Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Italy PART ONE - October 2010

Hi friends,  I'm a little under the weather today and since its the last day of RSP season there is no sick day for me!  So i'm sharing Part One of the Italy travel blog (that only leaves Part Two and Aruba left to share, eeek i need to plan another trip) and as an added bonus this totally goes along with Travel Tuesday!

I adore Italy, i love the food, i love the countryside, i love the ruins, i love everything but Rome (more explanation provided in blog)

Hubby has traveled a lot to carribean countries but never to Europe and Italy has been his dream FOREVER, originally we said that is where we would go on our honeymoon but we just couldn't wait!  I had been previously in 2007 when i did a whirlwind road trip of Europe but I knew this trip would be WAY better because a) i was with BF, b) i wouldn't have the trauma of breaking a rental car on the autobahn in germany haunting me and c) we had 2 weeks to explore JUST italy!

Here is part one of our blog and a few of our fav pictures...

ITALY travel blog

- And we are off! My lovely mum and dad take us to the airport with many be safe speeches and lectures to Dave about keeping me well fed or pay the price, hahaha, I laugh but it's a serious matter, no one wants to be in a 50 foot span of a hungry Donna

- Aboard the plane we meet our grumpy seat mate who offers us the window seat to which we politely decline (old people need sky views too) I hear her complaining to stewardess about wanting aisle seat due to bladder issues (she has nothing on my bladder issues) but alas I don't want her to pee herself so we give her aisle seat and she pays us back by elbowing me about 12 times in the head right about the time I reach a deep sleep! And for the record I peed more then she did, ha!

Day 1

- We have arrived in Italy, feeling quite smug as we find the train right away to the main station, have activated our train pass and are on our way, till the evil Italian railguy makes us pay for not making reservations, only a fraction of what another ticket would have cost but Dave is mad, he doesn't part with $ easily! - So far our views have been of sketchy looking Italian neighbourhoods and Dave ignores the windows to look at our guidebooks for reassurance that Italy is in fact more then apartment complexes

- We finally arrive in venice and while standing in line to buy tickets for the next leg of our excursion (we aren't making the same mistake twice) Dave notices that through the glass doors is Venice, canals and everything and bumpy arrival into Venice is forgotten it's beautiful!

- Next step find hotel, according to a local guide if u turn your gps on in Venice it will tell you not to bother and probably laugh, our gps pretty much did exactly that and we buy a map and look at it helplessly and while Dave offers such helpful advice as "we will have to sleep on the street I guess" I look to the heavens and notice a small sign with the name of our hotel, hurrah!

- Hotel is what you might call rustic but we don't care, it's perfect!

Day 2

- Our only full day in Venice and we are going to make the most of it! After being awoken by non stop bell bashing (something that loud can't be bell ringing) we are off to explore, it's truly amazing the bridges and the water, and the alleyways theough the whole city

- We have found the Italians to be quite rude and their attitudes haven't improved but we have come to expect this now and no longer try to look pathetically foreign for help and figure everything out on our own, we feel very proud every time we reach somewhere (we are aiming to get to) and there is much congratulations and usually gelato buying in celebration! 

- Today we have arranged a walking tour of Venice (we spent the morning walking it non stop but that's okay it's still the beginning of our trips and our feet don't hate us yet)

- Our poor tour guide is overwhelmed as about 80 people showed up for one tour and while I want to give her a hug the other tourists grumble nonstop about not being able to hear her, I bite my tongue and don't say what I want (which is u are 80 get a hearing aid it's probably you not her) and let me tell you these senior citizens are vicious on tours, a few more minutes and we might have been responsible for a Germans hip replacement surgery!

- We get to the best part of the tour, our gondola ride and it's just lovely, our gondola driver pouts prettily and doesn't sing but I'm okay with this as we heard opera singers earlier and it sounded like a cat being neutered, however half way through our ride it started to pour and we were happy to reach dry land! The photos of us looking like drowned rats clinging to our gondola will never be seen again!

FUN FACT: licenses to operate a gondola costs €400,000 and to build a gondola cost €50,000 and you must go to school for 2 years to train, seriously!!!

- Dinner tonight comes straight from a market, bread, grapes, crackers, cheese, chocolate, it's the best meal we have had since we got here, we won't mention the bottle of wine we bought forgetting we had no bottle opener and did you know tweezers aren't capable of digging cork out of wine bottles? I do!

- We aren't tired (it's only 2pm in Brantford) so we head back to St Marcos square and watch people dance in the water that filled the square at night to the band playing at a restaurant around the square, sigh, perfection! These moments will now be referred to as mop (moments of perfection!)

