Tag Archives: Italy

Day 28 – Interlaken to Milan

I got up and once again Mode was not, so I packed a bit and eventually shook him awake. He had accidentally left his laundry in the washer the previous night and had not woken up to move it to the dryer, and then when he check it it was all messed up because the washer hadn’t finished draining. Basically his clothes were all messed up, and then when he tried to use the dryer, it broke down. So because of all this we missed a train or two to Milan… it was a bit annoying since I was completely ready to make those trains. At that point I definitely felt that main issue of traveling with another person. You have to accommodate for their habits and also for twice the amount of mistakes a single journeyer would encounter.

Anyhow, as he was working with that I went off to get some breakfast at the supermarket and also picked up a really awesome swiss army knife. I felt that if I was going to get anything in Switzerland, that would be it. I got the Camper model which cost me about 23 euros. It included: Big knife, small knife, can opener, weird thing, toothpick, tweezer, and a SAW. The saw was what made me buy the Camper instead of the model below it.

Anyhow, came back and eventually got on the train. Switched trains in Bern. And finally arrived in Milan. When we arrived there I took a look at the map and decided, in my brilliancy, that it wouldn’t be unreasonable to walk to our hostel instead of paying money for the metro. So we set off, and soon I realized that the scale of the map was a lot lot larger than I had anticipated. So we continued walking. And walking. And walking. As I said, accommodate for two times the amount of mistakes. We must have walked about 2 or 3 miles to the hostel, and after making it we were exhausted. Our clothes were drenched with sweat. Put our bags down and took showers.

Despite being tired, we went out into the world. We got on the bus that the nice receptionist told us to take, and we planned to get off to see the famous Milan Duomo (the cathedral). Unfortunately, we did not see a clear stop to get off for the church, so we kept on waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the bus to get there, and eventually after clearly leaving the main section of town we decided to stay on the bus until it looped back around. And we waited, and waited, and waited and the bus just went into an entirely different section of the city. We had to get off and get back on the next bus, and once again travelled down to the main downtown area and got off at a reasonable place. Once again, mistakes.

By this time the church was closed, but we took some pictures and planned to go back the next day. We walked around and got some gelato, and then somehow found ourselves at a festival… a strange festival, something was a bit odd… oh, it was a gay festival. Anyhow, not really our scene so we turned around and found the bus again, and went back to the hostel.

There was an accident in front of the bus on the way back so we got off and walked a few blocks to the hotel. After getting back I hung around waiting for Mode to finish writing to his parents. They wanted a lot of information and he needed a lot of time to give it to them. In the meantime I looked through magazines and sort of watched this movie the kid of the owner’s was watching.

Finally Mode was ready to go get dinner, and we walked a while looking for this place just to find out it was a bit more pricey than we wanted, and found a nice pizza place instead named “I <3 Pizza". This was the first time having REAL traditional italian pizza. It was very flat and had a much lighter feel than American pizza. Much more raw and true ingredients. And then came back to sleep.

Day 29 – Milan to Florence

We got up and went out to do Mode’s laundry. That is, to throw it in the dryer to try to get it dryer. We encountered a crazy old lady who was trying to help us with the laundry, and I barely understood her italian. She told us to come back a lot sooner since the dryer’s time was a bit messed up. While we were waiting for that we went to the grocery store and got some food there. Then came back and the clothes were still a little damp. Whatever, we came back to the hostel, packed up and left. But first we kept our bags at the hostel while we went out to explore more of Milan.

We took the bus to the Duomo again, and this time it was open so we walked up the many flights of stairs to the top and walked along the roof. There was a lot of nice gothic details on the church which made nice pictures. After that we went over to the old castle, which was pretty much in ruins, and walked around the small park behind it. Interestingly, walking around we saw some anti-gay graffiti which must have been made in response to the festival we had seen the previous day.

We came back to the hostel and got our bags, got on the other bus and headed to the station. We weren’t sure what stop to get off at, but luckily this girl sitting on the bus helped us out. We started talking to her and it turns out she was from Brazil, traveling around doing menial jobs like working in fast food places. She was very nice, but soon left and we got on the train to Florence.

The ride from Milan to Florence was pretty scenic, but I napped a lot. We finally got off the train and made our way to the hostel. It was a pretty low key informal hostel, but nice. Marco helped us with places to go see and we put down our stuff. In the common area we met this girl who we soon regretted meeting. She was a chatterbox and would not. shut. up. She would go on and on and on about herself and her sorority and brother’s fraternity. It was a bit amusing because her huge obnoxious glasses had left a tan line across her eyes so she looked like an inverted raccoon. Well at the time we weren’t sick of her so she tagged along when we decided to go to the bridge to see some rumored fireworks.

