I purchased my ticket for the Vatican Museum on the Internet the night before to avoid the lines at the ticket office. They actually give you a specific time to be there, like one of those fast passes at Disney World; my time was at 2PM. I arrived after a quick train ride on the M line at around 11AM and headed straight for St. Peter's Basilica. The piazza itself was stunning to behold, with St Peter's looming in the foreground and the fountains and Egyptian obelisk, which I found strange in the middle of the Christian city. The line to get into St. Peter's seemed really long, wrapping halfway around the square, so I figured I should jump on. I had heard however that it moved pretty quickly, so when the tour operators started coming along and poaching people off the line saying that for €25 they could join their tour and skip the 3 hour line, I stayed put. The line actually only took 30 minutes and I didn't have to pay a dime. Well actually, after I got in I was directed into another queue I had no idea about to buy a €5 ticket for the Cupola. What the hell is a cupola?! What I found out is that the dome at the very very top of St. Peter's is the Cupola, and over 300 steps and narrow, crowded, winding staircases much more claustrophobic than the Statue of Liberty, I was standing at he top of it. It was a gorgeous panoramic view of the city that I am glad I got a chance to see, but I don't think I would do it again. Once I was done squeezing through the crowds to get some pictures, it was time to make my way down, and down and down, where it finally led me into the Basilica. There are so many beautiful frescos, statues, and gilded everything that it was a bit overwhelming. Plus, it was getting near 2:00 at this point so I tried to just take in as much as possible before I had to leave for the museum. What was probably most shocking for me were the dead popes or saints that were on display all over the place. I was thinking that the bodies encased in glass must be fake, but when I thought again I asked why if they were fake would they make them look so...well dead. Green and emaciated, like some kind of poorly preserved taxidermy project. Weird.
At the Vatican Museum I skipped the lines which seemed like a great start. Once in however it was hard to really enjoy the beautiful artwork as I got swept up in a constantly flowing sea of tourists. It seriously felt like herding cattle for the slaughter and my patience was running very thin. But I tried to just make the best of it. The ceilings of every single room were just amazing. Bright, colorful and fully detailed scenes that were so vivid they all but jumped right out at you. It's no wonder that there are not more head on collisions at the Vatican Museum as I'm not sure why anyone would watch where they are going when the ceilings are so mesmerizing. After about 3 hours of making my way around the massive museum it dumps you out into the Sistine Chapel. This is what I was really excited about! My mood however was originally dampened by 'no picture' signs leading into the chapel. After all of this I won't be able to take a picture of the one thing I was really excited to see, Michelangelo's most famous work! (Don't worry I snuck a picture anyway). I was also disappointed that the Sistine Chapel is hardly a chapel at all. It's just a small, bare room, overly crowded with people looking at the ceiling, unable to take pictures. And, the ceiling is honestly beautiful, but not all that impressive after you have seen all of the other brilliantly painted chapel ceilings here and all throughout Rome.
So at the end of the day I boarded the subway and left Vatican City feeling a little disappointed and a lot like a farm animal who had escaped the pen...I'm free!
But in all seriousness, Vatican is beautiful and definitely worth a visit.