24 January 2008

The end of Italy ... sad...

On Thursday we woke up early (that means we were eating breakfast in the other building by 805) and set out for the Vatican. I don’t know if you want to bother mapquesting this or not, it could be interesting. But our hostel is on via Volturno, by Termini Station. It’s almost on the uttermost east side of the city. Vatican City is almost straight west of us, across the center of Rome. Oh, and did we take the short way, trying to keep to a straight line between points? Mais, non. Of course not. We walked down, and around, and got a little lost, and found some monuments and ruins, and ended up on Ponte Palatino, which is, I think, about a mile down the river from our destination.

It took us an hour to walk there, and we weren’t walking slowly, either. We were walking normally. Well, Maggie and I were walking at ¾ speed, and Ariel was keeping up. The entire way there the rain was off and on, and by the time we walked into Piazza S. Pietro, it was seriously pouring. This was fun because my umbrella looks like a bat with a broken wing. Somehow, in the course of traversing the globe, one of the arms snapped and now when I open it one side of the umbrella just kinda hangs there, like it’s too tired to really be part of the party. So sad. Plus I keep getting the ends of it caught in my hair, which is painful sometimes.

Oh, and you know in the movies how, whenever there’s a pause and the director doesn’t want the audience to lose interest, so he sticks some nuns in the frame? That came from here. Nuns really truly everywhere. And I know that some of you are rolling your eyes at me right now, but we think it’s pretty funny. It’s just weird thinking of them as doing normal things, like buying boots. As Maggie said, “I just want to keep asking one of them, ‘Why aren’t you in a church helping poor children?’ And that from the Catholic of us, hehe.

The Vatican was amazing. We saw the Pope. He was boring. Just walked down the aisle and started talking in Italian. Oh, and he was old. But there was a nativity inside the Basilica that had a sheep in it which looked like it was about to pee itself in fear of the very shiny baby Jesus making the “Yeah I’m hot” face. I have a picture.

After the Basilica we went to some of the museums, the Museo Pio Cristiano (ancient Christian art in big rocks [they were coffins, creepy] and statues) the Museo Missionario Etnologico (art brought back to Italy by Christian missionaries, super cool) and the Pinacoteca (paintings and stuff à la Catholicism). We were in them a good three hours, and then we decided that since the place was supposed to close around two, and it was one, we should make our way to the chapel.

This was not an easy task. You figure, hey, it’s a chapel, there’s the sign for it, how far away could it be? Far. Very far. So far. So much … walking…The problem was that we appreciate art, and the way to the Sistine Amazingness is marked by all of these magnificent rooms with gorgeous art. All kinds of art, everywhere. Frescoes, statues, plaster flower molds, lint balls in the corners…so you’re trying to get to this one place, and you keep seeing signs for it, but it doesn’t occur to you that it’s the last thing on the list for a reason. The reason being: IT IS LAST. Quite last.

It took a long time, I don’t even know how long really, to get through all the rooms leading to the chapel. Finally we reached it, and I can’t even begin to describe it to you. Everyone’s seen pictures of the Sistine Chapel, but seeing it in person, oh man. All it needs is a little breath and things will start talking. Don’t tell anyone but I slipped some pictures with my camera phone. Photos were VIETATO. Very much completely absolutely forbidden. But you can’t help it. It was phenomenal. If you haven’t seen the Sistine Chapel you should go to Rome just to do that. My neck might still be sore from trying to see everything at once. Just the idea that this one ceiling, this one masterpiece, brings so many people to a single place in the world, is breathtaking.

From the Vatican we walked to the Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti, the Spanish steps. This time we took my way, the direct way, and it was still far, but it was faster. Let me tell you something about the steps. Guess what. They are stairs. In the winter, they are boring. In the summer, I believe they are decorated with flowers. But otherwise, there are Asian tourists everywhere and Italian kids trying to be cool and a bunch of tourists wandering around. But still pretty cool. Maybe I was tired. That morning, Ariel’s dad had told us to check out the McDonald’s in the Piazza, because it’s the most unique in the world.

So we look for the Golden Arches. We found a sign and headed for it. That was our first mistake. It led us up into the Metro. The arrow was a weird little thing that turned back on itself, making it look like you had to go in the Metro, turn left, then left again, and you’d be there. So we tried that. We went straight, then left. And then we were at a moving walkway. What else was there to do but to go up the walkway? So we stepped on and stood there, letting it carry us up who knows how far. It was far. At the top, about ten minutes of riding up the hill, we decided that there was actually no McD’s in the Metro, haha. We turned around and stood on the other side of the walkways. There wasn’t very much moving coming out of us. A group of American students passed us and I heard one girl say, “Why aren’t they moving?” “I dunno,” her friend said. I had to laugh because I was thinking very nearly the same thing at that moment. “Why aren’t we moving? Why aren’t we going anywhere?”

