Friday, June 27, 2008

.Cinque Terre.

After Florence, we took a train through Pisa on our way to La Spezia and Cinque Terre.
In Pisa, we got off the train and some random old Italian lady directed us to the bus which would take us to the tower and also where to buy cheaper bus tickets. So nice!! Quite different from the people in Rome who were just rude. We got to the tower with all our backpacks, and unloaded in the shade of the fountain, taking turns watching them while the others walked around. We chatted with a couple cute Japanese ladies who thought Roz was on a high school trip :( and then an Italian mother and daughter named Daniela and Nicole. Nicole had just taken one year of English in school, so it was pretty fun trying to communicate with them, and then this Brazilian girl started attempting to translate via Portuguese and in the end we had a really lovely conversation. Then we took our stereotypical Pisa tower pictures, hopped on the bus, and continued to La Spezia.
Once there we got directions to our bus stop, and travelled up the mountain to this little village called Biassa. It is really cute...but we were both hungry and tired when we arrived, and the one grocery store was not open, and only one of the two restaurants was open, but we didn't want to pay for eating out because we're cheap. Thankfully, the grocery store decided to open from 6-8:30 that evening and we got some food. Very, very limited selection.
The only way to get to Cinque Terre was on these green buses which ran every few hours...or else walk for a couple hours to get to RioMaggiore. Our first day we walked the first two hikes, and spent some time in Corniglia (the third village) on the rocky beach, saw some naked old people, got a tad sunburnt despite the spf 50 sunscreen, and took the train back at the end of the day. We bought pesto from a grocery store and pretty much it is the best pesto I have tasted in my entire life. SO good. The next day we hiked the last two hikes, starting from Monterosso and heading to Corniglia. BRUTAL. So so so many stairs. Huge stairs. Narrow paths. Intense heat. Amazing view. Totally worth it. We spent a while in Vernazza for lunch trying to avoid the peak sunlight hours, enjoying live music from buskers, and when we finally made it to Corniglia we went down hundreds of more steps (slight exaggeration) and made refreshing contact with the ocean...yay! The last day we just took the trains, spent the day at the beach in Vernazza, and watched the sunset at via dell'amore in RioMaggiore. Quite beautiful.
The last bus to our hostel was at 10:30 every night, but usually we caught the one before that. We watched the first 2 Bourne movies, saw a couch break (slightly scary moment, haha), did some laundry, had some wine, ate in a restaurant overlooking La Spezia, and had showers with see-through doors. Also, if Pompei (did I write about Pompei yet?) is the city with random dogs wandering around, Cinque Terre is full of random cats. Rather strange, but at least they were cute!


