Saturday, 7 February 2015

Day 84 - 963: Venice, Naples, Rome and Real life

So it's been a long time since I wrote anything in here. I regret now that I didn't write up the rest of mine and M's trip, but in Venice the internet was very patchy and I kind of lost my motivation.

Anyway, I'm going to do a whirlwind update of the last two and half years:

After Verona we spent a couple of days in Venice - The most expensive part of our trip but also one of the most amazing. I've wanted to go to Venice as long as I can remember, I've always loved the romance of it, I've read so many books set in Venice and it always seemed like some mythical magical place, until I got there it seemed as real to me as Narnia. When we arrived it was like walking through the wardrobe. We spent most of the time just walking around, getting lost in the labyrinth of walk ways and canals, but somehow always ending up back in a square with a statue of a writer. From which, conveniently, we knew our way back to the hostel we were staying in.

We went to the Doge's palace, which was exhaustingly beautiful, before we even made it to the Bridge of Sighs we were overwhelmed with everything we had seen and were trying to get out. We rode in a Gondola which was expensive, and fun, and nothing like the movies, I was very disappointed that the gondolier wasn't singing That's Amore, and it was mid-afternoon not sunset, but it was still riding a gondola under the Bridge of Sigh's and through the canals of Venice, it was still crossing another thing off my bucket list.

We tried on hundreds of Venetian masks, and bought some beautiful autumnal masks.

We went to Murano, and looked at the glass sculptures and bought a glass fountain pen each.

The highlight for me though, was accidentally getting on the wrong Vaporetto (like a bus, but a boat) and going on a two hour long journey to God only knew where, it doesn't sound like much but both M and I love boats, and there was the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen happening the whole time.

After Venice we went to Naples. On our whole trip, the only place I felt unsafe was Naples. We got scammed as soon as we got there. At the station we were looking for a taxi and a guy came up to us and said he was a taxi driver and did we need a lift. In hindsight it was foolish, but we were exhausted and it naive. We said we'd go with him, and he took us to a car, there was nothing that said it was a taxi and he wouldn't tell us a price. I really don't know why we got in, it wasn't until we were in the car that he said it was going to be cost 50 Euros to get to the hotel, we knew the hotel was close and that was way too much, so we asked him to stop, so we could get out - we hadn't  yet left the car par, but he started yelling at us, and this freaked us out. We had to imply that we would give him some money, we were scared that he wouldn't give us our stuff back. In the end, apart from him yelling and swearing at us it wasn't too bad, we got our stuff, and didn't give him any money, and everything was fine. It wasn't him that scammed us it was the other "official" taxi driver and he was terrifying, his driving was nuts  he nearly crashed several times, and had to stop twice and ask us for directions, and for this he charged us 35 euros. By the time we got to the hotel, we were pleased just to be alive and able to get some food and a bed. That may be a tad melodramatic, but I really didn't like Naples.

There were only 3 good things about Naples: the wine we had on the first night, La Antiqua Pizzeria de Michelle, and the idea of going to Pompeii. The Pizza was incredible, it's the place they go in Eat, Pray, Love it was simple and delicious. We had a 25 minute wait to get in, but it was well worth it, we ordered everything on the menu and it only cost us 16 Euros. Definitely worth a visit if you ever get a chance.

I say only the idea of Pompeii, because it was another place that I'd always imagined going, and going did cross another thing off my bucket list, but it was the first thing that disappointed me. It was interesting to be there, but most of the interesting bits are now touring the world as part of Pompeii museum exhibits.

After Naples, we went to Rome. Rome was lovely but unfortunately I got very sick there and couldn't experience as much of it as I wanted to. We were there for a week but there were only two days where I was well enough to go out and explore. I saw the Trevi Fountain, and threw a coin in it, so according to legend that means I'll get to go back again one day.

I went to the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, which was actually indescribable. Just being there felt amazing, I've seen the photos, but trust me, they don't compare. There is no way that I can explain it, so I'm not even going to try.

And I went to the Colosseum, which is much bigger in real life and had an epiphany about things not really existing until you experience them for yourself. Don't get me wrong, I know that the Colosseum didn't just pop into existence just as I was walking into sight. But a photo of something isn't the same as really seeing it, and being there.

Due to getting sick, and pretty much running out of money, that was pretty much the end of our travels, after a seriously delayed flight we caught a flight back to England, and the banalities of real life.

M and I found jobs based in Nottingham, and a house. Made some friends, had a few weekends away around the country, we went to Edinburgh for the last weekend of the Fringe, we went to Dublin for M's birthday, and went a few other places around the country, and a two and a half week trip back to Malaysia for my Uncle's Wedding. But we didn't make as much of it as we should have. Due to her Visa running out M had to return home to NZ. But I stayed, I'm still in Nottingham, but I have a different job now, and amazingly they are letting me take 5 weeks off to go home for a holiday. I'm going with one of the good friends I've made here, D, which is going to let me be a tourist, in my own country.

I can't wait, we've started making plans already. We are going to spend a while in Wellington, my home town, go to Weta Caves, go to Lake Taupo, D wants to go fishing there, go to Waitomo Caves, and do a road trip in the South Island, for which M will be joining us.

The countdown began a while ago but there are currently 34 days to go, followed by a 28 hour flight. I'm not looking forward to the flight but I am looking forward to going home and seeing my friends and family.