i mentioned earlier in the week that despite not having much prior desire to go to rome, the vatican had always been on my bucket list. so, with a full day of sun at our disposal, guess what we did? we ventured ~inside, into the labyrinth of gold-dipped, art-lined hallways and ridiculously beautiful chapels and basilicas that make up the city-state that is the vatican city.
we jumped on the metro then made the short walk to the city's walls, basking in the early-morning sun as we walked. and then charley saw a dress in a window and suddenly we were taking a detour, which was quite funny because - well, when in rome! (you will get sick of me saying that; everyone else has) when we finally made it into the city, we made our way toward st. peter's basilica and joined one of the many queues of tourists lining up to make it in. thankfully the lines moved fairly quickly, and so within half an hour, we were in! sweaty - because: hot, but we were in!
seriously though, that joint is impressive. i've seen my fair share of churches, as as far as the catholic ones go, this one is definitely ~up there. bar the time bex and i stumbled into mass at notré dame in paris by accident (in latin!), no church has quite taken my breath away like this one did. the intricate gold detailing, the impressively old art work lining the walls, the beautiful dome, the floor...the many, many tourists... we walked around the basilica for about half an hour just staring and "wow"-ing at everything, waiting for people to move while we took photos, stood and gawked at statues, craned our necks to take in the entirety of the ceilings... just, wow.
next stop was a short stroll along the city wall to the vatican museums, wherein lies the sistine chapel...or so we were told. we paid our entrance fee and followed all the signs - of which there were ~many, and yet still, the chapel eluded us. i was pre-warned (not in a disclaimer way, in a "hey wow!" way, which is not the way it was taken) of the "loads of art" to look at en route the chapel, but as previously mentioned, art just isn't really for me. no, we were there for the main attraction: the incredibly famous...well, art, covering the sistine chapel's walls and ceiling.
that place is a fricken ~maze. we walked hall after guilded hall, hunting for the chapel. every time we followed yet another sign and another arrow pointing to "sistine", we ended up in yet another museum or art gallery. we would enter each room cautiously like, "is this it yet? no. oh." and move on to the next. we started to get so annoyed by all the artwork and artefacts (lol, what is wrong with us), as it had been more than an hour since we entered the museum, thinking the chapel would be, like, ~just there, and we would pop in and see the michelangelos and then buzz off to the next stop. not so. we even had to stop for a wee break and a drink in the cafe just to have a sit down. we'd been walking ~so slowly for hours - seriously, shuffling around the vatican city for hours, and we were just knackered.
but when we finally ~did make it into the sistine chapel, we were awestruck. and not just by the sheer amount of tourists who were crammed into the open hall, but just because... wow. the paintings are as incredible as you're told they are, as detailed and clear, as bright and as incredibly looked after as you're told they are. and you're not allowed to take photos, just like you're told you're not. everyone who's ever heard of the sistine chapel knows this, but it certainly doesn't stop people doing it (it didn't stop me, though no photo i took could ever do these works any justice whatsoever..) or the guards for announcing it regularly over the intercom. yes, an intercom. the very same intercom they use to tell you to be quiet. in case the paintings...hear you? i don't know. i guess because - hey ho, it's still an actual church. or, is it? not sure how you could hold mass in there, it's certainly not easy to find, so i don't know.
it was totally worth the effort trying to find it, but sadly for us, it was over and done with much quicker than we would have liked; ushered out after only a few minutes so more tourists could come in and follow our "we're not taking photos of the ceiling" bit, while we fell back out into the sunny day within moments. an hour to make it in, mere minutes to make it back out. crazy.
but, it was another tick off the bucket list after a lifetime of waiting. that's how it's done!