Figuring out what to say out of all the things there are to say is very difficult. The flight was uneventful, aside from a few bumps now and then. Leslie wore little wrap things around her wrists that prevented any motion sickness and highly recommends them for anyone who might suffer the same malady. We actually got fed two meals without having to pay for them, which was good, and got a couple of glasses of free wine to boot!
The first thing we did -- unless you count finding the train, finding the metro, and walking a kajillion blocks as the first thing -- was to walk to Vatican City. The bedroom balcony has a view of the dome of the basilica and it is only a 10 minute walk. Today we attended the papal general blessing in the square of St. Peter. Before we left the convent, I jokingly said that there would not be 10,000 people there. I (Margo) was probably wrong as the crowd stretched from just below the steps as far back as we could see, certainly past the second obelisk. Amazing. When Papa Benedetto entered the square, the crowd made as much noise as though he were, indeed, a rap star! Seeing him from about 10 rows back when he drove by in the popemobile was astonishingly powerful. He is our Papa and we are home with him. An amazing experience. Far too meaningful to put into words in a short period of time. He received greetings from pilgrims the world over and blessed all of us, in turn, in our own languages. When he spoke his blessing to the Polish pilgrims in Polish, they went nuts! The love they all felt for Papa John Paul II seemed to flow from them in appreciation of the new Papa who greeted them in the language of their beloved Papa.
Now...food...last night, the first night in Rome, after walking around Vatican City for a while, we stopped at a sidewalk cafe in the shadow of the Vatican and ate pizza --- vegetarian with no tomato sauce -- and drank Italian wine. En route back to the convent, we stopped for gelato and are entirely hooked on the stuff. Oh my goodness!! The chocolate I had was enough to make any of the Smart Sexy Chicks feel even sexier and the hazelnut one Les had was equally good. Today we tried coffee (Margo) and dolce latte (Leslie). Tomorrw....who knows. Lunch today consisted of a seafood salad that was primarily squid and octopus and was delicious and a lasagna that defies description. Oh my goodness!! The price of food is pretty high, I must say, especially since both places we ate were self-serve, but the lasagna just might be worth a return trip.
The rest of today is going to be spent sitting with our feet either up or under cold water. Well...not counting the time we spend sitting in the nearby cafe drinking cold beer!
The streets of Rome look just like they do in the movies..cobblestones, narrow, filled with scooters driven by madpeople and very small cars like the Smart Car we see back home. The pedestrian rule is to get into the street as quickly as possible and dodge around anything that is moving.That seems to be the motorist rule as well. Mind you, walking in the middle of the street is also acceptable in some places so everyone seems to take turns, except for honking at each other on a regular basis and yowling in whatever language is appropriate. This is a very multicultural city...we are staying in an Italian convent run by Spanish nuns so nobody is speaking fluent anything to each other when Les, Margo and any of the nuns is trying to communicate. How we find things is amazing, but we do.
Now, folks, we need your help. For some reason known only to God, we came to the eternal city without any snail mail addresses and have only just discovered that the Vatican has its own post office. How cool to get a postcard postmarked "Vatican City", eh? If you would like such a thing, please email one of us your snail mail address and we will do our best to get a card into the mail for you. We have them in hand so only need addresses and stamps in order to do this. You do not need to post your addresses on the blog...merely send them to our personal email addresses, which you already have. We will try to check back in a couple of days.
Andrea, sure do hope to do this trip with you some time. You were right about the pizza...without the tomato sauce it is quite different...and the lasagna without meat ... ah, to die for. Gelato...ah... Andrea and Greg, kiss the children for grandma. Papa Benedetto blessed all of us pilgrims today with a special blessing for the children and any who are ill in our families, so we pass on his blessing to all of you with lots of love. We will endeavour to post again from Rome before heading to Siena on Sunday.
From Grandma Les, a big hug and kiss for Elizabeth, Zach, and Heather. Elizabeth, I saw the pope today, and he sent you his love. ....
Pretty cool experience all around. Wish you were all here. Sean and Melanie, we thought of you when we saw the newly married couples come to the front for their papal blessing. The crowd gave them a wonderful round of applause, too.
We"ll be in touch soon. We"re doing great in the language department, mostly due to sign language and pidgin Italian/English/Spanish/French, and the generous, friendly Italian people who are so patient with us.
(Please consider the quotation marks to be apostrophes, class, because we can"t *find* the apostrophes on this *****keyboard!
Much love to all,
Grandmas Les and Margo
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