Posted by: lindsaygoes | April 29, 2010

Venice, Cinque Terre and Florence

The day after Bled I was a bit stiff and sore – it was probably from during the canyoning when I slipped before I jumped into a rock pool and landed on the water on my back. Completely winded myself and my back was a little tender the day after. It seemed as though my backpack had doubled in weight! All better now though.

After Bled we caught a couple of trains to Venice. Stopped at a little town on the Italian/Slovenian border where we had an hour to wait between trains. Although we walked a little further than we meant to and just missed the train. Luckily the next one was half an hour later. Once we got to Venice (ok, we weren’t actually staying in Venice) we had gelato and then caught the train into Venice. We had a wander around and had a gondola ride, which as we had six girls in the boat, wasn’t terrible romantic, but lots of fun and the weather was beautiful! That night we had dinner on the canal which was lovely and I had a litle bit of pasta.

The next day was a public holiday in Italy and Venice was packed! We had a bit of a walking tour around and went into some of the back alleyways, where it was amazing how quiet it was without the background noise of cars. We finished in St Mark’s square which was much bigger than I expected and went into the cathedral which had the most amazing golden mosaics. Then we went and had some lunch and I had an interesting conversation with a drunk Finnish guy called ‘Becker’ who told us (although it seemed to be me in particular) that we should get out and see the world (yep…thanks) and that when he came to Australia he was going to make me kill a dingo and then I would have to eat the legs and he would eat the heart. Oh, and apparently I get to cook this delicious meal as well. Then we ran off and deliberately got lost in some back streets before doing a little bit of shopping. I bought a mask, which while light, is kind of big and taking up luggage space. Some of the masks stores were so gorgeous and the masks were amazing. We did see some that were over €1000!

The next day we had five trains to Cinque Terre which was an effort. Once we got to Riomaggiore where we were staying, our tour leader hadn’t been to the hotel before and walked us past it, all the way up a hill on a very warm day with backpacks on. Then we had to walk down the hill and up three flights of steep stairs to our rooms. You would have thought that after all this work I might be starting to develop some muscles, but not yet! Once we were settled in we had a walk around Riomaggiore, which was gorgeous. The views over the sea were just beautiful and the town had so much character (e.g hills and stairs).

The day after that we started walking the Cinque Terre. A few of us had breakfast at the second town, and even though the first part of the walk was easy, we were pretty hungry by the time we got to Manarolo (by the way, I might be spelling place names wrong in this and all my emails because I’m too lazy to check them!). From Manarolo the walk to Cornelia wasn’t too tough, although it was heating up and when we got near the town the stairs were pretty daunting. However, once again, the stunning views made it all worthwhile. In Cornelia we got Gelato and then it was off to Vernazza which was a fairly challenging walk. It was a fair bit of ups and downs, but also quite rocky so you had to pay attention to where you were putting your feet, although I was mainly looking at the lovely cliffs, and sea…but I didn’t fall over, just stumbled a couple of times. At Vernazza we continued the eating in every town thing and got some pizza overlooking the sea and also being amused by some teenagers on a school trip. Unfortunately it started raining while we were in Vernazza so we couldn’t do the final part of the walk to Monterosso. Ok, maybe we’d decided to get the train by that point anyway. So we got to Monterosso and had a bit of a walk along the beach, in the rain and got accosted by an old Italian guy called Renato who seemed to want a kiss from me. I’m now a running joke in this tour group! Once we decided we’d had enough walking in the rain we headed back to Riomaggiore, had a bit of a shower (we were pretty smelly after all that walking) and then waited for about an hour before we could get the train back to Vernazza for a delicious fish dinner. Mmmmm!

So now we’re up to yesterday. We got the train to Pisa, very busy but lovely. The tower wasn’t quite as tall as I thought it would be but we had fun pretending we were pushing it over and stuff and going into all the buildings surrounding it. Didn’t climb the tower though, bit too much of a line for our quick stop! From Pisa we continued on to Florence and had a bit of an introduction to some of the sites. We watched the sunset from the Piazza Michelangelo which was just spectacular. I’m so glad I bought an excessive amount of memory cards for my cameras before coming on this trip.

Today I thought I’d act as though I had a few days in Florence so I took it easy this morning, walked into the center of town and climbed to the top of the Duomo (463 steps). It was amazing getting close to the frescos on the inside of the cupola and then climbing between two layers of the dome. Once again coming down was lots of very narrow, winding steps with no handrails and really dark coloured stone. They should really have some seats available when you get to the bottom of those things. Then it was a bit of a wander around the leather market. Some gorgeous bags and jackets. I’m not sure if telling tourists ‘I like you’ is the best way to sell things. Also got asked by a random Australian woman if I could help her choose some necklaces for gifts. I must have that type of face. Then we went into the Basilica which was lovely and someone trying to get us to come into their restaurant offered massages. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t one of those massages, but still. After that we ate some lunch in a park, and now I’m staying out of the sun for a bit. Although it looks like I’m getting a tan.

Tomorrow we’re heading to Rome, where I’ve got five nights altogether so I can have a bit of a rest. This travelling is tiring!

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