But We’re In Pompeii?

One of my favorite aspects of studying in Europe, is having the opportunity to visit other countries and get a taste of each unique culture. That’s why my roommate, Emily, and I couldn’t wait for our upcoming trip to Istanbul to visit friends.

IMG_0784After busing three hours south, we started the weekend off right with a school field trip to Pompeii. Friday morning was spent touring around the amazing ruins, visiting the world’s oldest amphitheatre and envisioning the village that once was. Just as we were heading to our delicious lunch, our Director mentioned that we would return to Rome by 6 or 630 p.m.

I’ve never had heart problems, but I think it’s safe to say after receiving this news, I can relate. A misinformed staff member had told me we would return to Rome by 3 or 4, which is why Emily and I joyfully booked our flight to Istanbul for 7 pm. So young and naïve.

Explaining the issue to our director, Frances, she informed us there was no way we could return to Rome on the three hour bus ride. After many calls to the train station, she figured out a series of trains for us to take that could get us to the Rome airport by 5:30 if everything went perfectly. Here’s how that played out-

1. The Pompeii-Napoli train: With our train in less than 10 minutes, there was no better time to realize two girls were missing from the group. As the bus cruised around looking for these Dora the Explorers, the time of our train came and went, and so did our sanity. In response to our hysterical laughs and despair, Frances confirmed that we needed to be in Naples by 4 pm. “But we’re in Pompeii?” Emily responded. Good point Em. Cue 20 minute delay leaving Pompeii.

2. Napoli-Roma train:  Delayed 15 minutes, so life was getting exciting. Eventually, we spent the train ride laughing about nothing and everything, and our stressed spirits were lifted as we reminded ourselves that we would make this flight.

3. Termini in Rome- Airport train: Even though we ran from the train to the ticket office, we missed it by 90 seconds. Seeing as these run every half hour and any buses or taxis would be victims to rush hour traffic, we had nothing to do but wait. Boarding our final train, we arrived at the airport at 6:20 pm and took off in a sprint. Just to remind you, flight time was 7:05, people.

4. Check-in at Fiumicino: Literally sprinting through the airport (me, in wedges of course) we discovered check-in closes an hour before flight time. With no way to check-in, the only way Turkish Airlines offers boarding passes, we took off for the gate.

5. Security: Ain’t nobody got time for that line, so we convinced a nice lady to let us through the first class security. Relying on our passports, looks of desperation and a screenshot of my reservation, we both got through.

6. The Gate: Continuing on our amazing race, we found ourselves at Gate B only to find the screen misprinted where we needed to go. An Italian employee, who was very over our disheveled appearances and panting pleas for assistance, guided us in the right direction.

7. The Last Call: Ignored it and kept sprinting. Determined not to give up, we continued on through flights of stairs, weaving through large groups, and acquiring endless stares of confusion. For the record, I know more words for running than “sprint” but to use any of these options would discredit just how much effort went into this.

8. Customs: Apparently, this is required for leaving the EU. Once again, the mile long line didn’t fit our tight schedule so we asked an employee to help us out. He said he would, but we could tell he lacked the girth and personal interest to move these mountains. Ditching him, we went up to the front of the line and explained the situation, requesting to skip. These lovely men didn’t speak English, but they cheered us on and told the people in front of them to let us through. What gems.

9. Tram: If Gate G weren’t a tram ride away that would be too easy, so dripping in sweat and desperation we hopped on. This provided a fun opportunity to explain in Italian to some confused passengers what a joke my life was. After sprinting some more, we finally found G5.

10. Boarding Passes: We knew this would be an issue at some point, but we gave the Turkish Airlines staff our passports and asked what they could do. Thankfully, a kind woman, who wanted nothing to do with my silly screenshot, printed our boarding passes and sent us on our way. Asking for just a bit more from our legs, we ran to the plane, and for good reason, because the door shut right after we stepped on.

Sitting down in the most well deserved seats of our lives we quickly fell back into hysterical laughs of disbelief. Although it seemed impossible, we dedicated ourselves to challenging any obstacle, sprinting every terminal, and counteringIMG_0830 any ominous outlooks with positivity.

We were also motivated by the thought of telling our friends that we couldn’t make it for the weekend. Imagining that hypothetical conversation, from Rome, made it essential for us to not take “no” for an answer.

We often forget the power of making time for people, and even more so, making time to see them. This is one of the simplest ways of showing the people in our lives the value they have, yet it’s often utilized the least. It’s so easy to fall into the habit of telling someone you’ll “grab coffee,” but never going out of your way to set a date. However, based on the amazing, unique and hilarious weekend Emily and I had in Istanbul, I can tell you there’s nothing that is more worthwhile- regardless of what it takes to get there.

Out of breath, this time from laughing, I asked Emily, “how are we going to make people understand this story?” To which she replied, “We need to make them run.”