A Travellerspoint blog

1 million dollar entry fee, anyone?

Nice, Monaco and Switzerland

snow 2 °C

After leaving Italy its back to France to visit Nice for a few days which turned out to be a lot better than I wes expecting. I was kinda bummed that I was leaving Italy after really getting used to the siestas and extremely strong daily caffeine shots but Nice ended up being a lot of fun.

A few of us spent the majority of it wandering around, looking in rqndom shops and lazing on the beaches. Rock (or BOULDER) beach in Nice that everybody raves about - I consider it a mild form of turture. Not fun at all. But we did a day trip to Monaco which was only bout 20 mins away from Nice on the train and the beach there was beautiful - still rocks, but they were really small soft rocks so it was more like an exfoliation of the skin and I actually preferred these rocks to sand because they brushed off sooo much easier. We had such incredible weather too which made it even better. There were massive, extravagant yachts everywhere and signs for 'Super-Yacht' insurance everywhere as well...obviously quite an important thing? And the cars, oh my god. I dont think I saw one normal car at all in the entire day we were there...saw plenty of Lambourghinis, Porsche, Ferrari, Bently, Mercedes...no Hondas or Mitsubishi though, surprise surprise. We were told about all of this on our way in warned that its a tiny little independant country with a non-refundable 1 million dollar APPLICATION fee that Madonna couldnt even get let into...but it was still pretty incredible to be in the middle of it all. Very very cool place.

Switzerland wes eeeaaasily one of my favourite places, purely because of how beautiful it is. In actual fact, it is incredibly expensive and totally drains the budget without u even realising it...but the beauty really is breathtaking. When we rolled in though it was really cloudy and the rain clouds were following us in which made it about 2 degrees celcius for the first 2 days I was there and I could barely even see the alps but when the weather cleared the alps revealed themselves and they were fantastic - and it had snowed up high on the alps for those entire 2 days too without us even realising. A friend and I cqught a cable cqr up on the first clear day we had and then hiked up the rest of the way and all the way ACROSS some of the alps too, which was quite a mission without the proper gear that we probably should have had given we were trapsing through pure snow and ice. Then the next day I did something I never thought I would ever be able to do and went running of the edge of one of these alps..paragliding :) It was INCREDIBLE. I dont even know how to describe it. It was the scariest but most exciting thing I have ever done .. and I even got to steer it myself too. And YES I have photo and video proof for any of u who dont believe me cos im normally such a chicken n can barely jump a fence without crying hehe :D

Posted by rissajane 11:36 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Italy - The Best Place in the World

Florence and Cinque Terre (my fave place)

sunny 24 °C

Italy was officially my favourite place so far after 9 whole weeks of travelling around. Everything from the people, the fqshion and shopping, the quality food and wine, the stunning landscape and culture...all the way to the siestas where everything closes at the most annoying time and crazy Vespa drivers who own the road in a country with no road rules. Simply loved it.

Florence, to me, was pretty much shopping-central. Al,ost every street in the main centre of town was dedicated to shopping...First there were the many many rows of souvenir and leather markets which were really fun to wander aimlessly through checking out the goods; the stall owners pretty much did everything they could think of to try get ur attention and then lure u over to their stall - sometimes I think they enjoyed testing their english and would yell out completely inappropriate random things to le and then laugh at the facial expressions.

Then you had the usual mid-range clothing chain stores that were interesting to look through as well but THEN...there were the entire streets covered in huge designer stores - Tiffanys, Bvlgaria, Versace, Gucci, Christian Dior, Prada, Dolce and Gabanna, Hugo Boss. Had I not been on a strict backpackers budget like some of the richy rich elderly Americans walking around the place I would have been in absolute heaven. But of course on my kind of budget I barely felt I could afford to look through the windows of these ridiculously nice stores. Was very fun, nonetheless.

Cinque Terre were 5 amazingly beautiful little villages in the South of Italy, each joined together by a path that was 14km long and not so flat. My friend Lucy and I managed to score a really cute little apartment in the first village, Riomaggiore, with a nice kitchen, cute little shutters opening out onto the street above evryone, huge bathroom and a TV (only Italian channels of course, but you would be amazed how entertaining the italian version of Ready Steady Cook can be with a bottle of wine). It was easily the best accommodation ive had during the entire trip and happened to be one of the cheapest too so we were pretty pleased with ourselves hehe.

