To help my poor jet-lagged memory, I am referring to my journal for all the details from this trip. This blog is the closest that I get to keeping a journal, but for this trip I kept one faithfully, every night, just so that I could come home and blog about all that we had seen and done. I also kept a journal because I took 1000 pictures and I figured that it might help keep them all straight if I wrote down what we had seen. And because some nights I would ask Scott, "What did we do yesterday? I can't remember," and it would take us quite a while to remember what in the world we had done the previous day. I guess our poor brains were overloaded.
So here it is...
Scott's mom dropped us off at the airport early that morning, and we accidentally went on the "All The Different Ways You Shouldn't Get To The Atlanta Airport Tour." When that little tour was over, we finally made it to our terminal and off we flew to Philadelphia for our Trans-Atlantic flight. The overseas flight was fine, nothing to note except that we all had individual TV screens and On-Demand movies and TV shows, which was pretty great. I took a Tylenol PM and slept quite nicely for about 5 hours.
We landed in Rome about 8:45 in the morning and the first thing that we saw out the window was....hay bales. Seriously. I was superbly disappointed at this less-than-ideal picture of Europe, but I didn't care. We were finally in Europe! I was so excited to finally be there and I was sure that we would have plenty of time to get to our hotel and drop our stuff off before our Vatican Museum Tour at 2:00. Little did I know....
The customs line was long and the airport was slightly confusing, but we managed to find the connecting train to Termini Station, the rail and metro hub for the city. We got to Termini Station, got a map, and sat down to find the street where our hotel was on the map. We searched and searched, only to discover that our street was so far out of the city center that it was OFF THE MAP. The man at the information desk suggested that we buy a bigger map, which we did, and we finally found our street, way off the in corner of the bigger city map.
We rode the metro to our stop, the next-to-last one on the B line. We walked out of the station to find that we were in the middle of the interstate. No street signs, no sidewalks, not even a taxi in sight. So, after some heated, ahem, discussion, it was decided that we should walk until we found a street sign so we could look at the map. We then proceed to march up what was actually an exit ramp to the interstate. About half-way up, we stopped and turned around, concluding that marching down the interstate was not a good idea. We went back to the metro station and tried to find some help. We asked and pointed and showed people the street address. Finally, we were directed to a bus that would take us to our street. We took the bus to our street and because of the communication barrier, we got off too soon....about 2.5 miles too soon.
Not knowing what else to do, we started walking....we walked a very, very long time. Uphill. With our backpacks. In the 90-100 degree heat. After not sleeping for 24 hours. Finally, after what seemed like forever, we saw our hotel. At this point we were short on time for our Vatican Tour...we threw our stuff down, gulped down some water, and headed back out of the door--disoriented, tired, dehydrated, exhausted, and in a hurry.
We flew to Vatican City by taxi and metro, and ran like mad people to the Museum entrance. I probably injured a few small children in my frenzy, but I was dehydrated and sleep-deprived, so it really wasn't a shining moment for me. We actually made it to our group at 2:10, and we set off to tour the four miles of museum.
Don't get me wrong, Vatican City was great. The museum was fascinating and our tour guide was informative. The Sistine Chapel was breathtaking...but all I could think was, "I need something to drink. Pronto." My back was hurting and we'd already walked for miles that day. We actually left St. Peter's Basilica so we could get some Powerade because we simply couldn't carry on any longer.
Because of my severe dehydration and exhaustion, I only retained a little of what I heard during my Vatican Tour. This is why I have no explanation for some of my pictures. I was just aiming my camera at random statues and hoping for the best and praying for a water fountain.
In the main square of the Vatican, directly outside St. Peter's
The Vatican Guard. He may dress like a jester, but I'm pretty sure that he can kill with his bare hands.
St. Peter's high altar, sitting right above the crypt where his bones rest.
Not sure about this one...I think it was outside the Basilica.
And this one...I have no idea what it is.
In the end, Day 1 ended much better than it began. We were safe in Europe, had finally located our hotel, and made our tour on time. We ate a nice pizza dinner near the train station and headed to the hotel, thinking that all our transportation woes were over. Little did we know what was in store first thing the morning of Day 2.....