Live From Rome Part II: Everything Else

IMG_4358 As outlined in my last entry, I went to Rome to compete and sucked a whole load of monkey nuts. However, visiting the city itself was an incredible experience, without a doubt it was the most beautiful city that I have ever seen. If I had one complaint, there was almost too much to see. No matter where you find yourself, there is some whopping church that is hundreds of years old and the most awesomely gaudy thing known to man. As you would imagine Rome is the ideal place for a TMNT road-trip with ridiculously delicious looking pizza being sold absolutely everywhere. Frustratingly I competed in the Gi on the Friday and then wasn’t due back on the mats until Sunday, as I still had to lose some weight, I had to be content with chicken and spinach. BUT this free day did allow me to do a whole load of sightseeing which I don’t usually get to do an abundance of. In addition to consuming large quantities of expresso in cafes where old men stopped everything and starred like I was starring in an Argento version of American Werewolf. So this blog is a few non Jiu-Jitsu related and completely irrelevant observations and musing based on the cultural sites that I visited whilst in this awe inspiring spot.

Colosseum IMG_4394 I was hit by a few things immediately upon arriving at this quintessential historical site. First I look up and see this magnificent structure which has intrigued me since a year 5 project on the Roman Empire. As I stared in wonderment, I had my personal space ‘invaded’ by an army of cats trying to slang me a ‘selfie stick’. I have a habit of negating things that I actually enjoy to focus on things that really piss me off. The moronic thing is these guys actually get in people’s real non-selfie pics so they can try to sell them on the benefits of using their dumb-ass stick. Despite the mild annoyance, who am I to begrudge these impoverished immigrants making a living & it was pretty amusing watching eager tourists get thoroughly terriorised.

The site also has an abundance of fully kitted up ‘Roman Legionnaires’, the first one I encountered was a big fat whopper who was simultaneously blazing a cig and having a chat on his phone. Dude looked more like a shriveled grape than a cog in a uber-effective fighting machine, the Romans wouldn’t have conquered shit with this dude. Although saying this, the Colosseum itself was absolutely unreal, you could feel the historical significance just having your feet planted into the ground and looking up. This had to be the coolest place I have ever visited. IMG_4417The Vatican IMG_4423One of the things that I first noticed about Rome was how many nuns and priests you see milling around, this is not a everyday occurrence in Dewsbury town centre. Being sat between two priests on the metro would take some getting used to. The run up to Vatican City had a lot of dudes selling Dolce Gabbana bags in addition to a lot of soldiers holding big-ass weaponry, I hadn’t noticed this but my homeslice observed that the soldiers would give different Arnold Rimmer-esque salutes based on which dudes were coming in and out, the more important the more elaborate. Navigating this approach with a variable army of people from all over the world that have dedicated their whole existences to this ancient doctrine was pretty intense. I had fully intended to visit St Paul’s Cathedral but arriving in the square and discovering a two and a half hour queue, I  decided to pass on it. I made do with sitting and observing the thousands of pilgrims and tourists as they did their thing in this iconic square. IMG_4429 Whilst I didn’t get to see the inside of St Paul’s Cathedral, I did peep out a couple of other spots. It would be difficult not to check a site of Catholic significance as literally every street has some grand cathedral or quint but amazingly picturesque little church. Lost on my first afternoon, I found myself at St Paul’s Outside the Walls. I walked in just as a service was beginning in one of the many areas of this enormous church, in-fact I had to be moved out of the way as I was blocking the priest’s march. It must be pretty irritating for all those there to worship, you have these random tourists meandering around, taking a few pics whilst they are trying to get a spot of praying in.

I also happened upon the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore which is the largest Catholic Marian (repping the Virgin Mary) Church in all of Rome. In a way, I guess I’d expected to feel a sense of awe as I entered these incredible structures, a sense of something greater. But as much as they were majestic and beautiful, I couldn’t help but think all the work that has gone into them, all the cats that probably died to make them happen, was hundreds of feet of intricately detailed coffered, ceilings laced with gold really necessary? Straight up though, after losing at the Rome Open in the Gi my agnostic nature briefly strayed onto the path of faith. I lit a candle asking a higher power to help a brother out to become a European No-Gi champ. If there is a God then Jiu-Jitsu obviously isn’t top of dude’s list of priorities. I did enjoy the confession boxes with the little light on them showing that they were presently engaged. IMG_4373 Trevi Fountain IMG_4434This is touted as one of the most famous fountains in the world, so you can imagine my disappointment when it didn’t have any running water! You can make out in the picture the mass of renovation work that was taking place, which kind of sucked. There was a little tiny pool where you could throw your coins and make a wish. Again superstition caught me and I threw my coin over my left shoulder and asked for help the next day to become a European Champion. Again my plea went unheeded. In hindsight maybe the brutal ass kicking that befell me was a punishment for the sheer cheek of asking God for a favour whilst leading such a heathen existence.

Spanish Stairs IMG_4455I was informed that the Spanish Stairs were one of the must see places. However what I discovered was pretty much a big-ass set of stairs with a lot of cats sitting on them and the constant threat of being jabbed with ‘selfie sticks’. In 2015 it is actually the selfie that has colonised the globe.

Rome wasn’t all awesomeness though, I did stay in the hostel from hell. The shoe string budget that allows me to travel and compete will not spring for anything above the cheapest hostels available, so I suppose I bring this upon myself. I’m fully accustomed to cold showers and cramped stinky rooms, which this spot had. But I was also inflicted with the girl who was scared of the dark and would only sleep with her bedside light on despite a barrage of complaints. The most annoying manager who had an insatiable desire to chat bollocks and whose very presence made me want to commit an act of brutal asphyxiation. The worst of all was the weird dude who felt it appropriate when everyone was asleep to beat off in his bunk. This of course was the bunk below me and of course I wasn’t asleep due to the light in the room being on. The ethical dilemma of hearing someone going to town on themselves, do you tell them to ‘put the dick down I’ve got to compete in a few hours?’ Whilst I struggled with this – he’d already cracked out his tissues. I felt sullied by the whole experience. I made sure to give the cats on Hostel World a heads up on the chronic masturbateur.

That was Rome – I highly recommend to one and all, be sure I will be back next year seeking some redemption.

This week I have my friend, training partner and all around horrible bastard showing a heel hook using a cradle set up. This was one of the three heel hooks finishes dude used to win the expert division at the recent NAGA London.

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