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Friday, July 26, 2013

First Days of Summer - Milan



Playsuit: Primark / Floppy Hat: Zara (new collection) / Hip Bag:  ASOS Marketplace / Sandals: Office

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Travels- Inter-railing Europe

Paris


Our (my boyfriend and I)'s trip started today!

First stop Paris! After a 10 hour journey due to a delay in the channel tunnel we finally arrive in the infamous Paris ! I have to admit, it was not as glamorous as expected. Our first perception of the place was stepping out of the bus station trying to find a taxi. The streets were covered with rubbish (people obviously drunk dumping last nights takeaways) . Getting a taxi was a struggle in itself! This was not like any other foreign country we've been to where one is literally hounded by taxis as soon as they step out of their arrival point. We had to walk for a while, getting by with the little french we could speak. I have come to realise the French do not take very well to people coming over and not being able to speak their language but luckily my 'iTranslate' app came in handy.

I have to admit I regret not learning to speak French fluently. After all, my dad is Cameroonian and one of the main languages is french so I should have learnt it to the T by now! My excuse is that I've never lived over there and my dad does not really speak French to us. My family in Cameroon do not accept this accuse.

Anyway, we are not in Pari' long! Probably two days max! We'll check out a few tourist attractions then head to Milan!

Now for food!!! Yes!!











Day 2 in Paris!



Woke up really early to make the most of our day before leaving for Milan.

We took a metro from Vincennes to Chatelet then walked to Musee Du Lovre where we saw the Mona Lisa et al.


Panoramic










 Ridiculous amounts of people



We then walked to the Eiffel Tower (such a long but beautiful walk along the river) took a couple of tourist photos then ate one of the best sandwiches I have ever had from a nearby patisserie.




Policemen on Skates - we need this in Britain



Paris, as you can imagine, is very expensive so we decided to call it a day before blowing all the money we had in one place. 

Gare de Lyon was were we boarded the night train to Milan! It was my first experience on a night train with beds! The little cabin we were in was supposed to fit 6 people which was ridiculous as it could barely fit 4 but luckily there was only 5 of us in the end and the other 3 people were quite nice. I am a big kid so I really enjoyed sleeping facing the clouds on moving transportation. Definitely an experience I would recommend to anyone.




The route was really scenic (we also passed through Switzerland) but I didn't see as much of it as I wanted as I was soo tired from all the walking during the day and the lack of sleep the night before.

9 hours later, we arrive in Milano!!



 Milan Train Station


Milan

Buongiorno

Arrived in Milan at 5:44am after a restless nights sleep ! To wake us up we decided to order these €1 espresso shots which are without a doubt worse than vodka shots.




Considering our Italian is less than basic we managed to buy a day ticket, get on a metro and a tram and find our hostel which I thought was quite impressive.

We took the tram which interestingly was built in the 1880's! looks like it from the outside but definitely not from the inside.


Freshened up then headed to the Duomo (Cathedral) later found out meant 'House of The Lord'.

There we were admiring all the 'Avant Garde' shops not realising in the midst of it all stood this huge breathtakingly beautiful gothic cathedral. It literally stopped us in our tracks. 


Understandably, one has to dress appropriately to be allowed inside and as British as we are, we were in our shorts and vests so we had to buy some items to cover our shoulders and knees.

It was definitely worth the euro, as the inside was as, if not more, amazing than the outside. The stain glass windows, intricately detailed flooring and ceiling, not to mention the embalmed popes in glass coffins. It definitely reiterated the huge significance of religion in Italy. We couldn't help thinking how scary the place would be at night though!


Did I mention how hot Italy is? We had to get our gelati on!

The day has been a long one so we've decided to retire to bed with a bottle of wine. There seems to be a lack of supermarkets here which is inconvenient at times but on the plus side we found a little self service machine type shop selling wine. Although a really good idea, it was a pain when we had to be ID'd by inserting an electronic Italian identity card which neither of us had, so we had to stop some passers by to try an explain our situation!


