Search This Blog

Friday, 15 June 2012

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day...

Hello everyone!

We're back in our hostel in Rome - we've had food, we've had water and we've had A LOT of exercise.

And now we are DEAD.

As this was our only full day in Rome, we wanted to do and see as much as possible, so that's what we've done. As we didn't do any proper travelling today, it also felt like we were making good use of our time and doing what we like best: experiencing the places.

Everyone told us before the trip that there is so much to do in Rome that you can never hope to do it all, even if we were here for more than three days. This is definitely true. And with this in mind, we've chosen the things that have interested us most and the things that people have recommended most so that we could get the best experience possible.

Rome is an interesting city. It reminds me a bit of Paris but with many more historical sites, in places that you wouldn't expect too. Also, the drivers are FUCKING MANIACS. Actually, this applies to the whole of Italy. About 10 times now, when there's been a red light and pedestrians have been able to cross, people have driven through the red light either just before you cross the right side of the road, or just after. And sometimes they just don't give a shit and almost drive straight into you. What the fuck? Do they know the purpose of traffic lights?!

But it's been ok generally, and the stuff that we've done has more than made up for this risk to our lives.

For example, today...


So where I left you in the previous post, me and Sam had just had breakfast and we were getting ready to go out. That was a very good breakfast.

I think I also mentioned something about 'catholic bitches'. By the way, that was not intended to be offensive towards catholic people. I was using the word 'bitches' to mean 'people'. As many of you will know, I do that a lot... using an unnecessarily strong word to describe something simple. I'll give you a quick lesson if you like. Shit = stuff. Bitches/Motherfuckers etc. = people. To change from plural to singular, simply take off the 's' or 'es'.  I can't actually think of any more now... if you read back through the blog you'll probably find some. Be enlightened.

Anyway, the first place we headed to was the Vatican City, which was only like 7 stops or something for the tube station close to our hostel. We packed up all of our important stuff in our bag so that it wouldn't get stolen from our hostel room (LOL) and headed down.

When we got to our tube station, we wanted to buy two daily passes, which costs 12 euros in total (this is actually really good, especially considering how spread out everything is REALLY need the tube).

But the ticket machines are fucking shit. They make no sense.

First of all, there are slots so that cards can be used, but apparently...THEY CAN'T BE USED. We found this out from a man at the station. Well why the fuck are they there then? It doesn't exactly impress people either when we're holding them up from getting their tickets because we're desperately trying to get our card to work in a machine that doesn't accept cards.

Not only this, but also the maximum amount of change that the machine can give is 6 euros. Which is just perfect when all you have is a 50 euro note. Even if we paid with a 20, there would still be too much change. What a shit design.

The same man that told us that the machines didn't accept cards told us that you can buy metro tickets from newsagents', and he directed us to one just outside the station. We bought our two daily passes there and headed off for the Vatican.

It didn't take long to get there, and from the metro it was about a 300m walk up the road.

All along this road there were these men selling handbags, we've seen them everywhere... they have them attached to rope and hold the rope so that they can't be stolen. Ironically, it looks like the bags were stolen in the first place. There were so many here though, and there were others selling sunglasses and stupid toys. Who actually buys that shit?!

So we then entered the Vatican through the large, white columns and into St. Peter's Square. This is what we saw.

We stood still for a while and just took it all in.

There main attraction in the St. Peter's Square area is the Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica), the largest church in the world (it doesn't count as a cathedral) and famed for its association with Michelangelo and the Renaissance era in general.

We were told by a couple at breakfast this morning that you should get to the Vatican very early to avoid queues that would take an hour or more. This almost convinced us to do something else today and wake up early to go there tomorrow, but we took our chances.

It really paid off. Although the queue was like a million miles long, it moved very quickly and it didn't really feel like you were waiting in a queue. So much so that a few people were happy to overtake everyone else just to get there a minute earlier... there was no point!

The main cause of the queues were the x-rays and detectors that have to be passed through before you can enter the area close to the basilica. But these were quite quick to do and me and Sam got through the cue in about 10 minutes.

Here are some pictures we took after going through security and before entering the basilica:


Before entering the Basilica itself, you go into this amazing decorative hallway:


We then realised that you didn't actually have to pay anything to get into the basilica, another thing we were misled about. And when you see this shit, you'll realise why it is so incredible that it's free.

This is what you see when you walk in.


This place is incomprehensible.

You lose all sense of scale. And that's scale in terms of size, the work that went into this place, the time period in which everything was created.

It is beautiful.

I'll now take you on a photo tour of our walk through the basilica:

Arches and stuff!

One of the beautiful painted ceilings in the cathedral, there were four of these I think?!

A memorial to one of the Queens of Sweden, according to a tour guide we passed. Why it is in St. Peter's Basilica I do not know.

A very ornate door:

An incredible painting:

The ceiling design:

Notice the light beam coming in from the aperture in the ceiling:

I don't actually know what this is, but it looks AMAZING. It sits in front of the altar.

More curvy things:

The sarcophagus of one of the former Popes, encased inside the altar!

It took a while to walk around because there was so much to look at and there were so many other tourists. But considering that it's FREE to go into the place...we couldn't believe our luck.

After this, we decided to go to the cupola, or dome, of the basilica - this means climbing up inside the cathedral to reach the top. We saw a sign for it earlier, and as it said that we had to pay, we decided to do it after.

It was 5 euros each for us as we decided not to get the elevator, which meant that we would have had to pay 7 euros each. But we figured that we would save 4 euros and it would feel better after climbing over 500 steps (we saw how many there were before!), so it would give us a better experience. Also, Sam needs to lose weight, so that was my reasoning.

We climbed what seemed like a million steps, spiralling upwards until we were dizzy.

