Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Remember ... We are Officially Tourists!

So begins our life as an official "tourist" ... up early, hotel breakfast, and out to our Trafalgar bus for the day's scheduled sights. We are known as tourists #18 and assigned seating on the tour bus. Each day we rotate seating so that no one sits in the same spot twice. It's a great way to meet people as you have new aisle mates each day.
Today our schedule includes the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Bascilica. We arrived early to see a long line already forming. Because we are a tour group we quickly moved forward ... one of the strengths of being with a group! We had a local guide who provided commentary on all we were about to see.
The Sistine Chapel is the Pope's personal chapel and is famous for Michelangelo's pictorial story of creation, which is 12,000-square-feet, took four years to paint and contains 343 frescoed figures. When we entered the chapel we were told we could not take photos and there should be no talking. However, above the murmur of amazement we heard, "ssshhhhhh" over and over. You could also hear cameras snapping pictures here and there. Our group had twenty minutes to observe Michelangelo's work. As you looked up, you soon realized you had a neck ache. It sure would have been more comfortable with our travel pillows for this part of the tour!
We left this room and visited St. Peter's Basilica. This part of the tour had a dress code: no shorts, bare shoulders or mini-skirts. This is strictly enforced. The dome was beautiful ... it rises 435 feet and measures 138 feet across its base. No camera could capture how magnificent it is ... you simply must see this in person to understand its grandeur.
At the end of this tour we enjoyed a brief break to snack or rest before boarding the bus for our tour of ancient Rome and the Colosseum. It was only mid-morning and it was already quite warm.
Since our visit to the Colosseum several days ago was only from the outside, we were excited to walk around inside. Amazing to walk around something of this size built 2,000 years ago. Built in A.D. 80, this structure represents Rome at its grandest. It accommodated 50,000 fans and could be topped with an enormous canvas awning to shade the spectators. As we toured, it was hard to imagine being a long-ago spectator of so much violence and killing. Before we left this area we all posed for a group photo.

Since only twelve of us signed up for the catacomb tour it was canceled with a chance to reschedule at the end of our tour. We had been looking forward to this optional excursion. We returned to our room and I took a 3-hour nap while Walt worked on his journal and backed photos up to the computer.

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