A Travellerspoint blog

The end

sunny 30 °C

We had a brilliant day at the waterpark yesterday, we needed it after 3 days of epic walking around Rome. We weren't as brave as in the one in Barcelona as we only went on the really scary vertical slide once. We both said it was due to the insane wedgies we got from it but that may have been a poor excuse to cover the fear. Today's our final day and we cheekily booked our flight home for 9pm so we get a full day in Rome. So we're planning on going back to the Rpman Forums with our geeky guide book like the tourists we are. Then we'll be off to Fiumuncino airport for, hopefully an epic Italian meal and a ride on a plane.

This trip has been the best experience of our lives and has inspired us both to see more off the world. Eastern Europe, Australia and America are all on the cards for the future. We'd also like to travel some more around Spain as we loved it there so much and we only saw Madrid and Barcelona. Thanks to everyone who aided us financially with the trip and to all the people who gave us suggestions of where to go. We hope you've enjoyed reading our blog, we look forward to seeing you all soon! Arriverderci :)

Posted by LaurenandLennie 02.08.2011 02:32 Archived in Italy Tagged travelling_europe Comments (0)

Rome

sunny 29 °C

We arrived in Rome on Thursday and spent the evening relaxing in our hotel. We've got a nice room, with a huge bed with a great view over Rome (because we are on the eighth floor). We had a wander around the area where the hotel is and did some laundry. We planned for the next dew days and were both really excited to start exploring Rome. Our first stop on Friday was the Colluseum. We signed up for a tour of the Colluseum and Roman Forums, to give us a bit more insight into the history of it. When inside the Colluseum, the shear scale of it was amazing. It could have held around 70000 people, which is bigger than most of the stadiums we have today. Where it is so old and for about a thousand years no one cared for it ,it has taken a lot of battering. It was sad to learn that only 40% of it is the original building. The Roman Forum was on strike that day so unfortunately we couldn't go inside. This bummed us out a bit as it would have been nice to look around properly. However, our tour guide did take us to a corner of it and gave us an overview of all of the main parts. We really enjoyed the tour, so we booked one of the Vatican with the same guy the next day. We headed over to the Vittorio Emannuelle II monument. We climbed the steps, went inside and went to the terrace on top of the building which was really relaxing. It was so hot and they had fans spraying water and slushy style ice drinks. It would've been cool to see the building when it was lit up at night. Right behind this building was the Basilica of Santa Maria, in comparison to most Basilicas we'd seen it was vey small but it was nice inside with a golden ceiling. We didn't stay too long as a couple were getting married. Next to that was Capitoline Hill, which is a square designed by Michaelangelo. To get it we had to climba lot of stairs which were called the Cordonata. We think (from our guide book), this is the centre of Rome.

So we left our hotel at 7am on Saturday morning for a tour of the Vatican city. Neither of us were particulary happy about the early start but when we got there we realised it was for the best as the queue to get into the museums and church was already quite long and when we came out at half 12 it was insane. We started off by going around the Vatican museums. It was full of art work, dated all through history, by some of the most famous Italian artists. It was interesting to learn all the facts about the paintings and sculptures, such as artists would copy each other when someone began using a new style. Lots of the art represented the change from Paegan to Christian religion. After such an early start Lauren fell asleep both walking and in one room of the museum, lol, so she had to quickly run to the cafe and down a cappuccino with 3 sugars. Once Lauren was awake again we headed into the Sistine chapel. It was hard to take in as all the Walls and the ceiling were covered in such beautiful art and we didnt know where to look first. It was nice to have the guide explain to us each part of the work. The ceiling, which is probably the most famous part, lived up to it's legend and was truly epic. A cool fact we learnt was that where the ceiling is so high the figures look smaller than they actually are as in reality thy are about eight to twelve feet long. They had to be this long as if they werent, looking from the floor, the perspective would've been out. The only downside was that you Harvey becreally quiet and you couldn't take any photos, although Lennie managed to sneak a few on his phone. Once the tour was finished we decided to climb up inside St Peters Basilica, we did not know what we'd let ourselves in for. We counted 522 steps of which there were tiny spiral stairs, stairs going up at an angle so you couldn't stand straight and tiny narrow ones. However, once we got yo the top the view over Rome was spectacular. The journey down the stairs was just as fun as the one up but once we got to the bottom we came out into the actual basilica itself. Inside was good as everything was on a huge scale. So much so that under the Dome you could actually fit the statue of liberty in underneath it. We walked around the area for a little while and then decided to head back to the hotel for a nap as we were both so tired. We both fell asleep on the metro back but luckily woke up for our stop. We didn't wake up till about 6pm so decided to spend the evening chilling at the hotel and planning the next day.

