Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Mediterranean | Day 82-83 | Italy | Venice

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We’re almost there, y’all! This is my last post from the Mediterranean region. Next is London and then home to the USA. We’ve made it! All three of you who are still reading the recaps.

DAY 81: MILAN TO VENICE

I took an afternoon train from Milan to Venice and sat next to a friendly Italian girl about my age who lived outside of Venice but had been in Milan for a Jared Letto concert. She was a diehard Letto fan. Even had backstage passes.

When I arrived at my hotel, I stayed in and skipped dinner because of my ever-worsening cold. Which, incidentally is pretty much the theme of the rest of my trip. Fortunately, by this point, I was traveling on my own, not in tour groups, so I could site-see for half-days, which is all I had energy for, and spend the rest of the day in bed.

DAY 82-83: VENICE

Basically I did the touristy things: walked the main drag, shopped, went to San Marco, bought some pasta, and watched a glass blowing demonstration in Murano where I got soaked wading in ankle high water sans goulashes. I wish I had bought the ugly disposable goulashes they sell on every corner. But, anyway, I must have looked good in Slick Discount’s leather jacket and my Italian boots because two guys tried to pick me up. With a kleenex in my hand and snot dripping down my nose, I declined their offers. One guy, after giving me the up-and-down three times over, and practically panting, was all, “well, how about tomorrow?” Buddy, I’m pretty sure I’ll still be sick then, but also, I’m leaving and you’re gross. He walked off in a hurry, on to the next hunt.

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Mediterranean | Day 80-81 | Italy | Milan

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DAYS 79.5-81: MILAN

Not much to report here. I was only here two short days, and the tickle in my throat that started in Switzerland, that I tried to fight  off in my one day in Milan, hooked up with a cold that Geni was getting over in Albania, and went full-scale in Milan’s rainy, cold weather. So I spent most of the time in my hotel room at the Ibis, which I have to say was the best hotel I stayed in on the trip. I try to avoid hotel chains, but the Ibis had a good rate and was in a good location. It was extremely clean, the bed was comfortable, and the hotel restaurant was delicious and affordable. It was one of my favorite meals in Italy, actually: a mozzarella and basil ravioli with carbonara sauce and zucchini.

I did manage to get out and go to the Duomo, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II next to the Duomo, the Brera Museum, and I had tickets to see Da Vinci’s Last Supper, but I couldn’t find the gallery. According to my map, I was in the right spot, but I walked round and round and couldn’t find it, and it was way past my reserved ticket time, and I didn’t feel well, so I gave up.

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Mediterranean | Day 68-72 | Italy | Amalfi Coast

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There are a lot of photos in this post because the Amalfi Coast is so photogenic and I’m covering 5 days. I will try to keep the post short, and just briefly describe the hikes and list our 4-course meals for each night. As I mentioned in the last post, this was the G Adventures Local Living Amalfi Coast trip. Last summer, when I looked into the trip, it was listed as a hiking trip, but said a moderate walker would be fine. They’ve since changed the description to say it can be demanding and steep in parts and is not suitable for people with knee problems. I wonder how much of that change was inspired by my mom’s scathing review of the trip; she bailed out on all the hikes because of her knees. (G Adventures actually called her to ask her to change her review because it lowered the overall rating.) She had spent months walking and getting cartilage injections from doctor in hopes that she would be prepared for this trip. So, needless to say, she was disappointed she couldn’t join us on the hikes.

I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that I am a slow hiker… because of all the times that I stop to take *ahem* photos. But by this point in my trip, I had been hiking and walking through the Mediterranean, carrying my bags as well as older women’s bags up and down stairs for over two months, so I was at the front of these hikes most of the time… unless I did legitimately fall behind for a photo op. After one particularly long uphill/stair trek, I was wiped out like the rest of my tour-mates, but I decided to push through and sprint the last 200 meters uphill. Just because I could. Even a health and fitness coach on our trip said I was very fit. I wanted to ask her if she’d write that in a letter to my mean junior high PE teacher, Miss Beasley, who would always yell at me to pay attention in dodge ball, which is the stupidest game ever invented, especially for 4-eyed-coke-bottle-glasses-wearing underweight 13-year-olds.

But, I digress, this was supposed to be a brief post. So, here we go!

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Mediterranean | Day 67 | Italy | Pompeii

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It’s hard to believe that six months ago I was in the first week of my Journeymoon in Turkey. Somedays it feels like yesterday, others it feels like a lifetime ago. It’s also hard to believe that I’m still not caught up on the recaps. Life gets in the way, people. IN. THE. WAY.

DAY 66: ROME TO NAPLES

As I mentioned in the last post, my mom arrived in Rome around lunch time.  We ate some mediocre pasta and then took an afternoon train to Naples, and met our G Adventures Amalfi Coast tour group that evening: eight Canadians, four Americans, and four Australians. We had pizza for dinner. It is the thing to do in Naples.

DAY 67: POMPEII & FURORE

We left Naples in the morning in crazy life-flashing-before-your-eyes traffic and drove to Pompeii where a local guide took us around, explaining the various history and significance of sites, as guides do.

