The last of the Trip

  • Jul. 25th, 2009 at 7:14 AM
honeyelle: masquerade mask falling (unveil)
1.14pm (Brisbane); 7.14am (Dubai)

After such a big dinner on Monday night (we ate dinner, a traditional Italian dinner with Tuscan grown vegetables, with the other guests), there was no way we were doing anything on Tuesday. Another rest day.

On Wednesday, however, we got up early, caught the seven o'clock bus, which we knew ran on time, and went to Florence – or Firenze as it's called in Italy. We were going to see David. Ann, our travel agent (do not get me started), said that we'd be able to book tickets online or over the phone while in Tuscany. No, actually, it was booked out until August sometime. We took the chance, and waited in the queue.

The queue wasn't that long. We waited for about half an hour and because we were there so early, we got straight through with the first group of people.

Everything pales in comparison to David. It is unreal. It was like the Colosseum, I could sit just staring at him for hours. If I was by myself, I probably would have. I looked at other paintings and other statues, but you just come back to David.

There wasn't anything else we wanted to see in Florence, but we came across, totally by accident, a rather nice looking church. We didn't go in, the outside was impressive enough (I don't think you could go in, anyway). Those two things are what I will remember of Firenze, and I can't be happy about it.

Thursday, being the day before Moving Day, we just chilled. I went for a swim – I wish we had a pool, but more, I think, I want to just start swimming again.

Yesterday, Friday, was the beginning of Moving Day. And as per usual, Moving Day had it issues. The bus from Anselmo turned up late, took a long route and did a couple of unusual stops along the way. Our train to Milan was an hour and ten minutes late; from what we can gather, someone hopped off the train – it wasn't going from Florence to Milan straight, it had stops on either side – and was hit. Then there was traffic on the way to the airport. We were dropped off at the wrong terminal and had to catch another bus. I don't know why the fates decided to be cruel to us on Moving Days (since Santorini to Paris, our second Moving Day), but we have not been fazed at all by it – maybe that's why – and think it's just part of the adventure.

It did pay off, though. The entire five of us were upgraded to Business Class from Milan to Dubai. I don't know if I'll be able to travel anything but Business Class from now on. It's so easy, it's so comfy and it was much easier to stay awake. And awesome noise reducing headphones and useful gifts (I found a new, must improved make-up bag) and great food. I think it was easier to stay awake because I'm back on Brisbane time. I'm trying to position myself with as little jetlag as possible.

We're waiting at Dubai International Airport, until about 10am here (two and a bit hours) for the economy flight to Sydney. I like Dubai's airport, but when a noise happens (bell, siren, alarm) it's headache enducing. There's people everywhere. I like airports, but this is not my favourite. Brisbane Domestic is familiar, safe. I long to be home.

A Field of Sunflowers

  • Jul. 20th, 2009 at 5:39 PM
honeyelle: (writing in notepad)
1.39am (Brisbane – Tuesday, 21 July); 5.39pm (Tuscany)

Saturday and Sunday were rest days. We laid by the pool on Saturday, it was very warm, and covered ourselves in sunscreen. Saturday night, I started Shattered – which isn't exactly for university, but I am so happy that I've been able to write anything at all after Sam's grade.

Sunday on the other hand, it was a little cooler. Cool enough, well breezy enough, that no one really wanted to go outside. Plus James was arriving, so Beth didn't want to do anything but see him. We watched a lot of MTV. I wrote more Shattered.

Today, however, we took the chauffeur, Giovani (I think that's how you spell his name), and he took us around the Tuscan countryside showing us all the walled, medieval towns and castles and dropping us at a few to walk through. It was so nice to be driven around in a car and not getting a bus tour. It felt just like a private tour. I didn't take many pictures – and I missed the sunflower picture moment – because after a while, all the walled cities, all the landscapes look the same on film. Even in person they tend to run together.

