Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Travel with me Tuesday

I'm a busy busy bee today getting the house ready for its first showing!!!  So i have for you part 2 of our Italy blog

But first 4 things

1. I folded 9 loads of laundry on monday, whats up with that? oh right, i'm kind of  slacker when it comes to doing laundry so i leave it till it threatens to consume our bedroom, bed and all
2. Loved who won the Bachelor, but After the Final Rose was awkward, no?
3. I made the most INSANE dessert last night (to celebrate Bachelor finale, we are hardcore) it was one of the best things i've ever made and i did not take 1 single photo, oh the horror, guess i'll have to make it again, shucks
4. BF dropped a large picture frame on my head tonight, totally by accident, (if i hadn't made him the bestest dessert e.v.e.r. i would have been suspicious) i will now blame my head injury for all forthcoming inappropriate posts for at least a month.... maybe two

Italy RECAP part 2

Day 8

- Up early to enjoy our free Sorrento breakfast! For some reason the Italians refuse to cook bacon to anything more then limp slices of meat so we stick to pastries and scrambled eggs, yummmmm

- The hair dryer was fine this morning, yay! Maybe some Italian elves came and fixed it during the night, fingers crossed they fill my suitcase with prada tonight!

- We are off to Capri today to see the blue grotto, we take the shuttle into Sorrento and spend a small fortune (by our budget standards) to get to Capri and the blue grotto is closed, oh crap! Poor dave suffered though the hydrofoil ride to get here while i rubbed his back encouragingly while sneakily looking for a bathroom to use that doesnt require me to pay!

- We climb up the beautiful island of capri anyway, who needs a funiculaire (sideways ski lift thing) and my god there is more steps then duomo and cinque terre combined but at least I'm working off that croissant from breakfast!

- We have a photo shoot with postcards featuring the blue grotto, it's the closest we will get and decide that maybe if we pretend it was covered in scaffolding we won't mind we didn't get to see it, so we head back to Sorrento!

- Next stop is Pompeii, we take the dodgy train and arrive almost right in front of the ruins of a town that was buried in lava when Mount Vesuvius erupted a long time ago (I'm not one for historical details, can u tell?)

- We figured an hour would cover it but about 4 hours later we are still looking at the map trying to find one last statue, the ruins have their own colony of dogs, they were there before they volcanoe erupted and have continued to be allowed to live there well taken care of since and I insist on meeting as many as I can, I miss Sydney!

- Around 2pm all my hunger signs set in but one of the rules of a donnaishungrytakecover episode is I don't recognize the signs till it's too late, I stop talking completely, everyone and everything I see is suddenly stupid, and I never know why, then ding ding ding, 20 minutes after the onset of symptoms while Dave is trying to figure out the heck he did this time I realize we missed lunch and much to daves delight I find an allbran bar which will tide me over for at least 40 minutes!

- Back to our hotel for dinner, we are offered a free shuttle to a local restaurant so of course we do that, 28 euros later ($39 approximately) and we have had, fresh bread, spicy parmesan chips, brushetta, 1/2 litre of local wine, worlds largest beer, shrimp linguine, sausage pesto, gelato and tiramisu, why can it be this cheap to eat out at home??? By the time we leave for the hotel 2 hours later I'm shouting my love for Sorrento, 1/2 litre of wine is a lot for a girl that gets drunk regularly off 2 sips of any form of alcohol

Weird characters of the day: 15 year old girl pushing stroller with a pinochio doll in it, full out scrapping 6 year old girls outside the theatre, boat worker who tried to sell us real fake dolce and banana purses and the tourist who kept praising the beautiful ocean... Sorry dear, it's the mediteranean sea, even I know that! Oh and can't forget the old lady doing some kind of satanic ritual in the train station bathroom that requires water, mumbling and lifting her skirt, needless to say I got the heck out of there and held it!

Day 9

- Time to head to Rome this morning, and of course it's raining so hard you can hardly see in front of you, Sorrento has turned into one big waterfall

- We take graffiti covered train back to Naples, there are 33 stops before we arrive, very high speed service here in Italy

- Last train and I want to make sure I take advantage of free wine and the lovely train guy gives me a vague look and hands me a coke, oh well! I don't have it in me today to make wild hand gestures for 5 minutes and end up with a sprite anyway! 

- Dave states we are close enough to our apartment to walk from the train station instead of using subway like i suggest and fastforward half an hour and we get as close to a fight as we have the trip, quite a few "I told you so's" followed by several "eat poo's*"

- We turn a corner and there is the coliseum, we walk closer and closer and AHA our apartment is about 1 block away, Dave is ecstatic and I think I might get away with a lot of things after this (hello prada?), visiting the coliseum has been his dream since he was a kid - the apartment is small but has chandeliers and a four poster bed, only 4 flights to get to this one, good job because Dave has found a basilica for us to climb with another 400 steps... I'm going to need a vacation once I get home!

