A Travellerspoint blog

October 2009

BSB In Lisbon!

sunny 24 °C

I’m on the plane now from Lisbon to Madrid, getting really excited to go home! We’re on the home stretch now. Last night was amazing! We got to the concert just after 5, thinking it started at 7, and we were going to get scalper tickets. All day we’d been talking over a limit; mom was saying 75, and I was saying 100, as the tickets sold online for 40. I knew I wasn’t going to back down and not go to BSB, so I just let her think my limit was 75. We get there, and people were lined up and ready, but not overwhelming or anything. We asked the security what we should do if we wanted to get tickets, and he told us to go to the ticket booth. We’re like, ya, ok, we’re going to get tickets to Backstreet Boys 2 hours before the concert. Ha! We walked up the stairs, and there was a girl ahead of us clearly buying tickets, and we were like yes! So gonna get it. Her total price was 68 euro, and we were squirming we were so happy, because that was below our budget! Once we got to the counter, the guy showed us the price ranges: floor was 25, upper balcony was 29, and prime mid-balcony was 34. We’re like, SERIOSULY?! Um, 2 for the prime seats man! We then lined up and found out they didn’t start until 9, so we waited quite a while, being in about the middle of the line in the end. The whole time we were devising up theories about why it was so cheap, like, “Maybe it’s just a big screen of them, or like a DVD they put in or something, like maybe they’re not even here?!” “It would probably have subtitles..“ “Ya, maybe…?!“ Or, “Maybe it’s impersonators, or they’re like skyping in from the states or something?” Once the lines finally got moving into the arena, the girls would have their tickets checked and then run for it, sprint to the doors. We’re like, “Oh my god, it’s just like easyJet, it’s a free-for-all!” So we ran too. Kind of got our spirits up after waiting for like 3 hours! We got in, had our tickets checked again, and got the primest seats EVER. Our balcony was right above the floor, and we were one of the first 100 people in it seemed. There were these sort of box-seats below out balcony that lead to the floor, and we got seats there right on the railing facing the band. There weren’t even screens, like there probably wasn’t a bad seat in the house, but we got one of the best ones. Mom even got a huge, half-litre cerveca for 3 euro! We didn’t bring our camera because we really didn’t want it to get taken or anything, and of course every person in there had a camera! So that kind of sucked, but whatever I guess. But, it was AWESOME! AND, they were there, in all their backstreet boy’s amazingness. It was sweet, seeing a concert where it was, “Make some noise, LISBON!” and not Vancouver or Victoria. And it was the first stop on their European tour. Very cool! And everyone sang along, even though most of them probably didn’t know English! They had a great set up too, with their stairs and DJ and lights and it was perfect. They played all their old songs, and their brand new songs that were really good. So fun! Mom and I passed out as soon as we got home, but had a blast! Home in 2 sleeps, can’t wait to see you Canada :)
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P.S. The home videos are already up on youTube from last night, so here's just some of what we saw:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR80igzCsMw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3Tbxj6I3zE

Posted by kmcveggie 12:35 Archived in Portugal Tagged events Comments (0)

Laidback Lisbon

sunny 26 °C

We got into Lisbon, and took a bus to our hostel. The website said 20 minutes, but the bus ride was an hour. We’ve learnt that the Portuguese have no perception of time at all, as this was the trend of Lisbon. You’ll see! Our hostel is SUPER cute, like all from Ikea, all black, white, and red, REALLY cute and new. It feels like we’re at somebody’s cute house staying over. Fun. We got up on our first full day and did a walking tour. Our guide was full of knowledge, but didn’t have all of his English words right, and really wasn’t a very good speaker. It was only us and a couple from Squamish who showed up, so it was like a semi-private tour. It was almost 4 hours long, but we learnt a ton about Lisbon. We also got to taste a cherry liquor, and our guide took us into a few cool buildings, as well as through the streets of Lisbon.
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He also took us up to this old elevator with good views of the city, and of the castle. And we got to take a tram, something Lisbon is famous for, that was packed full of people and pickpockets. While we were stopped a policia guy came on and walked through to get a well-known pickpocket off the tram. And once we got off at our stop, we looked back at these 2 regular looking guys, and our tour guide told us they were also well-known pickpockets! Crazy. We still have all our stuff though!
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After the tour, our guide dropped us off in the Amalfa district where there was the weekly flea market going on. Once we got into the market though, I think my first words were, “This is crap. This is literally crap.” Everything was random. There were a few venders who actually had a set up going on with new items, but most of it was just old guys sitting on the sidewalk with their random crap layed out on a blanket. It actually all looked stolen! We got to a table that had tons of little espresso cups and saucers from different cafes, clearly stolen! We wandered around for a bit, and then got scared that we would be caught by the police if we even looked at all of that stuff! One funny thing though, there was an underwear vender, with some pretty happy mannequins I just couldn’t resist taking a picture of!
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After the market we had some really good Indian food, then settled in for the night. I’ve introduced mom to Project Free TV, so we’ve been having little movie nights and catching up on Grey’s and Gossip Girl before we come home. It feels great to be watching real TV again!!

The next day we ventured off to a little beach town just outside of Lisbon called Caiscais. It was really cute, but not very nice out. The train ride there was nice too, but our hostel guy said it would take 10 minutes, when it took 40. Cheap though. The town was cute, and we did a little shopping before the sun sort of came out. We sat on the beach for a bit, then made our way home.
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Yesterday we went across the river to another beach town. We had to take a ferry, the shortest ferry of all time, across and then take a “5 to 10 minute bus ride” to the town, which ended up being an hour long bus ride! Pffff…
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Once we got there, the town was deserted, and ugly, and run down. It looked so wrong, but the locals kept pointing the same way to the beach so we went and found it. It was a huge beach, apparently one of the longest in Europe, and it was nice out, so we had lunch and then tanned/slept on the beach. Mom watched some surfers and she watched the locals put their boats into the water. It was so weird they pull them through the sand on a chain with a massive tractor, and then the people push them out in the water. Like picture a boat pulling a tube in the water, but the tractor is pulling the boat through the sand. No trailer, just boat on sand. Crazy! We made our way back and were exhausted!
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Today we did a little shopping, as we’ve pretty much seen Lisbon now. And tonight, wait for it, we’re going to the BACKSTREET BOYS!! For those of you who don’t know me that well, my guilty pleasure is BSB, and this will be my 3rd concert of theirs! We’re going for scalper tickets, so we’ll see how much they cost and if we even get it, but we’re gong to try our hardest. We fly to Madrid tomorrow, and so do they, so if tonight fails we can try again tomorrow!! So excited! Like I said, tomorrow we fly into Madrid, then Sunday is All Saint’s Day and their huge El Rastro market day, and Monday we fly home!! I can’t wait. I’m hoping the end of this trip goes out with a bang!