Anyway, got wine .... But no corkscrew :/

Off to Pisa tomorrow to see the 'Campanile' aka the leaning tower aka the bell tower.

Bonasera (good night )


amazing musicians on the underground in Milano

Pisa

Pisa is another incredible city filled with Romanesque beauty. The leaning tower is the main attraction so we only spent about 3 hours here. Ofcourse, we had to do the many cliché leaning tower poses.



Off to Florence (Firenze) which is where we are staying as it’s only about an hour from Pisa on the 'slow train' and there seems to be more to see there. Florence is also about 2 hours from Milan on Italy's answer to the Eurostar (they call it the fast train) and about 3.5/4 on the slow train.


Florence

We went straight to our camp site / guest house (Camping Village II Poggetto) as we were tired for the day.
It was about a 50mins bus drive from the centre. We were treated to some amazing views so the journey did not seem too bad.

The camp site is very beautiful. The view was amazing (I probably will go on about the scenery a lot but it truly is something ). There is a pool , restaurant and a bar. Our room is supposed to be a dorm for 6 people however the place was so empty that we had a dorm room to ourselves which was nice. The place really has the potential to have a great atmosphere, it was just lacking in numbers.


The camp site is very beautiful. The view was amazing (I probably will go on about the scenery a lot but it truly is something ). There is a pool , restaurant and a bar. Our room is supposed to be a dorm for 6 people however the place was so empty that we had a dorm room to ourselves which was nice. The place really has the potential to have a great atmosphere, it was just lacking in numbers.

After dinner there was not much else to do but go to bed as everything shut by 11pm. Probably a good idea as their check out time of 9am is slightly annoying.

Day 2 in Florence: 


The first place we visited was the Ponte Vecchio which is a picturesque bridge full of shops selling gold.





Being the lucky girl that I am, I got a treat!!
We then headed to 'Florence's most famous square', the Piazza della Signoria, which is a square full of various statues including Michelangelo's statue of David.
C rubbing the nose of the Florence boar statue for good luck

A Very Skilled Man drew the Mona Lisa in chalk on the Pavement


Saint David

For some bizzare reason I was drawn to this statue (above) - something so striking about it


The next must see attraction was the Duomo named 'Santa Maria del Fiore' which was another masterpiece. The marble used for the exterior was so beautiful and there was the opportunity to climb the 463 steps to the top but we were short of time so we admired only from the outside.


The time in Florence was limited but definitely worth it. Such an outstanding city.

Next stop Perugia to visit family....

Perugia


After lonesome travels it was nice to see friendly and familiar faces in Perugia. It was also nice to eat like kings and for once, have a tour guide lol.


This was our second favourite place, Florence being the first. Not only because we were with family but also because from every location you can see mountains going back as far as the eyes can see (hard to get across in words so just see the pictures below)




The view from our flat was incredible. Not a lot of tourists know of, or visit Perugia compared to the other popular cities which was a good thing as the place still had some raw culture. However, it is a must-visit place and I am sure it will soon be very popular.





Nurse's outfits - oh so chic.


Train to Rome

When in Roma... 


Rome is sooo hot!! The train ride is torture (still on the train as I write) as the air con doesn't work and the windows are locked shut so it is critical to get off it soon.


We are going directly to our camp so we can possibly have a swim and some good sleep to prepare ourselves for a long day in Rome tomorrow!

Arrived at Camp Tiber. It was soooo nice! Exactly the kind of atmosphere you expect from a camp. The receptionist was lovely so our initial perception of the place was good! We got discount cards for the market and restaurant and free WiFi for the duration of our stay!

A 1 litre jug of red wine was only 5 euros!!! We were definitely in our element.

Our mobile home was also nice. Small but cosy and a short walk to the other facilities. The toilets and shower room were also surprisingly clean and there was also a pool! We decided we had to stay an extra night (3 altogether) to take advantage of the pool and have a 'rest day' from all the bag carrying, people brushing and train hopping.