We turned back and left the metro, going back into the plaza. The three of us stood there for a little while, looking back and forth and trying to figure out exactly what was happening. Nothing was happening. There were just tourists everywhere, and no signs for Macdo at all. It was hilarious. At least, I though it was hilarious. Maybe it was just me. Well, we finally found the restaurant, but it looked like a café, so we didn’t go in right away. We thought that after the McD’s café there would be another extension of the place, but it wasn’t. We went in and stood in the middle of the café area for a few seconds before we noticed that you could go in the back, down into the dungeons of the place. We did finally go down, and had the food, and later Maggie and Ariel had the gelato. The gelato (which I did actually taste) was pretty good, and really cheap for gelato, anyway. Only 2euros for two flavors.

After the Macdo we found some boots for Maggie on the way home, and once there we rested for a few minutes before going back out again and then went to dinner. We were so tired from walking to the Vatican that we were nearly hysterical at dinner. I wish you could have seen us, we were laughing so hard, and the girls we were eating with could only look at us funny and smile to themselves. My favorite laughing matter was when we were telling them about the mummies that we had seen in the Egyptian museum part of the rooms leading to the Sistine Chapel. Ariel said, “Yeah, we say mummies when we were in Egypt. But they actually weren’t as cool as the ones we saw here.” Maggie said, “I don’t have any mummies near my house.” So of course I had to say, “I have a mummy. She’s in Colorado.” At that point we completely lost it. I’m not even sure why, it was just so funny at the time. After dinner, thanks be to God, we finally made it home and went to sleep.

On Friday morning we headed to the Coliseum, where we joined a tour group for 20euros. The tour included the tour of the Coliseum, the Roman forum, and the Palatine hill, which is supposedly the birthplace of Rome. It was cool, not much to report. The guides were pretty good, and the monuments were amazing. There ended up being only two tours, the first was forty minutes, and then a two hour break for a wonderful lunch of salami and break and crackers and nutella. And it was beautiful. That’s also when we saw Maggie’s mutant pigeons, which scared the poo out of her. Poor girl was talking about how cute some of them were, and then all of a sudden we all realized that almost all of the birds were mutants with missing legs and whatnot. Poor Maggie was hiding her face from them.

On Saturday Maggie left us to go home so that she would have a couple days to get used to Colorado time before going back to classes. After a hilarious goodbye at the train station (Ariel and I were making faces and miming things to Maggie while we were waiting for the train to actually leave), Ariel and I went and had breakfast, then we watched a movie and went back to bed. It was lovely, the whole sleeping again thing. Pretty much the best thing ever. Later in the day we went shopping a little and bought Italy souvenirs, which for me were masks. I love them. There are four of them, and they’re small and made in Italy and hand painted and I really like them a ton. We went back home and spent the rest of the day pretty much doing nothing but hanging out and … doing nothing.

Sunday morning was spent getting ready to leave and eating breakfast. We went straight to the airport after checking out at 1030, and spent the entire day at the airport. While there a big group of French peeps sat down next to us. Guess what the first thing Ariel said to them was? "I don't speak French." And the second? "She speaks French." Oh la la. "You are Ahmereeken? So tell us, what do you think of Bush?" Haha....

After about seven hours at the airport without food, we were able to check in my luggage, take Ariel's luggage upstairs, and eat at the restaurant. Well, self service place. We saw a guy wearing Gucci shoes and something else brandname all over his body. We spent a good amount of time laughing at him and his friend. I waited with Arie for a while in her check-in line, but then i had to go to my gate, where I just had a blast, let me tell you. It was almost 10pm, and we got in to Charles de Gaulle about midnight.

I slept in the airport. Now, before you freak out, realize that ... um... something. It was totally fine. It was too late to check in to a hotel or the hostel we were staying in, and i was meeting another girl at 6am, so it wasn't too bad. Except for the creepy homeless man who sat next to me for a while when i was awake. I simply put my locks on my bags, sat on the chair, and used mes valises (haha...sorry... "suitcases") for a footrest. It wasn't too bad, considering where I was. Plus, i was just happy to finally be able to understand the other language. People asked me if I needed a taxi, I could say no and explain that I had a ride. I could make excuses and tell them to degage (kinda like saying "beat it" but with a touch of mean sincerity).

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