No. I did not get to meet the pope. I did get to buy some cheapskate rosary to hang in my car though... and a Rome spoon. SCORE!
The Vatican City... even if you're not religious, this place is so worth the visit.
DON'T go with a big bag though because you have to hand it in at the front and the queue to hand your luggage in and the queue to get to back is GINORMOUS.
We were given these cool little headsets from our tour guide and taken on a few hours long tour around the Vatican City which was absolutely breath-taking.
I've never seen churches and architecture anything quite like what I've been able to see first-hand in Europe now... but the Vatican City is just something else.
Also, another piece of handy advice.. try run after your tour guide and stick on her heels because they move FAST! They also all have some sort of a prop they hold up so that you know which is your tour guide if you do lose them amongst the mass of people but sometimes two tour guides will have the same colour flag.
Some had their scarfs tied to their sticks or held up an umbrella just to be different, but ours was pretty boring with a blue flag like the majority of the other tour guides... so I felt like I was doing cross-country inside the buildings half the time to keep up.
After the Vatican City we had some free time in Rome to go inside of the Colosseum and do our own thang for a while, but we had to make our own way back to the campsite.
Of course I headed straight to the colosseum to go inside of it.
The queue was massive and my flu was really catching on... the sun was beating down right on me and I just couldn't do it. I gave up after about half an hour of waiting in the queue that had barley moved and decided to go back to the campsite to rest a bit. I wouldn't have given up my lifelong dream of walking around the ruins of the colosseum unless I was feeling like I was about to die...
So... making the way back to the Seven Hills Campsite. Well, that was fun. NAAAAAAT.
First, a tube station. Then a bus. Unfortunately I didn't realize that you have to let the bus driver know where you want to get off, there are no real bus stops! So I told him as I got on the bus please take us to the Seven Hills Campsite and he sort of smiled and nodded and we gave him our tickets etc before going to relax at the back of the bus.
I only caught on that we'd gone too far way out in the countryside.
To make matters worse, there was no bus coming back the way we needed to go.
So... we were dropped in the middle of no where with no mobile battery to speak of and started to trudge back in the direction we'd come from... and it was so sweltering hot.
We did find our way back eventually though. Thank God.
Word of advice.... do not, EVER, under any circumstances give a Contiki tour group an open bar.... if you want well behaved travellers that will not get you kicked off of the campsite that is:
When we got back to the campsite, our lovely on-road cook, Elaine, had set up the most adorable bar for us!
As the Rome Contiki Campsite (Seven Hills Camping) has an on-site team, we got to mingle with some new faces!
I LOVED the Seven Hills Campsite. It had a pool, a club, a mechanical bull...
We threw this I Love Rome party where we all dressed up in Seven Hills Campsites 'I Love Rome' shirts and got to draw on each others shirt, writing little messages now that we all knew each other better.
At this point in my post I'd just like to thank my lovely Contiki crew for writing the most
Sadly and happily at this stage in our tour, some of the group had to leave us as they were on a shorter tour than us but we also got some new faces joining the team which was great! Until this point I was the only British person on tour (it was mainly a group of AWESOME Aussies) so I was thrilled when two British guys joined up with us.
It is a bit odd to have new people joining after 2 weeks of bonding and creating friendships with your original Contiki group... we were all feeling a bit weird about it because our group was so perfect already. I can only imagine how the newbies must have felt! BUT - they only added to our amazing group! We all got along straight off the bat.
In the club there was a pole... yup. Things got weird.
I'd been fairly decent until this point in tour... but then I slipped down a flight of stairs and landed face up on my back in front of another group of people that must have been in their teens. Bastards.
My next travel post will be about passing through Austria where we went white water rafting and heading into Munich, Germany.