Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rome Trip: Vatican City Tour #1

A day before leaving to Rome, I accidentally found out while browsing online for "things to see in Rome" that these days you can buy online tickets for tour groups in Rome from the official Vatican Museums site. This way you'll avoid having to queue for a long time outside the area because they had provided a separate line for those who had online booking vouchers. I had no idea what the tour group would be like, but I chose a 3-hour tour that included going inside Vatican Museums, St. Peter's Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel. The tickets cost €74 for the both of us. After booking the tour online, I received the voucher and I had to print it out and bring it with me. 

A day before the tour started, we went to visit the site because the article online suggested that we drop off at Cipro metro station instead of Ottaviano because the line in front of Cipro was normally shorter than that in Ottaviano, so we went there to find out how long it'd take for us to go there from the hotel (because our tour would start at 10.45). There weren't too many things to see around Cipro, so after checking out the place and finding out where we should queue, we went to Ottaviano to check out the place. There were so many stores around Ottaviano and true enough, there was such a LOOOONNNGGG queue of people there. I suppose it didn't help that the Vatican was closed for 2 days on Easter holidays, so it was really the right choice to buy the tickets online.

Anyway, on the appointed day we arrived MUCH earlier and we tried to get inside, but the guard who scanned the barcodes on our voucher told us to go back and come back only 30 minutes before the appointed time. So we sat on a bench outside a church because the shops nearby weren't open yet and when they were open we just went to look around a bit and I found a cheap T-shirt LOL!!!!! 

Once we got inside the place, we had to go through security screening and then R2 decided to leave the backpack in the cloakroom and then we queued in front of a line of separate booths to exchange our online vouchers with the real tickets. We queued right away, BUT again we were told to go back and only get back there 15 minutes before the appointed time. GAAAAHHHH!!! I don't understand why they had to do it 'coz it just doesn't make any sense (because we couldn't have gotten in without our tour guide!). Anyway, we waited for about 10 minutes and finally we could get our real tickets and we were told to go to a certain desk to get our headphones and wait for our tour guide. We did that, but the tour started rather late because some of the tour participants were a bit late. So apparently there should be 30 of us in the group and we had to wait until everybody was present.

There were other groups of people with their own tour guides in the whole place, so it was rather chaotic because there were so many people, so the tour guide told us to stay close to her. She was holding a kind of banner as a sign as you can see in this pic below:

Anyway, we started the tour by standing in front of this screen that showed the magnificent artworks in the Sistine Chapel. She explained the history a little as well as interesting tidbits about the artworks (that some of the faces were those of the popes during that time, etc.). Fascinating stuff...She said she had to do it first because we wouldn't be allowed to talk in the Sistine Chapel nor take any photos. Only after she had finished the presentation (it took about 20 minutes or so) did we get inside the museums (we had to scan our own tickets to the machine). Again there were so many people around us with their own groups, so we really just had to follow the tour guide.

I was a bit disappointed in the fact that it was such a crowded place in some parts that we didn't really have time to enjoy anything much. I couldn't even listen to her explanations properly because I used the time to take pictures and videos of the whole place. VERY overwhelming, actually. SO many things to see...awesome paintings, statues, etc. Not enough time to check everything out. We couldn't even stop by to admire everything too much because of time limit and whenever I wanted to take a pic of something, usually there were already a throng of people in the way, so I had to focus on taking pics VERY quickly by trying to bypass all those people while still focusing on making sure I knew where my group was. There were lots of AMAZING ceilings that I just couldn't capture properly in my photos or videos.

After we finished looking around at the museums, we queued into the Sistine Chapel and that was where the crazy crowd was (in some places it was HOT/stuffy because of the crowd and the lack of ventilation - can't imagine how it'd be like at the height of summer!!!). We moved very very slowly forward along the long, narrow corridors and the Sistine Chapel was an awesome place, though again the problem was we couldn't really enjoy it properly because it was so full, so mostly I just looked at the ceiling (my neck was seriously sore from all the lovely ceilings and taking pics and videos of them LOL!!!). Inside the Sistine Chapel, the guards kept on yelling every now and then, "NO PHOTOS!!!!!!!!!!! SILENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" over and over and over again he he he he...

OK, I'm going to cut this here because otherwise it's going to be such a long post. Meanwhile, enjoy these photos: 

No comments:

Post a Comment