Venice Is Too Wet

On my last stop in Italy before returning home, I’ve become rather homesick. I’m tired of wearing several layers of clothing and still being too cold to enjoy things, tired of being herded like sheep in tour group after tour group, listening to hours of Italian history (as fascinating as it is), tired of using Google maps to go everywhere and Google translate to understand descriptions on menus at Italian restaurants. And I’m just tired of hotels.

My last stop is Venice. Which I have to say is the least exciting city in Italy that I’ve seen. Although, as I’ve said repeatedly, this maybe because I’m here in the winter and it’s been rainy and cloudy in a city that pretty much solidifies the proverb “water water all around but not a drop to drink”. Literally stepped out of the train station and saw this.


Water. Boats. No roads. No cars. Had to drag our suitcases to our hotel in the rain. Now. I adore rain. But something about the feeling of being eternally soggy in this city makes rain much less appealing.

I found that the tiny streets and alleyways smell a lot like mould. And there’s millions of these tiny streets so lots of potential to get lost with water dripping from Windows and awnings above your head. Not the best.

And I know that gondolas are the icon of Venice and are romanticized millions of times the world over, but personally, I got sick on them. They’re not as sturdy as you’d think. The person rowing the gondola (I’m sure he has a technical title, but I can’t remember what it is) is extremely talented at maneuvering this vessel through the small canals between the buildings and ducking under bridges, but the feeling of travelling through the canals and seeing the mould and barnacles on buildings is not as romantic as one would have hoped.

Gondola and Basilica

Got some nice pics though!

Nobody seems bothered by the rain, also. The tourguide kept going even though there was a considerable downpour and puddles in the old pathways we were walking on.

Eugh. The whole city gives off this grey mood.

But I have to say, the food in Venice is amazing. Every restaurant I’ve been to here has made perfect pasta and pizza. Absolutely perfect. And the little shops have pretty interesting merchandise of glass and crystals worth looking at.

Sorry if I dashed anyone’s fantasies about Venice. It’s just I don’t like things being overhyped. This is just my view though. And as I’ve said, it might be more pleasant in summer when everything is not grey and miserable.

I am counting the days till I return! One more to go!!! Then I shall be flying back home over 3 days. Yes. Unfortunately new years is a difficult time to get short transit periods on airlines. So I shall be in the air on new years! Sigh. But it’ll be okay! I’ll be coming home!

Buon NataleĀ 

Merry Christmas to all!! And buon Natale is apparently merry Christmas in Italian! 

Yes I’m fluent in Italian now. 

No I’m kidding. I don’t even pretend to speak it. So. Sorry for my absence and lack of updates from Florence but it was an extremely tiring few days. The tuscany region including something called Cinque Terre is incredibly unexciting in winter. Nothing but nothing is open this close to Xmas. And that was immensely disappointing. Basically went on hikes where I froze to death and saw several things that looked the same repeatedly. 

Not the best time.

I am currently in Milan! Yes that’s right! The fashion capital of the world! Unfortunately, same problem. Everything closes by 7 and it’s freezing but NOT snowing.  My dreams of a white Christmas were dashed! But Milan is festive! The galleria and cathedral are lovely!

So! In order to get some white-ness into my holiday, we took a train to Zurich! It’s gotta be snowing there right?? Well…No. sadly. It was snowing in cities all the way to Zurich. But not exactly in it. That’s right. And it was Christmas eve. And it was a Sunday. Nearly everything was closed and the city was pretty dead. 

This was on the way to Zurich.

I did manage to have hot chocolate at this amazing place called Sprungli. It’s supposed to have the best hot chocolate in all of Switzerland apparently! Oh but they also had amazing chocolates in general. And the best macarons I’ve ever had in my life.

 

If you’re ever in Zurich, I definitely recommend this place! 

So it was a Merry Christmas after all!

Hope everyone else has a fabulous Natale wherever you are and whatever you do! :)) 

Findings In Rome

My last two days in Rome have been pretty great! Going on tours to all the different iconic places and learning all the stories behind them was so amazing. 

But also, there were some things I found in Rome that were particularly brilliant.

I went on a segway tour of Rome. This was without a doubt, the best way to tour anything. These gizmos are brilliant to move around a city where the traffic is ridiculous to drive in, the public transport is long and annoying And where walking is more dangerous than driving. After this segway tour, I began to question the act of walking to get places and see things. I plan to invest in one back home now. Very cool and very fun to ride.

In Rome, there is a street that is literally 2.3km of shops and boutiques. Definitely the busiest and most festive part of town. Lovely lights lining the road! Very cool.

The pyramid of Cestius! Apparently a lot of architecture in Rome was inspired by Egypt. But in particular, one of the kings in the early days was so taken with Egyptian architecture that he spent his own money to build a pyramid as his tomb when he died. I must say it was a rather queer sight in the middle of Rome. But quite interesting.