Posted by kmcveggie 07:32 Archived in Portugal Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Rainy Barcelona, Beautiful Valencia, and Solo Espanol

sunny 28 °C

Hello all! Lots has happened in the last few days so I’ll get right down to it.. Pictures to follow soon!

The trip from Interlaken was long, but it went off without a hitch. Once we got to Barcelona, though, the signs were in Spanish (not a language I know well, other than “Dos cervecas, por favor!”), and none of the tourist information people spoke English! They all spoke Spanish at you, so that was fun! Naaat. Anyways, we finally made it to our hostel, dodging the pickpockets and the homeless, and settled in. We were exhausted, and hungry, so we found some pizza for dinner, as every menu was in Spanish and nobody spoke English, and I forgot my vegan passport at home. Whatever! While eating pizza, we saw a lot of drunks on the streets, and a homeless begger came right into Dominos and right up to our table to ask for money. Once he left, the pizza lady came up to us to make sure we still had our wallets! Crazy. Mom wasn’t happy about that!

Our first full day in Barcelona it rained. And by rained I mean POURED, and we were soaked and miserable. La Rambla, the huge shopping street, was hardly open other than a few souvenir shops and a few plant venders, so we didn’t really enjoy ourselves. We found a mall, so we got some shelter for a bit, then we headed back up La Rambla and found a vegetarian falafel hut to have lunch in. It was good, but it was a sort of falafel buffet, and it was nasty watching everyone go up and keep refilling their half-eaten pitas with more stuff. Sickly un-foodsafe. And we got to watch more pickpockets come in and get kicked out by the staff. Fun! Anyways, we waited in the hut until the rain let up a bit, only to get outside and have to find cover because it started pouring again. Needless to say we were not in high spirits, so we got some beer and sangria and headed back to our hostel to dry our clothes and play cards. Lame! But better than being soaking wet and grumpy. We had a siesta (nap) too, and then never got dinner because mom was too afraid to go out in the streets in the dark. I don’t blame her too much, but I was damn hungry and grumpy after that.
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The next day we were meant to leave for Valencia, but because it was sunny we decided to take the metro to La Sangrada Familia, a huge church, and then grab our train tickets, and then shop a bit more and head out in the afternoon. We had bought a 10-trip metro ticket because it was cheap, but I lost the ticket, so mom was a little pissed. Then, once we bought our metro ticket to go to the station and book our train tickets, I thought I left my rail pass in the hostel so we left, only to figure out that I had it on me in my money belt, and then our single metro ticket wasn’t valid anymore even though we hadn’t used it. Great! Mom and I were not happy with each other, we still hadn’t eaten, and we just decided to screw Barcelona, grab our stuff, and head to Valencia. Finally got some expensive salad in the train station, and took the 3 ½ hour train to Valencia, only to be greeted by a beautiful city and great weather, so we were happy again. We found our hostel easily, settled in, and went to the grocery store to buy some wine and beer. On the way we found a sushi place (!!!) where everyone was eating, so we went in all excited to find sushi, and the staff told us it was closed. We asked then what time they opened back up, and a customer translated 8:30 for us. At the grocery store Mom took a picture of the prices, as a good bottle of wine is 1.49 and a single beer is 27 cents. Nice! Food is cheap too, especially compared to Switzerland! We got lunch from the grocery store, walked around (although everything was closed, damned siesta time), and then hung out in our hostel where we met a few cool guys: Rob, from England; Tom, from Czech; and Lawrence, from London. After chatting with them and drinking a few beers, we went around walking again, and found a cute square, and did a little shopping (as siesta was over). We shopped until 8:30 and went over to the sushi place. After trying to sit down, we were basically thrown out as they said they didn’t open till 9, even though earlier they said 8:30 and their sign said 8:30. We left and the guy slammed the shutters closed behind us, so we just said fine! And we’re waiting until we get home to have sushi, we’ve decided. Anyways, enough about that!
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Yesterday we headed out in the morning to find this huge Saturday market that our hostel girl told us about. We walked a good half an hour, and then tried to ask around about where it was. Nobody here speaks English at all, but they try really hard to help you with hand gestures and such. It’s nice, but hard. Anyway we basically gave up and decided to walk to this big mall, and on the way we found the market! This thing was HUGE. We walked through the one part, and then kept having to pick which way we wanted to go, because it was endless! We could have shopped all day I think but it was packed with people, and after a few hours we couldn’t move and decided to call it quits. We ended up buying shoes and perfume, and mom bought a shirt. It was really fun and they had TONS of shoes I could have bought way more, but the pack is already 40 pounds, so I figured I shouldn’t. We then hit the mall, but were pretty shopped out so we headed back. On the way back we climbed one of the old city gates and got a decent view over the city, as well as a mini workout.
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That night we walked the long way around the city and basically people watched. The city was packed with people, all out on a Saturday. It was about 8 pm, so people were out shopping and stuff, as they don’t even eat till 10! It was fun seeing the local culture. We also ran into an animal rights demonstration! So that was fun! I showed them my vegan passport and they got all excited! They were really peaceful, just holding up signs, handing out websites, and one guy had a laptop showing a video, but nobody was even talking, unless they were approached it was awesome. I wanted to join in! Then we went to a grocery store to grab a drink, and the cashier scanned the drink and then like knocked it over and didn’t pick it up, and I was like, “Uh, thanks for that!” but it was so funny because they don’t understand English at all. So really, you could go around lipping people off and they wouldn’t even know it!
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After wandering around we found our dinner spot, a vegan Asian buffet. It was delicious, and so much fun having tons of choice! We could literally eat everything it was great, and only 7 euro! But we were STUFFED. Once back in our room we met our roomates for the night: a ditsy blonde from Lithuania, and 3 Polish girls. One of the Polish girls was sick and constantly coughing and blowing her nose, it was nasty. We were like great… but we slept fine, minus her coughing all night.

