Sunday, August 22, 2010

Days 12-15 (Overduuueee...)

Firstly: I'm sorry!
I've been wifi free for the last 2 weeks so that means I've got a few posts to try and pump out over the next few days. But apparently at least the next two hotels have wifi so we should be good to go! And it is Sunday so I'm on schedule... sort of. Anyway, today is day 25, with I think 65 left? So it's going super fast!I'm in Athens, which I don't really recommend you visit. It's not that great. They have an Acropolis, that's about it. And we're in the dodgy area so I've been offered a matchbox of weed, seen an argument that I think was about drugs, and witnessed someone shooting up in the street at 9pm. I'm scared to wander around the streets alone in the middle of the day to be honest. Now, since more than about 4 days in each post is ridiculous; today's consists of days 12, 13, 14 and 15 (as the title suggests...)which is pretty difficult to write about since I can't remember any of it! Thank god I take notes.

Day 12: Ol’ Vesuv, Pizza extravaganza and Sorrento

The first day of experiencing the joys of a coach tour (One of those joys being named Joy but more on that wee gem later). The day dawned bright and early, with a 6:30am wake up call. It was torturous to drag myself out of bed after my sleep ins for the previous... um... 6 months? We and our luggage were on the bus and hitting the road only 5 minutes behind schedule. Destination? Sorrento via the ruins of Pompeii (yes, super excitement!!)

The thing about Italy is, it’s super small. Just like the whole of Europe really but you really get to realise just how small a country is when you drive around it. Honestly, I think Pompeii was only a couple of hours away. Our longest drive was from Venice to Rome, a maximum of 8 hours road time. That wouldn’t get you from Sydney to Coffs! Anyway, I digress (how uncharacteristic of me). It was pretty exciting to be driving along towards Pompeii and getting a brilliant view of Mt Vesuvius himself out the window- complete with an ominously placed cloud, making it look like the long overdue eruption was in progress. When we got to Pompeii we were met with our walking tour guide, including possibly the creepiest/weirdest/worst/yet best invention ever: The “whisper” vox headset. Just one ear bud, connected to a microphone used by the guide to aid in leading large groups. Fantastic in theory, but signal problems, uncomfortable ear pieces that tend to fall out at inconvenient times and the scary voice whispering “contiiiiikiiiiii” from an unknown direction grow old very quickly. It was pretty fantastic though. The ruins are a lot bigger than I expected and it’s incredible how intact everything is. We even had the pleasure of perusing an ancient brothel- complete with a sex position picture menu, and adorned with penises so it’s impossible to miss out (“what’s a phallic symbol?” Ah Americans...)

After Pompeii we headed to Sorrento, which is situated along the bay of Naples, in the Souhtern coastal region of Italy. It’s absolutely beautiful, really it is. On our first night we went out for an aperitivo (pre-dinner drink. Yes, they have pre pres in Italy!) at a bar overlooking the water followed by a pizza evening- bruschetta, salad, and as much pizza as you want, complete with wine and followed by a shot of limoncello. The food was great but even better was the entertainment, which goes by the name of Joy. Ah Joy... me and my roommate Lisa (25, from the Northern Suburbs, is also a Scorpio and doesn’t like roast capsicum) sat at a table which was all-American apart from ourselves (and one Canadian). I sure am glad we did because not only did I meet my New York mums, but our table came complete with its own drunk obnoxious Californian. Well into the dinner, aforementioned DOC requested an audience with Stephanie (New York mum number one). It went a little bit like this “I’m sorry I can’t remember your name. Imma be straight wit chu... I’m Joy, and I’m gunna get you laid.” Dead set, that is what she said (ghetto witness anyone? "they rapin errbody up in here"). It is still a mystery as to why she targeted Steph as her own personal sex project- her justifications were “I was the whore on my last trip” (passing on the torch perhaps?) and “I’m a really good pimp” (ah financial gain was her goal...) neither of which were enough to entice Steph under her wing. Funny though.

After dinner, I went with some of the girls from our table back to the bar from the beginning of the night, where we shared a bottle of red and some gelato and spent most of the time laughing about the events of dinner. Nothing makes a bond like someone else’s drunkenness.

Day 13: Spaghettios, Heidi and Seal and Karaoke.

From our hotel in Sorrento we headed down to the wharf to catch a ferry to the Isle of Capri- a beautiful and beautifully rich tourist infested Island, where many a hard earned/inherited Euro is spent. One of the optional excursions of the day was to catch a second boat and go see the grotto and swim in the “med.” Having an aversion to boats in general I chose to stay on the main Island to drool over Prada and eat my weight in gelato. A few others were sticking with dry land as well and we stayed together, exploring the two towns of Capri. Unfortunately in doing so we missed out on what was probably the highlight of everyone elses day- seeing Heidi Klum, Seal and their pups out on the water, and having a chance to play paparazzi. We did however, get in some beach time, which was certainly a new experience. The med is a much warmer ocean than our Pacific, let me tell you. Unfortunately though, they don’t really have sand on Capri, just pebbles, which makes walking a wee bit uncomfortable. Also, there are lots of girls with impossibly beautiful bodies and overweight middle aged men in Speedos, which is never a good combination. I have found though, that it’s virtually impossible to get burnt in Europe. I guess that whole ozone layer thingummy really is all it’s cracked up to be- I mean, they only get UVA rays coming through! And getting yourself treated for melanoma is cheaper than buying sunscreen regularly here anyway so sun it up.

