Tuesday, July 1, 2014

April 13–Roma!

The Travelpod today was written by Lizzie and is in italics below. Any new comments will be in regular text.

Hey hey. Lizzie here.
Ok. So our plan was to get up earlyish and bring the car back to the big train station in Roma, head back to see if we could see the Pope during his Sunday public visit and figure out the rest of the day. Then we realized it was Palm Sunday! We would be in Vatican City on Palm Sunday! That is awesome! We got up and went together to bring the car to the rental company. It was a bit of a challenge to find it, but we concurred without too much trouble. 

Check out the colorful levels of the parking garage.2014-04-13-09-07-58_IMG_15752014-04-13-09-08-20_IMG_1577

We left our little red Fiat 500L with 1250 km on the odometer. When we picked it up it only had 24 km on it. It was a brand new car and we were its first owners.

On our way out, Doug realized his Fitbit was missing! We hurried back to the car, but it was not there. We looked everywhere, but no Fitbit. He was beyond done. I told him I had another Fitbit in the room incase one of us lost ours during the trip, but he was having NONE of it. He said they are too expensive to keep losing and he is done. To this day (I am writing this on June 19, he has yet to put a Fitbit back on his body.)

We headed out into the streets of Roma. Doug wanted to try the Metro/public transportation. I must say it is very confusing. They say there are only two lines underground, but when you get down there that is just not the case (doug side note – there actually are only 2 metro lines. The maps are slightly more confusing, but as I understand it, there are only 2 underground lines).

Then there are above ground buses and trams that are all numbered. I was very confused and we really had no idea where/what we were doing (doug side note: the lady that sold us the ticket told us to go back to Termini and take the number 40 or the number 64 bus). I asked a few times if we could take a taxi, but db said no. So we wandered around and around until we got on a tram. That went to Termini (where we had just left) and then looped around and we found ourselves going the wrong way on the tram.

We got off and Doug finally let me get a taxi. I was frustrated we went the wrong way and Doug was frustrated I did not let him learn how to use public transportation. (doug again: I read the map inside the tram, and I thought we got lucky and picked a tram that actually went out to San Pietro. I was wrong. It hit Termini and turned around. It seems inefficient, and maybe it isn't, but Lizzie was not happy about public transportation (and never will be))

This was the only real fight we got into the ENTIRE trip. Pretty good for driving all over Italy and 16 days together. Smile

I have learned that I can handle/put up with some public transportation, but once we end up the wrong way I am done with it. So Doug (finally) let me get a taxi. I went into a nearby hotel and 5 minutes later we were on our way to our hotel. Our hotel is about 1 block away from the Vatican.

(That is another issue with the public transportation – we were going to the Vatican on PALM SUNDAY…can you imagine the crowd and how crowded the subways/buses, etc would be?) As we got closer to the hotel, the roads became blocked because of the MASSIVE crowd in the Vatican. Why was it so crowded? Oh, because Pope Francis I was saying mass outdoors starting at 9:30 am. That’s why. We got out of the taxi a few blocks away and walked to our hotel.

Once in the room, I got online and learned that the Pope was saying mass at that time so we opened the windows and heard the music and the mass going on. Of course, we could not understand a bit of it, but it still sounded beautiful. The streets were full of people carrying palms, but mostly olive branches which is evidently what the Romans carry instead of palms. So is it really Olive Sunday? I like Palm Sunday better.

Since the Pope said mass, we were unsure if he would still do his public appearance at noon, but we wanted to find out. It is free on Sundays to see the Pope at noon. We headed out there, but the surrounding area was still so full of people who had attended the mass and their massive palms
. We swam upstream and got into the Vatican.

2014-04-13-04-20-06_IMG_1676It was so incredibly crowded still. We took a few photos and then left for lunch. No go on the Pope’s public appearance….I guess he was in public for 2 hours that morning though.

We walked back to the hotel and it was swarming with mass attendees and people selling palms. We grabbed a table at a little café and ate lunch. It was Meh. Our first Meh meal here.

Then we went up to the room to take a siesta. Before the nap, I looked out the window and saw a palm seller toss some palms into the trash bins in front of our hotel. In true dumpster diving fashion, I went down three flights, dug in the trash and got the palms. (It was not actually that impressive – they were sitting in cardboard boxes on top. I did not actually touch any trash)2014-04-13-05-04-30_IMG_1677

When we woke up we made a Roma plan. We looked at mass times and decided we would go to church in the Vatican even though we would not be able to understand them. We packed the bag and headed to the gates of St. Peters. I have been to the Vatican before so I knew which line to get into for security. We headed that way and we entered the line with nun. I assume she was a Roman nun as she shot through the line like the Romans drive their cars. She was cutting people off left and right. If the nun is doing it, we can do right? So I followed her. No one said anything to her – I mean she is a nun.2014-04-13-07-43-46_IMG_16902014-04-13-07-43-54_IMG_1691

