Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Day 13, (Continued)

Wonderful Vatican

After lunch there was no scope for a siesta in the bus as we were at the Vatican within minutes. Our guide was with us throughout the day's tour holding the 'Kesari' flag aloft. As we walked around, we trailed close behind him so that we could hear him well.

As we entered we were greeted by sprawling green lawns ...

As we proceeded farther we were overawed by the sprawling area of St. Peter's Square. The ancient sculptures credited to legends - the towering Egyptian Obelisk in the centre and the two fountains on either sides (Bernini's contribution) and the semi-circular arms on either side mark St. Peter's Square. The Pope's weekly address to the audience assembled here is on Wednesdays. So our group was joking that there was no possibility of having a glimpse of the Pope or Kuttappan!

The intricately sculpted figures everywhere are superbly fascinating - and to think they are so ancient! 

We got to see a Swiss guard too.

There were several groups being briefed by their respective guides before entering St. Peter's Basilica for the scintillating aesthetically enthralling experience. Sushant had specifically warned us that we stick to our group, follow the 'Kesari' flag which would be held high to be seen high above the heads and not stray away and get lost in the thronging crowds. Every day witnessed an average of thirty thousand visitors to the Vatican. So we were extra careful to be quick and vigilant even as we stopped to and click pictures of ...

the fascinating frescoes on the ceilings and ...

on the walls ......

the superb sculptures in various colors lined all over.

I managed to click pictures of the famed 'Pieta' by Michael Angelo....

..... Bernini's Holy Water Stoup .....      

Most of the male statues were nude ..... 

 but thankfully the female statues had robes on - the pleats of the clothes were beautifully sculpted in marble.

There were embalmed bodies of earlier Pope's dressed in their rich robes . 

I could trust my husband to set me back on track if ever I had a tendency to go overboard with my fad for clicks. We came out feeling elated with the experience.

Now it was time to enter the Sistine Chapel. We were warned that photography was strictly prohibited inside. So it was goodbye to our cameras for the time being. Sushant also reiterated the warning that we stick to the group and not stray away and get lost. 

Astoundingly life-like paintings, most of them still in bright and brilliant colors adorned the walls and ceilings of the Sistine Chapel which was built in 1473. The frescoes represent the life of Moses (Old Testament) on one side and the life of Christ (New Testament) on the other. We were particularly excited to see the famed frescoes depicting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and 'The Last Judgement' (Michael Angelo) and 'The Last Supper' (Rosselli).

As we came to the end of the tour of the Chapel, Sushant instructed our group to turn right for the exit and follow our guide and the red 'Kesari' flag held high. 

Soon we were out of the Chapel. Sushant took the head count - we were only 33 - two less! So we had to answer the roll call and came to know who were missing. We were worried about the two ladies as we were wondering how they could be found in the sea of tourists. Sushant tried to announce instructions on our guide's 'two-way' walkie-talkie hoping it would reach the ladies if they were within the range. All of us had Sushant's Europe cell number and he was hoping the ladies would / could contact him. After a few tense moments, he left the group in the custody of the guide and tried to search for them.

We cooled our heels sitting on the sprawling paved area in a depressed mood. This was the last day of our tour and we had been rejoicing that there was not a single hiccup all through the tour and that had to happen at the fag end!

Finally Sushant was able to contact the ladies who had reached the 'entrance' side of the Chapel while we were at the exit - at the end they had turned left instead of right! Sushant wanted the group to continue the drive in the bus to Trevi Fountain, Rome along with our local guide while he went to the entrance side to pick up the ladies and take a cab to join us there. Our spirits soared once again. 

When we got down at Trevi Fountain, the trio was already there. As we surrounded the ladies and bombarded them with questions about their emotions on finding themselves 'lost', we were surprised to hear they never panicked and to see them cool as cucumber! Guess they were made of different mettle! Anyway everything ended well.
The Trevi Fountain was undergoing renovation, so we missed the grandeur of the place. 

A temporary 'pond' was made, so that visitors could stand at a particular spot and toss a coin backwards into the pond. Popular belief is that these persons assure that they will be back in Rome some day.

We left the place at 7 pm. During the drive, we saw Rome's 'aqua ducts' due to which they have plenty of water.

We reached hotel Best Western Triangoli after 8.

For dinner we had special bread-sandwich-bajji along with our Indian meal at the hotel.

We finished our packing and retired to bed as early as we could as we had to leave for Rome airport before 5 the next morning to take our flight back to India. 

Day 14

Goodbye Europe!

We had to wake up super early - at 3.30 am. We boarded our bus at 4.45 with packed breakfast from the hotel. We thanked our Coach Captains for their wonderful services. 

After completing the formalities at Rome airport and after checking in our bags we had our breakfast. Then after security check, as we relaxed in the lounge, we were exchanging pleasantries with our group members and reminiscing and recounting our Europe-experiences.

As we flew to Mumbai via Frankfurt it was goodbye to the Alps! Also it was smooth sailing till the end, thanks to Sushant. We said our goodbyes with a heavy heart. We had become a family in these 14 days. We promised to keep in touch - of course we had formed our group on 'What's App'.

And we had been thoroughly pampered by our Tour Manager Sushant who was the epitome of unruffled patience, quiet calmness, good cheer, and amiability. His effective communication and managerial skills and sense of humor helped us sail through the entire tour without the slightest bump. It is tough managing the limited number of members of a single family at home. Imagine managing 35 strangers for 14 days in unknown lands! Not a joke, definitely! Hats off to Sushant and Tour Managers like him! Big Thank you to Sushant - we won't forget you for making our Europe tour so wonderful.

Of course Kesari Tours deserve all the credit for pampering their tour participants and providing excellent services for all the numerous packages they undertake. Keep up the good work, Kesari! Thank you for our memorable Europe experience!!

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