[Note: This one post, I found it very hard to restrict the number of photos-I think this would be more of a Visual Post than textual 🙂 Enjoy!
Also, I’ve tried to put in the details as I understood it or as I remember it today. I could’ve taken the help of Google Baba but then it would’nt have completely been my version-so Apologies in Advance if something is in-correct-please let me know and I shall correct it]
An early start to the day and a 3 hr journey later, we reached the city of Rome and welcomed by loads of traffic.Thankfully we had an italian driver (The previous driver who got us to Rome had to be let-off as he had been driving for 10days at a streatch and he had to take a break!) who knew his way around Rome and so we reached the place on time with absolutely no stops in between. As we got off near Colloseum, we were desperate for a restroom and there
werent any.The tour manager pointed us to a deli and asked us to buy something so we could use the toilets there. While Hubby and BIL bought some juice to drink (the bottle looked like a hookah!) we stood in queue to finish the important job and joined the tour manager.By then the tour guide had joined us-a balding man with spectacles who explained everything superbly, and he was handing out the ear-phones for us to be able to listen to him talk.He took us around Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, we bought a colosseum replica and a gladiator mask, and then since we were all hungry by then we went to Ristorante’ Indiana for lunch 🙂 of Pizza and Pasta included along with the regular indian fare. We then went around the city of Rome in the bus towards Vatican City seeing the Circo Massimo – old circus square,the
ruins of the Pompeye Theatre and then across the Tiber river to Vatican City.We were dropped off at the wall of Vatican City and we walked along the wall to the Vatican Museum. After security checks (we were inside another country after all!) and buying tickets the Tour Guide took us around the Vatican Museum. We were told that it would not be a circutous tour but we would be ending the tour in St.Peter’s square and if at any point in time anyone was lost-we were to meet near the huge Obelisk at the center of St. Peter’s Square.
Once inside the Vatican Museum-I was totally transported to another world. I just wanted to take in as much as I could and I kept feeling that my senses were inadequate to grab and capture everything there in such a short time. I was soooo happy and excited. Seeing all those relics, the explanation of the Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel, the
sculptures depicting various greek mythology (much more than what is in Rome), the ceilings of the museum, the tapestry on the walls-apparently these tapestry designs were made in Rome and sent to countries like Brussels to weave them. They were used as wall hangings or foot mats to keep the cold away in the winter months and they are so detailed and so colourful -like they say-2 eyes are not enough! We were told not to use flash inside and I lost count of how many pictures I took. I didnt even know if I should be clicking pictures or seeing them with my eyes – so many of them and so much of sensory overload! And the tour guide too was excellent.He explained everything in detail and gave so much information.I kept rushing here and there,wanting to listen to him and be able to see what he was explaining too.Once
is not enough to visit that place especially not a hurried 2 hours 😦 We then entered the Sistine Chapel and saw the famous painting of Michelangelo on the ceiling and the painting of the Last Judgement and we could understand something because of the explanation that the guide gave us. We were asked to remove the hats and not take pictures inside the Sistine chapel and to maintain silence (We were told previous day itself that shorts/clothes above
knees and sleeveless were not allowed in the church) And guess what-despite the huge crowd where there was no place to even stand, the place was quiet! Amazing! And we spoke in hushed tones with the guide asking him where the chimney from where the selection of Pope was announced and other such silly questions, we asked. 5 mins inside was just not enough again, but then we had to get out and see the St.Peter’s Basilica.
Apparently the story is that, Jesus, once he realised was going to be crucified soon, gave 2 keys to St. Peter – one to open the gates of heaven and one to close it to those who are not eligible (I might not be right-so if someone can explain this better, I would be very happy) and so we see that the symbol of the church has 2 keys-the power of the church. Also,
when it was time for St.Peter to be crucified, he chose not to be crucified in the same way as Jesus-so we have on the door of the Church a depiction of st.Peter being crucified with his head down. Once inside the Church,again, I was surprised by the silence – it brings such calm and peace and wants you to pray. No matter how hot,how crowded and how noisy the world is just outside those doors… Speaking of Doors- there is another door as an entrance to the church which apparently is opened only once in 25years for 1 whole year by the Pope. Its said that who ever passes through that door will be washed away off all his sins and he has a chance to go to heaven. Something similar to our ‘Vaikuntha Swara’?
This basilica holds the relics of some of the important Popes. Also, this place hosts the famous sculpture of Michelangelo that got him the commission for the sistine chapel – the Pieta – which shows Mother Mary holding the body of Jesus. We walked around this church but unfortunately there was no place to pray at the main altar-it was barricaded for the choir
at 6pm.And so i just stood and prayed for a minute before rushing out behind the crowd of our people.A couple more pictures of the balcony from where the Pope gives his blessings and of the St.Peter’s square and we were ready to walk out to the Obelisk. Oh! What I forgot to mention, somewhere between the Sistine Chapel and the St.Peter’s Church, we lost one uncle. Apparently he was also a little short of hearing and we spent about 15mins searching for his everywhere. Then the guide told us that the best thing to do was for us to wait out at the Obelisk at St.Peter’s square while a very worried Tour Manager stayed back and started frantically searching for him. While we all waited and some searched, thankfully we found the uncle walking towards the Obelisk! Ah! Blessing really,because the guide was telling a story about 4 people who got lost in Rome and couldnt take the flight back home! a month or so before…
From there, we were all rushed back to the bus,back across the Tiber river into Rome to visit the Trevi fountain. By the time we reached Trevi fountain it was 4.30pm and we were asked to see the fountain/take pictures/have free ice cream at the Trevi Cafe’ (courtesy Tour Operator) and assemble at that corner by 5.45pm for the bus back to the hotel. The
Trevi fountain was so crowded that it was hard to get a single photo without people around us 😦 We then sat at the cafe and had double scoop ice creams – vanilla and chocolate (Little N and I) and some combination of berrys (BIL and Hubby) while Savs insisted that she *needed* a coffee and opted for that. We assembled at the spot and while walking on the small pathway, realised that there were so many souvenir shops where stuff was real cheap that we felt a small twinge of sadness that we could’ve bought something there without actually taxing the pocket 😦 Getting into the bus we asked the tour manager if he would get us to that place again the next day but he refused saying that everyone couldnt walk –
so he would be taking us to a huge mall near the airport to while away time until flight.There, that ended the matter.
We reached the final and last night of our trip and the last hotel – which was like a resort with independent rooms surrounding a huge courtyard.And since it was still 7.30pm we freshened up, walked around, bought a juice and generally had a relaxed time. Post dinner, we were given gifts for winning the housie – people got gifts and little N being the entertainer she was (singing kannada songs and leading us all in dance) and being the youngest, was given boxes of chocolates :-). We also decided to gift something to the Tour manager who had been very informative and very understanding and a thorough professional through out. Not wanting to go to bed and prolong the last evening,
everyone just sat in the couryard talking to each other. One couple also got us coffee after dinner and we sat talking until 11.30pm until little N dropped off to sleep on her chair 🙂
Sigh! we realised that this was the end of the dream trip, a trip that I had been dreaming about ever since I saw DDJL, a dream that I co-erced the hubby to dream with me ever since we got married, a dream for which we were planning and saving for-for years…