Monday, November 2, 2009

Politically in-correct travel guide

Antipodean baby-boomers hit Europe and discover their experience was different in several and subtle ways from the last time they visited five years earlier.
First city Rome: and if Paris is the city of love, Rome must be the city of lust - there was a plastic mattress protector on our bed. We're not sure if the hotel proprietors thought we looked like a hot pair (eat your hat Austin Mitchell), or aged in our 50s, assumed me might bein-continent.

Like pilgrims from afar, we walked and walked and walked. One Wednesday morning we headed towards the Vatican, and found the Pantheon on the way. This is the most amazing sight in Rome AND it's free to visit. We were pilgrims of architecture, not religion; and after our time at the Vatican, we we realised we'd made the right philosophical choice.

Each Wednesday is the Pilgrim's Mass at the Vatican and thousands of people had made phenomenal efforts to arrive at this holy shrine from all over the world. We knew nothing of the Pilgrim's Mass and simply bowled up to the place to have a look - curious and not to be converted.

The Pope's performance at the mass was under-whelming. If he's meant to be in the marketing - prospecting for sales - he has a lot to learn. Quizzing the Italians in the crowd, they confirmed what I already knew - he's not a popular pope but the catholic church is an integral part of the Italian landscape, like having pasta with dinner, he's just as sticky to shake off.

Tomorrow: Smoking AND inhaling.