Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Vatican: An Introduction

Today we didn't accomplish all that much; we hadn't planned to do anything specific today, which was probably a good idea. Last night we fell asleep on the early side, but were up for about four hours in the middle of the night, which led to sleeping in and a slow start. It also takes some mental effort to acclimate and familiarize oneself with new surroundings; we're also making a conscious effort not to exhaust ourselves any more than necessary. It was still rainy today, although less so than yesterday, and we finally decided to buy some umbrellas (of the tacky variety - with pictures of Roman tourist sites on them).

We took the Metro to the Vatican (we're finally figuring out the Metro (not difficult because there are only two lines), but that didn't stop us from wasting the cost of a ticket because we went down the wrong side, going the opposite direction. At this particular Metro stop, in any case, we had to go back outside, across the street, down another flight of stairs, and purchase another ticket. We did eventually make it to the correct stop, and found some lunch before wandering into the Vatican.

Today's lesson learned: If you try to go somewhere the Swiss guards do not want you to go, they will stop you. Sometimes they'll say "Halt!" really loud and make you think they're about to point their spear thingie at you and make you jump, even if you just need directions. I only got yelled at by two Swiss guards, one of whom didn't appear to speak German, which threw me for a loop. Here I am assuming Swiss people speak German, which is clearly wrong.

In any case, we wandered around St. Peter's Square for awhile, and noticed a few people on cranes decorating a massive Christmas tree in the middle of the Square. We also saw the top of what looks like a giant Crèche - we could see what looked like the top of a gigantic manger poking out at the top - all hidden from view.

From Rome (December 2014)

After we spent an hour or so wandering around St. Peter's Basilica - and clearly we're going to be going back to explore more thoroughly, possibly with an audio guide - we made our way to the Bronze Doors, which was guarded by a very alert Swiss Guard (the aforementioned guard who told me to "Halt!" when I foolishly tried to go through).

From Rome (December 2014)

I took this picture before I realized that these were the Bronze Doors, and in retrospect, I'm glad I got this photo when I did, because I'm not sure I would have had the nerve to be closer during a photograph. Through the Bronze Doors, I found what I was looking for:

From Rome (December 2014)

We're not sure what time to arrive; we overheard another couple mention that the had been advised to arrive by 7 a.m., which seems a bit extreme. 

We found a really good pizzeria across the street from our hotel; we had an excellent dinner, and it may be a place we revisit; we seem to be staying in a neighborhood that has a lot of good dining options. One thing I noticed during tonight's dinner is that both the restaurant we visited tonight, and the one where we had dinner last night, were quite compact; they had small entrances, and were much longer than they were wide. 

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