03.03.2011 - 15.03.2011 15 °C
Sorry about the delay in my posting of stuff. In my defence I have uploaded lots of pictures for you all?
Anyway. Venice Carnival was fun. We were there on a bit of a dead night but we still got to see lots of people in the full dress up. Masks, cloaks and full 18th Century Vientiane Carnival costumes. Venice itself, while in possession of its own charm, in a water-damaged kind of way, was not that impressive. Not in comparison to some of the places we have been. Even the famed Rialto Bridge was not as impressive as one might expect. Especially with the graffiti. Regardless, it was one of the places I have always wanted to visit. After Venice (we were only there for 1 night as it is a very expensive place) we headed south to Florence.
In Florence there are lots and lots of Americans. I think they may have out numbered the Italians in some places. Unlike Venice, Florence was impressive. The view from Michaelangelo plazza was indescribable. We also found this really, and I hate to use the word, quaint, cafe with excellent coffee. Who knew that I do in fact like coffee? All it took to work this out is a cup of good coffee. Laura says I will never find such coffee again. I hope she is lying. During our stay in Florence the hostel we were in had a sangria night. Aforementioned Americans could not hold their liqueur. Laura and I retired at 1.30, 2(?) to our beds. We had to leave early the next morning and so were sensible drinkers. I fear (judging from the state of the hostel at 7am) not many others followed our rather mature example.
Next came Rome. We had 3 days. We were going to take it easy. We failed. On the first day we were there we arrived in late afternoon (our hostel was on the outskirts; roughly 30 mins on the metro) found a supermarket, cooked, ate and chatted to the people in our dorm. The next day we sent over 9 hours walking around Rome. This massive wander-fest took us through the major landmarks (the Colosseum, the forum, the Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps and so on and so forth). It also took us into the middle of the Rome Carnival (what is it with us and Italian Carnivals?!). It culminated in our arrival in a park, overlooking Rome as the sun set. It was stunning. The pictures, even with my camera do not do it justice. On our final day in Rome we paid 15 euros to get into the Vatican Museum so we could see the Sistine Chapel. It is tiny and very, very, very busy. Not just with people. Every wall and bit of ceiling is covered in colour. Laura thought it was very gaudy. I'm inclined to agree with her. What really got to me though, is that the famous aspect of the chapel's ceiling, you know the bit where God is reaching out for Adam and their fingers are nearly touching? That bit is on a bit of the ceiling that is roughly a 20cm square! I was expecting something different which may explain my disappointment. But still 15 euros?! We tried looking at other exhibits but there were no plagues or explanations anywhere to say what it was we were looking at. Not even in Italian. It also occurred to me today that by paying this fee, I have helped to fund the Catholic Church. While I mean no offence to any Catholics I know (or don't know), this revelation rather bummed me out as I really, really disagree with some of the dogma doled out by the Popes.
After Rome, we travelled to Naples. Naples is busy. Naples in loud. Naples is fully of Italian drivers. Italian drivers are insane. Their insanity is matched only by Italian pedestrians and surpassed only by Italian moped users. All of which love to use their horns. Without discrimination, rhyme or reason. Rush hour was a sight to behold. Pompei was cool though.
From Naples we started out 35.5 hour trek to Greece. We got a train. Then another one. Then a bus. Then a ferry. Then another bus. But hey! we got from Italy to Greece for 7 euros per person. I was really not looking forward to the ferry. I dislike boats with a passion as I usually get a bit sea-sick. This time I refused to let nature win. I resorted to pharmaceuticals. These made me a bit spaced out for like an hour after I took them, however, there was no sea sickness. I call that a win. The ferry did not leave Bari (the port) until 8pm. Around 7 (we had to board at 5, don't ask me why, we just did) I got bored and went out on deck for some air. I am so glad I did. Sun set over Rome might have been stunning but sun set over Bari and the Mediterranean sea is something else. Looking straight up, I could see a prefect crescent moon in a dark sky. Looking out towards the western horizon the sky stared to lighten. First into a light blue then into what I can only describe as a horizontal rainbow stretching out above the lights of the town. Then I got the see sunrise over the shores of Greece. I have forgiven boats. Laura however, now has an animosity towards them as she did not sleep for more than 1.5 hours on the 18 hour overnight ferry. Bless. I however, slept like a baby. Did I mention my travel sickness pills make me drowsy? Another win.
So now I am in a garden in Athens contemplating the fact that tomorrow I am, for only the 2nd time in my life, leaving the European Union.
China here we come. Well Moscow first for the 4 hour layover. Then China. I must charge my Ipod.
See you all soon x
p.s. its like 15 degrees here and little old greek ladies in their massive winter coats and scarves actually look me up and down once (i'm in a t-shirt and cut off 3/4 trousers) twice, three times and then proclaim/question "English?".
p.p.s Oregano crisps are simply yum.