Europe Cruise 2012 – Vatican City (Day 9)

Much like getting on the ship, getting off the ship was pretty easy since we were among a very small group disembarking in Civitavecchia. It was somewhat more crowded versus when we got on, just because lots of people were getting off the ship to tour either Rome or Civitavecchia.

I hadn’t noticed it when we were in Civitavecchia before, but there was this giant statue memorializing the arrival of US sailors in this port during WWII.

Europe Cruise 2012

Our plan for the day was to take the train back into Rome, drop off our bags at the hostel, and then head over to Vatican City. Vatican City is another area where I took a ton of pictures, so I’m just going to sum up two highlights. The thing to know about Vatican City, though, is that it is/was SUPER crowded. Like, you know how the trains were “shove yourself in” crowded? Vatican City was that crowded. There were tons of tour groups holding up every thing imaginable to distinguish themselves from the others.

Europe Cruise 2012

Europe Cruise 2012

It was hot and sweaty, made worse by the Vatican’s draconian dress code (pants or skirts must be ankle length, no bare shoulders, etc.). I mailed some postcards so that folks would get the Vatican postmark before we went into the museum proper. Once we were in the museum, it was hard to enjoy the art, in part because there was tons of it everywhere and in part because of the sweltering, loud, rude, and shoving crowd.

I learned that the Vatican put fig leaves over all the penises of the statues, for modesty.

Europe Cruise 2012

They didn’t have a problem showing a multi-titted Egyptian goddess, though.

Europe Cruise 2012

The ceilings in one area were painted in a trompe l’oeil style that was really remarkable.

Europe Cruise 2012

The tape on one of them gave away the trick, though.

Europe Cruise 2012

They had a statue painted up to replicate the way that the marble statues looked in ancient times. The only reason they’re all white now is because the paint wore off with time. The statues were typically very colorful, and depictions of ancient Rome as this white marble area are inaccurate.

Europe Cruise 2012

You’re not allowed to take photos in the Sistine Chapel, but we must have spent at least forty minutes in there. It was breathtaking. After that, we saw St. Peter’s Square, where the Pope speaks about popey things. They were disassembling it from where he had addressed the crowd earlier in the day.

Europe Cruise 2012

Then, we went into St. Peter’s Basilica, where I fought my way through a crowd in order to see (from at least eighty feet away) Michaelangelo’s Pieta.

Europe Cruise 2012

Meanwhile, DH toured the rest of the basilica. Then, we met up outside the basilica and started making our way out.

Leaving Vatican City proved to be a challenge. We got directed through a tunnel and into a structure like a parking garage to find the bus stop, but it turned out to be a meeting place for tour buses, not a city bus stop. Then, we went outside that area and couldn’t find a bus stop that should have been there. DH was consulting maps when a priest stopped and asked if we needed help. He had an American accent, so I’m guessing he was visiting. We asked about the bus and he directed us back up a ways to a very hard to find bus sign. We thanked him and trotted over to the bus stop, where we were soon met by the cutest bus in the world!

Europe Cruise 2012

I wanted to ride it all day. 🙂 But, we were only going down to the river with intent to walk over to the Jewish quarter. We saw a temple, that I think I photographed but can’t seem to find the picture. We also saw a bridge that used to be the bridge used by Jews to cross from their area to the city for work. At one point (fairly long ago), Rome made the Jews live in the crappy part of town, on the riverbank that flooded constantly. Nowadays, that area is a trendy and young area with lots of eateries and entertainment.

Europe Cruise 2012

Europe Cruise 2012

Europe Cruise 2012

We went over there to eat at a place that was commended for its chocolate calzones. I got pizza without cheese that was delightful, and we used the wi-fi.

I should note that we had a bit of a crisis trying to find an ATM while in this area. We eventually found one, once DH guided us to the “main drag”, but it was worrisome. We were really low on Euros, and we couldn’t eat or drink until we’d found some money. But, we ended up in an area with a movie theater, and a bank was nearby, so that solved that problem.

After dinner, we made our way back to the hostel to pack up and get ready for a super-early departure to the airport.

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