Alone Like a Rolling Stone

I don't like fish

Not liking fish on a round-the-world cruise, however, restricts the menu considerably. Gaby and I like to eat fish and we are already looking forward to our first own catch. In the meantime we eat our way through the numerous restaurants in Fiumicino. As the fishermen moor their boats close to the restaurants, the fish is always very fresh. The choice for carnivores is rather modest, if not non-existent. We as omnivores have, as already mentioned, no problems - as long as, yes, as long as no carnivore comes to visit. But just this circumstance occurred with us last week. Walter, called Walle by everyone and the brother of two bigger sisters, did not have an easy life, at least in his younger years. Maybe this is the reason for his filigree choice of food in restaurants, where some vegetables, by no means fish and cheese, at least cold, must not be present. The easiest way is of course the swabian cuisine, which unfortunately is not available here in the area around Rome. Then there is the pizzeria that can be found here in some places. Walle can obviously live on pizza for days, even weeks if necessary, but we got bored on the third day and so we tried to persuade him to visit a restaurant with good plain cooking from the region. Of course this needed a certain attempt.

Walle came by plane from Stuttgart and we picked him up at the airport. Gaby, the middle one of the three siblings, immediately gave her brother a big hug and I was also happy to receive our first visit this year. We took him to the hotel by bus, as a hotel couch was more comfortable for him than a bunk on our ship. Well, as we are still on land this week, it would have been very awkward and so we were quite happy that he had chosen this option. Nevertheless, we then had a boat tour and enjoyed our first beer in the cockpit in wonderfully warm weather. With a short walk to the sea and a stop at our Irish Pub in Fiumicino, the day ended quite fast and it was time to have dinner. Because of the above mentioned thing, we started with a pizzeria. With a "nightcap" at the hotel we said goodbye and went back to the boat.

The next day the first visit to Rome was announced. We took the bus to the Vatican and started our first day of sightseeing from there. Passing the Castel Sant'Angelo, we strolled through the old town of Rome. Via the Pizza Navona we reached the Pantheon and, after a detailed tour, we went on to the Trevi Fountain. From here we walked over the Trajan markets to the Colosseum. Rome is always well visited and there are a lot of tourists on the streets and queues form in front of the sights, but what we noticed immediately was the much lower rush now in January, compared to the months of September, October and November. A good travel month as we think. Walle had obtained a Rome card with "Fast Line" for the Colosseum and for the Vatican Museums including the Sistine Chapel. For the Colosseum admission was today at 13:30, for the Vatican Museums tomorrow at 10:30. The so-called "Fast Line" is used by groups with guides and pass-holders and entitles them to pass by the normal queue of people and to be admitted at the booked times. For this, one pays then the double entrance fee. During the main travel time, this is absolutely reasonable, as as already said, there is an enormous rush at the sightseeings and the number of visitors within the sightseeings is limited. But the entrance fees are quite high and the city, which is not cheap anyway, can make a big hole in the travel budget. We were a little earlier at the Colosseum and Walle had to wait at his "Fast line" until he was let go. In the meantime we had queued up and bought a ticket, so the "Fast Line" became the "Slow Line" which was more coincidence. The amphitheatre of Rome is impressive alone by the size and shows which popularity gladiator fights must have had at that time in Romania. The time was progressing, but Walle had brought condition and was not tired by far. Passing the arch of Titus we headed for the Circus Maximus, leaving the Foro Romano on the right. The stadium, where once chariot races were held, fasted 200'000 visitors in the last stage of expansion. Today you don't see much of it anymore, but the track where the races took place is still clearly visible. We walked over the wall that separates the oval in the middle and imagined how Ben Hur once drove his horses and the people cheered him on. Walle had got the tip from a friend to visit the quarter Trastevere with its many pubs. Via the Tiber island, which was formed in a river bend and where the church San Giovanni Calibita and a hospital are located, we reached the picturesque quarter Trastevere. Here you will find numerous pubs and restaurants and you can even find some bars where the beer is still affordable. We visited one or two pubs in order to compensate our loss of fluids and slowly made our way back to our bus stop at the Vatican. Back in Fiumicino we had to go to the Pizza in the old reinforced Pizzeria because of the above mentioned thing, but it had a day off today. Not far from the bus stop we found a restaurant which offered spaghetti also without seafood and thus also Walle became satisfied.

