A Travellerspoint blog

Our religious epiphany day-Rome

For those of you inquisitive enough "Matthew 2:1 - 12" - thanks Mr Google

sunny 30 °C

Whilst neither Mandy or I are in anyway religious beyond as required occasions attending church, a visit to Rome could not be considered achieved unless one visits the big fella. The Vatican eluded me on my last visit here when Pope John Paul was in the chair, but could not miss visiting Pope Benedict or, as his mates call him, Big Benny.

We picked up a few steaks and off we went to have a BBQ with Big Benny. Finally found a laundromat on the way much to Mandy's relief.

Italian's are serious about Laundry

Italian's are serious about Laundry

We were warned about the queues so we purchased our tickets before arriving. Also important in this heat not to be held up with a couple of Porterhouses in the backpack, not to mention the prawns.

The crowds were starting to form.

The crowds were starting to form.

Arrived at the "meeting place of the faithful" St Peter's square and I was genuinely amazed at how big it is. Not the place for a BBQ with only 2 pieces of meat and a few prawns for the hotplate.

Meeting Place of the Masses

Meeting Place of the Masses

Announced our arrival and whilst we waited for Ben to get us, I struck up a conversation with a couple of goobahs. Sorry, goddamns or yanks as they are better known. They were pretty hung up on the dress code and suggested that I would not get in with only shorts on. I said it was lucky that I was wearing shorts at all. I wanted to wear speedo's given the heat and the BBQ. Mandy as always, very conscious of etiquette felt that speedo's would be a little underdressed given that Ben would likely have sausages on the grill. In speedo's, there could be some confusion and personal damage if I got too near to the grill.

We were collected by staff and asked to put on a yellow sticker and follow them past the masses queueing. Pays to be ahead of the game.

Entering the Vatican Museum's

Entering the Vatican Museum's

The Vatican Museum is probably not such a spot for Hypocrites such as me. It pretty much highlights the plundering of other heritages and maybe this is not such a great thing. I might be a little unfair as a guest but I would like for example, to look at Egyptian Antiquities in the land of their creation. Maybe a bit heavy for this blog but I wasn't expecting such "in your face displays".

Egyptian Antiquities

Egyptian Antiquities

So to a lighter note. Passed through the locker room of the Popes first 11 team. The lockers were pretty flash for a National team in a place with no decent oval. Names above each locker were a bit confusing. I couldn't see one for Wally Lewis the King.

The Boys Locker Room with individual spaces

The Boys Locker Room with individual spaces

The oval was a little disappointing, looked green enough but full of clover.

Vatican Oval - Lots of Clover but no training

Vatican Oval - Lots of Clover but no training

Into the St Peter's Basilica and it was suggested that I acknowledge the gathering of masses upon the square. In fairness they may have travelled from far and wide and this was a special occasion.

Acknowledging the troops gathered in the St Peter's Square

Acknowledging the troops gathered in the St Peter's Square

The Vatican Museum never failed to amaze, at every turn there was something a little different. The romans in the era of Nero had a saying about large feet, large ............ Yet here is an example of one of the biggest feet that I have ever seen and yet?

Big feet

Big feet

Small other things

Small other things

Visited the Sistene Chapel along with a very large crowd and posted a card to our friends.

Despatching a postcard from the Vatican City

Despatching a postcard from the Vatican City

On the way to the backyard Mandy entertained the visitors with her trick of balancing a pot on her head. Got a great laugh from the Vatican Guards...not

Talented woman, strong neck muscles from the gym work.

Talented woman, strong neck muscles from the gym work.

After the forced exit from the Vatican (thanks Mandy, I was enjoying myself and looking forward to lunch with Benny) we walked the square and mingled with the locals.

Then it was off to visit the Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna.

