There were so many of them. Guess it’s practical to have a tiny car in a packed city like Rome.

Also, Kay had recommended the movie Luca to me when she found out I was going to Italy. I watched it on the plane (and it was so cute!). Anyway. A red Vespa was a key feature in that movie. And turns out, Rome was full of red Vespas too.