Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day 7 Italy - End of Journey

Italy Day 7, Last Day of the Journey
Today was fairly uneventful; we mainly traveled via interstate from Venice to Rome with a couple of quick uneventful or memorable stops along the way.

The hotel here in Rome is nice, a conference hotel and the bed looks comfy.   I can’t wait to crawl in it.  We had a nice end of the tour group dinner & the wine flowed freely.  It was great – we have to be ready for a early pickup tomorrow, 6:30 am to catch the plane home.  So goodnight, sleep well.

Italy Day 6

Italy Day 6

Today was a jam packed day.  We left the hotel @ 8AM and walked to the dock where we hopped a boat to an area near the city center.  We then walked to St.  Marks square and took a tour of the Dogass Palace, the jail and St. Marcs church.
We then went to a glass blowing shop and saw how it was made – it was really neat.  However, Venetian glass is very expensive, I saw a Chandelier for 27,000 Euros!
We walked around and window shopped a bit, then met back with some of our group to go to Burano Island where they are known for their lace.  We had a good lunch, though it was a bit fishy for me and then walked the shops.  I bought a few things and generally had a good time though I admit I as getting tired.   We then hopped on the boat and came back to the mainland.  The trip over we sat on the top, but this time the inside bench made a good bed.
Once we got back to the main island we had some time on our own.  We took a good hour and ½ meandering back to the hotel.   It was nice and we shopped a bit along the way (Mama haggled).  I love Venice, the relaxing nature of it, even if it is crowded.
We then came upstairs and got a shower, by this time I was beat.  We relaxed for a bit in the room and then decided to go outside.  We ran into other people from the tour downstairs in the lobby and spent a good hour visiting.  It was great – this group is so inclusive, I love it.
Jack & I took a stroll outside with Doug, one of the guys from our group.  We were delighted to find a street performer (fire).  It was a mazing & still the day is not over.  When we got back to the hotel we met up with Mike & Jenny, another couple from our group.   We went up to the balcony and talked or two more hours.  It was really a great evening.  Jam packed day, but I loved it.  Now I must sleep.

Italy Day 5

Italy Day 5

Today we left Florence & headed for Venice.  Mostly, it was a traveling day, however we did stop for lunch in Verona, which was nice.  They have an amphitheater similar to the Coliseum, but smaller.   This is also the town Romeo & Juliet were based in.  The town is mainly shopping, but it was pretty & a nice little stroll.
One thing to note here is I paid .70 Euro to use the potty only to find a sunken toilet in the floor.  So basically a whole that I stood over, interesting to say the least…
We then headed to Venice which is fascinating.  The water city!  We rode in a Gondola.  I worried we were going to tip over or Mama would fall out…  We also took a water taxi which is very expensive to dinner.  I wasn’t impressed with the service tonight at dinner, but it was good overall.   Jack and I waltzed in St. Mark square before we headed back to the hotel.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Day 4, Italy

Italy Journal
Day 4, 9/5/12

This morning we got a late start; it was 7:50 before the bus left.   The breakfast was terrible; Italians can’t cook breakfast, but it was on a rooftop dining room so the view made up for the food.
We then made our way to downtown Florence were we 1st went to the Academia Museum & saw the statue of David.  Our guide obviously loved art and made Michelangelo come to life.   There were 4 unfinished works that were awesome to see.  You cold kinda see the process he went through, which was just awesome.   David itself is Massive, 20 ft high.
We left there and walked to the city center of Florence – this town has a lot of walking.  We saw the Church of Croce which is gorgeous and very unique.     We saw Duomo & Babtistry Buildings – one has Gold doors and we saw the Piazzo Del Signoria which is an open space sculpture muse am.  The guide went at a good pace which allowed me to wonder and take pics which I enjoyed.  Overall I like Rome more, but Florence has its charms.  It is a lot more crowded though…
Once the guide was finished we were given free time to eat lunch and wonder.  They are is known for  leather and gold, but the $$$ were steep.   We got a few gifts and I got some glove, Jack a belt and that was it.  I just didn’t want to spend the $, this trip is already costing a pretty penny.
We also wondered up to the Ponte Vechhi Bridge, which has buildings on it & is the oldest of its kind left.  It was neat to see, but very crowded so we headed back to wait for the group at the square.
We then left Florence and went to San Gimiignano which is a medieval town with walls and towers.   The view off of the top was Tuscany countryside and it was great.   The buildings were awesome.  It was quaint with shops and ice-cream parlors; a little touristy, but I liked it.
We then headed back to Florence & had dinner.  Overall it was nice day, but very tiring.   I’m glad we get to spend time on the bus tomorrow.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Italy Day 3

