Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Holiday instalment #9 - Rome part 2

More from Rome

Monday saw us off on the Metro over to the Vatican City again.... this time to visit the Museum and the Sistine Chapel.  - together with what seem hundreds and thousands of other tourists....   we queued for one hour to get into the museum... standing in the hot sun for part of the time.  The water sellers were doing a roaring trade...
Still it was worth it..... the treasures on the way to the Sistine Chapel are stunning... as were the Raphael rooms.... his paintings nearly rival Michelangleo's.  The mosaics on the floor also took my eye.  And then the Sistine Chapel - it was amazing.  It was packed shoulder to shoulder with everyone's turned upwards. 

You weren't allowed to take photos in the Sistine chapel - but is even more incredible than photos show.  We spend a good 30 mins just gazing at it all....

Later in the day we visited Piazza de Papolo - where there are twin churches on one side of the square.   Along one of the other sides are steps up to a terrace and the Pinician Hill where there are lovely gardens.  From the terrace there is a superb view of the city

Managed to score a very cheap knock off Louis Vuitton  handbag for 25Euro.  The guy wanted 80 Euro but Peter only had 25 in his wallet so bargain and got it... It is leather but I'm sure it's not the real version... Looks good though!!!!

As you can see, it was a lovely sunny day.... by 10pm it was still around 24 degrees C... I totally enjoyed the Rome weather.

The next morning I did a lot of window shopping down the street with all the famous shops - Prada, Versace, Chanel etc.  All outside my price range, but oh so lovely to dream.  The day was amazingly hot and humid... at 1pm it hit 32 degrees C, but cooled down shortly after to around 29 degrees.  Which was just as well, as we did a walking tour around Ancient Rome.......

But that's for the next episode... so till tomorrow.... Ciao

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Holiday instalment #8 - Rome part 1

Another amazing city... an other amazing 6 days....
We arrived into Rome mid afternoon on a Saturday and once again had an adventure finding our hotel..... We had booked into boutique hotels on this trip, so trying to find them was certainly part of the fun.  We were staying at the Garda in Via Lomardia.   Our travel agent told us it was near the Spanish Steps so we took the Metro to that stop... it gets you to the bottom of the Spanish Steps .... and to get to our hotel you needed to be at the top!!!!  There was no way we were carrying the cases up those stairs.... so a good walk up hill ( about 1/2 kilometre) we found it....

We walked back to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain that afternoon - totally amazing... such tourist spots. Plus the fountain at Piazza Barberini.  We visited a number of times over the days we were there. 

Sunday we took the Hop on Hop off bus around the city.  A great way to get orientated.  We hopped off at he Piazza Novena and walked to the Pantheon... so much bigger and better than the one in Paris..  Totally incredible.  The centre dome is a huge hole and round the edge are amazing chapels.

 We then walked along the river Tiber and made our way to the Vatican City and visited St Peter's Cathedral.  The square was much smaller than I thought it would be, but the cathedral was so special.  Being Catholics, going to St Peter is like a pilgrimage... and to make it even more special, 4 pm Mass was about to be held at the High Altar.  We decided to go....It was in Italian so I couldn't understand the sermon, but knew what to do, when and took Holy Communion.  Very very emotional for me.  

So the start to our stay in Rome was great... plus the weather was perfect... I even got a touch of colour on my shoulders and face.... much much warmer than England or France. 

Come back tomorrow for another episode of the Turley's tour of Europe.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Holiday instalment #7 - Venice -city of glass and lace

More about the Venetian part of our holiday....

We started the day by going up to the top of the Bell Tower in St Marks Square ( know as Campanile di San Marco in Italitan).  You get an amazing view of Venice from up the top -

 After seeing this, we went into the Basilica di San Marco  ( St Mark's Basilica).  It is just beautiful inside.  We went upstairs and saw the Horses of St Mark.  The original horses made in around 1254 are housed in the Museum inside the Basilica and reproductions are outside
We had to come out of a side door from the church as by the time we had finished the water was starting to rise and flood the main entrance.  There were boardwalks over the water to get in and out.

Venice is made up of a few islands other then the main city area and two of the islands are quite famous.   Murano for it's beautiful glass and Burano for it's fabulous lace.  We took a tour of the two islands and a third called Torcello where there is a beautiful old church and was the first of the Venetian islands to be inhabited.

On Murano we watched a master glass blower at work.

I purchased a small elephant to add to my collection and got a lovely red glass bracelet.

Burano is famous for it's handmade lace and also for it's wonderfully colourful fisherman's houses.  We visited a Lace making shop and watch one of the elderly ladies hand stitching the lace.  One piece might take up to a month to do and might involve up to 7 ladies each doing a certain bit.... all the work was stunning but as you can imagine, quite expensive.  I picked up a couple of small round doilies, just to say I bought something.

