A Travellerspoint blog

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First night in Florence

storm 19 °C

The Italian buffet was pretty good for what we paid.. Leah definately got her money's worth lol. We heard about a place that has cheap bottles of wine and when we FINALLY found it, it wasn't in a very touristy area so it was pretty interesting.. we polished off four bottles of wine and our bill came to 10 euros lol can't really beat that. Florence is so much smaller than Rome so everything closes early but we finally found a place to grab some pizza, had another drink and then headed back to our room. As soon as we got back we all passed out and I was rudely awaken to rain pouring down on me, I love our hostel room, its a 6 bed room with a little terrace and skylights.. however I didnt realize the sky light is RIGHT over my bed and there was a huge storm outside, thunder, lightning and pouring down rain... and the skylight was WIDE open lol all my stuff got soaked, after I finished moving my bed and all my stuff while trying not to wake anyone up I couldnt fall back asleep cuz the thunder was SOOOO loud. Anyway finally fell asleep woke up this morning and had to be out by 11am.. lockout is 11-2 for cleaning so we headed out and went to the museum and saw The Statue of David. Got a little lost coming back to our hostel, while trying to find anywhere open to buy groceries, absolutely everything closes on Sundays and Mondays here. So frusterating, so we bought the basics for pasta from a small little convenience store lol. Just got back to the hostel gunna shower and cook dinner and do some laundry... bye for now :)

Posted by courtney21 06:06 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Florence and camping

overcast 27 °C

So I haven’t updated my blog in awhile, haven’t had much internet access. We ended up spending 3 days in Florence (june 20th-23rd). We met 3 people from Toronto at our hostel and ended up taking the train with them on the 22nd to Pisa for the day. Saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa and walked around a little bit. Ate the most delicious pizza at a little café for lunch. It’s so much cheaper once you get out of the main cities. Probably paid about half what we would have for the same thing in Florence. Took the train back around dinner time and broke out the drinking games back at our hostel. Hung out til about 1am and then went to bed seeing as we had to be up early and pack all of our stuff to go camping. We woke up and packed all our stuff, said our goodbyes and went to catch the bus to the campground. Took the bus about 45 mins into the countryside to Il Poggetto campground. It was a beautiful drive through all the little towns, all the greenery and rolling hills were so pretty. Nice to be out of the city for a little while. We got our little cabin for the next 2 nights but decided the cabin and the pool area were so great we would stay 3 nights instead. We had to walk about 2 kms to the nearest bank machine but didn’t mind the walk, all the houses are sooooo pretty and everyones just sitting on their terraces with their dogs saying “Ciao!” as you walk by. Exactly how I imagined Tuscany. We hit the market on the way back and picked up some groceries for dinner and some wine. Made some pasta and had a Big 2 tournament when we got back lol.
The next day we got up and laid by the pool most of the day, started to get a bit stormy so we checked out the internet to change our train reservation since we decided to stay an extra night and to book our hostel in Venice, our next destination. We came to realize Venice is SOOOO expensive, so we changed our itinerary to 2 nights there instead of 3, booked everything and then made some dinner. We heard this is the place to go horseback riding so we called and booked that for the next day(june 25) too.
Sheena wasn’t interested in going horseback riding so Shannon, Leah and I woke up at 9 to catch our shuttle to the barn. It was about a 40 min drive, stopping to pick up a couple from Holland on the way. The whole way we were hoping they were healthy, strong horses… lol they weren’t! Pretty skinny and so old lol afterwards she told us that Shannon’s horse Hollywood was 6 years old, my horse Cerveza was 21 and Leah’s horse DeeDee was 20! We thought they were literally going to die of old age the whole ride. It was still a beautiful ride though, through the countryside, we saw sooo many animals, ducks, geese, dogs, cats, chickens, roosters, goats, cows, lol but best of all the loudest donkeys in the world lol too funny. We had a couple scrapes and bruises from going through the bush but it was still fun. My horse got feisty towards the end and bucked twice and kicked two other horses but I think he just has had enough of life lol. The ride ended up being about 2 hours and topped it all off with a cold beer at the end. Headed back to the campground and made some lunch and the sunny was beating down by this point so went to the pool for the rest of the afternoon. We all ended up falling asleep in the sun, so relaxing. Grabbed some more groceries and wine and ordered a pizza from the pizzeria at the campground. Pretty much inhaled the pizza it was so good and played some cards and had a few drinks. There was a party down around the pool so we headed down there and listened to the live music and had a few more drinks. Nice way to end our time at the campground.
We woke up to pack up everything and clean the cabin. Once this was all done, as soon as we got outside with all our gear, it started to POUR rain, and I mean like monsoon lol. So we all dug out our backpack covers but Shannon didn’t seem to have one so the maintenance man helped up improvise with a huge garbage bag lol. I was the only one with a rain jacket too. We came to realize the woman at reception had told us the wrong time for the bus back into Florence, so we hoped on the maintenance man’s golf cart and raced to the road to see if we could catch it but figured we had already missed it. We waited for a few minutes to make sure it wasn’t late. Nope, we for sure missed it. So we had no choice but to wait for the next one an hour and a half later in the POURING rain, and then possibly miss our train. Until, I had a genius idea…. Let’s hitchhike  Never thought I would do that on this trip, but it was the middle of the day in a small town, there’s four of us and we were going to the only destination from this town anyway. And missing our train was not an option… so out our thumbs went! Leah and Sheena stood out on the road while Shannon and I tried to keep all our gear dry. They were having no luck, so we switched and first car that drove by after Shannon and I got out there actually stopped! We couldn’t believe it… He was a sweet older man named Giovanni that didn’t speak a word of English, but was going to Florence and though he’d give 4 soaking wet backpackers a break. We were sooo grateful! Crammed all of our stuff in the back and were on our way. None of us could really believe we were hitchhiking in the Italian countryside haha Anyways, made it into Florence and tried to give the nice old man some money but he refused, got out and helped us with our bags and was on his way. He couldn’t take us right to the train station so we made the long walk here, grabbed a bite to eat and are going to catch our train to Venice in about an hour. So that’s the update on the last few days, sorry I’ll try to make them a little more frequent! Love you guys!

