Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Vacay 2015--When in Rome...

Before we could begin our Mediterranean adventure we had to get there.  We left our house about 9:30 Thursday morning for a flight from St. Louis to Charlotte.  There was a short layover, then we boarded the plane for our nine hour red-eye flight across the Atlantic.  We arrived in Rome about 10:00 Friday morning.

I knew that if I didn't sleep on the plane I'd have real jet lag problems, so after a surprisingly edible airplane dinner, I arranged my memory foam travel pillow around my neck and attempted to catch some winks. It was hard to get comfortable, though, and the voices in my head kept telling me that if didn't go to sleep NOW! I'd be tired and ruin my dream vacation.  I finally tuned them out by listening to the inflight jazz channel.  I probably only got a couple of hours of fitful sleep, but it ended up being enough.

Thanks to our travel agent we had a driver to meet us at the airport.  When we got to the hotel the room wasn't available yet, so we left our suitcases and went out to explore.  First we got a grab-and-go lunch, which we ate while walking to the Metro station.  Our destination was Saint Peter's and the Vatican Museum.

St. Peter's Square
The hotel desk told us that the station was 15 minutes away.  We found it with no trouble, but since the instructions on the automated kiosk were in Italian it was a challenge to figure out how to purchase a ticket.  My 10 Euro bill (the smallest one I had) got rejected, and I wasn't sure what to do.  All of a sudden someone was there to help us.  From his handful of 1 Euro coins he handed me five, deposited three in the machine to pay for two tickets, then smiled and walked away.  He was gone before we realized he'd earned a nice commission for his good deed.

We could have bought tickets for the Vatican Museum online before we left, but since there were too many unknowns (Would our flight get us there on time?  Would we have energy?) we decided to wait until we got there. Our driver suggested we skip the sure-to-be long-line to get in, and find one of the people standing on the sidewalk selling tours for about twice the price of the official entrance fee.  Sure enough, when we walked up to the building there was a line snaking down the sidewalk.  There were also salespeople on the sidewalk on the other side of the street.  We talked to one of them, figured out the price wasn't too much of a gouge, and let him walk us to a nearby storefront to purchase tickets.  He walked us back to the building, where we met the tour group inside the lobby.

The museum was very noisy, so I was glad to find out the tour would be using a wireless transmitter system. Our guide (a middle-aged lady who spoke English with a lovely Italian accent) handed out the transmitters, then led us through the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, stopping often to tell us about what we were seeing.  She collected the receivers before leaving us to explore St. Peter's Basilica on our own.

The afternoon was hot, and there was no air conditioning in most of the buildings. Tony and I had been wearing the same clothes for more than 24 hours. When we left St. Peter's Square we were sweaty, dirty, and tired.  We made it back to the hotel, where we collected our key and headed up to the room.  The first order of business was a shower!  We set our alarm and took a quick power nap, then headed out for dinner. After the best Italian food I've ever had, we came back to the room and collapsed.

The perfect Margherita pizza


  1. Himself would just die if I told him I was buying tickets from a hawker! LOL He'd be sure they were fake or something. Myself... bravo to you! So... are you ruined for Italian food now? (as I am for Mexican since visiting Mexico several times)

    1. I wouldn't have felt as confident buying tickets from a hawker if our local driver hadn't recommended the process. It also helped that we bought the tickets in a real office, instead of on the street. As far as Italian food, there are quite a few places on the Hill that are really good (and certainly easier to get to).

  2. Aw, Rome. Someday we'll see each other.

  3. That looks delicious! What an adventure you are on!

    1. Strayer, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  4. Ooooohhhhhhh, I love seeing food photos.

    Sounds like so much fun.