Day 50 – Venice, Italy

On Wednesday we had a full free day in Venice.
To get a ride into the city (where all the water is) we had to be on the bus by 9am.
We got dropped off by a different driver than our usual Top Deck one and took the train into Venice where our tour manager took us on a walking tour.

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It’s crazy to see such a big place with lots of alleyways and bridges just surrounded by water. Our tour manager told us that by the time our great grand children are around, Venice probably won’t even be there anymore because it’s sinking more and more each year.

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Residents now have to, about four or five times each year, walk on wooden planks to stay above the floodwaters in large parts of the city as it floods all the time.
They even have holes in the cement in the ground for the water to come up through otherwise it’ll just smash through the cement and cause cause damage.

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The water coming up through the ground

One of our stops was to see the Gallerie dell’Accademi which is a Museum of 13th to 18th-century Venetian artwork, with paintings by Titian, Canaletto and Tiepolo.

We also saw the Rialto Bridge before we did our Gondala Cruise. It’s one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice and the oldest bridge across the canal. When we saw it though, it was getting some renovations done so it had a big plastic sheet across the left hand side of it.

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When it was time for our Gondola ride, we got into groups of 6 and lined up for our Gondola boat.
For centuries the gondola was the main form of transportation and most common watercraft within Venice.

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We had the ride as an optional on our Top Deck tour for €20, but if you were to go there on your own or for a holiday – the city of Venice sets official rates for gondola rides starting at €80 from what I’ve read online with additional 20-minute increments at €40.
After 7 p.m. however I’ve seen deals for it for around €30 online.

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Gondola fares are standard and set officially. These are the minimum fares for a standard gondola ride but rates can go higher.A standard gondola ride is 40 minutes so if you negotiate for a lower fare, you’ll end up with a shorter ride.

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After our ride, we all went to a lace demonstration. Which to be honest is as exciting as it sounds…

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I’m writing this blog about 5 days after I’ve been in Venice so I can’t actually remember too much about it. Basically one of the ladies at the store explained how all the lace is made by hand and it takes about 8 months just to make a tablecloth piece between 7 woman. Making things out of lace would make me crazy as I get very impatient with things like that.

We had some free time after the demonstration, so a few of us girls found a restaurant and sat down for some classic Italian Pizza and Pasta. The pizza is really good here, it’s much thinner and basic than what you’d get back home. The Italians don’t complicate their pizzas with hundreds of toppings.

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It’s funny because Italians never even used to eat tomatoes. When they reached Italy by the 1530’s it was thought that they were poisonous and were grown only for decoration. However the peasants of Naples were probably starving so started using tomatoes in lots of their foods, including their early pizzas. Since then, its one of their most used ingredients in Italian food as everyone ended up loving it!

One thing to remember if you ever order a pizza in an Italian Pizzeria is that the product is personal sized. Each person should get their own pizza as they are quite thin and you can most likely eat the whole thing yourself. Kind of what I did…

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After we’d eaten our Italian feast, we all headed off to look around the shops and get souvenirs. I also came across this make up store called Kiko Milan and they do really good make up!! I bought a lipstick, primer, concealor and make up brush. Apparantly they have one in London so I’ll have to check it out when I’m back.

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That pretty much took up the entire day so we didn’t leave till about 3.30pm to catch the ferry back to the bus.
By this stage I’d bought a 3 flavoured gelato and a selfie stick so took heaps of photos.

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I bought a selfie stick at the beginning of my trip but it was one of those ones that needed to be charged and stopped working so I left it in New Orleans.
My new one is great though!! I’m gutted I went so long without one.

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When we got back to the bus, we waited 20 minutes for other people who were late then headed back to our camping ground.
We had another Top deck dinner under the tents that night too.

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I didn’t take any photos of it but we had pasta and gnocchi which was pretty yum.
I had eaten waaaay too many carbs in my time in Venice. (which is obvious judging by my previous photos) But you can’t be on a diet in Italy!!

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That night we all had a pretty early night because we had to be at the bus by 5am to leave!
We all wanted to go to Oktoberfest so in order to get there at a good time we had to leave at the crack of dawn.
😴

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Xx

Day 49 – Venice, Italy

We were off to Venice on Tuesday 🍕🍝
The Floating City in Italy!Venice31

It’s famous for it’s art and architecture as well as the many canals separating the 118 small islands on which it was built in the fifth century.
There are no cars or roadways so I was very excited to how everyone gets around.

