This post is a long one since I was in Italy for a wonderful 10 days 🙂
Day 56: I didn’t have a normal charter bus leaving Zagreb, we had a mini personalized bus that only fit about 16 people, including the two drivers.
We were about half way to Venice and it was gorgeous and sunny, like really sunny and warm almost 20 (Celsius)! We took a lunch break and I took off my jacket and put on my sunglasses. Then I fell asleep back on the bus for maybe 15 min and woke up in the thickest fog I’ve seen!
There was a girl from South Korea on the bus who’s hostel was near mine so we decided to take the water taxi together which was interesting for someone who gets sea sick. We briefly talked to a local who told us it was the first day in 2 weeks it was foggy and was most likely to stay, we missed the sun by 1 day! Once we reached our stop we decided to meet up a little later to explore together. We found a couple gondola…. tours? And they had an accordion and opera singer! It was really cool to listen to/ watch as they went down the canals.
After walking around we found a grocery store, the only food around seemed to be extreme tourist traps, looked way too over priced and not that good. SO we headed to the grocery store and went our separate ways.
Day 57: As usual I found a free walking tour and our guide was great. As well as the information because Venice was never meant to be a city, so it didn’t have the generic historic town hall and fancy statue that most tours do. She talked about the 125 islands that make up ‘the fish’ (only tour guides call it that) and she had a lot of great little facts which are probably what I enjoy the most. We also went to a famous book store that has books in bath tubs so when it floods (which Venice does often in the winter, they have tables/ boards they place in the middle of the main streets to walk on. They also had a book of tourists stuck visiting during the flood season and not knowing what to do so walking down the street bare foot/ guys carrying girls over their shoulders haha.
She told us that most buildings have been restored and how they have been because they can’t be build out of concrete or iron because they move. That the ground is mostly fossilized logs under everything to create more support,they can’t have open fires (all the houses are made out of wood) so the pizza isn’t as good, how the water is rising an average of 20mm per year! The day was also even foggier then the day before.
I was also kind of adopted by a lovely older couple in their 50’s from Oregon during the tour. After the walking tour the wife, Juanita, offered to take me out to Tapas and they got a bottle wine for the table which was really good, my first Chainti! After tapas we went to explore the city some more, we saw the famous Reale bridge and found this funky stair case someone built so their horse, yes I said horse, could get to the 5th floor with them. By then it was already getting dark again so we headed back to St. Marks square so they could see the basilica and I headed back to my hostel.
There was no one on my floor for most of the night which was a tad strange after the prior night but it was nice because I was able to skype friends from anywhere! My room, the lounge, or the kitchen.
Day 58: I got up and headed off through a still very foggy Venice by foot this time for what was going to turn into a very long day.
I never figured out why but we got severely delayed on some of the back roads. NOTHING was moving any where. I had both my books underneath but definitely should have kept them in my purse. I felt so bad for the people who were going to Rome/Napa because they still had at least another 3 hour bus ride AND we ended up being 3.5 hours late to Florence so the time doubled from a 3.5 hour trip to a 7 hour trip.
Then I couldn’t find my hostel and no one seemed to be a local who I asked so could point me where I was on the map. It was looking pretty dim until I asked a younger couple and they said to follow them and they’d show me the way!
I was so sweaty and gross by the time I made it to my hostel I was relieved to have such a nice room. I was in a room of 4, there were two girls from Canada, Emily and Sarah, and Bud, a 70 yr old man from the states, divorced 3 times, who had sold all his belongings and told his kids he’s be gone for 2-3 years traveling.
I showered and headed off to find some late dinner since I hadn’t eaten lunch being stuck on the bus. I spent the evening getting to know Emily and Sarah and we made plans to check out Florence’s free walking tour the next day.
Day 59: The walking tour wasn’t that great but it was a good way to see the city. We grabbed some lunch which turned out to be really expensive because I had gotten a simple salad! But it was worth it, I hadn’t had a salad since Amsterdam…?
Then we walked across the Ponte Vecchio (bridge) and accidentally wandered into the botanic gardens which were gorgeous and gave us some great views of the city and was in general just entertaining to walk through.
We spent a good couple hours exploring the gardens then headed off to get some gelato. It was SO good. Then we got a mini bottle of wine to take to the top of Piazzale Michelangeo which had the best view of the city! It was especially gorgeous at sunset 🙂
Day 60: The morning was extremely cloudy and the girls were off to explore some of the museums since they were History/ Art History majors so I took a day to catch up on my blog. When the girl got back we headed off to grab some dinner at a place that when you purchased one drink you basically got a buffet included! And it was really good food too, and they kept bringing out more, we didn’t know what half of them were but we kept going back because they were all so delicious! When we got back to the hostel we headed to hostel bar since it was a Friday night but it was SO dead. We just enjoyed each others company then chatted with some other girls from Chicago until they closed it down.
