Friday, September 18, 2009

Il Vaticano

Full day today at the Vatican - surprised to see a huge line already when I turned up at 8.45. When I finally emerged at c. 3 pm the line had dissapated, so take my advice and turn up late to avoid queues, and avoid the Lonely Planet's siren call of the early alarm clock. Or book on 'tinternet, like I did, and waltz in. As you can gather, spent aaages there, although that does include about an hour with me book over lunch (much-needed break). The highlights are predictable - the Raphael rooms, the Sistine Chapel, and the Pinoteca art galleries. I would love to sound all sophisticated and tell you you *must* linger in the Etruscan rooms, only the plebs miss them... but, in truth, a quick glance will probably suffice. It was hugely crowded, especially in the Sistine Chapel, filled with annoying tourists - one (German?) guy actually grabbed my arm to stop me walking in front of his camera - I'll wait for a photo, but this guy was VIDEOING the whole of a small, cramped, circular room. I'm afraid I lost my temper and shouted at him, but fully deserved! I was seething over the cheek of him for quite a while. Anyway, that's probably all I have to report on that, nothing to add really that you couldn't find in a guide book.

I tried to find this big parky bit near the train station for a sit-down after the Vatican (took some photos outside St Peters, but huge queue which I couldn't be bothered with), but failed miserably. I think, on a related note, that Rome must be the least pedestrian-friendly city in the Western world. Of course, you start out with crazy Italian drivers and even crazier scooter-riders everywhere, parked on curbs and crossings, up against walls with only a millimetre to get by them etc. etc. They never stop for crossings if you stand at the side of the road - I've worked out that (I think) the best strategy is to walk slowly out in front of them in the perhaps vain belief that they will not actually mow me down. And, naturally, I always look the wrong way, which only ups the danger factor. And then there are the crossings themselves - heaps of big intersections only seem to have 'em on one side, and the worst are the crossings to nowhere, that lead you on to an island or roundabout in a typically busy intersection, and then literally leave you stranded with no crossing at all on the other side! Plus the road signs are confusing and frequently absent, so with my weak sense of direction (I can read a map if I know where I am, but...) unsurprising I get lost quite a bit.

So eventually I headed back to the hotel with some Kinder Duplos (ah, my absent friends) and finished up the second book of my trip, an alarming attrition rate... I have one more with me, but I've never been super super enthused by it. There's a big 'international' book shop at the train station which is calling me... Luckily, I got a response from the American library in Nice that they would be happy to have me volunteer there, so I can start reading my way through their reserves in due course!

1 comment:

  1. I suppose a book addiction is more benign than a heroin one, but sounds like it's just as strong! Had to laugh at you shouting at the German guy - shades of your sister! M x


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