Got to the bridge, Ponte Vechia, and there were all sorts of peoples, a musician playing various qualities of music, and it was all chill. We waited there for a while and it got dark and crowded. Suddenly there were fireworks! and everyone ooohed and aaahhed at them. It was pretty awesome. We also met this guy Isaac, who became an iconic figure for the rest of the trip. A legend, shall we say. Isaac was a guy from Austria who spoke pretty good English and Italian. He had a very Austrian accent, but not like the Arnold type accent. He was also a bit… weird. Some of his more famous quotes would be “Oh Ben, you’re so funny, iz so good to meet you” or “That’s amaizing!” He was a character. He also was kind of hitting on me, though claiming he wasn’t. I knew he didn’t mean anything negative and he really was a very nice guy, just a little weird. But we like weird people and told him we should hang out the next day.

We started walking back to the hostel but stopped to hang out in the Piazza di Republica for a bit. I got my white shirt a bit dirty and for some reason the stain hasn’t come out. We headed back, but unfortunately Isaac’s hostel was a mile or two from where our place was, so I tried to give him the easiest directions back to his place and he set off to find his way back.

Then we knocked out.

Day 30 – Florence

In the morning we went out and got patches at a nearby alternative store. I finally found something I liked and I didn’t even know what it meant, which was a Ducks Unlimited patch. Apparently, as I learned later, Ducks Unlimited is a hunting club of some sort. Even so, the name Ducks Unlimited, and then a picture of a duck, it’s just so cool. I put it on my bag sometime later, and did a pretty poor job at it too, but it fit alright.

After that we went out to the Duomo, which was large. Very large in fact. While waiting in line to go up the million stairs (million equalling 566 I believe), we saw some police pull up next to the line, a police man jumping out and running, and at the same time all the street venders immediately packing up and bolting out of there. It was a nice cops and robbers chase without guns and stuff, but pretty cool. Short lived, and no real action-like moment, but whatever.

Going up the stairs of the church there was a lot and a lot of graffiti. All over the place people had made their marks. But we eventually got to the top and it was quite beautiful. We could see almost all of Florence and got some great pictures. We were a bit tired so we just chilled up there at the top for a long time. Also at this time we saw a character named Dan-O who we would meet later on that day.

After deciding we were thoroughly chilled, we went back down. Then we walked around and eventually got back to the Ponte Vechia where we got some gelato and hung out eating our extremely delicious ice cream.

Then we came back to the hostel to find that Isaac (the Austrian from the previous night) had left us a letter! I wish I could transcribe it but I sent the letter home in a package a couple days later. It went something like this:
Dear Ben,
Hallo, something something sorry I slept in and couldn’t meet you guys at somewhere something something I went to your hostel and you weren’t there so I am leaving this message. I will stay here (scratch out) I will come back here later to see if you are here yet, something something, – Isaac

What was weird is he didn’t really know exactly where our hostel was, so he must have looked around for a while trying to find it. Not sure how he did that, but it was kind of a funny letter with broken English everywhere. We had missed the time we were going to meet him in some place anyway because we were across the city at that time. Anyhow, we laid around the hostel hanging out with Marco and also met these two girls from somewhere. And all of a sudden who shows up but Isaac and PSTFU girl! We then encountered two more guys who were actors in the US. So we had a full entourage ready to go to dinner and we had heard about an amaizing restaurant near the central station, so we went there. Unfortunately the two girls said they would meet up with us later and never did, but it sounded like they had a good time.

So we went to this restaurant, which all I can remember name wise is that it had a vertical green neon Ristorante sign and underneath said Pizza al Legno (wood oven pizza). We went in and were greeted by this very friendly older man, and soon seated deep into the restaurant. The food there was absolutely amazing. Delicious times a million. True Italian food at its finest. We filled up and decided afterwards that Mode had to pay rent by a certain time and so we decided to meet back in front of the station in a little bit.

Did just that, and when we got to the station who was there but Dan-O! Interesting guy with some Nightmare Before Christmas tattoos and a few interesting stories. We all got up and went over to a bar in a plaza a few blocks away.

