Take the long way home. The wish.
I really don't know why this page got planted in Trieste? Maybe because it was in Trieste where I had the best pizza this year?
This is the end of the journey with my boys, a little detour via Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia, from Hamburg on 22nd of July to Amsterdam to Paris to Toulouse to Trieste to Zagreb to Bratislava to Vienna on 20th of August. I did not like Zagreb too much but just about everything else.
St. Pauli, Hamburg close to the red light district, right on the party mile is where I park up in Hamburg more by coincidence than anything else. St. Pauli, is cooler than ever, the hoards of young party, in such a contrast to the Nordics a beer is sold on every corner, prices have crumbled since those crazy days in Norway/Sweden too; in Holland a day later I would ask twice whether the price for a beer and lemonade is just 4.20 instead of 16 in Norway.
We get a pizza in St. Pauli; then, till I force them to sleep the boys go out by the side window, around the front wind shield and then climb back in by the other window; all to the surprise of the partying folk. But after hours of doing just this they gladly fall asleep; I on the other hand stay awake nearly all night, only when morning dawns it dies down a bit, too many bottles are being smashed outside, too many drunks lean against the van. In hindsight I should have chosen somewhere else to park. But it is safe here.
We are on route to Amsterdam, but Germany's famous Autobahns greet with congestion and trucks going in one lane 24 hours, no-stop, still all the same, this is Germany. NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk) news puts me in the picture, IFO business climate survey shows the biggest jump since reunification, VW sells more cars than ever (foremost in China, the US and South America). Where has the crises gone while I travelled the North?
My bottle of Jameson's is dry, have my last sib in Amsterdam, it lasted more than 2 months, saved my life, am glad I bought it in Russia. The weather in Amsterdam is a drizzle, not so much change! Think we need head further south then! In Brussels we meet some family, Laarbi and Mouhsine, uncles of my boys. Then on to Paris!
About the beauty.
About the beauty I contemplate in Paris and later.
Yes Hamburg was cool, but not beautiful as Kerstin said, rather cool, cool trash, cool people, young Hamburgers are cool partying people, know enjoy themselves... So it feels when you're out of the Scandis and overwhelmed by the joy in the city, the frosty Nordics a faint memory, thought Copenhagen deserved maybe to be called beautiful but I have seen only so little, but Hamburg? Some beautiful corners maybe around the Alster! What German city could claim this highest of all attributes, nearly all paid that horrific price for their key role in WW2. But some German towns have that coolness attached, like Hamburg.
The boys and I moved on to Utrecht, that maybe called beautiful, but is really too small and provincial to be included here, Amsterdam is cool and beautiful of sorts, also rather smallish, the coolness is a bit diminished to the sweet, sweat smelly fume evaporating from the hundreds of coffee-shops; I was never fascinated by dope smoking, think it eventually burns the brain out, but I adore this smell, I do. Amsterdam though is cooler to tourists, the visiting drinking and smoking hoards; cooler than for its own people. But yes Amsterdam's canal, de gracht system, hundreds of kilometres of waterways and houseboats lining up on its banks and bicycles parked on the passages, the bridges over canals have style; is beautiful.
We go on and see Antwerp; I wanted to see the city again after 15 years; I deemed it so beautiful then. The main square and its 16th century Guildhouses and the town hall are beautiful. At 9 in the morning though Antwerpen/Anvers is dead, I cannot even find coffee for take away or chocolate croissants for the Daniel and David. Dead and beautiful! The chocolate croissants and the coffee have to wait till Brussels, in the Moroccan quarters. Belgium hosts the largest Moroccan community outside Morocco, some 500,000. We find beautifully crispy pain au chocolat, kawa nass-nass, half-half coffee in a Moroccan cafe. Brussels is busier, a walk around 4-5 blocks reveals 15 pharmacies outnumbering easily 3 cafes, 2 patisserie-boulangerie (bakeries), 2 corner-shops, run by immigrants. Alcohol all avail but no fresh milk for my boys. No super market. 1.20 for a chocolate croissant, nice price, will be 0.90 in Paris, still my stomach rebels and fights in agony the worst croissant in the world from Helsinki 1 month and a half ago for 2.40 Euros. Helsinki was not beautiful, provincial; a bit German to me. What can be beautiful when you're ripped off on the croissant level?
Life is becoming more beautiful the more south we come. Brussels Main Square with the town hall takes my breath for a moment, at night and day. This is something! Brussels seats the European government, has had all the monies coming in over the decades, the EU and all that rides on its tail have made this town big, modern, beautiful beyond the main town hall square, from the Moroccan quarters to the Atomium. Brussels is a surprise.
