Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rome Day 3 -Tuesday: Vatican

We started out our subway trip with €6 in coins lost to a ticket
machine after carefully saving coins up for buying day passes. An old
lady kept gesturing and getting louder and louder, trying to help us.
She was helpful in that she pounded on the ticket window to get one of
the five employees, busy in conversation among themselves, to help us.
If I were in a fight, I would want an old Italian women to be on mb
side. We filled out a form and they will mail a check for €6 to our
house. The Vegas odds are 271:5 on us ever seeing that money again.

Today is Vatican day. For an entrance fee of €12 each, there is a lot
to see. The guidebook says you can stay until closing or until
exhaustion hits you. It was exhaustion for us. There's just so much
historical art. We saw 20 and 30 foot by 20 foot tapestries, many many
statues and paintings, the Sistine chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica.
The painting were especially interesting as they reflect the time of
painting as well their subject -receding hairline on baby Jesus, how
covered Jesus is, reflecting or hiding the humiliation of the cross.
St. Peter's was huge. It was big enough for several churches to fit
inside. It was so expensive that the church decided to finance it with
indulgences, the Visa debit card for sin. This practice are one of the
things that led to Martin Luther's revolt.

After a while, the shear number of items makes each individual item
seem less worthwhile. They were beautiful but overwhelming. For
example, we saw a guy sitting with his backpack directly touching a
2500 year old Egyptian stone sarcophagus. He must have figured it was
just another stone. The number of tourists is also overwhelming. No
priests or nuns were visible - just tourists.

When you claim to be "the Universal Church," and have your own
country, you can set an example by all you do:
-The Church serves Pepsi.
-The Church sees toilet seats as unholy
-The Church does not like shorts or bare shoulders and prefers
whispers to loud talking. We tried to dress respectfully, but there
were too many people for these policies to be enforced.
-The Church has a limited endorsement for air conditioning. It's more
for the types of art that require it.

On the way home, we found an Internet café for only €2.50/hour. There
was another café across the street-thank you competition for lowering
prices! We did some research for our Thursday - Friday trip to
Florence. We now know to look up bus routes in advance. Google maps
shows stops and times for today (it directs you to an Italian site for
future times). I'm also still trying to understand the timing of
getting to the airport. The Cotral buses are not good at publishing
schedules. I downloaded a 26 page document in Italian that might help.
I'll peruse it at home. I have figured out the airport train from the
Ponte Lunge metro is half the cost of the cost of the trip from the
Termini metro. The difference in distance is minimal, so I don't
understand the huge price difference and why all of the guidebooks
point people toward Termini. Anyway we can save about $15 and maybe
walk a little less because a single platform in Termini can be
hundreds of meters long. Lara also looked up some cheap apartment
options for Paris. Our house swap person had previously accepted the
swap but has been in communicado for the past few weeks.

That night, we ate again at the pizza place from our first night. L
calls it the best place we've been so far here.

By now, you realize this blog is about watches, internet, and toilets.
Everyday concerns often trump history and beauty. Nevertheless we are
enjoying the history and the city. The differences and exploring make
the trip worthwhile. Except the toilet seat shortage - that's just
wrong. We'll be contacting the European Court of Human Rights on that

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