I realized a few days ago that I haven’t finished off my Roman Experience (or my Adventures in Moscow, for that matter), so let’s finish that. My bad, everyone.After the letdown that was the Trevi Fountain, my hopes were pretty low for the Vatican and associated museum…okay not really. It’s the freaking Vatican, of course they have beautiful things, along with one the sculptures I’ve always wanted to see in person–Pietà by Michelangelo.
First step was getting there, which was surprisingly a tiny bit more difficult than expected, but we found it. Okay so as with most popular tourist destinations you should buy your tickets early (online). Let me repeat that: BUY. YOUR. TICKETS. EARLY. There is no reason to stand in line longer than absolutely necessary, unless you just love standing in lines waiting around. If that’s the case then wait to buy your tickets. This is the link for the official website, you can buy tickets from here. [Click me] The Vatican Museums did not disappoint, and made up for the Trevi Fountain disappointment, for me, at least. I didn’t realize how huge the building was or how expansive the collection was. Again, it’s the Vatican…what else was I expecting? There is a heavy emphasis on ancient Roman work, but there’s also several rooms filled with Ancient Egyptian artwork. I wasn’t expecting the Vatican to have any modern works of art, but they do. Granted it’s not extremely modern, but they’re more modern than the bulk of their collection. They even have a few Dalí paintings.
It should be noted when you’re herded towards the Sistine Chapel you’re going to get excited to finally see the ceiling in person. I mean it’s famous, it’s beautiful, and finally you get to have proof that you saw it. Yes to the first point, yes to the second, but it’s a great big no the the third. When you push your way into the Chapel there’s a very loud man screaming in Italian and broken English to not take pictures and to be silent. Sir, please follow your own rule, you are annoying and ruining the atmosphere. You’re probably most excited to see that painting. You know the one: The Creation of Adam. Understandably so. Everyone is; however, it’s tiny. I don’t mean in an “oh that’s a bit smaller than I thought it’d be kind of way.” I mean it in a “oh, this is kind of disappointing that something so well known is so incredibly small that you don’t really notice it until you really look for it.” It’s still beautiful, but just be aware that the hype leads to a very disappointing let down. If you can’t afford a trip to Rome, but would still like to see the Sistine Chapel there’s a virtual tour. A plus to that is there are no people, and no loud, annoying Italian men–unless you’re married to one then just have him yell about no pictures and silence then it’ll be ever more realistic. For the Virtual Tour click here.
St. Peter’s Basilica is absolutely gorgeous, which is expected. What is not expected, however, are the dead bodies of previous popes hanging out in glass display cases. Clearly I’m not Catholic. It’s a tad odd to see skeletons and mummified (?) people put on display. They were also better dressed than I was, which isn’t hard to do, but if you’ve been dead for a few decades or hundred years your fashion taste should not be so on point. Like churches in Russia you need to be modestly dressed. What does that mean? Shoulders and knees covered for men and women, but unlike Russian churches you don’t have to cover your head if you’re a woman. When we went it was hot out, so I opted to wear jeans and a button-down tank top, as did J. It was just too hot to wear anything else. If this is the case for you carry a scarf or light jacket in your bag and put it on/wrap it around your shoulders when you get to the guy that checks your outfit–yes there’s a guy that checks your outfit.
Our last day was spent at the beach. I have to admit, I didn’t really want to go to the beach. Not because I don’t like the beach, but because, again, I do not like road trips. The beach was just further away from our final destination. The sand looks like chocolate pudding. The “cool factor” of the sand goes down considerably when you see a hypodermic needle just chilling out next to your foot. Thank goodness I’d kept my shoes on. We paid to use a little beach “resort” thing, and then paid for a couple lounges. It wasn’t all that expensive, so that’s a plus. They had a pool, changing rooms, showers, and a bar. Herrball, J, and their friend swam in the water while I opted for suntanning. The water was freezing so there was no way I was getting in. After they’d had their fill of fun we all changed and headed into town to grab something to eat. I was a total jerk all day. When it’s time to go it’s time to go. I don’t want to sit around and take forever to eat. I want to be on the road and get home as soon as possible–there will be food on the road. Not my best day, honestly. Europe isn’t like the U.S. There aren’t 5,000 fast food restaurants on the highway. Rest-stop food is kind of expensive. Also, just because I can go all day with little food doesn’t mean that 1) it’s healthy or 2) everyone else can do it. So what did I do when we finally found a place to eat at? I pouted and refused to eat, because I can be a brat. It’s one of the crappy aspects of my personality. Once we finally got on our way I started to get over myself, but only a little bit, because it’s me–I’m difficult. Traffic home was horrible, and we almost ran out of gas, but managed to coast into a station as we crossed into the Austrian border.
I’m coming to accept that I can be a crappy person to travel with. It’s mainly on travel days so that’s a good thing. I’m so lucky to be given the opportunity to see other places with such wonderful people. I can’t wait to see what travel adventure life brings us next