Yesterday we headed back to the Roman Forums to get a closer look at the ruins, but decided against going in. Instead we headed off to the Trevi Fountain. On the way we went to a gelato shop which has been reviewed as the best ice cream in Rome. These reviews were not wrong and we agreed it was the best ice cream we'd had all trip or in fact ever. We went into a little shop selling traditional Italian food and drink and tried some limoncello. Lennie diapised the drink so much he said the only way to make him feel better was to have more ice cream - it seemed to do the trick. We were tempted by some 72% strength absynthe which was said to be so strong it could cause hupluconations, but at 40 euros a bottle we decided to give it a miss We carried on walking to the Trevi Fountain. It was one of the most packed things we'd been to, you couldn't really move, although it was no wonder really as it was one epic fountain. The best one we'd seen all trip. We both threw on coins and made wishes for friends and family and then sat by the fountain for about 30 minutes. Which with the soothing sound of the fountain was really relaxing. We headed off to the Pantheon next which is one of the few buildngs on Rome which has remained unchanged through history. We bought an audio guide about it which told us some really interesting things.It contains the remains of many famous Romans including the artist Raphael. We wondered round to another piazza and relaxed for a little while before heading off to the Hard Rock Cafe. While waiting for our table we hot a couple of drinks including the worlds biggest pina colada. It was epic. Unfortunately the restaurant told us they couldn't cater for the nut allergy which meant I basically gad to down my insanely sized pina colada and was now a drunk Lauren. We found a nice Italian restaurant which wad really yummy and gave a lovely end to the day.

We've seen all of the touristy things in Rome now so today we're heading off to Rome's water park for a day of water slides and relaxation.

Posted by LaurenandLennie 01.08.2011 02:02 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Florence, Epic fail and Pompei

sunny 38 °C

Florence was a lovely town to spend the day walking around in. We headed off in the morning with our tourist hats on to the "Duomo" which was a huge cathedral. It was nothing like the others we'd seen and we both agreed it was our favourite of the trip so far. It was huge, mainly made of marble in pink, white and green and had a large dome over the top. It was like being back in medieval times. We walked through some of the Piazzas in Florence including Piazza de Signoria where we saw Michaelangelo's "David" or a recreation of this (we're not sure), along with many other interesting statues. We say interesting, as they were all naked!! We crossed the "Ponte Vecchio" bridge over the Arno river, which was amazing to walk through as it was full of jewlerry shops, so much so that you couldn't see the river until you were off the bridge. We then headed to the Michaelangelo park where we climbed really high and got a beautiful view over the city. Unfortunatley the weather turned as we reached the top by raining on us, so it wasn't long before we decided to go back down. All in all, Florence was really relaxing and unlike other places we weren't constantly being hassled by people on the street to buy stuff, which was great.

We left Florence yesterday morning to catch the train to Pompei at 10.30am. We were aware that three days ago there was a fire at the main Rome station but we didn't think this would affect us ... boy were we wrong! The night before we had misread the train timetables so were at the train station two hours two early and when we did get on a train all seemed ok until about two hours into the three hour journey. The trains had to cross the burnt tracks, so they were going really slowly. We were in a queue of trains which added an addittional three and a half hours to our journey. By this time with no leg room and the train being boiling hot, neither of us were in a great mood. They told us that the train was no longer going to the original destination which meant we had to add another connection to our journey. Luckily this train was only one stop and came straight away, but once in Rome our train to Naples was not getting there until 23.45 (as we had missed the earlier one). This now meant there were no trains or buses to Pompei. So at midnight last night, after a short conversation between us, with one fighting to stay in the station for the 5am train to Pompei (cough cough, Lauren!!) and the other stating we couldn't due to the armed guards, we found a hotel for the night. Naples, was not nice at night, it was full of tramps, rubbish and taxi drivers trying to give us a deal for 400 euros to Pompei which was 30 minutes down the road!! The hotel was nice, with fair prices and a cosy room but it didn't smell too great due to all the rubbish on the street.

We got up today, a bit bummed out that we had lost out on some time in Pompei and still had to pay for the hostel for the previous night. Luckily, we got up early and were in Pompei, excited about what we had planned to do by 10am. We had planned to visit the Pompei ruins and climb Mount Vesuvius. We went to the ruins first, which we didn't realise but they covered a huge area. We wandered round and it was really interesting to imagine how the city had looked before the eruptions in 79 AD. We even saw a couple of people who had been preserved in the ash, they still even had their teeth and you could see their scared facial expressions. There were a few good views in the ruins of Mount Vesuvius behind it, looking so beautiful even though it caused so much devestation thousands of years ago. After a long walk around the ruins on what felt like the hottest day of our trip so far, we treated ourselves to some lovely pizza and lasagne (so much nice than McDonald's!!).