The next day it was the turn of the Vatican Museums with the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is embedded in the Vatican Museums and therefore cannot be booked alone. So you have to take the whole package. Thus, the Vatican elegantly avoids the otherwise free entrance to the churches of Rome. Since Walle had an appointment at 10:30 this time, we were quite early and that was a good thing, because a long queue had already formed in the "slow line". This time Walle was faster and after one hour we met again inside and started the tour. With 5 million visitors per year the museums are one of the best visited. The "Slow Line" currently costs 17€, the "Fast Line" 35€. During the time we were queuing, about 1/3 use the " Slow Line" and 2/3 the "Fast Line". If I transfer this to the year I get with 5 million visitors the proud yield of 145 million €. Inevitably the 7 deadly sins came to my mind, where the Vatican allows itself, probably a more generous interpretation. However, the museums were impressive in terms of the works of art in paintings, sculptures and frescoes. Innumerable known and unknown artists are exhibited here. In the Sistine Chapel it got really cramped. Close together, the visitors crowded in and admired the works of Botticelli, Perugino, Rosselli and Michelangelo, to name but a few. The constant shouting "Silenzio" didn't really help and in between a voice "No photos please" reminded again and again that no pictures may be taken here. All in all not a peaceful place like you are used to from a church, but rather a fairground. Maybe the Vatican should think about the "Fast Line", but there are millions of money, it would be a pity to give it away. Walle, Gaby and I now know at least how mankind came into being, since Michelangelo captured the scene when God touches Adam's finger with his finger. Right next to it, by the way, is the much less known scene of how God created Eve, but who wants to know all that woman stuff. Satisfied to be once again richer in knowledge, we left the Vatican and entered it again a few meters later. We had arrived at St. Peter's Square and wanted to wave to the boys of the Swiss Guard. After this visit we said our final farewell to the Vatican and headed for the Spanish Steps. Walle wanted to visit the Hard Rock Cafe in Rome by tradition and the stairs were on the way there. A burger was really to Walle's taste and also I, as an omnivore, could not say no. Only Gaby pinched and was content with red and white fries. The HRC was quite outside and we were already almost 10 km on the road again, so we looked for the shortest way back. The shortest way is not always the fastest, as we happened to pass an Irish Pub, which we just couldn't get past. When we were outside again it was already dark, but we still found the way to our stop. Arrived in Fiumicino, we returned to the pizzeria because of the above mentioned thing and ate a pizza.

The next day we actually wanted to go to Ostia Antika. The neighboring town would not have been so exhausting for the end. Incautiously I mentioned on the way to the bus stop that St. Peter's is not the official seat of the pope, but the arch-basilica San Giovanni in Laterano and if there is interest, one could also have a look at it. There was interest and so we went to Rome a third time, this time to the bus stop at Termini station. To get in the mood we visited the Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore, which is on the way. Having escaped the church rituals for too long, Sunday and the church celebrations that followed were only called back into our brains when we had already entered the church and the incense had pulled up our noses and clouded our brains like a joint bought in an Amsterdam coffee shop. At the second church, a bit more cautious, we finally reached the papal seat and entered the basilica at the end of the ceremony. Via the Therme di Caracalla, by the way the biggest one I have seen so far, we reached after a long walk our dear learned quarter Trastevere. In a café we drank a beer and ate a little snack. At the end of the day, Walle had the Castel Sant'Angelo on the agenda. Gaby and I renounced, because we had already seen it and we were glad to rest a little in a pub. After this eventful long weekend we wanted to finish it in Fiumicino in a restaurant. But because of the above mentioned thing this was not so easy and after we had already taken a seat in a restaurant and we had to get up again because there was only fish to eat, we ended up in the Irish Pub in which there were also burgers. It was a fish burger, but Walle can't speak Italian and so nobody wants to know exactly.
It was a joke, Walle, it was a joke!
Of course it was not a fish burger and we had a great weekend together with many experiences in Rome. On Monday we took Walle back to the airport and said goodbye for an indefinite period of time. Take care Walle with you again and again!

At the end of the week we go back into the water with our Katinka. We will tell you how it all worked out in the next blog. Until then, as always, fair winds and keep your ears stiff.