France and Italy - Week 17

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September 2nd 2013
Published: September 2nd 2013
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<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 112 – French Riviera – France

By the afternoon today we had reached the French Riviera. It looks so good. Crystal water, blue skies and no hint of rain. Hooray! We stopped at a perfumery in Grasse which is where perfume apparently originates from. We got to see how they make perfume and then we got into the sampling. Our bus smelt real nice when everyone got back on.

Once we’d settled into our hotel in Nice we got dressed for a group dinner. The restaurant we went to had other TopDeck groups there so we ran into our last TopDeck bus driver and also some sisters from the Britain/Ireland trip. The dinner was good fun and we all followed our illustrious leader to Wayne’s Bar. How to describe this bar??? Well it’s small, hot and packed full of TopDeck and Contiki peeps. There was a live band that started up as soon as we got there. By the second song everyone was dancing on the chairs and tables. Myself and a few others managed to get to the small space right in front of the band and we did not move from there for two hours. We danced and sang our butts off while sweating up a storm. I had made the wrong decision by wearing jeans but it wouldn’t have mattered what you wore. You were gonna be dripping in sweat no matter what. The band played such a big mix of music like Twist ‘n’ Shout, Tribute and Teenage Dirtbag. I had such a good night. I usually hate small, confined, hot bars but tonight I did not give a rats. ‘Nice’ is very nice in my book.

<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 113 – French Riviera

A lovely sleep-in today and then some Macca’s for breakfast (only cause we missed breakfast at the hotel by sleeping in). We had another beautiful sunny day so we strolled through the shops, walked along the promenade and had some ice-cream. We’re going to Monaco this arvo so I got myself a new dress for the occasion. We headed back to the hotel to start getting ready. Once we were all tizzed up we hopped on the bus and headed to where the rich and famous reside. We saw Elton John’s infinity pool and the spot where Grace Kelly drove off a cliff. We got to stop at a lookout for some cool photos along the way too.

When we were entering Monaco our trip leader said we needed our passports and we had to hold them up to the bus windows so that these special cameras could take a photo of them. One guy didn’t bring his so he had to get on the floor. Well we got totally had. There were no cameras. We all just looked like tools with our passports pressed up against the glass. That’s twice now that Kevin has got us. He better watch himself if he wants a good review.

Once we got to Monte Carlo we walked up to the Prince’s Palace and had a whole group shot at the lookout. We then got some free time to explore the casinos and what not. A group of us went to dinner first where we had awesome food and cocktails. We then went to the Grand Casino. It was dead. Hardly anyone was around. We left and went to the Sun Casino and it was the same there. A bit disappointing but we got a cocktail and had a go on the pokies anyway. I came out 30 cents up. Winning!

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<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 114 – Florence – Italy

Country number <strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">30!!!!!!!!! OMG! I finally got there. 30 countries before I’m 30. Hell yeah! I’ve still got a few new countries to go on this trip so I’m now going to be well on my way to 40 countries before I’m 40. We drove through many, many tunnels today and eventually got to our landmark stop ‘The Leaning Tower of Pisa’. I got the usual photos… pushing it, holding it, jumping in front of it and smiling. Our guide said we could get a prize for the most original photo. I was out of ideas so the best one I got was the tower wearing sunnies. Ray from our group took an awesome one. She was pulling the tower out of a hat. She won of course.

Florence is our destination but we’re actually staying just outside the area in a resort style camp ground. This place is huge. They have four restaurants, bars, gelato, crepes (you’ll find me there), pools, fountains, tennis courts and even a mini train to drive you around the place. Our group dinner was Italian of course. Pasta, pizza, wine and a nice dessert. I think I’m going to like this week in Italy.

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<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 115 – Florence

We started off with a walking tour by an Italian guide. She was great. Elsa took us to Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio, the Florence Cathedral and just walked us around the town. After the tour we had a small leather demonstration to help us spot fakes (I still would have no idea). After that Kel, Nat, Dani and myself headed off to explore by ourselves. We had a great lunch and headed to Pitti Palace and walked around the Boboli Gardens. They also had a costume section inside the Palace so we had a look at the clothing for a bit.

One of the number one attractions in Florence is the statue of ‘David’ by Michelangelo. We headed towards the Accademia where the statue lives and did some shopping along the way. I got a massive ice-cream which cost me a fortune and a leather bag (well it may not be leather, who the hell knows). Once we reached Accademia there was only a small line and very soon we were inside standing in front of ‘David’. I didn’t really expect much. I mean I’ve seen many pictures and replicas of it over the years but to see the original was very cool. The detail is incredible and the fact that it’s all carved from one marble block is mind blowing. Michelangelo never used a model or had a trial run. Just incredible.

