Europe Tour - Rome day 2: The Vatican City & The Colosseum
Second day in Rome, I had a wonderful sleep but sadly not enough rest. Breakfast was uh.. pretty basic compared to the past few days: bread, cheese, hams and fruit. Reminded me of my trip to Paris a few months ago. Anyway, we left the hotel 7.20am on the dot so we could be the first ones into the Vatican. Trust Trafalgar to be the best in planning ahead. We met up with our local specialist again and she led us into the Vatican City. It doesn't look as ancient as I thought or romanticised it to be, but it was breathtaking nonetheless. The galleria filled with marble sculptures, incredibly preserved tapestries (cleaned in a large pool every hundred years) and intricate the fresco that adorned the ceilings and walls of the hallways. It was beautiful, and being able to see so much history was amazing. From the galleria we went to the Sistine Chapel where Michelangelo spent 4 years painting the ceiling of the chapel. It was glorious! We weren't allowed to take picture because the flash would ruin the paint, and because of copyright laws. I admired the art on the ceilings (and feeling a horrid pain in my neck from looking up) and the walls and wondered in amazement and awe how such a feat could be accomplished. Only the ever perfectionist Michelangelo could've done it. The 'Final Judgement' fresco on the altar wall was brilliant. And Michelangelo was a rather cheeky artist with a sense of humor. One of the cardinals commented on the Judgement fresco and it's butt nakedness, which of course pissed Michelangelo off, so he drew the very same cardinal in the depths of hell, with donkey ears and a snake coiled around him, biting his precious jewels. Looking at the fresco in that perception was rather hilarious.
After the Sistine Chapel, we headed for the Colosseum. The bus was parked in an underground (not really) place where it was rather dimly lit. As we were making our way out the tight space, I heard a loud thunk on my side (left) of the window and the outer glass cracked into tiny pieces. I could even hear the glass crackling into small fragments! I didn't really know what happened but someone then told us that a guy had offered to help Peter navigate out of the low space and kept telling him to drive forward. That was when the glass broke. Apparently the coach hit one of the brick pillars. So now, my side of the bus is hot as the tint was on the outer glass which is now shattered and gone. Luckily the insurance covers for it. Well that sure was quite an adventure! We arrived at the Colosseum and a few other old monuments and arches. It was pretty dusty and as usual had an over abundance of tourists. It was hot, also as usual. Really hot. I think I turned another shade darker from today. We went into the colossal structure, going with and against the flow of tourists. The steps leading up to the upper floor is really steep. Luckily they made the steps wide. Did you know that there are over 80 gates around the Colosseum? And it can fit around 50,000 people and can evacuate everyone in 10 minutes. Incredible. When I laid eyes on the original structure itself, I was instantly reminded of the times I went through the structure, climbing it to the very top, of course I should point out that I did it as Ezio Auditore from Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. Just looking at the fallen parts made me think of the best way to parkour all the way to the top. Now that I have visited the place itself, touched the marbles and drank its spring water, I want to play the game again.
We had our lunch at the Colosseum (packed sandwiches) and boarded the bus at 2.15pm. When Peter came back with the bus, the shattered glass had been cleared and tape had been applied to the edges of the outer window. We then went back to the hotel where we can rest before heading out to the city again at 5.30pm for some free time, for those not going for the entertainment night.
I managed to get a shower and a nap, which was great. We left at 5.30pm on the dot for the city. Only a few of them went for the evening entertainment while the rest did their own thing, including us and another lady from St. Louis, Donna, a theatre teacher at a college. The five of us were dropped off near the Ponte Umberto I bridge next to the river and made our way to Castel (castle) Sant' Angelo just down the road. On the Ponte (bridge?) Sant' Anglo we bumped into some Malay students! It felt great to see some familiar faces. We had a little chat, and wished them happy Raya before heading off for our dinner destination near Piazza Navona where the Fountain of the Four Rivers. When we arrived at the piazza, the place was bursting with so much artistic talent! There were so many artists, craftsmen, musicans and performers! I was just staring at all the artwork, the handicrafts and listening to the beautiful music. I managed to point out the song they were playing which was Ave Maria, and I was instantly absorbed, and humming to the accordian (I think) I first heard the song from a fanvideo of Thane Krios from Mass Effect 2 and instantly fell in love with the way the user created the video. Anyway, yes, we then made our way to this particular restaurant Donna had eaten at the night before called S.P.Q.R. Omg the food was delicious. The portions were too much for one person, so if anyone is in Rome, and decides to eat here, please keep in mind that a plate for one can feed two people. Also keep in mind that Italians typically spend around two hours for dinner, and I can now understand why. Also to note that aqua minerale is sparkling water. Soda water. A mistake we made when we ordered last night. Anyway, tonight we ate a total of €200, which were off the menu, which explains the super huge portions.
After dinner we went back to the Piazza Navona to enjoy the sights and sounds. There's just so much culture here, a beautiful clash of modern and historical culture. I just watched an artist paint three wild stallions in striking colours. It was a marvelous experience watching a painting come to life. I've always enjoyed watching art in the process, whether if it's music, art or words, I love watching people expressing their passions through such outlets. We strolled around the piazza, enjoying the romantic music played by a street accordian player nearby. I've always had this image of the old Roman soldiers with Rome, but obviously I can't associate ancient Rome with modern Rome. Instead, what I got from tonight, especially tonight, is how romantic Rome can be on a Friday evening at the Piazza. There's so much such life everywhere! It's no wonder our church friend (who introduces Trafalgar to us) loves Italy so much.
At 10pm, we decided to call it a night and took a taxi back to the hotel.
Tomorrow, we go to Florence!
Tomorrow, we go to Florence!