This is the sign we saw at the top:


So anyway, this is what we saw from the top of the staircase:

A nice little tower.

The tower with a view over the city (it might be quite hard for you to see!)

A view over a different part of the Vatican:

We then saw that there was a door to go INSIDE the cathedral. So we took a look.


We were right near the top of the dome!

It is fucking insane.

The dome was designed by Michelangelo too. Incredible.

Here are some more pictures:

Me and the mosaic wall!

Look at all the little tourists!


This was mind-blowing, and a little bit scary too! If there wasn't a fucking great metal fence in the way it would have been much worse!

This itself was worth the 5 euros we paid.

And then we saw more stairs!


Thinking about it, we hadn't climbed 500-odd steps yet.

So up we went again. And this is the part where you think you've been drugged:

The stairs curve around the shape of the dome!!!

I bashed my head twice. Your head gets completely messed up.

Then there were a couple of tiny tiny spiral staircases to manoeuvre. You have to step on the very outside of the steps so that your feet can actually stay on them!

And then we got to the top.

Not for the first time today, WHAT THE FUCK.

We had NO IDEA what this was going to be like when we got to the top. I didn't even really know where we were climbing to.


There was so many people in such a small space; it was difficult to get to the edge to look out.

When we did, we were stunned. You can see the whole of Rome...

St. Peter's Square in the Vatican!

More stuff in Rome:

Crazy hair!!

The very top of the basilica.

We stayed up here for about 20 minutes. The view was ridiculous.

Sam also smacked his head on one of these columns...hahahahahaha. But it gave him a pretty bad headache which he kept moaning about, so that was the annoying aspect for me.

We then barged our way through to the exit. Thank god the way you go down is different to the way up! That could have caused problems.

Here's Sam on the way down:

We then stopped off on the floor where we'd been before - the one where we went inside to see the inside of the dome - to refill our water bottles and eat some stuff. Here's the outside part:

And then we finally made our way back down to the ground again.

That was probably the best 10 euros we have spent on this trip.

It was about 4.30pm at this point, and we'd planned to see more of Rome outside of the Vatican today. So we headed off to the Bridge of Angels and it's associated castle, which was basically just down the road.

When we got there, we didn't go inside the castle (there was more stuff to do and we would have had to pay), but we took a few photos:

Here's the castle:

And here's the Bridge of Angels:

So that was nice!

From here, our nearest station was by the Piazza del Popolo, which looked interesting from the tiny drawing of it on the map (not the best way to judge how good a place is I know). So we planned a little riverside walk to it, and saw some interesting things along the way:

Table football...EVERYWHERE.

A pretty nice building:

An exquisite neo-Gothic (as Sam tells me) church.

Bridge and river.

I can't remember what this building is called...but I LIKE IT.

And we eventually ended up at the Piazza del Popolo.

In the centre of it was an Egyptian obelisk, which you see in a lot of random places in Rome, including the Vatican strangely enough.

Sphinx statues add to the Egyptian theme.

There was also a fountain of Neptune.

We hung around here for a little bit and drank some water. Exciting stuff.

We had one more thing to visit after this - the Spanish Steps. This is a large, winding set of steps in the Piazza de Spagna.

So we got on the tube nearest to the Piazza del Popolo and got off a few stops later at 'Spagna'.

The steps were just round the corner. Here they are:

The tower thing at the top.

The view from the top.

A sundial thing on the was correct to GMT +1 rather than BST +1 so it was an hour behind. Me and Sam couldn't work out what the numbers on the left were for though!

There were SO MANY TOURISTS. It was ridiculous! And it was hard to get a photo without someone getting in the way. But it was a nice area.

After this, we had nothing else planned specifically. One thing we did need to find, though, was a supermarket...we needed FOOD!

So we looked around the Spagna area to see if we could find anything. We couldn't however I had another piano encounter...

We found a Steinway shop. Steinway do fucking amazing (yet mind-blowingly expensive) pianos. It was opposite a music school where we could hear piano playing. I was almost in heaven.

The sign on the shop door said open, but the door did not open.


We then saw on a door that there was a number to ring, and realised that you probably had to call to go inside because they wouldn't let any old urchin with grubby hands in. They'd probably want to know my family's income history too to see if I am of a satisfactory social class.

So we didn't go in *sad face*

We decided to get the tube back to our hostel and see if we could find one around there. We hadn't explored the region around our hostel much, so we knew there was a chance.

Luckily, we found a small independent supermarket which did EVERYTHING we needed.

A lot of the residents in our area are Chinese, so there was a lot of rice and noodles. As our hostel has free kitchen access, we got four packets of flavoured noodles.

HOT FOOD!! What luxury!!

We also got the usual stuff: fruit, bread, biscuits. And then we headed back to the hostel.

We had our noodles. They were FUCKING AMAZING. And they filled us up well. We still have a packet each too, so that's good.

And that brings you up to date for today!!


This is Jack from the present talking (i.e. from Geneva). So this post was for 13th June.

It was a brilliant day; we really experienced a lot and saw some of the great sights of Rome. I hope you enjoyed the pictures, we certainly took plenty!

The next post in this trilogy will be for the day after (oh wait that's obvious): our last day in Rome and then our night in Milan before we headed out to Geneva today (15th June...even though I'm writing this past midnight so it's now the FUCKING CONFUSING).

So stay tuned and see more amazing things from Rome!

We're catching up!

Also, we got to 2000 pageviews the other day!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! It's a really good feeling. I'm so glad that so many other people can experience this with us. I hope it's entertaining for you.

So the next post will be soon.

Thanks and good night!

Jack - 16/6/12 - 00:23 in Geneva, 11:23 in London (although writing about the 13th June...LOL)

No comments:

Post a Comment