Vatican Museums and a Pope Sighting!

Vatican City Travel Blog

 › entry 5 of 7 › view all entries

Finally...I am going to fulfill one of my dreams to see the Sistine Chapel!  I've wanted to see it since I was 17 and saw pictures of it in my Advanced Placement Art History course in high school.  Awwwwwwww.....such beauty!  Since we were not doing an organized tour of the Vatican museums, we had been warned to get there early.  We took a cab (only $30 US at the crack of dawn!) and got to the museum line around 7am.  Darn Da Vinci Code book! They say the lines have tripled and more since the popularity of that book - everyone wants to come to the museums now.  Arriving hours before the museums opened still had us about 150 people back already!  And what we found out was the museum didn't open at 9am for regular people - only tours! Perhaps we should've sucked it up and did another one afterall because now we had to wait until 10am to get in.


As time passed, people started cutting in line.  This woman in front of us just walked up and plopped herself between us and the group of front. People were getting mad as more and more locals just cut whereever they felt like it.  The college aged girls behind us almost got into a scuffle with a couple who tried cutting and started mouthing off to the girls.  Soon, a larger group of us started saying stuff and they finally realized they were a bit outnumbered and walked further back to an unsuspecting Japanese tour group who didn't know quite what to think.  This went on for quite some time and was rather frustrating.  By the time we got in, we were probably at least another 100 people back in line - no joke. 

Once inside, I wanted to stop at everything of course!  Not realizing the trek to the Sistine Chapel was going to take forever, I was stopping in the Egyptian museums and every room I could find.

  Finally I thought we'd just make it over to the Sistine Chapel and come back to do the rest if we had time.  What I didn't realize either is the Sistine Chapel is the end and once they escorted us out - no where to go but back to the main entrance!  WAH! 

Although there is more I would've liked to have seen, I did see much of the museums and saw my main things, including managing to snap a few photos in the Sistine Chapel itself.  Yes, I know - forbidden but they were more concerned with talking then they were pictures.  Mine are a bit blurry as no flash and I just put the camera out in front of me and turned it to the ceiling to see what I could capture.  :-) 

After we left the museums, we were walking towards the area where the bus would pick us up so we could go check out more of Rome and as we turned the corner headed towards the entrance to Vatican City itself, we were stopped by tons of traffic, both pedestrian and car.

  Mind you the line for the museums was around the city walls and headed to the entrance of Vatican City if you are familar with how big that is! 

There were police, many plain clothed men with earpieces and such standing around.  Barracades up and the street blocked off.  Tons of people standing around and waiting.  We decided to hang out even though we had no clue what was going on.  Why not, right?  Well, it turned out President Bush was in town after his Summit meeting in Germany and he decided to come visit the Pope.  Figures!  Well, the meeting was about over and they were headed to meet the Italian President.  About this time, the Pope Mercedes appears and I was pretty much up front so I got a good view of him and a few pictures.

   One of the pics you have to blow up pretty large but he's looking at me and waving.  YEAH!  After his Mercedes departs the guard gates, the procession of black vehicles appears the other direction and it's Bush's motorcade.  They were so fast that I couldn't get my camera to take a picture in time, only of one of the SUVs passing. 

Now, what is ridiculous is we had watched the news last night and didn't even realize Bush was coming here.  And second that to all the police we saw in our hotel with riot was starting to make sense.  Not the best time to be in Rome actually.   There must have been 200-300 riot police -just bus load after bus load that morning.  We just figured they had some training or something going on.

  Silly me!

As we walked around, we found out the Vatican itself was closed because of Bush's visit and the impending riots!  WHAT????????? Oh boy, this ought to be a fun day...NOT!

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Vatican City
photo by: maryanntravel