This is the 8th of a series of posts recalling my trip to Europe, using e-mails sent at the time. Unlike later trips, I didn’t e-mail people everyday. Trip reports are largely as I wrote them at the time with two exceptions: 1. I was usually pretty rushed due to Internet fees in Europe, so I’ve cleaned up my e-mails to make them more coherent, which wasn’t a priority at the time. Also, in some blog posts I’ll add additional thoughts with the hindsight of nine years later or to add further clarification. I’ll use “NOW” in such cases.
This 8th report covered Rome & Area day 2 (technically Vatican City is another city and even another country). I must have found cheap Internet because my reports were more frequent than previously. Either that or I just got desperate for the human connection around then.
I went to Vatican City today. Because it's Sunday most of it turned out to be closed. Did get to see St. Peter's and before that saw Pope John Paul give mass. Actually he was pretty hard to see directly but screens made him more visible. Whatever your respective religious beliefs, you have to admire him for getting through mass in his state. He was clearly tired and his hands were shaking. I have my doubts that he will last out the year.
I seem to have lost my phrase book at a pay phone. Sigh. At least pages from guide books should give me the most important words. Before losing my sunscreen I also lost my cap.
[NOW: The fact that the pope survived a number of years after this when his health was clearly failing him back then further adds to me respect for him. From little I understood of Italian, it appeared that his health was making the newspapers, as I noticed the next day.]
Berlin may be cheaper than expected. If so it'll go back on the list. Also thinking of putting Budapest and Vienna back on my itinerary too. The Nordic countries are still toast. Even without the railpass problems I might not be able to fit them in since I’ve been expanding my time in Rome a bit.
[NOW: Sadly I never made it to any of the above.]
The bed and breakfast doesn't have much of a breakfast but is the most social place I’ve been to so far.
Forgot to mention yesterday: lots of stray cats since hitting Portugal; one yesterday had a broken leg I think, but I don't know who could help with that here.
[NOW: The cats were particularly noticeable in Rome. I don’t recall seeing cats in Portugal or the other places to Rome, but I probably did and just forgot about them.]
Spider-Man is either here or about to be shown soon, but I'm told most films here are dubbed rather than sub-titled so I’ll wait.
[NOW: I finally saw it soon after I got back to Victoria. Found it highly overrated.]
Rome is calm today due to Sunday but traffic here is otherwise worse than ret of Europe I'm been too. For crosswalks without lights, the usual tactic of stepping forward on a crosswalk when a car is at a distance does NOT work; the car will not slow down for you. All told I’ve gained a new appreciation for the driving abilities of Canadian and American drivers.
[NOW: See last report for more on this I suppose it’s possible that the crossing the street incident that I recall as happening on my first day in Rome may have happened on the second.]