- The rain has stopped so we are off to explore the coliseum, trevi fountain, pantheon, spanish steps, it's all breathtaking and we have barely scratched the surface of Rome

- Todays ponderings from Dave includes an idea for an alarm to warn him of my hunger episodes, any suggestions please submit them at www.makedaveslifeeasier.com

- I'm exhausted today so it's an early night, we huddle around the tv has we have the BBC news in ENGLISH!!! we are riveted when they annouce the winners of the economic Nobel prize, this is how desperate we are for English tv, it's been almost 2 weeks

* edited to avoid vulgar language :o)

Day 10

- After an iffy night listening to someone in the apartment above walk around in high heels at 3:30am (don't even want to know why) we are ready for our first day of bus tours around the city

- Time to get ready, I always claim the last stop of a holiday should be somewhere great because you start to get homesick and everything needs to run smoothly.... I should have done more research on the apartment *sigh*, I'm quite easy to travel with, up for anything, rarely complain, good problem solver and overall happy girl UNLESS there are bathroom issues, this morning I threw an epic fit whilst attempting to shower (see molesting shower curtains of Greece to review my prior experience in foreign bathrooms), first off the shower head assaulted me (I should press charges), I was scalded by the tap and then when I climbed into the tub that was made for little people you can only stand in one spot while trying to shower with a shower head afixed to the wall at about knee height, wwwhhhhhhyyyy? In an attempt to hide his amusement Dave offers to stand outside the tub and hold the shower head so I wash wash my hair in-between foot stomping fits, I love my man

- We tour the coliseum this morning and it's all gladiator talk, i tune out very quickly when the tour guide launches into a detailed list of animals killed in the stadium (1000 by caesars command in one day) and wander off to take scenic photos pretending the coliseum was used as a theater to view romantic-comedies

- Hop on, hop off tour was a wee bit more like hop on, sit in traffic for an hour, and then embarrassingly nod off on the bus, then get to your destination slower then if you had walked it! We had a birds eye view of a mugger running away with someones bag being chased by a security guard, we then brainstorm mugging scenarios, I suddenly desperately want a whistle, where might one find a whistle in Rome (or a toilet seat for that matter!) I can find boxer shorts with davids penis on them (again not MY davids you naughty people) on every corner, but that just won't help in a mugging - We walked the forum and palantine hill and wander Vatican city, Rome is huge and so old full of piazzas and musicians on the street, every corner is a potential postcard - I'm officially O.V.E.R. pasta, enough I'd enough, I have dreams of being smothered by the stuff, we have summed up that Italy is essentially made up of Pizza, Pasta and Paninis if you want to eat anything else you are S.O.L., we huddle together discussing all the vegetable stirfry we will make once we are home, I give it a week before we are craving The Olive Press, our favorite italian restaurant

Dave and Donnas FANTA sing-a-long... Actually there isn't one but my god we love fanta, it's been our default drink throughout Italy, when in doubt order a fanta!

Day 11

- We watch some chile minors get freed on BBC this morning, terribly riveting even when ancient Rome lays outside our door - Hike it to the Vatican, takes about an hour walk, we are pros now, my jeans are actually loser, our cheap travel budget plus all the exercise has made me thinner, what the heck, there is practically spaghetti running through my veins here, not going to complain though

- Turns out it's pope day and we get to meet the pope!!! (by meet i mean we see him from a great distance and through the zoom lense on my canon)

- Next stop burger king, FACT: fast food meals are much smaller here then at home, AND you have to pay for ketchup, WTF? - Find Tiffanys and are a little disappointed in how boring it is inside, I mean this is Rome, guess I'll just have to pass on the millions I was going to drop on jewels today

- We experience a honking assassination today, one car can't make a corner so the rest gang up and honk incessantly, it's like bullies in a school yard and I want to send lots of Italians to the naughty corner!

- Dinner is at a traditional roman restaurant overlooking the coliseum, such menu items as brains, hare, and oxtail, hmmmmm maybe pasta? Lol!

- Dessert is so good I want to smear it over my body and save some for later, it's the BEST creme brûlée ever and I laugh hysterically when Dave tries to eat the crust that was actually a porcelain bowl, luckily he didn't crack it before I had to break the sad news, we have obviously both been sampling the much safer alcohol choices of wine and beer!

- Dave HAS to see a piazza before we head home and while the thunder and lightening had at first seemed romantic, the now pouring rain is not so much, we rush back to the apartment "debating" who took the umbrella out of the bag! - Work called tonight, (ummm yes I am still in Italy) to tell me TD Canada Trust is going to 7 day weeks, it's wrong I was hoping they were calling to tell me I was being given a very generous package so I could travel somewhere new next week right? *sigh*

- Oh and I found a whistle at tiffanys, couldn't waste something so pretty on muggers though so told Dave I wanted a diamond instead :o) haha I wish!

