We got up relatively early and took the train (Metro) to Vatican City. Along the way, I re-learned what I’d already known from other trips–there is no such thing as “personal space” in Europe. Especially on public transit. If you’re not willing to mash and smash your way unapologetically into an 8″ x 8″ space to ride the Metro, you’ll be left standing at the platform all day.
Vatican City was still in the same condition it was in the last time we were here, except for two things: the aforementioned military presence – EVERYWHERE – and the abundance of people selling kitsch, also everywhere. It reminded me greatly of the people who accosted us on the streets of Istanbul. (Hmmm…they even LOOKED the same.) As the hours and days went by, they became increasingly irksome. (The peddlers, not the militia. Those guys did their jobs and stayed out of the way.) It seems you can’t go five yards without someone shoving junk in your face to get you to buy it. No wonder the good citizens of Rome are starting to fight back. (We witnessed a couple of marches/demonstrations. One of them, at least, centered around the issue of those escaping the devastation of their homelands. This one was actually in their defense.)
There were already a lot of people waiting to get in when we got there, but since we’d purchased tickets in advance we were able to bypass most of the crowd. Once in, however, we were on our own.
First order of business – the “Breakfast at the Vatican” option we’d bought.
Not what I had expected, really. Here I thought it would be some sort of restaurant experience at least near the papal quarters.
There was a covered area in a courtyard of the Vatican Museum, where there was a buffet set up.
The food choices were sausage (quite decent), bacon (greasy and tasteless), scrambled eggs (cold), and an assortment of pastries (unspectacular). The coffee tasted like very thick instant, and needed a lot of doctoring to get to a drinkable level. And the cups were tiny–I had four of them just to get to half of my usual caffeine intake.
The Vatican Museum itself was just incredible in its scope and grandeur. We spent most of the day there, wandering the many areas–from Egyptian
to early Roman
to all points in between and beyond.
We took so many pictures–I’m surprised I haven’t run out of room on my phone.
We also saw the Sistine Chapel. It was a lot smaller than I’d imagined. The pictures we were able to take of the rooms preceding it were pretty much what was in the Chapel, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on the picture-taking.
Crowds? Oh yes. And the languages! And we were all getting along just fine. Why can’t we all do that on a global scale?
Once we’d seen all that the Museum had to offer, we headed toward St. Peter’s Basilica.
The line to get in was tremendous., so we gave it a pass (saw it last time, except for down below–the “Popes On Ice”, as Paul calls it), and made our way to the Tiber River.
(I can supply pics from our tour of the Basilica, if anyone is interested.)
We took a lot of pictures and strolled along tree-shaded sidewalks. It was wonderful to be away from the madding crowds for a bit.
Our next place of interest was the Hard Rock Cafe, so it was back onto the Metro. And this is where I could have gotten into trouble.
When the train arrived, the car looked like what would happen if a bunch of people had been put into a blender and poured into that small space. Only a few passengers tumbled out when the doors opened, so Paul and I had to push through.
Some brazen broad pushed me pretty hard in order to barge her way through. I was just tired enough that my temper was extremely short. I pushed back – HARD! I mean, she’d have been on the ground if there had been room. Poor gal was the one chosen in my day to dance on my last nerve.
Well, she pushed back hard. No question about it. And I pushed back and gave her my patented “You are in deep sh*t” glare. She backed off with a wounded-sounding “Excuse me!” I just sorta growled.
(…”Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…”)
We found the Hard Rock Cafe without trouble. It wasn’t too far from the Spanish Steps
which we passed without paying too much attention. Last time we were here, they’d been closed off for renovation. Now they were stuffed with humanity. Yikes!
The Cafe was as noisy as anywhere else. And crowded! But we were able to get seats at the bar.
Guess what? I ordered a non-alcoholic drink! Scary, right?
I appreciate the fact that English seems to be the second language of choice among Italians. I just wish I could speak some of their language. U.S. people are spoiled in that they don’t have to learn fluency in another language. But it seems every other county has to learn ours. Doesn’t seem fair.
I don’t even try to pronounce Italian. Like I told the waiter the previous night, I have too much respect for the Italian language to mess it up with my ignorant attempts at pronunciation.
Back to the matter at hand:
After Hard Rock, we decided to go back to our hotel. When we descended into the bowels of the Metro, we heard raised voices–and they weren’t singing for joy.
We were just in time to see a scuffle between two people outside the train and a couple inside. Outside Man punched Inside Man (actually they were teenagers, I’m sure), and pulled him out of the train. The doors were closing, and Inside Man was pulled back in while Outside Woman was ready to go at him. Inside Woman risked getting beheaded as she stuck her head out the door to yell at Outside Woman. There were others involved, but they were mostly trying to keep these four apart.
Outside Woman was ranting and raving long after the train left.
These young people were not Italian. Their looks and language were of the Asian variety–which one, I have no idea.
The next train provided no such entertainment, so the ride back to our stop was uneventful.
We got into our room, plugged various devices into chargers, and unplugged ourselves for a couple of hours.
The march/demonstration and the woman’s voice on the loudspeaker in the street below woke us up. We were five floors up from the street, so it was difficult to make out just what was going on. But she sure didn’t sound happy.
After a bit, we went down and had dinner at a restaurant about 20 feet away in another direction from the previous evening’s choice.
Another bottle of chianti, more nice food, and it was the end of another adventurous day.