Saturday, 13 October 2012

Venice - The City of Romance

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to the third and final part of my 3-part holiday post! This one is all about Venice, the city of romance!

Now I love a bit of romance (as most girls do), and I must say, if there is ever a place for romance, Venice is definitely it!

Unfortunately, we had a bit of a hiccup when we first arrived. We had spent all night on an overnight train from Rome to Venice (arriving at around 5am), including a snoring, rowdy old man who constantly went in and out of the cabin and turned on the lights, and screamed down the phone at around 3am.
Once we arrived in Venice (in the dark), we went to the hotel and found that it was shut, and not opening until 7am!!! We rang the bell and got a sleepy, angry owner on the line, telling us to come back at 7. So with heavy suitcases in hand, we set off down the road to find an open cafe. Two hours of eating pastries and drinking delicious coffee later, I was exhausted and could only think of a comfortable bed! So we headed back to the hotel to check in and sleep, only to find that, yes, we were able to check in but no, the room was not available until 2pm!!! I'm sure you can understand my aggravation, and they did not even offer a shower for us to freshen up. We left out suitcases there, and set off to wonder around the city.

The city is like a bit of a maze, so it's easy to get lost. But everywhere you go, there are lots of shops selling the famous Murano glass (made on Murano island), gorgeous masquerade ball masks, and lots of other quirky little things.
Once 2pm finally came around, we headed back to the hotel and went to sleep for about 4 hours!
The good thing of being up at around 7am, was the fact that we were able to see the gorgeous sunrise above the little streets and canals of Venice. The bad side? We were falling asleep on a bench, somewhere in the middle of Venice, watching a duck trying to steal a bin!

Overall, there are 5 other islands to see, but we only went to three of them - Murano, Burano, and Lido.
Murano was amazing, we went to see one of the many glass factories (and I have to say, I feel sorry for the people working there. Outside it was already 30 degrees C, inside it must have been so much worse!!). We watched two men making a gorgeous glass vase, and after a short while decided to have a little wonder around the island. Murano is much smaller than Venice itself, but the amount of shops selling Murano glass are multiplied by about 10.

After Murano came Burano, the island of colourful houses and lace! I have never seen such a pretty place to live, the colours of houses varied from bright blue, to green, to pink and red! The island is probably the smallest amongst this group, and it probably only takes about 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other. It has a pretty main square, where all the restaurants are. We decided to have lunch here, which was a bit of a fiasco. The amount of waiters standing outside and trying to get you to their restaurant is slightly overwhelming. We finally decided on a place and, after about 15 minutes of waiting to actually be served, decided to walk off and go to a different restaurant. Maybe they shouldn't try to get people in, but focus on the ones that are already there!
After lunch, we had a look around the shops. Here, the abundance of lace shops was pretty amazing. I really wanted to buy a nice, thin, pink scarf, but they are (obviously) very expensive, and I decided not to.

Once we left Burano, we headed to Lido. Lido is one of the bigger islands, and we had been told that the island has a beach!! We walked from one end of the island to the other (the width, not the length!) and found the beach. Unfortunately, by the time we got there it was about 6 O'clock, and getting rather cold. I tried to sunbathe, but it was pretty much impossible at that time.
I did, however, gather a few small seashells, to remind me of the island  - they are currently sitting on my windowsill.

The islands took up one whole day of being in Venice, the other was spent visiting St. Marks Square, and all the sights around the square. We didn't end up going up to Campanille, as it started raining quite badly when we were in the queue outside. Maybe next time!

All in all, the holiday (despite a few minor hiccups), was super fun, but pretty exhausting.
Beach holiday next, please!

As Always, Stay Tuned!

- A

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day, But it was Visited in Two!

Hi Everyone,

So it's been over 2 weeks (!!) since I last posted, and I am well aware of the fact that I promised a three part post about what I did on my holiday in September. Therefore, I'd like to apologise for my delay with this post, but here is the second part to my holiday shenanigans:

The fifth day of our holiday, it was time to go to the airport (at 5am I might add) to fly to Rome. We got there at around 12pm, and it was gorgeous! The weather was so hot, and as we were driving towards the city on one of the airport shuttles, I instantly fell in love with the gorgeous houses sprinkled all over the little towns of Italy.

As soon as we got to the hotel, we checked in straight away. The room we had was the best of all three rooms we stayed in. It was fairly big, had a good, big shower, and was nice and quiet, away from the hustle and bustle from the street. The hotel itself was just a two minute walk from Termini Station, which is where we had to get our night train from on our way to Venice two days later. There were lots of restaurants around, and quite a few sights were within walking distance.

Unlike Paris, Rome was a lot smaller, and we were able to walk to different places pretty quickly, meaning we didn't use the public transport too much, which I thought was a little confusing anyway.

My favourite part of Rome? I know it's cheesy but, once it turned 7pm, you would see lots of brides and grooms taking their wedding photos at places like the Colosseum, which was pretty amazing. I'm a typical girl in the sense that I was looking at all of their wedding dresses, imagining myself in them.

The food in Rome was pretty good too, being Italian, I was pretty happy. I do have to say though, that Italians seem to eat a lot for dinner. Their menus included three courses, the courses each being huge, like a full plate of pasta for first course, and a big steak with veg. and chips for the second course. I must have gained a good 5 Kilos whilst I was there.

The other thing which was slightly annoying in Rome (and Venice too, as a matter of fact), was the amount of people selling fake designer bags and sunglasses and wallets on the streets. They did like to hassle you, and try to get you to buy one of their bags saying they were just like the real thing (when in reality they didn't look anything like the real thing).

When we went to the Vatican, I was almost not allowed into St. Peter's Basilica, because they are so strict with dress codes. A woman is not allowed to show her upper legs, her shoulders, her midriff,  or have a top which is too low cut. I understand it of course, with the Basilica being so religious, but I had covered my upper legs, and quickly put on a cardigan. So after a short 2 minute discussion with one of the security guards, I was okay to proceed.

Rome is also the best place to see the Roman ruins (of course), and my boyfriend and I spent about 3 hours of one day walking around all of the ancient ruins. As I was looking at different things, I was imagining what it must have been like to live in Rome in those days. We tend to take a lot of things for granted with it being the digital age and so on, but people in those days must have had quite a few difficulties with various things.
I do think the history in Rome is really cool and interesting, as (in my opinion) it is one of the most historic and cultured cities in the world.

Anyway, that is all I've got to say about my time in Rome. For a first time visit, it was pretty amazing.

The last part of my 3-part post will come soon (I promise to write it before the end of next week!!), and will be about: Venice - the City of Romance.

As Always, Stay Tuned.

- A