Posted by courtney21 01:14 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Venice

sunny 24 °C

So we arrived in venice at around dinner time on june 26th. Checked into our hotel (we had to splurge on a hotel here cuz everything is so expensive why would u stay in a hostel when a hotel is the same price!) Its right near the train station which was nice since we were only staying 2 nights. We dropped our bags and went to explore the VERY confusing streets, allies and canals on venice. Got totally lost more than a few times but didn't mind cuz we just discovered a new part of the city. Had a few drinks and met some locals who informed us that there's not much nightlife in venice u have to venture out to the surrounding islands to party. We were too exhausted to do that so decided next night would be go time for venice. Didn't sleep much that night. There was the loudest thunder storm we've ever heard for about 9 hours straight. Woke up to rain so bought some umbrellas and went shopping. The sun decided to come out in the afternoon so we went to san marco the plaza on the water. So beautiful they have full orchestras playing as u stroll by the ocean and over the canals. Went to the train station to reserve our seats to cinque terre. Found out it was not an easy destination to get to and knew it would be a brutal travel day. However this was still our party night lol so went and raided the liquor store and went back to the room to shower and put our faces on. Headed out about 11 and took a very romantic gondola ride through the canals. Had a great time with our driver guy lol made him sing to us even! After our ride was over we found out the island we were going to go to was closed due to the storm. So we hopped on a boat to another island not knowing what our plan was. Long story short ended up at an amazing beach party on Lido Island. Quite eclectic I must say. There was hippies, lesbians, gays, old people, young people, high people lol interesting to say the least. Met some guys from the states that turned out to be from our hotel and partied with them. Ended up making it back to the room at about 5am. Needless to say woke up at 830 draggin our butts to pack our stuff. Went and had a bite at the free breakfast included with our room. Filled our purses with food and headed for the train.

Posted by courtney21 07:21 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Venice to Cinque Terre