But hey folks, you know me, I would never settle for anything less that the real thing, and that is Paris, Barbes in Paris in particular maybe, the immigrants' quarter next to Montmartre has long become a beautiful little district, Malian or Guinean women in boubou and Algerian women wearing the hijab are as common as mini-skirting French and Asians. In a little corner bar at 6 p.m. a Malian and Algerian men, back from work, business men enjoy a beer and a civilised conversations with one another, some freaks hang around as well, I am thirsty after all that road since Brussels and lunch time, the finding of a parking slot just around the corner (so lucky), have my two small biere-pressions, the boys an Orangina and chocolate croissants from the opposite corner bakery (0.90, life is chocolate sweet in Paris). My boys are seated there on the steps to the upper gallery, seated and sip their bubbly drink, so calm these days. I inhale, the African air, wall post show Fode Baro and Babani Kone concert announcements, both I have taken pictures from in Conakry, those were the days, I shiver again. Ca me fait envier and I miss Africa, now here more than ever.
We meet my friend Laure, buy couscous to take away, Belgian Leffe, climb the Sacre Coeur hill, sit near the steps in the grass, the boys run round, chase a dog round and round their owners, such beautiful Algerian couscous merguez, plus lots of meat, beautiful, Paris below, beautiful, in a haze, stretches as far as the eyes can see, the Sacre Couer Basilica behind, lights go on, the late evening skies turn slightly rose. Paris is everything my heart yearns for, my cosmopolis, a true world capital; multiracial, multicultural, enormous, vast, beautiful, cool! (no pictures from Paris, sry.)
Long and hard way home. The curse.
So there is this long and hard way home via the outer parts of l'Hexagone, Rennes, Toulouse, a detour to pay visit to some old friends, Nico, Julie, Caroline, Philip, it is also a food journey of fantastic French cuisine, great old wines, superb cheeses. You wonder why the whole world has not become French. And for me after all these years that I have come south-west to Ariège, Haute-Garonne and Tarn the friendliness of its very mix of people of Germans, English, Dutch, Canadians and French of course has grown on me.
On Friday 6th of August however I get up early at 5 in Cahuzac to leave paradise. I drive the van east towards sunrise with my boys behind still asleep, in a village I buy croissants for them. Later we dive into the congestions of Montpellier and the heat, still tired I sweat through one round about after the other steer through the avalanche of the vacationing masses of the Mediterranean coast. In Marignane, airport of Provence-Marseille I pick up Christina, arrive exactly when her plane touches down coming from Istanbul via Barcelona, Christina, who I travelled to the Middle East with and Africa before; on and off for almost 18 month.
The boys love Christina, Christina loves the boys, we spend 4 days in Cassis, I have known this fishing village a stone throw over the rough mountains away from Marseille for 38 years, been here in Provence and Cote-d'Azur some 30 times. This is a weekend, the mistral blows the skies clear of any haze; those Van Gogh blue skies. The sea is flat, clear and icy cold, adjacent beaches are packed to the last patch of pebbles (is a weekend), the Calanques (wiki) are closed due to high fire risk, when the beaches empty a bit in evenings we stay till sun sets, a bottle of Côte du Rhone wine as a routine, and the grand rock on the other side glisters in gold, the wind has long abated. It is always pleasant to be back in Cassis.
Tuesday we take to the roads, travel the known and unknown routes and places, but really what is after 30 years still unknown to me seems common knowledge to the vacationing folk. Our voyage takes us through Aix-En-Provence (wiki), a police rendez-vous in Salon-De-Provence and a pizza the boys don't like, don't eat in Saint-Remy-De-Provence (has a lot of Roman stuff and is a pleasant town wiki). Between Avignon (Chateau de Pape wiki) and Orange (the Roman theatre wiki) we spend the night, Carpantras is what France used to be, the boys sleep and we only manage a tour round the block of the hotel de ville (town hall), Venasque is one of those "most beautiful in France", in arty ochre Roussillion the boys are being given an ice cream for free, one, and they are happy sharing it.
The other morning we arrive in Digne-Les-Bains, also a France as it once was, an early draft beer in a bar that has a very distinct Pastis/Ricard anis smell even at the early hours of the days, I would love to have some myself. We buy cheese, one round mature chèvre/goat, one vache/cow between Reblochon and Thome and baguette, but this now really has to go with a glass of red wine, or at least a half of it.