Strangest thing happened at this bar. One of those weird cosmic coincidences that you find every now and then, and more often while traveling. We were standing in line for a pint, and a guy behind us in line started talking to Mode. He asked him how much the price was, and then they both noticed the looked a bit familiar… “Is your named Pramodh?” “YEAH IS YOUR NAME PRAMODH!” wtf? wtf! wtf. They loudly and excitedly had found each other, and the whole bar witnessed this momentous event (though few understood what exactly was going on). The story here is that these two, freshman year of college, were searching on the social network Facebook. Apparently the only other person of the 2008 class named Pramodh was this guy who went to school in Ohio. Of course they friended each other because the name Pramodh (with that spelling) was pretty rare and a good thing to friend someone for. Three years later, these two people meet in a bar, in Florence, halfway around the world. Crazy right? Right.

So we chilled outside the bar. They talked. Hit on some girls. Mode gave a girl his terydactyl toy from Interlaken. We stayed in the plaza for a long time but started getting hungry, and the bar closed, so our group of people (of which many had left but some had stayed) left in search of another bar or some food, whichever came first. We then proceeded to walk around Florence for a long long time. We finally found a bar that was open, but by that time Mode, Dan-O and I decided we cared about food more, and luckily the bartender girl from the other bar was kind enough to tell us where (the only) kebab place was. We went there and got some amaizing kebab. Everything tastes amazing late at night and with an extreme appetite. We took our freshly made wraps to the nearby plaza with statues and sat down right in the middle of the square and ate. Not too many people there, but oddly enough it was the crossroad of Florence because the other guys soon joined us and left, and Isaac wandered there very drunkenly and left, and a really hot girl on a bicycle rode by and asked for cigs, but left when we had none.

Dan-O wanted to try to get into his hostel, which had a curfew so we didn’t have high hopes, so we walked over to where he was staying and luckily he got in. Said our farewells and headed off to our place to fall asleep ourselves.

Day 31 – Florence to Rome

It is always so hard to write a few of these entries in a row. After finishing one it seems like such an accomplishment than I want to sit back and take a break before starting another, but I know that break will expand into another day of writing. Really what I have to do is not look at anything and just start typing. Once I’ve started typing up one of these, I get on “The Roll” and it just flows out. It’s like drawing a continuous line on a piece of paper, but not looking at the paper so when you finish drawing one bit and pick up the pen, you have to look back at the paper to put the pen down at the end of the last line. Makes sense? Capisce? Yes.

Anyhow. We left the hostel with our stuff and went to the supermarket. I stood outside holding Mode’s water while he got some stuff, and then he went to the 1 euro store to get me a new lighter. Not that I smoke, I just use the lighter when people ask for a light because you would not believe how useful it is. Also Mode had lost the last lighter which was traded for a box of matches in London to the Estonians.

We went to the station, and decided that because we had a Eurail pass, we didn’t need to make a reservation. Which was a bad idea because apparently, even if there are seats available on a train, you NEED to make a reservation on some trains. So we were oppressed for not having tickets and had to pay more than usual to cover that. Anyway anyhow we got to Rome, got on the metro and went to our hostel. But the hostel had a lock out until 4 and we had got there at 2:30 or something, so we waited outside the front door playing was. An odd side note – We were sitting there minding our own business when all of a sudden, a bag of trash flew out some window and crashed behind me. I say crashed because there was glass in there as well. Just a bag of trash, flying out of nowhere, and landing there. A bit startling.

We finally got in when someone opened the door and asked why we didn’t ring the bell. We said because they were closed, but apparently there were still people there. We got in, took showers, and rested. The ladies who owned this hostel were really friendly and almost acted like surrogate mothers. They gave out popsicles to their guests and really tried to help us find places on the map.

We went out to do our laundry at a nearby laundromat. When we bought soap to put in the washer it exploded in my hands and got all over, but most was salvaged. While that was running we explored the area. It was strangely quiet, and we found some crappy pizza for lunch. Went back briefly to move the laundry to the dryer, got some drinks, and then chilled at the laundromat. I took a small snooze in the chair there, and then it was done so came back to the hostel.

When we came back our two other roommates had arrived. One was named something, and he was from Brazil, and the other was named Cristobal, and he was from somewhere. The Brazilian guy knew very sketchy English and I tried to talk to him as well as I could, but it was very difficult. But I think we got along and that was all fine. Mode and I then decided to try to get to a restaurant named Cico’s and Pepe’s (not sure on the spelling), but when we got there it was completely full, and there was a mob of people hawking free tables. So we walked back looking for another option and found another Pizza al Legno place. This one had a few celebrity pictures and had a friendly atmosphere, and the food wasn’t too bad. We then walked back to the hostel.

Here is where we disagree, but Mode thinks it was this night that we met the friendly Mexican girl. I think it was the next night. Nothing too significant or a story to tell about that, but she was there at some point.

