Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ah, Roma

Just a quick post, rates for internet service are still high, although not as high as in Paris. I did see an internet cafe here though, but I am doing this from the hotel. It is a nice hotel, but do not order room service. The Equally Mysterious Sister-In-Law felt a bit under the weather last night. She blamed it on the mushroom pizza she had for lunch, although both the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I shared it and felt fine. She stayed home and ordered a bowl of soup from room service and it cost her 18 Euros or a bit over $25.

So far I have not had a real good meal here in Rome. The first night we went out with the tour group and had a pretty good meal but way over priced at about $75 a person. But that did include a guitar player who sang at our tables in a somewhat entertaining way and waiters who pretended to drop the plates and glasses when they served you. Plenty of food though and free wine. Like I said, good, but over-priced.

Last night the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I took a hotel shuttle to a subway stop and then took the subway to what turned out to be a pretty touristy area. We ate in a neat glass enclosed sidewalk cafe that was very pretty and a great place to watch the passing scene. The service was very friendly as well. Sadly, once again, the food was really quite bad. Well, maybe not bad, but certainly less than one might expect. The only real good part was the pistachio ice cream and the after dinner Irish coffee.

Prices are even higher here in Rome than I imagined. Even the stuff they sell on televison that is the same as what you can buy in the United States is about three times as expensive. However, in both Paris and Rome the subway fares are less than in New York and the subways are much better maintained. No litter on the tracks, the cars are clean as are the stations. And you can see how long it will be before the next train arrives. Quite nice.

I found out why we will probably never have great masters in the arts like they had in the past. Blame it on child labor laws. Many of the great works on display were produced by artists while they were still very young, in their twenties. Michelangelo produced his first, and most famous, marble statue of the Piete while still in his early twenties. But then he began his apprenticeship at the age of thirteen.

We visited the Sistine Chapel and it was quite impressive. I found it amusing that periodically they would announce, in several languages and over loudspeakers, that visitors should respect the sanctity of the chapel to remain quite. Hmm, not only was that a bit incongrouous, but nobody seemed to think charging tourists admission to enter the chapel and then selling overpriced postcards, books, rosaries, calendars, watches all over the place was not the least bit out of place. No bingo games though, or at least none that I saw.

You could take pictures in most of the Vatican, but not in the Sistine Chapel. We were informed that you could do so until recently. The policy was changed, or so we told, when a Japanese firm paid for the complete cleaning and restoration of the Sistine Chapel. In return, apparently, they got the concession rights to the sale of the aforementioned postcards, postcards, calendars, etc. Apparently, by not allowing anyone to take pictures they can sell more of these souveniers. Ah, but keep your voices down.

I have not been able to find out how to use the spell checker so please excuse any spelling errors in the last two posts. I will make corrections when I return home in a couple of days. This will be my last post until then, but after I get back I will be able to add pictures, and I have plenty. Most of them look kind of like cheap postcards though.

Oh, just one final comment. I do believe I could comfortably live in Paris. Easy to get around, just a generally nice place. Rome, on the other hand, is totally different. Not that the people are not friendly, they are. It is just too hectic and the number of tourists in respect to the size of the city is overwhelming. I do hope to find a less touristy area for dinner tonight.