TRAVEL THERE: BUCKLE UP EXCURSIONS AHEAD
I rarely get the vacation I dream up in my head. That’s disappointing, because I have such a lovely time up there in my own gray matter, but I usually enjoy what I end up with. Here’s how the planning for Rome went.
When in Rome or Not
When you sail out of Rome, the port is actually Civitavecchia and it’s not exactly convenient. It’s not all that far away from the airport, but it’s in the opposite direction from the city of Rome from the airport. Initially, I had hoped we’d stay in Rome for a few days before the trip. I planned and planned and re-planned it with the help of Sandra Rubio at CTC Travel. We worked out a pretty nice itinerary for and outstanding price, but it was still outside the budget of time and of money.
So, I thought the second best option would be a combo of airport transfer with a bit of sightseeing, but it was dicey. You had to factor in the bus trip from the airport to the city and then from the city to the boat. After all that was taken in consideration, we would have only have a few hours to see one of the most important cities in the world. I told myself something was better than nothing, purchased the transfer/excursion package and started investigating what we would see.
They took a whole lot more words to do it, but basically it was a loop around the Colosseum in the bus with a short photo opportunity and then a short stop at the Vatican. We would have had to stroll several blocks to and from the bus at the Vatican, so at best, we’d barely have time to gawk at St. Peter’s Square and get back to the bus.
Still, the buildings right around the Square have some pretty amazing stuff. The church holding the Pieta fronts on the Square and the Sistine Chapel is not far away. Only this is the Vatican. As soon as they open, huge lines form and you wait hours to get your few moments of grandeur.
I did more research. There were skip-the-lines tickets you could buy. Not exactly cheap, but not out of the realm of possibility either. What put them out of my reach is that they are timed tickets and no one anywhere could tell me what time I would be at the Vatican. Easy to read in the publications about the shore excursions was the notice that they reserved the right to switch the order of the tour based on crowds.
I was trying to make it all work in my head. I applied my favorite travel mantra – ‘seeing something is better than ‘seeing nothing,’ but I came to realize I was fooling myself. I would arrive exhausted from extensive air travel and board a bus. I’d gaze at some of the most famous architecture in the world and not even be able to get a decent picture of it. Worst of all, I’d be mere feet away from the Pieta and not even get a glimpse.
Then I thought about arriving at the boat in the afternoon – exhausted even further by the sightseeing and fighting all the last minute crowds every embarkation entails when you board at the end of the day. We’d miss the Concierge Embarkation Luncheon for sure and I’d miss out on the only opportunity I would have to unpack. Once I envisioned living out of our suitcases the whole trip, the uber-quick visit to the Vatican didn’t sound quite so good.
So, I cancelled the transfer/excursion and opted for the transfer only package. I’d see Rome someday, but it wouldn’t be on this trip. Come back next week and we’ll discuss a few more shore excursions.