I’d looked forward to this day since we’d booked our European vacation. I’d been to Rome twenty years ago, so had been to the Vatican, but Ann had not. I’d told her that St. Peter’s was something we could not miss on our visit to the Eternal City. I’d been counting down the days until I could take her into the basilica and see her reaction.

We took a cab from our hotel, winding through the streets of Rome until we came around a corner onto a wide street and the windshield of the cab was filled with a magnificent view of St. Peter’s. It is an amazing structure, its mammoth size combining with its near perfect proportions to play tricks on your mind.  At first, it looks like a fairly normal building until you stop and realize just how tiny the people in front of it seem. When you process that information, you realize just how gigantic the basilica truly is.

stpete

St. Peter’s Square

Our cab stopped in front of the square, and we got out, pausing a moment to take in the grandeur. We started crossing the street, approaching the square, reverently taking it all in. At least that’s what we planned to do.  Suddenly we were descended upon by a multitude of vendors selling selfie sticks, scarves emblazoned with the word, “ROMA” and tickets to the Vatican Museum which we knew was sold out for the day. We refused all of these oft-repeated, wonderful offers (seriously, Rome street vendors, if you just saw me tell someone I didn’t want the cheap selfie stick they are selling, why would you think I’d want to buy one just like it from you?)  as we crossed the street and headed into the square.

Once in the square, I headed to the end of the line to go in while Ann meandered around, snapping some photos for this very post.

[pullquote align=[“right”] Suddenly we were descended upon by a multitude of vendors selling selfie sticks, scarves emblazoned with the word, “ROMA” and tickets to the Vatican Museum which we knew was sold out for the day. [/pullquote]

Behind me in line was a British couple. They were in Rome for a week, and we chatted as we waited, baking in the Roman sun, taking turns telling sales people that we didn’t want their tickets or selfie sticks or “ROMA” scarves, and politely directing people to the end of the line when they tried to cut. We also spent some time admiring the umbrellas that others had brought along with them to block the sun, and wising we’d been that smart and that the vendors would be selling those, instead.

The line moved quickly; within about 25 minutes, we were passing through the metal detectors and x-ray machines. From there, we walked toward the basilica, and were directed under a pop-up tent where two people stood examining the dress of all visitors. They reminded some that this was a place of worship, and that shoulders and knees had to be covered by clothing in order to enter. As we looked around, we realized that there were quite a few embarrassed women sporting “ROMA” scarves turned into makeshift blouses and skirts.

As we passed through the doors, I watched Ann’s face light up as she stood taking in the beauty and grandeur of the building.

Our first glance inside St. Peter's Basilica.

Our first glance inside St. Peter’s Basilica.

A smile spread across her face, and I knew that she agreed this was the “must see” I’d told her it was. The first look inside this church is truly awe inspiring. It is absolutely huge, though it doesn’t seem that way until you again look at the people in it for scale. Thousands visit daily, but it simply doesn’t feel crowded.

Just inside the door and to the right is Michelangelo’s Pieta, and we headed off in that

The Pieta' in St. Peter's Basilica. The marble sculpture dates back to 1499 and was assigned to a then 23-year-old Michelangelo Buonarroti.

The marble sculpture, The Pieta’, dates back to 1499 and was assigned to a then 23-year-old Michelangelo Buonarroti.

direction to take a closer look which was difficult to do because of the number of tourists standing around it, holding their “ROMA” skirts with one hand, and snapping photos with the other, cameras held high over their heads on selfie sticks, hoping that one of their many photos might turn out.

Though not the case in many churches and museums, flash photography is permitted in St. Peters. I thought I remembered from my visit 20 years earlier it was because the art is mosaic. At first I thought I’d remembered wrong, that I was looking at paintings. Only after leaning in for a closer look did I see the thousands of tiny tiles that make up the massive mosaics.

One of many incredible mosaics in the basilica.

One of many incredible mosaics in the basilica.

We spent an hour wandering through the basilica, marveling at the architecture, the altar, and the number of people who would stand in one place for minutes, surrounded by some of the most beautiful creations of mankind, trying to figure out how to fix their recently acquired selfie sticks.

After we’d thoroughly explored the basilica, we headed back across the square.  We reminisced about the beauty we’d seen as we navigated the throng of street vendors  so we could find a cab to take us to the next place on our “must see” list, a historical place we’d only briefly seen on our car tour the day before:  The Roman Colosseum.