Day 32 – Rome

I guess I should mention for the record that we had a LOT of ice cream in Italy. It’s all over the place, and it’s so good everywhere you go, so it is a necessary evil that you subscribe to the whole time you are there. Some people might think pasta and pizza when they think of Italy, but they really should be thinking ice cream.

We got up and took the metro to the Colosseum. The huge arena where gladiators fought things and people got killed by animals. Arena means sand, and there was sand on the floor! That’s a bit of trivia for you guys. Anyhow, we found an excellent deal, which is all around Rome, which is 1 euro for 20 postcards. A fine tourist trinket I can agree with on price and value. We then stood in the Colosseum line to get tickets, which was a long line. There were many lines in Rome actually, and this was the first of those many. We walked around the Colosseum, explored its ins and outs, read the few plaques around with information, and took pictures.

Then we went over to the nearby ruins. Viewed the ruins, walked around, took pictures, tourist stuff. There were some really nice redone marble columns. And real olive trees! We found a headless statue, and I climbed up the back and we took a picture with my head replacing the statue’s head. It was grand. We went to a small museum where there was large artifacts. A short funny incident was when we walked into this one room and this Korean woman saw us and immediately grasped her bags which were sitting next to her. I guess we’re intimidating. Anyhow, we also walked by the large area where Ben Hur was supposed to have taken place.

Then we got some food, sat down and ate it. We then rode the metro to the one of the few fountains in Rome, and it was very crowded with tourists. We found a place to sit down and chilled there for a long time. Took a funny picture. Then got up again and walked down a very large street, stopping in a music store, and then got to a large square. We sat down in front of a statue of these three people (can’t exactly remember the story of that statue, but it’s a famous one), and some guy approached us saying he was taking photos of himself recreating the scene in statues around Europe and asked if we could pose for this one. So we did, and it was quite funny.

After that we headed back to the hostel, and decided we would try again to go to Cicio e Pepe’s. Fortunately we got there early enough to grab a table. I had some really great Risotto and Mode had the Spaghetti Carbonara. The second part of the meal, which I think I had a salad for, was really not that great and I wish I had ordered something more substantial, but money is money. We walked back to the hostel with full stomachs. When we got back, a few people decided to watch a movie so we all watched The Prestige, which was an interesting movie with a big twist at the end. It’s a bit interesting to think about how the movie would have been different if they revealed the twist at the beginning. One way or other we went to sleep soon after that.

Day 33 – Rome

I’m not in the mood to write the journal right now… but I will write it anyway. That’s your dedicated journalist right there. There is a cause, and no matter what mood I’m in, I must strive to help that cause, and the cause in this case is bringing stories of my travels to those less fortunate. That whole paragraph was filled with interesting word matches. Except for maybe the second sentence and this last self-referential part.

We got up and headed to Holy Country, a.k.a. Vatican City. But apparently immigration lines are extremely long, even in the small countries. So we stood in a line that stretched at least 5 city blocks, and not single file. It was kind of like standing in line for Disney rides, except Disney lines are longer because people care about Mickey Mouse more than Jesus these days. This topic was noted at the time. So after what seems like years we got into the Vatican, which was strange because I half expected them to check passports. Not quite that kind of country I guess. Bought our “visas” (tickets) and went into the museum area. Walked around looking at all the cool pictures and statues. There were lots of statues. In the middle of one courtyard there was a strange decomposing brass sphere. I claim it’s a time machine that the Vatican built so they could control the world. Then went into a hall of statues where we could obviously tell the statues’ guitars had been taken away.

There were lots of pretty things we saw along the way to the Sistine Chapel, some that were actually more impressive. But the signs that pointed to the Sistine Chapel kept on going, and going, and going. Finally we got to the giant hall, flooded with tourists, all trying to take pictures of the ceiling. It was not lit very well, so of course everyone’s pictures probably came out as blurry as ours, but there it was, the magnificent paintings we all have seen all over the world. There was even that small crack that you notice. It really does exist!

Exited the chapel and headed off to the extremely overpriced cafe. Bought some cheap things and sat down next to some other Americans. But oddly enough, when they got up to leave they left a lot of leftover food. So much was wasted! So we decided to be activists and eat some of their leftover food. How could they buy stuff that expensive and leave it all? Psh, Americans.

