The start to the day of our return trip was fairly normal; as normal as a 2:30 a.m. wake up call could be.
The day before we had spent our last day in Italy seeing virtually all of Rome, at least that’s what it felt like. We started with an hour bus ride from our hotel to the Colesseum. Upon arrival we were accosted by hovering hawkers of postcards; I think they’ve been conditioned not to hear the word “no”. Well, it was a pretty good deal, 10 postcards for 1 Euro, I guess they were just stunned no one wanted to take them up on such sweet deal. We had about 10 minutes to snap photos, and dodge postcard hawkers, while our tour guide went to fetch our Colesseum guide. When the guides returned we donned our “Whispers” (audio receivers so we could hear the guides narration over the din of the hundreds of other people touring the site), and began the tour. I should note that the “Whispers” were crap; too much interference and static, couldn’t hear much of what the guide said. No matter, the Colesseum was sufficiently awesome without the narration.
After the Colesseum tour we sauntered, ok, rushed over to the Forum to continue the tour. On our way we lost a few people and had to wait an extra 20 minutes or so for them; totally worth it; though it was hot. (Thank goodness it was overcast, it would’ve been a lot worse.)
From the forum we got back on the bus with our driver who I’ll call “Disco Dominico”, his ringtone was Mr. Saxobeat, and he had a mix of 7o’s and 80’s disco/pop tunes that he played for us, who took us to the Vatican museum. Tourning the Vatican Museum then St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel was both awe inspiring and annoying. Awe inspiring because of it’s opulent decadence; annoying because we really never stopped moving and often lost sight of our guides yellow hankie on a stick she was holding above the mass of people; there were a LOTS of them. Though we only spent a few minutes in the Sistene Chapel shoulder to shoulder with other tourists, it was…I was going to say beautiful or gorgeous, but those words don’t really convey what a masterpiece it is. Photos are not allowed, but I snapped a few of the museum and basilica.
Just a few people. Can you see the yellow hankie?
Startled me a little.
After Vatican City we met Disco Dominico for a lift to Trevi Fountain and we walked from there to the Pantheon, then Piazza Navona. The Pantheon is an amazing feat of architecture. Piazza Navona was cool as our guide told us the church in the plaza and the monument in the middle where constructed at roughly the same time by rival architects. The architect of the monument sculpted the figures in a way that showed they were disgusted by the church. None of them are looking directly at the church and most of them are demonstrating open disdain.
In the last two photos, note the expressions of the men on the monument.
After Piazza Navona Disco Domincio drove us to dinner, after which we took the hour long ride back to the hotel and arrived at about 10:00 p.m. As you can see, it was a full day, so the 2:30 a.m. wake up call the following day was just awesome.
We arrived at the Rome airport at something like 4:00 a.m. to catch our 6:00 a.m. flight. Fortunately we had a person meet us there with our boarding passes already printed so all we had to do was show our passports and drop off our luggage. Standing in line to drop off my luggage I realized that in the fog of the morning I had left my souveneir posters on the bus! Meh, I did the same thing when I was in Spain the last time, guess it means I’m coming back in a few years.
The flight from Rome to Frankfurt was 20 minutes early and thank goodness because the Frankfurt security was SLOW and we only had just over an hour to catch our connector back to SFO. First we went through the passport check station, then we went through the security screening where several of our kids had their bags pulled and looked through (nothing found); and one was even pulled aside by security! After the security screening there was another line to check our passports again, by this time our flight had been boarding for a good 15 minutes or so. I ran with the bulk of our kids to the gate while the other teacher with me waited for the kid pulled aside by security. I wasn’t sure they were going to make it but they did at the last minute. I wasn’t able to sleep more than an hour and a half or so for the 10 hour flight from Frankfurt to SFO, thank goodness Lufthansa has the monitors with TV and movies, as well as cool cameras mounted on the plane to get different views of the flight.
By the time we arrived in SFO I had been awake for a LONG time which is probably why I thought my luggage was lost. Everyone else had found theirs and split, but it took me another half hour or so with the help of some Lufthansa people to find it on the conveyor belt. How many times had I actually not seen it as it passed by me on that thing?! Man, I was out of it. Thankfully I had someone to drive me home, who knows where I would’ve enede up if I drove myself. After returning home I was starving so I got two carne asada tacos from Taqueria San Jose, had them with a beer at home and collapsed on the sofa.