This morning we headed down to the Colosseum, bright and early to avoid the crowds and the waiting in the rain. We got down there at about 8am, and spent half an hour waiting in the rain for the gates to open. We’d picked up a stray umbrella in the Vatican Museum yesterday, but I’d left it at the hostel, so we got rained on once again. It was ok at first, but by the time we’d followed the audioguide about halfway round we were pretty cold and miserable. This might have contributed a bit to our less-than-enthusiastic opinions of the Colosseum. It’s much more impressive from the outside. Part of the trouble is that it’s all very controlled – there are only so many places you can go and paths you can follow. It’s not a very explore-y experience.
I understand why it’s like that, there being plenty of stupid and thoughtless people around, but it does impact on the quality of the experience a bit. I’m afraid that the Forum and Circus Maximus will be similar. The Vatican Museum certainly was – the guards in the Sistine Chapel being particularly aggressive in their calls for silence. That was a bit weird, and kinda scary. The PA announcements in the tombs under St Peter’s were a bit weird the same way. A PA voice-over in a classic PA Announcement Style saying “This is a sacred place. Please observe silence and respect” was more than a little strange. Annoyingly, lots of people didn’t seem to be listening. We had a couple of stereotypical American tourists behind us there who were very annoying. Overall I think it’d all be much nicer if there weren’t so many damn tourists around!
Rome itself was much more active today, and seems much more alive and real now that the shops are open, replacing the graffitied shutters which were all you saw before. There are also lots more people and cars around. The crazy traffic has emerged, including lots and lots of sirens this morning while we were in the Colosseum. The parking has been crazy all along. Double parking seems to be perfectly acceptable, and the people’s parallel parking abilities are amazing! How anyone ever gets out of their parking spot I don’t know.
I slacked off this afternoon, staying in to read and make notes of all my photos before I forget what they’re of (my memory card filled up halfway through the Vatican museum). The last few days have been pretty exhausting, and I thought it’d be better if I took one afternoon off and had enough energy for the next three days. Especially because they’ll involve a lot more effort in the planning and navigating departments!