TL;DR - Unfortunately my back troubles (as well as camera troubles) kept me from taking many photos or videos, so I'll have to get all the ones my grandpa took and upload those when I can. I'll update with a link at that time.
For anyone who doesn't know my friends by their usual screen names, you're out of luck here, because I'm not adding links.
Okay so uhh I am never taking any plane ride longer than 6 hours ever again. Especially not on American Airlines. Do they just... PURPOSEFULLY design their planes so that the main cabin is as small and uncomfortable as possible or what? After 11 hours in a seat that forces you to hunch over because it's shaped to push your head and shoulders forward, my back, neck and shoulders were RUINED for the entire trip. I will go into detail with that, but for now, I'm describing the entire trip in order or what all happened day-to-day.
Rome (or Roma) is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. You can hardly look anywhere without seeing a statue of something (usually a nude male but still). It's also weird because, you can look to your left and see a huge church/museum with stunning architecture and sculptures all around it, but then to your right is a modern designer clothing store. Really weird.
I got to see the Vattican and the Colosseum, but my back hurt so much that I couldn't really enjoy it at the time, at all. I know that sounds really terrible of me (like wow this is a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to fucking Italy and you're complaining about your back you spoiled bitch), but y'know that feeling of absolute misery you get when you're in that much pain constantly and still have to keep walking? NOTHING is enjoyable. Even if I was walking down the same hallways as gladiators once did, it was still in the open, freezing cold air, and I couldn't stand up straight.
The morning I woke up to go to Florence, the pain was so bad I couldn't even move my neck in any way at all, and I went out of my way to avoid moving my arms. Truth be told, it was bad enough that I cried. A few times. The only thing I got to see in Florence was a gallery with original works by Michelangelo, including the statue of David (the REAL one), and as an artist I was astounded enough to enjoy it a bit even through the pain. The attention to details even down to the veins on David's hands was scrutinizing. I can only hope someday to be able to have that kind of skill with anatomy.
I didn't get to see anything else of major interest in Florence, or if I did then I couldn't look up at it and appreciate it because my neck hurt so bad. I spent the rest of my time in Florence either sleeping or just lying on my back awake, afraid to try moving.
By this time we were able to get some heat patches and Ibuprofen, and I took a hot shower the morning we left for Venice. Never before have I appreciated a hot shower so much in my life.
Good thing, too, because Venice was almost as beautiful as Rome. The concept of an entire major city on top of the water is interesting enough, but on top of that only one of the hundred-something islands that make up Venice has any cars on it. To get around anywhere else, you either walk (everything is so close together that it's hardly a bother), ride a bike, or take a boat. There are even boat taxis there.
I'm super glad I went with a tour group and got to see as much as I did. Apparently tour groups also get all kinds of discounts in certain shops, and thank God, because as much I tried to avoid buying anything expensive (didn't buy any Florenzian leather or gold), I absolutely lost it at this one glass blowing shop in Venice. Unfortunately my grandpa had already bought so many things by then that I couldn't get souvenirs for all of my friends (I AM SO SORRY ATOMICLOZENGE AND HOT-GOTHICS I WANTED TO BUT WE WERE NEARLY BROKE AND THE EXCHANGE RATE BETWEEN US DOLLARS AND EUROS IS BAD ON OUR SIDE RIGHT NOW PLEASE FORIGVE ME), but I was able to get a couple of nice things. Matching colored glass necklaces for me and DarkerSounds (y'know they have to use GOLD to get a red color???), a little glass dragon figurine for myself (I kinda collect dragon figures and I had yet to find a handmade glass one at a decent price so naturally), a set of glasses for my mom with floral designs of gold and engraved with “Venizia,” all three of which will match the colors in the house very well, and for me and LuridSilence, two smaller, puhple “spill-proof” glasses with floral designs of gold.
Unfortunately the pain and inactivity it caused kind of ruined my appetite. I barely ate anything the whole time I was there. I did have one pizza I really liked (all the pizza in America sucks ass in comparison now, thank you), and some gelato that was delicious. As there is no drinking age in Italy (or if there is then it must be pretty low because every restaurant served me wine without even asking my age, whereas I usually get asked whether I want a kids' menu), I got to try drinking wine! … Yyyyeah alcohol's just not for me. Or if it is then I'm just not at all used to it. I tried a few sips when I got the chance, and I liked the taste of the red wine okay, but my stomach just had no tolerance for the stuff. Made me queasy.
The tour director, guides, and all the people touring with us were really nice (apparently everyone asked about me whenever I had stayed in the hotel instead of going somewhere with everyone). The tour director in particular was great, I loved his sense of humor.
Probably the best part of the trip besides getting to see all the sights was learning about the culture and history (I know that sounds boring, but it's a lot different to actually be there than it is to just read about it from a book and memorize names for a test you don't want to take). Did you know they actually don't really eat spaghetti in Italy? The only reason we have it as a common Italian dish here is because it was a dish poor people ate during WWII, and during that time, immigrants brought it to America with them. But in Italy, no one eats it anymore. It's basically the Italian version of Top Ramen as far as what the quality of it is considered, and the price. And in Florence, the dialect is slightly different. People from Florence have trouble pronouncing the “k” sound. They replace it with a harsh “h” sound, almost like you would hear in a Germanic sort of language, so if you ask them for a Coca-Cola, they call it “Hoha-Hola.” See, just, interesting little things like that are fun to learn for me. Oh also I was in Italy when the new pope was elected so that was pretty cool.
On the ride back home I even got to practice some of my Spanish. Since our planes went from Italy to Madrid, and then from Madrid to Dallas, we got seated next to someone who was actually from Spain. My grandpa, of course, is the overly-friendly type who talks to strangers, regardless of language barriers (I got so annoyed with him trying to show EVERYONE my drawings), so naturally he tried speaking to her, but I ended up having a very brief, basic conversation with her instead that began with “Lo siento para mi abuelo. Es un poco loco.” I think I got some of that wrong, but she understood me well enough.
All in all, even though my back and neck pains overshadowed a lot of the trip, and ruined a good amount of it, I'm still really glad I went. I'll organize and compile a whole bunch of photos and footage and put them on Tumblr as soon as I can. Glad to be home though... those spring mattresses at the hotels didn't help my back, and I am looking forward to sleeping in on my Temper-Pedic before seeing a chiropractor tomorrow morning.