Early in the morning we take a bus to Arrezzo, where we catch a train to Rome. This is a lovely old train with compartments that look like rooms. Every cabin has it's own door and can seat some six to eight people. Since it's early we have one all for ourselves. I enjoy the ride because the views are beautiful and the train is so odd. In Belgium we ain't got oldies like this one riding...
Because we only had one day we wanted to see as many things possible in Rome. Therefore we bought a ticket for a tourist bus that stops at the most famous places. This was the fastest, but not the cheapest way to discover it all.
Our first stop was the Colloseum, and I was dying to see it.
The centre of Rome is so busy and ugly, but then suddenly you turn a corner and this huge, ancient building rises up. In fact it is quite a surrealistic image. It took us some time to visit the Colloseum and the Forum nearby. After viewing 'De Maagdenburcht' as well we headed for the Vatican city. I was blown away by this.
The Saint Peters square is such a miraculous place. Even though it is extremely crowded by tourists, the architecture and statues dominate it all. It made me go completely quite. Then we entered the basilica to see Michelangelo’s architectural talent from the inside out, and of course to worship his La Pieta. But most of all, it was the Sistine Chapel that really dazzled me. We had to search our way to it, because there aren't clear directions on how to reach it. But we asked one of the Vatican guards and he was willing to help.
Make sure you have the time to visit this museum because it has so much in it that it is almost impossible to view it all at ones. At the end of the trip my neck was hurting from viewing all the beautiful ceilings, the one of the chapel on top of course. I had all studied this in highschools 'art history' lessons and was sooo pleased to see it in real time. I went to look for certain passages and persons, so I could discus the myths surrounding some of them with other people.
At the end of the day we also went to see the Trevi fountain and the Pantheon, both wonderful but crowded. Especially the Trevi fountain is an unpleasant place to be, because of all the merchants and tourists hanging around. The fountain himself of course is a masterpiece.
In general I feel like Rome is an ugly city. It is crowded and noisy, people are unfriendly and food is too expensive. But among this chaos there are some extraordinary things to be seen, which must be visited!
Getting back home was quite an adventure. We were in the centre of Rome when we suddenly realised it was time to go to the station. So we tried to take a bus, but not even one showed up in time. A little bit desperate we tried to stop a cab, but in Rome, all these cars drive extremely fast and it is hard to make one stop. Finally we found one, but it got stuck in the rush hour traffic and made us miss the train (we were two minutes late).
After cueing for almost an hour we reached the ticket desk and explained our problem. We had reserved seats that were already paid so they needed to be transferred to another train. The lady told us this was only possible for one train, that would leave in a minute. We ran through the station to catch it, but again arrived seconds to late... Cueing again it was. This time we were helped by a man which was extremely unfriendly. He didn't want to transfer the tickets neither taking them back. We stood there arguing for what seemed an eternity, while it got later and later. Finally, he told us to just go to a train and ask the conductor for his permission. So we did. This man was extremely funny, telling us he had visited Belgium before and how much he had liked it. He told us that there wasn't a problem at all. The tickets could perfectly be transferred, he said. So we went back to the desk, which was now closing. When we tried to reach it security stopped us, so again we had to explain the whole story before to (finally) get the right tickets and return to Bettolle...
Quite a day...