A Travellerspoint blog

October 18th

Paris

semi-overcast 5 °C

Suffice to say I didn't get any sleep last night either, I caught the 4:30am bus to the airport. As I had arrived with plenty of time up my sleeve I headed to the cafeteria for some breakfast. I headed through customs and lined up to board the plane. I got on the plane and found that the back seats were still free so I grabbed a seat right there. Ryan air open both the front and rear doors for people to enter and exit the aircraft from and if you are closest to the front or back door you are generally one of the first to get off the plane. At 7am I was on my way to see the city of love. I tried to get some sleep on the way but it didn't really happen. Once I opened my eyes, looked out the window and saw the alps rolling out before me.
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I arrived in at about 9:30 or so, grabbed my carry on bag and walked straight past an unatteneded customs terminal and straight to the ticket office to buy my bus ticket to take me to Paris which cost 15 Euros. I loaded my bag into the hold and climbed onboard. The bus journey took about an hour and a half. We arrived into Paris and were dropped off right next to a train station. I walked over to the train station, bought a one day pass and headed for my hostel. After checking in and leaving my bag in the lugage room, I headed back to central Paris. I walked up Champs-√Člys√©es which was filled with elite shops and spent some time window shopping. If my budget hadn't been so tight I would have bought some coats and sweaters which were smick and reasonably priced. As I walked toward the Arc de triomphe I was blown away by the amount of police and police vans. There must have been at least 25 to 30 vans parked on the side of the road with 6 coppers each. They were all parked on the side of the road talking to one another. I eventually arrived at the Arc de triomphe roundabout and watched in awe for over half an hour as the traffic flew in and slammed on brakes, bikes swerving around the traffic, cars and trucks weaving thier way through. I found out later that this is the only place in France where your car insurance is not valid. As I was standing watching the circus of traffic I suddenly realised that some one was close to me. I turned to see a woman bending over and picking up a ring. As she started to stand up again she looked at me with the gold ring in hand. I instantly said no, no no no! She again beconned the ring and once again I said no no no no, turned around and walked off. I watched as she walked acrross the road and began the same procedure with another couple of foriegners. As soon as I saw her picking up the ring I remembered the scam from a book that I had read in Canada. I laughed as I thought about how it had been tried on me! The actual arc de triomphe was surrounded by barricading stopping anyone from actually accessing the arch itself. I then headed in the direction of the Eiffel and eventually stumbled upon it.
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For the next hour or so I walked upto and around it looking at it from different vantage points. I headed over to the queueing point and found a line that looked like it was about an hour long. I walked over to the opposite corner which had a very short queue and enquired what the difference was between the lines. Apparently the long queue was to take the elevator to the second and top levels. The corner that I was at was to walk to the second level. I was through in less then 10 minutes and climbing the staircase to the first level. There was a lady who was climbing up the staircase, with her mother and daughter, who was scared of heights. She made it up to the first floor though which was pretty impressive. As I was climbing the stairs I stopped from time to time to watch the painters hanging from cables and scaling up and down the tower painting it brown in that spot. It is painted every 7 years and it takes 60 tonnes of paint and over a year to paint. I arrived at the first level and checked out the view as well as reading the information boards on how the Eiffel was built, how it changed over the years etc. I then climbed to the second level. By this time the wind was really blowing and as I had left my jacket back in Tuscany it was getting rght to the bones. Every Parisian was wearing jackets and scarves. Heres some great pictures.
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After relxing and taking in the view for a while i decided to head back as it was freezing cold. I got to the train station and was trying to figure out how to get back when i bumped into 3 aussie guys who were also staying at the hostel so I joined them and we headed back together. We had a lovely french/Turkish dinner from the diner next store, bought a couple of beers from the local corner store and eventually hit the sack for an amazing sleep!

Posted by classique 02:53 Archived in France Comments (0)

