Monday, September 20, 2010

Summing it all up.

We're home. We have been for 2 months now. But the blog feels a little unfinished so we thought we should wind it up. Nobody likes it when the DVD goes fuzzy right at the end.. or you realise you have to return you library book before you have even finished it.. or you miss the final episode of your favourite show. Anyway, you get the picture.

The trip is over. The flight home was bearable..massively helped by our decision in Singapore to pay to have a shower.. and then a massage.. and then some foot reflexology. This is highly recommended to anyone taking that long flight.

We set out to have the trip of a lifetime and can honestly say that we did. We saw amazing sights, did fantastic things, ate a fair bit (in case you hadn't noticed).. And we managed to do it all without too many dramas, without tearing each others eyes out, and we even came home with money in the bank.
It was the trip of a lifetime, but it certainly wont be the last trip of our lifetimes and we are already planning future adventures to come.

Next on the list: a wedding. Followed by a quick honeymoon in Bali. Don't think we'll blog that one though!
Until next time! xox

Some random "did you know" facts

Just realised this has been sitting in drafts for the 2 months that we've been home. Better publish it.

Did you know...
  • Gyros (yiros) in Greece have chips in them. Yum. This should be compulsory.
  • Our trip wasnt all toursty and busy times. Adam read 4 books on this trip. Jess read 3. Plus loads of UK magazines (some of which we still have if anyone wants to catch up on the Jordan and Kerry Katona goss.)
  • Americans are the most annoying tourists in existence.
  • In Spain, they really like lollies!! Lolly shops seem to be everywhere. Like drink stands on the sides of roads.. but full of sugary goodness instead.
  • By the end of the trip, our bags weighed a combined 50kg. Adam carried them both up and down sooo many stairs (67 in one hotel, 56 in another). Go Dougy!
  • Carafes of house wine are actually pretty good in Italy. And only cost about 4 euro. Bargain!
  • Every country has different flavoured potato chips. We were particularly fond of the 'ham and cheese' ones in Spain. Smiths, take note.
  • We had 2 alcohol-free days in the 42 day trip.
  • We played heaps of Uno. And we scored it, like Kristy and James taught us. By close of trip, jess was up by about 300 points.
  • Every bottle of Chianti Classico wine is tested and numbered by the government. Wineries are shut down if they dont comply.
  • Toilets can be scary in Europe. Apart from in hotels, they rarely have seats. Like, you're meant to sit on the bowl. And you have to pay to use most public ones. And some are literally just a hole in the ground with footprints either side. Hope you've got good aim!!
  • In Italy, they say "prego" repeatedly. At least 10 times an hour.
  • Adam didnt drink Lion Nathan beers for a change... Mythos & Kronenberg were favourites. 
That's all for now. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Sound Track of Summer

This trip came with a soundtrack. There was a series of songs that were played on repeat in Europe from beginning of the trip through to end. Sometimes we sang along. Sometimes we danced. Sometimes they just drove us nuts.
They are songs that we will probably always associate with this trip. Here they are:
  • Waka Waka (this time for Africa) - Shakira
  • Alejandro - Lady Gaga
  • Hey Soul Sister - Train
  • We Speak no Americano
  • Je Veuz - Zaz
  • Te Amo - Rhianna
  • Wavin Flag - KNaan
  • Airplanes - BoB ft Haley Williams
  • Breakyour heart - Taio Cruz
  • California Gurls - Katy Perry
  • Plus anything by David Guetta

Rounding it all off in Rome

Last stop of the trip... Rome.

We arrived Sunday afternoon after a 3 hour train ride from Siena. Sundays are a good time to be in Rome as all of the roads are closed to traffic which makes it easier to wander the streets. So we hit the road immediately to visit the Colosseum which was literally at the end of our street (another fantastic hotel choice!)
The Colosseum is a great site. One of the real tourist attractions that are still fascinating, particularly if you try to imagine what actually went on there and how it would have looked in all of its glory.

After the Colosseum, we chose a cute vine-covered restaurant outside our hotel to sit and have a drink. A drink turned into another.. and then dinner.. and then more drinks.. until we were the last ones there and were being told to leave! It was a good night in a cute place. And we tasted Rome's specialty, Pasta Carbonara, done the proper way with bacon, egg and cheese only. Apparently if anyone puts cream in a Carbonara, they 'must be egyptian'. Might have to tell this to the bad chef in Venice who served us a dreadful milky one!

