Monday, May 22, 2006

Hello from Rome

Well today we started our first actual touring of Rome... and let me just start off by saying, WOW is it hot here... and the locals all think this is "comfortable" weather and that it really gets hot in July and August... wouldn't want to be here during that time!

Our original plan was to start off the day viewing the Vatican Museum and the Sistine chapel, then working our way over to Saint Peter's and then finishing the day at the Pantheon and maybe spending our evening at Trevi Fountain or the Spanish steps... we quickly realized that our plans weren't going to go exactly as we had hoped, but we still had a great day. We first rode the metro to "near" that Vatican (Rome's metro system is nice, but very limited as every time they dig a hole here in Rome they literally start unearthing much of civilizations history, so digging subway tunnels is a slow process). Anyway, we walked the 2 blocks south from our stop to the Vatican Museum entrance (it was only about 15 minutes after opening time) and saw the line... or at least we THOUGHT we saw the line. It stretch all the way down the block (which was about the size of a football field) and was about 6-8 people wide... In the guide book it said average about 10 minutes per 100 yards of people, so I was thinking this was a long line but it did seem to be moving quickly so I figured it wouldn't be too bad... Shalisa was a bit more skeptical (as is her nature at times.) Well we walked to the corner, rounded it... and stretching before us, as far a we could see the line continued, probobly for another 300 yards or so... we kept walking and walking to get to the back of the line, and after about 15 minutes, and literally nearly a mile of walking we reached the end of the line. At this point we both decided that waiting in THAT long of a line might be a bit crazy, and we shoudl reconsider where to start our day. Lucky for us the end of the line was very near the entrance to St. Peters (about a 3 minute walk or so) and St. Peters had been open for about 2 hours already, so I figured the line there would be a bit smaller. It wasn't just a bit smaller, it was virtually non-existant (at least compared to the previous line) so we quickly jumped in to this line, and within 5 minutes we were ready to start touring St. Peters.

Unfortunatly the NEXT of our days surprised crept up on us. Up until this point Maddie has been an ideal traveler, in fact she has probobly been less fussy than either Shalisa or I for the trip. But I think the heat of Italy (and especially Rome) finally got to Maddie (it had gotten to Shalisa and I about 3 days ago). For the rest of the day she was fairly fussy, we can't complain too much since we had kind of expected her to have a bad day here or there and she hadn't so this wasn't too bad, we just had to make frequent stops to get her out of the carrier, let her lie down somewhere AWAY from our hot bodies and put some water on her forhead to help cool her down. After about 15 minutes or so we were finally able to enter St. Peters and we both stood in amazement.

I am sad to say that we weren't COMPLETELY blown away, as we have been spoiled to be able to travel to a lot of different places and see large cathedrals and what not (like St. Pauls in London) but it was still quite a sight to behold. We walked around the lower part of the church snapping photo's of the massive worship area, the imposibly high dome, and the walls that just seemed to go up forever.

After finishing with the ground floor we decided to climb the dome. This had been one of the highlights to our London trip (climbing the dome of St. Pauls) and I was really looking forward to climbing St. Peters. It was a mighty trek, 320 stairs in all (plus a lift to get us up about 3 stories before the stairs even started) and when we reached the top we were not dissapointed. No building in Rome is allowed to be higher than St. Peters so the views of the city are completely unobstructed from the likes if skyscrapers. After snapping a bunch of photo's from the top of the dome we begin the slow and steady climb back down.

Once we finished there we grabbed some food on the side of the street and, I need to interject here and say that much like pretty much every vacation Ryan had lost his sunglasses yesterday when he had left them in the hotel yesterday when they got kicked under the bed. Shalisa had noticed that they were under the bed and had thought she had told Ryan, but he hadn't heard her so they were left for the cleaning crew or the next lucky traveler who looked under the bed. Anyway, along with grabbing food Ryan had been wanting to "barter" with the street vendors. You can buy geniune Rolexx or Rollex watches, Guicchi bags or Nikke sunglasses. Ryan bartered with the sunglass guy and finally got a pair of geniune "Nike Made in USA" sunglasses for cheaper than any other sunglasses he found in any of the tourist stores.

We then headed over to the Vatican Museum which had a much smaller line by now, only about a 10 minute wait and got right in. We cruised through the museum, stopping to notice some of the significant works but not really inspecting too much of it. At the end of the museum we got to what we had gone through it for, the Sistine Chapel. I don't know what we were expecting, the chapel certainly wasn't what either of us were expecting, but was completely awesome none the less.

After that we hopped on a bus, which I HAVE to share the story about driving in Rome, but I am running out of time as the internet cafe is closing down so I will save that for another post. We rode the bus to the Pantheon where we saw the largest, still in use, complete building from before Christ. The Pantheon was pretty impressive, but we had seen bigger and better a lot of other places, but when you realized that this building was actually built before Christ where as the other churches were relatively newer (only about 500 years old) it was truly impressive.

We rode the bus once again back to the train station, did some quick grocery shopping for tomorrow, and then headed off to the hotel.

I am sorry I don't have time to post pictures, you can rest assured that I will... but the guy is literally hovering behind me to try and motivate me to leave, so I will appease him (techincally the store closed 10 minutes ago).

Ciao for now, but be seeing you real soon.

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