Europe: Rome Day 3-Vatican City

We decided to spend our last day in Rome devoted entirely to Vatican City.  Museums can be very tiring and Vatican City is filled with so many sights, you can’t really see everything in a single day anyway, so we just fit whatever we could into the day and walked away satisfied with all we saw and accomplished.

We planned to be there on a Monday because we didn’t want to deal with the even bigger crowds that come on Sundays. Knowing that walking through museums on our own would not only take too long but also wouldn’t allow us to learn as much, we booked an official Vatican City tour through this website  choosing the ‘Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel’ tour (there are multiple types of tours).  The tour was well done and allowed us to see plenty in the 2-hour allotted tour time.  A plus, that not all tours provide, was a headset to be able to hear the tour guide while she talked into a microphone because sound doesn’t travel well there.  That is something we never considered and are glad that our tour provided.

Something to note: Wear something that covers your shoulders or you’ll risk not being let in to the Sistine chapel and other areas

Wanting to get an early start on the day, we booked one of the first tours of the day.  Make sure and allow yourself plenty of time to get there if you decide to book an early morning tour because the metro will be busy with Romans commuting to work as well. We were late, despite our best efforts, but luckily were able to find our group and jump in, instead of missing it all together. The museum employees were not pleased with us when we told them we were late for our tour, but still tried to work with us to help us find our group (we appreciated that). Honestly, to us, it looked like trying to find a needle in a haystack because there were soooo many different groups and lots of clusters of people.

Random thought: Sometimes on trips I get caught up in wanting to take so many pictures that I don’t get to see things with my own eyes, so I decided this day, I would take a picture every now and again when I felt compelled, but would really challenge myself to put the camera down and just enjoy the surroundings. I’m glad I decided to do that and you might want to do the same every now and again on your trips if you’re like me, especially inside museums 🙂

Here are the pictures I did take…

DSC_0957 DSC_0959 DSC_0968 DSC_0972 DSC_0973DSC_0991 DSC_0997 DSC_1001Another suggestion I have is to look up frequently. Not only are there such beautiful things to see in front of you, but the ceilings have gorgeous and detailed intricacies that shouldn’t be missed.

We were taken through the gallery of tapestries and gallery of maps.

DSC_0010 DSC_0017 DSC_0025 DSC_0034This was another beautifully painted ceiling we saw before entering the Sistine Chapel.

No pictures are allowed in the Sistine chapel and we respected that by resisting the urge to sneak an i-phone photo (though we wanted to).  We spent some time in there just taking it all in- I suggest taking a seat if you can find one because I walked out with quite a crick in my neck from the constant head titled up.  We finally understood what all the fuss was about because it was amazing. 🙂 To me, what makes it more amazing are noticing the little nuances of his details and knowing one man did all that while lying on his back for years.

From there, we made our way over to St. Peter’s Basilica. We actually didn’t spend long there because, I think, after the museums and the Sistine Chapel, we were so visually overstimulated that all the detailed and gaudy ornamentation of St. Peter’s was too much for our little inexperienced-museum-goer eyes to take in.  You can make your way to the top of the dome, which sounds cool, but in reality, we had already walked so much I didn’t think I could make the climb to the top. I at least needed a snack before I did anything like that.  We didn’t do a tour here, if we would have, I think we would have enjoyed St. Peter’s more. DSC_0051 DSC_0055 DSC_0058

The day started out bright and sunny, but once we made it out of St. Peter’s, it started to downpour like I’ve never seen before in my life.  Rain was hitting the ground so hard, splashing back up, and the monsoon winds were blowing the rain sideways making the umbrellas useless, so we sought refuge under some stoned archway just outside St. Peter’s with hundreds of other people.DSC_0068

We sat there against a marble column trying to stay dry but failing and I was battling some other woman for the quarter inch of space at the base of the column that was just big enough for me and her to sit on and wasn’t on the wet ground.

DSC_0074

I quickly learned the peddlers always have what you want, if it’s hot, they have water and cold drinks, and apparently if it suddenly starts to rain, here they come 30 seconds later with all the ponchos and umbrellas you could ask for (and now since you’re desperate the price goes up).  There comes a point when you don’t care how stupid you look in a poncho, you just want the cold rain to stay off you, and that point came for me after 30 minutes of waiting for the rain to let up and getting no relief. I had done a good job of refusing to buy their poncho every time they asked on principle, but I started to get tired of the cold wet feeling and gave in giving them the 5 Euro. Ryan, tough guy, never did give in (and I never used that poncho again).

Here’s a crappy I-phone photo of me in the poncho in all its glory…I have to say I wasn’t any drier but was a little warmer.photo

When the rain let up the tiniest bit, we made a run for it, to the nearest place we could find food because I was way beyond hungry and bordering on Hangry (it’s a real word now I guess).  I’m adult enough to admit that sometimes I act like a child, in that, if I am hungry, cold, and wet, I am not pleasant to be around (putting in lightly), so Ryan knew we had to get my high maintenance self some food or else… I blame my hypoglycemia.

Since the rain drove everyone off the streets and into the restaurants, they were all full with no one having any intention of leaving their table until it stopped raining. We sat under an awning trying to stay dry and eventually landed a table for two and enjoyed a nice meal.  Thank heavens.

DSC_0079When we were done eating, the sun came out as if it had never even rained in the first place. We worked our way back to St. Peter’s square and enjoyed the view a little longer, sans monsoon.

Here’s me trying to dry my prune-y feet in the warm sun. Best thing I did that day was bring a spare set of flats so I quickly put the soaking wet ones in the bag and swapped them for the dry ones.

DSC_0083 DSC_0110DSC_0119 DSC_0127At this point, we were kind of done with Vatican City. We knew there was a lot we hadn’t seen, but at the time, we just wanted to go do something different. We decided the funnest thing to do would be to make our way back to where we came from on foot, rather than take the metro with all the dampness and humidity that was sure to be down there.

We basically strolled along the roads the rest of the afternoon.  This was the view looking back at Vatican City after the rain storm

DSC_0162 DSC_0159pretty huh?

Later we came across the cutest little toy shop and a real life Gepetto. 🙂DSC_0219 DSC_0218 We had a lot of fun doing nothing but roaming the streets and taking in our last day of Rome. DSC_0909 DSC_0863 DSC_0584DSC_0201DSC_0235 and that night we were blessed with one more beautiful sunset over Rome which we viewed outside, where else?, the Colosseum. DSC_0329 DSC_0327Rome was good to us…next stop…Paris!

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