Beautiful Rome, Venice and onto Greece

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August 27th 2013
Published: August 27th 2013
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Walking into the Vatican I was honestly gob smacked. Now I understood that the church in the Vatican (St Peters Basilica) is obviously very beautiful but actually being there and looking around it was stunning. In fact I would go as far as saying that St Peters Basilica in the Vatican City has to be the most beautiful building I have ever been in. Every surface was just decorated beautifully and what got me the most was after closely inspecting some of the huge beautiful lifelike paintings they were in fact mosaics – made up of tiny pieces of stone – wow. I honestly could have spent the whole day just wandering around the huge church and admiring it. Climbing up 550 stairs around some of the smallest, windiest staircases I have ever walked up (you wouldn’t want to be claustrophobic trust me!) we found ourselves at the top of the church overlooking St Peters Square and all of Rome. I felt like we had made this big accomplishment especially as we had to traipse up the stairs wearing jackets in the heat (you are required to cover your shoulders in the Vatican and we had rocked up with a singlet and a dress with straps on.) Anyway the view was spectacular and well worth the 550 stairs. Isn’t it ironic I found myself thinking that the Ancient Romans were the ones that killed Jesus and put him on the cross and now Rome appears to be the center of Christianity?

Rome is very easy to get around and the tube is very easy to use especially as there are only 2 lines (what a difference from the hundreds of stops on London’s metro!?) We used the tube a lot to access other sights such as the Colloseum, the Travi fountain (huge spectacular water fountain) and the Spanish Stairs (the most famous staircase in the world.) I remember studying the ancient Romans back in Primary School and being interested in them. It is fascinating actually being able to go to the places that I learnt about in school and it seems to be so much more real. Although we are talking over 2000 years ago they seemed so ahead of their times with currency, passports, social class etc.

After spending a few days in Rome we caught a fast train to Venice. Venice the city on water without cars was again very different from Rome but beautiful and every corner you turn there seems there is a new photo opportunity. Venice originated from the very rich living there and now has a population of 70,000. The city is sinking slowly but is it indeed the stereotype that you would imagine it to be – beautiful architecture, couples kissing, gondolas, buskers playing classical music, painters painting watercolours of buildings and men selling roses. Being in Venice we had to of course go in a gondola. Now I had an image of me and Tim sitting in a gondola gazing into each others eyes as we drifted from one canal to another whilst our gondola driver (not sure what the proper term is) would be singing ‘Amore’ in the background. However I soon found out that the gondolas, which were once the equivalent of limos for the filthy rich, are reserved only for tourists. My romantic imagine soon disappeared when I saw boat loads of Korean tourists squashed in them drifting down the canals complete with large cameras taking cheesy pictures. After inquiring the price of a gondolar trip I was slightly shocked to find they cost 80euro for half an hour trip (about $120.) Anyway here I was in Venice so of course I had to take the opportunity. Stepping into the gondola we split the cost of our romantic trip with my parents whom had joined us for the Italy part of our trip…. However..our gondola driver did proceed to sing ‘Amore’ as we sailed down the canal. It turned out that he had come from a long generation of gondola drivers and had therefore followed his Father in suit. He told us he loved his job which was very refreshing to hear and as we glided down the Grand Canal we passed a 7 star hotel which has a suite in it you can stay in for a snip at 25,000 euro a night (about $40,000)

I thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Italy. After saying goodbye to Mum and Dad in Venice we returned to Rome and then the following day left for Greece. Fed up of being ripped off by taxi drivers we decided to catch the tube. (In Venice we needed a taxi to the train station, as we entered the car we saw the meter was already at 11euro. Driving ten minutes down the road we saw that the meter was reading 16euro but the taxi driver decided to add another 4 euro so that the 10 minute journey which should have cost 5euro had in fact cost us 20 euro.) Anyway once in Athens we caught the tube from the airport to our hotel, which is about a 2 minute, walk away. Today in the intense heat we climbed up to Acropolis (an ancient Greek area with temple ruins) and I made myself feel quite queasy in the sun-exposed area viewing these beautiful ruins. Tomorrow it is set to be another 37-degree humid day so we are hoping to set off a bit earlier to avoid the midday sun. From what I have seen so far of Athens it is crammed with history and artifacts and also lots of graffiti... everywhere. It seems to take the edge off of its charm. The people however have been very friendly and welcoming.

Hope all is good with everyone. Lots of love xxx

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7th September 2013

Very good
Hope your enjoying! Brother Sam!

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