And you haven’t lived till you’ve had gelato in Italy. Handy tip from a Roman; if it’s genuine gelato, it’ll be served from buckets. Not trays like normal ice cream. The perfect gelato needs perfect preserving. It was amazing. Creamy and bursting with flavour. I actually had something called sour black cherry flavour and vanilla. Perfecto in every sense of the word. ^^

Finally, I had a huge tour of the colosseum. It really is a fantastic structure with such an interesting history.  Since it’s such an over-photographed monument, I’ll spare you from yet another picture of it. But something I found inside the ruins was this block. And the inscription on it brought out the med/pharm geek in me. xD for those who don’t know, Losec is the name under which the antacid omeprazole is sold. I am now convinced that the Romans suffered from GORD and during the shows at the colosseum, there was a stall with this block sign, selling Losec to people. Yep. I’m sure that’s what it was.

Overall, Rome was amazing! I am now off to Florence! Ciao! 

The Vatican

On my second day in Rome, the sun was out! It was a brilliant day and I had the chance to visit the Vatican.

It was so incredibly surreal to be standing inside and outside the St. Peter’s Basilica. The architecture and artwork in every part of that building was so humbling.

I’m not a particularly religious person. But once I was in the Sistine chapel, something about the energy and ambience there really filled me with faith and gratitude. Can’t really explain that feeling. But it was amazing.

Outside St Peter’s square, there was a big huge Christmas tree! Luckily I was there after dark to catch it being lit up. Very festive 

Got everything in view so that the tree could be appreciated properly. 

Lovely place, this.

Rome: First Impressions

Greetings from Roma! 

Landed in Italy at 5:30am after the most torturous 26 hours of my life. The long haul flight was absolutely horrific despite my attempts to keep occupied. And the food was awful. 

Oh God. They should never have come up with the idea to have people airborne for 17 hours. It just makes you sick after a while.

Anyway! Once landed in Rome, it started pouring with rain. And has been doing so all day. And the traffic is horrendous. I mean, the traffic here makes my complaints about Auckland traffic sound naive, ignorant and just plain childish. 

This is the view from my room at 6:30am.

It was packed and I have noo idea why. 
And it’s been rainy all day. We had a hop on/hop off bus tour organised today and basically all we did was hop on. The weather outside was so bleak that nobody had the motivation to get off to admire anything. 

And the photo opportunities inside the bus were few and far between with the amount of water splattered on the Windows. 

But overall the city is great. The architecture just oozes culture and history. I get the feeling it’ll be a lovely place in summer. I saw some of the major monuments I will be exploring over the next couple of days. 

Again, pictures are useless, but it looked like this.

Yay the colosseum! Believe me when I tell you that a picture does not do justice to the size of this structure.

Buildings everywhere have that ancient feel. This is some famous staircase. I kind of tuned out when the lady was talking about it. But I was more interested in the structures around it. 

It probably doesn’t look like much right now, but it definitely has potential. 

Hoping very much that it stops raining and starts snowing or something tomorrow.

Long Haul Flight Entertainment Centre

I’m off to Italy today!! 

One of the downsides of living in the southernmost corner of the world is that it takes forever to get to any country.

And Italy in particular, has me travelling for 26 hours in total. First on the new long haul flight that is 17 hours long. 17 hours!!! I keep thinking that half way through I’m going to get extremely claustrophobic. Stuck in a big tube with 200 other people. Eugh.

So. I have to keep myself entertained during this time. So I’ve packed a sort of survival kit.

1. My laptop. It has a few movies and TV shows I have accumulated over the years, and unfinished writing pieces that will give me something to do. But the battery life is about 4 hours. So must use efficiently.

2. My Oxford handbook and a notebook (not shown here). Yes, for a med geek like me, every idle opportunity is a study period! But having said that, it is extremely difficult to concentrate in a pressurised cabin with dropping oxygen levels. So I don’t have high hopes of getting much study done.

3. My kindle. This will be my saviour I believe. The device with the best battery life and a bunch of books that should keep me occupied for a considerable amount of the flight time. Gotta love the kindle.

4. My phone (with which I have taken this picture, and is symbolised by my headphones). It has songs. And videos and games that will keep me occupied also. Not for very long because I don’t like playing games on my phone anymore. But yeah to a certain extent.

5. A deck of cards. I’m travelling with my family. So the deck of cards is symbolic of interacting with them and playing games and such. Don’t know how good it will be as our seats aren’t exactly together. But we should be able to manage.

And last of all, sleep! Which is hard to do in economy, but if I force myself to, I should be able to succeed in killing a couple of hours by knocking out. Here’s hoping.

I sincerely hope the 17 hours will go by quickly. I hate plane food and the yucky air and the bathrooms etc. But the prospect of being in Italy soon should make this whole affair bearable.  Hopefully…
Oh well! I shall return soon with pics of my trip! 

Hope everyone has an awesome next few days!