October 16th

Rome

semi-overcast 21 °C

With all my bags packed I wished the guys a good week, jumped into Ugo's car and we headed off to Sinalunga. We arrived at the train station early. I purchased my ticket and headed to the cafe for a cafe latte. As I got to the halfway point of my cafe latte Ugo told me that the train that had just turned up was headed to Chuisi, so I dumped the cup on the counter and jumped on board. No sooner had I said goodbye the train pulled out of the station. I arrived at Chuisi at 9:30am. I checked the departures board and went to platform 4 to await the 9:35am train to Rome. After waiting for 20 minutes I went inside the terminal and realised that that train must have been cancelled. So I ordered another cafe late and worked on updating my blog for the next 2 hours until the next train was due. Finally it arrived and I was on my way again. Two and a half hours later I arrived into Rome's Termini train station. For the next two hours I endeavoured to find how to get to my hostel. After some lunch, and some cash conversion I purchased a metro day pass and headed off to my hostel. As the train stopped from suburb to suburb I watched as all the nice looking people got off one by one. I finally arrived at the station which was at least 20 minutes from the centre of Rome. I hopped onto a bus for the final leg of the journey to the hostel. With big factories in major disrepair and lots of unmown yards etc. it really felt like the slums of Rome. I finally arrived at the hostel, checked in and headed to my room. I pulled out the sheet of paper which I had had to sign when the money got changed and looked over it. After spending some time working it out I realised that they had not charged me 20 Euros and 5 Euros but 20% and five Euros. The total cost to change five hundred Canadian dollars had cost me seventy Euros. Needless to say I was floored, especially considering how tight the budget for Rome and Paris were to begin with. I locked up my gear and headed to the bus stop. Half an hour later I got off the train at Colloseo station and walked out of the station to see my first sight of the Colosseum. It was already five in the afternoon and even though the Colosseum closed at six I decided to head in for a look around. There were no queues so twelve Euros later I was heading up the steps inside the Colosseum. The inside was as good as I had hoped.
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With a bit of imagination one could see where the emperor had sat, where nobility had sat and where the common people had sat. I climbed the staircases to the highest open spot in the Colosseum and admired the strength and beauty of the ruins. Finally the stewards came and advised the hoards that it was closing time so I headed down to the next level and wandered around for some time whilst talking to a Canadian guy that I had met. We headed out of the Colosseum and wandered aimlessly down the road checking out the sights as we went. We found the Pantheon but it had already closed. After some time we found a restaurant and sat down for a bite to eat. I had pasta carbonara to try and keep it affordable. After dinner I bid him farewell and headed back to the hostel as I was worried that I might miss the last metro train back.
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I felt slightly less confident on this train ride as it was after 11pm and the people seemed a tad seedier. I arrived at the station, walked out and found two police officers and two military guys keeping a look out around the station.
Eventually back at the hostel I changed and headed to bed. The common room/dining room was above my 12 bed room and the seemed to be a constant chorus of scraping chairs. Finally the scraping finished and a few minutes later nine more people teamed into the room. Ahhh. sleep, i think, finally set in. And it was short and sweet as not long later two of the guys started snoring. I found it quite humorous as when the the first guy stopped snoring the second guy would take his place and some times one would snore out and the next would snore out and so on etc. I was really hoping at least one more guy would start snoring so I could hop out of bed and try to conduct a snoring symphony with a huge crescendo! Needless to say sleep was not a thing for me that night.

