Saturday, May 16, 2009


So I slept in a bit yesterday and felt a little better, so I decided to do the whole Vatican adventure. I hopped on the metro and made my way over. The Vatican museum was very cool. It was basically a museum set up by a pope, somewhere along the line, to house all of the gifts, art, artifacts that the popes throughout time have gathered. There were sculptures, Egyptian art (including mummies), paintings, tapestry, etc. It was cool. The Vatican museum also includes "apartments" where some of the popes have lived and the Sistine chapel. The Sistine chapel was amazing of course. It was just PACKED with people though. It is so huge and so detailed that unless you bring binoculars and find a place to sit along the side you can't totally enjoy it. It was so packed with people too that I couldn't hear my audioguide very well (it's a little machine they give you that you punch in the numbers and it gives you a little blurb about what you're seeing). I walked outside of the Sistine chapel and finally was able to hear it. It is fascinating actually and should get a book to read about it because its so detailed and so involved. So I followed the crowd out of the Sistine chapel and ended up outside. Well, here it where I got confused I think. There were about 4 routes you could go and I couldn't follow my map, it was confusing for some reason, so I just followed a crowd into the tombs of the popes. That was very cool actually. Pope John Paul was buried there. It was actually a very simple tomb compared to some of the other lavish ones. People were crying and was interesting. Again, when I exited I just kind of followed some people. I saw Swiss guards ahead (they guard the Vatican and dress in crazy outfits) so I kept going because I wanted a picture. Well I motioned to one of them if it was ok to take a picture and he shook his head yes. So I took the picture and then turned around and realized I was outside of the museum in front of St. Peters basilica...AND I still had my audioguide. Well, I definitely had to return it because they hold your ID as collateral (my driver's license). So I turned around to walk back from where I came from....that's where I got yelled at. Both guards yelled "NOOOO! You can't go back!" Everyone within 100 feet turned and stared at me. My eyes got huge and I swirled around...super embarassed of course...and motioned to them that I was holding the audioguide. They just shrugged there shoulders and motioned for me to go around. Well, going around was not exactly simple. I had to completely exit the Vatican city and walk all the way around the walled fortress. The whole mistake caused me at LEAST another mile or 2 of walking...I was super unhappy about it.

I also went to St. Peters Basilica. It was HUGE. There were statues everywhere of different saints and martyrs. I am not catholic so I just don't understand why people pray to these different people. I don't know who these saints and martyrs are and I don't understand how Catholics learn about them. Is it the bible? Why haven't I learned about it before? For instance, there was one saint that everyone kept walking by and rubbing the foot of the statue. Why? Is his foot important for some reason? I made a mental note to look all of these things up when I got home (I have ALOT of reading to do!). I haven't decided if being in these huge holy places makes me feel MORE or LESS religious. You do get a feeling of being in a holy and sacred place, but there is so much money put into these buildings to honor different people that it doesn't feel right. For instance, there is a treasury in St. Peters Basilica. It's almost surreal. There are candlesticks made of pure gold...not little either....larger than me. And not one, like 16. And there are things called monarches (I think) that I don't even know what they are set on tables or something. That were pure gold and bejeweled like you wouldn't believe...I mean diamonds, jade, rubies, emeralds, etc. It is absolutely unbelievable. They have chalices (cups to use during the sacrament) like that and a staff they carry...all bejeweled. Oh, and don't let me forget the popes jewelry. The largest gems I've ever seen anywhere in my life. Pictures were forbidden in there, I wish I could have shown you guys. All I know is that the Catholic church has more money than we could EVER fathom. I don't mean to be sacriligous here, but is that right?

Anyway, it was beautiful. But I was done. I gathered my things and headed to the train station. I finally found the right train (I had hoped). It is a bit scary because the train only stops like once every hour or so so if you mess up and get onto the wrong train, it could be a few hours before you end up back on track. Well I got on the train, found an empty seat and sat down. Well, then it got interesting. A lady came to the doorway and was pointing at my seat. Everyone was looking at me and saying stuff in Italian. I told them I couldn't speak Italian and they looked at my ticket and told me I was on the wrong train. I freaked cause it was pulling away and then realized I was showing them my old ticket. I showed them the new one, they said I was on the right train but in the wrong seat. I wasn't aware there were assigned seats...I just down anywhere last time too. Well, I gathered my things to stand in the aisle for the 2 hour trip and then a nice gentleman who spoke English told me I could sit next to him. Whew... I am glad to be back but it was good for me to feel uncomfortable for awhile.

Heath and I are going to check out Naples. Talk to you you!

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