Our honeymoon surpassed all my expectations. It was extraordinarily enjoyable and we shared many wonderful experiences. But it’s me we’re talking about – it was never going to be entirely without incident now, was it?
You may recall the unfortunate timing of my beloved’s kidney stone a week before we were due to leave. Despite assurances from the medical professionals that the offending particle of calcium oxalate was on the brink of evacuation, it remained stubbornly lodged inside my spouse from take off to landing. So now we are in Rome. We are drinking our body weight in water because it’s 38 degrees and there’s not a lot of shade amongst all those ruins. I must look like the world’s most invasive wife as I interrogate him each time there is a bathroom stop. Despite my best efforts, that perverse little crystal is just getting on my nerves now.
In the meantime, it occurs to me that I am not really having fun yet. Here we are in one of the great cities of the world and I am stressed. We have hit the ground running and I am conscious that my husband has not been here before – there are sights he must see. He is tired. The effort required to leave his business for a month have reduced him to a state of lethargy. He’s not sure if he’s having a good time or not either. It’s safe to say here that neither of us is feeling too confident about actually surviving the honeymoon at this stage, let alone the marriage.
Day two and we are out and about early. Whizzing through the Piazza Barberini we jog trot across to the Trevi fountain where we jostle for our brief metre of photo space. I forget to throw coins. That’s ok, we are briefly back at the end of the trip. Grab some water bottles and onto the Victor Emmanuel monument. Great view of all the other places we have to see from the top terrace. Race back down to the Roman forum to peer at the many roped off archaeological ruins slated for eventual recovery and/or restoration. The colosseum! Quickly, we have to see the colosseum…yes, it looked better in Gladiator. We join a tour group here, which is infinitely helpful and dispels many myths…largely due to Gladiator. On to the Palatine Hill, Domicians Palace and Farnisee Gardens. Arch of Septimus Severus – check! Round about schlep back to Hotel via Ponte S Angelo and an outrageously generous donation to local recovering heroin addicts who say, “gidday mate”. We are clearly heat affected.
Day three – The Vatican Museum – Early. We set off with spouse confident that his superior map reading skills will have us there to collect our pre-booked tickets at the appointed time well before the serious crowds. Ok, the map is confusing. After a bit of doubling back we eventually arrive and make our way through the various security checkpoints. Long story short – we are at the basilica and not the actual museum – a fact I should probably have realised having been there before. Tension levels are high as we duck and weave past all the hat and parasol vendors, hip and shouldering our way through groups of nuns. More security checkpoints and then another queue for headphones with English commentary. We are both a little testy and frankly, we’re not behaving in a very Christian manner toward each other at all. We decide on a bathroom stop before rendezvousing at the cafe to buy more water.
I’m back first. My beloved rejoins me with an odd look on his face – I would pay more attention to this if I wasn’t so ill tempered. We buy water and set off to commence the tour. He stops at the bottom of the staircase and announces that after nine days the STONE HAS PASSED. Behind him, as he is making this momentous proclamation, a large screen is filled with an image of Pope John Paul 2 holding a koala – yes (cue music), hallelujah, a bloody Aussie miracle! We review our rampant atheism.
Day three and we are off on a day tour to Naples and Pompeii . Let me be very clear here – these are fascinating places and Pompeii in particular, is a must see. My stress levels should have passed with the kidney stone, but unfortunately a combination of heat, age and an apparent inability to acclimatise results in my legs ballooning out grotesquely like Violet Beauregarde. I develop a hot rash and cankles – my lower half resembles Steinway piano legs. I’m not having a good time.
Day four – my shoes don’t fit and I’m in tears. New husband is not having a good time. I know it’s not DVT – I’ve googled. We make our way to the termini to catch our train to Florence. I buy large white Nike thongs – they look like flippers. We miss our train.
The next train gets us into Florence 40 minutes later and we make our way to the hotel. We have booked a stunning place right near the Duomo in the heart of the city. I am heartened to learn that the hotel provides a doctor service and we make a time for him to come by our room later that day. The swelling is already subsiding and I suspect now that he is probably going to suggest an antihistamine, elevation and more water. A handsome young Dottori arrives and prods my unfortunate legs. The theatre of examination goes on much longer than it needs to before he writes down the name of an antihistamine, encourages elevation and water and gives us a bill for 140euro. His wife probably isn’t going to be cooking tonight.
Fortunately the day and, truth be told, the holiday, is saved by the concierge handing us honeymoon drink vouchers to be used at their roof top bar. We wander up just before sunset and marvel at the beauty of the city. We agree to slow down and only see the things we want to see, not the things we think we have to see. It might be the champagne or the fire streaked sky but I remember I’m a bride on her honeymoon with the most forgiving, tolerant and loving husband I could ever wish for – and I am finally very happy.