If days were years I would almost be getting senior citizen discounts.
It's hard to grasp the fact that I've really been in Europe this long. It doesn't feel like it at all, but at the same time I feel like it's been my whole life since I've heard people speaking Egnlish as their first language. Home is only two days away!
Rome is really great- this is definitely a city to see because there is just so much stuff to visit! Today was Catholic Day, so with Rick Steve's Rome book as our guide, we rolled out of bed at 7, were on the metro by 8, and were walking into the Oculus at the Vatican City by 9. At first everybody was ticked that Dan and I had reserved us tickets for 9 AM, but oh, how glad I am that we got there so early! Our lines to get into St. Peter's Basilica weren't pretty long, but as we left around 12:30 the lines were snaking all over the square... and everyone was thankful we'd been there good and early. :)
The Vatican was awesome. Sadly, we didn't see the Pope.... Rick Steve's says he only comes out to bless the crowds on Sundays and Wednesdays. Darn! We saw his little papal apartment though, so I guess that is about as good? When we got there the first thing we did was go into the HUGE Cathedral. Man, that place is really big, And really beautiful. Next, we went to the Vatican Museum, and once again I was thankful we bought tickets in advance, because the line to get in was seriously like a mile long! And it was 9:30 AM! We finally found the reservation line, and while it was about a 20 minute wait, that was nothing compared to the standby line. Boy, I am glad we planned ahead!
The Vatican Museum is huge, too. You probably don't really know anything inside of it besides this little thing called the Sistine Chapel. Yeah... we were just really excited to see this room, so we kind of glanced quickly at everything else, then headed for Michelangelo's masterpiece. Thanks to Rick Steve's, I learned a lot about the huge ceiling before seeing it... like the fact that Michelangelo didn't even want to paint it because he told the Pope he was a sculptor, not a painter, that it took 4 years of tediously painting on the wet plaster, and that he basically did it all himself. We stood in that room for probably a good 45 minutes, stealthily snapping pictures despite the roars of "NO PHOTO!" coming from the guards at the front of the room playing hall monitor, deciphering the different drawings, and being taught all sorts of interesting little tidbits thanks to Rick Steve's. These books are really great- one of Britt's professors let her borrow the one we have, and I swear by it. Pick one up the next time you head over to the Eastern Hemisphere.
After the Vatican Museum we went back over to the Cathedral to go to Mass because you just can't be Catholic for a day without hitting up Mass! ... plus I think it's pretty cool to say, "oh yeah, I went to Mass once... it was at the Vatican. No big deal."
After Mass we left the small country of Vatican City (oh yeah- I've been to 5 countries now) we got back on the metro and surfaced again at the Spanish steps, which is some monument near the Spanish Embassy. How good it was to see a Spanish flag!! I miss that country :( Anyways, after filling up our waterbottles at a sketchy looking fountain Rick Steve's swore is clean and aqueduct powered, we headed over to the world's biggest and "most lavish" (Rick Steve's) McDonald's. We initially went just to look.... but when Brittany and I found the world's most beautiful looking piece of strawberry cake/cheesecake among a slew of other to die for desserts, we just couldn't pass it up! The guys got the wrong memo about eating and decided to order McDonalds, but Britt and I were not about to eat that in Rome! We went on a search for real Italian, ended up at some outdoor restaurant, ordered paninis, and our waiter asked us if we were Spanish. Yep, that's right, he thought we were from Spain. I have never been so flattered in my life!! Either he was just extremely naive, or a little bit of Espana has rubbed off on us!
After eating we met back up with the guys and went to the Trevi Fountains. Ever seen the Lizzie McGuire movie? Well... don't judge me, but this is the fountain where Lizzie throws in a coin, and then Paolo drives by on his scooter and whisks her away for a little Roman private tour for the first time. Sadly, no Italians came to scoop me up and take me away... there were just a lot of tourists with gelato and cameras. However, the fountains were really big and pretty, and as custom tells you to do, we all made sure to throw two coins into the fountain. The first, being for a return trip to Rome, and the 2nd, being for love to find you or something of the sort. It was great, really, throwing the coins into the fountain, and then having the fountain guard blow his whistle on us when Dan threw his coin with a little too much force. (Somebody was taking his job just a little bit too seriously...) It was HOT by the fountain, so we cooled off with some gelato, then headed off to the Cappuchin Crypts.
Ever wondered what they do with dead monks? ...Nope, I haven't either. Seems here in Rome they decorate churches with them, though. Yep, we all paid a euro to see a church decorated with the skulls and bones of 4000 monks. Don't ask me why... I don't really even know. But it was cool. And the creepy saying at the end of the church? "As you are, we once were. As we are now, you will be." MUAHAHA.
After seeing 4000 dead monks, we were all a little tired, so we went back to the hostel and napped for about 2 hours. Yeah, I was basically dead to the world for those two hours of sweet dreaming, even though I'm pretty sure the mosquitoes and spiders feasted upon me the whole time. Every time I wake up in these sketchy hostels I find a new and interesting bug bite. Hopefully none of them are life threatening?
When we'd all woken up and were feeling a little less groggy we went out, the guys to watch Brazil dominate Uruguay, and me and Brittany to go on yet another date out to eat. This time we had our hearts set on real Italian pasta, so that is just the thing we found... after taking a couple wrong turns and ending up in Little India. (Another story for another day)
The food at our restaurant was great- Italian pasta is pretty dang good... but I think Olive Garden lies to you when they give you their menus. Pretty sure 3/4 of that stuff is American creations. (But I will forever love the 5 dollar soup, salad, and breadsticks... that there is a good American invention!) Dinner was really good, but the best part of the meal didn't come until we were about to leave. We were in the middle of paying the check when our waiter brought us each a shot glass sized cup filled with a yellowish liquid. We each looked at it, looked at each other, and weren't sure what exactly to do with it. Brittany tasted a little and said it was lemony and strong. I looked at the little glass from all angles, dipped my pinky in, and did a little taste test. Right as the taste hit my tongue, the waiter, who I think had realized we had no idea what was going on, came over and said matter of factly, "it's lemon liquor". Oh, thanks waiter! So yeah, guess he was just trying to give us a little shot for the road... needless to say, we didn't take any more drinks, just took a nice picture with our glasses, laughed, wished we'd just have downed the glasses so we could have plead ignorance, and went back to the hostel. When in Rome! :)