A Travellerspoint blog

October 23rd

Rome to Petrio

sunny 25 °C

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PETRIO
I got up and headed over to the hostels cafe for breakfast. After washing down yet another chocolate filled croissant with a latte I headed over to the train station to organize my ticket back to Petrio. After waiting for half an hour in a snaking queue, leaving my bags in the hands of another women to try the automatic machines to have her run over frantically and advise me my bags were slowly being overtaken by the moving queue.... Anyway you get the picture... I eventually arrived at the counter, purchased my ticket and headed out to find the mouth of truth. I wandered for ages and finally got my bearings! With a spring in my step I charged towards the epic monument that was sure to relieve me of my hand. As I reached the Colosseum I realized that time was quickly running out so I spun about and trundled back to my hostel to get my bags. I grabbed a bite to eat and headed down platform 1 at Termini, Rome's central station, to board my train. The train ride was rather un interesting other then the odd beggar asking for cash and dodging the ticket collectors like they were the grim reaper themselves. I arrived into Sinalunga and was promptly, and to my great relief, greeted by Ugo. After arriving back "home" I poured myself a glass of wine, set my washing on and told tales of my great adventures in Paris. It was great to be home and in the company of friends!!!

Posted by classique 02:08 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

October 22nd

Rome

sunny 25 °C

I allowed myself a little sleep in and, after a chocolate pastry and a cafe latte, I headed off to the Colosseum. After getting another wad of cash out I booked a guided tour of the Colosseum and the Forum. After waiting for a little while we headed off around the Colosseum to begin the tour. After finding out how the exterior was adorned, where most of it is now, and how it was all assembled, we headed inside. We were taken around the middle section and shown where the emperor, nobility and commoners sat. Prior to the completion of the Colosseum, the emperor had the Colosseum flooded and a ship battle took place within it. The outer two rings which stop half way round fell down through several earthquakes many years ago. Due to the amount of animals brought in from around the world they found in 1855 that there were 420 differently species of flora within the Colosseum. We were also shown how water was brought in to feed the fresh water drinking fountains within the Colosseum. The tour ended after around 40 minutes and we were given 30 minutes to wander around before the tour for the Forum began.
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I wandered around with an American woman for a while. We realised that time was running short so we headed out of the Colosseum and I purchased a super sized donut as a lunch time feed before commencing the tour of the forum. The guide took us over to what used to be the elite shopping district within the Forum and explained how the hierarchy worked. After about 20 minutes or so the tour ended and the American lady and I went for a wander around the forum and Palatine hill wandering into some of the buildings which were accessible. There are some incredible sights here which I wish I had had a guide to explain to me.
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Some of the buildings are three stories high with earth and ground all the way around them. Eventually, at 3:30pm I decided to head off as I wanted to catch the free waking tour of Rome so we parted ways. After walking up, down and all around Rome for an hour and a half, I eventually arrived at the Spanish Steps just in time to join the tour.
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Here are the hordes at the Pantheon!
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The tour group and I headed off to several catholic churches which all seemed to be in the middle of a service, to a nunnery (or convent as they call them now now-a-days :-)), past a Rolex store, and eventually finished the tour at the Trevi fountain.
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With an appetite to rival some of the statutes at the Trevi fountain I headed back up the street to a recommended Italian restaurant which was thick with customers. After spending some time deciding what would satisfy my taste buds I bought a pasta to go which only ended up costing 5 Euros. I headed back to the Trevi fountain with my mouth watering feed, took a seat and devoured the pasta whilst admiring the beauty before me. I then headed to the Gelateria across the way and got a pana cota gelato to top the evening off nicely!
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Posted by classique 21:28 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

