It was a relatively early start this morning. I had breakfast and then grabbed my bag and my three coins…
… and headed to the theater to check-in and wait for my excursion.
I opted for the “Transfer to Rome” excursion, which is exactly what it says – a bus ride into Rome and back to the port. I know there are people who will never do a ship-based excursion, but I generally have no issues with them. As a solo traveler, private tours, if even available to one person, are super pricey – if you’re dividing it between family members or a group it can be more reasonable, but as a solo I’m not comfortable going with the shared private tours thing. Plus when you’re talking about 90 minutes or so to the city, I much prefer having the insurance that if something happens to the bus, the ship will wait for us as long as they can or the cruise line will take care of getting us to the next port or to the ship.
I do find it amusing how the ship crew and communication is all “Don’t look like a tourist” in their port safety tips, yet for excursions they put this glow-in-the-dark color sticker on you, and some tours even put headsets around your neck. But anyway…
The bus was called, and we headed out. There was a “guide” with the bus who gave us basic information and offered a Hop On Hop Off bus ticket and/or a skip-the-line Vatican tour if people wanted those – it would be charged to your stateroom if you did. I already had my route mapped out and had plans, so I didn’t buy either. We were dropped off near the Vatican in a garage that was specially designed for busses during the last Jubilee celebration, and we walked to the gift shop close to St. Peter’s that would serve as our meeting point that afternoon.
I had printed out directions to the locations I wanted to visit via GoogleMaps, and I set off.
Stop 1: The Spanish Steps
I knew they were undergoing restoration, but I still wanted to visit. Then it was off to Stop 2.
The Trevi Fountain
Which was being cleaned. Seriously?!?!?!? I was going to ask one of the helper/traffic mover people when they planned to have it back on, but I heard someone in front of me ask, and the answer was “Maybe 6?” OK, so I wasn’t going to get to see it with water. There were a few little puddles though, and people were still throwing their coins in, so I did as well. 🙂
The full view of the dry fountain…
Then it was time to head to Stop 3 – The Pantheon
I was going to meet my friend Vincenza at noon, so I had some time to wander around and watch the light from the oculus
move around the walls.
I wandered around the square in front for a little while until Vincenza and I found each other. She’d brought a former student with her, which was fine. We went to a restaurant I’d found online – Voglia di Pizza – which has their entire menu available gluten-free!!
I opted for the pizza with prosciutto!!
After lunch we walked up to Piazza Navona…
Of course, Vincenza and I had to get a picture together!
We then went to a coffee place her student knew of, and I got an espresso granita con panna.
Then she had to go to catch her train, so I headed back over towards the Vatican. I checked my watch and the length of the line to get into St. Peter’s (the security line) and it didn’t look horrid, so I decided to go in.
Then it was time to meet up for the bus ride back to Civitavecchia.
That wait or get you back clause ALMOST came into play with that adventure. The bus almost didn’t make it out of the garage. There was a hill out, and the bus really needed to not stop at the top, but every time we’d get there, cars would be going around the roundabout and the driver would have to stop. Finally a couple of other busses got out and blocked the oncoming traffic so we could just get a running start and go. Andrea, our guide, joked that he could tell we’d all had a good lunch. After that, the drive back was uneventful.
Then it was dinner, a walk around the ship…
…and an early bedtime because the next day would be another one that started early and was long and lots of walking.