Bright and early the next morning, the alarm goes off, I hit the snooze once, twice, three times until I’m a little late getting up. The bed was comfy, so that’s my story.
Finally get up and get ready, then head for the light rail. I’d planned on getting my ticket at the kiosk along the way, but they’re not open this early. Hmm. OK, I’ll get it at the rail station. When I get there, I find that the only place to buy tickets is on the wrong side of the tracks. So I miss the first train. Have to wait 15 minutes for the next one. And I’m already a little late. All these little things accumulate and conspire to make me a lot late and soon I’m in danger of missing the Vatican tour all together.
So while I’m on the light rail, heading for the termini, I try to come up with a plan that’ll get me to right across from the Vatican to meet my tour group on time. Can’t seem to figure anyway to do that, especially after the light rail stops on the track, nowhere near a train station, and just sits there for 5-10 minutes. I have no idea why. This track is a dedicated track with only a train crossing in one place but that’s where we stopped. We do stop every once in a while at a typical stop light while cars cross in front of us. Eventually, the other train came along and crossed our tracks, the street light eventually turned in our favor, and after that, off we went. Alright, I’ll have to get a taxi at the termini, can’t take a bus or walk. Train arrives at the termini, I hurry through the labyrinth until I see daylight upstairs and I head up to the taxi station. Long line of taxis but of course you have to take the first one. Lucky for me it was a guy who spoke English, who looks like a race car driver, and whose eyes light up when I tell him the problem. Sure, he says, I can get you there on time.
You know those movies where the hero is racing through Rome like a boss? WE DID THAT!! No shit! Boy, was it fun. Even while hanging onto the grips, and with my seatbelt on, I was sloshed back and forth in the front passenger seat like a bag of rice. We zipped through parts of town without many stop lights and I could tell he was taking a route that wasn’t exactly straight…which was OK with me if it kept our speed up and the number of stops down. Tires squealing, taxi skittering a ways across morning dew dampened cobblestones, people jumping out of the way when they saw us approaching, and one ‘slam on the brakes’ to stop for a light turned red. Downshifting and upshifting as we careened up and down hills, engine roaring. Great fun. Just like the movies.
We get there, literally, with one minute to spare. I am sooooo happy about arriving on time, and the great ride, that I not only pay the guy but also give him a very generous tip, along with a hearty handshake. Pretty obvious that he enjoyed the hell out of it too. Whew. Made it. It was thrilling.
So I walk down the ancient stairs to meet my group and the tour operators sign me in. Then we wait 10 minutes or so for some stragglers. Really.
When everyone has arrived, up the stairs we go, cross the street, and into the side door of the Vatican. I didn’t get a picture but the door is rather non-descript, the wall surrounding the Vatican going either direction is very high and long so you really can’t see much, and there’s quite a crowd queued up outside. We walk right past the que and up the stairs into the doors.