Day 3

- Are woken up this morning by sirens wailing for about 5 minutes, we both relate this sign to tornado warnings and assure ourselves there are none of these on Venice and go back to sleep, move ahead about 1 hour and we are wandering the streets and notice all the locals wearing rain boots, our tornado alarm is in fact a flood alarm, luckily our hotel is untouched but we have great fun watching the locals laugh at other tourists pulling luggage through flooded alleys with plastic bags on their feet

- I've developed weird bites all over me more of an annoyance then anything this happens every trip (more on this later)

- Off to Florence now, train ride runs very smooth, even get wine in first class, this is the life!

- Our apartment is a 5 minute walk from the train station, and ginormous, we consider flagging down tourists and getting them to pay to stay there too, always the pennypinchers! There are murals on the ceilings and a fancy bathroom which makes up for the 6 flights of stairs to get to the top!

- We head off to explore Florence at night, eating gnocchi and more gelato (it's becoming an obsession!)

- MOP: sitting in st piazza at dark, listening to local artists playing songs while sitting in front of the most beautiful fountain

- New enemy: scaffolding, its blocking our perfect photos at st marcos square, and now the duomo

Day 4

- Tour of Tuscany day!

- My bug bites have morphed and I can no longer see out of right eye properly, doesn't look bad, just kind of appears that I had collagen injected in wrong place, my arms however appear to have developed a couple of new biceps... on my forearms!

- Our tour got off without a hitch, we visited sienna which is beautiful with it's annual horse race and dueling town areas represented by animals such as rhino, porcupine and wolf, I kid you not!

- Next stop a Tuscan farm with the most amazing lunch (4 different wine tastings was honestly the highlight for me) and the view was breathtaking, our farm guide was Canadian and I wanted to put her in our backpack and take her to the rest of Italy with us to handle the rude Italians

- After watching Dave spit out his one sip of wine (he is definitely more of a beer guy) and laughing at several other tour goers who get quite smashed we are off to San Gimignano, the Disney world of Tuscany, we didn't see the magic kingdom but Dave dragged me up the highest tower and I admit (only to myself of course) the view is worth it!

- Last stop Pisa where we have the most ridiculous tourist photo shoot that's amusing not just to us but to several passing tourists who laugh at our many attempts to get the perfect jumping shot, not so impressed is the now hungover other tour goers and a guy who shows up late to every departure point that has been oddly named the sheep guy, to each their own I guess!

- We arrive back in Florence 12 hours later surrounded by many Italian restaurants and we get dinner at mcdonalds and funny enough half out tour group has the same idea, I order a mozzarella burger (when in Rome) but it's crap, should have just got a big mac!

- I spend the rest of the night hunting down Italian Mosquitos I'm apparently allergic to but can't find one

- Scaffolding sighting: Pisa, sigh!

Day 5

- Literally hop out of bed when I see a mosquito and then proceed to murder/slaughter/torture 6 more as they all have spent the night gorging on our blood, I'm pissed, no bug is safe around me

- Today is hop on hop off tour of Florence day, it's also wait in long line day to see davids penis, hahhaaa not my davids I can see that for free *wink wink*, the statue of David

- Took about 1 minute before I get yelled at for trying to take a photo, foreigners do not like me and my camera (see:Mexico)

- We label one statue chick with a dick and can't help but think if someone made statues like this today they would have their own FBI file!

- Climbed 450 steps to the top of the duomo dome and no longer feel guilty that we haven't ran in the morning because we have walked and climbed non stop since we got here! Thighs of steel here i come, A sign at the start of your ascent clearly states if u have heart problems do not proceed, nice!

- MOP of the day, siting on the steps in michaelangelos piazza with an amazing view of Florence cuddling with Dave while a band played one of my most favorite songs!

- Dinner was a triumph, pasta and risotto with beer and bread that the waiter charged us too little for so we saved ten euros and got a workout while we sprinted away in hopes they didn't figure out their error before we left, we would feel guilty if the service wasn't so horrible here!

- We finish the night sitting on the steps of the duomo tourist watching and playing spot the older Italian man with his much younger wife, we are easily amused!

Day 6

- Today's new bug bite is brought to you by the body parts shoulders and shins, grrrrrr

- It's the cinque terre tour today, lots of stairs and hiking but the views should make it more then worth it (I say this before the hike of course, lol)

- Dave had caught a bit of the cold I had on the start of the trip so that plus the 2.5 hour bus ride each way (he gets motion sickness) is bad enough but our tour guide mentions the boat ride to get to one of the towns and that lunch consists of seafood, my poor guy is now green!