overcast 24 °C

So we knew we had a long day of travel ahead of us. We had to take a 3 hour train back to Florence, switch trains and take another 3 hour train to La Spezia then switch to a short train to Monteggerio, the first town of the Cinque Terre. Well the first train was great, it was a Eurostar train which is air conditioned and nice and roomy... great 3 hour trip back to Florence. Get to Florence and have about 45 mins between trains so we grab a bite to eat and go to the platform to wait for our connecting train. Well here comes the oldest, dingiest, regional train. We're thinking like okay, can't be THAT bad. Oh it was bad. I literally wanted to squirt my hand sanitizer all over my seat before I sat down lol. On the regional trains you can open all the windows so we attempted to make it a bit more comfortable since it was 30 degress with no AC and sweaty Italians everywhere lol. Didn't really help too much. Anyways, Ill stop complaining because I know im so lucky to be here and it was just a 3 hour train from hell out of 2 months of amazingness lol. So we got to La Spezia and hopped off just to hop back on the next train right away, same deal, stenches of I don't really even wanna know were wafting around lol but only had an 8 min ride to our destination. FINALLY made it to Cinque Terre and soooooooooo worth a long travel day. Cinque Terre is 5 towns in the Italian Riviera built into the side of the cliffs along the ocean. Everything is built upwards, its crazy. What was also crazy was hiking up the steepest street, and then like 500 stairs and another hill with all our gear on our backs! Only downfall of such a unique way of building a town lol. After the feeling of "I actually think I might have a heartattack" passed, we arrived at our little villa that had an amazing view. So once again, all worth it. These towns are all very small, mostly one main street with everything you need and that's about it. So we unpacked a little, showered and went to explore our little home for the next couple days (making sure nobody forgot anything and unecessarily had to hike back up to our place lol) Found the only little bar in town and had a few drinks and met a few other backpackers. We were told it wasn't a very touristy area, but along with all the locals there were quite a few tourists and backpackers. We decided we were going to hike the 5 towns the next day so got a couple opinions on which way to go about it, whether to train to the 5th town and hike back, or start in our town and hike all 5 and take the boat back. In the end decided to hike there and boat back. Upon making this decision, we all decided to stop our alcohol intake at that point lol. Everyone's stories of this brutal hike told us it was bedtime. So we headed to bed to get some rest to conquer this thing. Woke up and headed out pretty early, from the first town to the 2nd was a breeze as I wondered what everyone made the big fuss about. By the time we stopped for lunch in the middle at the 3rd town I was a little tired, but still good. By the 5th town Monterosso, honestly had to look down every few mins to make sure my legs were still attached to my torso. It was the most intense hiking I've ever done from the 3rd to the last town. Like straight up steps and then straight down and up and down, ended up taking us 6 hours including lunch to finish the thing. But it was again, so worth it. Had some gelato when we finished the hike and caught the boat back to town. We showered and made a great meal with lots of fresh meats, and cheeses and bruchetta and pesto, their local markets have the freshest groceries its so nice. Went out for what we thought would be a glass of wine, but ended up closing the bar down, bringing our plastic cups to the marina and finishing the night there with a few people we met. Woke up and cleaned the place up and checked out around 10. Grabbed some breakfast and fruit and sandwiches for our train to Milan and made our way to the train station. Needless to say, we were a little hungover from the previous night, and not thinking quite right. So we hop on the regional train just to Monterosso to connect with our train to Milan, sit down, don't even take our backpacks off cuz we're getting off right away, and along comes the woman checking everyone's tickets. Well its a big rule in Europe with your Eurail Pass to write the day of travel on it BEFORE they come to validate it. Didn't even think about it and she says right away shes charging us all 50 Euros ($90) each. Not the friendliest woman ever, and we thought for a minute she was going to confiscate Leah's pass. But in the end we tried to be as nice and polite as we could and she only charged us 50 Euros for all 4 of us. First bump in the road of they day is over. Get to the train station to see on the news that there was a huge train derailment in La Spezia where we came from 2 days before and 15 people died. So trains cancelled and and delayed everywhere. In the end our train was delayed 2 hours, but we finally made it to Milan at around 6pm on Tuesday, June 30th. Leah and Shannon's friend Hannah has been in fashion school in Milan for 3 years and is graduating this week, and was nice enough to invite us to stay at her apartment for the week. So her and and her boyfriend Yari met us at the train station and took us by metro to Hannah's apartment. Relaxed for a bit, grabbed some food at about 1am and went to bed. Spent all the next day shopping, not surprised how great the shopping is in Milan. Haven't bought anything this whole trip, but found a few great things in the first store lol. Everyone is so stylish with their Louie's and Prada's. Back home you know they're all fake but not here! We're all in awe of Hannah's closet. Anyways, finished shopping and met up with Yari and his roomate Nikolas for happy hour at a pub near the city centre. You pay 7 Euros for a drink and then get all you can eat from 6-9, best discovery ever! Food was amazing and were STUFFED for 7 Euros. Yari's friend owns a bar down the street so after dinner we made our way there, ended up spending the rest of the night having drinks there. I had the worst migraine Ive ever had, so I wasn't really enjoying myself, til Yari left and got me some kind of headache pills they take here (I now call them magic pills lol) Got rid of my headache and we had a great night there. It's like an outdoor pub, really relaxed and good music. I have to mention the ambulance that pulled up and we thought they were there to pick up this plasted guy sittin on the street maybe, but we were wrong... all 3 of the paramedics walk into the bar area, light up smokes, order 3 beers, down the beers in about 4 mins and then dance back to the ambulance like that's freakin normal! We couldn't believe it, like I prayed to God after that that I don't get sick or hurt and need an ambulance here. Crazy Italians! Anyways took a cab back to Hannah's apartment around 3 and went to bed.

