Venice Carnivale

Grand Canal
Grand Canal

So we headed to Venice for our second time, but this time with Nat and Mark who had never been before. I wasn’t sure how Rach and I would go as Venice is a small place and there aren’t they many huge landmarks or big sights to see. The first time we came to Venice we were blown away by how amazing it looked taking a Vaporetto (water bus) all the way down the Grand Canal through the centre of Venice. They say it a lot about other places but there truly is no other place like Venice.

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The leaning tower

Pisa - Rach

Pisa – Rach

On the way from Florence to Nice we stopped at Pisa. Of course to see one of the countries most famous monuments and to see all the other tourists doing the holding up the tower photo :)

According to our tour guide Pisa is a hole and he thought that of the hour and thirty minutes we were there that it was an hour and twenty too long. Even our Lonely Planet travel guide noted that there was no reason for an extended stay. If they say this about Pisa, I wonder what they´d say about Canberra :)

Adrian & Rach

Adrian & Rach

Of course we had to get some holding or pushing the tower photos :) I felt like the biggest cheeser doing it but I had some comfort knowing that a hundred other people were doing it.

The tower is really on a lean. It used to lean even further every year but in the 1990s they worked on fixing the unstable ground below it (which caused the tower to continually keep leaning further. The tower was not built leaning. It was once straight).

Pisa - Adrian

Pisa – Adrian

Apparently the works down have also correct the lean to an angle back to what it was some time ago so it´s not as far leaning as it once was.

It was hard to work along the main strip without getting asked to buy a watch or an “original” Louis Vitton bag :)

All in all the tower was impressive and a must see and the grounds and grass area around it are kept in top condition.

Florence – Our last day

At our last city in Italy there was no way I was going to leave with out seeing something of Leonardo Da Vinci. If you didn’t already know then shame on you, but this guy was a genius.

Models

Models
Da Vinci Expo

Da Vinci Expo

In fact if you look up genius in the dictionary you will find a picture of him. Anyway, so on our second day we went to an exhibition on Leonardo Da Vinci. It was a display of real life models of his inventions and other works. A lot of the models were interactive so we could have a go and see what they did. A lot of things he invented and concepts he created works for are things we use every day and take for granted. It was a small exhibition but I’m glad we went. (Click the link to the right –>) Continue reading

Florence

We originally had only booked our last nights accommodation in Florence because we were just going to wait till we got there to book something in the city but decided the night before we left that we’d just book the other 2 nights at the busabout drop off point. Anyways we got there and said we have a booking for 3 nights and the lady said no its only for 1 night and we’re like no we booked the extra 2 nights last night if you let us get onto the internet we can show you the confirmation number etc, she said that they didn’t have the internet available for us to use. Adrian was getting quite cranky by this stage :) We then said we booked it on gomio.com or hostelworld.com and she said we’ll you couldn’t have cos we don’t use those websites! Then it occurred to us that we’d booked the wrong place!! Luckily they had space there cos we couldn’t be bothered carrying our bags around looking for the other place. That’s our first stuff up for the trip! Wasn’t too bad it the scheme of things :)

Oh yeah and the accommodation is in cabins not tents thank god. But the cabins don’t have water hooked up them so you can’t use the toilet or shower in them you have to walk about 200m which a pain when you really need to go to the toilet at 3am! (Click the link to the right –>) Continue reading

Rome’ing around

Yeah like Rach said yesterday we seriously walked for well over six hours with only a lunch break for a stop. We covered a lot of things and a large area in one day with no public transport except for on the way back. We walked from the Vatican city in the north west of Rome right down to the Colosseum in the south east. I’d love to know how many kilometres we walked in total.

The one thing about Italy is all of their monuments are just huge, very tall and very detailed. It must have taken ages for them to be built. So much effort and attention to detail went into them.

Today was a much light day. Both of us were keen to retire earlier than the other days. We first headed for the Sistine Chapel but the line was massive. I’d say close to a kilometre. So we headed back to the Colosseum for another quick look. As well as another look at the Roman ruins on the way back from the Colosseum. We then began our walk to the Piazza Navona (a piazza is a square or public place). It’s home to the Fontana del Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of Four Rivers).

Roman Ruins 

Roman Ruins

After that we headed back towards the Sistine Chapel to have another go at the line and this time around there was none, which was great. The path to the Sistine Chapel goes through many other corridors, rooms and large halls. I’d say we walked at least a kilometre on our little trip. So many of them had fantastically detailed walls and roofs with paintings of all sorts of the things. A lot of sculptures around the place and the one thing we noticed was that a lot of the male statues had their private bit broken off them :) But the ones with leaves instead did not. After a good half hour of winding corridors, rooms and large halls we finally got into the Sistine Chapel. Well Michelangelo was really an artist. The paintings are so detailed and cover a massive amount of space. There are lots of separate large paintings that apparently tell stories from the bible. Again like all the other Italian monuments, it’s huge, very tall and very detailed. Unfortunately they won’t allow photos (like in Paris with the Mona Lisa, hence the post card shot :) ).

We ended the day at that as we’re both still a little worn out from the day before. We headed back to our place for a swim and spa. Relaxing….

Tomorrow I think we are headed for our worst accomodation. Tents! This’ll be character building :)

Hanging with the Pope

The Pope

The Pope

Well today was the hugest day ever! We must of walked for seriously over 7 hours. We left at 11am and didn’t get home till almost 7:30pm and only sat down for lunch for about half an hour.