Today we went on a really good free walking tour of the city, led by an English guy who was really funny. They made us into country teams and asked like 3 trivia questions, and team Canada got them all! (Thanks to mom and I… lol seriously!). But it was a really good tour. One of the highlights I think was when he showed us this city building with 28 gargoyles all around it, and each gargoyle was carved into a different sin, and one of them was whacking off, no kidding! It was hilarious! Def got a picture of that. But he was really funny.
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The last few days in Valencia have been awesome, but we’ve had some really bad luck, not just with the sushi place! I booked out plane trip to Lisbon for 1 less day than we wanted to be there (5 nights instead of 6) so that was stupid, then today we went to book our train tickets for tomorrow, and we had booked in tonight to stay in Valencia. Well, the train ticket guy couldn’t speak English, so we’re trying to write things down and understand him, and he said all the trains tomorrow morning were full! So we had to book one for late tonight instead, losing out on our prepaid room in Valencia. Not only that, but we couldn’t book a room in Madrid online because it was for tonight, and the hostel we wanted didn’t take reservations over the phone! He just told us to walk in and he’ll have room. Plus we get there at 1 am, so we have to get a cab and hopefully the place still has space! I’m sure they will it’s just dumb. Add this crap to the rain in Barcelona, and the stress about the metro and pickpockets there (which, by the way, we’ve since found out that mother had the metro ticket all along that I thought I lost… no comment!) and it makes for a pretty stressful couple of days. We’re hoping to get to Lisbon and relax in the (fingers crossed) sunny weather, before we have to make the big trip home. I’ve had pretty good luck for the last 4 months, so I guess all my travelers karma is coming back to me now, in one big bang. Lame, but I guess something was bound to go wrong!

UPDATE**

Last night our night train went pretty quick as we both slept (and mom took pictures of my ugly sleep.. How nice!), except this guy across the aisle kept busting out this ancient hand-held radio and trying to tune it. It was so funny, but super annoying. At first we were like, “What’s that noise?!” And then we realized it was this guy’s 20 year old radio. He would sit with his thumb on it trying to adjust it, and then look at the ceiling as if he was trying to see the signals it was SO dumb! Again, I was lipping him off like, “Are you done?” or “Are you KIDDING?” So stupid. Then, once we got to Madrid, we were picking our taxi to take us to our hostel. First, we found a really friendly guy who spoke English, but we were near the middle of the line and apparently you have to get the cab’s in the order that they get there. So we move up to the front and of course there’s this short, obese, grumpy ass lady who wants to take us, and who speaks zero English. She looked at our address, and was like, “HOTEL?” “No, hostel.” “HOTEL?” “HOS-TEL. Cat’s HOS-TEL.” “HOTEL?” And we were like, ok, no, we’re going back to our nice guy. We did, but he said we had to go with the first lady, but he tried to tell her where we were going. We asked her how much it would be and she just said “meter” so we thought that would be ok. So we put our bags in the back and got in and she just starts driving. The hostel had said a cab would be around 6 euro, and the nice taxi driver said it would be less than 10. So we finally get to a street, and she just points down it saying something in Spanish. We were like, “We don’t understand you!” Keep in mind it’s 1 am. We tried asking her like, is our hostel down there? And she was like, “SOLO ANGLO ESPANOL. NO ENGLISH.” And we were like ya, that’s why we wanted the other guy!!! Anyways, she drove around and dropped us off right at the door, and the meter said 6.30, so we were like yay! Perfect. Well, then she busts out a piece of paper and writes 14.30 on it, saying that’s what we owed her and we were like, no! You said meter! And she just kept yelling at us in Spanish, clapping her hands, and trying to get us to pay. I asked a guy standing outside the hostel why our cab was so much more than the meter and he didn’t know, but I was so grumpy and sick of trying to argue to someone who doesn’t understand me, that we just paid her and she left. Mom had found 4 euro in the cab, so that made it a bit better. But like seriosuly, do we not have rights as humans to pick a taxi?? Anyways, our hostel guy was really nice and said that she probably charged us for putting our bags in the trunk, even though we did it ourselves! Stupid. Anyways now we’re off to explore Madrid for a while, while we wait for our plane to Lisbon. Hopefully it just goes up from here! Pictures soon, sorry! And home in a week!!!!

Posted by kmcveggie 01:50 Archived in Spain Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Slacking in Interlaken

sunny 3 °C

Not too much to say about the last couple of days... Yesterday mom and I went walking along the river which was beautiful! Saw lots of swans and cows and these cute little diving ducks! Then we walked up this teeny little mountain to a viewpoint over the city, which was nice, and it was a gorgeous day out so the pictures were good.
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After that we took the bus out to a little beach and got some photos, and saw a swan on land who was struggling! He was trying to get to the water and had a hard time, especially when he tripped over a log! It was so sad, mom almost cried (the theme of the trip, it seems). Anyways, as soon as he got into the water, the 2 other swans swam right over and kicked him out again! They drove him out into the lake and tried to peck him and stuff, it was awful. I think he'll be ok. The scenery was beautiful, anyways.
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Today was a huge dissapointment as we were meant to go canyoning, but the hostel needs 6 people to go and it was just us 2 signed up. I almost cried I was so stoked for that! But we had a relaxing day instead; we wandered around and spent the last of our franks (not that dificult!) and did our toes ready for the hot weather we'll be flying into tomorrow. Barcelona here we come!

Posted by kmcveggie 11:01 Archived in Switzerland Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Interlaken

sunny 2 °C

Well, we’ve had a stressful couple of days in Interlaken but it’s stunningly beautiful here, so it’s hard to complain too much.