The road north takes us over the Col d'Allos and Col de Vars, we have entered the Alpines. While a pink cloud shows up in the nightly skies and we down two bottles of Côte du Rhone, help with Pastis before and Whisky after, Christina and I know that we'd split. Next morning Briancon is spoilt, Sestriere is Italian then, we land in Torino and while we search for a free Wi-Fi the pouring and the lightening start, while we head for Milano on another morning we have a flat tire. I wanted to see Torino, after 20 years again, I could not see it and I would not see much of Milano either. - Apart from the pigeons and the dome; on a half sunny morning the boys practise to capture, then capture and release those common birds. The North of Italy in summer is empty, all Italian folk is out on vacation, on the coast, all is shut and the irony is I cannot see it for different reasons, ...
So Christina leaves, the boys and I are in the 4th month of the grand voyage which has run its course. This flat tire in the pouring rain from Turin to Milan makes me think:
I managed to get 4 bolts off. The fifth broke the cross spanner, 2 cars I waved down, they took me and I bought new tools, managed to brake them all, the bolt didn't come off, the pouring got harder, the police stopped, the boys were scared, I had to call assistance, 120 Euros, the guy came with a bigger hammer, and a chisels, I held his umbrella while he slammed the bolt for 15 minutes, he didn't even go underneath the van to put the jack in place, is demoralising to pay 120 Euros and jump in the wet dirt oneself... Apart from this all the side door all of a sudden jammed; I needed to get the tires in and out by the front door, such a dirty affair. Then finally and on the very spot the window on the driver's side fell through. This strange feeling of being cursed wanted to surface! Something here was certainly not on my side. I have driven more than 50,000 km to Egypt and the North Cape and all the time lucky/protected. This here said: Read the signs on the wall; this journey is over, go home, take it easy and bring the kids home safely.
Then so it is and it has been a grand great voyage where the boys have grown massively. Monday comes I find new tires on our way to Trieste, weather is drier, I think about what next? What?
Though a bit shattered I could still use the van! Could go to Tirana then Athens? Or, - Bucharest and Kiev then via Kazakhstan to Iran to India? One day maybe! Or, - back to Africa, to the Land Rover which is rusting away in Bamako, - the old cow? Been there! Well then maybe the Americas, the US, New York, buy a car, cross coast to coast. This is what has been calling recently. Not just the US, but start should be NY, this is how I dreamt it up 15 years ago, in a station wagon south! Go to the US like to a party, as an onlooker, a passenger. So what do with the van, the van that won't register anywhere? Hey, there's a van for sale, has two new tires, runs faultless, just the window falls out and the side door jams, comes cheaply. Pays my flight to NY! So-far I keep changing my plans every night. (P.S. Sep 2010: Is funny that when I post edit this I am already in the US.)
Tuesday we get into bright, sunny, midday Trieste, the pizza in the backstreet restaurant is such a delight, the best in over a year. One hour in Slovenia, the boys sleep, no point stopping; no room to do anything anyway, the coast of Slovenia is too short. Croatia is still crowded, still we force our way into old Rovinj (wiki) and its cobblestone streets on the western coast of the Istrian peninsula, next day Pula (wiki) and the Roman coliseum like stadium, temples and arches. Both so nice, just summer here is very over-run and this journey has run its course. Rijeka and Zagreb I don't like, Varaždin neither, all the way up to Győr in Hungary nothing can inspire anymore, we have Bratislava, Slovakia our last night in the van.
On Friday 20th of August we reach Vienna, the boys see Hasna their mother again after 3 month and a half, after 22,000 km to the north of Europe. There is a room for them, a double-decker bed, one on top of the other, it takes them a while to decide where to sleep, on top or on bottom, in the end they decide to sleep on top, together; so I sleep below.
All roads via Rome...
Vienna is all preparation for the boys to go to school/kindergarten. My babies, not babies anymore; independent boys, strong and social, they will learn German now. They like kindergarten. I am serious getting them out on another journey next year.
Evening the 12th of Sep I take the night train to Rome to meet with Christina. Call me stubborn if you like...
Rome attracts, could easily win the earlier beauty contest. But Rome wins another, the one for the most interesting; nowhere else can we admire history changing the very same way as in Rome. I came here with my boys and Hasna when the boys were just 3 months old 2007; we took them to the top of Saint Peter's Basilica but in general the visit then did not allow for much sightseeing and going deep. Christina now shows me her Rome and I could not have hoped for anyone better.
