Monday, January 7, 2013
We left cinque terra and got on a 730 train to la spezia where we had 2 minutes to get off the train and make it to our other train heading for Pisa. We seriously barely made it! We rode that train into Pisa, hopped off the train, drug our luggage with us to the amazing leaning tower.
We were walking down this long road thinking we had been misled by one of the Italians who said “Scusa? Oh yes, tower….that way” pointing aimlessly, we were about to walk to a dead end that was cut off by a giant wall. Brian was ahead of me when he stopped dead in the middle of the road and looked back at me and had a huge smile on his face. This is what he saw.
I can't believe that tower is even standing at all! Amazingly though, it is.
After being at the tower for a little bit, we walked back to the train station with all of our luggage and waited a couple minutes for our train to Rome. We got on our train and I went straight to sleep for about two hours while Brian read. When I woke up, Brian took a nap. We got to Rome and checked into our hotel, which luckily was really close to the train station. We got there and got let in by a guy who said we weren’t supposed to be checking in until 9, and reluctantly showed us our room. It seriously was like we were guests in his apartment. We went through a dining room thing that had papers and junk everywhere. There were very thin doors separating our room and this man’s room. The bathroom was across the way, and the shower was very inconspicuous. It stuck out of the wall in between the door and the toilet. You had to squeegee the floor once you were done, awkward. We had planned to be in Rome on Saturday afternoon so we could make it to the Vatican museums that closed at four and sadly were not open on Sunday. By the time we paid for our rooms and got some last minute directions from the creepy man, we realized it was 3 and began our run to the subway. We were running to the subway when I got light headed. I think I was hungry and weak from the lack of food for the day. Brian realized how I felt and stopped quickly at a cafe and paid ten euro for two grilled sandwiches and ate as we ran.
Sadly, it wasn’t enough for Brian, and his mood showed it. We got to the subway where we had to run up stairs down stairs and all around and in between trying to get to the right place. We got to our subway and rode 7 stops. Watching the time tick away, we hopped off that subway and ran for the Vatican! It was 3:45 and we only had 15 minutes to get through the doors to see it. Finally we found the doors and made it through security with 10 minutes to spare. We went in the doors and up the stairs where we were to pay for the museum. I told Brian to pay with his card because we needed the cash for food. We approached the desk and they said it would be 30 euro. Brian pulled out his card and they said “cash only”. What? Cash only? Brian looked in his wallet and there was a single 20 euro lying there. We didn't have enough. We asked the man if there was an ATM nearby and he said down the street. Brian gave me the 20 and told me to go through and he would get cash and try to make it back in if he could. With only 5 minutes until the doors closed, Brian went out of sight. I sat there watching my clock until 4:00. I thought maybe he would make it thru the doors and run up to meet me. I went to check down the stairs where we had just gone thru security. The doors were closed! I asked one of the guards if my husband could make it through and they said not if the doors are closed. For some reason I had a panic attack thinking how am I ever going to find Brian in a strange, crowded, and scary city? I also thought of how upset he was going to be with our efforts to get to the Vatican on time, and we spent our money on those sandwiches we bought on our run to the Vatican. I was walking slowly past a few security guards and began to get very anxious when one came up to me and asked me if I needed something. He saw my tears building and said what's wrong? I think the only thing I got out was
“husband..outside..no cash.. ATM”. The man asked if I could call him and I explained I did not have a phone and we just came to see the Vatican straight from the train station. He took me to the exit doors and helped me look outside for Brian, but for some reason, he kept putting his arm up and wouldn't let me pass him. He asked me if I saw him. I was looking frantically for Brian, feeling a little silly with myself for freaking out, I spotted him! It was Brian! I yelled his name and pointed to him for the guard. The guard grabbed Brian and pulled him thru the exit. The guard told us to follow him. Brian was confused asking what was going on. I let him know that I got scared and upset when he didn't come back. So while I recovering from my ordeal, we followed this guard to the ticket desk where the started talking Italian to a couple other people. I began to realize, HEY, I got Brian into the Vatican! I said to him, did you get to the ATM? They may let us in if you have the cash. Brian explained that when he got to the ATM, it was broken. I actually thought to myself, we got so close to going through. My tears weren’t enough. The Italian finally turned around from talking to the other guards and handed us 2 tickets and said “here, it's free”. Even Brian almost shed a tear after that. The emotions of it all, the hunger, the tiredness, frustration all of it was just too much. We gave thanks to them. I really hope they understood how much that meant to us.
We toured through the place and saw the sights. By far the Sistine chapel was the best, but we did get to see some rembrandt and rafaelo too! People were pretty blatantly taking pictures of the chapel, and even Brian snapped a few. They rang this bell and started kicking everyone out. We got outside and sat on the steps to just recuperate.
I gave him a euro both for his help and so he'd leave us alone. Later he took another one for us, which was nice of him. We tried to get back on the subway only come to find out its only good for one time in the subway, so we had to buy yet another ticket. We stopped for gelato to make the emotional day a little better.