Next we went to the San Pietro, a giant cathedral with light coming in at very cool places and interesting designs here and there. Went up to the top to see around Rome from a heighted perspective and then went down into the actual cathedral. Kind of a flood of tourists roaming around. We heard some choir people singing too. After that we left the Vatican and chilled at another large fountain of Rome. This fountain had a fish like things. Got some food. Also, there were these guys selling magnet noise makers. I’ve seen these annoying little dohickeys (the technical name) at my mom’s office before, but here they were being sold all over the place and made such a pervasive and terrible noise. It got old. Fast. We went to the other fountain and they were there too.

The other fountain was the one we went to the day before; the one with Poseidon. When we were there we randomly met up with our brazilian roommate, and another guy who was Kenyan. The Kenyan guy talked a lot to us, and I didn’t really understand all the stuff he was saying, but I think it was in English. He was nice though, and apparently knew a lot of people everywhere. Told us some history about the fountain. We had a good time.

After a while we decided to walk back to the hostel. It was a long walk, but we did it. Along the way we stopped at a restaurant for a small bite to eat, and talked to the owner a lot about various things. Then walked the rest of the distance back to the hostel.

Day 34 – Rome to Naples

Unfortunately there was a period of three days which we never outlines, and those three start at Rome to Naples, Naples, and Naples to Biassa. I’ll try to recount them as much as possible, but there’s probably a few (more) little things missed in these next three journal entries.

We got on the train from Rome to Naples. Pretty self explanatory. It was a train to sleep on mostly as I remember. When we got to Naples we got the subway to the station we needed to get to, got off and found our way to the hostel. As soon as we got out of the station you could tell it was Naples. The street were trashed, there was crazy traffic, and people conversing everywhere. It wasn’t that bad when we first saw it, and I still was quite impressed. But don’t let this translate into me saying I had a bad impression of Naples. On the contrary I loved the atmosphere. It was so lively, so active and exciting. It almost seemed like you could film a good action/drama movie just by shooting real life there.

The hostel was completely different. Lazy, clean, seemingly slow paced and completely relaxed. It was completely different just a few meters away. But it was amazing. Really nice, very well designed and they even had a concert that night.

We decided that we would go out and get dinner to cook. We bought some pasta, meat, and wine and made a wonderful pasta with hamburgers on the side. It was very good, and filling, and the wine (though cheap) was a great friend to the other food.

After that we sat around talking to people at the hostel and listened to the musician that came to play, Mr. Milk. I was tired (and the guy’s music was really sleepy to me) so I went to bed, but Mode stayed up and chilled with people a bit more before retiring.

Day 35 – Naples

This day we decided to go find somewhere other than Naples to go to because a few people told us Naples was not worth exploring, and also I had a real desire to go to a beach. So we decided to get to Salerno. Had a bit of trouble finding out which train to get on at the station, which caused me to get in a bit of a bad mood, but we eventually found it.

The coast wasn’t too hard to find, and we had to decide between going to the beach on our left and going to the beach on our right. We decided left at random, and headed down there. We stopped to get some food, and got a pretty bad sandwich… or was it a bad pizza square. Either way, we continued down and eventually made it to this small-ish beach with some kind of volleyball tournament happening. We picked up some cold slushies and watched the games a bit. Then walked along the beach and experimented with the suction power of the sand on our feet. As we were leaving Mode ran into some guy he had met the previous night and they had a moment. Got some gelato… Then we walked up and down the main dock area and relaxed there for a bit too.

Back on the train, everyone was putting their hands and heads out the windows, which no one had done anywhere else we had been so I was excited and also stuck my head out the window. It was really refreshing and I pretty much did it the whole way back. Also there was a billowing curtain next to me and when I sat back in my chair it flew on top of my head and just kind of waved on top of my face, which Mode and I found to be absolutely hilarious for some reason.

When we got back we walked around Naples a bit. We headed down some really small streets and experienced that absolutely crazy personality of Naples that was so interesting. Scooters plowed through people, and you couldn’t quite tell if people were having arguments or talking normally. One of the small things that happened was there was a kid with a watergun and he was shooting at things, and he pretended to shoot at me but his mom wouldn’t let him, but I was waited for Mode to check something out and told him to shoot at my feet. He seemed pretty surprised about it, but did anyway. Anyhow. We checked out two food places and went to the second, who’s name I forget but it supposedly had been around for 30 generation. The food was amazing. Truly good and not that expensive either.

We headed back to the hostel and found a group of people there to hang out with in a circle talking about various things. Soon enough we went to sleep.

Day 36 – Naples to Cinque Terre

I’ve been stuck at this day for a while. Simply because I don’t feel like updating it, but I know I should since at the moment I am behind about… 32 days. Most of which are outlined, so the events shouldn’t be that hard to recall. It’s just putting them in story format which should be that bit of work. And I wonder what I’m on vacation for if I’m just working again.

