Monday, August 29, 2011

Ferries, trains, and many, many buses.

  I know, I know, it's been a while. So without further excuses, here's the rundown.
  We spent four nights in Sorrento on the Amalfi coast. It's a really cute town and we stayed in a campsite with a beach and a pool. It was a nice site but our cabin didn't have screens in the windows so we had to get creative to keep the mosquitos out. We ended up with loads of bug spray, citronella candles in the windows, and a mosquito coil on the table outside (we tried it in the window for a night and almost suffocated on all the smoke). After settling in we took a bus to the rest of the Amalfi coast. It was beautiful but terrifying trip. The road weaves a log the edge of the mountain and I spent the whole time convinced that the bus wouldn't be able to turn enough and we would shoot off into the Mediterranean. The plan was to go to Amalfi and then work our way back to Positano which is supposed to be really cool. We had a great lunch in Amalfi and wanderd around a bit before getting on the bus. Unfortunately it wasn't a bus that stopped in Positano but we were too tired to get off and figure out what bus would. Especially since the bus situation in Amalfi consisted of about ten buses without signs for where they were going and bus drivers who refused to be even remotely helpful.
  Day three in Sorrento, we took the train to Pompeii. It was super hot and crowded but still worth seeing. I went with my dad before but it was fun to go again and see new things like the brothel and the stadium. Crazy that people used to live here and now its this maze of ruins that mostly look the same. I kept wondering how people found there way around when it was a real city. Probably looked very different.
  We spent our last day in Sorrento by the pool, with a break to run some errands. We checked out the beach on our first day but it was basically just very crowded rock and they didn't make you pay for the beach chairs at the pool so we stayed there. There will be plenty of beaches here in Greece. It was a nice day and a good way to rest before our crazy trip the Greece.
  We got up to head to Greece when it was still dark out. We took a bus to the station, a train back to Naples, another train to Caserta, and yet another train to Bari. It was only about 2 when we took the bus to the port so we spent the majority of our day hanging out there before getting on the boat three hours early to claim prime deck space. Luckily we made some friends (a couple from California, two guys from New Zealond, and a Canadian girl) so we had someone to hang out with while we camped out on deck feeling like Leonardo di Caprio in Titanic. We played cards and had some wine before sleeping outside on the metal deck. It was shockingly comfortable and I slept really well but woke up pretty early. When we got off we took a bus through the ferry company. It was only two hours but somehow it felt more grueling than the ferry. We found our hostel (OK but not the greatest, we are staying elsewhere when we return) and grabbed some food (crepes and my first official Greek salad) and then crashed.</p>
  We woke up extra early to catch our ferry to Santorini. On the bus to the port I put my backpack on the floor and and sat down with my duffel. Some guy picked it up and walked off the bus with it. Luckily I saw and ran to the door and yelled the first thing that popped into my head which was "That's my bag!" a bunch of times. I must have looked really pissed and scary or maybe he just didn't want to run with a heavy bag and a crazy girl yelling at him, because he put it down and left and I retrieved it. Yay! Nothing valuable inside so he would have got nothing and I would have zero clothes. That's a lose/lose sir.
  The ferry was nauseating but uneventful. We had to buy first class cause they were out of ecomony. The ony difference seemed to be that first class was less crowded and had waiters.
  Santorini is really pretty. Our hostel is very basic but the people are fun and we went to some beach bars last night which was fun. We did some beach laying today. The beach has black sand and is really nice. We plan on mostly hanging out and eating delicious food from the 24 hr bakery down the road but we also want to rent scooters and go cliff diving and check out the the other towns. I'm sure I'll have plenty of stories soon!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rome and Naples

I know you're probably tired of the excuses, but the internet on this thing is completely broken so I am entirely at the mercy of hostel computers. Which you often have to pay for. Technology gets a lot more complicated on the road.

Anyway, I never updated you about Rome or Naples so here it is.

We got in from Perugia in the early evening and, for once, found our hostel with no issues. It turned out to be an apartment that the guy had just turned into a hostel (is that even legal?). Hostel pros: free nightly dinner! Hostel cons: too small, gross bathrooms, lockout from 11 to 4 meaning we weren't allowed home during the hottest part if the day.