Day 61: Luckily the day was sunny so we headed off to see the Dome which ended up taking the whole afternoon! There were SO many stairs and for the main one we had to wait since they only allowed a certain number of people at the top at one time, which makes sense since it was so small. That’s literally all we did all day was visit the tower then the Dome. I am so glad I had people to do it with thought because otherwise standing in line for the Dome for over and hour would have been a tad boring.
For dinner we decided to check out a more local place and splurge. However, before going out we headed to the roof top terrace/ pool/ bar of our hostel, however the last two were closed but we had a great view of the city and shared a bottle of wine.
I meet a lot of nice, interesting, and fun people while traveling but I couldn’t remember the last time I had laughed so hard I couldn’t breath and my abs even started to hurt! We were sharing another bottle of wine at this point but we had a lot of great conversation.
The bar was once again closed at the hostel but Emily and Sarah were leaving the next morning so we went back to the hotel to finish off our last bottle of wine (We’re not alcoholics I swear) and played some card games then had a dance party in the hall since Bud was sleeping.
Day 62: I had given myself blisters walking so much with my new boots and had seen most of Florence twice so took the day to relax, I didn’t get as much done as I had planned to but it’s always good to relax and skype people 🙂
Day 63: Whenever I tell myself I’m going to have a couple of down days to REALLY catch up on things, it never happens.
I was the first one to my hostel which was very small. I played Goldilocks and the 3 bears and found the perfect pillow off one bed, perfect bed frame that didn’t squeak and was by a socket, then a perfect mattress! But about 10 minutes later the owner came in and asked me to switch rooms haha then I got to do it all over again!
My first roommate was another girl from California, Heather. She was what I use to consider the average backpacker (I’ve now learned there is no such thing) very nice, open, laid back, wearing intricate designed loose pants, a comfy sweater, and dreads. She said she wanted to explore the city and that honestly sounded way more fun than sitting in my room most of the day, so off we went. We grabbed lunch, some Gelato, and checked out the leaning tower. Now we could say we’ve seen all of Pisa haha
Over lunch I learned Heather does a lot of woofing, she spent a year doing it in California with her dog and she just finished a month on a horse rehabilitation farm. She said it was the hardest work she’s ever done and most isolated, most of the other workers didn’t speak English so she was really excited to meet another native speaker haha
We headed back to the hostel but grabbed some wine and food from the grocery store, more pasta of course. Wine, dinner for 2 nights and breakfast for 2 mornings cost us each $5 euro. I love shopping with people in my hostel.
In the kitchen another hostel mate from upstairs came in to make his dinner and we all started chatting. Taylor was also from California and in Italy for an undetermined amount of time. I later found out he’s one of those super motivated people. He went to pilot school in Hawaii just cause, went to South America for 6 weeks to learn Spanish on his own which turned into 6 months. He’s in Italy now to improve his Italian which is already pretty good, and is headed to a Yoga retreat in Spain afterwards to get certified as an instructor.
We spent the evening drinking wine and chatting when Taylor disappeared to grab his guitar then we started singing. Unfortunately since the hostel was too small we were too loud. SO we took to the streets where another guy from Dublin joined us, we snagged some actually pretty tasty Oranges from a neighbors tree, and sad on the street till we all got tired.
Day 64: Heather was off that morning so Taylor and I decided to check out Viaregglo which she had recommended, about 20 minutes by train away at the beach.
For Ryanair (my flight the next day) you need to print the boarding pass, so instead of stressing about it the next morning we decided to look that morning, it came in handy Taylor knew Italian because he had to ask about 4 different people until we finally found a place. After that we headed to the beach, it was an over cast day but I wanted to walk through the sand and put my feet in the water, it wasn’t as cold as I though for November but still damn cold. We pretty much spent the entire afternoon walking up and down along the board walk. We DID find a gelato shop that a nutmeg/cinnamon delicious christmas tasting gelato that is by far my favorite. Except we had no clue what it was and forgot to take a picture to translate it.
Back at the hostel we both still had left overs to cook from the previous night so bought some wine and threw all our ingredients in together. It was bomb! Veggies, fresh egg plant, sausage, cheese, and pesto.
Then Cameron came in, a Canadian who had been working on a wine vineyard in France for the past month and was also received to find native English speakers. Eventually when we ran out of wine Cameron decided to go find a bar, we found one down the street that would be open for about another 20 minutes so the boys grabbed another drink but the night pretty much ended with us eating oranges, drinking, Taylor playing his guitar and getting yelled at by locals for being too loud too late.
Day 65: As I was packing up I realized I had lost my camera lens! Which was weird because I hadn’t used it the whole time I was in Pisa. Taylor, Cameron and I walked through the city again before I head to head to the airport since they hasn’t seen the leaning tower yet. After trying to help Cameron take a photo of him kicking over the tower we grabbed some more gelato (did I mention I had gelato about every day I’d been in Italy?) we headed back to the hostel to grab out bags.