We left the hostel and got on the metro to the train. We couldn’t use the ticket machine for some reason so the nice guy just let us go through without it. Got to the train station, and got the train from Naples to Rome. Went to switch trains, but as we got to the platform a guy wearing a blue shirt and a cap came up to us and asked to look at our tickets. He looked very much like a conductor or official train person on first sight, and after glancing at our tickets he said “Oh your train is about to leave!” or something like that. He told us to follow him and started running off. At first I thought it was a bit strange because everyone else was just kind of walking to the train, but it all happened so fast and we were like “What the hell?” and just went off after him, half jogging to keep up. After a little while I started to get the idea it was a scam, but still went along with it. The guy got us to our exact room, and the people in there kind of looked at us oddly, and could tell what was going on. We put our stuff down and kind of sat down, and the guy held out his hand. We didn’t really do anything, and he said “Tip?” and so I grabbed into my back pocket and pulled out all of the small change I had, which was maybe around 1.40 something euros. Handed that over and told him that was all we had. “No no no, five euros.” We reiterated that was all we had, sorry. He looked a bit pissed off and left.

And that was just our morning!

The train ride was fairly uneventful, but nice scenery. Just almost dropped and messed up the laptop, which would have been a bit tragic. Anyhow, on the train we had a few discussions about Blues Brothers. This will be important later on.

We got to La Spezia, and had a little difficulty finding the bus stop to Biassa, where our hostel was, but we found it. The bus though was a bit late, so we started talking to this other girl who coincidentally was waiting for the same bus to go to the same hostel. Her name was Amar and she was from Jordan. We got on the bus and easily got to the hostel, which seemed to be very pleasant and in the middle of a small town which was equally as pleasant. Took showers and decided to go out for food, and we brought along two other girls we had met, Natalie and Angela from Ohio. We went to a local pizza joint, but it was absolutely busy and we had to wait forever to get pizzas. We met two other guys who were fun to talk to but they never really entered in the story again. After eating some pizza we went to a nearby bar where we got something to drink, and went over to the town’s plaza area to attend a concert/festival they were setting up. It was really cool because this small little town had put together a few vendors with crafts made, and some musicians of the town got together and started to play rockabilly music. All the youngsters of the town (and probably some from the nearby areas) were dancing in the middle of the square and having a great time. These kids were probably from around 2 to 9 years old. Mode, Amar and I stood and listened to the first band which was really great. And they played Blues Brothers music! The second band had something wrong with the microphone and it wasn’t as great, so we left. But it was a really great time.

At the hostel we hung out some more, and we learned that they had Blues Brothers on tape! We got all excited but found out the VHS was broken, so instead watched the rest of the Borne Identity which some other people had put on. After that we went outside to play Ping Pong, which I relearned my fine tuned skills fairly fast and could beat Amar easily. She had even played semi-professionally as a kid! Mode seemed to be more evenly matched with her, and the night followed being very chill. Then we all retired to bed.

Day 37 – Cinque Terre

And now for the day with Cinque Terre. This is a string of five small villages along the coastline of North-Western Italy. So many people told me to go to this place, and here was my impression.

We got up early to reserve bikes, because I thought they might be all rented out if we did that later. The bikes seemed alright, but maybe needed a bit more air in the tires and some work on the gears. After reserving them went and took a shower, and then decided we’d all go out for breakfast in Biassa. So Amar, Angela, Natalie, Mode and I went out, found a market with some fruit, and also found a little hidden bakery where we got some amazing bread. Oh, and at the fruit market I got an orange and peeled my amazing Orange Man. It’s something I do with oranges every now and then. We went back and got the bikes, although Angela and Natalie took the bus to Cinque Terre. We said we might meet up later.

We started to ride off, but the gears on Amar’s didn’t work so well, so I took it back and replaced it. While biking back the chain on that one slipped off, so I had to fix it. Finally we were all set and started off. It was a bit slow, because Mode hadn’t ridden a bike in years and was having a bit of difficulty figuring out the gears and biking uphill, but we made it to a long tunnel and got a pace down. After the tunnel it started to go downhill and it was a lot more relaxing. The cool sea breeze flowing through our hair, and the nice vineyards covering the hills. It was really relaxing and we stopped for a few pictures. A short ride later and we were already in the first town, Riomaggiore. At that point we decided that we couldn’t really successfully explore Cinque Terre on bikes, so we locked them up and decided to walk.

