Sunday, 13 January 2013

Bulgarian Birthday, Roman Style FTW!

I’ve been itching to start a travel blog, and now I have! On my Birthday. Oh yeah.
In Italy, it goes like this:
Auguriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. (Happy Birthday!)
Grazie. (Thanks!)
My last few birthdays were all celebrated in England where everything closes at early hours, so I always favored a house party with close friends… which of course ended up as a freaky all-you-can-drink event with strangers showing up and things disappearing. But those are stories for another time…
This year I celebrate in Rome. If you’re wondering what I'm doing here, read this.
While my actual birthday is today, I like to jump the gun, especially if the previous night is a Saturday night. You cannot stay at home on a Saturday night, especially if you’re in Rome, and especially if you have a birthday. And so, what did I choose to do on this special day? Hang out with friends in my favorite place.
There is something soothing about familiar people, places, and rituals.
I’m extremely lucky to have found amazing friends here, without whom last night wouldn’t have been as epic or as legendary or as… you name it. It was all I had wished for and more. Here’s why…
As a way of context, in Rome you can find all kinds of pubs and bars and clubs. There are tons of local and international places, and they are open until the wee hours of the night… well, mostly the clubs. I’ll definitely tell you more about the nightlife in Rome because I know a lot about it by now. Like, A LOT.
So the first thing my friends and I did was go to San Lorenzo. It’s a college district where students from La Sapienza (the biggest University in the city)  and international Erasmus people do pub crawls and drink in the Piazza degli Aurunci. Now, some say the carabineri (policemen) are there to enforce the law about public drinking. It’s bad, so don’t do it. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong.
Virtually every person in the piazza is holding some kind of alcohol, mostly beer, and you can hear guitars and drums playing everywhere, accompanied by husky voices of husky guys with rasta hairs. Then the piazza fills up by midnight, and it’s as good a place as any to meet and mingle with interesting people.
But before we met anyone, we went to my favorite pub right next to the piazza. It’s called HH (Via degli Aurunci, 30) and I’m addicted to it. (Just bear in mind you need to register for a card before you go in the first time - it's free - and bring it with you next time.) You know that place where you feel at home? That’s it for me. There are tons of retro posters and pictures on the walls, there’s always a football match playing, and the music is alternative/punk/hard rock. I have died and gone to heaven. There is no place like Rome!
And then there was cake. Tiny chocolate cake with a pink candle. 
I rather like the Italian birthday song. I also like Italians. If you look closely at the photo below, you may notice that apart from me and my Pakistani friend at the far right, everyone else is Italian. I’m not really surprised because in my travels I have never met such warm, welcoming, and wonderful people.
And, of course, one of the big reasons to go to this place are the blowjobs. You heard me.
I love saying this to people: we’re going to have blowjobs. They usually stare at you as if your ears have turned pink and purple and then fallen off. Well, my ears are still in place and the blowjobs are not what you think. It’s the name of a shot: baileys, coffee, and cream, to be exact. It’s delicious!
And prosecco (Italian champagne-like drink). If a man promised me a life supply of prosecco and then asked me to marry him, I might say yes. But seeing as nobody’s offering, I’m happily single and loving it!
I even gave the world’s shortest speech: Thank you all. I love you. I love Rome. That is all.
So after the cake, blowjobs, and prosecco, it was time for a final round of the piazza. Right outside of the pub, though, was a man impersonating Dante Alligheri, and he hurried to recite a poem in Italian. It was beautiful. I blushed and asked for a photo. I do both of those things fairly often these days.

Then back to the piazza we went. Did I mention it’s in front of a church? Yep, drinking in front of a church is normal. It was around 1 am, so the piazza was overfull as you can see on the photo below.
It’s one of the best people-watching sites in the city! And people expect you to go up to them and offer a slightly silly and slurring pick-up line. It's some sort of socially accepted mating ritual. And while I participate sometimes, I prefer watching others do it. It's always better if you're drunk, too. (I was sober.)
Some of my friends went to pick up girls while I took photos… and one of them was with the carabineri!!! Ha. When they heard it was ‘il mio compleanno’ (my birthday), they couldn’t say no. They smiled and hugged me from both sides, and I giggled. Too bad I promised not to upload the photo anywhere.
Did I mention I also got a rose? I love roses. They’re just sexy.
When we were done socializing and being silly, we headed home. I have the slight suspicion that a couple of the guys went on to a pub or club crawl, but I was completely exhausted from smiling and laughing my ass off. Seriously, how is it possible that a birthday can be so much fun? Beats me.
Anyway, today I am taking photos around the city (though it’s windy and rainy, but that didn't stop me) and then having dinner with a good friend who couldn’t meet me last night. I’ll show you the photos another time and tell you all about my life in Rome. And stay tuned because I've a lot to share about life in Rome. It’s a truly amazing city, and I am lucky to live and work here. You should come visit!

P.S. I lost my hat. But I bought a new one today. I got it from one of the booths next to Termini. The guys are annoying but there are hidden treasures you can buy for cheap. Just make sure you dig around and when you like something, haggle. If it's more than 5/10 euro, it's overpriced, depending on what it is.