Friday, June 6th, 2008


Originally, we were due to meet up with Ian again for the Vatican tour. Earlier in the week, the group decided that six, albeit quality, hours in the Vatican would just be too much for us after all of the walking the past two weeks. So earlier in the week, I emailed Through Eternity Tours and they were very understanding. We also had another excursion booked with them for Saturday to see The Forum and The Colleseum, so cancelling wasn’t too much of an issue.


Saturday was, again, a beautiful day… not too hot or cold. Due to a work situation for jbom at The Blue Oval, he decided that he needed to stay back and make phone calls and handle email that was coming in furiously even while he was gone. As mentioned previously, we had our laptop and email access while on the trip… but sometimes issues crop up that require you having to take some time and address the situation first hand. We were all disappointed, but jbom decided it would be best to remain behind from the Vatican tour.


So being the “Rome experts” that we now were with one day in Rome under our belt, we took the Metro and headed to the Vatican. Three stops later we were OTTAVIANO which is the Metro stop for the Vatican. Signs were easy to follow, and we were up and walking towards The Vatican Museum. The evening before, Ian recommended that we sleep in and go about 11:30 a.m. – no sooner. And he was right. After arriving at the entrance, we literally walked in (no line), paid (no line), took the escalator up to the entrance (no line, no wait), bought our ENGLISH audio guide (no line, no wait) and WALKED RIGHT IN. Frankly, after all that I had heard and read about the 2 hour possible wait time… I couldn’t believe it. We came on the right day at the right time!


So the VATICAN MUSEUMS are pretty incredible. Period. I have seen people “ooh” and “aww” at fragments of pottery, statues with missing limbs, etc. at many other museums and special exhibitions.  I have been fortunate to have gone to the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London, on a few occasions. The biggest difference that The Vatican Museum has compared with all the rest for me is how complete that it is.  Complete… whole statues, bowls and ancient artifacts… with no missing parts. Most dramatically are the three halls that house all of the Greek and Roman statues that line the corridors. The halls were built specifically for the statues and are incredibly dramatic.


We made our way through the museum seeing ancient Egypt first and then working our way through the museum towards the Sistine Chapel.  The Vatican is a big place, so there was a good bit of walking… so we focused on getting to the Sistine Chapel and then going back to see what we had passed.


Through a series of corridors and hallways, we ended up taking a small passageway up and down stairs and then came into this naturally lit large room. It took a little while to register, but we were in the Sistine Chapel.  There were many people fighting for a seat along the wall, but we spent most of the time on our feet looking upwards. Our audioguides did a decent job of explaining what we were looking at, but admittedly, it was a little overwhelming. I looked for the signs that DaVinci had put into the ceiling that we’ve all heard about, but I couldn’t find the markings myself. It is a very spiritual place, but was continually overshadowed by an official calling out “silence” to those talking amongst eachother. That was the only part that ruined it for me.


After about 20 minutes of taking it all in, we left and returned to the main hall. There were a series of gift shop areas, so we were able to buy a few “memories” of the Vatican for ourselves and others. Kathleen bought a really nice calendar and I bought a few things for my in-laws being the “good Catholics” that they are. From there, we had a good break and had something to eat at the Vatican Café. It is surprising how good of a meal you can get in a museum café! We had a simple cheese and meat plate and bread and a drink… it was simple and satisfying.


From there, we headed back to the hotel… it was close to 5 p.m. when we returned. Jbom had gotten his work done and was glad he had remained behind. At every turn during the day, I was saying how I had wished he had been able to come along as The Vatican is truly an amazing place.


For dinner, we decided to remain at the hotel. fter all of the gourmet meals onboard INSIGNIA, we all just wanted a simple meal of salad and pasta. The pasta was really excellent. It had been a good day, but tomorrow would be our last in Rome. The time had come and gone so quickly.