Hannah Blog 2
I don't know about all of you, but if there is one thing that annoys me, it is how the tabloids and media exploit certain subjects. Prime example: Britney Spears. I personally feel bad for her. The poor girl has enough problems as it is. I don't think that the media needs to add to them by chasing her around, photographing and recording every single one of her movements. This trip has made me especially empathize with her because I now know what it feels like to be in the presence of a paparazzo aka Luqman.
The second day of our Roman adventure and the beginning of the Luq's photographing extravaganza, started off very early for me. I woke up at 5 AM due to the long nap I had previously taken. I decided to wake Luqman up around 8 AM so that we could get an early start. Last night, we decided on going to Vatican City and our guidebook stated that since Vatican City is a very religious entity, museums and tourist sites close early. Thus, we quickly hopped on bus route 64 and headed off.
Now I'm not an avid bus rider, but from my experience, you're supposed to pay immediately when you step on the bus. If you don't pay, I know in many countries, you get accosted and kicked off. Consequently, I got on the bus and looked around to see where I could insert money but I could not find an appropriate place. I started to turn to say something to the driver but I was pushed and shoved to the back of the bus. Roman buses are notorious for being crowded and clearly the patrons did not feel obliged nor obligated to let me go figure out how to pay. Thus, I moved to the back and decided to wait till the next stop to figure out where/how I was supposed to pay. However, I was never able to because although many people got off each stop, just as many people, if not more, got on each stop as well.
We arrived at the edge of Vatican City and realized we didn't really know where we were. In fact, I didn't even know what I was supposed to be looking for. In my ignorance, I assumed that the bus would bring us right to St. Peter's Basilica or one of the main Vatican attractions. Luckily, we weren't the only ones who were unsure. There was a very nice group of British tourists who were also a bit confused. They also informed us that they didn't pay and were some freeloaders like myself and Luqman. We had a nice discussion about American politics, they were all Obama fans (HOLLA!), and made our way to Piazza (yes another one, I told you that there are a lot!) San Pietro. When we arrived, I was blown away.
Piazza San Pietro is a giant public square that consists of two fountains and an obelisk. It is also the location of the world famous St. Peter's Basilica. This public square was designed by Bernini in the 17th century. It was built as a gathering place for Christians. The piazza consists of two semicircular colonnades as well as two fountains and a central obelisk. This obelisk was taken from Egypt to Rome by the Roman emperor Caligula. This is also the location where the Pope addresses the public as well as delivers his weekly address. Piazza San Pietra is also where Luq's paparazzi escapade started. We proceeded to enter St. Peter's Basilica, which was built by Constantine, who was the first Roman Christian emperor, in the 4th century. This massive cathedral took over 150 years to construct. It is the second largest Basilica in the world and consists of 187 meter long interior. It is home to many famous works of art, including Michelangelo's La Pieta.
I was taken aback by many aspects of this cathedral, but the highlight was definitely being able to see Michelangelo's sculpture, La Pieta. I wish I could have gotten closer, but the sculpture is now enclosed in a bullet proof glass due to a vandal attack in 1972 (Some people….sheesh).
Afterwards, we set off to go to the Vatican Museum. On our way to the Vatican Museum, we came across an advertisement for a Korean restaurant. It was quite uncanny because I had just commented to Luqman that I felt like I was the only Korean here. I excitedly asked Luqman if we could eat dinner at the restaurant tonight and he graciously agreed.
We got to the Vatican Museum and were pleasantly surprised that we got a great discount due to us both having a STAISIC (International Student Identity Card). We paid 8 Euros instead of 14! Due to the extensive number of museums and collections within, we knew that it would be impossible for us to thoroughly see everything. Thus, we chose the Egyptian, Missionary & Ethnological Museums as well as the Sistine Chapel to visit.
The Egyptian Museum and the Missionary & Ethnological Museum were both filled with amazing artifacts. I was astonished at the age of the exhibits. Some of these items dated back to the BC era. I could not believe that they were that durable and resilient. I was particularly excited to see the Korea exhibit in the Missionary & Ethnological Museum. I enjoyed looking at old Korean artifacts and pieces, but I was a bit perturbed by the translations of the descriptions. They seemed a bit off and out of context. This just proved to me the power of words and the contextual implications. There is a big difference on how you come across and how you make someone feel between saying "honey that dress makes you look fat" and "you know I think that other dress looks so much better on you." Guys, I know you understand what I'm talking about. If you don't, please consult someone who does, believe me, it is for your benefit.
