A Travellerspoint blog

Day 78-82

Burglars, Boats and Barcelona FC

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My adventure into Spain started off on the wrong foot when getting onto the train I had my passport taken out of my bag and then head off in the other direction in the hands of a big scary man. Thus my first night in Spain was spent on the phone between calls to home, embassies, consulates and other people, whilst trying not to die of dehydration from shedding far too many tears. So it was a 5am the next morning that I caught a 6.5 hour train from my hostel in Barcelona to the Australian embassy in Madrid to get an emergency passport, which thanks to the terrific staff I managed to have four hours later, then it was back on another 6.5 hour train back to Barcelona to start over in Spain.

After that Spain was terrific. Barcelona is a wonderful city and the people seem to approach life in such a relaxed manner that impressed me. I loved the Sagrada Familia- my now favourite building in the world, and spent hours wandering around its cavernous inside and climbing up its impressive towers. I checked out the Gaudi designed Park Guelli, and La Pedrera and was smitten with his work. I wandered back down Las Ramblas back towards the hostel, determined to put the bad experiences behind me alot quicker in the future.

I explored the Picasso Musuem and the quirky City Museum. I climbed the Monument down by the water for a fabulous view back up Las Ramblas, and spent the afternoon wandering around Port Vell and its beautiful Marina. I took a Spanish cooking class and learnt how to cook Paella all the way slowing realising how the Spanish are so relaxed (the answer is lots of Sangria).

Thus it was that I could leave Barcelona happy and in love with everything southern Europe had to offer so far.


Posted by jess_capri 22:02 Archived in Spain Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Day 69-78

History, Gelati and Gangsters

sunny -17 °C
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After Florence, not much could have impressed to the same extent but boy did Rome sure come close. The history just astounds me coming from a country where the oldest building are less than 250 years old, seeing buildings that were thousands of years old.

I was staying right near the nightmare that is Roma Termini - told by others that it was close to the sights. Well its not, especially if your walking but it does help to work off all the pizza and gelati which were far superior to that up north. I headed off to the Colloseum and lined up for hours to get inside only to realise its much better from the outside! I then walked across to the Roman Forum which I found absolutely fascinating and were I spent hours wandering between the ruins. Then it was a walk up to the Trevi Fountain which has to be my most favourite spot in the entire planet. The beauty of the fountain, the atmosphere of the crowd, not to mention the best gelati I ever tasted meant that it would become a daily ritual to hike down to the fountain and sit and watch the crowd go on by.

But there was more to see and do. The Vittro Emmanuel War Memorial is stunning, and the Pantheon blew my mind away. The Spanish Steps didn't have the same feeling that is in all the movies and I was less than impressed. The National Museum has some great pieces but for a city like that, it felt like it should have been a lot more.

I took a short time out from Rome and headed down to Naples for a few days. The train ride was long and hot and thus the relief of getting to Naples was great until you realise just how bad Naples has got. Their is rubbish along every street, wild dogs running everywhere, and just generally a feeling of 'I shouldn't be here'. I only went down to go see Pompeii so at least that was out of the city. Pompeii is fascinating even if I did spend half the time looking over my shoulder incase the Volcanoe erupted while I was there! But that only filled in one day so it was back to Naples where I found something that almost made me change my mind. the Archeological Museum is outstanding are far greater than its roman counterparts. So feeling somewhat better about Naples I returned back to Rome.

I had timed it so I arrived in Rome for the last sunday of the month so that I could head off to the Vatican and save some money. I set off before 6am and headed off to St Peter's not realising I should have lined up for the Vatican first. While I was checking out the beauty of the Basillica, the line was apparently getting longer and longer for the Vatican, thus it was that I had to spend two hours in line to get inside the Vatican. It was lovely in side although the roof is to high up to see the details of Michaelangelos work. But it did make my day to see that the Pope had a tennis court which still to this day amuses me.

As they saying goes 'a lifetime is not enough' but I still had lots of Europe left to see and I was running out of time, so I left, throwing a coin over my shoulder into the Trevi to ensure my return in the future


Posted by jess_capri 21:44 Archived in Italy Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Day 65-69

Perfect Pizza, Piazza and People

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I have just spend four days wondering around in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, so much so that it's a shame to leave. Florence has stolen my heart and I doubt that any city can every match it. Florence was my first taste of Italy, the land where my grandfathers family had come from generations before, creating an almost intrinsic link between myself and Italy.

I arrived in Florence in the middle of the night so my first impressions may not have been the greatest, but as soon as the sun rose the next morning I was in love with the city. The streets were filled with character and history, and most of the people were helpful and friendly. And the city has so much to see and do, that another week there would have been great.

