The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rome With Kelly

The following takes place on Days 214-217, June 29-30, 2011.

Rome. The Eternal City. A city filled with such majesty and history that it’s hard to comprehend at times. It’s a city that sparks any multitude of emotions and thoughts when you first enter it. And it means something different to different people, especially with the heart of the Catholic Church in centre of the city. And although Kelly and I had two full days in Rome, much more than Venice and Florence, for a city this big we’d still be rushing through it all.

We started with grabbing a ticket onto one of the numerous sightseeing buses that Rome has. Every other city I’ve been in that has these buses have, at most, two companies to choose from. Rome had seven or eight. With all the routes relatively the same(except for the religiously themed one), our choice came down to price.

As the tour wound its way through the city, Kelly and I watched the map and decided mutually to jump off at the Vatican City stop. Compared to Venice, Rome was enormous.

IMG_8985Vatican City, the home and heart of the Roman Catholic religion and church. And yet, even though it’s a very large area, it was much smaller than I had thought it would be. I’m finding that to be a common occurrence now with famous places and monuments. We build them up so much in our minds that when we see them in person we tend to be shocked that they aren’t like what we imagined.

Don’t get me wrong though. It is still quite massive. Seeing St.Peter’s Square and Cathedral in front of me was an awe-inspiring experience. And that was before being able to go in, which we did. We had to stand in line for a little while to go through the metal detectors but after that it was pretty smooth sailing. We rented an audio guide which included a ticket into the Vatican Treasury and walked into the Cathedral.

IMG_9013My biggest surprise? That it was completely free. Had we not rented the audio guide, we wouldn’t have had to spend any money in Vatican City.

Stepping inside the Cathedral, a rush of thoughts went through my head as I looked around. Honestly, and unfortunately, my first thought was “Wow, they’re rich.” Not unsurprising since there was gold inlayed everywhere. Light streamed in for the stained glass windows. A rich, but beautiful, building. I was also struck by the devotion of many of the people that were visiting. There were more than a few people with tears in their eyes as they walked through, not saying a word.

We wandered through the Cathedral in silence, listening to our audio guide at every possible stop. The entire place was massive, the largest church I had ever been in. The audio guide had nearly 40 stops on its itinerary. We had only gone through seven in the first 40 minutes. Part of the Cathedral was closed to the general public at this time as afternoon prayers were being performed. So, we took the opportunity to check out the Vatican Treasury.

IMG_9095Now here, I have to say I was more struck by the complete lack of humility that is here. In my head, I see the Pope and the Church as the intermediary between men and God, regardless of whether I believe that to be true or not. Walking through the treasury, I was surrounded by jewels and gems and the like that the Church owns. An entire room was devoted to the gold and gems that the Pope would wear for different occasions. My disgust at the in-your-face richness overshadowed my awe. All I could think of was how much suffering in the world due to hunger or illIMG_9124ness could be cured by selling off these jewels.

We finished with Vatican City for now and headed off to pick up the sightseeing tour. We got off again at the Trevi Fountain, the largest of the fountains within Rome. It is said that if you throw a coin into the fountain from behind your back that you’ll come back to Rome. I certainly hope that’s true! It was next to impossible to get a picture of the whole fountain without other tourists joining the photo. It was crowded. But we were part of the mob.

From there we walked along the streets towards the Spanish Steps, another famous Roman IMG_9142landmark. Of course, we took the long way. Going up a steep set of stairs only to find that we’ve climbed to the top of the hill that the Spanish Steps come up to greet. So down we went! Again, like Trevi Fountain, it was packed with tourists.  We did the obligatory photos and continued on our way to the metro station to head back to the hostel.

The next day we set off early once again to make it to the Coliseum. It turned out to be a good move as the line-up to go in was not all that long.  We got in and made our way through to theIMG_8968 middle of the arena. While I wasn’t struck by a sense of “This is smaller than I thought it would be,” I was struck by the lack of things to do. For 12 euros, I felt a bit ripped off. Yes there was a little museum talking about the huge fire that destroyed much of Rome, but beyond that there wasn’t much. 12 euros seemed an awful lot to be able to walk around the inside of the Coliseum. And the best views of it are from the outside anyways, in my opinion.

Back to the Vatican we went to head to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel(which is inside the museum). On the way, there are many people attempting to sell you tickets for a tour that can skip you to the front of the line. They said things like “The line is at least three hours long.” There’s people like this all the way back at the main train station. There, the ticket is about 25 euros. The closer you get to the museum, the higher the price. At one point, a guy was offering it for 60 euros. I kept an eye on the clock. From the time we entered the line(about a block and a half from the entrance) to the time we walked through the turnstile into the museum, it had been 40 minutes.

IMG_9351Now don’t do what we did: we raced through the museum in order to see the Sistine Chapel in case it took too long seeing everything else. What we didn’t realize was that the Sistine Chapel is the very last thing in the museum. You can’t get to the exit without going through it. So, after seeing it, we had to start right from the beginning of the museum to see everything else. In essence, we saw the Vatican Museum twice.

When we finally did exit, I somehow convinced Kelly that it would be super cool to walk along the outside walls of Vatican City and completely walk around a sovereign state. Sure, there were geocaches along the way, but being able to say that you walked around an entire country is not something you can say a lot. Even with a couple stops here and there, we managed to do it in less than an hour.

This ended up being the last thing we did. Tired, we hopped the bus back to the train station and headed back to the hostel. Over a meal in the campground restaurant, we toasted Kelly’s last night in Europe. Come the next day at 10am, I would be traveling alone once again.

1 comment:

  1. hehehe... we took pics in the sistine chapel... opps not aloud but we did :) I remember Rome being so hot. I have never drank so much water in my life.