Vatican City - Holy See.

Trip Start Apr 01, 1990
Trip End Aug 21, 2002

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Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Monday, August 30, 1999

We caught the 8 am shuttle together with Stewart our busabout driver and the couple from the tent next door, our goal being the worlds smallest country the Holy See - Vatican City. The driver of the shuttle bus ran several red lights and we challenged him regarding his recklessness, he had some English and explained the lights were only considered as indicators, like to ensure you knew you were coming up to an intersection. Pull the other one, but we let it be.

When we made it to the Vatican we could not believe the length of the queue. We all jumped in line and Stewart went to the front to find out the gist of what was happening. He came back to report that it was the once a month Free Sunday and that the line was moving fairly fast as only the security check was slowing things down, no one was paying. From our point of view it was pretty good, we scored 1/2 price Louvre and now free Vatican!.

We made it inside and were blown away with the size and the ornateness. Certainly Europe just continually amazes us. Avan managed to get chipped by the security guards for filming in the Sistine Chapel , apparently the the camera was still on from when he was filming outside and the tiny red light on the video camera gave him away, even though he had the camera down at his side. The guard threatened to confiscate the camera but Avan promised he would be a good boy and they relented.

Once outside we decided as St Peters Basilica was next door we would visit there as well, but we were disorientated and went the wrong way and ended up walking right around the Vatican wall. It was certainly the first time we had circumnavigated an entire country. At one stage when we were walking around we came to an open gate and thinking it must have been the entry to St Peters we wandered in, only to be quickly collared by guards, turns out it was the Pope's private quarters.
Finally we were in St Peters Square just in time for the Pope to deliver his weekly Sunday greeting to the waiting masses, unfortunately the Pope was in Poland so we had to content ourselves with a recorded message. Next trick was to climb to the top of the Basilica's dome, so another queue, then a lift up to the dome itself. From there it was stairs, circular, with the stairs and staircase getting smaller the higher you climbed. We were starting to worry about getting stuck when we emerged at the top to an absolutely wonderful view, well worth it in the end.

We then walked km's back into central Rome and found a nice little Italian cafe for a late lunch of pasta and wine and then into the Piazza Poppolo and down a side street to another little cafe for cappuccino and ice cream. Finally we headed to the bank for some cash (100,000 should do it given the cappuccino was 7,000) when it started to pour down, we spent about an hour or so in the banks foyer then headed to catch the bus back.

Footnote: Vatican City and the Historic Centre of Rome, the properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and Sao Paolo Fuori le Mura are UNESCO World Heritage listed.
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