Although spending two weeks traveling with a parental unit may not sound like a dream vacation, it was actually pretty wonderful. Of course, knowing that my journey continued after my mom flew home made the difficult moments a little easier, but I’m thoroughly glad I was able to spend time in Europe with my mom.
Reason being? She wouldn’t have made it to Europe if I weren’t going, and I know the art lover in her appreciated seeing all the sights we crammed in. We were friends exploring new territories… with one friend acting as the tour guide, luggage rack, and motivator from time to time.The last full day of our adventure together began with an early train to Rome, then seeing all that we could see in a day with what little energy we had left.
There was a long line to get into St. Peter’s Basilica, and there were ironically more line-hoppers in the Vatican than anywhere else we’d been, but the queue moved quickly and the church was more beautiful than I had imagined (pictures don’t capture it). Usually, extravagantly decorated churches feel a little self-righteous and make me a little uneasy, but St. Peter’s was awesome in every sense of the word. You felt little walking past the stone sculptures and paintings, then through the delicately painted arches, but in a good way… as if there was so much more to the universe than what was even possible to fathom. I tried to avoid noticing the mummified popes sprinkled around the edges, but they were unavoidable. There was also a bronzed sculpture, of Jesus I think, whose foot was rubbed down considerably as crowds lined up to get there picture taken stroking the worn toes.
Next on our hurried list was the Sistine Chapel. If you’ve been to Rome before you’re probably laughing at this point. The Sistine Chapel is not just right around the corner from St. Peter’s as a map would so sneakily trick you into believing. Geographically, I suppose that’s were it’s located, but the cunning people, who I begrudgingly wont call evil since we’re talking about the Vatican, who structured the little city decided it would be better to make visitors exit the Vatican, walk about a mile along a thirty foot high brick wall, then stand in a few hour line to enter the Vatican Museum. If this weren’t the last day of an over-museumed trip, maybe I could have appreciated the artwork contained within, but I was tired and my mother had caught a cold and was understandably a little cranky. After entering the museum, signs taunt you in the direction of the sought-after chapel, only to lead you through room after room of sculptures and tapestries. You have to walk through the entire museum first to get to the Sistine Chapel, which could take an hour or so to do even while ignoring most of the art. I think it was worth it, and I hope my mom will come to forgive me for dragging her through.
After the chapel, you are then forced to walk through a series of gift shops–some for the rich to buy a purse and others for the kids to snag a coloring book. Finally out and into the open air, we dragged ourselves to the Colosseum, admired for a little while, then headed home to our hostel. Despite our conditions, it was was quite amazing to stand in a place with so much history.
While my mom took it easy trying ward off any more cold, I made my way to a pizza party the hostel was hosting and sat down with some German kids off on a short trip who tried for about a minute to include me in a conversation before awkwardly sitting there, silently finishing their pizza, then leaving. Alone at a big table, I invited the nearest solitary figure I saw, also awkwardly eating his pizza at the pizza table. Sicilian Mike became my tour guide for the evening and the night culminated with him buying his girlfriend back home a teddy bear from the Hard Rock Cafe. Just good company, and pleasant conversation.
Although the end of this portion of the trip was pretty anticlimactic, I suppose that’s how any whirlwind sightseeing trip will leave you–with good memories and a need for another vacation.
Thankfully, I still had some adventures in store.