We went down into the town, which was a really nice multi-colored small village with loads of personality, but the issue was the tourists. Tourists were scattered over this place like flies. It was a bit annoying, but I guess when everyone is told about Italy’s secret jewel, it doesn’t become a secret anymore.

I almost bought some wine but the shipping costs were far above my price range. We decided to move on down the first and most famous path, the Via Dell’Amore. There was lots of graffiti everywhere, but it was a really relaxing and beautiful walk along the coast. We got to the next village fairly fast too. It had some good looking restaurants so we bookmarked it in our minds for somewhere to get dinner. Each of the towns looked fairly similar, but had a unique layout and maybe some specific sights to see.

We again walked to the next one, which after a short hike required walking back and forth up a really steep hill. The third town was very touristy, and also higher up than the rest. There was a place to get some pizza snacks, of which Mode got a lot, and after eating that we decided to take the train to the next town. A train line connects all five towns, which is convenient for when you’re tired of walking. We went down to the station by a shuttle (so we didn’t have to go down the back and forth path). The train was very late, but while we were waiting we saw some kind of even where a helicopter was lowering something onto the nearby hill. We took a couple guesses about rich people needing specific fruits from a rare plant, or maybe someone got stuck on the hillside. Not sure, but by the time the train came the helicopter was still going between the hillside and some far away base of some sort with a pole-rope thing hanging from it.

Took the train to the next down and walked down to the wharf. Surprise surprise we found Natalie and Angela there! And also another guy which Mode had met the night before, I think he was from Seattle but Mode says he was from San Diego. I’m right of course. I don’t remember his name being
Asher, but supposedly it was. We got some gelato and walked around the town a little before decided to head off on the hike to the next town.

This was a long, long arduous hike involving ups and downs and stairs and stairs. We talked a whole lot the entire way, which was really nice and in retrospect it seemed to fly by. We got to a lookout point where I saw some people walking across a valley and said we’d be there in about an hour from then. It really took us about 20 minutes. The whole hike lasted around 2 hours, maybe a bit less. As we were walking down some steps near the end, a dog came the other way and just casually was walking up the steps like he was just another person. Anyhow, it was all good times and good conversations and we eventually made it to the fifth town. Lucky for us, the sweating hot exhausted hikers, this town had a beach and water to go with that beach! We went down to the waters edge, and me (being my usual self) just jumped into the water with all my clothes on. It was so worth it, but let me just point out I was wearing pants and a shirt. So I came out of the water soaking wet, put my shirt out to dry and waited for my pants to drain out. Surprisingly no one else went fully into the water. Maybe just stuck their feet in a bit but that was all.

After chilling on the beach for a while, we went back to the second city via the train. And though I was still a bit moist in the pants, we had an amazing dinner with all sorts of seafood dishes. I ordered the Seafood Pasta, and it came with all sorts of fun and interesting things like clams, shrimp, calamari, and full miniature octopuses! Very delicious and interesting to eat. After that we decided to go back, but we had to get to the bikes in the first town so we walked back along the Via Dell’Amore. We got our bikes, but Mode and Amar didn’t want to bike uphill all the way back so they decided to take the bus with Angela, Natalie and Asher. I decided I would race them back! Smart thinking!

What then followed was about an hour, maybe two hours, riding all the way back to Biassa. Uphill. On a bike that was a bit crappy, but usable. I rode my bike… the entire way… the entire. way. back. All the way. Yes, it was long. Very long. And yes, I made it. I got back completely exhausted and tired, but I was feeling good, and relaxed outside talking with people for a couple minutes before falling into bed.

Day 38 – Cinque Terre to Ferry

We got up a bit later than I wanted to, so we missed the shuttle to La Spezia. After calculating it out, I figured that we would also miss the train if we waited for the next bus, so instead we called a taxi. The taxi driver was really extreme in his driving, which was exciting and thrilling. We got there pretty spedily. We also paid a lot more than what the guy at the hostel said, but it was alright. We got on the train to Civitavechia, and that took a long while. There weren’t any available seats at first glance so we sat in the aisle. There were some German girls playing with some Italian kids in the compartment next to us. That was cute. Also the mother did this really cool trick with a dry pen where she huffed on the ball point and rolled it around in her hands and it magically worked. I’ve tried this trick on dry pens ever since and it has worked really well. Not sure why… magic probably.

