Sunday, March 30, 2014

Italy -- Day 4

Our first full day in Rome was the day that I decided to be the one to make dumb decisions.  Well, I didn't exactly decide to do so ahead of time, but that's the way it turned out.

I don't quite remember all of the chronology of everything that happened.  Suffice it to say that at one point it wasn't clear whether we should go left or right to reach the main entrance to Vatican City.  There was a great deal of pointless debating at this point.  "Well, it's possible that we should go right, and if so, going right would be the correct approach.  But it's equally possible that we should go left, and if so, going right would waste our time.  So, which way should we go?  & etc."

Finally, someone decided that we should try walking to the right.  We went to the right and walked for a few minutes.  At that point, we still hadn't reached an entrance.  This, naturally, led to a great deal more debating.  "It's possible that we just haven't gone far enough, or maybe we should have gone left in the first place.  So we can either keep going, or we can turn around and go back the other way.  How should we supposed to decide what to do now?  Let's just keep talking about it and hope that suddenly we'll be able to make an informed decision even though we won't have acquired any more information."

I'm a pretty indecisive person, but I'm not this indecisive, and the dithering was driving me crazy.  So I just started walking off in the direction we'd already been heading.  The others called me back, saying that I couldn't leave until we'd all made up our minds about the best approach.  I said, "You can decide.  I'm just going to keep walking."  And I did.

Sophie, bless her heart, could see that I was in a Mood and wouldn't be reasoned with.  She could also see that the others weren't going to be happy either letting me go off by myself or following me without several more minutes of pointless debating.  So she volunteered to accompany me, and she hurried to catch up.

Bless her heart even more, she never complained, even when it became increasingly clear that my way was very much the wrong way around.  She made some jokes about feeling like Joshua walking around the walls of Jericho, and when I apologized for leading her astray like this, she said that at least now we could both say that we'd seen and walked around all of the outside of Vatican City.   As it turns out, the entrance really wasn't very far back in the other direction from our original starting point, so we really did almost circumnavigate an entire country that day.  As Sophie pointed out, our long, thirsty, and boring walk at least gave us something to brag about.

This was after we finally made it back to the others, who'd been waiting at the entrance for about an hour.
In the part of the day where we weren't taking very long walks, we visited the Vatican Museums.  As I mentioned in my last blog post, art isn't really my thing, but I dutifully looked at every piece of art there.  In fact, I looked at several pieces twice.  Because so many people want to see and spend time in the Sistine Chapel, they herd you in one direction through that part of the museum.  My first time around, I spent a few minutes looking around the Sistine Chapel, tried in vain to figure out what was so impressive about it, and then went off to look at everything else.  I didn't mean to go through a second time, but I accidentally ended up in the line again, and there wasn't really a good way to backtrack from there.  So my second time through was a speed run.  Even I was impressed by how quickly I made it through that time

I took pictures of almost every piece of art I found interesting:

This was a painted cabinet.  It showed the same church we'd visited the day before, so that was cool.

 Yep, that was about it.  The outside was pretty, though:

And the museum with the vehicles the pope has used over the years was also fairly interesting:

One of the older carriages.

The more modern Popemobiles with bulletproof glass.

There was also a small exhibit of gifts the pope has been given over the years from different countries, and that was fun too.  This woman's coronet was manufactured in China during the Qing Manchu dynasty (1644-1991):

And an enormous headdress from Papua New Guinea (for scale, note the life-sized mannikin head and torso):

I also really liked this spiral staircase leading out to the exit. (Heidi, Steve, and Sophie are posing near the top.)

Then, of course, we had to take pictures in the main square where the pope makes his announcements and whatnot.

As seen on TV . . .

I had an interesting experience here.  At one point, everyone else was wandering around taking pictures, and I just wanted to sit for a while.  (After all, I'd already circumnavigated a country earlier that day.)  A group of male tourists were standing behind me talking, and I thought, "I wonder where they're from.  Their accents sound so harsh and flat." 

And then I suddenly realized that they were from Texas.  I'd just gotten so used to hearing only British and Italian accents, at least from male speakers, that an American accent sounded foreign and strange to me.  Once I realized that it was a Texas accent, it sounded normal to me, but that moment helped me understand why people say that American accents are harsh and flat.

That wasn't the end of our Rome day, but I've probably exhausted your patience even more than my pointless walk exhausted Sophie and me, so I'll end for now. 

To be continued . . .

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