Friday, September 12, 2008

Pope Culture

Off to the Vatican today. Technically, the second country on our tour since it is a sovereign city-state. On the walk there, we stopped at a grocery store to buy fruit. You have to weigh your produce and punch in the bin number to print a bar code in advance, so when you get to the cashier, they just scan it like regular groceries. Someone from the store helped us with the machine, but I still got yelled out by the cashier because I tried to pay for €2 in groceries with a 50. We came well prepared for fights in Italian by seeing a clip from Family Guy, when Peter grows a mustache, right before the trip. We were ready to yell "bada-ba-boopee" whenever necessary. We came up with change so I didn't have to bada-ba-boopee her this time.

We got to St. Peter's Basilica pretty early, so the line up wasn't too bad. It was the most fantastic church I'd ever seen. Michelangelo's work, including the Pietà, Bernini sculptures, tallest dome in the world, painted ceilings, marble everywhere - unbelievable! We didn't take an official tour, so we didn't get to ask our favourite "stupid question to tour guides": How much is this place worth in U.S. dollars?

For a
break after the church, we tried to find a geocache. We walked a good part of the wall around the Vatican and couldn't find it. We didn't read the logs in advance that said it had been lost. There were video cameras monitoring the wall anyway, so maybe it was a good thing we didn't have to climb anything or yank bricks out. Although if it came down to a chase by Vatican police I would have busted it to the church screaming, "Sanctuary! Sanctuary! Bada-ba-boopee!"

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Vatican Museums. Wandering through took hours. By the time you get to the Sistine Chapel, your mind is overloaded with marble busts, tapestries, mosaic floors and paintings. There's fabulous-ness everywhere, but you can't even take it in any more.

On the way back to our hotel area, we stopped at Piazza del Popolo to see the twin churches, Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli, and to put our feet in the fountain to cool down. Other people were doing it so I hope that was legal.

As a last stop before dinner, we made a second try at geocaching. This one was outside the Colosseum and it was pretty easy to find. We also got a picture of Kevin in his modern day gladiator wear - a Rey Mysterio Mexican wrestling mask (acutally purchased in Mexico, therefore it must be authentic).

We couldn't find the restaurant we wanted to check out, so we ended up back in Trastevere. We picked a patio just as a huge downpour hit. The umbrellas started giving way so they told everyone to crowd inside the restaurant. We had just got there, but it sucked for people who already had food and had no where to sit. Then the power went out. As soon as the rain let up to a reasonable level we left and ate somewhere else because it was a mad house.

Why rest when we could pack in one more landmark? After eating, -we went to the Spanish steps - 138 steps that are the widest in Europe. You have to beat the flower vendors off from giving you "free" roses, which they then harass you to pay for. Kevin and I are prepared with our patented "gypsy punch", if needed. It's a slow curling of the fingers followed by a quick sucker punch between the eyes. We also stopped at the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon again for a few pictures at night.

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