[well]This blog post is part of a series about the “20 Things We’ll Remember Most About Our Summer Vacation.” Up next: The Roman Forum and Colosseum. [/well]

  • Strawberry fields forever...⁣
⁣
While traveling, we adore stopping in farmers markets and checking out the fresh produce available for sale. When we saw these strawberries in Tallinn, Estonia, we just had to take a picture.⁣
⁣
The vibrant color of the berries tells us they were ripened naturally on the vine. You just don't get that color trucked in to a supermarket. And that natural ripening means, of course, that these are some of the sweetest strawberries you'll ever taste. Yum! #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #celebritycruises #cruising #seastheday #cruise #sea #beyondborders #humansatsea #cruiseaddict #cruisecritic #tallinn #lifeisbeautiful #cruiseship #cruiselife #estonia #strawberries #farmersmarket #lifeisshort #visitestonia #adventuregirls #tallinngram #berries
  • On our Baltic Sea cruise, we stopped in Stockholm, Sweden. To get there, we had to sail through the Stockholm Archipelago. ⁣
⁣
For days leading up to our arrival in Stockholm, the captain of the ship kept telling us that we should plan to be up early so we could take in the scenery as we passed through the archipelago. After enough repetitions, we resolved to get up early to see what he was so excited about.⁣
⁣
We are so glad we set the alarm. That morning, we sat on our balcony and had breakfast watching some of the most beautiful scenery we'd ever seen pass by our cabins. We had an up-close view of land that we've rarely had from a cruise ship unless it was docked. ⁣
⁣
Sure, we travel to see specific things. Who doesn't? But we really love it when we find something like this that we didn't know existed, but it is so amazing it enriches our lives and makes us want to go back again and again.
  • In the @visitmasoncityiowa airport, is a new restaurant called CAVU American Kitchen & Cocktail Lounge. Offering chef-crafted foods and incredible cocktails, this restaurant has the best airport food we've ever eaten. In fact, we'll call this airport a destination.⁣
⁣
Pictured here is Chef Cassie's fried potato salad. This was her elimination dish from the show, "Master Chef." Apparently, Wolfgang Puck didn't think much of it. After trying it, we don't think much of Wolfgang Puck's taste.⁣
⁣
This dish, which is served warm, is composed of crispy fried potato chunks covered in delicious potato salad dressing. The combination of flavors and textures had us going back for more. #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #midwestliving #midwestlivingmag  #midwestmoment #igersmidwest #midwestisbest #masoncity #clearlake @masoncity
  • In Rochester, Minnesota, in the shadow of the famed Mayo Clinic, is a beautiful pedestrian area called the Peace Plaza. Because of its location, it's often the last area a person walks through as they go to the clinic hoping for help. And, it's the first place people pass as they leave the clinic sometimes with good news, other times to confront their own mortality.⁣
⁣
The designers of the plaza seemed to understand the huge role the space would play in the lives of the people coming through. They designed it as a calming, meditative space filled with tranquility. It's a place you can refocus a little, and take some time to transition from the clinic to the world. And, it's just one more example of the ways that @minnesotas_rochester demonstrates humanity to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come each year to the clinic.
  • Are these salt and pepper shakers not the cutest?? Pawhuska, Oklahoma, is a magical place at Christmastime. We stopped by the @pwmercantile this morning and snapped a few new pics. Getting excited for the Holiday Lights Parade tonight!
  • We have four holiday gift guides up on the blog for the traveler, home cook, cruise lover, and road tripper on your shopping list! Just click on the link in our bio to check out our blog. ⁣
⁣
One of our all-time favorite items (it made two of our lists) are these @EagleCreek packing items. This starter set goes with us on every single trip. Last year, Steve packed 16 size XXL shirts in on of them. They are super lightweight, safe space in your suitcase, and help you stay organized as your travel. ⁣
⁣
What are your favorite gift ideas for travelers this year? ⁣
⁣
#postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #giftideas #giftsfortravelers #traveler #travelgifts #giftguide #roadtrippin #packingtips #packingbags #howtopack #packlight #eaglecreek #celebritycruises #travelblogger #packing #packinghack #giftsph #holidayshopping #giftidea #travelgram #packing101
  • Who's ready for some pumpkin pie??⁣
⁣
The thought of digging in to a piece of pumpkin pie (served with a cup of coffee with pumpkin spice creamer) takes us back to a small town festival we love. ⁣
⁣
A few years ago, our town of Crete, Nebraska, began holding the Great Pumpkin Festival during the first weekend of October.⁣
⁣
From spring to fall, local volunteers tend gardens filled with pumpkin vines so that folks who come to the festival can take home a reasonably priced, locally-grown pumpkin. ⁣
⁣
The festival is full of games, food, performances and fun. It's a wholesome day where the town turns out to celebrate another year together in a relaxed, calm atmosphere.⁣
⁣
Does your town have a festival? Tell us about it in the comments below.
  • ***NEW BLOG POST *** Today is exactly 8 months since we started our weight loss journey using the @noom app. See how we’ve lost 126.3 pounds while traveling. Just click on the link to our blog that’s in our bio to read our answers to your most asked questions about weight loss. And click to the second photo here to see our “before” pic.

Second most popular blog in Pawhuska