Rome and the Vatican

Trip Start Jul 29, 2009
Trip End Jan 23, 2010

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Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Thursday, September 3, 2009

Our cruise ended yesterday. We got off the boat back in Venice at about 9:00 am. We are both pretty sad about the cruise-portion of our trip ending. For me it's the all-you-can-eat buffets, 24 hours a day....Mmmmmmmm!!! Tara will miss the relaxing nature of the boat and being catered to. It has been a nice break from the backpacking that we have been doing so far and the five months of it we still have to look forward to. So, we got back on the road. We went straight to the train station and got our tickets to Rome, our last stop in Europe. 
When we arrived in Rome we took a very disoriented Underground ride and then a long hike weaving through the city trying to find our hotel with no map to help us out. On a side note, I must comment on the pickpocketting scene here in Italy. Before we left the train station to find our hotel, Tara left me with our backpacks while she tried to get directions. During those 15 minutes or so, I was able to spot two people who were obviously in cahoots conducting a pickpocketting scheme. There was a guy and a girl, both about 27 or so. What caught my attention in the first place was when I was looking in another direction, I could see the guy eyeing our pile of luggage, while rubbing his hands together, drooling, and then looking around to see where he might run to if he might grab something and take off. It was very obvious what he was doing. He might as well have been muttering "Preciousssss!! My precioussssss!!!" to himself. As soon as I noticed that he was basically drooling while looking at my bag, I looked at him in the eye and then looked at his accomplice, letting them know that I was aware what they might have been thinking. They quickly looked away and relocated what I am pretty sure was a scam. To give them some credit, I guess I do kinda look like an easy target. I keep my wallet in my back pocket, I wear a big straw hat like some hillbilly, and I almost always have a camera in one hand, and usually a map in the other. To a pickpocket I must look like a tool from America who one could rip off fairly easily.  
When we finally found our hotel, we found that they had overbooked so they sent us to some crappy apartment building a few blocks away. The man at the front desk was very apologetic and gave us a free dinner for two at their sister hotel. It was freaking amazing!! I will stay in the guy's tool shed next time to get another free meal at this place. It was on the rooftop of one of the highest buildings in Vatican City, overlooking the Vatican. Everything was included, including a bottle of Champagne. The meal ended up being over 200 Euro, all compd. 
Anyway, our first day we went to the Vatican. We got up early so we could beat the lines. Everything there was amazing. Tara went to the top of the dome, but I wasn't feeling as brave as I was in Florence. The stairway became similar to the one the Hunchback would climb in Notre Dame and continued up and up, spiraling smaller and smaller until I couldn't handle it anymore. I chickened out Okay?! Tara went to the top, got some good pics and came back down to find me trying on miniskirts at the gift shop. We then headed to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. The art was amazing! There are no words that I can use that would justify just how amazing everything there was. After a three hour walk through the halls of the museum and chapel, we went back for lunch, did some laundry for the low, low price of about 40 freakin dollars for 3 loads, and then went and had that amazing dinner.
Today, we got up and did the rest of Rome. We took the Underground to the Colosseum where we went inside and took pics and toured around. Then we walked through the ancient city's ruins for a while. From there we walked to see some of the other sights such as the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Arch of Constantine, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. All were awesome to finally be able to see in person. We officially spent all of our Euros except for 3, so we are going to have to play our cards right if we want to eat dinner tonight. Not really sure how that is going to work out. I might have to put on my panhandling clothes and look pathetic on the sidewalk for an hour or two. 
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