Brendan's Tour of Europe travel blog

Daniel and me

A Swiss guard on his 500th anniversary, and no thats not his...

The Colosseum

Inside the St Peters Dome

On our first night in Rome we met my old friend from Tannum Sands, Daniel Streigl and his girlfriend Karen in the main Rome train station. After spending an hour trying to find our hostel, this is no exageration, we finally booked in and went to get some dinner and gelati with Daniel and Karen. We spent a good few hours catching up and swapping travel tales, deciding to call it a night at midnight - unfortunately the Metro had closed at 11:30 so Daniel and Karen had to walk it home... opps.

(Incidentally that brings to 3 the number of people from our old neighbourhood in Tannum that we have ran into in Europe).

The next day we went to the Vatican only to find that it was the 500th anniversary of the Swiss guards that day (May 6th) so St Peters Basilica was closed. We can no say thought that we were at a 500th anniversary event, mind boggling when you consider Australia is only 200 odd years old.

We bought a pack of Rome postcards (20 for 1€, can't complain) and decided that for lack of a better plan we would endevour to see all the scenes decpicted in the postcards. By lunchtime we had seen about 5 including the Vatican, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. After lunch we stopped by the ancient Roman ruins and the Colosseum but were too poor (or wise) to go inside.

Over the next few days we worked our way through the postcards which took us:

* For a day in the park where we found a girls wallet and were going to report it to the police, only we looked in it and there was no identification and all of about 60 cents so we ended up leaving it where we found it.

* Saw the face statue that supposedly bites the hand of the unworthy (but considering that Kylie and I were the only ones who put in the suggested donation and no one lost their hands I'd say it wasn't working).

* A long walk down the river at one point crowded with African salesman pushing Prada and Gucci bags, one minute they were out in force the next a policeman had been sighted and they we all off bags over their shoulder and trying (unsuccessfully) to blend into the crowd.

* For anyone that has 'done Rome' we also saw the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and more obelisks than you could shake a stick at.

The highlight of the Rome trip was when we fianlly got to St Peters Basilica, Daniel had told us about a free tour that was actually free so we hoped on to that and found out many interesting facts like:

- To replace it today would cost $40 billion

- Michelangelo and Rapheal were feirce rivals (but they always got along on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

- A crazy man attacked a Michelangelo sculpture and they lost the statutes nose (Marys), to insure it was of the same quality marble they had to cut a replacement nose out of her back.

- The baldachino which is the largest bronze structure in the world was made mostly from bronze stolen from the Pantheon (because they started building it and ran out of bronze).

- No building in Rome can be taller than the tip of the Basilica by law.

Anyway enough of the history lesson, after four nights in Rome we got a night train to Catania, Sicily.

Oh yeah I almost forgot, the Swiss Guard of the Vatican are dressed by Michelangelo, the state police by Dolce and Gabbana and some other sort of official by Armarni. Needless to say we looked and felt like dags in our 5 day ols jeans and t-shirts.

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