Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Its my birthday! I was awake for 6:30 A.M. After sharing a room with Kim and Kami several times before, I learned very quickly that unless I'm the first in the bathroom, then I've no chance until mid afternoon! Nah, they aren't that bad, but I'm always awake first anyways and like to get in and out before they both wake up.
Beth knocked on the door to see if we were ready to go to breakfast. I was! 20 minutes later the girls came down to breakfast with a card and present for me. Aww! The card had some little sticky post-it notes with reminder messages for "forgetful aging people"--remember to flush, turn off the gas, and stuff like that. The Gunzingers also got me an amazing piece of Murano glass when they were in Venice. It's a small fish bowl with two little fish in it--two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl. After breakfast we all headed back to the rooms, and, surprise, surprise, surprise, someone had posted post-it notes all over my bed just to remind me to do things today! Thanks girls!
My birthday present My post it note bed
I left the post-it notes on the bed as we left for the day to do some sightseeing, wondering what the maid would make of it all. I guess the birthday cards on the bedside cabinet would give it away, though. My friend Gail from Arizona had mailed a card out to Kami before she came to Italy, so I had three cards to open and display :)
First stop today was the Vatican Museum. We took a taxi and met up with Joe and Zach in front of the Museum. We had tickets booked for 9 A.M. and it was just as well, since the line for tickets was around the block! Despite leaving our hotel the night before late and getting back to their hotel at 2 A.M, Joe and Zach were up at 6:30 this morning and took the metro for an hour to arrive just in time!
Zach mid yawn! Kim & Kami ready to do the museum The Vatican museum
After going through airport type security we were now in a different country! Yup! The Vatican city is its own country! We no longer in Italy and in The Vatican City! It has its own police, fire service, and even its own money!!
The entrance to the museum
I was totally blown away by the museum. I'm not the biggest fan of museums, but the sheer scale and the amount of things to see was outstanding! We actually spent the best part of four and a half hours looking around inside! Sculptures, paintings, tapestries, statues, maps, and more were all there, and they weren't behind barriers either! It was all right there in the open.
I could go on and on about the things that we saw, but the best thing is to just check out all the pictures in the album below:
We eventually made our way to the exit. We had “lost” Kim, Zach, and Joe inside the huge edifice, but had arranged to meet them outside the museum. When we couldn't find them at the arrange meeting place, we called them a couple of times and couldn't get through. We left to have lunch in a small outdoor restaurant just around the corner from our next stop--St. Peter's Basilica!
Joe called half an hour later to say they left the museum early and already saw the Basilica, but they would meet us at the entrance. After meeting up for ten minutes, Mark, Beth, Kami and I headed through more airport type security for St. Peter's. I'd come to the Basilica before when I saw Roger's shows in Rome in 2002. However, I hadn't taken it all in--it was only a short visit. I wanted to go to the top of the dome and see the view of Rome this time. It's a total of 550 steps if you walk the entire way, or 320 if you take the elevator up halfway and walk the rest.
St Peters Basilica Kami, Beth and Mark The chosen one!
Mark and Beth decided to take a taxi back to the hotel after seeing the Basilica and the crypt where past popes were laid in eternal rest. We had been standing on our feet for the last seven hours, and it took its toll on them. It was also nearing 4 P.M, so Kami and I went up the dome alone.
This is where we were heading Close up shot Extreme close up!
We decided to take the elevator halfway up, and after getting out of the elevator and seeing the sweat on the people that had walked we were pretty happy! The second half was a combination of oddly sloping stairs, uneven steps, and an extremely narrow spiral staircase with a rope for a handrail. As you get closer to the top you actually have to walk leaning to one side, as the inside of the dome gets more curved and narrow the higher up you get.
The view from the top was well worth the walk, though! It was a glorious, sunny day in Rome, and we couldn't have picked a nicer day for it.
The Vatican Museum Coliseum in the distance
After taking a few pictures and just taking in the views, we headed back down. This time we decided to walk all the way back down the steps. It actually wasn't as bad as I expected. I know we were going downhill, but the steps weren't steep at all--more long and low and level. Had I known this before coming up I would have probably takes the stairs all the way. It's easy to say that after the fact, though!
The Vatican cops!
We took our time going down, stopping halfway to get a post card for my dad. We mailed it from outside the gift shop, too, so it will have the Vatican country postmark on it! We walked down the main street that leads up to St. Peter's and then crossed the river on one of the two carved stone bridges that connect Rome to that other country!
We caught a taxi back to the hotel where we met up with Mark and Beth and chilled out for an hour or so. Joe and Zach had booked a room in the hotel next to ours for the night since it was not only my birthday, but it was also Joe’s. They didn't want to risk getting drunk, return to their distant hotel, then get all the way back to our hotel for 7 A.M. the next morning for our trip to Pompeii!
We all headed out for dinner around 7 P.M. The first restaurant we tried was recommended by the hotel and looked very nice, but we were told the whole place was booked out for a private party. The second place looked great, so we sat down, then we looked at the menu, and it didn't look too great anymore, so we up and walked across the street. After looking at a couple more places we decided on one and all had dinner together--except for Zach who wasn't well--he stayed back at the hotel. (No they didn't send us along as a surrogate band.) So after dinner Kim, Joe, Kami, and I headed down to the bar Kami and I went to the night before for a few drinks before heading back to our hotel around midnight. We all had to be up at 6 A.M. at the latest, and we all had a full day walking around sightseeing, so I think I can speak for everyone when I say we were all pretty glad to get to bed “early.”
I have to say it was one of (if not THE) most memorable birthdays I've had--from the second my watch said midnight the night before to the second before midnight that night--I had a fantastic time with amazing people, and I just wanted to say thanks again to Mark, Beth, Kim, Kami, Joe, and Zach for making it a great day.
Posted by Simon W at Wednesday, April 13, 2011