For a long time now, I had planned to visit Italy…Rome to be specific because of an item on my bucket list which could only be ticked off in Rome inside the Colosseum. Yes! One of my lifelong dreams is to visit some (if not all) the Old and New Wonders of the world with the Colosseum being one of them.
Twice, I have had to cancel my trip to Rome due to one reason or the other. But then came an opportunity in the summer this year when it finally seemed like the constellations have somehow aligned in my favour. For instance, I had a free ticket thanks to accumulated flight points and the Schengen visa which normally takes two weeks came out within five days. Although it was an impromptu travel expedition, yet there seemed to be that sense of urgency and nudging at the back of my head. You know the type that bears witness to your spirit that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I could hear the cosmos whispering gently to me: ‘Baby girl take it, and don’t let it slip away…’
Like the trooper that I am, I grabbed the opportunity by the horn especially because I was not travelling by myself but instead, I get to travel with my personal Italian tour guide. Not only was my tour guide fluent in the language but she also knew where to get all the discounted fashion brands and see all the tourist attractions at less the amount. I mean I was living the dream.
My tour guide thought it was better to enter through Milan, so we can shop in one of the world’s fashion capital before heading down to the historical city of Rome, the gatekeeper of the Vatican and Colosseum. Immediately we touched down at Malpensa airport, I noticed a funny sensation in my right eye but I shook it off thinking it was because I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. I think that was a warning signal but I shook it off. I guess I was acting a little too ‘cool’ for my own good.
We got to our hotel room to drop our luggages and change to something much more suitable for the blazing Milan sun. We were coming from London where it had been raining non-stop for the past 7 days despite the fact that it was meant to be summer.
My itinerary for the first and second day of the trip included shopping, sightseeing, eating pasta for lunch and pizza for dinner. Most people had their meals with red wine but my faith and tummy would not let me have any of such so I settled for orange or apple juice instead.
One of my favourite stops was the Gothic cathedral, Duomo. I could not make it to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel because I learnt at the entrance that it was sold out 6 months in advance.
On the third day, we did one last visit to local markets and travelled to Rome in the evening by train. Since we got to Rome quite late, we couldn’t do much other than settle into our hotel room for the night. The plan for the next day, being Sunday, was to attend mass at the Vatican and head to the Colosseum afterwards.
Little did I know that the popular saying,“Man proposes but God disposes” was going to come through on this particular occasion.
I was rudely woken by the breakfast entourage and my travel companion who reminded me not to miss breakfast since we had a long day ahead of us. I took heed to her advice and followed her to the breakfast lounge. Afterwards I decide to take a quick nap just before we head to the Vatican for the Sunday mass.
It initially felt like a gentle tug on my oversized bathrobe which I had slept in just some few hours earlier. Then it felt like my heart was racing so fast, faster than my body or mind could comprehend… Could this be a horrible nightmare or reality… I was waiting… anticipating the touch or voice that would jolt me back to reality…
(To be continued!)