We headed to the foot of mount Vesuvius to see how we could get to the summit. We found a company who took you a quarter of the way up by bus and almost the rest of the way by a 4x4 mega bus. Which was cool. Riding up on the 4x4 bus gave us amazing views but it was rather scary as you couldn't see the road as the bus was so high up. When we got off the bus we hiked for about 30 minutes to reach the summit. It wasn't easy at points as it was really steep and gravelly but worth it once we saw the views from the very top. Parts of the volcano were still smoking but there were no eruptions thank godness. We walked around the crater of the volcano and got some sugar filled refreshments at the top to keep us going. The panoramic view over Pompei, Napoli and the surrounding towns were stunning and have to be up there with some of the best of the trip. We both (mainly Lennie) did some posing with a hiking stick we found, which seemed to give eveyone at the summit a laugh. The journey back down in the 4x4 bus was much more exciting than the one up, the driver didn't seem to care how fast he went and therefore it was a lot more bumpy, which gave us both some thrills. Once back at ground level, we walked back to the hostel and found a nice restaurant where we had a lovely meal. We're off to Rome tomorrow - our final destination (which is sad!). The trip has been amazing, hopefully Rome will give us a lovely send off.

Posted by LaurenandLennie 27.07.2011 12:13 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Venice and Verona

semi-overcast 27 °C

Lennie: Venice - beautiful but expensive. Venice was instantly peaceful as there were no sounds from cars, bikes or horns, just the relaxing sound of sloshing water and a few boats. As the canals are the roads of venice you saw boats in the forms of ambulances, police, buses and taxis, which was really cool and different. When we got to Venice we found that on our second day there there was to be a transport strike which meant only a few boats were working here and there. At first it seemed that that would really suck but it allowed us to see more of Venice as we had to walk around the city instead of getting the boat busses. One of the main attractions in Venice was the "Piazza San Marco" with its large Cathedral. We went inside and saw that the ceiling was made of gold which was different, but over the top. I found Venice to be one of the best places i've been to, especially at sunset. Another thing which was good in Venice was the range of masks sold in all the Venetian markets and shops. Ranging from jewled ones to animals and the more classic masks for masquerade balls. I really enjoyed the boat rides back to the hostel late at night, seeing Venice all lit up. Venice is a must to return to in the coming years, a romantic weekend would be nice.

Lauren: So yesterday we decided to take a trip to Verona, mainly because I wanted to see Julliets house. It was a horrible day, raining and windy and we'd left the hostel at half 8 which made it even worse. However, the minute we arrived in Verona the rain ceased and the sun came out and we got to admire the beauty of it. After spending a day in Venice where the streets were cramped the day before it was lovely to be in a place with wide roads and paths and tree's all around. We headed straight to "Casa Di Guillietta" and was rather taken aback by the writing all over the walls. It was a small tunnel leading into the house and people had written their names in hearts in every colour imaginable on it. There were also letters to Juliet stuck to the walls and on the tree's in the courtyard of the house. We left a little note with our names on on a tree under the famous balcony. Lennie stroked the boob of the statue of Juliet which is meant to make you lucky in love and we went up to Julliets balcony. It had a little museum in it which was quite interesting but really I just wanted a photo taken on Juliets balcony. We chose not to visit Romeos house and headed instead to climb the towns bell tower and we got a lovely view over Verona. We strolled around the shops and markets of Verona and along the river and headed back to the train station. Once back in Venice we got a takeaway pizza for the third night in a row which, I think is the nicest pizza we've the whole trip and it was cheaper than McDonalds.
So we arrived in Florence this afternoon, for the next two nights. As we have been travelling all day we hadn't spent much so got to have a nice meal and yummy gelato, which in Lennies words was "very flavoursome". We'll update again soon, hope everyone at home is ok, lots of love from us both.

Posted by LaurenandLennie 24.07.2011 12:38 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Pasta in a pot

sunny 32 °C

We were glad to see that our hostel on Pisa had a kitchen, as we're begginning to dislike McDonalds. It's a bit weird though because it didn't have an oven - just a hob. It doesn't make much sense as the hostel is huuuuuge! Anyhoo, we headed off to the shops and bought pasta, a cheese sauce and some hotdogs to cook. Unfortunately for us we decided to cook just after everyone else so there were no plates left. Leaving us with a couple of dilemmas. We had to cook our hot dogs in a plastic cup and had to eat it out of a giant pot that was far too large for what we had.

Today we headed off to the Leaning Tower of Pisa - first impressions, it's not that big. It was interesting to stare at though. If you look right at the top and stared at it, it gave off the illusion that it was falling. It would have cost us €30 for a tour and to climb it so we decided to soak up some sun on the grass surrounding it instead. Coming to a smaller place like Pisa was a bit of a shock compared to the major city's we've been going to, as there are only a couple of attractions. After a wander around the centre of Pisa we caught a bus to the beach. If you could call it a beach that is - really it was just a pile of rocks with 8 to 10 foot waves crashing into them. We had a walk for about a mile down the coast, bought a couple of drinks and relaxed watching the waves come in. Once back in the centre of Pisa we hunted down a pizzeria to make up for the pasta in a pot. It was certainly interesting as it contained humping tortoises, killers wasps and really lovely pizza - not a normal mix.

Going to Venice tomorrow and will hopefully be able to catch the last day of free gondola rides with our interrail tickets!

Posted by LaurenandLennie 20.07.2011 13:22 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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