When in Rome

We spent 3 nights in Rome. Probably my favourite out of the larger Italian cities we've been to. Stayed in a large hostel with single sex dorms again, it wasn't too bad although I didn't sleep very well but I think that was because it was way too hot more than anything else. Tuesday we saw the Colosseum and the Palatine ruins which took us nearly all day, very impressive. Wednesday we went to Capuchin Monks Graveyard which is crazy! It's a passage way with about 5 'rooms' which are graves but the walls & ceilings are 'decorated' with human bones! hundreds and hundreds of them. It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen, but also very impressive and definiteley memorable. We weren't allowed to take pics but brought a postcard so maybe I'll be able to scan that in cos you just can't imagine what it looks like.
We went to the Vatican City in the afternoon as we'd heard the line is horrendously long first thing and came across a line which took us 20mins to get through, not bad we thought...until a bit later we realised we weren't where we thought we were (does this sound vaguely familar?) We were in the Basilica and tombs of Popes, still impressive but we had wanted to go to the Vatican museum and Sistene Chapel. it closed at 3.30m...it was 4pm when we realised! Bugger. I wasn't too gutted though cos I'm not catholic or anything and had heard mixed reviews on it. I guess there's just a certain stigma on seeing the super famous sites wherever you go... but I reckon if it's not your thing, why bother.
Thursday morning we decided to check how long the line to the Vatican museum was...the line was massive, went right around the block. needless to say we gave it a miss.

Pisa & Florence

Saturday we took a train to Pisa. The tower was awesome to see, def one of my highlights so far. There were hundreds of tourists all getting snap happy and taking the obligatory photos 'holding op the tower', we of course joined in! We didn't get a chance to go up the tower as we were on limited time and the tours were booked up until 3pm. So after an hour or two in Pisa we hopped back on a train to Florence, we needed to be there by 4pm to guarantee our accommodation (long story). When we arrived at the Florence station a man approached us asking if we needed accommodation, which we didn't but he eneded up convincing us to stay in his hostel instead, and what a great decision that turned out to be! The hostel was very central, small, clean, our own room, free internet etc etc.
Florence itself wasn't a fave place of mine but in saying that we did still do some good sightseeing. Sunday we went to Boboli and Bardini Gardens...which weren't that impressive really considering the gardens back at home but it was cool in the fact that a few mins away was the busy city yet we were in the peaceful large open space. Our ticket for the gardens also got us into the costume gallery which was quite cool, Niki didn't enjoy that as much...clothes = boring! Later we went up to the look-out which has a fake 'David' statue. We had awesome views of the city. The next day we went to see the real Michaelangelo David statue (but later discovered we'd been at the wrong museum!). Which we should've realised as it had only cost €4 instead of €10 and we waitd 5mins in line rather than 4 hours! haha :) ditzy. Anyway I wasn't too phased it's just a statue!
Sunday night we had Chines Takeaways (I know! we're in Italy and what do we eat! we're strange!) and got some drinks and hung out with a couple at the hostel. They had lots of exciting travel stories to tell so that was lots of fun and nice to just chill out.

Marina di Messa

Thursday night we arrived in Marina di Messa for a well-deserved beach break... or so we thought! Firstly we had travelled to the wrong station and ended up wlaking for 1 hour with our packs to find the hostel! We both coped well though and once we arrived ended up having a great night laxing out with pizza and wine. The next day it was raining! so we cruised into the busier part of the place and wandered the markets, found a supo and had some lunch. That afternoon we decided to check out the beach... talk about rubbish everwhere! and more than half the beaches you have to pay for...rows and rows of deck chairs are set up, some parts are owned by hotels etc. and in between are the little 'free' beaches. we found a spot that was actually quite nice and Niki went for a swim and reporte that the water was lovely. An annoying thing was that people selling handbags etc would harrass you while you were sunbathing! We stayed for 2 nights, it was cool being in a really small place, just unfortunate that the weather hadn't been better!


I'm behind in blogging sorry ppl, hard to find time on internet...will hopefully add pics relevant to blogs already posted...but prob not til we back in UK (approx 23 June). Hope u are all well (and not too cold in NZ winter!!!)


On Wednesday we spent most of the day travelling/waiting to travel and arrived in Genoa at 4pm. We were expecting a beachy town...which it really wasn't! Still eneded up being quite a cool place to be though. Our hostel was up in the hills, was a bit of an adventure getting there by bus. Roads are extremely narrow and bends are sharp. Scooters and cars are everywhere and go quite fast! But we arrived in 1 piece and the hostel was sweet, had a great view of the city.

