Okay, so I didn’t accomplish nearly as much today as I figured I would but it was a nice day.
Last night when I got back, I met one of my (barely) room-mates, a guy (I swear) whose name was Tito (???what it sounded like???) from Belgium. Nice guy, we talked a bit. I could tell the language barrier was there as the conversation would take wild turns as he misinterpreted my comments. You know, I ask “how long have you been here?” and he proceeds to tell me all about the weather back home where it’s snowing. Well…. Later I found out that he’d been here around a week and was, in fact, heading back today. He worried that he’d wake everyone in the morning (tho at this point, it was just the two of us). I told him I could sleep through a bomb, but I actually somewhat hoped his leaving would stir me up a bit early. He headed out for dinner and I collapsed into bed. Last I saw of him. Flat slept through his leaving and even until I heard the door shut behind the other two roomies?? I only know because the other two beds had obviously been used. I must have been dead to the world. It was nearly 10am!
I decided I needed a heavy breakfast and went to McD’s for a mcmuffin. This did not taste like back home I have to say. And if there were hash browns on the menu, I did not identify them. Still, gobbled and ran. Somehow managed to successfully navigate the bus network to San Pietro and saw the Basillica rise up above me. Then I saw the line… ouch… The late start and the size of the lines told me today there would have to be a choice between St. Peter’s or the Vatican Museums. I chose St. Peter’s as I’d heard the lines are shorter… I hate to think of what the other one looked like if this is the case. I was in line close to an hour. Made all the rougher by the fact that there was a gentle mist falling and the line wrapped all the way around the famous square. It was longer when I got to the front. This would be when a rude family started trying to slip in with the group I’ d been standing with for nearly an hour. Some of us managed to keep them out of our part of the line but they still entered behind us… grumble…
I got an audio guide and had planned to see the basillica and then take the trip to the dome. The weather had other plans. By the time I came out, I could tell it had rained harder for awhile and the dome was closed. Still, the inside was beautiful. The most crowded place I have ever been considering its size. As big as it was, there were more people still. Trying to go anywhere others didn’t want to was swimming upstream. I’ll definitely go back for the Musuem. And if possible, I’d still like to see the Dome (on a more agreeable day) and the Grottoes.
Afterward, I wandered over to Castle Sant’Angelo. Long ago, this was the site of Hadrian’s Mausoleum, and the stump of that serves as the basis for the Castle, which was used in the past as a stronghold for the Popes. There was a connection to the Basillica through which the Pope could flee to the safety of the castle if threatened. Really a great place. Awesome views and, lo and behold, actual signage! And much of the signage had english translations! Heaven on earth!
Afterwards, I decided it was time to head back this way. I thought briefly of going by foot. Then I looked at a map and realized that I had no idea how far it really was and if there was a direct way, I missed it. I decided to wait… and wait… and wait for a bus… When one finally showed up going to Termini, it was rapidly full. You know that commercial – I think it was for dial soap? At any rate for soap or deodorant or something. Well, I wish more people on that bus had used it. Add to that, a guy doubled over in pain sitting on one of the seats… Drunk I hope? Or we were all exposed to the next version of the black death… When the bus finally got to Termini, it literally exploded as people flew out the doors. Stop after stop, no one had gotten off and no one had been able to get on…
So, the bulk of today is over. Shortly out to get something to eat (first since breakfast except for that bag of M&M’s that I had while waiting to get into San Pietro… Then gather up what I’m going to do to ring in the New Year’s. There’s a big free concert literally a stones throw from where I’m staying, so that is the leading contender.
Today’s observations. Rome is a land where grafitti artists are either admired or free to run rampant or both. I really think I have seen more grafitti per square mile than anywhere. I think the difference is back home, the stuff has its bounds. You can tell gangland by the grafitti. Here it’s everywhere one looks. Second, based on the limited observation of one store, I think the Romans are total chocolate fiends While I searched a candy store, I found it nearly impossible to find non-choc candy. But on the positive side, I’ve never seen PLAIN M&M’s in the UK.