Eine Ochsentour, literally an oxen trek, long and dirty, it never stops. There is always another one, church, temple, piazza and pizza.
From Termini we go and pass Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore (wiki), once a residency to the popes, on our way down to the Coliseum (wiki), then quickly head to the back streets for pizza. A nice cheap-and-dirty place, though I realise that I better not care about pizza quality in Rome, but beer is relatively cheap and Frascati house wine too. Before complete illumination sets in we quit our table pass the Coliseum again, then cut through the Roman Forum (wiki), towards Trajan's Column (wiki), leave the Trajan Markets to the right, turn to the imposing 20th c. white Victor Emmanuel II Monument (wiki). Opposite on Piazza Venetia we wonder briefly which of the two is the Palazzo where Mussolini made his famous balcony speeches (wiki). We climb the steps of Capitoline Hill (wiki) go around and enjoy a view on the various temples and later churches and basilicas in the Forum Romanum. Sun sets.
Sun rises, we head for Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini (wiki), Crypta of the Capuchins; the bones and sculls of 1,000 friars at least (my calculations) are meticulously ordered and artistically arranged, in a macabre act nailed to the ceiling. On a more pleasant occasion we admire Bernini's Nun in Ecstasy (wiki) in Santa Maria della Vittoria. We head down to Piazza Colonna, Marcus Aurelius Column (wiki) commemorating the battles with the Germanics. Then on to Piazza and Palazzo Montecitorio (wiki) which houses the Italian Chamber of Deputies, a 500 B.C. Egyptian obelisk from Heliopolis is set at its centre. On to Pantheon (many gods, wiki), oldest intact Roman Temple, later church of St. Mary and the Martyrs, the spectacular cupola has an opening on the top, for rain and sun and moonlight. Impressive that this concrete dome has not come down in almost 2,000 years, was not plundered completely, when almost everything else around was vandalized. Piazza della Rotonda has a Ramses II the Great, obelisk, in the back on Piazza della Minerva (Athena) is another Egyptian obelisk which Bernini placed on an elephant base. Yes, there are a great many Egyptian Obelisks in Rome. Santa Maria sopra Minerva (wiki) harbors Michelangelo's Risen Christ statue, also some Lippi frescoes.
Almost midday we are in dire need for 2 macchiati in La Casa del Caffé Tazza d'oro; one thing that's always right in Italy is a small strong espresso for 0.80 Euros or even less, if you can avoid the pitfalls of paying as much as 2. Some more quick work is left to do before lunch; before churches close at 1 a.m.: Chiesa San Luigi dei Francesi (wiki) has a couple of Carravaggios (wiki). We are not far from Piazza Navona, one of Rome's finest. We eat pizza in Pizza Ré; my Pizza Romana is slightly watery but will remain the best Pizza in Rome. Nastro Azzuro and the heat make sleepy.
Once sun has set we head for Fontana di Trevi, the Spanish Steps and more Pizza, not worth remembering.
Sun rises, we look for the Basilica Santa Croce in Gerusalemme; we know the story Helena, mother of Constantine who on his death bed converted to Christianity, hunted the cross down in Jerusalem, bringing back relics. On to Porta San Giovanni and the Papal Archbasilica of San Giovanni in Laterano (wiki), with its fine Cosmatesque marble work on the ground, its golden nave ceiling, marble and golden baldachin in the apse. The adjacent Lateran Palace constituted the residency of the popes before they moved to Avignon 14th c. A hot day, we drift towards Circo Massimo, ancient stadium, a buffet in front amongst the dust, the traffic and the heat would sell a .66l bottle of Peroni beer for 4.50 Euros. Obviously nuts, no place to sit! We carry on, some tourist café, sells 0.4l birra alla spina for 6 Euros, an espresso for 2, would be 16 for the two of us, nuts too, we get up from the seats again! 100m on the same side of the same street, we get what we look for, an Italian caffé and espressos for 0.70, a large .66l bottle of Peroni for 2.50 Euros to share. Rome may be tiring when one tries to avoid being taken for a ride, but all too obviously beer and espresso for not even 4 altogether taste so much nicer. We cross the Tiber River over to Trastevere, head for Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere (wiki), church with the same name has a nice 13th c. golden mosaic in the apse. We climb the Janiculum hill for the Garibaldi monument commemorating the Risorgimento (wiki) Battles 1849 with the French, the French fought for the Papal States. An amazing view onto Rome and the churches, cupolas and towers is our reward for the struggle. We descend to Saint Peter's Square. The late day requires some food and wine intake and the proximity to the center guarantees us some bad experience. Pizza not good, Lasagne small, not good and for what it is expensive. The table across sits a group of four tourists, they are being sold a bottle of cheap wine for 90 Euros. At least we traded our half liter house down to 7, is still expensive. Sun sets.