For dinner we tried out this thing we'd heard about 'Appertivo' - buy a drink for €7 (each place has diff cost) and eat buffet style for 'free'. Drinks were very strong!! Food was yum, albeit a tad interesting! kinda cool to try some different things...not heaps of options like a 'normal' buffet, more finger food, breads, dips etc etc. Got our vege fix anyway...a night free of pizza!

After dinner we came across a culture festival down at the waterfront - not Italian! Cool to wander the stalls, have a few beers (Niki loves that you can drink on the streets here & beer is cheap from normal stores ...we're either finding a beer or finding a loo for him!) Saw part of an Italian music show thing which was great, very talented and the singing sounded amazing.

Thursday we went to the Acquarium in genoa - it's the largest in Europe. Expensive at €15 each but we thought it was worth it, saw lots of crazy fish and the standard sharks, dolphins etc. spent a good 3 hours there...was good to be away from a church or museum!

Spaghetti Bolognese

On Tuesday 12 June (Which happned to also be Niki's 27th Bday!!) we headed to Bologna... as you probably guess from it's name that's where spaghetti bolognese was 'invented'. (Not that we had any!) We went and saw yet another Basilica. They are truly amazing buildings but i think I'm all Basillica'd out now! Unfortunately you aren't allowed to take pics inside. We found Bologna's 'leaning' tower and went up a 97m tower next to it, narrow as winding wooden stiars the whole way up... bit freaky!! Right at the top you have amazing views ...well we did for a few mins before it started pouring with rain, on our way back down we could see the lightening bolts! We decided to sit down and have a drink to wait out the rain and weren't really sure what else to do in Bologna...if in doubt have a drink! That evening we went out to dinner in a proper restaurant. Some of the food was nice but portions were small (which doesn't work for us BIG eaters!) so it was kind of disappointing for the cost of €45 (even though I know I shouldn't be converting it back to NZ dollars it's hard not to...$90NZD for dinner & 1 glass of wine!)

So a crazy memorable bday for Niki being in Italy ... but a shame it wasn't one of the better days we've had...can't control the weather I guess!

Padua & Venice

We arrived in Padua from Verona late afternoon. Found a cheap hotel in the directory which was only 10 mins walk from the station and even though only a one star was nice and clean. Wandered around the streets and came across the Basilica di St Antonio (Padua's Patron Saint - every Italian city seems to have one!). Basilica's are massive, impressive church things; you usually have to have covered shoulders and knees. We were fortunate enough to see part of a church service which added to the experience. It got to be a tad boring though as it was all in italian ... and the guy was mumbly and monotone so I'm not sure if you would understand him anyway! Heard the choir sing which was lovely. Next morning we took the train to Venice and spent the day (11am-8pm) there. It cost €13 for a day pass on the ferries, quite expensive compared to other public transport we've come across but you don't really have a choice...no other way to get around in venice. The view were pretty cool from the ferry anyway and we got to see quite alot, plus it was a good way to 'rest' our legs while still seeing alot of Venice from the water...well when Hayley wasn't falling asleep anyway...cars, trains, ferries, I can't help myself! We saw the Basilica of St Marco which was pretty amazing, saw the Doge's Palace and Museum as well. The thing I remember most from that museum was a chastity belt on display...metal prongs sticking out everywhere - ouch! What a horrible time to live in.

It's very touristy there (of course) people selling stuff everywhere, lots of cool buskers (musicians, 'statues' etc) but also beggars harrassing you, I'm getting better at ignoring them! We didn't go for a ride in a gondola as they apparently cost €70! no way, we felt we'd seen enough of the canals. Venice was pretty cool but to be honest I wouldn't have wanted to stay there any longer!

Verona Verona Verona

Verona was amazing!! Beautiful, plenty to see, very touristy, gorgeous weather. A vast improvement on Turin. We stayed in a hostel for 2 nights - single sex dorms, bunk beds! A bit of an experience. Girls' facilities were great, Niki wasn't so lucky, having 1 large open shower room with a 10sec push button to make the shower work! Breakfast was included in the price (€16ea) but that consisted of endless bread rolls, butter, jam and 'bowls' of coffee, tea, hot choc which were made in those metal serving dishies that you see in a buffet setting - the 1st morning we thought it woud have hot food in them...but sadly disappointed. you ladle the desired hot drink into your bowl! kind of like a giant latte i guess. Apparently this isn't a normal italian thing though. Either way we're over bread!