We left Switzerland at 9am in the morning for the 7 hour coach ride into Venice. We had a stop off somewhere (can’t remember where) and had a Top deck picnic again.

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We had salsa and corn chips, chicken pasta salad, crackers and cheeses along with a berry pie thing and these really nice chocolate covered biscuits which I had like 5 of haha! They were small though 😕

We had a surprise on the way to Venice, our tour driver took us to Verona on the way which is like an hours drive away from Venice city, it straddles the Adige river in Veneto, northern Italy and it’s where three of Shakespeare’s plays are set, Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Taming of the Shrew.

imageWhen we got to Verona, we walked to the Verona Arena which was built in the 1st century by the Flavian emperors for shows and gladiator games. Today it’s now used for public events, fairs, theater and open-aired opera during the Summer nights.

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After the Colosseum in Rome and the amphitheatre in Capua, the Roman arena in Verona is the third largest Roman amphitheatre.
The Arena was built using a cement and rubble mix known as opus coementicum. They also used brick and stone blocks from Valpolicella set in square pillars to create an external façade of 72 arches, each spanning 2 meters. These led directly to an interior corridor 4.4 meters wide which runs around the Arena.imageAfter having a look at the Arena, we headed over to the balcony of Juliet’s house to rub Juliet’s left boob and write on the walls.
Juliet’s house has a balcony and in the small courtyard there’s a bronzed statue of Juliet. The metal of her chest is worn bare because there’s legend that if a person strokes the right breast that person will have good fortune and luck in love.
I did it! So I’m waiting for my good luck 🙂

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The picture was slightly blurry because there’s so many people lining up for a picture and a rub you had to be quick!

Also – in the entrance of the court yard there is a wall where everyone writes the names of their beloved. Many believe that writing on that place will make their love everlasting which is sweet.

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When everyone had written on the wall, our tour guide promised us all Gelato so we went to a Gelato place and got to choose 3 flavors each, yummy!

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I got white chocolate, caramel and chocolate chip 😄 and I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty delish!

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Excuse my awful chipped nail polish – I had no Nail Polish remover on the trip!!

With our stomachs full of ice-cream, we headed back to the coach after our 2 hours in Verona so we could continue our journey on to Venice.

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imageWe’re staying at this camp ground in cabins called Jolly campgrounds. (Sharing with one other person from the group)
It’s about a half our coach journey from the city of Venice and it’s pretty big. They have lots of cabins and more ‘deluxe’ cabins as well. Thank god we have an en suite shower! I don’t think I’d want to walk all the way to use the communal showers.

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Ever since I’ve been at this camp ground though, I’ve hated it!
As soon as we arrived we had to walk all the way to find our cabin (which was confusing enough with all the different pathways) and then when me and my room mate Georgia got to our cabin there was mold all in the shower and a missing light bulb. The room was tidy thank god, but we didn’t have any blankets for our beds – only a sheet each.

The people from our tour across the path from us weren’t so lucky- all their rooms hadn’t even been cleaned so like 4 groups had to go to reception and get new keys to new cabins that were clean.
It’s not as if we arrived early either, by this stage it was 6.30pm.

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Then when I went to go and do my washing, a girl was already complaining to one of the staff members about the drier not working and taking her money. She told me after he’d left that they wouldn’t refund her even though it took her money twice already so she was left with no coins!

I went to put a towel and my gym pants into one of the free washing machines when I smelt this really bad stench coming from it. I reached in quickly to grab my 2 items out and reached my hand into the most disgusting water!!
It obviously hadn’t emptied properly and had the grossest, smelliest water in it!
I quickly knew why it was the only free machine.
What’s even worse is that the staff member who was in the Laundry watched the whole thing happen and didn’t say anything when I pulled my towel out and got drenched in this awful water. I was so annoyed!
It went all over the floor too and it was pretty obvious what had happened. No “Oh sorry about that” or “Yeah that machine isn’t working” Grrr.

Not to mention 4x driers weren’t working, the detergent dispenser wasn’t working either so I had to go to the camp supermarket to buy some off the rude counter guy. He wouldn’t even swap a €1 for two 50c pieces. Dick. He was too busy standing there chatting up his work colleague.

When I finally got my washing sorted I went back to my cabin to have a shower, (which was either Sahara desert temp or Antarctic) when the power went off!!
My room mate had to go to the reception to sort it out while i shaved my legs in the dark. Dinner was in half an hour so I didn’t want to waste any time.

