More journals and pictures from my trip. Day 11 we headed to the Vatican, and met up with Bill, Adam, and Steve. We saw the Pope, the Sistine Chapel, a wicked crypt, Trevi fountain, and the Pantheon. At night, Maryrose dyed my hair red. There’s quite a few pictures from this day, so pace yourself.
This morning we got up, and got dressed for Vatican. Since we;d be entering the church, we had to wear pants (I’d been wearing shorts everyday but the first day, which is something, cause I never wear shorts.), and no bear shoulders. We got set, headed out to the station, and after a little difficulty, met up with Bill, and a fellow missions student, Adam. Adam was also a kewl guy. We got our day passes for the subway, Mindy managed to completely fail at getting her ticket to work, and eventually just gave up and cut through the exit [I think I saw Becky jump the gate as well, but that was after her ticket went through correctly.] We took the Subway to St. Peter’s stop, got out, and headed to the Vatican just in time to hear the Pope speak. They’ve got some pretty tight security to get in to hear the Pope speak, and I guess that makes sense. The service was interesting.. The cardinal [or whomever that was] would speak in a certain language, Than the Pope would read something (in Latin I believe, but it’s hard to tell cause he mumbles a lot)then the cardinal wold read something in a different language. Then toward the end they announced certain groups that were there from different areas and countries, and when certain groups were mentioned, you saw a whole section stand up and cheer. It reminded me of a Young People’s convention, when someone would say “My name is Becky, and I’m from Michigan..[Wooooooo! clap clap clap Michigan!]…” eventually the service ended, and a line that looked much like the line at a decent size college’s graduation appeared by the Pope, all waiting for a chance to bow and kiss his ring, and have him bless them. we asked a guard and found out that the Pope would not be leaving via the Pope-mobile, so it wasn’t worth it to stick around that long [We wanted to get into the building he was currently sitting in front of, but that wouldn’t open until near 1. we were also waiting for Bill and Adam’s friend Steve, another missions kid that was supposed to meet us there.. The 4 of us, plus Bill headed off to the Vatican museum, which was a little ways away Then the 4 of us went in, and Bill did some shopping and sightseeing further down in that area.
The Vatican museum was pretty impressive. The sheer number of paintings, maps, and tapestries they had, and the collection of documents and statues all inside that building is overwhelming. But what really did it for me was the Sistine chapel. First of all, it wasn’t quite what I expected [For reasons unclear to me now, I thought it was a round dome.] But it was absolutely amazing. There is so much detail, and the paintings [especially on the ceiling itself] are so lifelike and well done that they look 3d for sure, and really look like they will move at any minute. Pictures and video taping inside the room is strictly forbidden, and you’re also supposed to stay quiet…two things that we were reminded of often by a audio recording played in 4 or 5 languages quite often… but people were still loud, and clicking away with their camera. I started off doing the whole sneaky shot here, shot there, then I just said screw it and started taking pictures like normal, and got some good ones. We stayed in there for a while, just sorta taking it in. If you ever get the change, you really ought to see it [Though I think I’d rank the David slightly above it as far as impressive pieces of art go. The scale of both is impressive, but David just seems perfect in every way.]
after the Sistine chapel we quickly hit much of the rest for the Vatican museum, filled with more art, vases, and furniture given to or used by Popes It was impressive, but repetitive. I suppose if I knew more about the Popes it would have been more impressive…. it was also nearing 1, which was when we were going to be meeting Bill and Adam back at St, Peter’s, and heading to lunch.
We get back there, meet up with Adam and Bill, and Steve is now there as well. We grabbed some lunch, then hit St. Peter’s. Another overwhelmingly immense and detailed building, with statues and mosaics and tributes to Popes past. there’s a stature of peter and Paul everywhere. Peter with the sword, and Paul with the keys. we toured around there for a while, headed in to a small side room set aside strictly for prayer, then headed down to the basement, where Peter, and a great number of Popes were buried. Did you know the Popes get to design their burial stones/statues/plots, etc before they die? Seems creepy, but kinda nice too. So we walked through all that, then eventually made it into the Vatican treasury museum, which holds many of the Catholic Church’s riches… and they are rich. Wow. It started off relatively simple, with Gold crosses and sacrament items, but wow.. further in, it’s jewel encrusted everything Picture frames worth more than my parents house… Crowns for giant statues worth more than many European nations. They said no pictures in there too, but I took a number of shots anyway. It was impressive.. very impressive.
