We knew it would be a big day today so had a late start...enjoyed a bit of time at home just relaxing. Joe and Georgia had researched a hotel for our last night as I hadn't booked one. They found the Crowne Plaza which is a bit out of the city however it has a pool and they thought it would be a good place to stay. To their delight, it's now booked as one of the things I did while I wa relaxing. We are off to the Capuchin Crypt for a tour at noon and then on to the Vatican for a tour starting at 2:30 so it will be a big day.
I checked out the buses to see the best route to get to Piazza Barberini, the meeting point for the tour and we set off to buy our tickets. I love the Moovit app as it makes planning and tracking a journey really easy. All went well, we made the necessary bus change and arrived at the meeting point with enough time to buy and eat a gelato before the tour. Yum.
Our guide turned out to be the same guy who took us last year however the group was much larger than last year. There would have been about 20 people compared to 5 last year.
Boban explained a bit about the church, religious order and the crypts before he took us through the museum. We then moved on to the crypts where they used the bones of over 3000 monks for decorations. Each crypt tells the story of life from birth through to death. It was quite warm and stuffy especially with so many people crowded into a small area and Joe felt a bit woozy so we took some time out, sat him down with some water and a cool cloth on the back of his neck until he felt better. We then caught up to the group and that worked out well as we had a chance to take things in without some many people crowding around us. It's an interesting tour if a little macabre.
We had time for lunch before finding our way to the Vatican so popped over to the cafe on the edge of the square where we had pizza a few days ago. Jenni and the kids had pizza, I had a chicken kebab. Yum however far too much food even though I'd only ordered a small size.
We found the bus stop for the Vatican and arrived within the 20 minute time frame they ask you to check in. The paperwork said to meet outside a bar at No 52....guess what, at No 52, there was a bar with a different name and no one with a pink I Love Rome t-shirt. We asked one of the touts standing around and he told us our meeting point was across the road in a small park. Mmmm! We found our tour people and were soon introduced to Chiara, our guide.
We set out in our group of 27 to walk to the Vatican City entrance and then wait for our turn to enter the building. Chiara told us our bags would be scanned for metal objects and I remembered I had my leather,an type tool in my bag. I told Chiara and she said I would have to throw it away or I'd be in trouble. I gave it to one of the food van guys...I hope he appreciates it as it was a gift from Dad. Once we entered, Chira had to take the kids with her when she went to get our tickets...they have to be sighted to be entitled for the cheaper entrance tickets.
Then it was off on our 3 hour tour along with the other 30,000 to 40,000 people who visit the Vatican every day. The number of people was overwhelming and the kids weren't too thrilled. There's so many interesting things to see however it's hard to really appreciate everything. It's also a long tour and we thought it would be a good idea if they had a scheduled stop half way through, so people could have a drink, something to eat and a rest. The kids couldn't believe it when Chiara told us we had to go through 53 rooms after leaving the Vatican Museum before we arrived at the Sistine Chapel. We finally arrived at the Sistine Chapel and walked through (along with the masses) this beautifully decorated chapel.
From here, it was outside and a well earned rest and drink near the water fountain before setting off for the last part of the tour, St Peters Bascilica. We were all pretty tired by then but hung in there for the last part of the tour. The Bascilica is a beautiful building with amazing craftsmanship and we did a quick tour with Chiara explaining various aspects and the kids hanging in there with the promise of McDonalds for dinner. As we walked out through the piazza, we took a few more photos as the lights were coming on around the building giving a different view.
Off to Maccas and finally found after a few wrong turns. Georgia and I ordered on the interactive order screen which took quite some time however we finally got it all together. Jenni and I had a well earned beer and salad, the kids nuggets, chips etc.
We'd decided to taxi home as we were all so tired (and the kids said they'd pay) so while we were sitting there, I looked up the dos and don'ts of Rome taxis. One thing to be aware of was the offer of a flat rate to your destination as this usually means you will be overcharged....the suggestion is to make sure you ask for a metered journey. You guessed it. The first taxi we approached said there's a set rate to do with the Vatican of €28, and when I said we wanted a metered journey, he wasn't interested. He couldn't have been too bothered as he let us walk off. The team would have been happy to pay €28 but I hate being ripped off. The next guy who came along said there's a set rate from the Vatican and it's €15. Even though it was probably more than we should have paid, we were happy to accept.
Four very exhausted people staggered up the hill and into our little apartment. No singing and dancing tonight...just sleep.