Monday 5 PM
Ahh sleep. I feel much better than yesterday, and the dizziness is almost entirely gone!
This morning we had breakfast in the hotel – the breakfast area is small but good enough, and I got a cup of tea to start my day which is always pleasant. (caffeine was a major reason I was able to stay up until bedtime yesterday!) We took the Metro over to the Vatican for our four hour(!) guided tour, and got there way early. Luckily we’ve been using our phones as portable Kindles – even in airplane mode it’s wonderful having a bunch of books to read when we’re out and about; it makes planning for things less necessary and stressful. I also got a cappucino at a nearby cafe; here the generaly way this seems to work is you order at the cashier, pay, then bring the barista your receipt. Hovering over the barista without a receipt accomplishes nothing (especially if you don’t speak Italian!) as I’ve forgotten a few times now.
The tour was decent but long. (and we never stopped for any sort of break) The tour guide had a CB-like radio that he talked into and we all had earphones so we could hear, which is necessary since the Vatican is the most-visited museum in the world. An average of 20K people per day visit, and today seemed like no exception.
I had forgotten that there’s a lot of ancient art in the Vatican, even (to my slight amusement) statues to Greek and Roman gods!
Unfortunately, the tour guide talked both too much and too little, so it was hard to figure out what was important/interesting about each room. But of course the art is amazing, so it was fine. After the tour was done at 2:30 we quickly found a lunch place and ate and rested for a bit, then came back to the hotel for a nap.
Aside – I was reading “Be Good” (a book about ethics) while we waited for the tour to start. Then on the tour, a woman with three kids, two of which rode in a stroller most of the time, was in our group. After a while of being on the tour I began to wonder whether it was ethical to bring the kids along. (and I swear I’m trying not to be a stereotypical kid-hating gay man – hear me out!) Firstly, there are a lot of stairs on the tour, so people had to help here carry the stroller around. The museum was also crowded, so it took longer for the group to get anywhere because of the stroller. The kids (who ranged from ages…umm, 4 to 9 maybe? I’m terrible at kid age estimation) were relatively well-behaved, but by the end they were getting loud and cranky. (not that I blame them – I was getting cranky too!) So, I dunno. I just hope that when she bought tickets she knew that there were a bunch of steps. And I’m not sure how much the kids got out of it anyway…
Aside – There are two rules in the Sistene Chapel – no pictures and no talking. (although I guess tour guides are allowed) These seem like reasonable rules – the no-picture one is not terribly common but not unheard of, and it is a chapel so I’m fine with the church making the rules. But – visiting the Chapel is a great way to lower your opinion of humanity – there is lots of noise (to the point where every few minutes the guards say shhh and “Silenzio!”), and lots of people taking pictures. Sigh.
Aside – I saw more than a handful of people taking pictures with iPads/other tablets. What’s up with that? Cameras on tablets are generally terrible, right?
After a bit, we walked over to the Trevi Fountain, which was crowded but pretty. Then we ate dinner at a nearby restaurant where they presumably forgot about us, so it took an hour and a half. (dinners are slow here but usually not that slow!) Then we went and saw The Bourne Legacy with Italian subtitles – fun times! Now it is late.