The next day was Rome. My goals for Rome were simple. See the works by Raphael, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michaelangelo and St. Peter's Basilica at the the Vatican. Then to tour the coliseum. All in less than eight hours.
In the morning, while it poured outside, we visited the Vatican museums seeing the works of Raphael and the Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately, since I am wheelchair bound, we couldn't get to the Basilica directly from the Sistine Chapel due to stairways. We would have lost a lot of time backtracking all of the way back to the entry lift and then go outside, in the rain, all the way to the chapel and wait in a long line. The Vatican does not charge entry fees for those who use wheelchairs and their attendant. But, they also do not let wheelchairs jump lines. Which would be fine if they had a lift right by the Sistine Chapel. So there went the basilica.
By the time we got out of the Vatican the rain had stopped so we headed over to the coliseum. What a spectacular sight! The architecture, the shear size of it and to think that this was a place that was home to such carnage. I really struggled to be in the moment and to take it all in. That was from the outside. When we went in I saw some tough terrain and figured that was the end of my access. But then I saw it, an elevator, YES! The ancient romans had the foresight to build a modern lift (or it was put in at a later date). Up we went to the top. Where I stared at the inside and hardly listened to our guide, Karyn. I just sat there and tried to comprehend that I was in such a historic structure.
After we left the Coliseum we went over to the Roman Forum. I never had much interest in this sight until my guide explained its significance. I was literally ten feet from where Julius Caesar was cremated and only a few hundred feet from where he was assassinated. This was an amazing place to discover and I had no idea of how interesting it would be. When we were done I had to traverse cobble stones ranging from four inches up to eighteen with gaps of as much as two inches between them. All while climbing a twenty degree hill to boot. It was like off roading and rock crawling at the same time. Thanks to my cousin Bill, son Alex and my shock absorbers I made it to the top.
My thoughts on Rome, way too big to experience in less than eight hours. One would need to spend a month here to really get a basic understanding of its idiosyncrasies. I enjoyed the shear beauty, the history and the energy the city exudes. This city must be so beautiful at night. I would have liked to have seen it. I am so happy that I came.
An update of my condition. After returning from Florence I had a fall when the ship lurched sideways. I know how to fall so I wasn't hurt. It happened in front of my cousins and they were able to get me to my feet. It took all my leg strength to help them get me up. About an hour later I ended up on the floor again. This time it took our steward, Sheldon, and my kids to get me up. I stayed in my chair for all of the next day unless standing was absolutely necessary. I was able to regain the strength to stand up again. I knew before going on this trip that the strain on my body would probably speed up the progression of the disease and maybe shorten my life. These are sacrifices I am willing to make in order to have these experiences and, most important, make wonderful memories with my family. All is good!