Wednesday, September 28, 2016

You don't get a passport stamp when you go to the Vatican... and other travel tips.

Hello guys! So James and I were in Rome last week and we had a blast! James and me at the  Baths of Diocletian (Thermae Diocletiani) . Th...

Hello guys!

So James and I were in Rome last week and we had a blast!
James and me at the Baths of Diocletian (Thermae Diocletiani). The baths were built from 298 to 306 and they last longer than your typical HDB sunshades.

And one of the many wonderful things about Rome is that it is home to the smallest sovereign state in the world, aka Vatican City. Meaning that there is Rome, and within Rome you have these huge boundary walls which differentiate the very religious beings from the wine guzzling, cigarette smoking Italians.
Most of the time, you can see people peeing at the walls. I do not know why. I wanted to take a photo but James felt that it was inappropriate. Seriously, there are people peeing on the Vatican walls and I'm the inappropriate one.
I thought this man was peeing in the park. But actually he was filling up his water bottle. Perhaps in anticipation of a bladder emptying session later on. We'll never know.

Anyway, I have been to the Vatican and now I am expert about everything Vatican. Everything touristy about the Vatican, that is. I'm not that great with the historical and religious bits of it. I was never the religious sort.
Anyway, here some touristy information and travel tips when you make your way to Vatican City. They are very useful,. I promise.

#1 Book your tickets online.

I'm not kidding. I know that the Singaporeans in us assume that we have some innate talent in queueing and flaunt your obscenely long queue times with pride, the longer the better. Oh you queued for 2 hours to buy Katong Laksa? PLEASE. That's nothing compared to the time I queued 4 hours to buy Lao Ban Tau Huey.
(Via Giphy).

But seriously, unless you want to spend half your holiday standing in line for the Vatican Museums, book your tickets online. See for your yourself.
Us, our tickets and online booking form, and the snaking queue.

And if standing in line isn't bad enough, you will constantly have to deal with annoying "tour guides", who try to sell you their guided tour packages to get you into the Vatican without queueing. Seriously, don't be stupid. Your Singaporean self might tell you to queue, but this is one of the times where the kiasu-ism in you must take over. Buy your tickets in advance here. You pay an additional 4€ per booking in admin charges, but as two guys in front of us at the security check put it, "Best 2€ I've ever spent."
(Via Giphy).

Opening hours:
9:00 – 18:00 (Mondays to Saturdays)
Ticketing:
16€ per adult, 4€ per online booking

#2 Respect the Vatican culture.

When travelling, we know that it's always important to, as far as possible, immerse yourself in the local culture and keep to the local customs and traditions. Don't be disrespectful, don't break their conventions, observe their traditions. Try your best to do as they do.
(Via Giphy).

And you know it can be quite a challenge. Like when we went to the Vatican. Do you know what they wear in the Vatican?
(Via WSJ).

Which I obviously can't wear. Red really clashes with my skin colour. Robes too. Lots of clothes do too. Why I almost didn't graduate because I really didn't want to wear the silly graduation gown. So much cloth, so little function.
But I digress. What I meant to say is that, suck it up. Put on more clothes or you won't be allowed into Vatican City. I mean, if I can do it so can you. Check out my very fashionable Vatican get up. Don't I look stunning?
Yes. Truly working it like a pro.
And in true fashion blogger #OOTD style - Long sleeved shirt: Superdry, £10; Striped top: H&M, forgot the price; Pants: Market in Dubai, James paid.

The good thing about my get up is that it's very versatile. Once you're out of the Vatican you can just, take it all off.
Me getting changed outside Vatican City.

And you can use it more than once. Rome is full of churches all of which have strict dress codes which you should adhere to. So just keep a pair of pants in your bag to pull over your shorts whenever you feel like popping into somewhere holy.
Me getting changed outside the Capuchin Crypt.

#3 Don't wear stupid shoes.

This might seem very commonsensical to you, but you'd be surprised by the number of people who have very bad judgement. Wear sneakers. Don't wear slippers. Don't wear heels. If you want to be vain, stay at home and take selfies of yourself in the bathroom mirror. Don't ever venture to the Vatican. You'd just be taking up space which can be better allotted to someone more sensible.
(Via Giphy).

Anyway, you might be wondering if my fantastically versatile outfit gave me heatstroke. Well, it didn't. I climbed up 551 stairs  to the top of the cupola (dome) of St Peter’s Basilica in this awesome get up and emerged perfectly fine. We climbed the stairs because taking the elevator was an additional 2€. This 2€ is better spent on pre-booking tickets to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. 
The elevator only takes you up to the roof of St Peter’s Basilica where you can see the underside of the cupola. This underside can be easily seen from the first floor and you can take a decent photo by zooming. So don't bother paying if you just want to go to the roof of St. Peter's.
Underside of cupola.
Cupola from the roof.

So the lift ride to the roof will save you 320 stairs, but if you want to go all the way up to the cupola, you have to climb another 231 stairs. There is not lift to the top, so you might as well do everything by foot. And the views are much better there!
Unobstructed view of St Peter's Square.
View of Vatican City.

Opening hours:
8:00 – 18:00 (Apr – Sep) 
8:00 – 16:45 (Oct – Mar) 
Ticketing:
7€ via elevator, 5€ via the stairs

#4 Expect crowds.

Vatican City is crawling with tourists. Crawling is a pun, referring to the masses of tourists, and also the speed at which you can move around.
Crowd in St Peter's Basilica (spot James!)
Crowd near St Peter's Square. (Spot James!)
Crowd in the Vatican Museum. (James is not in this shot).

Yeah. "People mountain people sea" as they say in Chinese. (And believe me, there are lots of Chinese in the Vatican). So, my advice for the Vatican is, don't expect too much. If you want, catch a few episodes of The Borgias on Netflix and then make your way quickly through the compound and be pleased if you can identify things from the show. Or try to make your way quickly through, anyway. You can't really go quickly anywhere in the Vatican. 
(Via The Star).

And don't join tour groups. They suck. They stop in the middle of nowhere and block the passage ways preventing other tourists from passing through. And they wave their flags, umbrellas, and what have you all around. They are lethal. I finally understand why there's a selfie stick ban in Clarke Quay and Sports Hub. Those things can take someone's eye out!
(Via Giphy).

#5 Play "Where's Wally?"

So as we were shuffling our way through Vatican City, I started taking pictures of James in the amongst the crowds of people for my own amusement (see the two photos above). Little did I know that James was trying to do the same thing. Here! Have a go at the local version of "Where's Wally"! Or "Where's Wong?" as we call it. Here are the pictures in increasing level of difficulty. Mouseover for answers!
Okay and now I've come to the end of my Vatican City tips. However, here's one very important point to take note of:

You don't get a passport stamp when you go to the Vatican.

You might have seen posts on how you can possibly adorn your passport with a stamp from Vatican City, like this one on Don't Stop Living and are now on a quest to get your passport similarly stamped.
 I would like to say that I have done my extensive research and would like to clarify that this Vatican stamp is part of the Pilgrim's Passport, a document that is issued to pilgrims for identification for pilgrimages along the Camino de Santiago. Here are some pilgrim's passports with Vatican stamps.
(Via Caminoist).
(Via CNS).

In conclusion, you too can get your very own passport with your very own Vatican stamp. You must just, you know, become a pilgrim and go on a pilgrimage first.

Okay, I've come to the end of my blog post. Here's a song for you!


Cheers! 
❤ Jac.

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