First off our train to Interlaken was a bit confused. After going for about half an hour on the train, we stopped and everyone gets off except for us. Finally a lady comes around saying we had to get on a bus to go around the construction, but we didn’t know because they didn’t announce it in English! The bus ride was really bad, so we took some gravel thinking we were bussing the rest of the way, then we got off again and onto a new train! Crazy. I fell asleep and mom continued to look at the beautiful scenery outside the train. Huge snowy mountains, lakes, green hills, cute little Swiss houses, it was perfect. Mom almost cried. Then, mom shakes me awake and we were in Interlaken. I go to put my pack on and walk towards the door of the train when my knee pops out. I fell back onto a seat and my knee stayed popped out for a good 5 minutes. 5 minutes of me screaming and yelling, mom trying to find help who spoke English, me hyperventilating, etc. Finally a young family came over who spoke English and they called for a doctor. I was in so much pain - my knee has never stayed out to the point where I’m sitting there looking at it out. It was SICK. Like most traumatic experience. So I moved my leg a bit and it finally went back in. Then we scrambled to find a bag or something because I felt like throwing up, which I didn’t. Then I felt faint, so the guy helped me out of the train, and my knee didn’t even hurt! Then I sat next to my pack outside and felt woozy and delirious. That was the closest I’ve ever been to fainting. Then all of a sudden my stomach starts hurting like crazy, and after a few minutes it stopped and my throat felt like it was closing. Weirdest thing. Then my knee started hurting like it usually does after I pop it out so I think I was in a bit of shock? Not fun anyways. The doctor never came, and I hobbled over to the taxis and we got a taxi to our hotel. We stayed in that night! Was not a fun day, after everything else seemed to go wrong as well. Ef!

Yesterday we got up, had breakfast, and set out to look at Interlaken. The knee was ok, and I popped an Ibuprofen to help with the rest of the day. The town here is super cute, and they were having an old car show so that was cool.
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We got some groceries and beer and went hiking in a little town only 10 minutes from Interlaken.
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It was cool, but kind of not what we expected. I think we have to go higher to see anything below us, but the mountains around us were gorgeous. It was cold, but we had about 5 layers on on top and leggings under our pants, so we were ok. It was sunny out too, so that was good. After that we had the fun task of figuring out what we’re doing next! We were checking out the next day with no train or hostels planned. Homeless, one could call it! Every train out was expensive, and we figured out it was going to cost us a lot to get from here to Spain, so we booked a train to Milan and a plane from Milan to Barcelona. Unfortunately, that means skipping southern France, but what can you do? We think we’ll get more time in Portugal this way. Anyways, it’s done now and we’re staying in Interlaken for 2 more nights. Today we’re going to go walking, and possibly up to the top of Jungfrau mountain, and tomorrow we’re going canyoning! If you You Tube ‘canyoning’ the videos that come up are here in Interlaken. Everyone we’ve talked to has done it and loved it, so mom’s going to get her courage up and we’re doing it tomorrow! Fun! Home in 2 weeks today; coming way to fast in some ways, and not fast enough in others!

Posted by kmcveggie 01:01 Archived in Switzerland Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Switzerland the Jinxed

rain 3 °C

We’re in Switzerland now, and I’ll address that fiasco in a minute, but I haven’t blogged at all about Munich! So here goes…

The morning we got to our hostel after our crazy overnight train, we got to shower and hang out while waiting for our free walking tour, which was really nice. And we were right next to a huge supermarket and huge organic supermarket, so we had yummy food the whole time. We got escorted to our walking tour in the FREEZING cold. Like I mean 1 degrees cold. We were wearing our pants, sweaters, hoodies, and rain coats, and we were still frozen. It even snowed for most of our walking tour! It was pretty, but cold. We promptly bought cheap mittens from H&M afterwards! And I got a really cute touque. Mom had put her back out a bit, so we found a beer hall and had beer, pretzels and mustard and it was really yummy. The beer didn’t warm us up at all though, so we went back to our hostel for a quick nap and then more beer. Our hostel was cheap, so we drank there as often as we could. Good beer, and really good sangria lol.
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Day 2 in Munich we went to Dachau. Dachau was really similar to Sachsenhausen in Berlin, but the tour was still good and informative. Our tour guide was funny, but sobered right up for our tour. On our tour was a bunch of Canadians, two Germans, a tall Aussie (6’8!) and an older Greek guy who couldn’t speak English. Our tour guide was trying to talk to him before the tour, and managed to understand that his father had actually been imprisoned in Dachau and died there. The man was welling up just talking about it, and he took lots of photos. That just made it all the more real, it was sad. Anyways, it was a good experience. After the tour we got some beer (surprise) and hung out with Josh, the tall Aussie. He was buying gloves and I was buying new headphones in another store, and we lost each other! We planned to meet in the middle, but we never found each other again. Josh, if you’re out there, we waited but never found you! Sorry about that!

After drinking more beer and sangria at the hostel, and feeling quite good and warm lol, we went to a sushi place recommended by our hostel. I’ve been craving sushi for about 40 days now, so we ran to the place. We got there and there was no sushi menu, so we asked. “No sushi, too late,” we’re like, ok, it’s 7:30 it’s not that late! So we asked what time they were open in the morning, as we wanted to get sushi to go for the train. “No, no sushi now, too cold for sushi.” That’s a new one! Too cold for sushi. Alrighty then! Guess I’m not getting sushi till I get home! After grabbing another beer at our hostel we went to bed.

Our train the next day was at 12:30, so we got up and walked to the market that we had seen on our walking tour. It was a good sized food market, and lots of venders had dips, oils, and food out to taste. We found one vender with TONS of olives, dips, and other veggie stuff it was so good. Next we found this cute little man selling vegan dips and pesto. He pointed us in the direction of their big tent, and we got to try all these different vegan dips and pestos, vegan cakes, breads, and cookies it was so fun! On all their jars are pictures of different animals and they say, “The animals thank you” in German! So cute! Mom thought it was so cute she cried a little. No kidding. But I’m pretty sure it’s all just a part of her going through the change, so I just let her go. We ended up buying a creamy Italian dip and ate it with our tomatoes on the train.