The main thing to really do in these little villages is the lovers lane walk so we started out by walking the 14km path between all 5 villages (more accurately described as strenuous hiking) which took a good few hours with regular stops for delicious gelato and semi-decent beaches or rock pools to cool off in. The rest of my 3 days and 4 nights in this wonderful place,in summary, entailed eating delicious gnocchi and pasta meals, drinking fine wine, eating too many Nutella crepes and gelato, sunbaking in rock pools in each village and hanging out by the marina watching the sunset each evening... listening to the nonas chatting wildly as ppl walked past - they sat out the front of their houses to do this every evening same time without fail..so cute. OH and of course i cant forget to mention the espressos - the nicest; strongest coffee ive ever had in my life..a very unhealthy addiction I developed during my month in Italy hehe.

Is it any wonder I was genuinely sad to be leaving everything Italiano

Posted by rissajane 07:01 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

3 Day Italian Adventure!

Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Sorrento, Ravello and Isle of Capri <3

sunny

The 3 Day Italian Adventure was so incredibly fantastic - to sum it up simply!

The whole thing started off a little rocky...sleeping straight through my alarm and almost missing the bus but from there things improved (and after an espresso to fix the morning mood!) We had a relatively small group which was good so we each got the double seat on the coach to ourselves to stretch out and lay down in the few awkward positions we have figured out over the last 6 weeks of bus trips.

First stop was Pompeii where we took a guided tour with this crazy little Italian man who loved to laugh at his own jokes a lot of the time which in turn made us laugh...at him. Good times. Pompeii was really interesting and it was good to have the guided tour as well to point out the smaller points and the history to it that we wouldnt have otherwise known - for example the fact that there are big penis' carved into walls and the road everywhere?! In fact I stubbed my toe and almost tripped over one! Apparently these were their version of arrows pointing towards the many many brothels that were in Pompeii back in the day. As if that wasnt weird enough they had seriously olden day porn on the walls of this almost perfectly preserved brothel that we were taken through and my god im not a shy person but I was happy to be out of there!!! Weird people they were. Overall it was very very interesting. Then I was just blindly following the group towards the bus to head on our way to Sorrento when we were taken into a room and some women were thrusting free limincello samples and chocolate limincello liquer into our hands. We didnt complain!!

The weather turned pretty bad that night in Sorrento, just in time for our night tour of the city and then dinner and drinks out so we were all trudging around in the torrential rain which wasnt so fun...but the dinner was lovely and the cocktails afterwards at the little pub we went to...lethal! So strong, so cheap and so good!! We ended up back at the campsite at about 2am ... and then up the next morning at about 6am for a full day of fun at Capri. Luckily the weather fined up again and it was sunny but still oh so cold.

Had I known I would find myself on a one hour boat cruise through Capri in really really rough waters I probably would have thought twice about a few of the cocktails from the night before!! It was so beautiful though, I have never seen water as beautifully coloured as that in my life. Luckily I have a strong stomach so it was only in the last 10 minutes of the boat ride where my friend and I were being thrown out of our seats as we were going over the waves that I started to feel sea-sick. Then onto Anacapri up further above the little town of Capri. Views were fantastic and the whole place was just full of incredible shops and possibly some of the best gelato we have ever tasted!

Then a mad dash to the ferry and we were back at the campsite a few hours later (after more shopping in Sorrento..again, dangerous) and we crashed in our little crappy cabin that leaked water everytime somebody showered and all our stuff piled onto our beds so it didnt get wet...worse accommodation I have been in yet!! But we were only in the cabins to sleep so it was quite bareable.

Our last day of the trip was mainly spent on the bus, jumping on and off and cool lookout points, travelling throughout Amalfi Coast and stopping at the little town of Amalfi and Ravello for much needed espresso and yummy breakfast. The Amalfi Coast was simply stunning!! It was the most beautiful place I ever seen and I had those brief moments where I couldnt actually believe where I was and what I was looking at. But the windy, incredibly narrow roads were a bit of a test...I feared for my life a few times when some crazy Italian drivers were speeding along and the bus would veer dangerously close to the edge of the cliff so that I looked out the window and struggled to see any land at all beside the wheel of the bus!! Scary. And again...I was grateful I have a strong stomach because I survived about 4 hours of the ridiculous mountain roads motion sickness free but was starting to feel it by the end of the trip. I was thankful for the long endless straight roads back into Rome!!

This was definately one of my favourite parts of the trip on the whole, it was incredible and the photos just dont do it justice (especially with my lack of photography skills).