- We are warned several times about the steps up to one if the towns and it's a breeze after the duomo yesterday, we stop for a delicious lunch of pasta with pesto, bread and seafood appetizers overlooking the Mediterranean sea and we make friends with a lovely australian couple who are traveling around Europe for 6 weeks, I'm now green but with jealousy!

- Next is the hiking part of the tour, holy crap, why weren't we warned about this part? 2 hour grueling hike, our tour group makes it in one piece with the exception of one girl who slipped down a flight of muddy steps and honestly if you wear white booty shorts on a 8 hour hiking excursion it was bound to happen!

- The most amusing part of the hike was watching the austrians push past us with their ski poles and every time I had to stop myself from bursting into song with my own special rendition of the hills are alive with the ssooouuunnndddd of music, lalalalaa!

- Back to Florence for our last night in our beautiful apartment, I will not miss the mosquitos of Florence though as I have 5 new bites on my shoulder, tank tops are no longer an option, I look like I have chicken pox of the arms!

Day 7

- Half way through our trip, horror! we are loving the country and getting along so well considering the difficulty of navigating a place where we don't speak the language it's hard to admit it will soon be time for home

- Today we are aboard yet another train, this time our destination is Sorrento! We manage to squeeze out of a train worker that there is no train to Sorrento, oh crap, our guide book says there is so I guess in an hour we shall see, dum dum dummmmm

- Well we are in sorrento and we made friends on the very sketchy train from Naples, a guy visiting from L.A. For a wedding, a crazy old Italian man giving us directions but then tries to get off at the wrong stop as he very confused and the Italian lady that I keep thinking is trying to talk to me but in fact she is just chatting with herself!

- So outside the station we soon discover our hotel is so far off out if town it's not on the map, bring on the local public bus damn it!

- After worst possible bus experience which consists of us pondering order of death in case our bus veers off the road with another couple from Toronto we browbeat our bus driver into telling us which stop is our hotel - it is the most lovely possible hotel EVER, the view of Sorrento and the sea is amazing

- After walking the grounds for a while our room is ready and I'm practically salivating, there is a hair dryer and a mini bar and oh my god (I'm practically on my knees weeping with joy at this point) a bath!!!! I think I might even have seen Dave wipe a tear at this revolation!

- We decide for the first time since we started out Italy journey to take a break before heading back into Sorrento (we just want to use the hotel shuttle service instead of the bus again) so we order bellinis and heinekens at the bar and head to the pool where we sit on our loungers enjoying the view and reading a book (that we stole from the lobby, lol not enough luggage room for books you know!), this is the life

- After the BEST bubble bath I wreck the hairdryer (sheez that didnt take long) we are off to the main piazza in town where we have the most amazing pasta and pizza dinner, the pizza in Sorrento would be my last supper if I was on death row (which if I keep getting in trouble for taking photos in foreign countries might very well happen)

- We then proceed to get drunk on lemoncello and explore the harbour and wander the side streets till we find the most wonderful gelato stand (named davides) with flavors like apple, pear ricotta, British trifle, yummmmmmm, perfect ending to our first day in Sorrento

At the halfway point these are the things we have learned about Italy/Italians

1. The kissy kissy thing is not put on, they all do it, germs be damned!
2. WC stands for water closet which translated into Canadian means bathroom, be careful they don't usually have toilet seats (if I had room in my luggage I would have packed one from home depot), you frequently have to pay for the privilege of peeing on a toilet without a seat, I've taken to using restrooms in museums only, they are usually free and you have a 50/50 chance if toilet seat presence!
3. I would set up lung cancer treatment stands at every corner to take advantage of the smoking situation here because they might all have it (hell we might have it from just traveling here for one week), there is a permanent smoke haze everywhere we go!
4. Mosquitos are a good alternative to Botox if you can figure out a way to direct them to which bodyparts you want filled out and all Italian mosquitos have some kind if personal grudge against me!
5. i means information which indicates someone with a small grasp on the English language might be able to nod frequently while you ask them long winded but equally important questions like "how to we avoid the public bus?"
6. The majority of Italy is made up of hills, stairs, churches and gelato stands (I'm a fan of the last one only!)


St Marcos square

Rialto Bridge

Sienna, Tuscany

Tuscan countryside


Duomo, Florence

Cinque Terre

Back tomorrow with a delicious apple breakfast cookie xox

1 comment:

Christina said...

hi! thanks for stopping by my blog! i have to go back and read all your italy stuff. i went there back in 2010 and LOVED IT

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