Our train to Luzern, Switzerland took 5 hours, and we crossed two borders, Austria and Switzerland. We sat next to a really cute guy who helped everyone one with their luggage, so I had a good time haha! Once in Luzern, we struggled to find our bus, and a bus driver ended up helping us buy our tickets and get on the right bus. It only ended up being 2 minutes down the road; after all that waiting we could have walked there twice! After checking in we went down the road to grab some soup for dinner at the Co-op. Oh my goodness the prices here are UNREAL. It is SO expensive. We’re now in the Swiss franc currency, so its basically the same as the Canadian dollar. To give some examples, our 2 oranges were 2 CHF (Swiss francs), a small box of take-out sushi was 11.90, and a teeny box of cereal was 9.90. Like a teeny box. Crazy! The thing cheap was water and beer, but we accidently bought fizzy water so we couldn’t even drink it! Ef. Our jaws were dropped the whole time in that grocery store. At Starbucks, a tall, plain latte is 6.90. !!!. A starter of samosas at the Indian restaurant next door is 8.90. I could go on it’s crazy! Anyways we got some Mr. Noodles for 1.20 (as opposed to 25 cents at home!) and had dinner at our hostel.

We hardly slept last night as the 2 boys in our room snored like mad, but we got up this morning and got ready for a walking tour. After finally finding a bank machine that would accept my debit (they all were telling me my card was broken, and my backup card!) We found our walking tour and joined in. 5 minutes later I think we both realized it was a mistake. The lady was nice and all, but it was a German and English tour, so while she spoke for ages in German, we stood there in the rain and cold listening to gibberish. We hardly even walked at first! When we did it was like across the sidewalk, so we were freezing. And she was totally one-sided with the German language; she’d talk to them for 10 and then us for 5, and then announce where we were going in German and we’d just be herded off not knowing what was going on. Mom and I we’re contemplating leaving, when she said we were going into a church, so we did too to warm up. As we walked in I took off my mits and the strap of my camera went with it, and my camera fell screen down onto the floor. As I picked it up it looked fine, but it wouldn’t turn on. Even putting mom’s battery in it wouldn’t turn on. Not pleased. So so far, we’ve had expensive as hell food, no ATM’s that work, a stupid tour, and now my cameras broken. Great. And nasty weather on top. Oh, and the plugs here are different than the rest of Europe, so we can’t charge anything, and mom can’t do her hair. Scary place to be right now! The only pluses have been cheap beer and a really cute town.
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We wandered off on our own after the church, both pretty depressed and cold. We stopped into Starbucks to get tea, and a tall was 4.10! No thanks. Instead we made our way to a veggie café/store and luckily they had amazing vegan soup that cheered us right up. It was like carrot, quinoa, squash and potato soup, perfect for a day like today. After getting warm we hiked up the old city walls and got a decent view besides the weather, but it was fun and we were definitely warm after! We then got a bunch of souvenirs and went and saw the Lion Monument, which is one of the things Luzern is famous for, as well as it’s water tower. The monument was really cool, set unto the stone in a hill, with a pool in front of it and garden around it. It would be a nice place to picnic if the weather wasn’t crap!
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We made our way back to the hostel, hoping to have some wine, pay for our rooms, and head to the train station. Mom sees a sign saying the reception is closed until 5 pm, and they had my drivers license because we still hadn’t paid! We thought we were jinxed or something, as the whole day seemed to be going wrong. Luckily the girl was just upstairs and came back down a few minutes later so we got to pay! Now were drinking the rest of our wine, and soon we’ll head down to the train station and go to Interlaken. If you’re reading this before Oct. 20th, post on my mom’s face book and tell her to go skydiving with me in Interlaken! I think it would be amazing, but she’s way to chicken. She needs encouragement!! Back in 16 days!

Posted by kmcveggie 13:36 Archived in Switzerland Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

I didn't know we were in Venezuala...?!

overcast 15 °C

Wow, neglecting the blog a little! We’ve been super busy, so I’ve got a lot to catch up on! Better grab a beer for this one, it may be a while!

After our ‘day off’ in Florence, we went out for dinner at our usual spot, and of course the boys were there again. It was a Friday night, so us girls decided we’d go out for drinks at the disco down the street, and we invited the boys along. We had such a good time watching this guy dance like my parents friend Andy it was SO funny. Andy (from Parksville) does the funniest ‘sexy dance’ and this Italian guy (Antonio) did the same one it was sooo good! From then on we called him Andy, but I don’t think he really got why lol.

The day after the disco we had booked a wine tour. Kristel was hung over, like, she got up and had a shower, and layed back down. Brushed her teeth, and layed back down. Too funny. After we got some McDonald’s in her she was ready to go, and we hit the market and hung out in Florence for a bit before our wine tour at 2. The ladies had booked it, and we got in line to get ready and they put numbered stickers on us like one of those old couple tours they’ve booked through their expensive hotels, where the tour guide talks in a microphone and everyone gets their own earpiece I’m like sweeet, but luckily we only had the stickers and not the rest of it! We get onto the coach and our lady starts a little Florence history and tells us what our tour’s going to look like. She starts out by saying, “On our field trip today…” and mom and I look at each other like, oh ya, and she keeps referring to our wine tour as a field trip it was sooo funny, but I guess you had to be there. Our tour guide lady didn’t speak English all that well, and Kristel, mom and I are trying so hard not to laugh. This woman added a’s on the end of every word she said, and added random a’s in the middle of her sentences. You don’t even know how funny it was to listen to her. Actually, the joke hasn’t even really died down; we’ve been adding a’s into our speech as well. She’d be telling us the history of the vineyard, and she’d say, “The winah is ah grownah in the fieldah where ah, the soil is ah, very ah fertile, ah.” She was too funny. Another thing she did was describe words with the same word. We felt like we were in kindergarten half the time like, “The treesah, are ah very big, ah? Becausah they are tall, ah?” SO FUNNY. Had to be there. So now all of us talk like that half the time, like, “Shouldah we go and getah the dinner now, ah?” Funny.

