Back in London and it feels like my backyard. I'm frustrated with myself upon forgetting the once familiar, like Trafalgar Square, but I'll write at least some of that off to exhaustion: with a 6-hour addition to my day from the flight between Newark and Rome coupled with little sleep the last 2 "nights," this has literally and figuratively been the longest day ever. It got to the point that I was falling asleep on 10-minute Tube rides and laying on the floor as we waited for tickets to our Italy flight from Ryanair.
Returning to my home over the pond at 66 St. Augustine's Road was bittersweet. I remembered the way from Camden Station to my house: hours of wrong turns have permanently imprinted a map of the area on my mental topography. Not much seems to have changed about the flat: the grass is still overgrown, junk still litters the lawn, and all the paint's peeling, with the bright blue exception of the railing along the stairs. I hesitated upon realizing that I was one of dozens to have lived in these flats and had no right to enter, but my sense of entitlement to return to my "house" won out and I knocked on the door. This failed to attract any attention, as did ringing the 3 doorbells of dubious functionality, knocking on what had been the window of Mr. Michaels' landlordly lair, and asking a neighbor if she knew any of the current residents. I contemplated repeating my trick for when I forgot my keys of climbing a drainpipe to my window but decided a few more photos of the filthy flat weren't worth the risk of imprisonment.
We wandered around London to kill the time til our Italy flight, hitting Leicested and Trafalgar Squares as i added one more visit to the easily double-digit number of times I gorged myself on pizza at the Deep Dish Pizza Company's buffet. A combination of exhaustion, sore throat, and multiple months in this city made my London layover nice but nothing amazing, like the first week back at school when you can drink and hang out but have accumulating work hanging over your head.
After me and both of my cotravelers entirely pass out for the flight from London to Rome, we awake to a warm twilight in Italy. The 2 soldiers outside the airport bearing semiautomatic weapons seem out of place with the holiday stereotype of Italy, so I photograph them; polite as the tiniest stewardess, one motions to me not to shoot any more shots. Getting to the city's free, due to a combination of our confusion about how to obtain passes and the laxity of bus and subway workers. The free market's much more efficient among hostel operators, as we're able to obtain a reasonably cheap room within minutes of asking the first proprietor we run across. This is a welcome relief, as I was in the throes of the new and unwelcome pain that is carrying all one's supplies for the next 28 days on one's back. We wrap up our first night in Italy with a cold Peroni lager and authentic Italian pizza, which my xenophobic taste buds place as solidly inferior to the American version.