I headed first to the legendary Galleria Academia to get a glimpse of the man, the statue of David by Michaelangelo. I had not expected it to be that enormous - imagining it to be lifesize, not that size of Godzilla. It absolutely amazed me and it only compounded my love for Florence. I then headed to the other gallery the city had to offer, the Uffizi, that although not defined by an individual piece, extraordinary just the same, the Birth of Venus a highlight. And then it was off to the Duomo - an extraordinary building with a hell of a lot of stairs! But all 414 steps were worth it for the view alone - I have never seen such a beautiful city from above and the image is emblazened on my mind forever.

While this far north I could not miss the chance to take a day trip across to Venice, but after the beauty of Florence, I had expected so much more and left a little disappointed. The canals were dirty, the sky overcast, and the prices exorbitant. Yes it had the gondolas but a single tourist could never afford to take one, and the city is filled with pigeons which I dont find cute or amazing.

So it was then back to Florence to improve my image of Italy. I hightailed it to the Palazzo Vecchio to check out the ancient powerhouse of Italy and then walked across the Ponte Vecchio admiring all the shiny jewelry. But that was all I had time for. I left Florence for Rome, knowing in my heart that no city could ever match that feeling of being in a place that was close to perfection.


Posted by jess_capri 21:30 Archived in Italy Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Day 62-65

Chocolate, Waffles and a tiny little Pisser

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Well three days in Brussels is certainly more than enough time to explore the relatively small city. Staying in a nice new hostel was a great change from some of the places I had been staying in. In fact, it may have been the best I've stayed in, with a giant plasma and DVD library and a good kitchen (always a plus).

The sites in Brussels are few and far between, but a few are worth mention. The Art Musuem is fantastic if a little crowded, and the view from that part of the city was worth the uphill climb. The Grand Place is just what you see on the postcards, but other than a few lace shops and pubs it doesn't have much to offer. And to our little pissing friend - 'Mannekin Pis' who was the size of a child's doll and almost covered by scaffolding - I wouldn't exactly be proud if that was a main highlight of my home town.

But Belgium does have great food even if all of it is designed to kill you and clog your arteries. Of course you have the eponymous chocolates that are worth every euro you pay for them. Then you have the famous waffles which can be great or terrible depending on where you get them (i'd say stick to the plain chocolate or sugar covered ones - bananas and nuts and the like are just superfluous. And then you have Frites, the best food known to mankind. I am geniunely a fries lover (they're my favourite food group and I could live on them alone) and those found in Belgium and its Dutch neighbour are by far the greatest I have ever tasted, especially with fritesaus on top! mmm delicious!

Other than that, Brussels had little to offer in terms of real sites, so the rest of my time was spent wandering around the city and the little lanes until it was time to fly off to the place I had been longing to visit ever since I can remember - I was off to Italy!


Posted by jess_capri 04:19 Archived in Belgium Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Day 57-62

Hookers, Hash and Hotels!

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Well Amsterdam is definately something different, a unique blend of history and moderness. The canals were beautiful even if the water reminded me all too much of the Yarra, and the bicycles were cute until they tried to run you over.

The first day I headed off to Anne Franks House in a beautiful part of town that obviously had a dark past. It was extremely interesting although it was crowded at this time of year I would have hated to be there in the height of summer. A change of pace and thought patterns led me to another infamous building, the 'Sex Musuem' which was certainly graphic to say the least. A walking tour of the red light district was meant to be on that night but as a group of us waited no one came, so we tried to explore the area ourselves with not much success as it less interesting if you dont know the back story (pardon the pun).

The next day I did a walking tour during the day seeing the main sites and even Amsterdam's smallest house which is about as wide as two doors maybe even smaller. That night we tried again to do the tour - we finally found a guide but then had to go hide away from the station as apparently the police and other less pleasant people dont actually like the tours. But it was fascinating to walk the Red light district with someone who could explain it, even introducing us to some of the girls who were more than happy to chat.

The next day I decided to do a day trip down to Den Haag and Delft, one for a painting and one because in year 12 we spent 6 months studying Girl with a Pearl Earring, set in Delft and as such I had to see it. Den Haag had little to offer other than the gallery which housed the aforementioned painting, which was a lot smaller than I expected but worthwhile nonetheless. I then trained it to Delft and wondered around the town for a short while before it began to rain. And it rained and rained and rained, heavy continous rain that left me soaked through and hurrying back to the station to catch a train back to Amsterdam in wet silence.

The last day I just wondered around the city and relaxed, positive that I had caught pneumonia from the day before. So it was then onto a train to Brussels, a long way away for a city so close.


Posted by jess_capri 21:05 Archived in Netherlands Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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