Day 48 Pope Central

Day 48- For those of you who know me well, you probably know I do not do well with organized religion.  That being said, one of the things that I really wanted to do when I went to Rome, was to go to the Vatican.  I am actually a huge fan of the latest Pope…so it was time to check out his city!  I have always wanted to see the Sistine Chapel as well…so Vatican here we come!

Your trip to the Vatican really begins when you try to make reservations.  You can book through tour groups, but they are like twice the price as if you book through the Vatican itself.  Just  a friendly warning though…if you lack patience like me it might almost be worth paying double…but I ended up working through the angst and finally making a reservation!

In order to get to the Vatican, we had to take the Rome subway.  I was not a bit worried, I mean we mastered the Metro in Paris, took street cars in Vienna,  have even been on the subway in N.Y., so bring it Rome.  Well, as I have said several times on this trip, Italy seems a bit like Mexico and Europe’s love child.  It is a bit of culture and a bit of crazy all rolled into one!  And the subway is no exception!  The maps are a little more vague, the platforms not as well labeled, nothing is quite as well kept as other places.  With a few extra twists and turns, we find our platform.

As we wait for the train, I see the crowd steadily growing!  We have been on the Metro at rush hour, so we know crowded trains…but momma mia we were in for a shocker!  As the train pulls up, it is full.  Now, normally I would not try to cram my way on a train…but we had reservations at the Vatican and if we missed them we were SOL…so into the train car we shoved!!  We were packed in…I mean packed it.  I touched people in places I care not to mention…and I got touched all over (now if you now my issues with crowds…fell free to laugh hysterically here…because yes I was having a meltdown in my mind…all I can say is thank god* you can use this term when travelling to the Vatican* it was not sticky hot summer time!!!! The best part was the next stop…when I see people on the platform I think naively that they will have to wait for the next train…um not in Rome they don’t…I swear this 80 year old grandma became the newest NFL star when she literally shoved her way onto the train…you could see the entire clump of people weaving back and forth from her tenacious moves!!!  As I am secretly plotting a way to escape out of the roof hatch, the train seems to get more empty at each stop… when we finally come to our stop…I feel something tapping on my leg as I wait for the doors to open…I am ready to scream…”Get away from me!!!” having had my fill of being touched by strangers….when I look down to see the cutest black dog wagging it’s tail!  I am in shock…where did he come from??? How did he survive in this mad crushing wave of people?  Well, his owner tells me, he sits under the seats when the train is full like that.  I have to say that seeing that four legged cutie made the crazy mash-up of a ride worth it!

Finally, freedom…we are above ground once again!!  And once again we are lost.  Wel, Miss Direction (yes that’s me) and Trip Advisor (Russ’ dumb phone app tht is more compass than map) are at odds as to where we should go!  I mean it is literally like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb pointing our fingers in opposite directions!  And guess who was right my friends???  Yes!!!! Me!!! Do you think I would tell you if it weren’t???

When we finally reached the walled in country that is the Vatican, I am shocked to see a line…but since we had reservations….we zipped right in!  It was so quick…too quick…we were over an hour early to our tour!  So we had to sit and wait, not wanting to risk heading outside and then getting snarled up going back in (security, etc…).  So we wait…and wait…and wait.  As I am sitting, people watching (always a good way to pass the time), I notice a lady who looks almost exactly like my mom.  It is a bit comforting and a bit disconcerting all at the same time (I am pretty sure you all know that my mom passed away in 2000).  As our time approaches, I begin to realize something… my “mom” is going to be our tour guide for the day!  It was almost like the big guy wanted me to share a bit of my time in Italy with my mom.  She was a fantastic tour guide…an art historian and an artist…I could only think that if my mom could come back to earth… she would be happy doing this!!

We have not actually been on any official tours since we have been overseas…we have done a lot of Rick Steve’s walking tours and audio tours, but hey we are on a budget.  I have to say that I am glad we actually did do the official tour this time!!  It was informative and interesting!  I learned so much about the Sistine Chapel that I never knew before!  All of it was a truly magnificent experience!

After our tour we walked through the museum and the grounds, until Russ and Reid were on relic and art overload!  Then it was off to St. Peter’s Square and basilica.

When we got to St. Peter’s square it became painfully obvious to me that we were not going to go into the basilica!  The line was wrapped all the way around the square…and we were exhausted from our long day!  So instead, we sat down, and enjoyed the sights of the square…of and this is where I had a bit of a tourist meltdown.  As I ask Russ to get out the “selfie” stick that we just had to buy….I am thinking if we can’t go into St. Peters basilica, at least we can take a picture with it…it is not in the bag…then when I ask him to get out the map so we can see where else to go…it is not there…AHHHHH!!  Add in the train ride, the first bout of almost getting lost, the fantastic but long tour, etc…and I just LOST it!  Have you ever seen people get into an argument on the street, at the beach, at an amusement park…oh yeah that was us!!  By the end of it all, we were laughing so hard…just knowing that we were “those people” that someone else was watching!!  Oh well…at least we are entertaining!

So we walked around and made our way to the Spanish Steps.  Okay, yes it was interesting and yes the area was quaint, beautiful church, etc… but honestly this place was packed!  There were people everywhere!  I think perhaps all of our prior events of the day tainted us a bit…but I just didn’t really get it.  I think the overwhelming crowd may have had something to do with it…but I was done!  We hot footed it to the subway and headed home!

That night, we opted for an American dinner!  Russ researched a place near our apartment, and off we went!  We had glorious cheeseburgers, french fries, and to top it all off a Samuel Adams beer!!  It was a little taste of home that we needed!  A great end to a great day!!!