It is my last night in Europe, which is probably a good thing as I smell terribly, the entire continent has almost completely run out of kebabs, and I seem to be forgetting English as is evidenced by my very natural use of the word "brang" earlier today (past tense for "brought"). This would be more excusable had I actually been learning other languages along the way but sadly I can't really claim that that's true. Although I have basically learned 5 or 6 new keyboards, which seem to change with the borders. So there's that.

We made it safely out of Slovenia several days ago, catching a 6:30 AM bus to do so. We were much more considerate than our hostelmates of the night before who got up earlier than sin and stomped around the room for several hours speaking something that I'm pretty sure was a made up language consisting entirely of the most obnoxious sounds the human voice can create. But the noise didn't bother us quite as much as the smell, as they were most definitely the stinkiest backpackers we have encountered. And we have encouterned stinky backpackers from everywhere. (For those who were wondering, I am probably about average to slightly-above-average backpacker-stinky right now). We spent a few hours in Venice waiting for our next train, which took us all the way to Florence that evening. We found a great little hotel in Florence where a very elderly man walked us to our room and then proceeded to give us a 10 minute speech about how to use the AC. Unfortunately we only understood about .2% of this speech because it was all in Italian (The .2% comes from the use of some sounds that sound like Spanish words we were probably supposed to learn in the 8th grade had we been listening in school). We think the speech was probably unnecessary, however, because the AC seemed pretty basic and we were able to use it without problems after he left the room. We are hoping, however, that his speech wasn't about how the AC leaked poisonous gases and we should avoid using it all costs. I think we're probably ok, but it's hard to tell which of my diseases have come from which place right now, so the jury is still out.

Florence was wonderful. We saw the David statue and wandered through several beautiful streets and churches. We also bought some clothes in hopes that someone will later ask us where we got them so that we can respond, "let's see . . . oh, you know what--I got this at that shop on Via Del Fabio. You know, the one in Florence." (We have practiced this several times, saying it in a voice like everyone should know where that street is). The most exciting part about Florence (other than the great art and blah blah blah) was that for the first time since before the war, we actually stopped sweating because it was quite cool out. Due to the sudden decrease in perspiration, my entire body immediately dried up and cracked from head to toe. But it was so worth it. This also helped me not want gellatto quite as much, which is definitely a good thing right now as I calculated today that I have probably had somewhere around 70 scoops in the last month (mostly in the last 3 weeks). 50 year old Eli will curse 27 year old Eli later for the things he did in 2011.

We made it back into Rome yesterday (for the 1,000th time) to say goodbye to all of our favorite sites and get ready to fly out tomorrow morning. It's been another great couple of days in Rome and we'll be sad to say goodbye.

I can't believe the trip is finally coming to end. Part of me feels like I've been away for decades (the part that desperately wants a shower and actual clean clothes as opposed to "sink washed" clothes which I'm still not sure does anything). But the time has also flown despite the days and days of adventure-packed experiences that have worn me out over the past 5 weeks. I am so thankful that I have been able to come out and do all of this. It's been a wonderful experience of making great new friends, eating my weight in terribly unhealthy foods, and experiencing cultures in unique and exciting ways. I've slept in a stranger's bed, ridden halfway across the country on a dirty train floor, and been pooped on by diseased birds. I've also played with hilarious children, ridden bikes around one of the most gorgeous cities in the world, and swam in a clear blue lake in the mountains. I've learned about cheeses and schnitzel. I've learned about art and religion. I made time to read some great books amid many naps in parks in gorgeous cities. I've been through the tourist end of town and the not so tourist end of town. I've tried juice from fruits that I didn't even know existed. I've jammed on the guitar with new friends in multiple countries. I've done a lot and seen a lot and I've loved almost every minute of it. And the minutes that I didn't quite love, I at least appreciate for the stories.

It Just Gets Stranger