Anyways, we stopped at a little town on the way to the winery, to, “lookah at the beautifulah countryside of Florence, ah?” but it really just looked like home. There were tons of olive trees around, so I figured I’d try one right off the tree and see how different they are. OH MY GOD don’t ever do that! The thing exploded in my mouth with the most disgusting, poisonous liquid ever. I was gagging, and I LOVE olives. It was SICK. Not cool, had to get some crackers to calm the taste down it was so gross!
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Once we got to the winery we got a great tour a the place by one of the owners. He was really funny too, but he wore a stupid headset that wasn’t even very loud; we would have heard him way better if he just talked to us properly! After getting a tour we sat down to our first glass of wine and some breads with olive oil, grown and pressed right on site. The oil was delicious; like no other oil I’ve ever tried. The wine was amazing as well; we had one white and two Chianti reds, both awesome. This cute 82 year-old man helped pour the wine. He has been the gatekeeper at the castle since 1952, wearing the same outfit and everything! He had a really good contract so he stayed on for so long, and now he’s retired but he still comes out to pour the wine for the tourists and take pictures with them it’s so cute!
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After we left our tour bus, (“Thank you ah so muchah for ah tasting the winah with us and we wish ah you a pleasant stayah in Florence. Ah!”) we headed back to our hostel, hoping to have a siesta before meeting Al Pacino and Tony and gang for dinner. We had given our hostel lady our laundry to do for us this morning, paid her and everything, and we were hoping it would be all folded on our beds when we got home. When it was nowhere to be found, we got a little worried, and the lady led us up onto the roof where it was half dry outside, and we had to leave at 7 am in the morning. We needed to be packed before we went to bed, and there was no way it was going to be dry, especially seeing as how it started raining 10 minutes after we took it all down! We had less than an hour until we were supposed to meet for dinner, so we ran it to the laundrymat down the street and dried it. After running back through the rain, we quickly got ready for dinner. We looked good already from our wine tour, we just needed to fix our hair quickly from the running in the rain. Well, mom proceeds to have a conniption fit in the room, while Kristel and I quietly sit on our beds waiting for it to pass. We’ve since learned that the crazy mood swings are because mom’s going through the change (she’s constantly complaining about her inner heater going on, ya, there’s clue number one!) She’s pretty much yelling at us saying that she’s not hungry and that we’re dragging her to dinner and we should just leave her behind, but I’ve learned it’s not fun to leave a man (or lady) behind, so I dragged her out. As soon as we met up with the boys, Tony comes up to me, stating, “Your mother is uh, sad?” I’m like ya, grumpy as hell. I didn’t know how to simply say, “she’s going through the change,” so I left it at that! We found a place to have dinner as our regular trattoria wasn’t open, and to the utter surprise of the boys, us girls only ordered once course. It’s funny eating around people who have such different standards than us. Like, when I went to try mom’s soup, Tony and the others cringed! They thought it was so weird! Oh well, we do what we want! After dinner we got some gelato and headed out to a main square to people watch. The boys were funny. At dinner, Tony was the only one who knew English, so he barely touched his dinner as he was too busy translating for everyone at the table. Al Pacino (really Franco) kept talking to us in Italian. Like just chatting away as if we spoke the language. So all of a sudden, mom leans over says to Franco, “One upon a time, when I was a little girl, there were stars in the sky and I was outside prancing around the forest…” and I’m like, mom, what the hell are you talking about?! And she was like, “Well he says anything he wants to us and we don’t understand so I wanted to tell him a story!” Too funny. (At this point the mood swing was over lol) Too funny.

The next morning we got up bright and early to come to Venice. The train ride was good, but we all had to wear our iPod’s as we were sitting right next to the door that opened and closed itself and was really squeaky. No big deal though! Once we got to Venice we were in awe; it is perfect! It is exactly what you picture Venice to be.
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Waterways and canals everywhere, and boats for everything. Water buses, water taxis, water construction boats, water ambulances, everything! So cute. Dad would be out of a job here as there’s no cars, but I could totally see him taking tours out on the canals. Actually, he’d be in heaven here as all the have is boats!! But I’ve loved Venice. We got lots of pictures of bridges lol. We went up the tower in St. Mark’s square for 8 euro, and its just an elevator to the top. They probably make millions in the summer with all the tourists! Nice view though.
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And we did a LOT of shopping here; Murano glass comes from here so there’s jewelry everywhere. And besides going to St. Mark’s square, there’s really not much else to do in Venice but shop (which is totally fine with me!). Today we sent Kristel off on her train (with a few tears!) and mom and I napped on a statue, without even getting in trouble! But we’re probably in a bunch of pictures. I was reading my book about Europe, and it said that Vienna is that coffee capitol of the world. Mom goes, “Ya right, there’s no coffee here,” and I’m like, “Mom, Vienna’s in Austria,” and she’s like, “Oh right, we’re in Venezuala.” I’m like, uh, NO we’re not actually! So funny. She replies with, “Oh my, it’s all the V’s, they screw me up they’re so far down the alphabet!” Too funny. I love my mother.
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It’s our last day in Italy, so we figured we’d get some pasta for lunch, but we weren’t all that hungry so we were thinking we’d share a plate. After sitting down at a good looking place that other tourists had recommended, we tried to order our spaghetti pomodoro, veg soup and salad, and mom said she’d just share. Well, the guy went bizerk and said we couldn’t share a plate. So I quickly ordered two, but after the guy left mom was all mad because she didn’t want to pay for a whole meal when she just wanted a few bites. When the guy brought us an unopened bottle of water, mom said to cancel hers and that just I was hungry and only I would eat. The guy went NUTS, taking all of mom’s place settings away, saying that it is not possible to share and that if she even took one bite he would charge her a 5 euro service charge! We were like, oh ya! Why don’t you tell us how to live our lives while were at it? Like seriously, who tells you you can’t have a bite of someone’s food? We were like, one meal’s better than no meals buddy! We hadn’t opened our water so we up and left, and we were about 10 seconds away when he yells down the road at us, saying, “You, you, come back! I am giving you your meal!” And then a whole bunch more in Italian! I was freaked, and mom was like, “What an asshole!” so we just kept walking. I was walking really fast I was so scared of him! Like what a mean guy! I told mom to walk faster (what if the tourist police comes and gets us?!) and literally every person on the street stopped to stare at us. That guy looked like a fool though, and the guy walking in front of us was laughing at my tourist police comment. Hey, you never know! We still had 4 hours to kill so now we’re sitting at a bar around the corner from where we stayed, getting amazing service, and waiting to grab our packs and head on a 7 hour overnight train to Munich. We intend to drink lots here and then get a bottle of red, so we can just pass out in our seats on the train. Good times!