More sightseeing occurred on day 2, with us visiting the Roman Forum and Palatine (lots of old rocks and remnants of old rome), the Pantheon (another church), Trevi Fountain (speccy) and just general roaming around in Rome. We walked for ages to get to what looked like the Spanish Steps on the map..but turned out to be an unimpressive spanish building. Oops. We never found the actual steps.

We were so impressed by the restaurant last night that we went back there again for dinner of steaks with pepper sauce. Delicious!!! During the day we had found a nice big square which had signs up saying that the Miss Roma competition was on that night - so we headed back there to check out Rome's talent. WE also checked out a 'cat sanctuary' that's in the middle of the city. It consists of  old ruins with hundreds of cats living there and getting looked after. Then off to bed.. our last night in Europe!

 Day 3 involved a quick trip to the Vatican. We got there at 11:55am, and then saw a sign saying the whole square and dome would be closed at 12 noon for an International Convention of Alterboys.. or something. So we pretty much just snapped some pics and headed away for our last meal. Note our days are almost entirely revolving around food!!

Rome is a fascinating city to visit. So different to see the old old old stuff next to not-as-old stuff, and even new stuff. But it was VERY touristy (busiest of anywhere we've been) and was also VERY hot. We're over people now. Let's go home, hey?

Sightseeing in Siena

We ended up having a great time in Siena. It is a quiet, walled, medieval town, with lots of windy roads and plenty of sights to see. We saw its famous square, where its famous horse race is run each year. We went to the museum so we could climb the 'panorama' wall attached to it, with views over all of the tiled roofs and out to the tuscan hills. And we went into the Duomo - which was quite a speccy church.

The main attraction for us in Siena though was the nearness to the Chianti wine region, which we explored on our "Chianti and Castles tour". As part of the tour, we visited two little medieval towns. One was the capital of Chianti. The other was a town built when Siena and Florence were at war. They were both surrounded by walls and were really pretty. Then we hit the wineries.

Wine tastings are quite different in Italy to Australia. They take you on a tour of their entire winery, showing you all of the different steps in the wine making process.. then they sit you at a table with cheese, salami, bread, oil, etc and you work your way through the wines. It is more of a formal situation compared to ours, with the wine makers talking you through each wine and demonstrating how to taste properly and explore the colour, smell, etc.

We visited one 'big' winery (which still seemed pretty small) and then a really small one run by just one guy. This was the best one as it was very personal. And he had great cheese!

There was 5 other people in our tour. An American couple, a Philipino couple and a solo American traveller who is studying Opera in Italy. After our tasting she got up and sang a little opera for us.. and then we all drank Grappa. A wonderful taste of Tuscany.

That night we ensured that we tasted some Tuscan specialties recommended to us by our tour guide. Adam had a pasta with Wild Boar sauce (similar to bolognaise but much richer) and a pizza. Jess had a bread and vegetable soup specific to the area, followed by pici (a thick tuscan spaghetti) in a pesto sauce. Adams dishes won hands down. Man, are we getting fat...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Quick Update..

Well... the rain never passed. Our 'day at the beach' turned into a day trapped in our hotel room while it BUCKETED down. I think La Spezia received its yearly rainfall in a day. For us this meant more reading, more eating, more drinking, more games of Uno.
Sigh.. What can you do?
We woke up the morning and sun was shining brightly (that'd be right). We hit the road for Siena, which is where we are now. Somehow, the rain followed us here.
We're currently trying to sort out some sort of tour for tomorrow. It looks like it will be wine and lunch in Chianti. Fingers crossed for no rain!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Waiting for the rain to pass..

After a couple of hours at the beach in Monterosso yesterday, we were in love. We went home completely enthused and asked our hostel manager if we could stay an extra night. We could. 
The plan was to spend an entire day at the beach today (we deserve it!!!) before moving on to Siena (2 nights) and then Rome (2 nights). Then home to Oz.
What a great plan, we thought. Perfect. A bit of beach time before heading to the country and then to the city. We can relax, work on our tans. Fantastic!

We awoke this morning to the loud rumble of thunder... and the heavens opened up. The sky is dark. It actually looks like winter. Perfect chance to do some blogging... but not quite what was planned. Yesterday was clear and sunny.. this was SO not on the cards.  I guess you can only laugh. Hopefully it will clear up later so we can get some beach time in.