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

Also happens to be the site where John Keats passed away in 1821 from consumptive breath. (not Mr Google this time but me) The steps are well worn and we climbed to the top amongst the many hawkers and beggars. Stayed for a quiet drink at a cafe overlooking the steps and watched the world pass by. Mandy had a Virgin Mojito ( Mojito = lime, mint, ice, dry ginger and sugar. Virgin = well lets move on shall we) which she said was excellent. I had a Heineken with lime and that was also really good given the temperature.

Cafe overlooking the Spanish Steps

Cafe overlooking the Spanish Steps

Looking down from the top to Piazza below

Looking down from the top to Piazza below

And then after a pretty full day we had dinner at the local restaurant....sic (which doesn't serve food - but that's a story for another edition) went back to our room and had porterhouse steak with off prawns instead whilst watching the sun go down over Rome. Tomorrow or tonight could be very interesting.

Sunset on Day 4 in Rome

Sunset on Day 4 in Rome

A very long day indeed and tomorrow brings us to our final day with a 7pm night rail trip to Vienna.

Posted by mandt0413 13:34 Archived in Vatican City Comments (0)

One Week down already - Shopping and more sites

sunny 26 °C

Friday nearly done and a week since we left Oz. Seems longer.

The shopping is very, very good. I've never seen so many Italian Pure Silk Ties. There are ties, ties, ties everywhere. I'm sure that I have died and gone to heaven. I was very conservative and only brought two, if I'm good, Mandy will let me get another couple tomorrow. Lots of nice shoes and Mandy scored well. Also some linen shirts and outfits. Dirt cheap in comparison to OZ.

We finished shopping after lunch took our items back to the accommodation and out again to visit the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain.

Trevi Fountain and crowds

Trevi Fountain and crowds

Not unexpectedly there were lots of tourists (I know we were there too). Can't honestly say that beyond the fact that "we've been there" the sites weren't that interesting. The fact that so many tacky, cheap tourist shops and annoying hawkers didn't help.

The Pantheon was interesting from an architecture perspective and I'm sure our Engineers would appreciate the structure; I liked the way the sun shone through the hole.........dah

Wow a nice light coming through the hole.

Wow a nice light coming through the hole.

This is such an old place and puts clearly into perspective just how young a country we live in when it comes to development (not withstanding our indigenous heritage)

Pantheon Piazza D Rotonda

Pantheon Piazza D Rotonda

The traffic and crowds are probably the things that stand out most about Rome. The complaints about the roads from Shoalhaven residents are certainly baseless when compared against the condition of the roads here in Rome.

Parking rules are non existent

Parking rules are non existent

Still better things to come. Certainly, and this is no criticism but hell its hard to find your way around this town on foot. The streets are mostly curved and when you think that you have an idea of the general direction.....you're wrong.

So easy to get lost. I have relenquished control of map reader. Mandy is better at this than me by far.

Piazza something found by accident

Piazza something found by accident

What I have found very interesting is the local version of our Water Filling Stations. (I know what my staff are probably saying; he couldn't help himself could he)

Water Filling Station Rome Style

Water Filling Station Rome Style

They are on nearly every corner and run continually. People come up, put a finger on the spout and spurt water into their mouths, wash their feet and heads. The water goes, who knows. But the amount of lost water must be staggering.

We brought some cheeses, dates and fruit to have for dinner out on our terrace and watch the sun go down. The local Merlot is really good and cheap in comparison to ours. Getting a little tired we have to admit and I'm starting to yearn for a good steak.

Tomorrow the Vatican so beware Shoalhaven, there might be some flooding, pestilence or plague heading your way from me entering upon this religous territory. Sorry Ellie but its true.

Posted by mandt0413 00:44 Archived in Italy Tagged shopping sites Comments (0)

I don't know if Rome has changed much since 1976

sunny 26 °C

Up at a respectful 8.00 and after a wholesome Continental Breakfast it was off to see the sights. Our plan was an easy day, Colosseum, Termini and Piazza Giovanni Laterano.