Posted by rissajane 02:17 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Roma!

semi-overcast 24 °C

Well we were warned about just how dirty Rome actually is on the bus into the camping ground ( a 10 hour bus ride...not so fun!) and they were definately right. Maybe because the camping ground was located in the ghettos of Rome, the place was covered in graffiti and it was so so dirty. BUT...there really is no denying just how impressive Rome is! I couldnt believe it when I came out of the metro station and didnt even have to adjust my head height - I just came face to face with the Colosseum, its was incredible.

I took a long long walkin tour (very worth it bcoz i found rome a bit confusing to navigate around by myself) which covered off the Pantheon, Piazza di Venezia, Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill and a fair few other spots around the city too...with background info that made it all that bit more relevant. Theres even a cat sanctuary in the middle of the old ruins of the city and some ladies are actually paid to look after them and feed them...keep em happy in general - I swear cats run this bloody city!

Another day I spent about 2 hours in line for the Vatican museums which again, were well worth the time in the queue and the money to get into it as well. The Sistine Chapel alone would have been worth waiting 8 hours in a line for, it was BEAUTIFUL!! I didnt know where to look and managed to annoy plenty of people by stepping on their heels while i was staring up at the ceiling frescoes, amazed.

The camping ground was really cool to stay at, felt really homely because it reminded me so much of the old family holidays staying in the safari tents at the camping ground (far from rough-it camping!!) but 8 days was probably a bit too long to stay in one place, even Rome. And CATS...they were everywhere!! I would be sitting at the computeres catching up on emails to people and a cat who lived at reception and pretty much ran the place (big fat one like Astro in fact!!) would just walk over to my computer and lay its fat self all over the keyboard making it impossible to type. And it was also impossible to move it because clearly it does the rounds of the camp grounds every night being fed by every single person judging by its massive belly! Very cute though :-)

And after having stayed at the camping ground so long in Rome to join onto the Italian Explorer trip I sleep through my alarm for the first time since I was about 7 years old and manage to almost miss the bus completely...not a fun morning but the trip around the amalfi coast was one i was NOT missing!!

Posted by rissajane 02:11 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Beautiful Venezia

sunny 27 °C

Despite the occassional funky smells, man-eating mosquitos and the most ridiculous prices ive ever seen...Venice is still amazing!!! It was just so strange the first time we all went into the centre of Venice, jumping on an old waterbus and just watching the front of houses, shops and restaurants float by with their steps descending straight into water.
I was surprised though at how fast i got used to the city with roads of water and seeing absolutely no cars or motorbikes. Of course there were the massive hoards of tourists to make up for it and in Italy with the drivers being as crazy as they are I would happily take stampedes of tourists over the roads!!

As much as I wanted to go on a gondola ride of the grand canal they were about 100 euro which when u convert into Australian dollars makes it an even more ridiculous amount of money....and with the budget only getting smaller and smaller by the day I made the hard decision to pass on the gondola. Instead a lot of the time in Venice was spent wandering around the streets and canals, getting lost and drawn to every second shop that had windows filled with shiny and sparkling Venetian masks - I was in love!! I could definately had done some damage to the budget and to the Credit card if I had the room to get all of it home again.

But I resisted the temptation to buy absolutely everything my eyes landed on and found a tiny little shop just off the main San Marco square that was owned by 2 elderly Italian sisters. Jo and I got talking to them and they were telling us that all the art and the venetian masks in the shop were both designed by them personally and also handmade by them. They had the most beautiful drawings and masks I had seen since I had started exploring Venice and the shop owner gave me a beautiful mask she had made herself for really cheap, signed it for me, and guaranteed that I wouldnt see that design anywhere else in Venice because she had designed it all herself...and in the rest of my time in Venice looking at every shop I found I didnt find another one like it - so I was one happy little camper :)

AND THE FOOD...oh my goodness dont get me started on the food!! I had the most delicious Spniach & Ricotta Canneloni that ive ever had in my life at a little alfresco restaurant in a side street near the Rialto bridge...this was after about 2 hours of searching for food that wasnt going to require us to give up our first born child just to afford it! Ok, slight exaggeration but the prices of some of the restaurants were so disgusting and we simply refused to pay it...so 9pm and we were finally full, happy & satisfied!

All in all, for my first stop in italy it certainly did its job and made me fall instantly in love!! I suppose ill just HAVE to go back someday and have that gondola ride that I missed out on... :)

Posted by rissajane 02:26 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 16) Page [1] 2 3 4 »