A Travellerspoint blog

The Vatican

(And other misadventures!)

sunny
View The BIG OE on RachMulder's travel map.

Well, day 5 in Rome. :-)

On Thursday we showed up for our Vatican tour in the morning at 8am, only to find that it had left at 7:30. So... we rescheduled for the next day, and went to visit the Spanish steps instead. Here's a pic of Robyn at the Spanish steps - not very exciting except that we are fairly certain that Audrey Hepburn stood in this exact spot. (Boys roll their eyes - I know Jessy will think it's cool!)

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This area is art and fashion central. The main plaza is filled with artists selling excuisite little paintings, and down any of the side streets you'll find absolutely top-of-the line fashion stores. Gucci, Prada, Dior... Anyone fancy a pair of shoes for €380? Not exaggerating! Naturally, we didn't buy anything - still it was fun!

On the way back I took this pic. What IS that? I kept expecting to see Mr Bean come hooning around the corner to plow over it...

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On Friday we went to Vatican City. This is actually a country in it's own right, (the smallest in the world), with a population of about 1,000 people and it's own army. Below are a couple of pics I took inside. (Click to enlarge and view my comments).

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Unfortunately we were not allowed to use our cameras inside the Sistine Chapel (the famous 15-year work of Michelangelo) - which was really the most fascinating part. A lot of funny stories around a particular painting called 'The Last Judgement', which you can probably Google. Originally Michelangelo painted all of the characters naked (arguing that no-one would need clothing on judgement day). A particular Cardinal got upset about this, and went and tattled on Michelangelo to the Pope. To spite him, Michelangelo added the Cardinal to his painting in the bottom right-hand corner (i.e. in hell). When the said Cardinal complained to the Pope again, he was told that the Pope could do nothing about the matter, as he had no jurisdiction in hell. True story. ;-) Clothing was added by another painter, years after Michelangelo's death.

Today we went for a VERY long walk (2 hours at least!) to find a market, marked on our map. And what did we find? Zilch. Very disappointing. We are sure we were in the right place, so perhaps it was just an old map... Found a pretty street, though - check this out...

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I wish you all could see how beautiful it is here. One minute of internet left...

Love to all!

Rach

Posted by RachMulder 07:52 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Rome Sweet Rome

sunny
View The BIG OE on RachMulder's travel map.

This place is completely awesome - we have been here now for two days and already we love it. :-) The weather is perfect - not too hot, and not pouring with rain like it was in Greece. The food is delicious - pizza and spaghetti, mmmm! Way better than Egyptian soggy pizza.

Today we have been out on foot exploring the city - our hostel is right next to the train station and within walking distance of everything that we want to see, so it has been easy to get around. Check these out:

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This place is loaded with scooters like you wouldn't believe. The streets are quaint - mostly all cobbled and close together. Pedestrian crossings, we have discovered, are mostly there for show - look before you get flattened (sorry, I mean look before you cross!)

Today we have been out doing some of the things that you're supposed to do in Rome. We ate gelato, threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain and saw the Pantheon. We also stopped in a couple of churches and took some photos - I will enjoy showing them to people who are interested when I get back, but statues and stained glass aren't too captivating over the internet, so I'll spare you the details now.

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My internet time is almost up, but before I go I have to vent my frustration about our hostel: this place is completely crusty! The beds are so close together that you basically have to get on at the end. Shower and toilet doors can't be locked, so they drift open while you're inside. And the elevator? I just hope I'm not in it when it decides to plummet from the fourth floor... (I'm exaggerating - don't worry, Mum!)

Apart from the hostel, we are very happy - and there is so much to do that we really don't notice it much. I'm loving getting the emails and comments, so please don't stop sending them!

Love,
Rach

Posted by RachMulder 07:08 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Finishing off the Egypt tour

sunny
View The BIG OE on RachMulder's travel map.

Hello again! Thanks to everyone for your comments and stuff - it's really nice to know that my blogs aren't disappearing into cyberspace without being read :-)

I'm just backtracking a wee bit as I'm not sure whether people are finding my gallery with most of my photos in it.

Below are some pics from the end of our tour in Egypt. I won't go into details about each one, but if you click on it you can view a bigger image and my comments about that pic:

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There are more pics in my gallery so please check them out.

- Rach

Posted by RachMulder 07:00 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

Aswan and the Nile Cruise

Finally an internet cafe that won't break the bank!

sunny
View The BIG OE on RachMulder's travel map.

Hi everyone!

Well, it's been a good few days, and so much has happened that I really don't know where to start... We met up with our tour group on Sunday night, and on Monday we did the Cairo museum, the pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx.