Day 12

- Last day in Rome, we find out this morning all the minors are rescued, thank you BBC!

- We get to go to a whole different country today and we walk the whole thing in 3 hours, today is Vatican museum and Sistine chapel, Vatican is the smallest country in the world, we are told if you look at each piece for one minute in their museum it will take you 12 years to finish, luckily we just get the highlights!

- Michaelangelo was a miserable effer and the ceiling of the chapel is covered in ways he showed his annoyance, like a guy mooning all the popes, really classy stuff!

- We sneak photos in the Sistine chapel, while a guard yells and claps at everyone to be quiet, dude you are making more noise with your hands then we are with our mouths!

- Vatican city is protected by the Swiss guard who essentially look like grown men dressed in blue and red pajamas but be careful they are deadly serious men trained as well as the marines, CIA and British SAS, but my god their look ridiculous!

- By the end of our tours both of our backs are pretty much done, we are going to need an in house chiropractor by the time we get home

- Tip of the day for Italy, if you are crossing the street do so with confidence, Italian cars and their drivers smell fear, or if you can't manage that follow a nun/priest/or hot Italian women, they always stop for them!

- Our last dinner was spent at a restaurant with the MOST amazing view of the coliseum and we eat chicken fajitas hahahhaa, waiter was ridiculously rude which is okay, we are going home tomorrow! Quick stop for gelato on the way to the apartment and it's packing time

Day 13

- One stop before we head to the airport, jumping shot in front of the coliseum! We wake up at 6:30 and manage to get photos with no tourists, wafreakinghooo! I shot daggers (not literal ones just with my eyes) at anyone who dared wander into the shots but only a few garbage collectors were injured!

- We decide to walk to the train station to catch the shuttle to the airport, we are masochists I know! But the last time I was in Rome someone pickpocketed me on the subway luckily they didn't get anything but we don't want to get mugged on our last day, that would result in a bad shower kind of epic fit!

- The flight consisted of ridiculous long checkin line, worlds longest hike to a plane (walk,subway,bus,and walk again), longest time to serve food ever lunch was served at 5!, and the 2 whiniest screaming bratty kids ever across the aisle, please let it be over soon? Please!

- Okay worst plane ride ever, the kids screamed the entire flight, food was served 3 hours late, turbulence the whole time, sooooo happy to be back in Canada!

Things we didn't like so much bout Italia!

- The people, they are pushy and rude and really dont give a crap that most of their livelihoods depends on tourists like you, the waiters are the worst and we rarely tipped as only one place in 2 weeks remembered to give us everything we ordered, arrogance runs rampant though and they don't just don't care how much I want to impale them with my dinner fork
- The bathrooms missing key items like toilet seats, toilet paper and even entire toilets! And they often required you to pay for the privilege of using them when you really feel like they should be paying you
- The smoke, I might need my own inhaler by the time we get home, everyone smokes, everywhere, it's crazy how much more advanced we are in reduction in smoking in public places, but hey if I was a smoker I would think Italy rocks!
- Did I mention the rude, smoking, non toilet seat using people? :o)

Things we adored about Italy!

- The history, the piazzas around every corner, the breathtaking scenery, and that the photos we took will hang on the walls of our home for years to come, Venice was both of our favourites, it's got an elegant beauty about it, who wouldn't be charmed by the bridges and St Marcos square
- The food, the pasta tastes so amazing compared to the wholewheat stuff we eat at home, the gelato is to die for, the fresh bread dipped in balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil is our all time fav
- Cheap booze, 1/2 litre of wine for €2.50, the fact that water is more expensive then beer amused us greatly!
- Our amazing tours with awesome laid back tour guides who made 13 hour days fun, educational and English!
- The entire country is beautiful and has so much to offer, I won't hesitate to come back but there is still so much more of the world to discover first!

And just to be helpful...

How to be a tourist by Donna&Dave!

1. Do not, I repeat do not stop mid stride to take a photo in a heavily crowded area, you will create a dominoes effect with tourists and I will elbow you in the face if i get a chance
2. Learn the currency, you don't want to be holding up the line in a supermarket while a checkout girl counts your change for you (yeah, that was us!)
3. Don't get too overly friendly with other tourists, just because we speak the same language I don't need to know about your husbands fraternity buddies or your baby timeline, yup that one happened within a 2 minute span in the line up for the bathroom at the Vatican!
4. If you plan to climb any steps, (let alone the duomo), please be capable of getting up more then 5 steps without wheezing already, i dont know how to treat you if you have an asthma attack, and ps: wearing high heels is guaranteed to keep your podiatrist in work for life!
5. Be willing to go with the flow and I'm not just talking about using the sidewalks, things will go wrong, you might end up stranded a 4 hour hike from your hotel or find yourself dealing with a crazy lady doing god knows what in the one working bathroom when you desperately have to pee but take a deep breath, it always works out and they make great storys for travel blogs!