We got into the vast St. Peters and headed up to the front right away to find out where they were having mass. After some confusion we figured out where to enter and went to the front of St. Peters for Palm Sunday Mass. Oh I forgot! On our way in there were olive branches discarded everywhere from the Pope’s mass. Since they were blessed, I picked up Pope blessed olive branches! (I hope I can bring them into the states.) 2014-04-13-07-42-37_IMG_16792014-04-13-07-42-39_IMG_1680

Back to mass…we sat near the front of the alter and attended the mass. Doug said he could understand some of it. 2014-04-13-08-44-12_IMG_1709

(doug: some things were easy, others were more difficult. Since it was Palm Sunday, we knew what the mass was about at least, so I think I understood more than I would have if I wasn’t already familiar with the reading. The homily was something about how "My God, why have you abandon me" was not cried in desperation, but something else that I didn’t understand. But the priest said it a whole lot. I shared what I knew with Lizzie and we just went with it for the rest)  2014-04-13-08-42-36_IMG_1705

I said all the English versions of the responses. Sometimes people were standing when they were supposed to be sitting and in the reverse.  I just kept telling Doug to do what the nuns do. There were about 15 nuns attending the same mass so when they stood, I stood. When they sat, I sat. I am so smart.


After mass, we followed Rick Steves’ St. Peters tour from our tour book. We saw the spot where Peter was crucified (upside down), the Pieta, the tombs of Popes you can actually see (some are white and some are sliver), and the surprise was seeing Pope John Paul II’s tomb. Last time I was here, it was down in the crypt, but right now he is in St. Peters Basilica! There was a large line to see Pope JPII so I knelt and prayed where I could see him. It was an honor to see him again.2014-04-13-09-54-44_IMG_17402014-04-13-09-55-46_IMG_17432014-04-13-09-48-59_IMG_1729

We left St. Peters as it started to sprinkle. We headed back to the hotel (so close and convenient) to make a plan and grab rain gear. We got to the room and made a list of must-see’s while in Roma. We planned out the next 3 days, requested tickets to see the Pope on Wednesday before our flight and cleaned up for the night. We headed out with a plan to see the sights of Roma at night.

We walked by St. Peter’s (beautiful at night), crossed the Tiber and went to Piazza Navona (the famous fountain in the piazza – Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi)2014-04-13-12-11-59_IMG_1751

and then the Pantheon. 2014-04-13-12-23-28_IMG_1758

We then walked to the famous gelato stand Gilotti and while Doug was getting gelato, I was making friends. I met Alfio as he was working the cappuccino bar.


I asked him if he was busy, he said I was not busy, but he was. Then he looked in my guide book to see where we were headed next – Trevi Fountain. He said OHH the fountain! He then proceeded to try to tell me how to get there. (In Roma – it is almost impossible to give easy directions.) Then he said I had to throw money in the fountain and I told him he should do it. His English was pretty good, but most of this conversation was using lots of hand gestures. 2014-04-13-12-41-21_IMG_1763

Then he held up a 5 cent coin and showed me that I had to go to the fountain, throw his coin, yell his name, video it and then bring the video back to him tomorrow night. If I did all that, he would give me gelato! During our conversation, Doug was in another room, but could see me. At one point I was laughing (the Lizzie laugh) and I caught Doug staring at me trying to see why I was laughing. Alfio was why.

Once Doug had his ice cream, he met Alfio and Alfio told him he had to video me throwing the coin into the fountain. Doug agreed and off we went (doug: he had me at free gelato). We got to the fountain and it was packed. It always is. 2014-04-13-12-56-29_IMG_1765

We took some photos and then I made my way to the front and threw Alfio’s coin into the fountain just as he requested.

Alfio’s Coin being tossed!

We left there and found the Spanish Steps. We started at the top and walked the entire stretch of the steps. I feel the steps are pretty underwhelming, but we got a cute photo.2014-04-13-13-26-46_IMG_1773

Then we headed back towards our hotel to find somewhere to eat. We found a nice little restaurant 3 blocks from our hotel and ate a fine dinner. It was delicious. We finally got home around 11 pm, posted the previous blog and crashed.

The day was overall very cool – we got to hear the Pope say mass. Does if count if we can hear him that we went to mass twice? We saw many of the Roma tourist traps and visited St. Peters. We attended church IN the Vatican and we got to see PJPII.

Only a few days left of our adventure. It has flown by.
Love and Hugs, Lizzie

Lizzie Fitbit: 20,471
Doug Fitbit: no longer exists. Sad smile

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