Monday 11 July
The "Eternal City"—a city steeped in history, vibrantly alive and exciting, and absolutely unique! Included sightseeing with a Local Guide starts in St. Peter's Square, followed by a visit to the Roman Forum and the mighty Colosseum. (B)Hotel:Dei Massimi
Largo V. Ambrosia, 9 Rome I-00136 Italy Tel: 00 3906 35347200http://www.massimiparkhotel.it/hotel-rome.htm
What we did:
Up at 6:00 and on the bus at 7:15 for our tour of Rome and/or optional tour
. We met our local tour guide Walter near the Vatican and walked 5 minutes to the museum to line up with the other guided tours. The guided tours enter at 8 am and the public at 9 am so this is just one reason you want a guided tour. We got in by 8:10, did the metal check scanning and Walter took us to a quiet spot with one of the many Sistine Chapel display boards. He explained about the meaning of most of the paintings in the Chapel. To have an expert right there giving you the goods was great and gave meaning to seeing the chapel later in the tour. So then you move through the Vatican museum with the rest of the mob in the heat and this is before the public gets in. It’s interesting to a large extent because your guide explains what you’re looking at, and it’s significance and it’s pretty. So after an hour of seeing the grounds and museum we start shuffling forward to arrive at the bottleneck to the chapel stairway. There’s some stuff going on here with people or tours trying to queue jump. Finally you’re in the chapel and there are some benches on the sides to rest and enjoy the view. The lighting is natural from windows but inadequate so it’s hard to see the ceiling not to mention it’s 23 meters up. So although lovely and impressive, these factors diminish your enjoyment as well as the guards constantly shushing everyone and telling people to put away their cameras. Next we proceeded to St Peter’s Basilica which is down the hall, outside, and around the corner. It’s big and impressive as well but I still like St George’s Chapel in Windsor castle better. After this we went for a break and snack near the museum followed by a pick up for more guided touring of Rome by bus. We were then dropped at the Forum where Walter walked us through it and the Roman Coliseum which is next door. I liked these as well as or better than Sistine. We had a group photo taken in front of the Coluseum by a professional photographer and it turned out quite nice
. They were handed out on the bus the next day by Chiara to the 50% of us who wanted them. For 10 Euros they were presented in a nice Roman motif folder on a glossy 8X10 and good value for the money. We said goodbye to Walter our best local guide thus far, got back on the bus and returned to the hotel at 2:00 to do our own thing. There’s no optional tonight as the Castelli Romani With Dinner was cancelled only getting 13/18 of the needed amount of people. This may be the biggest downside on only having 31/45 people on this tour as it’s harder to fill the optionals. The other thing on my short list and which Walter also suggested was the Pantheon. Like the missed Sagrada Familia back in Barcelona, it will now be on my next time list. Because of the cancelled Castelli Romani dinner and tour this time from 2pm and the rest of the day turned out to be our first big break on the tour. Fortunately we had a terrific balcony with a nice view in a quiet area. We wallowed in the enjoyment of passing the time until supper by, showering, napping, snacking, lazing on the balcony, and some picture editing. We went downstairs for supper at 9:00 and were well taken care of by very nice fellow named Radek. We ordered a appetiser of cheese wrapped in ham which looked good but the ham was way too salty for us. We told Radek, he took it away and we weren’t charged for it. Nancy wisely asked the other Cosmo people what they had ordered and liked. Because of her survey she ordered the First Course Penne Pasta with mushrooms and ham. It was just as big and delicious as my second course Sea Bass with potatoes but at one third the price. We had fun meeting some more people in the dining room from England and Australia before heading back up to our room to call it a night. I wish I had a nice restaurant downstairs from my bedroom back home because it’s really handy. We spent a bit of time organizing for tomorrows trip on the ferry from Italy to Greece. We can only take a small travel bag to our room on the boat as our big suitcases stay on the bus. So enough things for our overnight stay from 5:30 pm today until 4:00 PM tomorrow when we arrive in Patras Greece.
Day 13: ROME.