Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Day We Ran Into Rick Steeves, Saw the Vatican, and Other Things

Darryl arranged for us to have a private tour of the Vatican while we were in Rome.  We saw all the big sites, the Sistine Chapel (and totally illegally took photos of it) and St. Peter's Basilica. 

Here we are in front of the main altar in St. Peter's.

This man is clearly asking the Swiss Guards for fashion tips. 

Me in front of St. Peter's.

After a 3 and a half hour tour from our lovely guide, we decided to catch some lunch.  We went to a couple places in our Rick Steeves guide book but we either couldn't find them or they had gone out of business.  I was nervous because the Steeves states that most of the eating establishments around the Vatican are sub par, so I really wanted to stick to the book.  We bickered a bit, Darryl was sick of following the book.  Right about then, following the book paid off in a big way. 

We stepped into a cafe from the guide book, I started to go in to the air conditioned part but Darryl stopped me and said he wanted to sit outside.  While we were sitting there waiting for our food I was casually flipping through the guide book and eavesdropping on an intense business related argument at the table next to ours.  I took my shoe off and started fussing with my blister guards and next thing I know the guy in the argument jumps up and runs from the table next to us.  I figured they'd finally come to blows but snapped out of it when Darryl says, "it's Rick Steeves".  The guy had run up to him to shake his hand.

It took a while to register, of course I froze like a deer in headlights with my Rick Steeves guidebook in one hand and my shoe in the other, there he was, in all his glory, 10 feet away from us.  The Steeves cometh.  Finally, when I snapped out of it I screamed at Darryl, GET THE CAMERA!
 I may have been paralyzed in awe of the Steves, but I did get a few photos of him dashing off across the street towards the Vatican with his camera crew.  We were talking with the owner and he said that Rick Steves comes there once a year and that they were shooting a segment inside for his TV show.  I will never forgive Darryl for not letting me lead us to eat inside ;)!
 This is my smug "I just saw Rick Steeves in ITALY and also I have gelato" face.
After our big lunch, we stopped for gelato.  Yes, gelato was served as an included dessert, but we got more, I don't need your judgement.  Then we walked down to St. Angelo's Castle and climbed to the top for some sweet city views.  After all this, we were spent.  We hiked back to the subway, which dropped us off to our hotel shuttle station and then took a nap.  That night, we decided to hang around the hotel.  Since even the room service and cheap restaurant were above our price range, we had some cocktails and snacks in the executive lounge (free) and then struck out in the residential neighborhood surrounding the hotel.  We made a pact and decided to eat at the first place we came to.

Not far from the hotel we ate at a place called "The View" where we were the only tourists in there amongst a ton of loud locals.  We were greeted with a complimentary glass of champagne and a spectacular view of Rome at sunset.  We started with beer cured beef carpaccio served with guacamole (not too shabby with the guac, Italy).  For my main I had the best, most melt in your mouth, lamb chops that I've ever tasted in my life.  We had an amazing basil creme brulee for dessert and strolled hand in hand back to our hotel room, a couple blocks away.  Much nicer than fighting through the tourist traps littering Rome, it was one of my favorite meals and a remarkably romantic evening.  We went back to our room and opened a bottle of Chianti and enjoyed our balcony. 

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