Published: May 26th 2008May 26th 2008
Well, Andrea and I have finally made it to sunny beaches and at least relatively cheap prices. We're here on the Greek island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea and we couldn't be happier. We've been soaking up the sun and relaxing, which is nice because the last two months sometimes felt like a sight seeing/museum marathon. We think we'll be here in Corfu for about 8-9 days, I may finish my Open Water Diving training, but then we may just spend the whole time at the beaches.
But for now, I'll get back to where I left off in my accounts of our travels and there will definitely be pictures. Let's see, where was I?...
Oh yeah, when we last left our intrepid travelers, they had just made it back to Paris from Normandy and were preparing to go to Venice, Italy. So we woke in Paris, took a metro to a bus station, caught a bus to the Paris Beuvais airport, flew to Venice, took a bus from Treviso airport to a bus station outside Venice, and then caught a water bus to St Mark's square where our hotel was. It was
quite a long day of travel and with the exception of hot air ballon I think we covered all possible modes of transport. A note to anyone wanting to fly Ryanair in Europe: they have very strict weight limits on baggage. We exceeded those limits by quite a bit with our third bag and camping stuff and ended up having to pay about as much as the flight itself cost in penalties. So those low costs have catches.
Anyway, Venice was great. We took it easy there and didn't visit any museums, we mostly just wandered around the little back streets and canals and rode the water buses around. We did a good deal of bar hopping, buying delicious little sandwiches and getting free appetizers with our drinks at each place. We hit St Mark's Square several times at night for photos and got some good ones. One day we did a walking tour and saw several churches and squares and whatnot. We didn't do a gondola ride, because they were very expensive and didn't look all that romantic, since the gondoliers were always talking on their cell phones and shouting amongst each other. After three days
we packed up and headed out of town, reluctant though we were to leave.
So we made our way to Florence by train and caught a bus to Camping Michelangelo - that's right, we were camping at last! Finally saving money like we had planned. We even bought a stove and a large pot so we could do some cooking to save more money. The campsite was on a hill overlooking Florence so we had a beautiful view while sitting at the camp bar and drinking beer/wine under the setting Tuscan sun. We spent the next few days seeing all the sites and amazing museums the Florence has to offer. We of course saw Michelangelo's David, which actually lives up to all the hype. It's an incredible work of art, possessing lifelike detail and a sense of purpose that are really impressive for a chunk of stone. We also went to the Uffizi Gallery and spent a few hours seeing art works by Italian artists. We saw Botichelli's The Birth of Venus (Venus On The Halfshell as I like to call it), Caravaggio's Bachus and a very graphic representation of Judith beheading Holophernes (a biblical story which
we later realized was a very popular subject, as numerous artists have used it) by a painter whose name I forget. We also went to the Florence Museum of the History of Science, unfortunately it was mostly closed off but there was cool exhibit about Gallileo's telescopes with several examples.
We had some good food in Florence, mostly at this little sandwich shop that made great, cheap sandwiches with different ingredients like boar's meat salami and soft goat cheese; I think we ate there every day. After we saw everything we needed to we packed up and headed south again.
We made it to Rome by train with no problems, then made the long journey out to our campsite. It was a really nice place, very big with lots of facilities, but it was a bus ride and then a metro ride away from the city center. The fastest we ever made the trip was 30 minutes but it usually took closer to an hour. And the bus was often really crowded. We spent the next nine days seeing all the sites and visiting tons of museums. We saw the Colosseum, the Pantheon, all the ruins
in the Forum and on Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Vatican, arches, columns, fountains, temples - you name it. We've seen so much art and so many ruins and churches, with lots more still to come, that I won't try to name them all. Some of the highlights:
Colosseum - very impressive, huge, definitely a rival for any modern stadium.
Pantheon - I've wanted to see this for a long time and it does not disappoint either. The dome with the center opening letting light in is awesome.
Sistine Chapel - Even after all the beautiful art and sculpture you pass by on the way to this, it doesn't let you down. Michelangelo's Creation of Adam on the ceiling gets a lot of attention, but his Garden of Eden, which is part of the same series on the ceiling, is impressive as well.
St Peter's Basilica - an awesome space with an incredible amount of decoration, although I personally would have liked to have seen Michelangelo's original plans for a very simple space brought to life. His Pieta sculpture there is very moving. The markers on the floor showing the smaller sizes of other Christian churches is a bit
braggy though (it's kind of like 'suck on that St Paul's!').
We had some really good food in Rome, particularly a pizza place called Baffeto's. I don't know how they get so much flavor into a pizza but we went there twice. Lots of good pasta and meat dishes, Drea got some of her beloved Oso Bucco (which I have to say, is really amazing). We had some incredible gelato (ice cream) at a place near the Pantheon called Giotti's (I think). We also broke down and went to the Hard Rock Cafe for a burger, which we really enjoyed. We even bought some hot dogs and boiled them at our campsite one night, using a tube that had both ketchup and mayonaise in it as a garnish ;-).
Well, I'm running out of steam, so I'll post some pictures and publish this. Hopefully, before we leave Corfu I can post again and get caught up.
'Til next time,
PS Well, I don't have all my photos in my iPod like I thought I did and I don't have my camera with me. I'll put more pictures of Rome in the next post.
There are more photos below