Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

26 July 2017

On Seeing Mike Again

Back in Rome today.  Rented a Bici & Baci bike again.  This time they gave me a shinier, prettier one than what I rode the other day.  Now, if only I were shinier and prettier....

Anyway, I don't know whether the riding actually got easier or I was simply more prepared than I was the other day.  The hills, even when they seemed to "come out of nowhere", didn't feel as steep. Also, I could swear it was a few degrees cooler than it was on Sunda.

Today, after spending the morning on the hills, I stopped for an espresso in a bar close to where I'd spend much of the afternoon.  A guy ordered two cappucinos and paid for them.  Then he started to carry them out to sidewalk terrace tables.  One of the bar's owners tried to stop him, but he was about twice the owner's size.  

I stepped in. "Engleesh?"  Europeans generally don't ask for your nationality; the usually ask what language you speak.  "So, "Engleesh" can mean American, Australian or of course British.  What I found funny, later, is that I asked in the same way the bar owner would have asked, with his accent.

The guy seemed to nod and I explained that it costs more to sit at the terrace than it does to stand at the bar.  That is the custom, not only in Italy, but in France and other European countries.  The guy still seemed determined to go out on the terrace until the owner started dialing the police.

Then the customer decided to abandon his capuccinos and walk out the door.  The owner thanked me, even if what I did was of dubious value. 

From there, it was on to the Vatican, where I walked up all the steps to the bell tower.  First you stop at an observation deck near the top of St. Peter's Basilica, but can barely see anything because a chainlink fence with small holes doesn't offer vey many good sightlines.

After that, I followed the crowds to the Vatican Museum for the same reason 99 percent of the people went:  to the ceiling Michelangelo painted on the Sistene Chapel.  I had seen it before, but there was no way I was going to leave Rome without seeing it again, the insane crowds ( worse than the ones boarding the 2 and 3 trains at Times Square during a weekday morning rush hour) and 16 Euro admission (roughly $19 at today's rates) price be damned. 

Now here's something I don't get:  The Sistene is part of a "museum" which means, of course, that they can charge for admission.  On the other hand, we're told that it's a "sacred space", so security guards try--mostly in vain-- to keep crowds quiet.  But they mostly succeed at preventing photography:  I, along with a few other people were told to stash our cameras in our bags. 

So...Is it a place of worship?  Or is it a museum?  Whatever the case, their ban on photography spurs a lot of book, poster and other sales in the Vatican gift shop!

At least I got to the Vatican by bike this time.  I am thankful for small things.


  1. Sacred space? Museum? Nah! More like cash cow. Spoken like a true cynic eh?

  2. Phillip--The Vatican? Cynicism? Really?

  3. Pick me up a six-pack of dispensations while you're there willya. Heehee!

  4. Phillip--I think a six-pack is about as much as they'll allow through Customs!