This post is written by Katie, about her travel in Europe after IROS 2015.
Today was forecast to rain pretty much all day – and rain all day it did. The rain was not a light sprinkle like I expected, but actually a downpour at points.
I started the day out slowly, since the forecast had put the worst rain in the morning. I headed for breakfast at The Yellow‘s bar at 10:15am. Apparently breakfast is normally table service, so it took much longer than yesterday and I finally left the hostel around 11:15am. I had the cheese omelet with potatoes and toast again – a hearty meal to start the day.
I took the metro to the Ottaviano stop and then walked to St. Peter’s cathedral. Once at the courtyard, I was dismayed to see the entrance line curving around the loop of the courtyard and then looping back on itself.
I seriously considered leaving, but I was already pretty wet and there was nothing else on my list that I wanted to do more before leaving Rome, so I stood in line between two rather annoying Spanish-speaking groups. The one behind me kept running into me and hitting me with their umbrellas, which the one in front of me kept rapidly moving their umbrellas and sometimes hitting me in the face. It took just over two hours in line before I finally entered the cathedral. The sad part is that the line was not some carefully timed system to keep the amount of people in the cathedral to a particular amount – instead it was just limited by only three security lines with metal detectors being open (although they had many more).
One interesting note is the number of persistent men selling umbrellas and ponchos near the metro stations and along the line for St. Peter’s Cathedral. We had discussed these men yesterday during our tour. Most of us have experience the men around tourist sites selling random items – flying ferries, speakers, ect. It always seems like there are many people in the same spot trying to sell the exact same item. Kevin, my guide yesterday, said these men are tricked into coming to sell the items the same way some women are tricked into sex trafficking. Apparently they are promised a better life, but they have to give their passport to the boss in order to get a plane ticket. Then, once they are in the new country, they are told exactly where to go and what to sell each day. It seems that all the guys normally selling flying ferries and such at tourist sites today were dispatched to sell umbrellas. Since I had two hours to observe, it did seem like some of the guys were working together and that they had a nearby ‘boss’ to resupply from.
The actual cathedral was awesome. First I wandered around the cathedral taking everything in, and then I rented a €6 audio guide and followed it back through the cathedral. I actually really liked this was of exploring. It was somewhat disappointing that based on the audio guide it seems like you can normally approach the alter much closer, but for whatever reason there were barriers erected rather far back today. There was a lot of security in the cathedral, and they would complain at you if you tried to sit anywhere.
As I was making my second pass through the cathedral with the audio tour, I started hearing an organ playing and singing. The choir seemed to be rehearsing in a side room (which had been open to viewing earlier in the day, but now had curtains drawn), although the singing was infrequent and never complete songs.
Once I had my fill of the cathedral, I exited and then bought some postcards, a pen, and some stamps so I could send some postcards from the Vatican. Then I marched back to the metro and went back to The Yellow.
I changed into dry clothing and then worked for a while before having dinner at The Yellow bar and calling it a night.