How We Ended Up in a Roman Shopping Mall and Escaped with Our Sanity

Like last year, Laura and I are taking Cosby students to Europe for the beginning of the summer. This time, the plan was to focus on Italy and Greece, and on June 25th, we successfully navigated to the airport, checked in 13 bags, and got through security in spite of One student’s attempt to smuggle two illicit hair ties in his pants pocket. We then had lots of airport waiting – about three hours in Philly. In preparation for the waiting, our travelers staked out the prime phone recharging seats.

Landing in Philly, we headed toward Concourse A, where we would leave for Rome. Navigating the airport was a challenge for some.

The zip walk of shame after ignoring clearly marked signs to Concourse A

Our travelers chose to gamble by eating some airport Japanese food and then get on a flight for 8 hours.


Amazingly, the airport Japanese was not a source of any issues on the flight. However, in the middle of the night, a flight attendant did ask for a medical professional to come to the front of the plane to help with a situation unrelated to Japanese food. That was surreal – none of us had heard of anything like that happening outside of really bad sitcoms.

After almost 24 hours in planes and airports, we were in Rome! Time to go to the beach at Ostia!

Not exactly the beach weather we were hoping for...

And for those whose shoes may have got wet, we found a nice Crocs shop in Ostia.

Clearly, we needed to get somewhere where it wasn’t raining to an apocalyptic extent and where the highlight was something better than a Crocs store. With only about two hours until we had to return to the airport to pick up the next two groups of travelers, that left the local indoor shopping mall as an option.

And the mall was a great place to master the proper navigation of zip tracks.

A quick tour of the mall uncovered the following gems:

  • A single pen is sold at the mall for five euros. A pen. That produces writing in ink. And doesn’t have some kind of super awesome magical ability or something.
  • The mall coffee shop sells liquor, perhaps to dull shopper’s wits so that they’ll buy a five euro pen.

At two we left the mall to return to the airport to pick up the other two groups. This ended up taking two hours, a long enough time that some travelers began to closely watch nearby pigeons that were positioned over people waiting for other tour busses to see if there would be a bombing incident. Finally, the group from New Jersey showed up, but the group from Oregon was delayed in New York and wouldn’t arrive for another twenty hours. Gathering the New Jersey travelers, we then made our way to Rome’s city center to see some of what we crossed the ocean to see.

Group shot! In Jessica's defense for standing five feet away from the group, none of us had showered unless you count the morning's monsoon.

We were all pretty tired, which was why even this guy was entertaining:

Next up – action-packed action at the Colosseum and Vatican!


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