Well, before the trip and all that was spectacular about it fades and dims in my mind, I must get blogging!
Day 2 – Dad had to do the work bit he had flown over for on Thursday so Jock and I decided to ‘do’ Vatican City. We rolled out of bed reasonably early and got ourselves going. We had a slight bit of excitement on the metro when I , well trained by the London Tube, heard the ‘ding ding ding’ to signal that the doors were about to close and leapt on board the train… alone. Jock didn’t quite make it through the doors so with much hand signalling and mouthing of emergency response plans I waved him farewell as I pulled out of the station. But I jumped off at the next station and awaited his arrival where we had a good giggle.
We made it to our destination without further hitch and walked towards the Vatican.
Luckily, Jock is made of much sterner stuff then I am and although at every step we had touts trying to sell us ‘no-queue access’ tickets to the Vatican museums and I began to doubt we were even going the right way, he maintained our resolve and we marched onwards in our chosen direction. 15 minutes later we found ourselves at the wrong end of an immense queue to get into St Peter’s Basilica.
But it moved quickly and we were soon going through the scanners and security checks and into the building. Pretty swish I have to say.
And, on no breakfast might I add, we decided to climb the 500 and something steps to the top of the Dome to check out the view. 5 Euro if you are willing to climb all the stairs and 7 Euro if you want to take the lift half way – we took the stairs. And actually, the hard stairs only come after the lift anyway so I think we made the prudent decision (and definitely earned our breakfast).
It was absolutely heaving at the top and negotiating around the hordes started to get on my nerves just a little. I don’t mind crowds but I do mind crowds full of people who don’t think and have no awareness of what’s going on around them ie. stopping to have a pow wow in the middle of the doorway so that the traffic backs up for miles behind them… just saying.
But the view was pretty spectacular and well worth the climb.
When we returned to ground level I may or may not have had a minor tantrum and demanded breakfast. So off we went in search of a slightly off the beaten track place to have some breakfast – unfortunately when you head off the beaten track they don’t necessarily keep tourist hours and we found that nothing was open for lunch quite yet (by now being 11:45 and we were told to come back in 15 to twenty minutes whenever we were brave enough to poke our heads in and ask for a table.
So we wandered back to the beaten track and found a place that would feed us, and it did. Even had WiFi 🙂
Much restored and full of caffeine we set off with slight trepidation to the Vatican Museums to see how long the queues were.
To our great relief the Trip Advisor advice that had informed us that the crowds tended to disperse by 1pm (presumably for lunch) proved to be correct and we waltzed straight in, bought our tickets and joined the moving throngs (not quite everyone had gone to lunch).
Everyone talks about the Sistine Chapel, which is most definitely amazing, but there is so much to see on the way to the chapel, it’s a veritable smorgasbord of arts and artefacts.
Halls of marble sculpture, painted ceilings
The map room (Australia generally didn’t feature) and even the exit was beautiful… You are asked not to take pictures in the Sistine Chapel, so we didn’t.
The weirdest thing is that you sort of feel like you are building to a climax with the Sistine Chapel and you sort of expect to be herded out a side exit once you have been inside… but you emerge from the chapel into yet more rooms with opulently painted ceilings and ancient artefacts of historical note and beauty and your brain starts to give out… we had well and truly hit saturation point by this time and not being prepared for more on the other side of the chapel, we couldn’t really cope. We stopped to admire some 14th century globes and astrological charts and a few other knick knacks along the way but then then we really had to call time.
We stopped at another tourist trap to regroup with some delicious sparkling water and then we set off again. We decided we just had time to see the inside of the Colosseum (having seen the outside on the first night) and also took a quick side tour back to a leather goods shop to review some purses – I had fallen in love with a particular shade of green but of course the usefully sized purse came in a slightly different shade of green only. The day before I had dismissed the other colour but suddenly felt that perhaps I was being unfair and that the other green might be perfectly lovely if only I would give it a chance.
But it was not to be… one green spoke to me, the other did not. And so, empty handed, we returned to our main destination:
The Colosseum. ‘Nuff said!!
Although I will say ‘People actually lived, breathed and went about their daily lives here – 2000 years ago!!’ Does that not blow your mind?!!!
And so… you would think that was the end of a fantastic and full day. Well, we just had time for one more adventure.
The plan was to take my Coeliac father to a gluten free pizza restaurant so he could ‘do as the Romans do’ but he had another ‘When in Rome’ plan up his sleeve as it turned out.
‘It’s just that I’ve seen that Turandot is playing at the Opera House’ he said, ‘and I thought we could try and get tickets’.
And so that’s what we did.
We had a box over the orchestra pit and had a view of the stage, the orchestra AND the audience. Bonus.
And what lovely opera it was. The sets and costumes were all influenced by the Chinese Terracotta army, so the chorus was all decked out in ancient Chinese warrior costumes and looked resplendent. Spectacular voices (really lovely) and although one of the female leads could NOT act (at all!!) she did sing like an absolute angel, and had such a beautiful stage face – she was pretty much forgiven 🙂
We didn’t see the old men from the Muppets – we might have actually taken their spot, although probably not as I think we were on the other side.
And although we were all starving by the end, it was truly worth it and because it was Rome, a little bistro was still open to feed us delectable morsels as we emerged from our cultural extravaganza at around 11pm. Food, wine and opera – top night!
Gelati and the Pantheon
So much time has past since our trip to Rome it almost seems silly to write a post about the third and final day… so a small addendum to the day two post.
But we had Gelati for breakfast (!) and that kind of awesome doesn’t happen everyday!! So I am going ahead with my quick recap of the third day so that I can move on to recount what awesomeness can also happen London.
Breakfast gelati for the win!
I loved this painting, by someone famous who I unfortunately can’t remember… if you look closely to the middle of the painting you can see Christ riding down on his cross like a rock star (that’s how you know it’s Him) welcoming his subject into heaven.
Entrance to the Pantheon
and the surprising inside of the Pantheon.
Ancient ruins of the posh part of Rome – in the sunlight.
Great trip to Rome, thanks Italy (and Dad).