But first our day in Rome......


Our first stop was the fountain called 'Trevi' - meaning 3 pathways or roads. Popular as it depicts Neptune's chariot being led by the sea horses. One calm and one indocile- which is said to represent the moods of the sea.



We sat by with some well deserved ice cream and just enjoyed the view. 

On our spontaneous venture, we came across a military museum. Not quite sure of the name but it was definitely a good find. On the top of the museum, you could see the colosseum and some incredible views of Rome.








The Colosseo was just as expected! Large, fascinating and full of history. The queues, as you'd expect, where long but it was definitely worth it. It cost around €7.50 per person as we were EU members and €12 for non-EU. This was the first time we bought a guide as we never truly needed one but we wanted to really immerse ourselves in the tour.







Our final must see attraction was the Vatican City. It required a lot of patience as the queue to the Duomo was so long and by the time we had seen it, the Vatican museum was closed. What we did see was enough and by that time we were soo tired.




Third day in Rome spent chilling by the pool doing NOTHING but drinking wine and eating crisps and reading my book. And it was a Monday!!! 




We had to wear Swimming Hats for the pool--- how attractive are we!?


A well deserved rest before Venice tomorrow!

Venice

Venicemmo! Renamed by me as its so beautiful. A city Surrounded by water.

We bought tickets for the bus and boat at about €12 each for 12 hours. Boat is 'obvs' the main mode of travel so the ticket was inevitable. Worth it as we got to see so much more than we would by say walking or 'metroing'




















Spent time at the famous Rialto bridge overlooking the Grand Canale and the Gondola's which were a hefty €100 for 45 mins (rip off)







We then took a boat to the 'Ghetto' which was were the word ghetto originated. It was a place were the Jews were made to stay and the word means something that has been cast away.














By this time we'd seen enough Cathedral's and Museum's so we decided it was time to say ciao to Italy and Zdravo to Croatia.

Croatia


The journey to Croatia was manic as there was no straight train. It started at 20:57 to Villach which is just past the Austrian Border.


Our wait was supposed to be 3 hours ( from 00:45 - 04:15) but it ended up being 6 hours in total due to delay, only boarding at 07:20. Worst travelling so far but at-least we weren't on our own and there were other traveller's to share our pain ( kipping on a train station floor ) - not something I would want to re-live again.



  

But we finally got to Croatia and made our way to our Hostel (Maya Jaya) . Had some Chinese food which was a great change from pizza and pasta - chilled with some wine and beer with the other hostel mates. A really enjoyable night that I will never forget and the hosts were soo cool. So if you find yourself in Zagreb, stay at the Maya Jaya hostel and you will not be disappointed








We are now on our way to Split which is the second largest city in Croatia and a huge tourist attraction as it leads onto sandy beaches /clear blue sea islands ( just what we need)! It's also meant to be really live as its full of all the young travellers.







Guesthouse is nice and away from the hustle and bustle of the main strip. It's about €20 per night and is as equipped as a hotel plus we have our own balcony which overlooks the sea and boats.






We walked through the strip where most of the bars, clubs and restaurants are. It is sooo live!! Most clubs are outdoors. The one we went to had a mini jacuzzi outside and the drinks came with giant straws (which was really awkward as I had to basically sit on a stool and put the drink on the floor to get the right straw bend so I can drink from it --- crazy). The DJ was sooo good, played so many classics and the atmosphere was also really good











Split would definitely be recommended for a buzzing guys or girls holiday (forget the maga's, marbs's and malia's) --- Split is THE place)

Day 2:


Went to the famous market in Split which was soo crazy but very entertaining. We bought some fresh cherries and apricots . Every time we bought something we were given a free fruit which was nice .







Retro weighing scales used

Now Enroute to Bol which is an island on Brac which was a short ferry ride from Split and one of the most beautiful. Going by ferry and then by bus. The ferry is huge and packed so this place must be popular. Apparently you have to get there quite early or else there is no space on the beach :/








Bol is as beautiful as they say but the water is not as warm as I thought ( not like the beach in Thailand lol) but it is clear blue and very scenic with the mountains behind. It's quite unreal. 