UPDATE: Well, our train ride was long but we’re now safely sitting in Starbucks at Munich Hauptbahnhof! We passed through SNOW in Austria (SO not in the plan!) but we’re here now. We were about the only ones who had to share a car; everyone else got their own to sprawl out on and mom and I are crunched up in the corner trying to sleep with these two Italian guys. We had a stop in Innsbruck, Austria and the guys got off the train to smoke or whatever, and the never came back to the car for like half an hour! Then the cops came around checking our passports, so now our minds are racing thinking that the packs these guys left in our car were bombs! Crazy, but they finally came back and thought it would be okay to chat for the rest of the trip! 4:30 AM to 6:30 AM, while mom and I were clearly trying to sleep. Like chatting loudly. Idiots! People are so inconsiderate. I can’t wait to be back in Canada and deal with nice people!!

Posted by kmcveggie 22:29 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

To Market To Market To... Pisa!

sunny 23 °C

Yesterday the ladies and I got up and ready and set out towards a market in Florence. The streets here are really narrow, like all one way streets, and a horse carridge had just ridden past us. I looked down the road and there was a massive pile of horse poo right in the middle of the street. As we headed towards it down the street, we watched all of the cars and motorbikes swerve to avoid it. Just as we were walking past it, a stupid truck decides to put his tires RIGHT THROUGH IT. We here's 3 screechy Canadians pressed flat to the shop walls, covering our hair with our hands and screaming, hoping we wouldn't get splattered by the horse shit. Luckily we didn't, but we sure checked ourselves out after, as it was all over the sidewalk just a few feet away from us. A british lady just kept walking and laughed at us, which wasn't very nice! Anyways, we're PRETTY sure we avoided it, but just by a hair!

Once we found the market it was massive, going down all different streets. We all oogled over glass jewelry, scarves, more jewelry, and I cringed past all the leather. One leather vender shouted out, "Ciao bella! I have a beautiful coat for you and one for your mother," and I was like, "Uh, no thanks." And he said, "What, you don't like leather? Why?" And the activist in me said back, "Because leather is dead skin!" And he was like, "Oh, are you vegetarian?" and after I said yes and as I was walking away he said, "Hey, the cows were vegetarians too!" I'm like nice move buddy. But the market was really fun, and huge. We then found an indoor food market, full of meat, cheese, oil, wine, and veggies. Mom was gagging at the meat, but we tried some really good tapenade, and bought some delicious unripe black olives. They're still green but they taste like black olives they're sooo yummy.

After all the shopping we did, we dropped our stuff off at the hostel and headed out to catch the train to Pisa to check out the leaning tower. It was a gorgeous day, so I knew the pictures would be perfect.
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We made our way across town to the big square the holds the famous tower. Mom wasn't all that impressed at first, ("Oh my god, that's IT?! It's hardly even leaning!") until I explained to her that most buildings don't really lean like that without falling over. We all got our pictures with it, and had fun doing it. Here are some of the best ones.
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After pictures we browsed the venders around the square. They sold some pretty good Pisa stuff, like leaning coffee mugs, shot glasses etc, lots of boxers with the leaning tower in, well, just the right spot, and tons of cute pins and fridge magnets. I collect pins and mom fridge magnets so we had a hard time choosing. We spents some time just wandering the square and then headed back to Florence. As we got to the train station I looked up at the 'departures' board, looked down at my watch, and yelled, "RUUN!" to the ladies. As they were trailing behind me down the stairs and through the platforms, mom yelled, "How did you even read that?! Where are we going?!" the board said 17:29 to Florence and it was 17:26. It would have only been a half hour wait till the next train, but I figured I show the ladies a little travelling stress. We made it with a few minutes to spare, as the train was a couple of minutes late, and we got seats all together and everything. Hi-fives all around on the train!

Once in Florence we were pretty hungry, and thought we'd try something different for dinner, as we've eaten at the same restaurant since we got to Florence because it's such a good deal and so good. A lady handed us a menu and talked us into eating there, and they had a lot of choice, so we sat down. There was a humungous pepper grinder at our table, but we moved it to the corner and waited to be served. It probably took 5 minutes to get a menu, as the lady who got us in was still outside convincing other people to come in too. Finally we ordered and got our wine and bread, but we didn't have plates, oil, or vinegar for the bread like everyone else did. After contemplating what to do, Kristel takes a big swig of wine, gets up, grabs us plates off the server's cart, and oil and vinegar off of an empty table, and bought them back over to us. We should have tipped her!
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The waiter forgot my food, so I shared mom's delicious pasta until my asparagus risotto came. I really wanted pepper on it, but since the service wasn't very good, I figured I'd have to do it myself. There's this huge pepper grinder still sitting on our table, so I went for it. What the hell right? Mom grabbed my camera ready, so here's the shot:
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We probably looked like crazy tourists, but whatever. Our food was good, and the wine was even better, so we sucked up the service. It made things quite comical, actually!

This morning we booked out train tickets to Venice and went out looking for more markets, when it started to rain. We headed back to the hostel to get our rain coats, then we found some pizza for lunch. After walking for at least 20 minutes to find the markets, we found them closed! Lame. So we headed back to the hostel, grabbing some gelato on the way. Pretty much a write-off day but we need it; I'm exhausted today, so a little rest will do us good I think. Hopefully it stops raining here for the rest of our trip! 3 weeks monday and I'll be back home! Already!

Posted by kmcveggie 05:49 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

Mayhem and Mishaps in Florence

sunny 26 °C

Last night we went around the corner and up the street to this Trattoria that our guesthouse recommended. She said we would have first and second courses with wine for 12 euro, and we’re like sold! They even refill your bread, water and wine included in the price and that’s amazing for Italy! So we head down and the place looks packed, the menu’s all in Italian (which is a good sign) but we didn’t even think that we’d fit. As we were turning to walk away, an Italian lady said, “No, no eat there. Good and cheap.” We’re like, alright and they made room and we sat in the middle of a quaint little restaurant, full of guys. The second after we sit down we look around and there are no other girls in the place, but we’re like, whatever, right? The wine boy comes zipping around giving us bread and wine, and he spoke really good English so that was fun. Next the owner comes around and speaks the menu to us, and we chose what we wanted as he went, it was so cute and personal. Mom and I explained what we couldn’t have, and he changes everything around so that we could have the proper courses too. We ordered bean soup to start and spicy macaroni pasta with salad for secondi, and wine of course! The food was excellent; the soup was to die for and we stuffed ourselves full of pasta until we literally thought we’d burst. All the guys around us were cheersing us in the air, and we ended up talking to the table behind us after we were finished eating. The 4 guys (2 older guys, a dead-on Al Pacino look alike, and Tony) were all in the military, and only Tony spoke English. Al Pacino understood what we meant when we told him who he looked like, and he was really flattered. So we’re all chatting away when the rose seller comes around (they’re all over Europe; they come into restaurants trying to sell roses to the guys to give to the girls, it’s sooo tacky) and of course they go buy us roses. We ended up getting a picture with them, and thanked the restaurant guys a lot as the food was the BEST and the service was amazing!