St Peters Basilica

St Peter’s Basilica

Our first stop was Vatican City. The were literally thousands of people gathered in St Peter’s Square and after a while we wondered why they were all faced one way and then we realised that the Pope must of been making an appearance and sure enough he did! At 12 o’clock he appeared in his little window. It was a pretty cool moment but not being able to understand what he was saying and not being religious people, we quickly got over it and shortly left to go into St Peter’s Basilica itself. That place is huge and very beautiful another amazing building to add to my list that I’ve seen so far :)

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain
Pantheon

Pantheon

We then went to the Spanish Steps. They are just like the name says a set of steps nothing that great about them really. I’m sure they have some great history behind them but just to look at they weren’t that spectacular.

Our next stop was the Trevi Fountain. I was expecting this little fountain but again it was quite big and very pretty also just way too many people around which was quite annoying cause there was limited space to stand or sit around and just look.

Colosseum

Colosseum
Colosseum - Inside

Colosseum – Inside

We then checked out the Pantheon and you guessed it, it was huge! We’ve discovered the Italians love building big stuff!

Our last stop for the day was the Colosseum. We did a tour of the inside, the guide thought he was pretty funny but I didn’t think he was! He did give us lots of interesting history though, like the floor was built of wood and they just covered it in sand. I thought that was a bit strange, it no longer has a floor because of the numerous fires you just look down at this maze made of stone. Our ticket lasts until 1:30pm tomorrow so we’ll probably go check it out again.

Vatican Guards

Vatican Guards

Tomorrow I’m keen to take it a bit easy, there’s still a lot to look at but I think we’ll catch trains around instead of walking :) The Sistine Chapel was closed today so I want to go check that out tomorrow hopefully there won’t be as many people around either because its a Monday.

Buon giorno

So I’m finally in the fatherland :) Our propellor plane in here was quite scary. At one point Rach and I looked forward at my hand gripping the chair in front and saw perspiration from the nerves in droplets on my fingers. We spent the first day here at the camping resort. This place is heaven compared to a hostel. Lots of nice trees everywhere and a pool, restaurant, shops and bar. We spent a fair bit of the afternoon in the spa just relaxing getting ready for the foot pounding over the next two days.

Carnevale

Carnevale

Anyway, we headed into Venice (the locals call it Venezia) and took a vaporetto (water bus) all the way from the top to the bottom down the grand canal, the main canal that seperates the main area of Venice. Well what can I say other than wow. It’s a spectacular ride and goes under the famous Rialto bridge. This is one of few places we’ve been too where I could just sit back and watch. The place is really quite amazing and looks stunning in many places. Seeing all of the buildings end and drop straight down into the water everywhere is just very different to every where else. I’ve taken so many photos over the last two days. More than at the Star Wars exhibition :)

Gondolas

Gondolas

One thing I wish we could see is the Venice Carnevale. The masks and costumes that go with it fascinate me so much. They look unreal. Unfortunately the carnival is in February. I would love to come back and see it. For some photos of what I mean check out:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=venezia+carnevale&m=tags

Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge

All in all, we didn’t do much sightseeing at all but it felt like we did heaps. We did loads of walking around and weaving in and out of the hundreds of alley ways. On our way home to day we managed to walk from the bottom to the top of the main area of Venice and walked through areas where there was not a single tourist in sight. Today the vaporettos went on strike, luckily we caught the last one to the bottom of Venice, San Marco. This was good because the St Marco Piazza square which on our first day was full of people meant that today it was much quieter. It was also bad because we didn’t get to go to the glass art making island of Murano, where they make lots of stunning glass pieces.

Venice

Well what can I say Venice is such a beauitful city :) You could sail up and down the grand canal all day and not get bored.

The first thing we did on our second day was catch a water bus to San Marco, there were hundreds of people there and even more pigeons! We pretty much spent the whole day walking around San Marco looking at all the little stores and yes Jo the jewellery was pretty impressive! And I liked all the Murano glass stuff too. I must of went into 50 stores even though they were all selling almost the same thing, I could look at it for hours.

Pigeons

Pigeons

We thought it looked like fun to buy some corn kernals and feed the pigeons and oh my god they love it! It was kind of strange at first having all these birds all over you but you get used to it. We got lots of cool photos of that.

We then caught the water bus to an island called Lido but as soon as we got there we realised we had to be back in an hour to catch our shuttle bus back to the place we’re staying at so we pretty much had to leave as soon as we got there but it is still nice to ride on the water bus and look at everything.

Basilica

Basilica

Today we went back to San Marco and went into St Mark’s Basilica. It is such a beautiful cathedral. I still find it hard to believe that all these amazing churches, buildings, castles etc we are seeing were built hundreds of years ago without machinery. They are so huge and have so much detail, every one we see I’m just amazed by.

Oh and today when we went to catch a water bus and realised that they were on strike! But luckily Venice isn’t that big so we were able to walk to nearly everywhere we wanted to go. Except we weren’t able to go to Murano to see the glass making :(

We had lunch at a restuarant in San Marco, it was 15€ for a 3 course meal but it was pretty crap I thought. I must say the food I’ve experieced in Venice is pretty average, I’m hoping Rome and Florence will be better.

Small Canal

Small Canal

The place we are staying at is great. Its about 15 minutes out of Venice but its really spaceous which is great cause we’re used to being confined to a hostel room. They also have a pool which Adrian managed to get me into yesterday!! I’m sure he’ll mention his disatisfaction about the time the pool closes :)

We fly out to Rome tomorrow, our shuttle bus leaves at 6am which I’m not very happy about! That means we have to get up at 5.15 noooo!!!!