The next day we left this wonderful city and caught the train to Rome....
This was us, waiting to catch the ferry to the station at 8.00am in the morning.  We enjoyed the train trip - talking to an interesting Australian couple who sat next to us from Florence onways... catching up with some Aucklanders we meet at the Bell Tower the day before and finding out that the All Blacks beat Australia in the rugby...

Arrived in Rome around 2.00... quite a different city with even more adventures.....
so till next time.... thanks for visiting

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Holiday instalment #6 - Venice - city of water!!!!

Back again.....

after a nightmare bus trip from Paris to Milan and then 3 hours on a train.... we finally arrived in Venice to a slightly soggy city... it had been raining during the morning.... we arrived around 12.30ish in the afternoon.... As we knew our hotel was near St Marks Square we caught the water ferry to the St Marks stop..... and then lugged our rather large suitcases along and over a couple of bridges to get to the Square...... only to find it around 8 inches under water!!!!!!!!!  result of the high tide and the rain.... so a bit of an adventure was had trying to find our way through little back streets and alley's, over bridges and even at one part, Peter having to lift the cases over some water in the street.... but finally found the hotel..... about 50 paces from the Square.  We quickly checked in and then went back to see the square....

 An amazing sight, seeing all the tourist walking round with trousers rolled up, shoes in hand or like us walking thorough the water in our sandals.   Yet 2 - hours later - dry as a bone.... We decided to take a bit of a walk around.... well that turned out a bit of an adventure too..... we thought we knew where we were.... but alas that wasn't so.... we did get  a little lost... very quickly learnt to map out where we wanted to go and how to get there.... with all the tall buildings and narrow streets and little piazza's everywhere there are not real landmarks to get your bearings.... still did see lots of streets that didn't have ANY other tourists in.... and made it back to the Square in time to hear the quartets playing in the outdoor cafes.

Next day we walked over to see the Rialto Bridge, then back again to see the Bridge of Sighs ( a bit disappointing as there are restorations going on), visited a couple of little churches and just wandered round.

Yes that bell tower is on a lean.... it's not just my funny photographer...
(BTW note to Sally... I FOUND Bellini's....and now am addicted.  For those not in the know, Sally advised me that I should try a Peach Bellini when in Italy... a sort of cocktail of sparkling wine and peach puree... very addictive....)  Had one just about every lunch time and evening.

And of course we couldn't be in Venice and not have a Gondola ride.... Very expensive 80 euro for half and hour - but a must do..  we did one round the back canals rather than on the grand canal.  Got to see where the real people lived.

We were very lucky with the weather.  Despite the forecast for rain and thunder... it was a perfectly hot and sunny day.  In the evening it was still very warm so we went into the Square and listened to the music in the outdoor cafes and watch a gala presentation that was part of the Venice Film Festival... didn't see any stars though!!!

Thanks for stopping by.... more of Venice tomorrow.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Holiday instalment #6 - Paris part 3

 Our time in Paris was almost up.... just Monday and part of Tues to fill in.... Monday was a bit cool and cloudy - the perfect day to visit the Louvre.  It was really busy as the other museums in town close on a Monday.... but the queue went quickly and we were inside within half an hour.  Boy is this one HUGE museum... so much to see, all the wonderful statues, sculptures and the paintings.... so soooo big... and some quite small... like the Mona Lisa.  It was much smaller than I expected.  There were heaps of people looking at her.... but manage to take a photo... albeit that the reflection of the glass spoilt it....  We stayed about 4 1/2 hours and probably only saw about 1/4 of it....

Such an amazing place.   On my list to go back and see at some stage.

The next day was our last in Paris as we were booked on the overnight train from Paris to Venice... so we spend the day just strolling round the Left Bank,visited the Pantheon, and walked around Ille St-Louis - the other island in the Seine... it is just a little island and very quaint.  We stopped for a drink in a little cafe on a corner and watched the traffic and people for a while

 Now I mentioned earlier we were booked to go by train from Paris to Venice, paid premium prices to get a twin sleeper....- but I didn't mention that on Tuesday there was a major strike in Paris.... many metro trains and buses were not working, rubbish collectors, teachers.... and when we got to the Gard du Bercy  ( the railway station) we found that the international train drivers were not working either!!!!!!!!!!  So instead of a comfortable sleeper we ended up stuck on a bus..... for 12 hours!!!!!!!!!  what a nightmare..... bus seats are even smaller than airline seats and you can't get up and move around..... we made 3 stops on the way to Milan for toilet breaks and meals.... but boy oh boy.... not much sleep was had I can tell you.....  Once we got to Milan we got onto the train to Venice.... we just jumped onto the first carriage we saw.... First Class... but after the bus, I think we deserved it.   So we finally arrived in Venice 3 hours a bit of an adventure.
but that's the next episode....

Thanks for stopping by.