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Dinner was all good though. They have an actual Top Deck tent where we all had dinner so I think this is one of their regular accommodation places as there was another top deck group here as well as a Busabout Tour.

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After dinner and the drama with my washing, I ended up having a good night at the Campground bar. The drinks were decent prices, they had good music and a happy hour. Plus since there was the other Top Deck group/Busabout group there was more people. It was my first night I actually stayed up until after 1am haha!

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Me and Kara were the last ones at the bar from our group. It got pretty crazy though as one of the guys from our tour ended up getting waaaay too drunk and ended up falling on the dance floor and hitting his head then pretty much passing out. The mood was kinda killed after that as everyone helped him out and the ambulance took him to the hospital. Dramaaa. He’s all good though. Even if he did miss out on Venice the next day.

So that was my first day in Italy! 🙂
X

Day 7 – Los Angeles

Tonight is my last night in my hostel before I stay at a Hotel tomorrow night getting ready to start my contiki!

I woke up this morning bright and early and joined in on breakfast for the very first time. There was unfortunately no bagels but they did have a selection of porridge and do-it-yourself pancakes.
I made some chocolate chip ones with banana on top but when I sat down with them I could only have a few bites before I felt sick.
Breakfast isn’t really my thing…

I’d signed up to take the free shuttle at 10am to Santa Monica beach this morning from the hostel but as I was one of the last people who put their name down I missed out 😥 and was put on the ‘wait list’ for the shuttle that left at 12pm!
The 4 people I was going with had to leave me behind so I Ubered with 2 other guys instead who were in the same situation as me.
It was like an hours drive away but only cost us like $12 each which was alright.

We ended up being dropped off at Venice Beach which is like half an hour walk away from Santa Monica but my friends were walking to Venice anyways so it all worked out.
One of the guys in the Uber ended up sticking with me while I waited for my friends and for the rest of the day.
We lost him when we were about to leave and now that I think of it… I haven’t seen him since.
His English really isn’t that good so I hope he got back to the hostel all good 😯

When I met up with everyone we went and got some lunch.

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I got a basic hamburger and fries. And yes, I didn’t finish this meal either.

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I must say, the bread tastes a bit different over here. Like, not as fresh…

When we’d finished eating we walked to the skate park and watched some locals skate.

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Then it was off to Muscle beach where all the famous body builders apparantly work out. Or have done so in the past.
We of course had to take some muscle photos.

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We decided to find a nice spot on the beach of Venice and get our tan on. Or in my case, my burn on. 😈

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This is me pre-burn, look how happy I was.

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The backs of my legs got burnt as that’s where I didn’t put any sun screen on. I’m such a picky bitch with my sunscreen. I hate the lotions and I’ll only really use the spray. Plus the only spray I like is nutrogena but I didn’t have any with me so had to use cream 😣
It makes the sand stick and I hate it!!! 😝

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I got to try out my new bikini I got from Victoria Secrets though!

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So brown! Yet, so not-real.

When we finished having a snooze on our towels on the beach, we set off for the walk down to Santa Monica Pier. And my golly, was it a walk and a half!! Ecspecially in jandals. My feet officially hate me.

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The 2 aussies also got into an argument with a stall owner as they were going to buy 2 tops off them as she told them “buy 1 get 1 free for $8.99″ and when they went to pay she said it was $20 and insisted she said $18.99 not $8.99
Such a load of crap!! Ecspecially as they were the type of tops you buy in SE Asia and they shrink in the wash so that was such a rip off.
The aussie’s were like “what!! We asked you and you said $8.99″ and then she acussed them of stealing coat hangers off her when they were trying on the tops as she was missing them.
They ended up being like fuck it and walking off without buying the tops that she had SUCH a physco and screamed at them to “fuck off and never come back to my store again! You wasted my time!!!!”

When we finally got to santa monica we checked out the pier and then caught the bus home. (I only have pictures on my actual camera as my phone died)

We had to take 2 buses home and the total ride time was over an hour but it was only $2 so I didn’t care 😦

I was so knackered when I got back. I felt like crap with sand stuck to me in all places, my hair smelling like the sea and old sunblock stuck on my arms and back. I had a shower and then headed off by myself and got some enchiladas for dinner.

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Now I’m ready for sleep!!!
Got to get up early again tomorrow morning 😴😴