August 28th, 29th, 30th 2010
Didn’t do much the first day. I decided to do laundry and lounge around in the hostel. I have designated a blue t-shirt, purchased in a Paris supermarket, and a 32-inch inseam with 30-inch waist (my dimensions are the other way around), purchased in Poland, to be my ‘laundry-day wear’. Ate some Chinese food and wondered what cuts they use from the cow to make the beef dishes, not just this restaurant but all over the world. They’re never lean and meaty, but mainly rubbery and chewy.
Next day, I visited Vatican City. I came just in time for a 1.5 hour queue to the Vatican Museum, where the Sistine Chapel is located. I have a massive painting which I did in high school for art class hanging in my parents’ garage of Adam and God nearly touching fingers, you know, that picture. Of course, my drawing and painting skills are severely lacking and the overall end product is hilarious looking. I wish I could’ve taken a better picture of the actual Michaelangelo version, which is breathe-taking, but picture-taking was banned and there were plenty of security personnel making sure of that. I did do a couple of ninja-snapshots. Anyway, it was nice to see the actual piece of what I attempted to copy, poorly, in high school. The entire Sistine Chapel was covered from top to bottom with beautiful art, much like tattoos.
Went to St Peter’s square of Vatican City around 12 pm, just in time to see a live feed on big-screen of the Pope giving a sermon somewhere else, I believe Castel Gondolfo, a distance from Vatican City, to mass there. I lined up to check out St Peter’s Basilica, which was equally impressive from the outside and inside. Other than that, I was actually surprised at how accessible Vatican City was to the public. I expected it to be a walled off island in Rome, with only a few gated entrances where those colorfully-clothed Swiss Guards would let the crowds in from. But only small sections are guarded and sealed off, I’m thinking where the Pope lives. Those Swiss Guards wear very colorful garb on Sundays but I was back there on Monday, again, and saw them dressed in plain blue. Maybe that’s their version of ‘laundry-day wear’.
Spent my last day there checking out the Colosseum. Inside, I was disappointed at how much lay in ruins. The entire ground was gone and I could see into the underground tunnels that once lay beneath where the gladiators dueled. Since the Colossuem was oval-shaped, depending on where you stand, it could look small or it could look massive. I wished I was there back in the days when gladiators fought. ‘Maximus, Maximus!!’ (he could have been real).
Went to check out the impressive Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Lots of ruins, including some very impressive looking ones. I took one of my favorite and best pictures of Arco di Settimo Severo, dedicated to the Emperor Septimus Severus (talk about a cool name) and victory over the Parthians. The lighting was just perfect.
I visited several other little spots in Rome (bought unlimited all-day subway passes, so I had to maximize their use by zipping up and down Line A and Line B). Both lines go through Roma Termini, Rome’s main train station. This station has been the most awesome train station in Europe because it’s quite happening in there. Lots of shops, a couple eateries, very modern and busy, and even has one of those electronic arrival/departure boards where the characters flip and the right words/numbers are displayed. I actually spent two nights eating dinner at a self-service joint (popular with the station employees) and watching Serie A soccer with everyone. But yes, I hung out at a train station.