Posted by courtney21 03:02 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Milan

all seasons in one day 25 °C

Thursday June 2nd was Hannah's fashion show. She's graduating from her 3 year fashion design program at the Fashion Institute of Milan and had her last fashion show on the 3rd day we were in Milan. She had to leave her apartment early to get everything ready at the venue, so we just hung around her apartment most of the day. We got ready and went for a happy hour buffet and met up with Yari, Hannah's bf at the pub. Got to the venue at 8pm for the show and Yari's roomate Nickolas, who was also graduating from the program, met us there. The show was amazing, Hannah's collection was beautiful. The theme the students got was "Evaporating Salt Lakes". How you design clothes from that I have no figgin idea, but everything was sooo amazing. There were 24 collections all together. Hannah's was the best by far. We had some champagne and drinks after outside the venue but the mosquitos were totally unbearable. I've NEVER seen mosquitos like that, so we got outta there before we went crazy, literally picture hundreds of people slapping peoples backs, faces, legs lol just to get the lil buggers. Anyways, left there and went to a castle one the other side of town for a free open bar party. Had a great time there, all the drinks you can drink, hammocks hanging everywhere, great dj's spinning... we just kept looking around and not really believing we were partying like this in a castle! lol first for everything.
Next day was Hannah's actual graduation. We woke up and made some breaky, and then headed to her school. and met Yari and Nickolas there again. Sat through the cer emony which was great, but would have been better in English lol.. They had a great reception after with all the food and drinks you wanted but the best part was when all the
students in their gorgeous outfits jumped in the huge fountain in the courtyard and started a waterfight. It was so cute! We left there and did a little shopping and grabbed some food (at another happy hour buffet, best discovery EVER!) then went back to the apartment to get changed. All the grads were throwing their last party at a club called Amnesia on the other side of Milan. Hannah said this was her favorite club so we were all curious to see what a club in Milan is really like...... it was CRAZY. They listen to all trance and house music and the club was soooo packed. Everyone but Leah and I drank a liiitttlllee too much lol so we didn't stay all that late. Once we finally caught a cab that would take us all we went back to Hannah's (only making a few pitstops for the people that drank too much lol) and passed out.
We'd been planning on checking out this festival outside Milan called Free Tribe, so we dragged our butts outta bed eventually lol and packed up to go for the night. The festival is in Navara, the town Yari and Nickolas are from so we all loaded into 2 cars and headed there. Shannon, Hannah, Yari and Ofere were signed up to play in a basketball tourny once we got there so we hung out all day watching their games, drinking and layin in the sun. There is all kinds of sport tournies set up, volleyball, basketball, soccer, and sooo much food, skateboarding, graffiti contests, awesome DJs at night, so much stuff, and it's Yari's friend that started it 3 years ago. So Nickolas' family still lives there and they have a house that's vacant that nobody uses so he was nice enough to let us stay there for the night. But not so nice to tell us it's freakin haunted right before we get there! This house was crazy, it was from the 1400's and soooooo creepy. Probably wouldnt have been so bad if he didn't say it was haunted, but we still all 4 of us decided to sleep in 1 bed lol even though there was like 5 beds for us. It was a beautiful house, but nobody had lived there for a long time so it was dusty with spider webs and creaky floors and ya... just straight up CREEPY lol. So he showed us around and then we all showered and got changed and he came back to pick us up and headed back to the festival where we ate some dinner and had some drinks. Hannah had never played Beer Pong and we all wanted to show her how at some point, and weirdly enough I met a guy at the club the night before and he was holding a ping pong ball (dont ask I dunno) and I convinced him to give me the ball so we could teach her how to play beer pong. So the fesitval was the perfect opportunity! There was a huge covered area with tables so we pulled one aside and set the game up to teach her and you would think we had the cure to cancer or something! Everyone was so curious about what we were playing that huge groups of people were crowding around our table wanting to play lol. Had a great time teaching her and then went over to the music stage to listen to some of the DJs. Danced forever cuz it was such great music then headed back to the house. I made sure to have a few drinks in me right before we left or else I knew there would be no sleep for me that night, creepy ass house. We all snuggled up in the one bed and after a few creaks of the floor and some blowing curtains with the windows CLOSED we managed to fall asleep lol. Woke up the next morning and ate some yummy pastries for breakfast and then Nickolas decided we would love the lake so him and Yari dropped us off there for a few hours. Kind of reminded us of Cultas Lake but way more beautiful. Water was perfect cuz it was roasting hot out. Hung out for a few hours til they came back and we headed back to the festival. Of course realizing once we got out of the sun everyone but Leah was burnt to a crisp lol especially Sheena. So worth it though! They played in a couple more basketball games to finish the tournament and then we laid on the grass and watched some soccer and volleyball and had a few beers. Got some dinner right before a HUGE storm rolled in. It pourrreedd rain, to be following with lightening and thunder, so everyone was havin a great time under all the tents and stuff but we had to get going cuz it was already 10pm and we had an hour drive back to Milan, not to mention in the pouring rain now. So we got all our stuff together and headed back to Milan. The storm only got worse and once we got back into Milan the roads were starting to flood. Made it back just in time, the guys came up to Hannah's apartment for some coffee and then we said our goodbyes since we're leaving tomorrow for Switzerland. So that was our 5 days in Milan. Just startin to pack up our things now and onto the next place!

Posted by courtney21 16:34 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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