Monday, 12 January 2015

How It All Went Down in Italy (literally)

Whenever friends ask how Italy went, I let out a huge sigh and mourn the loss of my $600 Tissot watch. 

"What happened?" they ask. 

"What didn't?!" I ask myself. Don't get me wrong, Italy itself was gorgeous, definitely a bucket list type of place. Picturesque in all its beauty and history, it makes for beautiful photos as you'll see in this post. Italy's grandiose and romance isn't overhyped, and I know I will be back one day once I get over the trauma of this trip. 

So how did things go wrong exactly? Let me count the ways.


Shortly after we arrived in Italy, Jia Kai complained of a scratchiness in his throat. We wrote it off as a result of the change in weather, and made him slosh down a cocktail of multi vitamin and lozenges. The itch developed into a full-blown sore throat that was so bad he couldn't even breathe without being in pain. He insisted on seeing a doctor while we were still in Rome, but it was Christmas and NOWHERE is open on Christmas. Even on normal days Italian doctors work only a few days a week apparently. So when he finally put his foot down and said he HAD to see a doc, it was midnight on our first day in Florence. Thank the heavens we lived 10 mins away from a hospital, and we got him there the first thing the next morning. Alas, it was tonsillitis. But guess what? THE HOSPITAL DOESN'T DISPENSE MEDICINE. So my parents had to use an app to locate which pharmacies were open on Sundays in order to get it, which was like one of those really annoying sub tasks you get in video games just as you thought you cleared a level.  

Just as we thought the worst had blown over...

This is not the apartment obvs


Unlike our first chic yet cosy apartment in Rome, the accommodation in Florence boasted more dated interiors. My brothers didn't like it from the start (one is spoiled, another has minor OCD and is sensitive to the supernatural) but I was like meh not too bad. It was fairly large, nearly as big as our 5 room flat back home. Wood furniture all around, and my room had a wardrobe that couldn't be closed properly. I told Jiaxian that it led to Narnia, but he's dyslexic and doesn't read much. Oh well. 

Anyway, while our parents were out getting medicine, us kids were in the apartment trying to get our wifi working and whatnot. (Background information: Florence was windy) I heard a continuous creaking for 15 minutes and I got really annoyed so I had to investigate. The sound was coming from the toilet door, and I peeked inside the toilet. The window in the toilet was shut so I didn't know where the wind that had caused the creaking was coming from. I shut the door tightly.

I told myself that it was probably draft, and went to the living room. Less than 5 minutes later a gust of wind blew so strongly that windows on both sides of the living room slammed shut and stuff was knocked over. Wind slamming windows? Nothing weird. Wind slamming windows from two different directions? Ok get me outta here. I told my parents about it when they got back, we prayed over the apartment and left for Pisa and Rome the next morning. Nothing else happened, fortunately. 

But shit was about to hit the fan y'all.

Imagine this much water but in the shower stall


Our final apartment in Rome was clean and new, situated above an adorable boulangerie adjacent to Piazza Re Di Roma. Unfortunately, the building itself was old, and the plumbing and heating wasn't the best. Our showers got choked on one of the last days and I had to wash my hair in the sink while standing stark naked in the cold. We called one of the apartment caretakers and he agreed to get a plumber to assess the situation the next day. It wasn't a catastrophe, but after all the shit we'd gone through the last week you'd think lady luck would be a little kinder. APPARENTLY NOT.

Somewhere in this crowd, someone is probably getting pick pocketed 
Chapter 4: THE PLUMBER

It was New Years day. The plumber did what he could by pouring chemicals down the pipes and changing a faulty shower head, and then left. 

An hour later my mum realised her earrings were gone. And then it hit me... my watch was gone too. Even if we wanted to give him the benefit of doubt, we couldn't - things don't vanish like that and our valuables went missing from the same counter in the toilet. Long story short, we called our Italian relatives (who'd been our guardian angels from the moment we landed in Rome, God bless their angmoh souls) and made a police report. 

You may be thinking: "Why didn't anyone watch him while he fixed the toilet?" WE DID. But like their coffee, wine and men, thieves in Europe are hella smooth.  

Or perhaps you're chastising me for bringing my most expensive watch on holiday. Two reasons: metal watches feel terrible on the skin in winter, and if I'd lost my CK watch (it's from Keefe) I'd be doubly as sad as I am now. 

I need your sympathy, not your judgement! 

Chapter 5: The Little Things

As we left Rome we received news of the flight from Surabaya to Sg, and I think above all I learnt to treasure the little things. In the midst of the chaos I toggled between wanderlust and homesickness, and realised that all I wanted was to be in the company of those I love, no matter where that is. So for now I'm just glad to be back home, keeping my fingers crossed that insurance will cover the cost of my beloved watch. 

Do you have any travel disasters to share? I'd love to hear them, pretty sure I'm not alone in this!

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