We had to leave straight after seeing ‘David’ as that was the last bus run back to camp. We had a relax back at camp and some dinner before calling it a night. I shared dinner with another girl Katie so that we could have calzone and pasta. The calzone came out and it was huge. It looked like a football. It sank of course once we cut into it but it looked pretty crazy when it first came out. During the night there were some issues with intoxicated members of our group and the security at the camp grounds. I managed to sleep through it all but there are a few annoyed people who didn’t get much sleep because of the ruckus. Some guys are just pushing it too far and are old enough to know better.

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<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 116 – Rome

Off to Rome. Excited! We stopped today at a cute town called Orvieto. It’s on top of a hill so we had to catch a funicular to get to the top. They have this massive cathedral up there even though it’s only a small town. We had a bit of a wander and lunch before continuing onto Rome.

One hell of a walking tour was the plan for the afternoon. We walked for about two hours, had a food break and then continued for another two. We saw the Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Piazza Venezia and finally the Colosseum. We were all buggered by the end. It was a hot day walking around town. We have a free day tomorrow to go back and check out whatever we want and to actually go into a few of the buildings and features.

We caught the metro and our bus to our new camping ground for the night. It’s a bit like the last one with a big shopping market, bar, restaurant, pool etc. We grabbed a big bunch of supplies from the supermarket, dragged some chairs and tables to one cabin and had a chill out sess. Junk food, warm drinks, music and good company. We kept growing in numbers until I think the whole group was there including our guide and driver. There’s a theme party in the bar tonight… ‘Beauty and the Geek’. Most people headed there next but I gave it a miss. Not like me to miss a chance to dress up but there’s another theme night tomorrow. Rome is telling me to sleep so I can explore tomorrow.

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<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 117 – Rome

Kel, Nat, Dani and myself caught a shuttle bus to the Vatican and just walked around its walls before heading towards the river. It’s another scorcher of day. We walked a huge distance past many different monuments and buildings before arriving at the Pantheon. I really needed some ice-cream by this stage so ordered a bounty and nutella one. I thought it was nutella ice-cream but it turns out they just put a massive scoop of nutella on the cone. Delicious! Should try that one at home. We grabbed a yummy lunch and stopped at the Trevi Fountain for more pics. I hadn’t thrown in any coins yesterday so I got to finally do that. We hung around for a while drinking from the fountains and splashing in the water. It’s an awesome place to hang out and it wasn’t as busy as the day before.

We walked around a bit more before grabbing the metro to the Colosseum. We were approached by a tour guide company to have a guided tour inside which also included the Roman Forum. We took them up on their offer and had George show us around inside giving us info about the gladiators, animals, Romans and the Colosseum itself. We got some free time to get our own pics before meeting up with Jonathon who took us through the Roman Forum. We got to see how the Romans were so ahead of their time. They had flushing toilets, fresh water piped in, under the floor heating, curved ceilings which no one could work out how to create for another 1000 years. Just amazing stuff.

We had a massive rush back to the metro so that we didn’t miss our shuttle bus back to camp. We had a nice dinner and met a few new people who have joined our group. We lost seven yesterday but gained nine more. I just can’t function anymore though. I was falling asleep at dinner. No cross-dressing party for me tonight. Especially seeing as I’ve gotta get up at 5:30am tomorrow. Rome has been great but so, so draining.

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<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Day 118 – Venice

Vatican tour this morning. We had an awesome local guide. Probably one of the best so far. She acted out little things and did the voices of the Pope and Michelangelo having conversations. Quite entertaining. We walked through the amazing Vatican museums, had a silent vigil in the Sistine Chapel before moving on to the incredible St Peter’s Basilica. You can’t comprehend just how big the Basilica is. Our guide would give us the dimensions of things in the ceiling but they just appeared to be tiny. 9 foot lettering looked about 2 foot to us. The dome looked maybe 20m above our head but it can fit the Statue of Liberty in it. I had a great time wandering round and the good thing was you could take photos everywhere except the Sistine Chapel.

We had to get on the move again so we headed towards Venice. Another campsite for the night and another great meal by TopDeck (we created our own sundaes tonight, yum yum). I’ve got a bit of a cold at the moment thanks to the lovely sick people on the bus so another early night for me. I’m going to try to get better for the Masquerade party tomorrow night though. Don’t want to miss that one.


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