Written on August 29th...
It is our last night in Europe, which is probably a good thing as we all smell terribly, the entire continent has almost completely run out of kebabs, and we seem to be forgetting English as is evidenced by Eli's very natural use of the word "brang" earlier today (past tense for "brought"). This would be more excusable had he actually been learning other languages along the way but sadly he can't really claim that that's true.
We made it safely out of Slovenia several days ago, catching a 6:30 AM bus to do so. We were much more considerate than our hostel-mates of the night before who got up earlier than sin and stomped around the room for several hours speaking something that we are pretty sure was a made up language consisting entirely of the most obnoxious sounds the human voice can create. But the noise didn't bother us quite as much as the smell, as they were most definitely the stinkiest backpackers we have encountered. And we have encouterned stinky backpackers from everywhere. (For those who were wondering, we are probably about average to slightly-above-average backpacker-stinky right now).
We spent a few hours in Venice waiting for our next train, which took us all the way to Florence that evening. We found a great little hotel in Florence where a very elderly man walked us to our room and then proceeded to give us a 10 minute speech about how to use the AC. Unfortunately we only understood about .2% of this speech because it was all in Italian (The .2% comes from the use of some sounds that sound like Spanish words we were probably supposed to learn in the 8th grade had we been listening in school). We think the speech was probably unnecessary, however, because the AC seemed pretty basic and we were able to use it without problems after he left the room. We are hoping, however, that his speech wasn't about how the AC leaked poisonous gases and we should avoid using it all costs. I think we're probably ok.
Florence was wonderful. We saw the David statue (which is amazing!) and wandered through several beautiful streets and churches. We also bought some clothes in hopes that someone will later ask us where we got them so that we can respond, "let's see . . . oh, you know what--I got this at that shop on Via Del Fabio. You know, the one in Florence." (We have practiced this several times, saying it in a voice like everyone should know where that street is). The most exciting part about Florence (other than the great art and blah blah blah) was that for the first time since before the war, we actually stopped sweating because it was quite cool out. Due to the sudden decrease in perspiration, our entire bodies immediately dried up and cracked from head to toe. But it was so worth it. This also helped us not want gellato quite as much, which is definitely a good thing right now as Eli calculated today that he has probably had somewhere around 70 scoops in the last month (mostly in the last 3 weeks). 50 year old Eli will curse 27 year old Eli later for the things he did in 2011. the rest of us have also eaten mass amounts of Gelato but not quite as much. (It's just soooo good!)
We made it back into Rome yesterday (for the 1,000th time) to say goodbye to all of our favorite sites including a second (third for some of us) visit to St Peter's Basilica and Vatican city (where Eli was pooped on by a pidgeon) and get ready to fly out tomorrow morning. It's been another great couple of days in Rome and we'll be sad to say goodbye.
We can't believe the trip is coming to end. The time has flown despite the days and days of adventure-packed experiences that have worn us out. We will be glad to get home to clean clothes, air conditioning and our own beds! But will also be very sad to leave Europe! We have had such a GREAT time!