Sun rises. We kick off the day near Termini with Michelangelo's Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (wiki) built inside the baths of Diocletian, inside is Bianchini's 1702 meridian, a sundial to determine the exact calendar. The basilica church also houses a Galileo Galilei (wiki) exhibition, Galileo who was at odds with the church, found suspect of heresy when he supported a heliocentric view of the universe. We head up and to Parc Borghes, some lights are on during the day, out down to Piazza del Popoli another one of Rome's finest Piazzas. Carravaggio's Peter's Crucifixion and Paul's Conversion are found in Santa Maria del Popolo. We are too late, the church is closed and we would only return two days later. We are tired, head home, later sun sets and we enjoy cheap drinks in Via Pigneto, where normal people live and go.
Sun rises and sun sets again. Sun rises again and we return to Piazza del Poppolo and Santa Maria del Popolo (wiki) and the Carravaggios. This piazza is beautiful with the Egyptian Obelisk at its center, a great layout but something is not how it should be, maybe too many light poles in the way. On way to Saint Peter on the banks of the Tiber next to the Augustus Mausoleum I visit the Ara Pacis Augustae (wiki), a Roman altar dug out/restored/reconstructed, put in a museum which does not fit in with its surrounding; charges 8 Euros and feeds some additional modern art in the basement "for free", right now Tullio Pericoli's portraits as landscapes, not that I would not like him, just it does not go with the Altar of Augustan Peace, neither the contest for the logo for 140 years of Rome as a capital.
It starts raining and we escape to a restaurant, pasta and a liter of red wine. Later enter Saint Peter's Basilica (wiki), basically designed by Michelangelo (wiki), his cupola though took many years after his death to be completed. We also admire his Renaissance Pietà sculprure (wiki), Virgin Mary and Jesus' dead body, behind glass, some idiot threw something on it. We see the Crypt of the dead Popes, when we come back sun has come out again. We head back via the Ponte Sant' Angelo. Sun sets. On our way home we search for and find the Circolo degli Artisti, a fine Italian Punk Rock band is on, entry is free, beer for 5, cold pasta for free. Nice! Also C. lets the devil out dancing, pulls the singer off stage and shouts "Viva Italia" in his microphone. Nice day and night!
Sun rises. I am hung over. Late we decide to look for the 140 years of Rome as a capital celebrations, a low-budget farce, there is nothing worth spending time on – just maybe the free viewing in Palazzo Barberini (wiki), a museum which had been closed for a long time. So we stand in line, sun sets, 2-3 hours later we get inside, then we are being pushed around in the gardens in the middle of some 300 people, security has no concept how to deal with the crowd. We actually make it inside the exhibition after nearly 3.5 hours of queuing; I take the picture of some old bitchy woman that pushes her way in front against much complaining by everybody else. Once inside it doesn't get much better, all seems to have been rushed, the English texts on the picture tags shows many typos, some rooms are without any explanation at all. Some rooms show fairly weird mixtures in style and epochs, one has 16 c. Rembrandt style Dutch painters on one side and 200 years older Italian religious icons on the other, seems like the curator has had a great idea. Barberini tonight is so crowded and a rather unpleasant experience, there is no way of telling which direction the exhibition proceeds, we sneak inside an elevator, up to the first floor, without knowing where we go, whether this is permissible. On the first floor we have escaped the worst congestions and discover Raphael's La fornarina (wiki) in an otherwise empty but huge room with marvelous frescoes. It looks as if all has been rushed a bit. We step through some unmarked door, out on some terrace, what we think is a terrace for some air, hmm… that was it then, we have left the exhibition; the guy on the door would not let us back in. Visiting Palazzo Barberini gallery has been a disaster, a waste of time, also we just ask ourselves, where were the Carravaggios?
Sun rises, there is one think left for me, I would not want to miss the Vatican Museum.
Vatican Museum by Christina
Monday's morning hours then drag us through the renaissance winding alleys of Rome looking for that daily espresso, desperately needed to withstand the endless snake-like line outside of the Vatican Museum. Finally after several espressos and about an hour's wait we are allowed in. Entering the lower gallery, a wave of heat and hot air falls upon us, like a wet blanket, the congestion of sweat, odor, and humidity smothered. The complaints of tourists fill the air: "I wonder what this is like in June or July!" and another "We came at the wrong time!" Commiserating we walk on.
