Unholy Climb (Vatican City)

Vatican City ~ St. Peter’s Basilica – 2014

You would have to be a complete and utter moron to not anticipate a long line when it comes to visiting the Vatican City…what? …WHAT?! No, that wasn’t an inference towards me being an ignorant moron – how rude of you to assume! SHEESH! But now you say it…I was slightly taken aback at just how massive the line was! In fact I recall that when we got to St. Peter’s square there was a cartoon-ish moment where I found the back of the huge line and thought “urghh, great!”, only to be shot a thousand disapproving glances from the surrounding mob of strangers – which made me aware that the real back of the line was actually approximately five miles down the road…“Oh Jesus Christ?!?!” (OOPS!) Cue more stares from my grumpy neighbours as I slumped off in defeat.

This was going to take forever, if the searing heat doesn’t kill me, then I am sure that boredom will. Perhaps the Pope pops out every now again, with sandwiches, ice creams and milkshakes – just to keep the punters going…surely, if there is anything that would get a guy the saint badge these days it would be that…just picture a nice statue…of him with delicious grub in both hands, and a nice little description underneath…Saint Francis, the patron saint of confectionary. That would be sweet. Argh, getting sidetracked as per usual, sorry – when is lunch?…I know I just ate breakfast, but still.

Food cats GIF

It actually didn’t take too long! I guess we can safely put it down to some kind of miracle? Well, whatever your explanation the line sped along at an ungodly speed, which was a blessing as I am pretty sure the devilish red glow of my skin was starting to attract unwanted attention from concerned onlookers. There was one final hurdle to go however, you see there are checks just outside the entrance gate – and it is here that people’s true ugly colours start to emerge…these people, your supposed best pals for life line buddies – (well strangers I guess), suddenly decide that now they don’t give one solitary shit about you…or your new friendship, and instead make every effort to cut in front to save themselves a few seconds! It’s upsetting to be honest, because they really meant something to you – you shared a moment together, a lasting memory – you smiled a few times, possibly nodded when you felt it appropriate, agreed with whatever they said despite not really hearing, you are probably in the background to some of their photos…basically you were well on the way to becoming legitimate best friends…and then what happens? All of a sudden they are ruthless line pirates, with no respect for etiquette. Disappointing, very disappointing.  After all I had even taken the time out to give them little nicknames in my head, and they value that at 0 – trading you in like you don’t matter at all, as if they don’t even know you! And when they do cut in they do that weird lizard side eye, as they are pretending not to know that you know that they…err…I’m lost.

Safe to say Beard Belly, I CAN see you – and I wholly regret waving at your (not even that cute) child half an hour ago, I really do.  

Sad Will GIF

Anyway, it took us a little longer than most to get through the checks as the guard insisted that my little sister pull her skirt down, further and further, and further, until there would be some serious lower stomach situation going on…meanwhile ladies with dresses revealing major upper thigh could just strut on through – confusing system, next time I am wearing some short dungarees, just to see what’ll happen. 

Once we were finally through, we were given the choice of walking up the stairs to the steeple, or taking the elevator – it seemed like one of those choose your fate Goosebumps books…which one would be least agonizing? We took the stairs, I mean it’s just walking right? I like walking…BIG MISTAKE! HUUUGE! I mean, yes, you don’t want to be stuck in a horrible steel box, like a sweaty sardine – but those stairs seriously take it out of you, in fact I think my knees are still crying from the ordeal. I actually don’t think anyone else took the stairs…maybe they were not as clueless as me, or maybe someone else had waned them…but whatever it was, I found myself pulling at a rusty banister, as my thighs burned with a vicious ferocity…as if to say SIT DOWN…SIT DOWN…JOHN, SIT DOWN PLEASE, GOD! LIE DOWN – PLAY DEAD, PLAAAAY DEAAAAAAD! 

They were not far wrong, it was absolute hell…hell in the Vatican, so that is like – double bad, right?

After what seemed like an Everest climb, we found ourselves at a false precipice – a little courtyard before the real top – it was then that the smug little bastards in the elevator strolled out…the sight of mandatory stairs soon wiped that self-satisfied smirk off their faces, I will tell you that for sure! The steeple climb is the worst part, the curve means that you have to walk at a 90 degree curve…it is a bizarre sight to behold, boomerangs of all shapes and sizes, shuffling up at a snail’s pace, puffing and panting, urging themselves on…occasionally releasing a pressure valve with a grunt of either: “oh shit!” Or, “fuck!”… or even, “why God? Why?” I was seriously concerned at the life threateningly elderly who were attempting it, as well as the seriously overweight…and actually, myself – I didn’t feel up to this at all, what is the safety procedure? We are all packed so close together – I have a stranger’s nose up my ass one side, and a stranger’s bum in my face on the other, if my heart gives out, there is no other way to deal with me than throw my out of a window and hope for the best. Not exactly reassuring.