Italy Journal

Today was a day of traveling. We left Rome at 7:0 and headed to Tuscany. The landscape has changed to one of rolling hills divided by bushes. We made a short stop at the leaning tower of Piza & I was very impressed. You always see the tower, but there are two gorgeous buildings there. Overall the area is very touristy - some would say "tourist trap", but we enjoyed it even though some street vendors were pushy.

We then got on the bus and drove a few more hours to Florence. Our room is big by European standards; but the bathroom is tiny. However it does have shutters that open to let the breeze in. Very relaxing and peaceful.

After a few minutes to regroup we left for a nice dinner in the Tuscany countryside. The countryside is gorgeous & the restaurant quaint. We sat with a couple from Penn. and had a nice conversation. The wine was free and several o four group members enjoyed it. They were singing on the way back to the hotel and having a great time. It was really great and relaxing.

After we got back to the hotel we were ready to come to the room, but several people told us the view from the 5th floor was great & it was. We sat around, had a drink and shot the shit with people from our group for an hour a so. It was a great time. The group & being included in it was awesome.

Today was bien.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Italy Day 2

Journal - Day 2, 9/3/12

Today was our first official day of the tour and it was jam packed. We got up and had breakfast. It was was buffet and it was jammed with people. I wasn't very impressed with it. WE then loaded on the bus and were on our way to The Vatican Museum which is breath taking. Tapestry with gold weaved in, amazing paintings and architecture. Ceiling paintings that looked like sculpture. We then went into the Sistine Chapel which was so amazing. The room was smaller than I thought it would be, but the detail was exquisite. Peoples voices would raise as they spoke and then the guard would shout and all would quite down be quite again, then the cycle would repeat. It was rather humorous. I did fairly well today, only a couple of small moments of unease due to the crowds. After the chapel we left and went to St. Peters Cathedral. Again the architecture was amazing, the cross of Christ was there, but behind statues where you couldn't see it. To protect it I'm sure. It was amazing, the colors, the statues, the history. you could spend a month and not see it all.

We then left and headed to the Colosseum. I felt a little rushed, but it was still astounding to see. To think of men dying on the stones while others cheered, barbaric, and the fact they built it so long ago.

We also walked up, and saw the remains of the forum where the Ancient Greeks ruled from. The columns and relics still standing as a marker of history. We then came back, grabbed some pizza and Ice cream and took it back to the room, where we took a much needed nap as we did walk for 4 hours this AM.

Then we left the hotel again for the afternoon excursion. We went to the top of the Spanish Steps & walked down like all of the models do. The street is famous for shopping (Gucchi, Prada, etc...) We sat on the steps for a while & watched the people.

We then walked onto the Pantheon. It was also amazing to see the ancient structure in the heart of town. It also had amazing architecture and art work. Through the walk we saw various obelisk and monuments. WE also sat outside the Pantheon for a bit and relaxed. Once we did that we went to our last stop of the day - Novana Plaza. Tons of art work for sale, great buildings and generally fun.

We left there, came back to the hotel an grabbed some dinner. It was a great day. My feet hurt, but it was awesome.

*Journal After Thoughts

- Breakfast in Itally proved to be lacking. They don't generally eat it and it was absolutely horrible. But they make up for it with dinner.

- Sorry for all of the "amazings" I was tired and other words would not come.

- Pictures didn't turn out that great - too rushed and many places didn't allow the flash.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Italy Journal - Day 1


Well it is my first journal in Italy. It technically is a journal of two days for our journey began yesterday at 8 am.

We got up and went and had a nice breakfast @ Sunrise Grill; our new favorite place. We then made our way to the Augusta Airport. Our flight was scheduled to leave at nooon, but we arrived super early at 9:30. I'm always ok being somewhat early, but never late. We read, talked and waited. Luckily the plane left on time w/o incident and we were on our way. The flight from Augusta to Atlanta was uneventful and took right at an hour, gate to gate.

