today we went to the top of the hill in florence and got an amazing view of the entire city. the cathedral makes the rest of the city look miniature. erfon went and saw the david statue, which he loved. besides that we spent the rest of our time wandering around and enjoying the town. here are a few pictures for your enjoyment.
after our whirlwind day in rome we headed to florence for a few days of relaxing and exploring the city. We got into florence mid morning. we couldn’t check into our hostel and sleep yet so we decided to walk around the city instead. i really liked florence. Its small enough to walk around, but big enough to have lots to see. my favorite thing in florence was their cathedral, which is huge! it really is one of the biggest churches i think i’ve ever seen. it was so tall that if you looked at the top of it you couldn’t see the ground and it almost looked like it was moving. we decided not to go into it today, but to save that for another day. we spent a few hours exploring, but then deiced to go back to our hostel so that we could get a little sleep. after being up for over 36 hours we were very tired. after we both slept for a bit and showered we decided to head down to the little chinese restaurant below our hostel, which was a bad idea. it was here that we discovered the sitting fee that they charge in italy. of course they don’t tell you they are going to charge you and although its on the menu its in about 8pt font, so good luck seeing it. after our experience in greece we were not happy to once again get charged without knowing. anyways here are some pictures from our first day in florence…
after spending a few days in sorrento we headed to rome for a day. rome was defiantly an experience we will not soon forget. we took an early train from sorrento up to rome and we weren’t planning on staying at all, but we met this guy on couchsurfing.com named alessandro who single handedly changed our plans and we started our adventure in rome.
alessandro is a tour guide and said he would love to give us a tour of the city. so we decided to see if we could find a place to stay that night and see the city a little bit. alessandro came and picked us up from the train station and took up to this hostel that some of his friend were staying at. unfortunately the hostel we went to only had one room available, but it was $85, so we declined. but alessandro’s friends were great and let us keep our bags in their room till we figured out what we were going to do. next we jumped into alessandro’s car and away we went. we “saw” rome in about 2.5 hours. alessandro is one of those crazy italian drivers, so although i was sure we were going to die, it was fun to see a bit of the city. we just got a quick taste of rome, which is to bad because we both really liked what we saw. also alessandro had a really thick italian accent and he talked really fast, so although he was trying to tell us about rome we really had no idea what he was saying.
after our tour we met up with alessandro’s friends and went out for some really good italian pasta, probably the best we had on the entire trip. we also happened to be in rome the day before one of the major church holidays, so the next day pretty much all the tourist places would be closed and the pope was giving mass at vatican city so it would be packed. thus, we decided that to hangout with alessandro and his friends and then catch the first train to florence. we went outside of the city a bit to the beach, we had no idea rome was anywhere near a beach. we had a great time hanging out.
we spend the wee hours of the morning sitting in front of the train station waiting for it to open. we caught the 7:00am train to florence and had the best 2 hour nap that a person could have on a train.
sorry for the long delay in posts. life has been very busy sense we got back, but we will try to finish posting pictures and stories before the year is done.
on our way to croatia we had a brief stop in bari, italy. this was our first experience with the italians long afternoon break, where they close everything and its impossible to find food or water. from everything we had heard about bari it sounded like an ugly little port town, but after walking around and looking for food for hours we decided that it had its good features as well. there was this part of the city with lots of narrow alleys that is what i pictured when i thought of italy. here are a few pictures from bari. enjoy!
The trip to corfu was one of the longest trips we had to take. We had to take a ferry from santorini to athens, that took about 9 hours. A train from athens to patras, that took about 3-4 hours, and then another overnight ferry to the island of corfu. We ended not getting into the port of corfu until about 5 or 6 in the morning. So seeing the sunrise above the clear waters of corfu was beautiful, but getting up for it wasn’t : D However, the boat from patras to corfu was really nice. We got to sleep inside on carpeted floor, and we even had outlets so we could plug in our laptop -what luxury!
Getting off the boat, ruth and I decided we would take a shuttle for one to one the hotels into the main towns on the island (and one of the most popular beaches on the island). The “hotel” was called the pink palace, besides being notorious know as the place to party hard while on the island, it was in a pretty good location and they provided a free shuttle to the hotel, something that might not seem important, but at 6 am, it’s one of those perks that is a pretty big selling point.
so somewhat reluctantly, we got on the big pink (literally) shuttle to head to the pink palace.
driving to our hotel, i had forgotten how beautiful the island of corfu was. i had been here before in 2000, and had actually stayed at the pink palace then too. i had forgotten lush the green this island was, and unfortunately had also forgotten why i hated staying at the pink palace the last time i was here. by the end of our stay on corfu, i was reminded of both.
when you arrive at the pink palace, they sit you down and give a spiel about how fun it is to stay there, all the cool drinking events they have available to you, and how “awesome” they are. haha, it’s pretty entertaining listening to them talk about how cool their hotel is. it’s like going to a giant pink fraternity party that never ends. that might be cool for some, but ruth and i weren’t totally excited about staying in a place filled with 18-22 year old american and aussie party goers…
of course we had gotten the free ride from the port, so i listened to the whole pitch before striking out into the small town looking for other places to stay. i walked around for about 1.5 hours looking for places, and found some good ones, but the hitcher for us was that the pink palace had FREE WI-FI… i know it doesn’t sound important, but boy after not having internet access for over a week, it was the deal breaker for us. so we, hoping to getting a better deal than what we were offered during the pink palace sales pitch, booked our room online, then headed back to the palace to check in. at least we thought it was going to be that easy…
The women who checked us in was incredibly rude. She was mad that we booked online, saving ourselves a bit of money. She loomed above me, making faces and interrogating me ferociously on why I had booked online instead of just booking at the counter. Sheesh, she needed to relax, why, we were paying customers!
We finally got it all figured out, although our interrogator obviously didn’t like us very much. It was then we got our next fun surprise. Our “beachfront” room was tiny, run down, and the beach was more like a rocky cliff and declined into the water. It was the worst stretch of beach I saw in all of europe. Welcome to the pink palace!
after our first overnight ferry ride from santorini to athens (which turned out to be one of the nicest boats we were on the entire trip) we arrived in athens a little tired, but excited to be going to corfu. we caught the first train to patras and once we got there we realized that because it was sunday everything was closed and we had the whole day to burn until our ferry left for corfu late that night. so what did we do? we went to the movies. after seeing the dark night we headed back to the boat. as soon as we got on the boat we showed them our ticket and they immediately sent us to this tiny little area where the deck passengers were allowed to sleep. this was only the beginning of all the strange places we had to sleep on boats in greece. they really do a good job of making you feel like a second class person. on some of the boats if you had a deck ticket you weren’t even allowed to sit in the lounge, those were reserved for cabin passengers only. yet another reason we were happy to get to italy and go back to train travel.
well thanks to my wonderful brother for bringing me my new camera and my insurance company for paying for my new camera we can now take videos for your viewing pleasure. so in honor of my new camera here is a video of us waiting for the bus in pirovic, croatia…