Short version: did lots of walking, looked at lots of stuff. oh, so much walking!
Our excursion started about 9 o’clock. We took the metro to the station near the Vatican City. Then we walked down the road, and joined the line for the Vatican Museum. It went around the corner, so we couldn’t see exactly how long it was… It was hella busy, because apparently today is some sort of public holiday. An hour and a bit later, we got into the Museum, having successfully (stubbornly) fended off the swarms of umbrelli salesmen. Umbrelli is my word of the day. We got through security without incident (luckily I’d taken my pocket knife out of my bag that morning), and headed into the museum. There were Egyptian arifacts, and lots and lots of statues, and lots and lots of mosaic floors and painted ceilings. The Sistine Chapel was right at the end, and was very impressive. By now we were kinda footsore, so we sped up a bit, heading for the exit. When we emerged, we were astonished to discover that it was 3pm! We’d spent about four hours in the museum.
After finding something to eat we headed off to St Peter’s Basilica. There we had to line up a bit more, for security, but nothing like the first time! We weren’t really sure where to go, so we just followed the people in front of us. We ended up in the catacombs under the Basilica, where a whole bunch of popes and assorted others are buried. There was quite a bit of congestion around Pope John Paul II’s grave.
From there we headed into the Basilica. So impressive. It’s huge inside, and covered in statues. We looked around and then headed off to climb to the cupola. We chose to take the steps, for €2 less. That saved us about 100 steps out of 300ish. Shortly after the lift, the route goes through the interior of the Basilica, inside the dome. There was a service of some sort going on – I think there was a pilgimage or something going on. I think we saw the pope! There was someone who looked important, and was heard to speak German (the pilgim-y people seemed to be German). He was very far away, but when you zoom right in on one of the photos it looks like him. That was pretty cool, because the people on the floor of the Basilica, back behind the barriers, wouldn’t have been able to see. After a while we headed on up. It got very tight and crowded near the top – I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re claustrophobic. The view from the top was great.
By the time we got back down, it was 6pm. We’d spent about 2.5 hours in the Basilica. Our feet were hurting pretty bad by now, and we’d had two lots of nurofen already today (first halfway through the museum, and then halfway down from the cupola), so we headed off home. Luckily we had leftovers to reheat, because the free pasta wasn’t happening coz of the holiday.
Summary: we thought we could do this in half a day. It’s not possible! Well, maybe it is, but I think it really needs a full day. And knee braces and nurofen (both of which I had – yay for me!)
Tomorrow is the Colosseum, etc in the morning, before Steve heads off to his conference. Then I’ll probably head back to that area for some more archeology… Now, I’m off to have a lie down.