I really wish we knew where the arc of the covenant was.
After the treasury, Becky and I headed to the Vatican post office [yeah, they have their own post office, and it’s supposed to be quite efficient] and mailed off some postcards. Then Adam took off, and the remaining 6 of use headed off to see Trevi fountain and the pantheon. A quick subway ride later, and we were there.. only we stopped off at “the crypt” first This was a small place where the bones of monks and other faithful were used to make art.. and it was both fairly beautiful, and really creepy. we’re talking hundreds of skulls packed on top of each other, and full blown skeletons strapped to the ceiling. Vertebrae lined up in pleasant patters along the ceiling and walls… Creepy stuff. Pictures were forbidden in there as well, and it was kinda too small to get away with sneaking some.. so mine turned out craptastic, but I’m hoping to get a few that Adam took [while he had Steve stand guard for him] a few days earlier.
After the crypt we grabbed some ice cream and headed to Trevi fountain. the tradition goes something like: if you toss the coins in the fountain, you’ll soon find true love. I resisted the urge to just throw my whole wallet in, but you better believe I threw the coins in. while we were there a married (as in just married.. in the tux and dress) couple showed up, and had their pictures taken by the photographer [and almost every tourist] in front of the fountain.
While we were there, these merchants were waking around selling these little toys.. they were like tiny rubber stress balls, only they had 2 eyes and hair on them, and you could shape them certain ways and they’d stay.(think sorta like a ball filled with silly putty) Maryrose bought one, perhaps just to spite me, as I noted how useless those items would be, and made further disparaging comments when one of the guys came buy showing one he had made complete with giant tits [nipples and all]. In typical fashion, she talked the sellar down 50% of the original price, then bought it, and prolly got more than her money’s worth from it that day.
We left the fountain, and headed to the Pantheon, and on the way I found what I was looking for: a poster of Ancient Rome as it would have looked during ancient times. I was pleased The Pantheon was impressive as well (though you reach the point where more of the impressive same stuff isn’t all that impressive anymore. It does feature a giant hole in the ceiling, and special holes in the floor to allow for drainage in case it rains.. which it doesn’t seem to do here at all.
after that, we headed back to and Internet cafe for a while to check email, and make sure I wasn’t fired, and my home machines were still working (I wasn’t fired, and my home machines were still working) then we went to the subway, and headed back to the hotel. Off the subway we said our goodbyes to bill and Steve, (although Bill may join us on our trip from Rome to Pisa to Florence.. we shall see). We swung by a store and bought some red hair dye, then tried to get dinner at the restaurant we went to yesterday, but it was closed, so we found another place nearby, and had another fine meal of wine, Ravioli, Spaghetti, veal, many Italian cheeses, and then strawberries with ice cream. It was excellent.
After a long dinner (all the meals take a while, cause no one is ever in any hurry to serve you, or bring you your check or anything. You pretty much have to ask for the check here or you won’t get it. and I mean ever.. We were sitting around and talking for well over an hour after our meal was done the other night, and didn’t get the check until we were ready to leave, and specifically asked for it.
Once we got to the hotel, Mindy and I headed to another internet cafe to try to get a hold of one of my aunts (hopefully I have a ride from the airport in Chicago back to my grandma’s house, where my car is parked.) then it was back to the Hotel, where Maryrose dyed my hair (and eyebrows and goatee) red. I looked like a moron for a half hour, and the girls seemed to really enjoy that, but it turned out pretty good I think.. (well, my hair is certainly red, in any case.) After that, I started writing, which takes us to the present.. the girls are asleep, the noise outside is still very, very loud, and I should probably call it a night. Tomorrow will be another long day, I believe.