We de-boarded in Atlanta and went in hunt of the new International gate. It all went really smooth and then we decided to grab some lunch given the 3 hour layover. We went into the eating area and I got a little panicky - like I can in crowds; this typically makes me whinny and bitchy, lovely eh? We found a table off to the side and Jack told me to go get my food while he minded the bags. I went to Panda Express and really couldn't see for the crowd of peps - which made me edgy to begin within so I went back and told Jack "I want chow-main and on the entree surprise me." Chow main was the side dish. I also tol him I wanted a spring roll; so he goes off.

Mama comes back with her food and I'm sitting there relating to her that I could eat a horse when Jack comes back - he had 1 plate and this itty bitty box plus 2 drinks. I asked him "where is mine" and he said "this is it - thought we would share and if you want more I'll go back". Now keep in mind I'm bitchy and whinny at this point. I felt so deflated, he didn't get me any food. No of course he had and his way was really a better idea, but I didn't see it that way at the time. I was so irritated. It seems so silly now, and he really did do what was best, but there I was; eating my "share" of the food which had no chow-mein on it growling from the inside and hungry. He asked if I wanted anything more, but hell would have frozen over 1st so I said no. WE finished eating lunch - I guess - and went to the terminal to wait. I ate a box of our raisin reserves, go carry-on bags.

We then boarded the plane for our 9 hour flight to Rome, about 2 hours in I realized I was a bitch and apologized for such... The plane ride was very uncomfortable and I was seated between Jack and Mama with no room, but we are here now and looking back it wasn't that bad.

Once we arrived in Italy we swept through customs with no problem. He barely even glanced at my passport... and found our tour company. We then drove to the hotel where we met our tour guide Maria. She gave us some basic info, got us our rooms and set us free until 5 pm.

Now we thought we would go directly to sleep, but another couple (Doug & Carol) on the tour said the best way to get through jet lag was to push through and it made sense, so we did. We went upstairs to our room, got a shower, etc... and headed out. The three of us alone in Italy. It was fun, we wandered to see a castle (St. Angelo). We wondered along the bridge and took pictures of the statures. We said no to street vender's and enjoyed the whether. It rained on us a little, but it was all good.

By this time it was 1 pm and we were all really dog tired so we decided to wonder back to the hotel. I was also starving so we dropped Mama at the hotel, given she didn't want to go eat, and we went for food. We at eat this nice place - I felt odd as we just wanted a light meal to hold us over so we split a lasagna. It was good, not like the kind we at a home at all, cheesier/lighter and yummy. We then came back to the hotel and took a nap.

We woke up at 4 pm and got dressed, then went and officially met our group. We stat through a brief 45 minute intro and then headed to a nice dinner. We sat with an Australian Couple who were nice. The good was also good - mostly.

1st course, meet and cheese tray = ok, Second Course - Some Red Sauce Pasta & Green Sauce Pasta - Yummy, 3rd Course - Pork and Spinach with Salad = not so good, Desert - Berry Pie w/ boisenberries = Ick. But the experience was nice. We then went on a lighted tour of the city. Everything is so pretty with all of the old architecture. Much of it we will see tomorrow, but we did get to go see the Fountain of Trevi which was crowded but gorgeous. It was really a great day or well 2 days. Now I need my rest so I can start tomorrow fresh - so g'night.

End Journal 9/2/12

After thoughts - Just as a note the journal so I will remember.

* The tour guide - Maria - she was terrific throughout the tour. I really enjoyed her. She was always happy and just well great at what she did.

** Driving in Italy is crazy, they obey no laws and the streets are really tight. Our driver was awesome, however when he would get really close to something that she would see from the front she would say "oops" or "mama mia" it was so cute.

*** Cokes are expensive - between 1 and 6 Euros (1 Euro = 1.2 Dollars). Everything is more expensive over there. Their cost of living is outrageous; especially in Venice.

**** On Day 1 a guy at the Fountain of Trevi a guy offered to take our picture, he had a nice camera so I let him (My judge to see if they are going to run off with it), but Jack didn't trust him and watched him with his eye while we were getting a shot kissing (funny pic) and true enough, he handed the camera back to us and then wanted to get a picture we would "pay him for" - umm - no.

Jamaica Day 2 and Part of 3

I'm relaxed - I mean really relaxed and it feels amazing.  Yesterday after the post they showed us a new room and I was really undecided...