Tuesday, October 25, 2005: Too Damn Many Tourists.
Up and out early today, as we were headed out to take on the Vatican. We wanted to take the City Sightseeing bus again (the tickets are good for 24 hours) but it never came so we hopped the infamous city bus #64, also called the “Pickpocket Express”. The bus was so crowded that we couldn’t reach the ticket validation machine, but we figured our chances were remote of getting caught so we took our chances.
A few stops later, the Transport Police got on! Michael and I tried to exit immediately through the front door, but they blocked us. We did manage to escape at the next stop, through the rear door. Close call that was, especially since we weren’t even trying to beat the fare but were just hemmed in by other people.
After having a quick cappuccino and pastry, we set out for St. Peter’s Square. We took reams of photos and movies out in the piazza, and then decided to head inside into the Basilica.
I felt simultaneously impressed and repulsed by what I saw (how many hungry people could be fed with all of the money spent here, I wondered) but soaked it all in and took lots of pictures nonetheless.
We then decided to climb the 320 steps – many of which were very steep and very narrow – to the top of St. Peter’s dome.
We enjoyed a breathtaking 360° view of all of Rome, but it was crowded and hot up there so we soon made our way back down the dark staircases. Starving and knees shaking, we relaxed near the top of the dome drinking Cokes and thinking about what we had just accomplished and looking forward to seeing the Sistine Chapel.
Fatigue soon set in, and so we blew off the Sistine Chapel and went to try and catch the sightseeing bus again, figuring it would be a good break from the heat and provide some much-needed rest for our travel weary legs. The bus came early, and so wound up waiting another hour to catch the next one – too tired to hoof it back home. When the bus finally came, we climbed on and just joy-rode it for the rest of the evening until we got to our stop.
Except they never went to our stop. They bypassed it completely and so we wound up again at the Vatican – exactly where we had been an hour before! Apparently our road was “shut down” or something, but they never told us. Exhausted, hungry, and with full bladders and short tempers, we decided to just walk home after all.
We stopped at the Despar supermercato and bought the makings for what turned out to be a delicious home-cooked Italian meal, courtesy of Chef Michael. After dining on pasta prosciutto in pesto sauce, garlic toast, and fresh fruit, we relaxed and contemplated the next day’s activities – our last day in the Eternal City.