The number 360 bus took us the 5km into the Termini for reconnoitre of the next stage (rail to Budapest in 5 days time). Happy with what we needed to do but boy did we get pestered at the Termini. Take the tour, have this suit made, feed my baby, give to the poor and the best of all, a guy pulled who up in his car asking US for directions.......waited for it and, after "I'm a salesman heading for Milan, here's a sample of what I sell, I've been to Oz, I work out of Paris, you must visit me, have a gift for you......but see I'm nearly out of petrol can you give me some Euro to fill the tank. Pretty original in my view but geez, how thick do I look. Don't answer that.

Still having trouble getting over the parking;

No space is wasted......literally

No space is wasted......literally

Found the colosseum and still to this day struggle to appreciate the enormity of the construction in that era. We take for granted height now but to imagine that centuries ago most people would not have been more that the height of a tree off the ground. The colosseum gave them height and sitting to enjoy, well let's not go there.

The enormity of this place in comparison to the time....

The enormity of this place in comparison to the time....

Why doesn't anyone offer to take our phot ? Mandy would be concerned if they asked; take off with our camera

Why doesn't anyone offer to take our phot ? Mandy would be concerned if they asked; take off with our camera

Lot's of interesting characters around the tourist areas, best paid would be the dressed up gladiators. They'd look less out of place and real in Oxford Steet during the gay mardi gras. Making a fortune here in comparison by the looks of things.

A Gladiator takes a break too.......

A Gladiator takes a break too.......

A quick visit to another Rome Top 10 Tourist Winning venue in the San Giovanni Laterano.

Inside the big spot

Inside the big spot

For those of you that are unaware, this fine establishment was built pre Bamarang Water Treatment Plant Circa as a papal complex. It is claimed to be the staircase from Pontius Pilates house (bad dude) that Jesus ascended to face his trial. Great spot, clean toilets. Met up with the sisters of West Africa on their recruitment drive. Most interested in the potential of Mandy joining them in their township.

2 things not in Mandy's favour in joining the good nuns of west africa.....won't go into that in this forum.

2 things not in Mandy's favour in joining the good nuns of west africa.....won't go into that in this forum.

Off back on the 360 bus back to Villa Duse to use their laundry. For those of you that have read our previous entry on the search for the long lost laundry, you would of course appreciate our joy at finding a laundry that is actually in our room.

Mandy's relief at being able to do the laundry

Mandy's relief at being able to do the laundry

We needed to relax having still not caught up on the lost sleep of the long flight. First thing to sit in the terrace area of the villa for some Italian White Wine and horses doovers.

Villa Duse Piazza - Aperitif and day's debrief

Villa Duse Piazza - Aperitif and day's debrief

Taking it easy

Taking it easy

The happy wanderers - Villa Duse terrace

The happy wanderers - Villa Duse terrace

So a nice dinner on the balcony of the room and off to bed. An earlier start tomorrow with some very natural things for us to do.....shop.

Posted by mandt0413 14:39 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Rome Arrival

sunny 24 °C

The flight from London was delayed by about an hour which meant our short stopover was nearly 7 hours at Heathrow. The British Airways lounge was very nice thankfully and managed to read all the local papers, get some of the book done and skyped home. Apparently it is normal for BA to be delayed and it took quite sometime to clear the runway. Met up with the Birthday girl whilst shopping.

She wanted some of my apple. I'm a monarchist, so I politely declined.

She wanted some of my apple. I'm a monarchist, so I politely declined.

The flight was pretty full but we had some decent seats.

I got the window again.....not

I got the window again.....not

The flight took us over Paris, Austria and down the coast of Italy. Very dry but pretty.

Whilst the Captain didn't mention it, passed over the wreck of the Costa Concordia as we transited off Isola del Giglio. An old sailors eyesight ain't so bad after all and it was pretty obvious they way it was positioned.

