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Day 2 in Rome, or "Catholic Day"

Rome Travel Blog

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The insanely long line for the Vatican Museum-- the pictures doesn't EVEN do it justice
The second day in Rome we got up really early so that we could go stand in line for the Vatican Museum, as had been advised by many people. Free chocolate croissants and orange juice via a cafe connected to the hostel. MMM. I don’t know why it was so good! It was though. Did I mention that our hostel was called the “Popp Inn” Hostel? What the hell. TERRIBLE pun.

ANYWAY-- Vatican. We took the subway/metro to the Vatican, and when we got there at about 8:30 (it was supposed to open at 9:00), the line was already insane. We didn’t realize how long it actually was. I was glad we got there when we did, though, because in the half an hour that followed, before the building was even opened, the line at least doubled in size.
The Gallery of Maps
We later learned that a whopping 6,000 people enter the Vatican DAILY, and I am not surprised by how the lines looked. At least most people were patient about it. Everyone knew they would get inside eventually and see what they wanted to see. I think we were in that line for about two hours. OY. Mary and I got in and realized how HUGE the museum was, and knew that we couldn’t spend the time it would take to appreciate the whole thing. So, we tried to move through swiftly. There were some rooms that were really incredible though, like the  Gallery of Maps... one of the rooms I liked the best... magnificent art... what a collection... ancient maps in this very long hallway that was covered from ceiling to floor (including the ceiling, of course), with beautiful art.
My illegal picture of The Creation of Adam
Very, very overwhelming. We saw The Transfiguration, too. We stayed in a few rooms for a while, admiring the art, but didn’t stay more than an hour or so in the rest of the museum until we reached the Sistine Chapel. We stayed in the Sistine Chapel for a very long time. There is a LOT to look at in there. It hurts your neck, though, since most of the exciting stuff is on the ceiling, including, of course, The Creation of Adam. MAN... Botticelli, Raphael, Michelangelo... You hear about all this stuff growing up, but to see the real thing right in front of your face... very surreal. It was great knowing a thing or do about Christianity, also, because I could peg down what a lot of the frescoes were about. I tried to take a picture of The Creation of Adam, because everyone else was, but I got yelled at.
Mary and I, quite overwhelmed, in the gardens of the Vatican Museum (St. Peter's in the background)
I have a blurry one, though. I liked The Last Judgment better, though. There is so much detail, and so many strange things going on in this one picture. After we thought we couldn’t take in any more, we went to get a breath of fresh air in the gardens. And some pizza from the cafeteria. We had pizza a lot. It was usually really cheap. Even sort of cheap in the museum.

On we walked to St. Peter’s Basilica. A very Catholic day for us. There were bajillions of people in the area outside the church. It looked like there might have been some kind of festival going on, because people had flags and signs and there were groups of boys chanting... But no, it was just a regular day in Vatican City. We got in what appeared to be the line for the Basilica.
All the crazies gatering by St. Peter's Basilica
Some English people (from the North, I deciphered with my trained ear), were in front of us, and found sanctuary in talking in English with us. We made guesses about what might have been going on there and why everyone was being so crazy, as there were a lot of chairs set out before a kind of stage. After a while of standing in a line that we realized was not moving, we saw the crowds part and heard the screaming, and right there, in the Pope-mobile, is the POPE. Just hanging out. It was SUCH a surprise, as we hadn’t planned to be here at this time. We waved to him, even though we were far away. I hope Grandma is proud. We later found out that if Mary and I had checked with the church before we left, we would have been able to use some “Hey, I’m Catholic” card to see the Pope give a mass.
Something possibly interesting going on?
Oh well. Everyone cleared out after the Pope left, though, which means they were all there just to see him pass by after mass. I guess I didn’t realize that a religious figure could be such a big celebrity, but it was as if these people had just seen a big movie star.

Anyway, after the Pope sighting, my assumptions about Italians and waiting in lines was enforced, as people started climbing over the fences once the church opened. Definitely frustrating, but what can you do? I just don’t know why people had to cut in line at St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s a CHURCH for crying out loud. Aren’t you supposed to be on your best behavior? Different cultures, I suppose. Anyway, St. Peter’s was, as most things had been in Rome, too big, too beautiful, and too full of amazing stuff to really be able to describe it.
Loooooots of people
One of the first things we saw was La Pieta. Mary and I like this because it’s a piece of old religious art that depicts a strong female, which is a bit out of the ordinary. It was behind glass, though, because apparently people vandalize it... WHY... people are lame sometimes. Everything else in there was super extravagant. It reminded me a bit of Versailles, but obviously wasn’t as gross because it was created to honor Catholicism instead of how awesome Louis XIV thought he was.

After all this madness in the morning, we walked around the city just  to chill out. We bought gifts for people at home. We bought postcards we never intended to send. We had lunch (pizza and pasta and tiramisu, all of which were not that impressive.
Oh, wait... what... is that... THE POPE?!?!?!?
.. as a lover of food, I was not all that impressed with most of the Italian food we ate on this trip). Actually, this during this eating experience, Mary and I made a really big mess (what with splitting food and everything, and my apparent loss of motor skills) and we got made fun of by our waiter. I think he said we were babies or something. Actually the pizza here was pretty awesome. It had sausage on it.

At night Mary and I ate at a different restaurant by our hostel. Again, food was not that great. The verdict is that the pizza everywhere is awesome, and the proscuitto and melon at the one place was fabulous, but everything else, especially the pasta, was not all that great. I’ve had better at the stupid place I worked at on Balboa Island.
IT IS THE POPE!!!!!!!
Afterwards we went to get dessert at the place we’d been to the night before. Some guy at the restaurant gave Mary and I yellow roses.

When we went back to the hostel to settle in, our roommates were there, and we talked to all of them for a really long time. We talked about Rome, and traveling, and I found it necessary to repeat my usual “Just because I live in the U.S. doesn’t mean that I like Bush” speech. Usually when I stay in a hostel, I don’t get a chance to  meet people because I’m out all day, but it was cool to chill out and talk to these people. Part of traveling is meeting new people, and learning about different cultures. And it certainly aids the “I need to shower in the morning first” sympathy... which was good, because we had to get up ridiculously early in the morning AGAIN!

Eric says:
haha, I stayed at the Pop-inn hostel but didn't get any free croissants! what the heck?
Posted on: Jun 14, 2007
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The insanely long line for the Vat…
The insanely long line for the Va…
The Gallery of Maps
The Gallery of Maps
My illegal picture of The Creation…
My illegal picture of The Creatio…
Mary and I, quite overwhelmed, in …
Mary and I, quite overwhelmed, in…
All the crazies gatering by St. Pe…
All the crazies gatering by St. P…
Something possibly interesting goi…
Something possibly interesting go…
Loooooots of people
Loooooots of people
Oh, wait... what... is that... THE…
Oh, wait... what... is that... TH…
IT IS THE POPE!!!!!!!
IT IS THE POPE!!!!!!!
The Swiss Guards (Michelangelo des…
The Swiss Guards (Michelangelo de…
The front of St. Peters
The front of St. Peter's
La Pieta
La Pieta
Inside the Basilica
Inside the Basilica
The altar
The altar
Crazy cool stuff in the back of th…
Crazy cool stuff in the back of t…
In Firenze... 
(sorry, momentar…
"In Firenze..." (sorry, momenta…
A nice gesture from a random man o…
A nice gesture from a random man …
Rome
photo by: vulindlela