Paid €8 for a 'Verona Card' whch gave 'free' entry to 14 sites... we saw 6 i think. The Arena (3rd largest in world), Juliet's house (as in Romeo & Juliet!) I got a picture of me standing on THE balcony!, church, museum, castle, tower... these attractions cost €2-4 ea so the card was a bargain! We were out from 9-7pm and were knackered! then shared a bottle of wine (€2!) in the gorgeous hostel garden and went out for dinner.

We have taken lots of pics, but i still haven't figured out how to do a online photo gallery...and I keep forgetting to bring the camera cable to internet places! So yeah sorry no pics yet guys.

We arrived in Padua at lunchtime, not far from Venice, and have spent the afternoon wandering in the hot hot sun. I'm getting major tan lines on my feet from my sandals (which by the way even though they are UGLY are coming in very handy ...well except my feet stink at the end of the day!)

We will do a day trip to Venice tomorrow which should be great. Apparently it's the most expensive city in Italy and we heard the hostel was fully booked so decided to come here instead. On Tuesday (Niki's Bday!) we will travel to Bologna and then after that to Genoa (YAY beach!), Tuscany, Piza, Rome etc etc. Will update again soon. Hope you are all well... we have only been gone under 2 weeks but it feels ages! Ciao

1st stop Italy - TURIN 7 June

We landed at Turin, Italy last night (6/6/7) (Turin was where the 2006 Winter Olympics were held). Our plane was 40mins late, which added a lil stress as we were arriving late at night and had to be at hotel by midnight! Our flights only cost us £0.01 + £5 ea for luggage check so really we can't complain! =) Anyway we had troubles finding the bus and trains had finished for the night but luckily we came across another couple so we shared taxi to town and got to hotel at 11.55pm. Hotel is lovely, fancier than we imagined! Lovely to have shower (shower at Lee-Ann's is currently broken so have been having baths!) It was raining when we arrived last night and was still raining this morning... just our luck since all I had packed were summer clothes. we braved it anyway as we only plan to spend 1 day in Turin. It poured down for most of the morning but cleared up beautifully mid-afternoon...let's hope the weather stays this way for our trip.
Italy so far is quite beautiful, very different from any other country we've been. We found it quite hard to communicate though which has been frustrating and even though we have the Lonely Planet Phrase Book/Dictionary it surprisingly takes more balls than we thought to actually approach someone. Tourism staff seem to be annoyed that we don't speak Italian, which scares us and we then fumble what we had planned to say. In saying that though we came across a lovely cafe worker at lunchtime who was very friendly. And I tried out an Italian phrase (where to eat cheap) on one of the hoteliers, and he understood and showed us around the corner for dinner. so YAY that helped the confidence. We had pasta for dinner...at an Irish Pub! it wasn't the best...but I guess we should aim for an Italian cafe if we want to eat good italian food!
Driving is shocking here. Cars parked all over the place. People going through red lights, tooting at each other. There are pedestrian crossings everywhere but I don't think they use then the same as home. plus we need to remember to look both ways cos who knows where the traffic is coming from. Roads are quite narrow, the 'alley' our hotel is down seems like a cobbled walk way - yet it's a road.
Went to a cinema museum today, quite alot of cool stuff to see. and wandered the streets. found a small supermarket...they sell all booze in it!! only €10 for a bottle jager!
anyways will post again soon with exciting Italy adventures I hope. Tomorrow we're travelling somewhere else. At this stage to Genoa a beachside place...

Greetings from the Queen

We are here! Flights were swet as, had awesom seats by exit so plenty of leg room! Got fed every few hours it seemed. Go AIR NZ!!! :) LA stop over was sweet as as was UK customs...soo cruisey the lot of them! London is great, having an awesome time already. Weather has been perfect, hot & sunny, light until 9.30pm. Staying with Lee-Ann, so awesome to catch up with her and meet Spence. Brixton's not half as scarey as some people told us it would be! Lots of Jamaicans which is a bit of a novelty for us. love the accents! The Tube is fantastic, so easy. Already seen the London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace (even got to see the Queen waving from car!!!), Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square etc etc...everything is so close together and easily accessible. We haven't hardly had to spend money yet either, plenty to see for free. um um what else to say! i've only got a couple of mins remaining on internet so will go. we're off to italy on Wednesday night so will fill u in from there. Take care