The train stopped for a while, something like an hour. Supposedly there was an incident, but I couldn’t really understand fully what was going on. After we started moving we sat for a while and then the ticket guy told us there were free compartments further down the train, so we grabbed that and played music. Eventually we got to Civitavechia. It was a little bit difficult to find the ferry but we eventually did after asking at deserted station. Got on a bus and got to the station. After a small bite to eat we waited for what seemed like forever to board the ferry. There was a few interesting people to watch while waiting though, and I ate a bag of candy which was really hard to stop.

It was pretty chill at first, and there were lots of levels. Up at the top there was a nice wind, and we got some drinks to sip up on the top while watching the sun go down. We stood/sat on some metal compartments and chilled. We got a small bite to eat… I think… oh, some really terrible microwaved pizza square. After a bit we headed back down into the sleeping area, stretched out on a few seats and went to sleep.

Day 79 – Ljubljana to Venice

pain in stomach almost gone
in the morning i was missing the yellow bag
in the reception, but receptionist wasn’t there
finally after a while she returned (she was so cute)
bus to station (a bit crowded) and almost missed stop
got the train to venice
got off train and followed instructions to the bus
went to campsite
hungry so got some kebab
started raining
met english girls under tent, katy and erica
went into venice with them
got lost, but saw all the great sights of venice
found a lot of cool shops
mask shops
st marco square with pigeons
bought some wine at a store
decided to go back
kind of got a bit lost, and eventually retraced our steps to get back
got bus and came back to the campground
concert with ok singing guy
drank a bit there with the girls
went to bed

Day 80 – Venice

got up
SHAVED with two blades
relaxed by pool
did laundry
read a bit of moby dick
hung out with girls again
jumped in for a little bit
finished laundry
gathered under tents
started to rain
hard rain, flooding almost
after a bit we went into venice again
pretty much did the same route with girl from california
bought postcards
didn’t find gondola ride
had dinner near place where we bought the wine (small lasagna)
tried to find wine
found it at shop on the way back
came back to the campgrounds
drank again, at table of toga people and these two australians
a whole bottle of wine for myself
sold the australians the weed from amsterdam
got really really tired from all the wine and went to bed

Day 81 – Venice

got up and showered
went to the market and got some breakfast
sat around the tent and chatted
mode and i went into venice early (around 12)
went to the train station to get tickets
walked around the northern area (more touristy)
bought mask
got some really good ice cream
chilled in a park
went to the doge’s palace
cool weapons
gun swords!
walked back, bought leather book, perfect
while waiting at the station briefly talked to some other guys waiting for the bus, and probably found the first canadian i wasn’t so keen on
met people at the bus station
tried to find gondola ride
waited in one place, but no one came
went across bridge to find guy, bargained
gondola ride
really relaxing
pointed out palaces
told a little about gondola stuff, his family, his travels
really short, maybe 30 minutes
tried to meet with other girls in square
fed pigeons two packets of seed, not as exciting because it was later in the day
jumped and they all spread a bit
went to find dinner – gnochi
guy was hitting on the girls
got a free shot of sweet amaretto because it was our last night
sang to frank sinatra with mode
met with jake from santa cruz
headed back to the bus stop
walked around and got a little lost
came back to the campsite
people smoked at the tents
relaxed with franziskaner
once again got really sleepy
went to bed
woke up a couple times
lots of noise then the ausies came back to the tents

Day 84 – Munich to Ancona

went back to the hostel
sat at the fire and guy kicked us out
sat on a nearby bench
starred off into the stars
talked and reflected
mode talked a lot more than i did
walked along
got stuff together
headed off to the station
met some german people on the way back from the hospital
mode socialized
sat in the waiting area and got kicked out
sat at burger king, got some fries
weird police incident
felt really really shitty
got postcards
went to platform
after a bit, mode left, said bye
harassed by munich police
searched everything
almost missed train
train to verona was fine
then realized that the train from verona to bologna was missing… it was late or cancelled or something, so got the next one
train to bologna, little ancy…
only chance was if i got the train from bologna to ancona that arrived at 18:40 to catch the ferry at 19:00
but that train was booked, so had to take the local train which left in 4 minutes
caught it
train to ancona
italians around me being very sociable and fun spirited
really beautiful down the coast
lots of beaches
of course, missed ferry
arrived at 19:45 about
went to information and asked them about a hostel
went to hostel
really really sketchy
open front door and no lock on the room door, nothing to prevent stuff being stolen
walked to ticket office, closed but wrote down times they opened
walked back
weird german guy
weird argentina guy
went out for food
weird indian guy
chicken tikka and beer
into the city
no discotecks
met with guy from greece and his friend at plaza republica
walked around
asked people at the fountain, said no
i left
went back to the hostel
went to sleep