Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 14th & 15th, 2013 Travel to Rome and our First Day in Rome

For those who are unable to see the small slideshow that links you to my Picasaweb Albums ( Apple Products don’t show the slideshow); here is a link that you can save to access all of the photos:

Our travel day started early; we needed to go below the B&B for some early morning Wi-Fi time before we left the apartment at 9:30 am.  By ten o’clock we were checked out and waiting for our bus that would take us to the train station. 
We were scheduled for the 12:07 train to Naples.
We arrived in Naples two hours later and had to wait there for our train to Rome that left at 3:15 pm.  We’d made our reservations so that we had a lag time between as one never knows exactly when the little train from Sorrento will arrive.  
The train to Rome was packed and all of our luggage had to be put up on the racks; Mary got some help from a nice gentleman, Bonnie and Jane stood on seats and together got their cases up.   Jane came and helped me as I had to go back to another area.  We had reserved seats and it was a newer coach in very good condition; a lovely two hour trip.  Arrived in Rome to beautiful weather and only a short walk of several blocks to the Beehive Hostel where we are all staying in the dorm room; a new experience for both Bonnie and Jane.   There are four bunk beds in the dorm room; all the beds are full each night.  Some are staying several days like us and others are in for a night and then we never see them again. 
About seven o’clock we walked out to find some dinner in the neighborhood; had a delicious dinner at a small restaurant only two blocks away.  Then over to the train station to purchase seven day passes for the buses and metro before heading home for some Wi-Fi time and early to bed.
We had trouble with the Wi-Fi in the evening; probably because there were too many of us online using Skype and uploading photos.  I finally gave up calling Jim and sent him an email that the Skype was not working.   Left my cell phone that I’m using with Skype on when I went to bed; the Wi-Fi started working during the night and sent the email.  Jim “assumed” that I was online and called me; it was about two o’clock in the morning; woke the whole dorm up by the time I woke up to answer the phone.   I was whispering to him as I climbed down from my top bunk bed and hurried into the hallway.    He felt terrible and we didn’t talk long; soon everyone was back to sleep.   The rest of the night was restless so I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep tonight.   I’ll remember to turn off my cell phone tonight.  It’s so hard with the nine hour difference in time between Europe and California. 
This morning I was awake by five o’clock.  Mary woke at six and we walked to the Termini Train Station to find some early morning breakfast.   Termini Train Station never sleeps.   Coffee and egg sandwiches at MacDonalds before returning to make sure that Jane and Bonnie were up and going for our early morning appointment at the Vatican.  
We were out the door before 8:30 am; over to Termini and the Metro A Line for a fast ride to the Vatican area where we walked past the long lines waiting to get into the Museum.  We had pre-purchased our tickets on line and went straight through the door to our designated Tour Group.   We had whisper earphones so could easily hear the guide as we started our tour that began with ninety minutes in the Vatican Gardens.
We saw the secret garden, actually just a large garden in the center of the Museum where the tour groups take their people to explain what they are going to see when the visit the Sistine Chapel as they are not allowed to talk while in the chapel.   We had the history of the development of the various gardens by different popes. 
There is an English Garden, a French Garden and an Italian Garden.  We saw the helicopter pad for the Pope to use; the tower that was modified for the personal use of Pope John XXIII and is now used for the most important guests of the Pope to stay in during their visit.  It is also the highest point, elevation wise, in the Vatican State.   We saw where Pope Benedict now lives and learned that he has nine cats; we got to meet one of them:  a black and white cat that was very tame and allowed the tourists to pet him.  We visited the replica of the Lourdes Shrine where special events are held and people who are very ill are brought if they are unable to travel to France. 
We also learned that the statue of Mary that was brought from Fatima to open a special period of devotion to Mary here in Rome has already returned home.  We’d hoped to see the statue while we were here.  But, we did see a beautiful statue of Mary with the children of Fatima in the park. 
It was a wonderful tour and I hope that you’ll enjoy the selection of photos that I’ve included.  After we returned to the Vatican Museum we were free to spend as much time as we liked in the Museum and end our visit with a visit to the Sistine Chapel.   Bonnie an We left them about 11 am and enjoyed our day; we later found out that they were in the Museum from eleven until nearly five o’clock!   It had started to rain as they were leaving so they headed for the Metro and then found a nice place to have dinner before returning to the Hostel about 7 pm.
d Jane are much more into Museums than Mary and I so we split and went our own ways for the balance of the day.
Mary and I made it through the Museum in about an hour and then visited St. Peter’s Basilica before heading back to Termini and we thought home to rest.  But when we reached Termini by bus #64 we changed our mind and found a place to eat; it was two o’clock.   Once we had more coffee and a snack we were recharged and ready to go again.   Off we went by Bus # 64 again; getting off in near Via Nazionals and Via Genova.   Our goal was to walk over to pick up our tickets for the Pope’s Audience tomorrow.  Along the way we had a serendipity experience:  they were doing the changing of the guard with the whole company plus the band in parade in Piazza del Quirinale.  Lots of fun and photos before we continued our walk.
Once we had our tickets we continued down the street to the Pantheon and then stopped at the Jesuit Church of St. Ignazio di Loyola, there is a very large altarpiece in a vast empty church with baroque décor.   Then over to Trevi Fountain to fight the crowds so that we could toss our coins to ensure that we’ll return to Rome and then a gelato to enjoy as we continued our walk to Spanish Steps.   I noticed that all of the love locks have been removed on the fence of the church near Trevi; only a few new ones.  And, this is the first place in Europe that I saw the locks being attached to a fence back so many years ago; it has spread throughout Europe now and is beginning to be something akin to graffiti in my way of thinking.
The weather was changing rapidly and we could hear thunder in the distance; I remembered the Metro A Line runs right at Piazza di Spagna; so we hopped on board and were back at Termini in a few minutes.  It actually did rain a bit but we stayed dry.   Back at the Termini I purchased more time for the Italian cell phone and then we picked up some food to eat out in the patio for our dinner. 
It’s been a grand day and tomorrow we’re off to St. Peter’s again for the Wednesday audience.  Hope you enjoy the slideshow: 

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