October 21st

Paris to Rome

semi-overcast 6 °C

I decided that even though i`m not much fussed on museums I might as well go and have a look at a highly over rated picture called the Moaning Lisa... or was it Mona Lisa... ah well. I got up later then I had hoped and only just met up with two of the Aussie lads that who I was going with to the Louvre. We all arived at 10 am which was a full 2 hours later then we had planned.
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As it turned out the Pyramid entrance had been closed fro staff meetings and was due to open at 10:15am so we ducked under the ropes and waited at the head of the queue for the 3 minutes it took to open. It was pretty awesome a s there was a queue at the other entrance that would have taken between 30 and 60 minutes to get through. Within 10 minutes we were in the Louvre and headed to the Mona Lisa. Thankfully there weren`t a lot of people in front of it so I got a picture of myself in front of it. I would have posted it here but when I saw the state of my hair in the picture I figured there was no reason to make the Mona Lisa look any better!
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We then checked out some cool art and loads of boring stuff and even more boring stuff. Who would`ve thought that there could be so much information in one place. Within two hours my brain was overloading. We headed out in search of a restuarant which the New York Times stated as having the best falafel in Paris. We located the joint and headed in for some falafel. It was pretty good but I love my meat!!! We wandered around the Jewish district for a bit and then wandered back to the Bastille monument. I bid farewell to the Aussie blokes and headed back to the hostel. After spending what seemed like forever booking a hostel in Rome for the night I figured I had enough time to get to the Eiffel Tower, go to the top and head back etc. WRONG!!! I headed to the Eiffel Tower and finally arrived an hour later. Looked at the queue, looked at the time and jogged back to the train station. I eventually arrived back at the hostel an hour later, hurridly checked out and ran back to the train station. With less then two hours to catch my flight, I got off at the right train station, headed out of the wrong exit, crossed several busy intersections and arrived puffing at the bus stop to see the bus I wanted heading up the road. I bought a ticke¬łt, stowed my gear in the next bus and grabbed a seat. The estimated time to get to the airport was one and a half hours and I had ohh lets say one and three quarter hours before my plane left. I began to sweat a little as we waited and waited and waited. Finally the bus was full and we were on our way. From the estimated time of arrival to my departure time was 10 minutes. I prayed about it, and basically left it at that as there was nothing further i could do. We then got stuck in peak hour traffic and then were stopped by the police. We finally arrived 10 minutes ahead of schedule. I grabbed my gear and jogged into the airport, talke my way to the front of the queue, flew through customs. As i was hurridly re threading my belt into my pants and re-attaching all the rest of my gear i turned around to look at the electronic flight board to see that my flight was running 30 minutes late.

Posted by classique 23:14 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

October 20th

Walk about in Paris

overcast 7 °C

After a late start I a caught the metro and headed to the Sacre Coeur. I arrived and walked up the hill Montmartre hill. As I reached the bottom of the steps leading up to the Sacre Coeur hill I saw the beginning of the hawkers and con artists. At the main entrance was the customary guy selling Eiffel tower figures, then as I reached the second set of stairs came a bunch of guys trying to give you a free bracelet, which normally once they have tied onto your wrist turns out to be attached to their wrist. They generally then ask for cash and if you refuse pull out a knife. From my understanding most people then pay even though the knife is to cut the bracelet off. Needless to say I wasn't having a bar of that one! I continued past as they called after me saying it was gratis and moved to the next stage in the gauntlet. I began to climb the third set of stairs to meet gypsie looking people who are faking being mute and try to get you to sign a petition. Once signed they then want some money as a donation. I walked on by and arrived at a viewing area from which you can see a lot of Paris.
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I wandered up the last part of the way past more hawkers and beggars and entered the Sacre Coeur which turned out to be smack dab in the middle of a service. Tourists were walking in and out but were asked to be quiet. Nuns were singing in harmony and the priests were getting ready for mass. After watching for a bit and wandering around I headed back out to find entrance to climb the tower. After waiting in line for a long time, with only a few people in front of me I reached the front of the queue. I had my 10 euros ready and fed the notes into the automatic machine which continued to reject each note that i pulled from my wallet one by on. After five minutes of solid trying I had pretty much given up when suddenly the machine accepted my notes and pumped out the ticket. Unfortunately there was no other option for buying a ticket. I inserted my ticket into the turs style and headed up. As I was heading up it occured to me that the machine might be programmed to let people in with a time delay between each so that the single file width staircase didn`t get to crowded. The views from the top were pretty amazing but flipping freezing. Heres a pic of me at the top. Unfortunately there was no one there to take my picture so I set it on auto timer in the only safe spot.
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By the time i couldn`t feel my fingers any more i decided it was time to head back down. I jogged down most of the stairs to attempt to defrost again. When I reached the bottom I decided that the Notre Dame was my next place to check out. I headed back down the hill and stopped to watch a few people playing a game. Its where the have a ball under one of 3 small caps and move the caps around moving the ball from one to another. The same two people stand on each side of the guy with the game dropping in 50 and 100 Euro bets and winning double the money. Then a unwise tourist gets sucked in and places a 50 Euro bet and while he`s obliviously passing over the money the main guy moves the ball from the centre spot to the outside and makes himself 50 euros. Both people on either side of the guy, one being a woman, looked like you wouldn`t want to mess with them. I continued on down to the train station and headed to the next train station. Before I even got there everyone was kicked off the train and then another train came and every one was kicked off that one as well. People were talking in french and most of the people headed off so I left the station and walked the last part of the way to the Notre Dame. I found that the Notre Dame was actually free to enter. Here are a few pictures from the outside and inside.
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I then continued my wanderings and managed to find the Pantheon and a cool church. As there was a charge to enter the Pantheon I decided that it wasn`t worth the money and continued wandering. I found this epic church which had a really cool internal staircase.
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I got back to hostel and had dinner with the Aussie guys again before heading to Montparnasse to catch the view of the Eiffel tower lighting up on the hour for a couple of minutes. We arrived a bit later then we thought we would, eventually found the entrance, paid our money and headed up to the 56th floor. We then took the steps to the roof and enjoyed the view of Paris by night. This was like a dream come true. It was made even better when some Chinese tourists arrived and were running from one side of the roof to the other yelling with sheer delight! At 10pm on the dot the Eiffel tower lit up wit flickering lights that were beautiful to watch. My camera couldn`t catch the beauty of the moment but heres a picture or two from the roof top of the Montparnasse.
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I was still getting over my joy of being on the roof top when someone came up and advised us that we had to head down as it was closing down for the evening. We headed in and spent quit some time taking pictures on the 56th floor. As we headed to the other side to take some pictures we realised that everyone was gone and the staff were packed up and heading out so we headed to the escalators and dropped down to the 1st floor.