Our first night we went to an Irish pub with some guys from Belfast who were staying at the hostel. The pub featured expensive drinks and dreadful karaoke but it was still a nice night, especially the walk home which included wandering past the Colluseum and the Roman forum. Makes night walks at home seem so very lame.

We spent our first full day checking out the big sights. We started at Trevi fountain then went to the Pantheon, the Vatican, and the Spanish steps. We didn't go in the Vatican museum or St. Peter's because it was really hot and the line was huge. I know, we are bad tourists. But we saw the piazza. So that counts for something right? The next day we did a church tour of Rome. This mostly meant that we popped into a bunch of cathedrals and took blurry pictures. We did get to see Santa Teresa in Ecstasy, a famous sculpture, and Santa Maria Maggiore, my favorite cathedral/basillica so that was cool. As we got hotter ad more tired and discovered that 4 was a long way off, we decided a nice air conditioned movie theater was exactly what we needed. Unfortunately, everything in Italy is closed in August, including most theaters. No movies for us, but it did give us something to do while we waited ti be let back in.

That night, our last in Rome, we passed on hostel dinner and headed to a restaurant that my family and I frequented when we were here in December. It was really different because it was much more crowded than it had been during the winter but the food was still delicious! We didn't have Enrico, our lovely waiter from before, but the one we had was great and gave us extra wine, extra tiramisu, and free limoncello because we moved tables to let a big group sit. Thanks mom and dad for our first real meal in Italy!

We headed to Naples the next day. Not much to tell since, despite our best intentions to check out Capri, we ended up spending most of the time eating pizza and gelato and wandering until we were too hot and then going to the hostel and watching Prison Break (which is awesome). Then we headed to Sorrento for a few days of beaches and ancient ruins. No internet here, we are at an internet cafe, so more when we reach Greece!

Me and the Colleseum

The you-are-too-naked-to-enter-this-church police. Seriously, their whole job is to make you buy wrap things if they think you're clothes are inappropriate. Luckily we came prepared with exra shirts.

Both of us in front of St. Peter's

Trevi Fountain

Packing. This picture makes me look really deformed. I promise I havenot become more deformed since leaving the states.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Greetings from Rome! We got in yesterday but more on that later. For the moment I have to update you on our post-Florence trip to Perugia (or the country farmhouse outside of Perugia that we never left to be more specific). We originally planned to go to Cinque Terra, a series of five towns on the coast that are supposed to be beautiful. Everything affordable was booked though, so we decided to go to Perugia and stay in a farmhouse hostel that we looked into work-staying at a couple months before the trip. We took the train on Saturday and,, as per usual, got lost. In our defense, we were put at a disadvantage by a bus driver who insisted we get off early, presumably because he just didn't want to go any further, and a sign that had been turned to point in the wrong direction. The whole thing was made worse by the insanely hot Italian sun and our new duffelbags which we hadn't learned to pack properly and were super heavy. Finally, with the help of the world's most amazing person (a little Italian lady who spoke zero English but realized our desperation when we asked for directions and offered to give us a ride because she is a saint) we made it to the hostel.

We decided to stay an extra day, partially because we were enjoying the relaxation and the company and partly because Monday was a holiday and everyone said that it would be really hard to get anywhere. Instead of ever actually going to Perugia or any of the neighboring sights, we basically sat around the pool and played poker and drank wine with the other guests and the staff who were doing work-stays. We even got delicious free pizza one night made by the hostel owner's mom. In short, it was heaven.

Tuesday brought us here to Rome. On the train we ran into Jenna, a friend we met in Madrid almost two months ago and didn't even know was in Italy. Small world and all that. Today we did some sight-seeing but more on that later, when I post pictures from Rome!


View from our hostel
Farmhouse grounds
Our pool. Sight of the majority of our time in Perugia.

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's easier to post pictures separately...

Not THE statue of David but A statue of David so that counts, right? (please say yes, its 10 euro to see the real one!)
A view of the coty, river, and mountains.
The Duomo (in Milan). So many pidgeons!
Ponte Vecchio, the most famous bridge in Florence. The windows that run along the top was a private passage that the Medici's had made in case they needed to escape from the city. Now it is a museum that costs 80 euro to get into.
Street artist doing an amazing copy of Girl with a Pearl Earring in paint and chalk.
View of the city from the roof of our hostel.
Florence's Duomo (I think every big city has their own, it really just means cathedral). When it was being constructed they couldn't figure out how to support the dome because it was so tall. Finally, the architect figured out how to make a self-supporting dome by putting a smaller, support dome within the main one.

