Today was an early start. First on the agenda – Vatican City. Vatican City is the smallest country in the world and is full of nuns as you would imagine. We were lucky enough to have a tour through the Sistine Chapel, where photos are prohibited. The paintings on the roof are astounding! It’s a must see if you are in Italy.
After the Sistine Chapel the guide took us to St Peters Basilica where we saw Pope Francis himself. There was a marching band and thousands of people hoping to catch a glimpse of the man in white.
Last on the Roman agenda was of course the Colosseum. As we headed to the Colosseum we first saw Palatine Hill and the Roman ruins. It’s so impressive considering people were believed to be 120cm tall and did not have power tools.
We got tickets down the street for the Colosseum which meant we didn’t have to wait in the two hour line! It was AMAZING. It was mind blowing. The stairs are huge and so steep but it isn’t hard to imagine how it would have been many years ago.
24 hours on a ferry tomorrow and then we will arrive in Greece.
After finishing up in Florence we jumped on the bus to head for Rome. As soon as we arrived we began a four hour walking tour. That’s right FOUR HOURS of walking!!
First off the list of must sees was the famous Spanish Steps. These were really cool to see, they kind of reminded me of the steps in Gossip Girl only a million times more crowded and their was no Blair Waldorf telling everyone where to go, just a sea of people wandering.
Next on this list was the Trevi Fountain. I was so incredibly upset. This was on my bucket list but while we were there it was all scaffold and no water. It was covered by a glass barrier and looked nothing like what movies let me fantasize. I guess it just means I will have to go back one day. I still threw my coin in though, over the barrier, into a pool of concrete… I had to.
So far we had walked 6 kilometres in 2 hours and by this point my unfit legs are broken shoes are begging me to stop. We had a quick half hour to sit down but instead of resting Blake and I quickly grabbed some pizza and discovered the Pantheon, which is free! It was really beautiful and helped me to appreciate the rich European history. I found it interesting that a hole was left in the dome meaning draining systems needed to be installed in case of rain.
We also visited Piazza Navona and Piazza Venezia though we didn’t stay due to protests. More excitingly we caught our first glimpse of the colosseum but that’s a story for next time.
We moved on from Pisa and headed to Florence. Florence is a beautiful city one day I hope to go back there and spend more time. There is so much to see in the city and out of the six countries I visited in Europe and numerous cities I have to say this is one of my favourites.
Our very few hours in Florence began by our very talented driver literally trying to squeeze the bus into the hotel drive way which was blocked by several cars that had to be moved. Not only did he manage to manoeuvre a crazy tight corner but he reversed it!
Once we jumped off the bus we began a quick walking tour of the city. Our guide was very entertaining he walked fasted and loved to say ‘Chunky monkey’ and ‘the dome.’ I guarantee any Florence residents will know exactly who I am talking about.
The tour showed us how beautiful the city is.
Later that night we returned to our hotel. This was one of few places where I was bunked with others from our tour and not Blake. Unfortunately our toilet stopped working and unlike the other girls I was not willing to go knowing it wouldn’t flush, the smell in our room was already bad enough. So luckily I had enough connection on my phone to ask Blake where his room was.
The next day our very long wait began. We managed to negotiate with our Topdeck hosts to leave the hotel earlier so we could line up at the Acadamia Gallery to see the statue of David. We waited in line for over 3 hours!!! By the time we got in we had fifteen minutes to find the statue, walk back to our hotel and be on the bus. It was probably the most intense fifteen minutes of my life. I had a vision of this trip being very relaxing and peaceful but Europe is like someone threw chaos into a blender and never pressed stop. In a good way though!
Today we left Venice and headed to Pisa. For some reason I expected to see the leaning tower from a distance but it wasn’t quite visible until entering the square. I was surprised to see a cathedral next to the tower and luscious green grass surrounding.
Today we ventured the streets of Venice.
We saw St. Marcs square and its surrounds, the bridge of sighs where supposedly prisoners got their last view of Venice before a death sentence. This place was FULL of tourists.
One of my most memorable moments in the city was watching someone create a glass horse (glass blowing) and a traditional lace demonstration.
Of course we had to ride a gondola where our driver weaved between other boats and navigated sharp turns.
We got incredibly lost in Venice. We managed to loose our tour group and catch the wrong boat meaning we were going in the wrong direction and missed our bus. To top it off none of us spoke Italian and we lost our sheets explaining what to do if we got lost. After quiet the adventure we got our phones to work and it said our hotel was a 3 hour walk away… no thank you! A kind local helped us to locate a bus and when to get off. From there we wondered through the neighbourhoods and through a dodgy underpass and finally made it safely to our hotel.
Today we visited Verona, the city of love. Remember Romeo and Juliet, the book you were forced to read in high school. In Verona they have a balcony named Juliet’s balcony where in the past you would go and leave messages on the wall. Today this is actually illegal so if you’re a fan of the movie ‘Letters to Juliet,’ I hate to say it but let the fantasy go.
It was here in Verona that we saw the coliseum – no not the one in Rome but a smaller, older and fully in tact version.
After meeting up with our Topdeck tour we headed to Nice.
Our day in Nice consisted of shopping (turns out its hard to find bobby pins in France), eating gelato (nutella and white chocolate mmm), visiting fountains where we met a nice Australian man who I trusted enough to use my camera.
We also had time to go down to the beach. I have never seen a beach that colour, it was so beautiful. The shades of blue in the water were breath taking. Ranging from a cool blue, to turquoise and dark blue. The best part was the water was warm!
Nice beach has stones rather than sand. The only sand on the beach is actually imported from the great land of Aus!
Later that night we took a scenic drive to the country of Monaco. What a life it is just driving to another country for the night. Apparently every street in Monaco is monitored by CCTV resulting in a 0% crime rate. This could be because the country is full of rich people who don’t participate in petty crime as a hobby. Monaco is the second smallest country in the world and has more millionaires than policemen. Apparently thousands of people apply to become citizens as being a citizen of the country means you don’t have to pay tax. Not even Michael Jackson was successful in his application.