Monday, August 15, 2011

Eurotrip 2011: Vatican Museum for two Pt.1

The non-tour line to get into the museum can be seen on the left. It wrapped around a kept going for another 70 yards.
After another crap night of sleep on the springboard mattresses at Hotel Planet Rome, we had to get up early and make it to the Spanish Steps across the street from the entrance to the Vatican Museum by 9:30am. We had a few things working against us that I didn't get into during the last post. To make a long story short, I bought an international use SIM card for the trip and borrowed a smart phone from my friend Paul. We used the phone successfully after arriving in Italy, but the data features were all useless, including google maps which is the main reason I got a SIM card and filled it with minutes. I also bought a outlet converter for me to charge my laptop, phones and camera accessories. Due to a 'mix-up' shall we say, both of these items were taken out of commission. This lead to some problems; neither of us wear watches and we had no ability to charge any electronics until we got onto the cruise ship that Sunday and today was Saturday. So to save batteries, I left my US cell phone (HTC Evo) turned off, only turning it on as needed, due to its notoriously short battery life. I programmed my US phone so that it had the local time displayed, which was GMT+2 during this time of year. We woke up to the alarm on Beth's US phone that I hadn't programmed yet. Doing the math from EST, we thought it was 8am when it was really 9am. After our cab dropped us off at the Vatican wall, the time info on the first couple shots I took left me confused. I figured it was just a mistake and stopped for breakfast since it'd be a long day of walking once again.

Even though our rush clouded the experience, we stopped in a nice restaurant a block away from the Vatican Museum entrance. We ordered food, then I took the pic above. The time stamp on that image was really bothering me so we asked the waiter for confirmation. Yep, we were off an hour, it was 10am and we had missed our 3hr tour which had cost a few hundred to book. I scarfed down my eggs paid the bill and we quickly made our way to the next Dark Rome tour that was were our meeting spot was. The rep let me know our tour had gone already, but she could take our voucher and bring us in on her tour which wasn't really a tour, but rather a free for all that let you skip the line. This was the start of the longest day of my life. Ha just kidding, but not really.

At 10:30am this new tour made it's way to the entrance line work-around (the main line was entering from the left of the pic above). This is a seemingly generic process where the tour guide holds a piece of paper with identification on it, in the air, and a bunch of people follow them inside. The line for those who hadn't booked in advance was long and hadn't wavered since we had eaten. We got inside to relive our airplane boarding experience once again; a row of about eight security stations with scanners awaited. Little did we know at the time that this would be a running joke all cruise week. I got through metal detector check to have a security officer randomly tell me I had to check my camera bag, which was the only thing I brought with me. It was packed with spare memory, batteries and other accessories, but in the disorienting nature of the process, and lack of English used, I didn't take anything out of the bag as my camera was already around my neck. Yep.

Once my bag was checked and I received a ticket for retrieval, the tour group scattered and we made our way upstairs to the main ticketing desk. There were plenty of options for those who didn't have a tour guide, including a headset and digital player that you could use to get information on anything you were looking at, using a numbering system. We got our equipment, map of the Vatican Museum and started making out way towards the start of the exhibits. There were signs everywhere giving you a general idea of where places in the museum were, but no real specifics; I found this to be synonymous with most direction receiving experiences during our time in Rome. The beginning of the museum started off with ancient artifacts collected around the world. Starting with figurines from the ancient Mayan civilization it them moved to Egyptian ruins and early African carvings.

As we proceeded the artifacts decreased with age and before we knew it an hour and changed had gone by. The tour we missed was 3 hours long and supposedly visited the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. The thought of this Gilligan's Island reenactment became unfathomable (or should I say realized) as hours passed in the Museum with no real idea of where the exit was. To be honest, there were multiple reasons why the trip through the museum was taking so long. The main reason was that I was taking pictures as we went and the lighting conditions were such that I had to take relatively long exposures in most situations. I had no tripod, just ISO/aperture adjustments and my hands. I found myself leaning against anything I could to take keepers and by the end of this day I was a better photographer. The second contributor to problem was tourists like ourselves. In order to capture anything decent I'd have to contend with the thousands of people all sharing the same space. As time passed the 'waves' of people became predictable and work got smoother.

A break in this wave was a minute or so away

On our way between exhibits there were large windows that gave a hint of this museum buildings' design. There was a huge courtyard inside of the four wings of the Vatican Museum, whose centerpiece was a large bronze globe that was actively in motion on it's many layers. We kept walking in the direction all the signs said the Sistine Chapel was, but all we found were literally thousands of more rooms with exhibits. As we walked the hallway ceiling artwork started off being works of pretty accomplished artists; Raphael, Michelangelo, etc. Lesser known artists filled the void elsewhere.

I shot like a madman and my camera started to get warm. Next thing you know the new 16GB card I bought specifically for this trip started giving me CF Error messages. My heart sunk. I had shot about 700 images so far and to think they were all gone was a little frustrating. I also had no other cards with me because they were in my bag. It was great to see plenty of other people with large bags about this time; and don't think I felt singled out, Vatican Security randomly selected a wide range of people to check bags; women, children, old men. I really didn't know what the overall security plan was, they were half paying attention all the while...but I digress. We got a little closer to the Sistine Chapel, going through random room after room. About 15minutes later I tried to turn on my camera again and my memory cards image count returned! I was back in business. Hopefully I could make it back to my bag without any other issues.

One of the rest areas on the way to the Sistine Chapel. My camera works again!

No comments:

Post a Comment


Capturing Life's Fabric with Technology.