Posted by classique 12:47 Archived in France Comments (0)

October 19th

Paris walking tour

all seasons in one day 7 °C

After an amazing nights sleep, a couple of chocolate filled croissants and a coffee, I headed out to join the free walking tour of Paris. I jumped on boards the metro with plenty of time to spare but by the time i arrived at my stop I was running out of time. I had forgot my map and only had a rough Idea on where the meeting point was so I blindly walked up one street and down another. Just as I was about to give up I saw the Aussie guys I had organized to meet up with for the tour. I crossed the road to Place Saint-Michel just in time to join one of the two tour groups. In freezing icy weather with occasional rain showers to increase the delightfulness of the day we headed off across the Seine. We were shown a building with bullets damage in the front of it from resistance fighters in WWII. Then we headed to the Pont Neuf bridge which is the oldest bridge in Paris
We also wandered around the Louvre and were told how the pyramids came to be. It was raining cats and dogs off and on. As we entered a covered area near the Louvre a guy came up selling umbrellas for 10 euros. I thought that was a bit steep but as we were leaving the covered area back into the rain I bartered another guy down to 5 euros. Armed with my budget umbrella which was made from something like recycled match sticks I braved the rain and wind as we headed to a Starbucks close by. Half an hour and 5 euros later we hit the road again in search of more interesting sights. We ended up heading to this park which was originally the front gardens of the palace. Park_in_Paris.jpg
After visiting a few other sites like the Orsay Museum, Place Del la Concorde and a few others we ended the tour at this bridge which has a nice view of the Eiffel tower.
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We noticed coming onto the bridge a vivid police presence so we asked the guide to ask what was happening. It turned out that the uni students had organized a march/riot. The police had vans upon vans parked everywhere. Down the side streets they had vans with fold out riot screens to block any one headed in that direction. With the plan to stay and watch we headed over to the Les Invalides which houses Napoleon. After finding out the entry fee we decided to give it a miss. The march still wasn't happening so we headed off to get some bus tickets. Later in the afternoon we headed past the Bastille monument on our way back to the hostel. Just before we reached the hostel the guys showed me the bakery that they had breakfast at so I headed in to try some baking. I purchased a couple of items and my favorite was something that looked like a chocolate cup cake but had a guey chocolate inside. I've never eaten a cup cake or whatever it was that tasted so delicious!
Later in the evening whilst eating dinner we saw how the riots had gone with smashed telephone booths etc. I personally think that the Parisians must not have enough fun ways to let their hair down so they organize a riot or two.
After dinner I headed out for a couple of catch up drinks with Mohammed who I had met in Krakow, Poland earlier in the year. Fountain_in_Paris.jpg

Posted by classique 08:59 Archived in France Comments (0)

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