Posted by classique 02:45 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

October 11th

Ducatti & Ferrari

semi-overcast 17 °C

James, John & I jumped into the 4wd at 6am and headed into Sinalunga to catch the 6:40am train to Arezzo. We arrived in the nick of time, bought our tickets, stamped them and jumped on board. I had allowed about 25 Euro give or take a little for train tickets today. The first ticket cost 3.30 Euro. We arrived into Arezzo about 40 minutes later and bought our tickets for Bologna which cost an astounding 17.50 Euro's. It was a funny train trip this one. Each carriage had 8 or so compartments/cabins which in turn had 6 seats. By the time we had checked all the compartments all of the seats were taken. We ended up sitting on fold down chairs in the narrow walk way which for one reason or another people continued to walk up and down like yo yo's meaning we had to get up, sit down, get up, sit down etc. until the next stop which took about 40 minutes. A few of the seats emptied in the cabins so we sat down. About 15 minutes later a couple poked their heads through the door and it turned out that i was sitting in one of their reserved seats, so out to the isle i went again. At the next stop i found a seat in another compartment for about 15 minutes or so until another couple came in with reserved tickets at which time i just gave up and sat in the isle. By this time James and John had been ousted from their cabin as well and joined me in the aisle. (I know... I feel like a disciple when I read it too!) Finally we arrived into Bologna at 9:40am. We checked the time table and saw that the next train headed our way was in about 40 minutes or so. We headed to the toilets which cost .80 Euro cents. I think they charged 30 cents more because these toilets had seats in them. I ordered a Cafe Latte and got a receipt which I handed to the guy at the service counter and got a warm cup of milk (latte) . It turns out I ordered a latte not a caffe latte. Even though I don't like warm milk I drank it because I had paid for it. We headed to platform 6 and waited, and waited and waited. Finally I checked the board to find that we were waiting at the wrong platform and that we were meant to be at platform 6 ovest instead of platform 6. We checked the departure time table and found another train leaving in 5 minutes so we sprinted over to the the other platform. We arrived at our next stop just before 11am and ran to the bus stop to see the bus leave just as we were getting to it. I checked the bus time table board and ran in the direction the arrow pointed. After 10 minutes running we stopped and asked a guy where the Ducatti Factory was only to find out it was in the opposite direction. We ran all the way back to the bus stop and checked the schedule. As we had to meet at the Ducatti factory gates and 11:15am for a pre booked tour we couldn`t be late. The next bus was due at 11:05am. At 11:06am I started pacing and it finally arrived at 11:09am. We took the bus to the third stop, jumped off, and ran all the way to the Ducatti factory. Phew!!! We arrived puffing and sweating at 11:14am.
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We were taken through with a group of others to pay our tour fee. Once completed we headed through to the factory floor for a very quick and barely audible tour of the factory. Needless to say John and I were lagging quite a bit in most areas. We were taken through the manufacturing and assembly line from where the engines are built piece by piece and then assembled onto the frame, right through to the point of testing in a sound proof bay... which with all the noise of the Ducatti wasn`t all that sound proof! The bikes are then shipped naked to their destination where the shipping company apparently puts the fairing on. As usual no photos were allowed. After the factory tour we were led through to the museum and shown a lot of bikes right from the beginning of Ducatti through to present day super bikes and the gorgeous 916`s (not so present day) and 1198`s.
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Once the tour concluded we decided to head to Modena and then Maranello to see the Ferrari museum with an Australian couple who we met on the tour. We walked down to the bus stop and while waiting James and I headed across the road to purchase some lunch. Just as our lunch was heating up the bus arrived so we attempted to speak Italian to get our lunch. John held the bus by asking the bus driver silly questions until we got there! We headed to the Bologna train station, jumped the next train to Modena and arrived about 50 minutes later. We then caught a bus and arrived at Maranello at about 3:30pm to the sweet sound of a GT car testing on the Maranelo test track. We headed to the Ferrari factory with offers along the way to test drive a Ferrari for 100 Euros for 10 minutes. By the time we got to the Ferrari museum it was down to 60 Euros. This was really tough for me as this was something I desperately wanted to do. I thought about it whilst we went through the Ferrari museum. They had everything from there very first formula 1 cars right through to last years F1 car, the latest GT car and the latest models of consumer cars.
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Their were Bose sound rooms to listen to the sweet sound of the Ferrari at different rpms, computers to set up your own Ferrari for racing and... well loads of other stuff too! We had a cafe latte, yes this time I actually got one, and then headed down to the Maranello test track. We climbed the fence and watched the latest Ferrari F1 car going through its paces on the test track which was EPIC!!! We climbed the fense and hang onto the fense so we could get an unobstructed view. By the end of it my muscles were killing me.
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This was an unexpected supprise and probably the highlight of the day! Eventually we headed back to the bus station and in turn to the train station and bid farewell to our Australian friends. We found a supermarket, bought a panini each, a bottle of water and a bag of cookies. We headed back to the train station and caught our train. We arrived into our second last stop, Arezzo, at 10:30pm. Whilst checking the train time table we found that there were no more trains to Sinalunga till the morning. We eventually bartered a taxi driver down to 55 Euros and after getting lost once arrived into Sinalunga just before midnight. I think the days transportation cost came out at about 60 Euros each!

Posted by classique 02:22 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

October 9th

Pathway and cheese shop

semi-overcast 25 °C

Not much really to tell for today. James, Andrea and I got the concrete mixer and made several batches of concrete and concreted the pathway above the house to drain away the water. When we got about three quarters of the way through we ran out of cement. We hit the road and drove to Sinalunga to pick up some cement but every one was in the middle of the siesta. We headed back and stopped in at a pecorino sheep shop to taste test and buy some cheese.
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Posted by classique 02:13 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

October 8th

Sangiovese Vendemmia

sunny 27 °C

This morning James, John and I set up the sorting table and spent the whole day with the help of David to sort through the grapes. We threw out all the unripe, moldy, raisoned and sour grapes. We had to get it done asap as we felt that Ugo would have kept the majority of them even if it did affect the flavor of the wine. As the day ticked on we slowly worked through the cases. About mid afternoon Ugo joined us in the processing. We finally completed all the cases by about 4pm.
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We then hooked up the destemmer again and poured case after case of Sangiovese grapes in. Case after case went through and slowly the fermentation tub filled up. Once all the cases had been emptied, John and i set about getting the last of the grapes and grape juice from the destemmer. I unhooked the hose from the destemmer and john slipped a small jug under the pump of the destemmer to catch any that might dribble out. Once the hose had been cleared and the jug emptied, John held the jug upto the side of the pump so we could empty the rest from the destemmer itself. This is where it all started to go wrong. I mentioned to John, me being tired and all i.e. not thinking straight, that I was going to flick on the pump. As John agreed I thought it must make sense and proceeded to flick on the power. Suddenly it registered to john, who was bent over the destemmer pump opening and eagerly holding the jug, what I had said. At the moment it registered a funnel of purple liquid and solids flew straight out of the pump and into his face. Thankfully he saw the funny side of it. Sadly, his apron didn`t really help!
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Posted by classique 01:27 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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