Kathryn and Ken's European Vacation
All photos are the property of Ken Runquist and have been reduced in size for faster downloading.  The originals are 1280 x 960.  Contact me by email if you would like a larger size copy of any photo.
Day 40: Rome, Italy
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Day 36: Venice, Italy
Day 37: Venice, Italy
Day 38: Rome, Italy
Day 39: Rome, Italy
Day 40: Rome, Italy
Day 41: Rome Italy
Day 42: Florence, Italy
Day 43: Tirrenia (Pisa), Italy



Hotel Contilia


Mostly sunny with a high of 24C


Day 40: Saturday, October 14, 2006     Rome, Italy

Waiting at the Vatican

Today was our day to visit the Vatican.  You will notice Ken wearing pants in the photos.  This was one of only two days that he did not wear shorts on the entire 5y day trip - the Vatican has a serious dress code.  We got up at 6:00 am and went to the McDonald's by the train station for a croissant and cappuccino.  We decided to take the Metro from the railways station to the Vatican as the Vatican bus #64 is much advertised as being full of thieves and dirty old men.  We had signed up for an 8:00 am Vatican Museums tour with Ryan, our Palatine tour guide from the previous day but Ken misplaced the brochure he gave us and we didn't know whether to get off at the Ottavio or Cipro Metro stations - both were about 6 blocks from the Vatican.  We chose Cipro and started to worry when there was no one around that we recognized by 7:45 am. 

Finally, Ryan showed up about 7:55 and our group of 15 set out for the Vatican Museum at 8:10 am.  By the time we got there it was 8:30 and the lineup to get in was over three very long blocks.  The top photo shows the beginning of the line.  The line then turned right at the end of the building in the distant background.  The second photo then shows the second block of the line-up.  The line-up then turned to the right at the point where I am standing to take the second photo and goes for a third equally long block.  It then turned another corner and we were part way down that fourth block when we started.
The Vatican Museum opened at 8:45 am and we did not get in until 10:30 am.  Ken absolutely hates waiting in line but the time seemed to go much faster because there were interesting people from all over the world in our group.

The long wait was worth it after we finally got inside the Vatican Museums.  The Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani) are the public art and sculpture museums in the Vatican City, which display works from the extensive collection of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Julius II founded the museums in the 16th century. As of November 2006, it was visited by more than 4,000,000 people for the year.

We picked up our headphones - so we could her Ryan without disturbing others - and set out on tour.  There are thousands and thousands of paintings, statues and other pieces of art.  Ken was blown away by the artwork on the floors and ceilings alone.  One of the most impressive rooms was the 120 m long Gallery of Maps containing 40 panels of topographical maps of Italy.  After seeing all the other art, the Sistine Chapel was almost anticlimactic.  It was much smaller than expected.  Ryan gave us another informative and humourous tour.  Flash photography is forbidden in most of the Museum and no photos at all are permitted in the Sistine Chapel.  A montage of my photos can be seen below.  For more information on the Vatican museums, click here. 

Kathryn in the Gallery of Maps

The Museum was closing early that day so we left about 1:30.  Ken's knees were sore so we managed to talk our way into the Pope's elevator to get down to ground level rather than use the spiral staircase.  After the tiny elevator at our hotel, this one was huge.  It was the size of a small room and had benches and velvet covered walls.  I am so sorry I didn't take a picture.  There was still a block-long lineup when the closed the doors (who knows how long they had been waiting).  We stopped at the American Bar for a very good lunch and continued on around the Vatican City walls to St. Peter's Square

Ken sitting on the fountain in St. Peter's Square

If the Museum hadn't closed early, our tour ticket would have got us a back door entrance to St. Peter's Basilica.  There was another long lineup to go inside the Basilica, so we decided not to wait another two hours and just wandered around the Square.  It was neat to stand where we had seen crowds gather on television when the Pope was speaking.

We walked back to the Ottavio Metro station through quaint neighbourhoods which surround Vatican City.  Of course we had to stop for gelato.  The Metro was packed on the ride home and we kept our hands on our wallets.  Ken's knees were aching from all the standing so Kathryn found some ice for him and we had a nap.  We went out for dinner and dined outside in our shirtsleeves from 8:30 to 10:00 pm in the warm Rome evening.  The meal was excellent although we were interrupted by several street peddlers trying to sell us their wares - most restaurant have tables set up on the far side of the sidewalk and pedestrians walk done the aisle between your table and the restaurant building.  The restaurant staff was good at shooing them away.
Then it was back to the hotel and to bed for a much needed rest.

This is a montage of photos that I took in the Vatican Museums.  Click on a thumbnail for a larger view.

Click here for a slide show of a few more Day 40 photos.

Day 41

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