Me on the Ponte Vecchio

Worst Vegetarian Ever

Greetings from Florence!

I realize that, once again, I have been neglecting my blog. Sorry! We've been in Italy since Sunday. We flew into Milan where we wandering around in the rain having failed to book a hostel or form any sort of plan whatsoever. We are awful backpackers. Eventually we found a jank-but-pretending-to-be-nice hotel that gave us a room for 35 euro each. Not ideal but it was nice to have space to ourselves!

We tried to hang out in Milan the next day but after a bad start in which it took us ages to find food and water, we ended up snapping a few quick pictures of the Duomo and then hopping a train to Florence. Florence is lovely. We've been taking it pretty easy, mostly eating and walking around. We did go on a free tour that covered a lot of the architecture from the Medici area. I'll post some pictures later.

Near our hostel, there is a big market that sells tons of leather goods along with the usual fake jewelry and souvenirs. After an agonizing search for the best price with decent quality, Michelle and I both caved to our craving for leather duffelbags. Pricey but we got a pretty good deal and, as I keep telling myself, they'll be great as carry-on and weekend bags even when get back. I also picked up a new small, cross body purse yesterday (when I discovered that mine was breaking) as well as a couple of gifts. Not bad for three days although I should probably cool it on the shopping for a bit!

Wednesday we met up with Amy and Dan, the Aussie couple we met in Barcelona, and went to a festival for St. Lorenzo, who is an important saint in the area where we are staying. It was good to catch up with Amy and Dan and the festival was fun. Along with some live music, it included free watermelon, yogurt, and pasta. The pasta had meat in it so Michelle, being a proper vegetarian, gave hers away. After 12 seconds of deliberation I decided that if I picked around the big pieces, the little ones that stuck to the noodles didn't count. To solidify my title as worst vegetarian in the world, I ordered Spaghetti Carbonara on Thursday which turned out to be pasta with ham or something instead of tomato like I thought. There wasn't much I could do so I figured, as my mo (or someone) says, might as well get hung for the the sheep as the lamb (or something) and I ate it (I did avoid the big bits of meat again). So that was a failure.

Last night we hit up an American bar with all of the people who were staying in our dorm. It was a little too club-y with a bunch of creeps but a bunch of us staked out the hall between the two rooms of the bar and spent basically the entire night dancing around and cheering for all the people who came through the hall. People either thought it was great and danced with us or looked terrified. One Australian girl liked us so much she treated us to a long speech about how Canadians are much better than Americans. It was really awkward. I think she thought we were all Canadian but when she tried to introduce a friend to "the Canadians" I told her I was American. That was even more awkward.

We leave for Perugia tomorrow. Florence has been really fun and I can't wait to check out a smaller, less touristy town! Ciao!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pictures from the Emerald Isle

Still struggling with blogger so I can't caption these pictures. Here is what the captions would say in order:

1. A colorful street in Galway
2. The coastline as seen in my wanderings through Doolin
3. Michelle and Ben in a pub in Dublin
4. Cows
5. The beach. I was suprised by how popular surfing was in Ireland. Seemed way to cold for me even in a wetsuit.
6. Doolin, cutest place ever
7. Live music in one of our favorite pubs in Dublin. Dad, you will be happy to know th5 they identify themselves as "Obama's pub" because he went there when he visited.
8. Looking pensieve in front of the Cliffs of Moher
9. Sigmund the donkey who lived by our hostel in Doolin
10. A random picture of a sign in front of a shop that had the best veggie soup. Added this picture on accident and sideways and could't seem to get id of it.
11. A totally unstaged picture of me reading Harry Potter in the common room of the hostel in Doolin.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Livestock and Tiger Suits

Greetings from Dublin again! Sorry I'm the worst blogger in the world! Here's the update on the last few days.