Pompeii was built in the 6th Century BC, and judging by the mosaics “erotica” it was quite the den of Roman debauchery. In 79 AD, Mt Vesuvius erupted in Biblical wrath proportions, and most people died from the immense heat which caused their brains to explode, not from ash suffocation as formerly believed before modern-day scientists began studying and theorizing the destruction of Pompeii. The city and bodies were covered in layers of ash and volcanic debris, and eventually new vegetation growth, and thus became lost in time.

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Mediterranean | Day 65-66 | Italy | Rome

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DAY 65

Not too much to say about Rome. You’re welcome. I hit most of the major tourist attractions. I went to the Vatican and took their museum tour guide, but I am not sure I recommend this. If you like art history, then yes. There wasn’t much information on the wall plaques, so it was helpful to have the guide. But, you had to stay super close to her for your radio to pick up her signal. And the group was extremely large, 40ish people, so it was hard to stay near the guide and take photos. So, again, I dunno.

I rushed through the Sistine Chapel because it was so crowded. It’s impressive, but I wasn’t spiritually moved or anything. I then went to St Peter’s Basilica to see the Pietá, which was behind glass, and you had to push through ipad toting tourists to see it. So again, not that impressed. Although I’ve heard from several other travelers that they saw her when she wasn’t behind glass and they were quite taken with her.

I briefly stopped at The Spanish Steps on my way back to meet up with my tour-mates for our farewell dinner.

DAY 66

I went to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum/Hill Palatine early in the morning before my mom arrived in Rome and we jumped on a train to Naples to start my next tour.

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Mediterranean | Day 62-64 | Italy | Florence

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Believe it or not, we’re nearing the end of these recaps. Only eight more to go before my US return. Heads up, this post is a loooonnng one. But, there’s a pretty good story of a flirty somewhat smarmy leather salesman if you need a extra long cyber-break at work.

DAY 62: PISA & FIRENZE

We left La Spezia in the morning and took a train to Pisa, where we took the obligatory touristy photos of us “holding up” the tower, which took all of 20 minutes. Then we went and got pizza (yes, again. Leave me alone. “When in Rome…” and yes, I had pizza there too.)

We then took a train to Firenze (Florence), went to the hotel, settled in, had afternoon walking tour, etc. If you’ve been following my blog, you know the routine when we arrive at a new city. After the tour, we met up with a different Intrepid group for dinner at a family-run Tuscan restaurant which was super delicious, but I don’t have the name or address so all I’m really doing is bragging about the great food with no constructive info on how to go there yourself.

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Mediterranean | Day 60-61 | Italy | La Spezia

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DAY 60: LA SPEZIA & PORTO VENERE

We left Nice at 7:30am and took three trains to La Spezia, where we arrived in the afternoon, dropped off our bags, then rushed to catch a ferry to Porto Venere, which is a cute little tourist town with tons of amazingly colorful sea rocks.

That evening we joined another Intrepid group for THE group dinner that pushed this small-talk-hating introvert over the edge. Remember the meltdown post?

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Mediterranean | Recap Interruption | Real Time | Day 82 | Italy

Scusami, amici. [Sorry, friends.] I know I am incredibly far behind on this blog. It is currently day 82 of my journeymoon and I am in Venice, Italy, trying to kick a cold I’ve had for about a week. Seems like the only time I update this blog is when I am stuck in bed sick or am kept awake by a snoring roommate. I will actually be back in The States in five days. UNBELIEVABLE! So, let’s face it. The recaps will not be completed before my return.

But here’s brief list of where I’ve been and what stories and photos you can look forward to!
Morocco: Sneaky-cam “medina in motion” artsy photos.
Spain: Stunning architecture and gorgeous nature.
France: Bike rides but not much else. Southern France was le snooze.
Italy: Sunny, rainy, and foggy hikes. The best leather salesman ever. And MORE Roman ruins.
Switzerland: Beautiful mountains, cute toddlers, and homemade Tex-Mex tacos.
Albania: A boy, a skyride, and a downtrodden culture.

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Mediterranean | Recap Interruption | Real Time | Day 60 | Italy

I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled programing for a real-time update since, based on my current blog pace, I will likely not get to this day’s recap until a month or two from now when I’m back in the States. And this post is worth mentioning now because it’s involves the less glamorous side of travel. I’ve been traveling for two months, and I have one more month to go in my journey. And, yesterday at day 60, I nearly had a travel meltdown.

The current tour group I’m with for my Barcelona to Rome trip is small: me, two grandmothers, and one female tour leader. It’s a nice change of pace because I’ve been traveling with groups of 12-14 people the last two months. Last night we met up for dinner with a 12-person Intrepid group. And I just couldn’t handle it. No more group dinners please ever thanks goodbye.

Large group dinners—and by “large” I mean more than four people—are hard for me to handle in regular life even when it’s people I already know. I’m an introvert, as you all know, and small talk is torture for me, especially at long table where everyone is talking at once. My ears just turn backwards in these situations and I can’t even focus on the people next to me. All I hear is the conversations around me, like flies buzzing around my ears that I can’t swat away. Last night, I was just not in the mood to go to an even larger group dinner with people I will only see once, who aren’t a part of my tour. It nearly did me in.

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