We enter the magnificent Vatican courtyard and palace, where popes used to wine, dine and live. The surrounding buildings and gardens are fit for an emperor, or a pope - only a name change. We walk towards the base of the column of emperor Marcus Aurelius. The image of a winged man claims the space, and I wonder if this is man's first depiction of an angel?
Then on through the high ceiling halls and into another courtyard that contains the famous Constantine bronze peacocks and pine cone. They imperiously stand perched atop the courtyard in a terra cotta colored arch. As we stand watching, we can't help but observe two tourists that suddenly throw their headsets down and walk away from their guide in disgust. Some guides are more entertainers than educators. People get taken even in the Holy Vatican City! We decide to move forward and follow the line of tourists that enter the first gallery of ancient sculptures. In this gallery the highlight is the statue of the Primaporta Augustus, standing in contrapposto pose: an echo of an outstanding ancient Greek sculpture, the Doryphorus by Polykleitos. Here Augustus embodies the idealized form of a commanding Roman Emperor. It is a must see for anyone who loves ancient sculpture, history, or just admires Augustus. The ancient sculpture gallery is full of Roman statues and Roman copies of Greek originals. The collection is so vast if it were housed in any other museum or city it would be the main attraction.
From here we make our way into the map section. Huge maps from the 15th to the 17th century, some painted on walls. There is a current of tourists; I feel part of a slow moving river. Manfred, grand voyageur, seems to take his time in this gallery, and being quiet bored I flow to an empty bench where soon a German middle aged man sits next to me and says "so you like maps too?" I just look at him and smile, not knowing what to answer. All these people in one room have zapped my energy. I search for an out, and quickly see that the Etruscan gallery is open, and it is virtually empty!
We wander through the exhibition which was once the palace of Pope Innocent VIII (1484-1492) and come across the most exquisite bronze statue from the 5th c. BC, the Mars of Todi - a warrior dressed in Etruscan armor. There is no doubt to the Greek influences on his shape, proportions, and features. The Greeks were paramount to the development of Etruscan arts and crafts, and one cannot help but think of the Greeks when one sees the Etruscan exhibition. But the 'Etruscan' is also there for those who seek it; in the freedom of their "inexact" proportions, their "flat" surfaces their "harsher" lines and in their "primitiveness." Perhaps they were the first artistic rebels?
Then through the Apostolic Palace where the rooms are painted by Raffaelo 'the great;' his signature painting "The Philosophers" holds his audience in awe with so many wise men in one room, while his "Flight of Aeneas" with images of the sack of Troy and Aeneas carrying his father, Anchises, on his back, transports us back to classical antiquity and to Virgil's "The Aeneid". We then walk down a few stairs and through many narrow hallways to the somewhat hidden Chagalls, Munchs, and Riveras to name a few. The Vatican has so much art that these modern art masters become somewhat of a sideshow, left in the dark corridors between the Raffaelos and Michelangelos.
Tired and worn out the tourist yawn as they forgo entering the galleries and opt to head towards the highlight, the Sistine Chapel. Here tourists take pictures regardless of the constant admonitions from the guards, and signs that prohibit photo shots or videos. This is the only time I have seen tourist not acting like little lambs, here they begin to think on their own, over taken by the beauty; they simply have to have that one shot of Michelangelo's divinely inspired creations. I wonder what has gotten into them, is it the cooler temperature or perhaps they heard the old Roman adage: Better to live one day as a lion than 100 as a lamb? Then I think that this is what people come to Rome for: to see the paintings of a man who did not like to paint. How many can create something so magnificent, beautiful and awe inspiring, while not enjoying it? The contradiction is binding, and is perhaps why so many just keep coming back, hoping some day to figure him, Michelangelo Buonarroti, out.
The Holy Sea understands how to run a museum; which happens to be the biggest collection in the world. Unlike Romans/the city of Rome/Italians a bit full of themselves! We rushed it a bit, after queuing still took almost 5 hours and every bit was worth the effort; for just 15 Euros! Dizzy and exhausted we stumble out for wine and pizza. Later sun sets and we see Saint Peter at night.
Sun rises. I book a flight in the morning, after lunch take the train to the Fiumicino. In London Heathrow just before midnight I get on a public internet and register with ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), I get approval for travelling to the US pretty much the last minute.
A new journey has started.