Eventually we made it. I felt like we should all go for a round of high fives – but no one was up for it. They were busy wiping the sweat from everywhere. and attempting in vain to catch their breath. Fair enough…but they should really be focusing on the view from up the top – you could see the rest of the smallest country in the world, The Vatican City, all of Rome – and even further afield…

Amazing view GIF

You attempt to take photos at a time like this, it is almost our first instinct – if something looks sensational we want to snap it, immortalize it, as proof that this spectacular thing exists…but I realised after a few tries that nothing I could capture was a true reflection…it just looked like buildings, and building, and buildings in the form of a photograph…but with the naked eye it was so much more.

After that rather deep philosophical moment, I gave my sister the nod – which was reciprocated, that basically meant “done with this? Yeah me too, I am starving though…ginormous lunch and even more beer? Yeah, great – let’s get out of here.”

No better place than Rome to wine and dine, so my stomach was certainly happy…my thighs and ankles however…well, they are still in a bad mood with me. I guess this is my confession – I know I did them wrong. I should have broke the rules, like this guy – no better man than the Pope to wipe away my sins…

Pope-Francis GIF

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44 thoughts on “Unholy Climb (Vatican City)

  1. I went up the Statue of Liberty when I was a kid. It was pretty treacherous. I remember thinking, ‘they really shouldn’t have kids climbing in this thing.’ (mind you it was a field trip hence my whole class went). They had the steps redone since then.

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    • Ahhh! I am not walking up any serious stairs for the next…20 years, minimum! haha, when I visit I shall take your word for it and happily take my tourist photos from ground level – save myself the aches and pains!

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      • Well they did redo the stairway, as I said. Not sure how much better it is now but I should think that it might not conjure images of an entire 4th grade class…well let me stop the morbidity here!

        This, by the way, this is just a disclaimer on my part so that you don’t visit the Statue and think, those steps weren’t so bad. What was that crazy Marissa lady talking about?

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  2. That was so hilarious I was laughing out loud on my lunch break reading it, noses poking your bum your face in someone else’s going up the steeple, the expressions of the people seeing the mandatory stairs. Very well written and hilarious!

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  3. There’s a fort near the place I live, it has 12 kilometres of stairs… and 6 kilometres more of fort after that…and I actually had to climb it with a few of my brothers because we were too proud to go by the trolley.. In the hot Indian summer sun..It was hell! !! So I can somewhat understand.

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  4. Haha John, I really loved the story it had so much humor even though it must have been frustrating. I’m laughing while reading and my colleagues are like woot is her deal haha. Two city where I felt so tired walking up stairs must have been Fribourg (swiss) and Barcelona (Parc Güell)… oh my goodness. Awesome post! Hugs /Nad

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  5. OH MY GOODNESS THIS JUST REMINDS ME OF WHEN I WENT TO CYPRUS FIVE YEARS AGO AND THE STEPS WERE JUST ILLEGAL IN THE HEAT, I JUST WANTED TO ARREST THEM. And when we were all done, we had to get bottles of water BUT THEY WERE MILES away in a tiny shop FULL OF SWEATY TOURISTS!

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  6. Minus the long line, I always managed to go to St.Peter’s when there was a much shorter line, your experience pretty much mimics my own, though I will promise you those ladies with serious thigh showing wouldn’t have made it past the other three “fashion police” stops before entry. St. Peter’s and the climb to the top is one of those experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything! Nice to see I wasn’t alone in my thoughts on the way up those psycho stairs 🙂

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    • Fashion police, haha – that is what we were calling them too! Pfft, craziness. Once you are sat in a cafe afterwards, just relaxing – you enjoy the experience for what it was! But at the time…urgh, total body shock! haha!

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  7. I love the cat poster with the McDonald’s thingamajig in it. There is of course one question that I am dying to know. People around me keep using the name of Jesus Christ badly, and so I was wondering why that name? Why not Allah, or the Chinese Gods, or even the Greek and Roman Gods? If you’re not able to answerer the questions that’s okay, it’s just that I was curious, and would like to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • haha, I assume it is because Christianity was (well, still is) the predominant religion in the west – so if you trace it back it wouldn’t make sense for an English person to talk of Allah, Zeus, or well…anyone else!!!

      Now we live in a global world, where people move and different religions are found just about everywhere! But back then, not so much. Interesting to think about though!

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  8. Haha! I did that climb too. Even though it was a cold day when my friends and I climbed to the Cupola, we were totally sweaty and gross at the top. But wow – the view is so worth it! Great post!

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  9. Thank you for liking “Snowflake Photomicrography.” What a fun but tiring tale! Long lines, lots of stairs, and high heat sounds like a dreadful combination. I never thought the Vatican could be such a source of pain.

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