Trying to keep up with writing this journal and downloading and captioning and putting up photos on Facebook has become a monumental task, and I leave Europe for home tomorrow morning at 11:30. So I'm just going to do what I can do when I can do it, and let it go at that. I do hope you'll understand.
But here is how today went:
8:30 a.m. (Writing real-time on my laptop.) On the tour bus to see some of the places I missed on my own. Took me a long time to get to sleep last night, no idea why. Was to be picked up in front of the hotel by a shuttle bus to the main bus at 7:45. Was out front by 7:30. They arrived at 8:05. Well, at least they showed.
Comfortable bus, though I know taking pictures through a window, especially when the bus is moving, is going to be a real challenge and I don't hold much hope for many good shots. They gave us headsets, though, which will help. I took a seat at the very rear, which for some reason has a ledge upon which I can conveniently put the laptop.
Okay, that ended the real-time writing. Now I'm back in my hotel after yet another full and, let's face it, tiring, day. Why do we come home from vacation more tired than when we left?
The tour was actually pretty enjoyable. We all follow the little lady holding a cane with a cloth around the top of it so we don't lose her in the crowds, and other than the strong temptation to say "Baaaaaaa" every few steps, I managed to follow like the good little tour taker. One advantage about a tour as opposed to winging it yourself as I've done the entire trip is that you do get a lot more specific information about the places you're seeing.
On this trip, most of which was walking, we saw the Pantheon...one of my favorite buildings from my first trip, the Fountain of Trevi, which I'd not seen before, Castel Sant Angelo (a.k.a. Hadrian's Tomb...but only from the bus as it passed by). And we ended up back at the Vatican, where I'd been the other day. However, I was having some weird sort of camera problems and fully 1/3 of the shots didn't come out. I looked on this as a chance to re-photograph some that I wasn't able to get to come out the first time, like the Pieta, and the people touching the feet of the statue of St. Peter, and the statue of Pope Pius XII, with whom I'd had a mass audience in 1956. Dutifully reshot them all. Got back to the hotel to find fully 1/3 of the shots didn't come out, including the re-takes of the Pieta, the people touching the feet of the statue of St. Peter, and the statue of Pope Pius XII. I suspect someone is trying to tell me something.
One fascinating thing I found out, that I'd not known, is that there are no paintings in St. Peters. All those huge pictures are mosaics! Amazing.
Left the hotel at 8 a.m., got back at 1:30 p.m. My friend Con, who has spent a lot of time in Rome, told me about a museum within blocks of the Termini Roma station, and therefore within blocks of me: the Santa Maria degli Angeli museum, mostly marble sculptures gleaned from the ruins. I took time to download today's photos (I drained another battery...that's four full recharges so far: I'd taken 396 photos at the Vatican yesterday!), then set out for Santa Maria degli Angeli. I missed the entrance by not being able to lift my head high enough to catch the signs, if there were any, and started walking around the block looking for it. A long block. A very long block, and just what I needed, another long walk. But finally found it and am glad I did. Hundreds upon hundreds of busts and statues and sarcophagi and funerary monuments and who knows what, and I was once more in awe that every single one of them was hand carved. The cumulative man hours involved to produce all the sculptures and sculpting in Rome is mind blowing!
So my trip has ended, but the journey continues.