Day 10: Vatican City and the day I got us lost :(

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June 13th 2013
Published: July 12th 2013
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Today we get a tour of Vatican City. It would only be a partial day because we were leaving for Venice at 11:30AM. After breakfast we preloaded all of our luggage into the bus and Mike and Kate drove us to Cipro station where we would meet the bus after the tour. Mike the great driver he is put us directly/illegally in front of Cipro and we all piled out. A few of us were going shopping but most of us opted for the tour. Kate led us to where we would meet our tour guide and handed us off.

The tour guide handed out radio boxes with headphones so we could all hear him speak. He took us up a flight of stairs and we could see the walls of the Vatican. We got there at 8AM a few minutes before opening and he showed us how long the line was for an individual ticket instead of the group ticket. Apparently you either line over an hour before hand or wait 2 hours in line to get in. Thankfully we were in a group so we breezed past the line. Took a few minutes to get organize and our tour started.

The Pope was not doing a sermon today so we couldn't see him. It was a Thursday after all but another Topdeck group were lucky a few days when they arrived on Sunday. We found out the origins of the Vatican which had to do with Saint Peter's burial on a hill in Rome. We learned how Vatican City became a recognized country when it signed the Treaty of Lateran. Vatican City apparently owns more land in Rome than what is actually in the city limits of Vatican City.

He took us through various museums, gardens, and even the Pope's old garage where all the old Pope mobiles reside. Best part of the tour to see all the old horse carriages, cars. I will say the Pope's knew how to get around even in the old days. My favourite piece of art was in the Belvedere courtyard and it was one of those Spheres within a sphere by Arnaldo Pomodoro. It was a fairly fast pace tour as well because we only had about 2.5 hours to see everything. The one place I did not get a picture was the Sistine chapel particularly Michaelangelo's Fresco. It was remarkable walking through it and look at the ceiling and I could see why he was proclaimed the greatest painter of his time. Like I said pictures are not allowed but one American tourist took a picture anyway even with Church officials and other tourists telling her to stop. She just received a lecture thought and didn't get her picture deleted. Shannon, Kelly and myself left the church and decided to wait outside the church. We must have misheard the tour guide because apparently he was looking for us for awhile before heading outside and finding us there.

Next part was St Peter's Basilica which was impressive. At this point I was fairly burnt out on churches having seen a lot of them in Europe. Still St Peter's had a lot of artwork and decorations to see. We didn't get to see crypts underneath the church but we get to see the embalmed bodies of 2 popes'. After that we entered the courtyard where there a large number of chairs laid out and it took a minute for me to realize this is where the spot where the crowds gather to hear the Pope speak. The chairs are for VIPs or people who can't stand for hours on end.

Our tour ended at that point and we only had a limited amount of time to get to Cipro and the tour guide gave us directions on how to get there. Unfortunately I misheard the advise keep the Vatican wall on your left hand side and proceeded in the completely wrong direction. Even more unfortunately the entire group followed me and we wandered around lost for a good chunk of time and asked before locals how to get to Cipro. Eventually we found our way to the Vatican entrance and got to Cipro from there. I was quite proud of us because we all stayed together as a group and made it back to Cipro where Mike and Kate were circling the station in the bus waiting for us. After offering my apologies to Kate and the bus we were on the way to Venice.

It was a 5 hour or so drive to Venice and by this point I was fairly used to the long bus rides and the frequent stops we did helped a lot. The Campgrounds we were all staying at were owned by the same company as the one in Rome and was called Camping Jolly. Layout was about the same as the one in Rome and had the usual bar and pool. Dinner that night included bottles of wine and most of decided to go drinking afterwards. I hadn't tried one of the buckets yet so I decided to give it a try tonight. The bucket I bought included 6 or 7 shots of vodka and blue curacao plus blueberry juice. I have to admit was very tasty and did get everyone included myself rapidly drunk. I was drinking at a table with a bunch of people and we had random people join our table as well. The place had a real community feel to it. There was one Russian guy who came over asking who wants vodka. I thought he was OK but apparently he annoyed the hell out of our table. This was one of the nights I got really drunk and my camera has pictures of me with people photo bombing me without me realizing it. I did managed to get my laundry done that night even in the state I was in so I had clean clothes for the rest of the trip.

Fell asleep shortly after 1AM back in my cabin and looked forward for our day in Venice tomorrow.

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