I was in Doolin for three days. It's a really cute little village and our hostel was really adorable with stone walls and a donkey out front. The owner, Karl, is a really nice guy and there were a lot of families with kids running around which was fun. We went to the Cliffs of Moher, which were amazing and to some good pubs with great live music. There was this thirteen-year-old who sang and played the tin flute and was amazing! Seriously, I think people like him are the reason that people like me have no musical talent. They took it all. Michelle left Doolin a day early to get another new camera because the one she got was bad. I decided to stay in Doolin for some r and r. Had a nice day reading and walking along the beach. It was chilly and windy but there were some great cliffs and rocks so it was a nice walk. That night I had a nice pub dinner with a friend I met at the hostel. Really need to get back on a real budget!

Yesterday I met Michelle and Ben in Dublin. We are at a different hostel but it's pretty nice. We've taken Dublin by storm, hitting the pubs, wandering through the streets, and buying tiger suits. That's right, tiger suits. As in full body, fleece, tiger print outfits. They are amazing! So glad Ben was able to meet us! It seemed like it wasn't going to happen for a while but he made it and the three of us went Ireland crazy!

Tomorrow we all fly out, Ben to the states and Michelle and I to Milan. I'm going to miss Ireland, I like it here even more than I thought I would! The music is so fun and the people are so nice. I love going to pubs where everyone is having a beer and singing along to live music. I wish there was something like it in the states. Guess I'll just have to come back!

Promise to post pictures tomorrow! Can't wait to show you how beautiful it is here!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Never leaving Ireland

  Seriously, I love it here! The people are nice, the music is good, and everything is completely adorable. Been a while since I posted (other that the London pictures) so here's what went down between Dublin, our one day Galway, and today.
 We did a walking tour and a pub crawl in Dublin. The tour was great. Our nineteen-year-old guide gave the most passionate speech about Irish independence ever. It was nuts. The pub crawl was less great. I think after the awesome ones in Spain the rest of Europe can't compete, at least "bang for your buck" wise. Anyway, Michelle and I decided we would both rather hang out at a pub and hear some good music than bounce around to different places and end up at a bad club. So that's what we'll be doing from now on. We meant to go to the Guiness Storehouse on our last day in Dublin but we lost track of time and didn't make it. Ended up at a ally fun bar that night for a couple pints and a good singer/guitarist who mixed traditional Irish music with Johnny Cash and Mumford and Sons (Grandma, you would not have approved).
  Yesterday, we took the train to Galway. When we looked at hostels the night before there was plenty of availability so we decided to wing it instead of booking ahead. It worked out well because we met a girl from Alabama on the train and ended up tagging along to hostel she was staying in and getting beds there. We walked around the town a bit, got food, and then we tot eh pub with Carley (the girl from Alabama). There was a band playing and when they finished their set they told us that not a lot happens in Galway on a Monday night but they directed us to a bar that has music. The bar was pretty dead but we had fun dancing and hanging out until a drunk man celebrating his sixty first birthday spun Carley into my beer, spilling it all over our stuff. Michelle got the worst of the spill because it seeped through the zipper on her purse and broke her camera.
  Today we took a bus to Doolin, a little town on the coast. The drive was beautiful but Michelle and I both got really car sick and spent most of the trip with our eyes shut trying not to die so it was lost on us. We are here for a few days during which we want to see the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, and listen to a lot of music. Our friend Ben was supposed to meet us here Thursday. He is on a business trip and was going to take a couple of days afterward to hang out but he has to work through Thursday now so we are going to meet in Dublin Friday instead.
  I'm having picture issues but I will try to post some in a bit! Cheers!

Monday, August 1, 2011

London in Pictures

Finally posting some London now. We just got to Galway where we are spending a night but more on that later.

Not a particuraly flattering picture (it seems I inherited my mom's closed-eyes-in-pictures issue) but it's good to show you the Brick Lane Market, not to mention my me rocking tights with shorts.
A piece of "art" from the Tate. It is literally a shape cut out of white paper and stuck to the wall.
Standing in front of Millenium Bridge aka the bridge the Death Eaters took out in Harry Potter 6 (I think it was 6).
One of the pieces I liked friom the Tate. The artist filled things with paint, plastered over them, and then shot at them. There was a video of it and it looked really fun!
There was RIP Amy Winehouse grafitti everywhere in London. So sad, she was really talented.
Lovely green and white chairs in Hyde Park. We meant to have a picnic here but never made it.
Having trouble with formatting so it might be a while before I get pictures of Ireland up (sorry Grandma). More soon though!