Back in Sorrento, we enjoyed one of our deliciously extravagant (read: crap) included hotel dinners- something akin to spaghettios, followed by a surprisingly decent second course of veal. After dinner, we got a mini bus and about 15 of us went into town for drinks and general debauchery. 6 or so of us went to one of Italy’s many “American bars” which all include karaoke. I discovered this delicious drink called the “love drink” which is just raspberry vodka and lemon soda, although I have my suspicions that they were watering down their spirits because drink after drink had little effect. It was enough to have Erin, who spent the whole night thinking I want to be a designer for some reason, up on the pole, doing her thang which granted me endless amusement. Drunk people are funny...

Day 14: Bus introductions, wine and more karaoke

On day 14 we left Sorrento and headed for Florence, via Tuscany for wine and olive oil tasting (yes. Be jealous). On the way to our wine tasting we made use of the time by introducing ourselves to the bus at large- one by one, all 45 of us. I still couldn’t get everyone’s names correct... The vineyard itself was gorgeous, they took us down into the cellar where the wine is made which was fantastic on such a hot day. We got to sample a rose, a red, garlic bread with extra virgin olive oil and a desert wine with biscotti. Of course most of us bought a few bottles- it was surprisingly cheap. Their “expensive” wines were 25€ and the rose I bought was only 5!

On our first night in Florence we had a surprisingly decent (read: edible) included dinner which consisted of pasta (given) and SALAD!! (mucho excitement indeed!) followed by limoncello of course. Then we headed to yet another American karaoke bar, called the Red Garter where they actually had a man playing guitar along to the karaoke tracks. Badly. It was a good night, especially when Rick wandered off to the bar and returned with 4 mjitos which he said were up for grabs. There’s no mojito like a free mojito! The best part about the red garter is its proximity to a “kebap” shop. Of course at 1:30am a few of us Aussies insisted on a kebab and it was the best thing I’ve ever tasted- not only do they use Spanish onions, but I decided to be really European and get mayo and tomato sauce and it’s incredible. Seriously, if you find a kebab shop which stocks mayo, fuck barbeque sauce and do it. It’s so good!

When we got back to the hotel, me and Alyssa headed up to the same floor. The doors had code entry but hers was locked from the inside, so she couldn’t get in. She knocked, and Joy (yes. THAT Joy) her room mate called out “just a minute.” Then we looked down and saw it. It. A sock. Hanging. On the door handle. Universal sign for... well you know, it’s universal. Very funny indeed. She swore nothing happened, but Alyssa claims she could... sense... it in the air.

Day 15: sleeping in, exploring Florence and balsamic spritz.

Ah a wake up call of 8:15. Bliss. A portion of the group got up early to go see the David but I decided sleeping in was a much better way to spend the morning. When we eventually did arise, we met up with the early birds in front of the Santa Croce to begin the days activities- a demonstration of Florences most famous export, leather. They make these awesome entirely leather boxes. yes, a bos made of nothing but leather- no stitching, no hinges. Just leather. Also they do jewellery at the same place, where you can pick up one of the famous puzzle rings. It consists of four or six rings which have to be arranged in a specific way to fit together into one ring. They were originally made as promise rings, so that if a man left town and his wife took off the ring to cheat,the rings would separate. And obviously, being a woman, she wouldn't be able to work out how to put it back together.

After a coffee, we rejoined to begin our walking tour of Florence. The guide was talking far too much and I have to admit I tuned out and can barely remember where we went ("There's a river in Florence?!") but I do remember her ranting about the beggars and how we shouldn't give them money because of what the government gives them from her tax money. Bah, love it. Freedom from the tour was blissful, and a few of us ladies took in some shopping followed by lunch. We went on a wee bit of a trek because Steph had been recommended a particular restaurant, located in a square that WASN'T ON OUR MAP. Eventually we found it. Closed. So we found the nearest restaurant with available tables (bad sign?). They had balsamic vinegar in a spray bottle. The food however, was surprisingly not bad, but still, balsamic spritz? In Italy?

After lunch we head back to the Santa Croce (Sacred Heart- another old church) which holds the tomb of Michelangelo (and Machiavelli, who they seem to be big fans of in Italy. Does no one remember that he was power hungry to the point of evil? Absolute power corrupts and all that? Nope.) Of course, being a church, they have a dress code which I, in my shorts, didnt't quite adhere to. Luckily, they have a solution for these circumstances. An ultra stylish styrofoam robe, complete with a waste tie and ironically see-through so that it doesn't actually cover anything. I looked hot, have no doubt.

That night we drove up onto... some hill with a David replica on it... for a group photo, followed by a Tuscan themed feast. They gave our table two bottles of white wine, but everyone except myself and Steph was drinking red. We finished both bottles- not the best idea. Then we headed to Space Electronic Discoteque, the most popular club in Florence. It comes complete with a fish tank bar and (you guessed it) karaoke. It's pretty cool, but you don't pay up front for you drinks. They give you a card and punch holes in it and after 3 or 4 drinks you go to another counter to pay and either get another drink card or an exit card. Drink was taken. Me and Alyssa ran around trying to convince people she was Taylor Swift, which wasn't entirely effective since the italians don't know who she is. I don't remember going home, but I do remember getting there and having to be let in by Lisa, and I'm sure I entertained her with my drunken stories. Like I said- drunk people are funny, right?

So that's all I can do for now, I plan to be back tomorrow and every day after untill I'm up to date because it's bugging me! Off to Paros tomorrow, pretty excited.

Untill next time

-m xx

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