Wreck of the Costa Concordia

Wreck of the Costa Concordia

Arrival into Rome was different, not a busy airport and clearly in need of refurbishment. Very unkept and probably reflective of the current financial situation for the Country. The passport control consisted of a woman clearly unthankful in having a job, disinterested, stamped the passports and flicked them back with a grunt.....No paperwork required and customs was empty. All in all a very smooth exit. Security non existent. Interesting that we had to catch a train from arrivals to customs. Mandy was very relieved that our baggage arrived. This was the leg of the journey that if it was to get lost, it would be here.

Met as per the plan by our limo driver who was a very pleasant man, helpful to the extreme. I probably didn't endear him to us when I tried to be helpful in closing the automated door closer thingee.

Mandy has now been officially traumatised by Italian driving......all over the place and every man for himself. I should have warned her.

Mandy's first exposure to Italian traffic

Mandy's first exposure to Italian traffic

Mandy was also very impressed by the availability of condoms in the limo.

What the........

What the........

Our accommodation is just beautiful. Everything you would expect Rome to be, styled in roman greco very clean and neat. A large room with an outdoor terrace on the top floor. All that research I did over countless hours just paid off, plus an early booking.

Penthouse Room villa duse

Penthouse Room villa duse


P6140033

P6140033

After booking in and showering, off for a pizza. What a great place all we needed beyond that was a local wine and then 12 hours sleep.

Found a pizza shop around the corner that sells beer and wine too. Ordered a pizza but no idea what it was.

Great, ended up with a vegetarian. Just what I needed but at least Mandy is happy and I've got a heinekin.

Rome Pizza in the cool evening - doesn't get better than this

Rome Pizza in the cool evening - doesn't get better than this

Shit and then I go and get vegetarian pizza down my shirt. Red wine coming I know......

Mandy's going to kill me trying to wash this off

Mandy's going to kill me trying to wash this off

And so after day 6 it's off to bed for hopefully 10 hours.

A relaxing day had by all.....that bitch at custom's needs to get a life.

A relaxing day had by all.....that bitch at custom's needs to get a life.

Posted by mandt0413 00:24 Archived in Italy Tagged rome Comments (0)

Not so long a flight - The Queue Begins

sunny 12 °C

Departed Singapore right on 11pm Tuesday night with British Airways. We had what is termed the "love seats" whereas the remaining seats are either 3 to a row or 4 to a row. The movies are still very ordinary (all I really wanted to watch was Men in Black 3). Still not sleepy by 2AM but Mandy dropped off shortly after. She was stretched right across me and very relaxed........I dosed from about 3AM until about 8AM so this was good. Flew over India, Soviet Union and the black sea. Across Europe via Poland and descended over the English Channel.

So back to the land of our forefathers, well mine anyway. Very green and cold for summer. Interesting that Poms love to queue. As we were 40 minutes out the announcement was that toilets could be used only during the next 30 minutes, so everyone queued along the aisle to use them. What the......

Arrived at Heathrow at 5AM local time (3PM Sydney) after 13 hours. Feeling good. Queued to get off the plane and then the queues really started, to get on the bus, down in a lift, use a phone, get into the Lounge, get through security. What is with this place, it's not that busy.

We visited the British Airways Lounge (I refused the queue) for a fabulous shower. Surprise, surprise there was no queue for the shower which just proves my long held theory from Exercises with the Royal Navy; that Pom's hate showering.

The shower was great, felt like a new person. The breakfast was also very good as is the lounge. Well and truly better fitted out than Qantas.

Mandy in the British Airways Lounge looking out over Heathrow

Mandy in the British Airways Lounge looking out over Heathrow

I took the opportunity to call the hotel where we are staying on our return in a month/half but had to use a pay phone. Timed local calls are a problem. Well done Telstra we got that one right.

Our flight to Rome leaves at 1pm so we skyped Nan and hope that Tyson and Ellie will be online shortly.

Will complete this section when we get into Rome this afternoon. Arrivederci.
Or I should say in Pommie:
Bye
See-ya
Tarra
Cheerio!

Posted by mandt0413 02:34 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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