The day has been lazy and chilled !!


Charlie went to the fish market early in the morning as that is one of the attractions in Split. Bought two big fish (not sure which fish they were though)

He reassured me they were already gutted but they turned out not to be so here I am after a chilled clean day gutting fish with a bread knife ( there was no other knife as they probably did not expect anyone to really cook) in our hosts kitchen. Washed and cleaned and then fried them and had with pasta and sauce ( was really yum!!) 



We planned to go out after but got too full and Charlie has just fallen asleep haha. 

Day 3:


Went to the beach early in the morning which was really like a giant open swimming pool and then caught our train to Zagreb where we will be staying for a night and then heading to Budapest in the morning!







HUNGARY HERE WE COME !! 

Budapest


Train journey to Budapest was about 7 hours. Without air con it felt like forever. I swear I have lost weight in sweat in this trip ( eww, ha!)






Finally arrived. Realised we have pounds and euros and even Kunas ( Croatian currency ) but now we have to change our money to Huf. Honestly, we should all just use euros.

Anyyyyway, our hostel is soooo nice ! So homely and clean ...










Imi ( the receptionist) is also really nice! We also met another guy who happens to be from Milan. He was so cool and soooo Italian. He also taught us that Duomo (the Cathedrals) translates to 'the house' ... Which then means the 'House of The Lord.



Imi recommended a list of things to do and places to go. He recommended a typical Hungarian restaurant which we decided to try.


The waiter welcomed us with complimentary shots which burnt our throats to the max. A good gesture non the less. The food portions were huge, they really do not mess about with hearty meals. Really nice restaurant and a pianist which was a nice touch. 














Now to get ready to hit the infamous ruin bars/pubs.




















The nightlife in Budapest is really live. The ruin bars were pretty cool too.


We drank a fair bit last night so we had a lay in till about 10:30. Then went to the medicinal baths which are one of the must-do things in Budapest (especially if you've had a mad-one the night before. There were indoor and outdoor 'baths' which were more like swimming pools consisting of different minerals and of different temperatures. There were time restrictions for some ( e.g. you can only stay in one for 20 minutes at a time) due to the minerals in them. Some of the baths smelt really bad but I guess it's all for a greater good. The steam room and saunas where also medicinal.







I didn't take a lot of pics on my camera as I was scared of water damage. So below are some google images of the Baths (the one we went to was called Szechenyi )(sorry about the poor quality. They were the best images I could find)


It's a crazy experience that you just have to try if you find yourself in Budapest.
P.s. it left my hair in such good condition. Shiny and sooo soft.

 We took a walk around the city. Bought some beers and saw a lot of people gathering in a park just chilling and drinking so we decided to check it out. We thought it was a festival or something was going to happen but it turned out to be the norm for youngsters to buy drinks from the shop and then just chill there. There was such a festival vibe. Skateboarders, barbecues, people chilling by a big pond. We definitely need that in England although the vibe would probably be a bit more rowdy lol.













Frankfurt

Back on the track - to Frankfurt. Only staying for one night and then heading to Amsterdam tomorrow which marks the end of our travels :(











Going out with a BANG in Amsterdam !!

Well Amsterdam is as imagined! Absolutely unimaginable!! Ended with a high.





Self Service Takeaway



Just a few of the millions of bikes






Solero Mojito ice lolly. My new favourite











Red Light District




Anne Franks House






Some really talented street dancers







New Favourite Drink (I have a lot of new favz)



Heading Homeeeee :( :)





The end.

Books I read during the trip


I really missed recreational reading - which I had not done since I started sixth form (:O)


Both really good books. Blue-eyed-boy is a bit of a rubik's cube read. Quite hard and a lot of attention must be paid to every page but it is very well written. Accused is an easier read with a brilliant twist.




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