We turned off the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and my body swayed with the motion of the taxi; happy to finally be in Rome. After days of stressing out about meeting my niece at the airport (since we both arrived from different countries), I was finally able to relax in the back of the taxi. An hour earlier it was a different story. When I rounded the corner at the airport and scanned the area anxiously, I saw her sitting waiting for me looking slightly nervous and tired. Relief swept over me like a tidal wave upon seeing her. I am a solo traveler, but more than that – I am a solo person. Basically this means that the only responsibility I have in my life is myself; if I screw up, I only have to me to blame and disappoint (which I do quite often!). However ,with this latest ‘project’ of mine to travel with my nieces, it has really thrown me into a new status – leader.
When you lead you are not only thinking of yourself, you have to think about the people following you; if not then you turn into a dictator I suppose. When I use the term leader, I don’t want you to think that I feel I’m important, because I’m not. I just now have someone I’m responsible for, someone who is looking to me to get them places, take care of them and ultimately keep them safe. I had experienced this feeling of responsibility before only once, when I traveled with my father to Nepal; I remember the weight I felt upon my shoulders. Quite frankly I don’t know if my niece, Bethany, was looking for me to be responsible for her; but I’m positive her parents were expecting those things!
Bottom line, I was nervous; yes – me, nervous. I’ve traveled all over the world and done tons of questionably sane things as a solo traveler, but now leading someone else through independent travel, and especially when my whole family was watching, was more stressful than eating lamb brains, driving a motorbike in Vietnam, or jumping out of a plane.
Experiencing Rome for the first time
Bethany suddenly let out a shriek, which brought me back out of my solo thoughts and raised my blood pressure. When the taxi rounded the corner and turned onto Governo Vecchio, we had turned onto a typical little ‘this is too narrow for a car’ street that Italy and much of Europe is famous for. Her shriek was a combination of “Are you kidding me?” and “This is cool!” reaction. It was then that I realized Bethany is seeing Europe for the first time, and that means that I will be seeing Europe for the first time again – through her eyes. All of a sudden I was excited about the prospect.
The taxi slowly inched down the partial pedestrian, narrow street with inches of space on each side and ‘pushing’ pedestrians out of the way. Bethany watched in amazement and was convinced that we shouldn’t be driving a car on this street. She pointed out all of the tiny little cars parked within inches of each other on the street; quite a different site from SUV riddled America for sure. I sat back and smiled thinking about all of the things that she would be discovering that makes Europe uniquely different from America; narrow streets, and small cars being top on her list right now.
That evening after getting all settled into our spacious apartment, we went for a stroll to nearby Campo di Fiori. As we walked there and she was surprised to learn that people here ate dinner later; the restaurant we wanted to go to wasn’t even open yet and it was 7PM. We instead sat and had a drink in the crowded piazza watching the eclectic happenings of the Campo on a Saturday night. I had been here before, many times, but as I looked across the campo at the street performers and vendors I felt like I was seeing it with new eyes. This niece project had more benefits than I realized and I’m pretty positive there will be many more to come.
Disclosure: ‘Go with Oh’ and Oh-Rome Apartments hosted our accommodation in Rome. However, all of the opinions expressed here though are my own – as you know how I love to speak my mind!