Did I mention we had downed a few beers yesterday, ad well as shared a bottle of wine before dinner and then had a generous ¼ litre of wine each with dinner? Lets just say we were all feeling the wine, and were really giddy when we got back to our room last night. We were chatting in the room while mom was using the washroom, and we hear this crash! I’m in my booty shorts ready for bed, and Kristel walks into the bathroom to check on my mother and just starts pissing herself laughing. Then there’s a knock on the door, and I drunkenly answer it half naked. It’s the guesthouse lady saying, “Uh, I think you are not okay? I heard a noise?” And I’m like, “Oh, no, no we’re just fine, you know, too much wine!” as I slip my pajama pants back on and close the door. I go into the bathroom, and mom and Kristel are killing themselves laughing, and moms holding the metre long, very heavy heated towel rack that she apparently took off the wall! I’m like, “WHAT is going on!” And mom can barely get the words out that she thought it was a fold out towel rack, so she thought she’d drunkenly and conveniently fold it out for us to use in the morning! Really, it was screwed into the wall, not foldable at all. The ladies are trying to fix it, and I’m like, “Hey Einsteins, how about we fix it in the morning when we’re sober?!” So I put it down and coaxed the ladies into bed. I was watching Gerard Butler interviews (don’t ask :P ) and the ladies could not stop laughing about the rack incident. I finally take my earphones out when the ladies get up to try again to re-install the towel rack. I think I just rolled my eyes and let them attempt it. But oh man, was it a funny night.

This morning we got up to minor headaches, had cereal with warm soymilk (random) and headed out to catch the train to Siena. We quickly bought our tickets from the machine, and it let me press the discounted tickets without having to give a reason (like rail pass or train card) so I was like ok, it’s all good I guess! We grab our tickets and get on the train and wait. As the train gets going and the conductor lady comes around, mom says she’s nervous about giving her the tickets because I had pressed the discount button, and I said me too a little, but we’d soon find out if they were ok. She comes around, turns our tickets over, and says we have to pay a fine because we never validated them. Now, I’ve been riding metros and trains in 14 different countries around Europe. I have learned that you must always validate your metro tickets, but I’ve never had to validate a train ticket, as that’s what they have conductors for. They come around with stamps and stamp your ticket! So she said, “OK? 5 euro each.” And I was like, whoa lady, hold on. We we never told, nor did we see any signs saying we had to validate our tickets. It also didn’t say anywhere on the ticket, or on the ticket machine, that we had to validate. She said, “Oh no, there are yellow boxes, you must validate before getting on the train, 5 euro each makes 15.” We’re like BAH! We didn’t know! I was like, but no where did it say we had to?! And she didn’t even really explain further, as she wrote us what looked like a speeding ticket and put the money directly into her personal wallet! I was pissed, and was just glad it was only 5 euro and not 50. We watched this conductor woman go down the whole rest of the train, fining every tourist on there, including the family sitting across from us, because nobody knew to validate their ticket. We were pretty shocked, and we discussed what this lady might be buying later on with her stupid fine money! SO dumb. When we arrived in Siena we saw the validating boxes, and they are these teeny little yellow boxes set up in the corners of the station! No wording on them, not even in Italian, saying you had to validate your tickets. I think I said bullshit 100 times on that train ride! Anyways, ridiculous.

Siena was ok, but fellow travelers have definitely hyped it up for me. I did have the most amazing chocolate I’ve found in Europe there, but other than that we just walked around and saw a bunch more churches and streets and squares. The outsides of the churches are much more beautiful than the inside here, so we never pay to get into them. We ended up finding a huge clothing market that was closing down, but we browsed for a bit before catching the train back to Florence. Once back, we relaxed with a bottle of wine before heading out for dinner to the same place as last night. Our wine boy was really happy to see us, and the owner made mom and my meal a little different than last night, with roasted tomatoes and spinach as the second course, and pasta as the first. Really cute. We’re halfway through our meal when guess who walks in? Al Pacino, Tony and gang from last night! Apparently they eat there every single night! We asked them to recommend a gelateria for us, and we chatted a little bit with them before heading off, telling them that we really didn’t want to go dancing in the square later on (so cute!). We dropped mom off at the hostel as she wasn’t feeling 100% and Kristel and I headed out to get gelato. We’re just about to order, when guess who shows up? Al Pacino, Tony and gang. Too funny! The gelato guy spoke better English and volunteered to be the translator, so anything Tony couldn’t translate, he did, and we had an awesome time. They even bought our ice cream. We told them we’d get home fine by ourselves, and we exchanged face books and made a date at the gelateria for tomorrow night. It’s always nice to meet the locals. ;)

Posted by kmcveggie 22:58 Archived in Italy Tagged food Comments (1)

Firenze

sunny 20 °C

So, being the idiot that I am sometimes, I forgot my railpass yesterday to get it validated and to buy the reservation for our trip to Florence this morning, so we all had to wake up extra early this morning so that I could get all that done before our trip. The ladies were asking all kinds of questions about their first train ride; they sounded like kids on their first road trip. Anyways, we made it to Florence just fine, and found our guesthouse fairly easily, minus the ladies insisting we stop for a beer with our 40 pound packs still on. Whatever. Our hostel, or guesthouse, is super cute, so the ladies were happy. We found some pizza and wine for lunch, and then just wandered around Florence for the rest of the afternoon. We found amazing things around every corner, like the Duomo, cute piazzas, gallerias, and great shopping spots.
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Tonight we're going to find pasta and more wine (the ladies just found some great stuff at the corner store) and tomorrow we're going to people watch in Siena. Fun!

Posted by kmcveggie 10:30 Archived in Italy Tagged train_travel Comments (0)

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