It's hard to describe all of these fantastic, ancient places in a single blog - just looking at and being close to things that are thousands of years old is an eerie experience. The Cairo museum was a surprise - I had expected it to be really flash, but in spite of the treasure that it holds, it is relatively budget. Most of the displays are not in cases, and can be freely touched by tourists (although there are signs saying not to!) Among the things that we saw were the famous treasure of Tutenkhamun, and the Rosetta stone (the actual Rosetta stone - wow!) It was all way too much to take in, and there were crowds of tourists everywhere - I could've spent hours more. Regrettably we were not allowed to take photos...

The Giza pyramids and the Sphinx were nice in their own ways - but being around either monument was a little daunting. Each was surrounded by local boys and men, intent on conning hapless tourists into buying souvenirs. Fortunately our tour leader explained some of their more tricky methods, and we were able to come out of the experience unscathed. It's a little like being mobbed, though - they really are VERY persistent and hard to ignore.

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On Monday overnight we travelled by bus from Cairo to Aswan (way South of Egypt). I'm glossing over it here, but really it was a horrible ride - I came down with a nasty cold on Sunday night and slept very little on the bus :-) It was hard luck - catching cold in Egypt (of all places!) - I'm still not quite sure how I managed it. But there were a few familiar medicines available, and I am well on the road to recovery now.

A bit of a funny story around the bus ride actually... We were originally going to travel by sleeper train, but a new law which forbids tourists to travel this way forced our tour leader to make alternative arrangements. A number of our group (all Asian late teens who look dressed for shopping malls, not travel) were exceedingly put out by this development, and set about making their feelings known. Poor Rafik (our tour leader) couldn't do anything about it, and was very agitated by the end of the ride. They even went so far as to draw up a petition, demanding first class upgrades on the cruise boat as compensation. A real 'us' and 'them' culture has evolved since then, with the eclectic group of white Europeans being the more reasonable ones, and quickly rising in favour with Rafik. It's kind of like reality TV... :-P

On Tuesday morning we visited the Edfu Temple - the best preserved of all of Egypt's ancient monuments. Again, my experience of this was somewhat tarnished by my cold, but I got some good pics.

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Tuesday night we visited the Kom Ombo temple - this was a pleasant reprieve from sightseeing by day, although the place was harder to photograph by night.

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Today (Wednesday) has been the first day that I have started to feel better. Anita, Ron, Robyn and I have spent the day perusing the local markets in Aswan where we are docked, and getting cheated out of our money. ;-) I have almost used up my internet time - for your enjoyment, though, a selection of our favourite 'pick-up lines', which the locals use to try and make you buy stuff:

"Baby Spice! Baby Spice! Shakira, stop here, Shakira!"
"Wait - you, you dropped something. My heart, you left it back there!"
And, my personal favourite...
"Hey - I know you. I saw you last night! Yes! I saw you last night in my beautiful dream!"

I have more photos in my gallery that aren't in this post, so please check it out!

Until later,

Rach

Posted by RachMulder 07:48 Archived in Egypt Comments (1)

Second day in Cairo

sunny
View The BIG OE on RachMulder's travel map.

Well it's day 2, and I still can't get used to this place! Robyn and I went for a walk today, and the roads - wow! So different from home...!

Everything smells like animal manure and is dirty and dusty. There is a strange mixture of vehicles and animals on the streets - lots of stray dogs and cats (very timid, though - they don't approach people) and a fair number of people with horse/donkey carts laden with all kinds of foods. The pavement stops and starts whenever it feels like it, and people mostly just walk on the road. The streets are lined with people and EVERYBODY toots at you as you walk past. Every second car professes to be a taxi, and they all slow down and stick their heads out the window to find out if we want a ride. It's slow progress!

We were out for about half an hour in search of an internet cafe (internet at the hotel is about $10 NZD for half an hour!) before we decided to turn back - being outside is exhausting as we find ourselves a constant feature. Robyn knew what to expect based on her experiences in Costa Rica, but I confess it makes me a little uncomfortable. Last night our waiter asked me to come home with him: "It is top secret between us", he told me. Hmm - tempting, but no thanks... ;-)

The fair skin and uncovered heads and legs make us totally conspicuous - it is impossible to blend in. I very much look forward to being joined by Anita and Ron tomorrow - and am particularly hoping that having Ron there will shield all three of us girls from some of the attention.

We plan for a quiet day today while we wait for the rest of the tour group to arrive tomorrow. From there we will be taken to the quieter city of Aswan, where we both look forward to beginning our sightseeing.

Due to the cost of internet here, I may wait a few days before I write again. When I do, I am sure I will have heaps to tell! Until then,

Rach

Posted by RachMulder 01:32 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

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