Anyways, after going through an almost endless labyrinth, and I am being very serious when I say labyrinth, we finally made it to Michelangelo's masterpiece- the Sistine Chapel. I was SO ecstatic that we were at the Sistine Chapel that I immediately whipped out my camera to take a picture. I nearly dropped my camera when I heard a voice bellow "NO PHOTO!" I looked up to see a man dressed in a blue security guard uniform who was GLARING at me. I'm not exaggerating when I say that he looked like he wanted to beat me like a red headed step child (no offense to any of you who have red hair…) I looked at Luqman with fright in my eyes as we begrudgingly made our way to the back of the Chapel. We marveled at the beauty and precision of the various paintings throughout the Chapel. In particular, both of us, commented at the talent, persistence and patience it must have took to paint the murals on the ceiling. Unfortunately, our conversation and experience were marred by the constant "NO PHOTO" and "SHHHHHH, NO TALK!" by the security guard. He reminded me of the Soup Nazi from the television show "Seinfeld." It was like he was saying "NO PHOTO FOR YOU!" instead of "NO SOUP FOR YOU!" At one point, he even approached a little kid and made him delete the photo he had taken. Sheesh! Seeing this should have clearly deterred me from attempting to take a picture, but for some reason, a wave of rebellion rode over me and I looked at Luqman with a twinkle in my eye. He smiled because he knew what I was thinking and being the paparazzo that he is, he probably had already thought of the same idea. We made it to the very back of the Sistine Chapel and set up our cameras to sneak in some pictures. We started to click away when a woman suddenly approached me and said in a very quiet, but chilling voice "no photo." After nearly having a heart attack, I realized that the woman was a disguised security guard. I was flabbergasted at the extreme measures the Italians had taken to ensure that no one took pictures of the Sistine Chapel. (BTW what exactly is so harmful about taking pictures?) I kind of got upset and annoyed and started to try and take more pictures, but then I realized that I should not cross an Italian. I knew better, after all, I had watched all the seasons of the "Sopranos."
We left the Vatican Museum and came back to the bus station and didn't free load this time. We learned from some other tourists that you were supposed to buy bus tickets in advance and then insert them in when you got on the bus. We arrived in Stazione Termini, the main transportation terminal in all of Rome, and made our way to the Korean restaurant. As we were walking, I noticed that there were lots of immigrants and different ethnic groups. However, I noticed that there were more Chinese people than any other group. Consequently, I figured out we were in the Chinatown of Rome. We found the restaurant only to find that it was closed until 5:30 PM. It was 5:15 so we had 15 minutes to kill. We walked around and found a piazza (surprise surprise) with a garden in it and sat down on a bench. We talked to the park security guard who shared funny stories about his life and then walked back to the Korean restaurant to eat dinner.
Okay, I have to be honest, the food wasn't all that great and I was kind of disappointed. Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, but I guess I'm just so used to the Korean food back in the US as well as my mom's cooking, that Italian-Korean food just didn't measure up. We rode bus route 64 back to the hotel and decided to upload our photographs into my laptop.
All day I had commented and given Luqman a hard time about his incessant picture taking, but as he uploaded his photos, I had a pang of guilt in my heart. I thought to myself about how Luqman was just probably very excited about being in Rome and traveling so it was natural for him to take so many pictures. He probably just wanted to capture every moment because this is a trip of a lifetime. I felt like a jerk for making fun of him. He was afterall one of my best friends, like family really, and here I was poking fun at his excitement. I was about to apologize when I discovered that he hadn't just been taking pictures of the various monuments and artifacts, he had taken incriminating and embarrassing photographs of me without my knowledge! What made me even more upset was earlier I had asked him if had taken photos of me while I was sleeping, and he had looked me in the eyes and said no. I couldn't believe that I had been duped by Luqman. I lamented my feelings at him, but he seemed indifferent. I suppose this is how all paparazzi act- indifferent to people's feelings because they just want material to sell to tabloids. I shook my head and decided instead of doing the justified act of forcing him to delete the pictures, I would just trust that karma would get him eventually. I went to bed with one eye open (I'm forgiving but not dumb), ready to get some rest for another eventful day in Rome.
BTW if anyone who is reading this knows of a tabloid that is hiring photographers, I have an excellent referral for you…