Vineyards are one of those things that you need to see in person. Not picture can capture the beauty of a vineyard. In pictures it just looks like a sea of green. In person, you can actually see the lines, see rows and rows of grape vines. Even see the grapes. This was true for both France and Italy.

Italy, I didn't realise, doesn't just have vineyards of wine. There are olive trees and sunflowers (for sunflower oil). The sunflowers are beyond words. Fields and fields of sunflowers following the sun. If I were to come back to Italy, I would try and find accommodation looking over a sunflower field. I would love to wake up to a sea of yellow – not a yellow room, but yellow made by nature. I can only imagine what it looks like from the sky. Also, sunflowers are very defined – you know exactly how they “feel”. If they're happy and 'singing' they're yellow and looking to the sun. If they're sad and, basically, dead, they're faces are fallen, they aren't a bright yellow but a vomit green and they're looking at the ground. Out of everything today, this is probably the best moment I had; seeing the sunflower fields.

Moving to Tuscany

  • Jul. 17th, 2009 at 8:10 AM
honeyelle: (new dawn/new beginning)
4.10pm (Brisbane); 8.10am (Tuscany)

Four days is probably the longest I've been without writing up our Europe adventures. Last time I said I was going to go to the beach on Wednesday. Well, we did go to the beach, but I did no writing or reading. We met a Canadian couple, Tyler and Candice, who were on their honeymoon. (Although, why they're calling it their honeymoon, I don't know; they travel overseas once a year.) We sat under umbrellas and chatted for several hours. They gave us their email address and Dad gave them his website (which now means I have to go home and update it very quickly) with contact details and a drawing he'd done of a clock tower in one of the Cinque Terra towns.

Mum really wanted to use the paddle boats that were mention on Hotel Pasquale's website. We hired one for an hour and it had a slide on the back. I think Mum liked the paddle boats the most. Dad lost his sunnies going down the slide, too; we left part of our family at the bottom of the Cinque Terre beach.

The next day, Wednesday 15 June, was another moving day. There were no strikes and we didn't have to catch any taxis. For a moving day, that's pretty good. I don't remember much of the day – as I think I've mentioned, I fall asleep on transport, anyway.

When we arrived at the accommodation (oh, wait, we did have to catch a taxi to the place we're staying), we stepped out and were nearly knocked down. The heat was awful. The heat is like an Australian summer; that isn't a fun heat. They showed us the 'apartment' we're staying in. Well, you can read my TripAdvisor review: there's no air-con, the flies are everywhere, the food costs a fortune, there's no easy access to transport with the accommodation taking us to train stations and such.

It shocked us. It's not what we expected.

Yesterday, we got up real early, six o'clock early, to catch a bus to Florence, to then try to catch a train to Rome because I wanted to see the Colosseum. Trains work a little easier in Italy than in France, in the sense that we were able to book seats on the next train. It took an hour and a half to get to Rome, and once we got our bearings, it only took a twenty minute walk to the Colosseum.

Isn't it big? I mean, I knew it was going to be huge, but it's really, really big. We didn't go inside (it was an hour and a half line) or take a tour (it costs a fortune); but we sat a little distance away eating ice-cream just looking at it. The heat was unbelievable yesterday too. But even if it wasn't, that's how we like to look at tourist points; sitting down, out of the sun, absorbing the atmosphere, a little bit away from all the tourists. That made the whole experience of the Colosseum better; although next time I'd like a tour, but a tour when there are no tourists in the Colosseum. A private tour. Of course, I'd need to be insanely rich and not care about where I spend money.

We didn't see anything else in Rome. It was too hot to be walking anywhere. The traffic was awful; we couldn't catch a bus or a taxi to see the Vatican (the only other real point we would've looked at). In the end, we went back to the train station and changed our train time to get us back to Florence earlier.

It was still hot at our accommodation (yes, I don't know the name of it, but it's no hotel), we ate some dinner and went to sleep.

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