Thursday, June 19, 2014

6 Days Itinerary In Italy - Day 3 Visiting The Pope!

Date of Travel: 17-22 Jan 2014

Day 3 - Sunday 19 Jan 2014: Visiting the Pope!

This is Vatican City

We started the day shopping at Termini Station. Why? To locate underwear! It was becoming increasingly urgent to locate where to buy underwear, so we found very expensive ones indeed. From memory, 2 pairs for €25 of Calvin Klein. Bought it reluctantly. We did not expect our next stop to buy underwear. Who buys underwear at a flea market?? Apparently, Italians do. 6 pairs for €10

We walked to Via di S. Maria Maggiore to look for the bus stop opposite Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, to take Bus #75 to Porta Portese Flea Market. This flea market is only open every Sunday around Via Portuense from 6:30am - 2:30pm. Warning - watch out for pick pockets! I saw one in action too. A kid about 12 was following an elderly man, and reach out his hand into his jacket pocket, and quickly retracted it when the guy turned a bit, and the kid continued to follow him, waiting for the right opportunity to try again. I ended up buying Murano glass necklaces here. Many shops but mostly selling the same stuff.
Porta Portese Flea Market - Beware of Pickpockets!

How do I look?

How can they afford to sell them so cheap? Are they hot goods?

The 3 Murano glass pendants we brought home

We hopped on a bus to the Vatican City. To my surprise, there was no immigration nor security check to enter the smallest nation in the world. On certain Sundays, the Pope himself will appear at a window to give a sermon/speech/prayer. Since it's entirely in Italian, I have no idea what he is saying. But we were amazed at the number of people here.

We decided to queue to enter the Basilica of St Peter while waiting for the Pope. It was a long and snake-y line. When we were halfway to the entrance, a group of women & children, about 6 of them, just reversed into the queue where we were standing at, and held their I-Pads pointing at the Basilica, pretending to take photos. They stood there a long time and refused to budge. They eventually melted into the queue. I tried telling them politely to queue at the back, they ignored me. I repeated loudly, still no effect. I nudged them a bit with my body, still nothing. Then more and more people joined them, and the queue-cutter group became about 12. I simply overtook them, and stood in front of the group, loudly muttering that people who cheat in a place of God will get their karma soon. Hmph!

Entering the Gates of Vatican City

An hour to go, already so crowded. Christmas decorations were still in place

When we finally made it into the Basilica, we were so rushed since the Pope was coming out soon. We eventually gave up and ran out to see him first. He was sooooooooooo tiny at the window, but it lasted about 20 minutes and the crowd was frantically waving country flags and banners, hoping to be noticed. The crowd finally dispersed, and we decided to have lunch first before going up the tower inside the Basilica, also known as The Cupola.

Hello Pope Francis!

A zoomed-in view of the Pope
Since we were so hungry and needed a rest, we picked a restaurant just very nearby the gate. It looked so lively, and is what I know Italian restaurants should look like. And it turned out to be my favourite meal in Italy!
Nice atmosphere inside

This chicken looked fantastic!

Can you see the size of that sandwich? It was humongous!
We were too greedy and ended up ordering 5 dishes, for just 3 of us. Hahaha. The bill came to €80 as well! But it was much nicer than the previous night's dinner.

Yummy salad with super yummy mozzarella cheese balls

One large pizza - oh so good

Very perfectly cooked Spaghetti Bolognese

The chicken drumsticks that I couldn't resist

Grilled eggplant which came with some quiche-like topping
So fabulous. So filling. So satisfying!
Ok time to tackle the Cupola! It costs €7 to use the lift inside the Cupola. What I did not know was, that there was still an additional 320 steps to climb after taking the lift! OMG! So tiring. The problem with climbing is, that the path is very very narrow and slanting to one side. The pictures will explain everything.

Inside the Basilica

The view you get after taking the lift up

The start of the Cupola climb

These ancient locks still work?

I had to walk SENGET! Totally SENGET!

It keeps getting narrower and narrower

Got some more ah??

The final part to the top

After all that climbing, what do I get? A truly breathtaking view of Vatican City. It was drizzling and windy, perfect to cool me down after such a climb. After getting down, you will exit inside the Basilica itself and can then wander around.
Aerial view of Vatican City, from the top of Cupola

Back inside the Basilica, it was magnificent

After such a tiring climb up and down, we decided to head back to the hotel for some much needed rest. On the way back, we were rewarded with a double rainbow. A perfect birthday present for me for the following day.

We all had a nap around 6pm. Guess what? Nobody bothered to set the alarm, and nobody woke up until it was in the middle of the night! WK woke up, saw his phone was 9+pm and it was all dark, and his first thought was "Sh*t.. they went for dinner without me!". But just slept through the night till the next morning. What a tiring day!!

Continue reading on Europe2014:
How I Ended Up In Norway In Jan 2014
6 Days Itinerary In Italy - Day 1 & 2
6 Days Itinerary In Italy - Day 3 Visiting The Pope!
6 Days Itinerary In Italy - Day 4 Napoli & Pompeii
6 Days Itinerary In Italy - Day 5 & 6 Florence
4 Days in Barcelona - Intended Itinerary
4 Days In Barcelona - Day 1 
4 Days in Barcelona - Day 2
4 Days In Barcelona - Day 3 & 4
4 Days In Berlin - Intended Itinerary
4 Days In Berlin - Day 1
4 Days In Berlin - Day 2, 3 & 4
Northern Lights in Tromso, Norway - Day 1
Northern Lights in Tromso, Norway - Day 2
Northern Lights in Tromso Norway - Day 3 & 4  

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