Thursday, December 29, 2016

Roma with Lena, Day 3

     Our day began with another long walk, We had tickets for the Vatican Museums at 10:30, and it was a good hours walk. So we set out 2 hours before, just to give ourselves time to explore on the way. We arrived at Saint Peters Square around 9:45am. There were plenty of people milling around, getting pictures of the Nativity (Jesus isn't in the Manger, because it wasn't Christmas yet.) and the massive Christmas tree in the middle of the square.

     One thing I didn't realize was just how far the entrance to the museum was. After about 15 minutes I figured we would head on over in case there was a line. I swear, it felt like the longest walk. You follow the massive Vatican Walls all the way around to the other side. You pass by tour hawkers at every step of the 20-25 minute walk. Once again, glad we pre-purchased our tickets as we passed the massive line waiting to buy tickets, we were let right in. It was so crowded, but I held out hope that it would be spacious enough, like the British Museum, to not matter. I was wrong. So wrong. I think this was my only mistake on the entire trip, besides getting us lost the night before.
     Somehow we were not handed a map for the museum, but I had my handy dandy travel book with a map inside. Little good did that do. This place was like a labyrinth. No clear markings as to which way to go beyond the huge ENTRANCE sign. We just followed the mass and hoped they knew where they were going. This was Lena's first real museum. We have been to the ROM in Canada, and the Science Museum as well. But she was so young and it didn't have a big impact on her like this.

So excited!

View of St. Peter's Basilica. 

This seems to be a reproduction of Michelangelo's Pieta. Still beautiful.

Washing of Jesus.

The colors were so vivid!

Enormous tapestry of The Last Supper

The Transfiguration.

Dragon Slayer

One of the original Pope Mobiles. 

Mummy. Lena loved the Egyptian exhibits.

The original Tuna (tunameltsmyheart)

The ceilings were amazing.

This sculpture reminded us of Zane.

This was at the exit. There was a matching one at the entrance.

     As you can see, after the HOURS inside, with thousands of other people, we were done. The museum was confusing and after finally finding someone to help us, it was explained that the museum is ONE WAY only. No back tracking. Missed something, too bad. There were several of us that were wandering around helplessly trying to figure out how to get to the rest of the exhibits. When you enter, you can go to the right or straight ahead. The left entrance is NOT clear at all. So we were wandering around the right, and straight to the outside... still no clue there was a way to get to the left from the same entrance. The map was of no use as it didn't explain what we were going to see, just names of the rooms in Italian. People stood in front of displays for minutes, not allowing anyone else to get in a view it. We did a lot of pass-by viewing. Many rooms had a single or a very narrow double door to exit. It would take several minutes just to get out. And people, leave the strollers at home! If you have an infant, invest in a carrier. A huge stroller that takes up the space of 4 people is really inappropriate inside a super crowded museum. By the time we got to the Sistine Chapel, we had been there for about 3 hours.
     You enter the Sistine Chapel rather unceremoniously. I was rather shocked to find myself in it. Oh, we are here!? There are guards constantly shouting, "ATTENTION! ATTENTION! QUIET PLEASE! NO PICTURES! NO PHOTOS!" The noise level of the crowd would rise, pictures were taken, and this warning would have to be repeated over and over again. Reminded me of lunch time in elementary school. =) We were ushered in quickly and found a place in the crowd to stand, and just stared. Heads up, necks cricked. It's really a lot to take in. We moved through a false wall and found a place to sit and were able to take it all in a little better. I think we could have spent longer in it, studying every nook and cranny, but the crowds were getting to us, and exhaustion was setting in. So we made a run for it. Overall, I think I would have chosen to skip this museum all together. Kids under a certain age would hate this part of the trip. 
     We needed food. A common theme. I figured there should be some decent place to eat just outside the Vatican. Once again there are hawkers on the streets trying to entice you into eating. We got stopped by one and went into the restaurant. After a few minutes of viewing the menu, and the surroundings, we decided to high tail it out of there! I am glad we did. We stopped at the bridge, and took some amazing pictures.

     We were ready to chew each others arms off at this point, our bodies hurt and we were so tired. We stumbled onto a nice looking restaurant called Ponte Vittorio. We sat at this little table and was served by this nice Italian man who didn't seem to speak a word of English. We handed him Lena's allergy card and he gave us the thumbs up, no problem! We ordered and waited anxiously for our food. When it came, we were not disappointed. It was delicious! We got ourselves some macchiatos at the end, and hit the road back to our hotel. 

We made one last stop at the Cat Sanctuary again, bought a few gifts and got back to the hotel to pack and relax. We needed to get up very early in the morning.

     We knew we had better eat one last meal so after packing and resting we set out to find something very close to our hotel. The first place we stopped at told us they could not provide us with a safe meal. They were very kind about it, so we left and looked for another place. Lena really wanted pasta with veggies, so we were stopping and reading every menu. (Restaurants are required to post their menu outside with prices.) We found one that seemed to fit the bill, and sat down. 30 minutes later I was so mad, they seemed to have forgotten us. We had ordered a very simple meal, and others around us were getting served first. I was able to flag down the waiter and asked him very sharply what the deal was. He looked at us like Oh, crap, and ran in to see what was going on. He came out and said 5 minutes. I told Lena if it's not in front of us in those 5 minutes we were leaving. 4 minutes later, our food was there. It was meh. My spaghetti was so so, the sauce was too acidic, lacked flavor, and didn't sit well. Lena's mushroom fettuccine was also so so. She couldn't finish it. We quickly asked for the check and left. I left a whole euro on the table as a tip, out of pity. I am not sure if I should post the name out of the restaurant, but it was called Ristorante Esperia. I wont link to it, so you can do your own research on it. (Via Firenze 16-17)

     We got up at 5:45, got ready and ate a quick breakfast. (Thanks for having an early breakfast hotel!) As we checked out I threw out an Arrivaderci! to the hotel staff, to which I got a uproarious laughter. They loved it and replied in kind.

We took some last minute pictures inside the train station.

Pictures on the train.

We are sad to be leaving Italy. Do we really have to go?

We have lost our minds.

Beautiful clouds.

 And the sun Shining on the Mediterranean Sea.

     And we were home again. One trip we have been planning for years is to take Lena to London. She is fascinated by it's history and has been reading historical novels that take place during the reign of King Henry the VIII. So, expect some more travel blogging in the future!

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