I know this blog is quite late...but I will try to remember as accurately as possible.
When we arrived in Florence it was during a heat wave and it was SO HOT, during siesta hours, with a cloudless sky and burning hot sun beaming upon us. We checked in to our hostel which, happily, had a pool! Unfortunately, we were staying in room 200, and although room 201 had been cleaned, 200 had not. We decided to wait in the air conditioned lobby for a while until it was ready, but left our luggage in the locked luggage room. About 2 hours later, our room still wasn't clean, but they gave us our keys anyways. The air-conditioning was not working (they finally fixed it our last day there) but we got to swim in their party-pool so that was lovely. The only thing with not having a/c during a heat wave in Florence is that you can't leave the screenless windows open at night because they have mosquitos, and I still have the bug bites to prove it.
Anyways...we had a lovely time in Florence. Pretty much...I bought most of my souvenirs there. I know, it's pretty silly to buy your souvenirs on the second city of your trip because you have to carry them around for the rest of your family, be happy! Look at the sacrifice I'm making for you. haha, just kidding...but I do hope you like what I got for you.
So, other than the markets, and the Duomo (which is way cooler on the outside than in, I thought...but it could be that I was a little churched-out and museumed-out by then) we got up early to miss the line and saw the Ufizzi galleries which were quite amazing, and went to Accademia to see the David which is absolutely remarkable. Also, I got requested to not take non-flash pictures in the musical instrument history section of the museum which had NO signs saying not to take photos. Actually, I only saw one sign in the whole museum, but it was covered by people and I saw it on the way out of the hall where the David was. So, oh well, I have a few decent shots of it. I paid 10 euros to get in there half an hour before it closed; I don't feel guilty at all.
On the map of Florence our hostel gave us there was a restaurant mentioned that said it would serve 2 courses, a salad, a drink, and a dessert for only 10 euros, so we determined that that would be a great lunch and possible spill over into dinner. It was kind of hidden, but we found it eventually, and this really cute waiter (I guess I didn't need to specify that he was is Italy) said he would give us the deal and seated us. We're pretty sure it was totally under the table...we never actually got a bill or anything...but it was amazing food. We got bowtie pasta with vegetables, turkey, potatoes, (BethL got tomatoes and mozzarella) and tiramisu...they skipped our salad, but we didn't really have room for it anyways. And we didn't have to buy supper, so great deal! Our waiter had been to Hamilton and Montreal before, and is going to Niagara Falls soon because his cousin who owns the Hyatt, Mariott, and Embassy Hotels there apparently. But he still has to pay for himself, his cousin won't do it.
Um...I think that's all I have to say about Florence right now...but in all it was a lovely city, and I loved the street artists and painters, but it was even more expensive than Rome over all I think.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Well, I have been in Rome for 2 days now, and so far I am enjoying it quite a bit. The weather has been gorgeous! We got in late Saturday night and had a pleasant surprise at our hostel: free pasta, salad, and wine! The bathroom in that hostel got cleaned every day which was great, but there was definately no place for the shower head and no shower curtain and only one that was quite the experience. We have met lots of nice people so far in our rooms so that is cool.
So far all I know in Italian other than grazie and how to count to ten is:
รจ sposato?
sono nubile.
Also, Beth has received the most bella comments thus far. We decided to keep a tally.
We have walked a lot so far! On Sunday we tried to go to a mass, but were unable, but we walked around a couple of churches. We found one that was giving a free Brahms concert in the evening, so we went to that, be we all started falling asleep so we left at the intermission. It was absolutely beautiful, but the jetlag won out that time. I have a list of all the highlights we have seen in Rome so far...but I will not bore you with that (yeah, sorry, I cannot do contractions because I cannot find the apostrophe).
Today we went to the Vatican City which was pretty amazing. Also, we got the student price, yay! We walked by the river a bit today, went to a cafe for coffee (well, Roz and Beth had coffee, except it was way too strong for Roz) and spent a while relaxing at Trevi Fountain with gelato. While we were there, a family getting a tour around the city via horse and carriage stopped at the fountain, and the horse parked directly behind me. The horse gently nudged me so I pet him a bit and then he turned away, but a few minutes later he tried to push me off the wall! It was kind of funny.
The metro this morning was a bit crazy...we tried to go early to beat the rush, but in the process of switching hostels, and having my alarm clock die, and having Roz lock her key into her backpack and have to knife it open, we ended up going during rush hour. There was a cute old man trying to talk to me, but he did not know any english. I think he was asking me if I like Roma, and I said si. He tried to get some boy to translate, and he said something like school is nice here? So I think maybe he wanted to know if we were students and if we thought Rome was nice, but I am not sure. I just smiled and said yes, haha.
Oooh! We saw an old aqua duct today! That was pretty cool, I thought.
The other day we bought some groceries but neglected to weigh and sticker the fruit (I totally forgot about that process) so we were going to pay for them and the cashier guy was like no no no no no no, grabbed our fruit, and got up and went to the fruit section. We were like, is he taking our fruit back because we did something wrong? No fruit today? but he actually just did it for us, so that was nice.
Tomorrow we are going to tour the Coliseum, and the next day the Borghese museum, and then Pompeii! I am not sure when I will blog again, but keep checking!

Friday, June 13, 2008

look out europe, here we come!

Tonight, yes tonight (sorry, YL flashback there) I am flying to London via Montreal with my dear Roz and BethL.
So...if I suck it up at emailing for the next 6 or so weeks, don't take it personally. If you wanna know what's going on with me...check here!
The next time I write on here...I'll probably be in Rome.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


I get hiccups a lot.
I don't know why. I've heard that you can get hiccups from eating too quickly. That's not the case with me.'s still a mystery.
Yesterday after dinner I began to hiccup, and my brother said maybe I'm allergic to something. How can allergies cause hiccups, I asked.
Well, he said, Laura gets hiccups when she eats...what is it she's allergic to?
Mushrooms, I provided for him. And she doesn't get hiccups...they make her sneeze!
Oh, well, close enough.