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Rome: The Inconsiderate Classroom

On our last full day in Rome, Bec and I planned on taking a paid tour of the Sistene Chapel with Harry, our young English guide from the tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. We organised to meet at 11.30 in St. Peter’s Square, and so jumped on an 11am shuttle bus from the campsite. On each day previous, the bus took around 15 minutes to get into town, and so the 11am bus would give us plenty of time to find Harry and the red umbrella he used to distinguish himself in a crowd. 15 minutes, that is, on other days. On this particular day, it was a painfully slow 45 minutes before we got to Vatican City, and another few before we made it into St. Peter’s Square.

We optimistically looked for Harry and his red umbrella, hoping he might still be hanging around trying to fill numbers for his tour. We stood in the middle of St. Peter’s Square, up on tip toes, pirouetting like a mother looking for a lost child in a department store. But it was no use. Harry was gone, and we would be facing Michaelangelo’s masterpiece on our own. Bec had taken a tour on her visit four years earlier, and was able to fill me in on some of the little details she remembered, which at least gave me some insight into the meaning behind the artwork. The halls and chambers of the Vatican City musuem, deep within which the Sistene Chapel hides, are a seemingly endless parade of historic and priceless art, and took a good hour to amble through before we found ourselves at the door to the Sistene Chapel.

Now, the Sistene Chapel is exactly that – a chapel. A working chapel used for religious worship. One would imagine that when you enter a chapel, or a church, or a mosque, or any building of religious significance, the courteous thing to do out of respect for the building and those who use it would be to remain silent. It’s simple common courtesy. The Sistene Chapel isn’t just any old chapel either – it’s the bloody Pope’s chapel. The Pope. As I walked in I was trying my darndest not to whistle through my nose when I breathed, let alone daring to speak. It seemed, however, that the plague of tourists in there didn’t believe the same courtesy was necessary. The packed room was buzzing with chatter, like a class of school children mucking about before the teacher walks in. I’m not the most religious of guys, but I found it, frankly, disgusting.

Attempting to block out the horrible noise around me, I tilted my head back, and gazed up at the brilliant art adorning the ceiling. Taking it all in was near impossible, and understanding how one man could produce a work of such magnitude was beyond me. Despite the tourists, it was a spectacular sight well worth the visit.

Plus, we saved 25 Euros each on the tour, which we put to good use that night with dinner at the campsite restaurant. Grabbing the menu off the table, I turned directly to the drinks list. It was 4 euros for a 400ml beer, of which we’d already had a couple at the bar next door, or just 7 euros for a litre beer. Well, that there decision made itself folks. Bec and I both ordered litre beers and sat back to wait for the steins to arrive.

To our wonderful surprise however, we weren’t served with steins, but rather the waiter plonked down on our table what resembled one of those jars full of brains you might find in a mad scientist’s laboratory, but perhaps a bit taller and skinnier. And, of course, rather than being filled with brains, 2 litres of the amber fluid sloshed around inside. The jar sat up on a four-legged tripod (a quadpod?), and so was towering over Bec and I on the table. At the base of the jar, and this is the brilliant part, was a tap – the sort you’d find on a water cooler. It was like having our own little micro brewery right there on the table. We were the happiest kids in town.

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One Response to “Rome: The Inconsiderate Classroom”

  1. Mark Hogan Says:

    Ahh, the quadpod, otherwise know as a table my friend!

    Rome sounds like camping at Lake Fyans, you just need Jim and Murray digging trenches in the rain and everyone would be safe from flooding.

    Catch up with you soon.

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  3. admin Says:

    Hey mate, trust me, this was no mini table, it was a quadpod.

    Not really sure how the hell the tent kept the rain out, but I’m glad it did, plus I don’t really know how Jim and Murray’s backs would hold up these days with all that digging. They’re getting on a bit.

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