Posted by: Team McSlade | June 22, 2010

Operation Vatican

Operation Vatican was mapped out with due diligence and careful precision. We made more ham, cheese and lettuce sandwiches, packed water, some awesome chocolate biscuits with white stars on them (cheers, El Nootcho for the heads up) with a few pieces of fruit and set out for the train station.
Jo and Kate had scoped out the terrain when booking the apartment (thank you, Trip Advisor), day one brought us joy in reaching the Colosseum in short time and day two had a direct line to the Pope’s Country – The Holy See, Vatican City.

As we trotted down to the smallest country in the world, a shop with every product in the rest of the known world was spied. Two items of particular note were sighted – The Simpson’s Duff Beer and Vegemite. As Jo and I are on the wagon, Matt and Kate did the honours with the beer, while the whim of a pregnant woman was satisfied with a 4 euro purchase of vegemite.

Moving on, St Peter’s Square was entered and I think it takes up about half of the country’s 0.2 square miles of real estate. A fast moving line, bereft with American tourists (read irritating idiots), led us to the security check for St Peter’s Basilica.
A brief side note, when Zach and I strolled to the Colosseum at night, we saw two Australian useless tools (posing as if they were Islamic terrorists with a headscarf, yet drinking beer and flipping the bird), chatting to two nice American girls who said that at the Vatican you need to have covered shoulders and knees to enter the Basilica. Thanks girls, no thanks tools.

No security breaches here, thus the Swiss Guard stayed at ease – and in their clown suits it’s easy to see how they remain tranquil. We had covered enough skin to be allowed entry; Matt and I had contemplated wearing our Gawler Central Tigers footie shorts but the ladies vetoed that fashion move.

Back to the Basilica and we had a look at the tombs of the Popes. It’s fairly eerie to know that the Heads of the Catholic church for many centuries all lie at rest in the one small area. JPII has his tomb lit up like a Christmas tree – no photos please – and St Peter, one of Jesus’ Apostles and the first Bishop of Rome (and thus first in papal succession) is also interred under the Basilica.
It was surreal to realise that one of Jesus’ immediate followers is buried there.
We meandered through the Basilica (the biggest in the world) and the stautues, art and detail in design is staggering. It got to a sensory overload point for Jo and I, so please enjoy the photos below, because words will fail us.

Sunlight from God

A slight issue occurred when Naite took Matt for a walk without letting Kate know where they were. Jo then went looking for them and when Matt and Tato returned, Jo was then ‘lost’. Kate did use some words St Peter would have frowned upon on Matt’s return. It didn’t help when Jess and I wandered away from where Jo asked us to wait, so then I went looking for Jo who was not impressed when I ‘found’ her. (Jo adds that for a split second we were all Team Chaos.)

Matt, Zach and I did a tour of the Cuppola, only 5 euros a head if you feel happy about walking up 519 stairs. We did, thus the run began. At the top of the first 300 stairs we went into the Cuppola and near the work of Michaelangelo we were closer to God.
The next challenge was following the remaining stairs to the top as the walls curved to follow the shape of the Cuppola. Small spiral stairs that smelt of garlic and body odour were not pleasant, but the view from the top was great. We made the trip down in record time and then a few sangas were smashed down on the way to the Sistine Chapel.

We paid the entrance fee and ventured through to check out a few statues, then followed the sign to ‘Sistina Chapella’. Thinking it was just up a flight of stairs and to the left, we couldn’t be further from the truth.
Hallways with elaborate painted ceilings and wall hangings gave way to courtyards with statues, giant marble bath-tubs and fountains. More ceiling artwork, tapestries and statues. We thought that we had reached the Sistine Chapel at the mile marker, but a resounding ‘NO’ was silently heard as we entered the modern religious art realm.
We cut the corner at the next quarter mile marker, thanks to a pram and pregnancy and finally we made it.

Smaller than expected, the artwork was sublime, from the Hand of God, to the drapes painted at ground level. Alas, no photos were allowed to be taken, it could be due to fools using flashes which damages the paint, or cynically due to merchandising that the Vatican wishes to cash in on.
I’m going with the former.

A train ride home after checking out street markets on the way to the station knocked another day on the head.
Jo and I did make a brief dash for ‘adult’s only’ ice-cream and celebrated Mexico’s win in the World Cup near the Colosseum.

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P.S. A correction needs to be made:
Kate (not Jo as previously stated) picked the restaurant for Matt’s birthday for ease of kid-playing and also had the premonition about the table.
Pregnancy played no part in this (as far as we all know) and Jo has said her brain is mush, thus wouldn’t have been able to think that clearly.



  1. Seriously if you guy’s don’t want to work for the Uni your Photography is 15 degrees of pure Awsomeness, this may be a career move

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