Thanks to you, I'm much obliged for such a pleasant stay

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Europe » Italy
October 24th 2013
Published: October 31st 2013
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It’s 1 am. I am abruptly yanked from the calm black inside my mind by the crazy ramblings of an Italian woman. She is screaming and pacing, just outside our door. I can hear the anger in her voice as she moves, and in my mind she is a rabid dog hunting her prey. I lay there still, not wanting to make a sound and for some reason, as crazy as the one that made the Italian woman lose her mind in the middle of the night, I am frightened. I whisper to Mark to find out whether he has woken by the noise, he has and that brings me some comfort. We lay there silently until the commotion fades and eventually I drift back to sleep.

In some ways our time in Italy can be likened to my sleep that night. For the most part it has been an incredible dream, and within that dream a peaceful bliss that comes with being tucked up in bed in a faraway place with nothing to think about other than the wonderful adventures of that day and the exciting prospect of what tomorrow would bring. Suddenly, something would happen, nothing major when viewing the overall picture, but at the time it causes a certain discomfort, a little anxiety and fatigue. Once the event passes, we drift back into our peaceful bliss as though nothing has happened and the next day, we are always laughing.

We arrived in Venice a little more than two weeks prior. Rain pelted from the dark sky that hovered above us, threatening to tarnish our experience in this enchanting city. You see, when I was younger I created a list. This list contained a range of different experiences or places that I was determined to do and see before I died. In the years since the inception, I have added things, crossed things off but essentially this list, to me, is a living being. From the original list, I had only one thing left to do – ride on a gondola in Venice. I know right? But remember I created said list when I was younger and once it has been added, it cannot be undone. My 17 year old self was not to know that my 32 year old self would think that riding a gondola in Venice was a little superficial and a bit of a tourist trap not to mention completely overpriced. I was hoping that if I had to ride around some stinky canals on a gondola, it would be out of the rain.

If Paris is the city of love, then Venice must be its long lost cousin of romance. Mark kept saying that it was difficult not to get caught up in the mystery of the place and I couldn’t agree with him more. The stone city, with its canals and bridges and narrow streets lined with tall buildings, held secrets that would be kept there until the end of time and you knew that if you were to find a lonely corner somewhere you could whisper your inner truths and it would be absorbed and held forever more. It was not very difficult to get lost there, which is one of its little charms. We spent hours walking the streets getting lost and then found and then lost again, then we found some gelato and were completely content and happy.

When the clouds cleared momentarily on our last day there, we took the opportunity to find ourselves a gondola. Keeping clear of the main canal and the plethora of gondolas that resided there, we searched the narrower canals trying to find the right moment, and the right gondola. Floating on the waters that snake through the city, I let the calm of the canals wash over me and I felt transported to a place where time stood still and life was easy. I ignored the tourists taking photos of us and found myself blissfully happy sitting next to my husband, lost in the romance of it all. I smiled when I thought of my 17 year old self and thanked her for being a little less cynical then reminded myself that sometimes when you stop thinking about all the reasons not to do something and let yourself be swept away in the moment, even the cheesiest of tourist traps can be fun.

Mark and I learned a very valuable lesson in Italy. That being, sometimes it does not pay to be cheap. We learned this lesson very quickly after hiring a car without a GPS and spent the rest of our time there being reminded of our error. It took exactly one roundabout leaving Florence for us to get lost – the first of what would be many stressful, fuel guzzling errors. It took us a little more than eight hours that first day to drive to Verona which, according to google maps, should have only taken us two. I haven’t driven in that many countries but, Italy has the worst signage system I have ever seen! There would be a sign that said Verona with a little arrow pointing one way, so you would follow it until you got to a roundabout, where there would be a number of signs pointing to towns but for some reason Verona would not be on it. Do you go left, do you go right, do you go straight? I mean, which fucking way do you go??? So we would assume we missed a sign somewhere and go back and loop the road again. We continued to get lost for the week we had the car, which incidentally is nowhere near as relaxing as getting lost in Venice. I look forward to reading the strongly worded letter that Mark kept threatening to send to the Italian tourist department!

Aside from the driving, our time in Tuscany has been the most relaxing of our entire holiday. We stayed at a gorgeous little vineyard just outside Montalcino, which is apparently world renowned for its red wines, Brunello di Montalcino. We spent the warm days exploring the area, becoming acquainted with the abundance of local delights and learning the ways of the wine snob. Armed with six bottles of wine, some more cheese (Italian this time) and an extra suitcase to house all the additional crap that we have acclimated along the way, mainly wine and cheese, we left Tuscany on a misty morning and made our way towards the ancient city of Rome.

Mark was really excited to see Rome and although I had been there before, his enthusiasm rubbed off on me. We had arranged to do a Segway tour after seeing some people in Berlin on one however as we had already done a city tour in Berlin, we settled on Rome. In retrospect Berlin with its bitumen streets may have been a better choice than Rome whose roads consisted of a mix between tarred roads and uneven paved tracks littered with potholes. I woke the day we were to ride our Segway a little tired because I had been kept up the previous night by some crazy Italian lady however this did not dampen our spirits so we enthusiastically made our way toward the colosseum.

I would like to blame the uneven streets or the potholes or my tiredness or Mark stopping suddenly, a detail that we are still debating, for falling from the Segway but those of you who know me would never believe it. The truth is I just couldn’t work out how to stop properly so when we were coming down a narrow paved road I panicked, turned and clipped the left hand side of Marks Segway and was thrown to the ground. Somehow my ankle managed to stay with the Segway and was twisted enough for an ambulance to be called and x-rays ordered. Luckily nothing was broken, just a sprain and a bruised ego. I am not sure if coming off the Segway was as embarrassing as making a bride wait for the ambulance to leave before she could walk down the isle of the ancient church I stacked it in front of but needless to say this is one that I will be hearing about over the years to come.

Additional photos below
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View fro our balcony... doing it tough!

Pretty much the only thing we did it Italy

31st October 2013

Beautiful writing Em
Love your blog Em . You could get paid to write travel blogs. So entertaining I love how u described Venice Its exactly how it was for us too Enjoy rest of ur adventure Love Ree
31st October 2013

Dreams do come true!
You two are adorable in the gondola--how wise and romantic to have splurged (I didn't). Your photos brought back lovely memories--that walk along the Cinque Terra was one of my favorites ever. Glad you got to saturate yourselves in grand adventures before the Segway incident--best wishes on that swelling going down soon. Salud e ciao!
1st November 2013

As always a bloody awesome blog entry!!!! If you don\'t add \"Writing a Book or Travel Journal\" to your bucket list I will be disappointed! Loved the bit about Mark intending to write a sharp long letter to the Italian Tourism Board! I think I must claim that influence on him .... and to think he\'d poo poo my long complaint letters! Hah@!!!!!!! Can\'t wait to see you both, though I can imagin how sad you must be feeling as this lifetime adventure draws to a close. I\'m thinking it can\'t be long until you board you 5pm flight from Johannesburg to Sydney :( It will be very hard to kiss this likestyle goodbye that\'s for sure. I remember having the same feelings when we got back after our 3 month backpacking adventure. I\'m so glad you got to experience this together, it will all be talked about for the rest of your lives and that\'s not a bad thing. It will bring bouts of laughter between your both forever. Very proud (and ever so jealous) of both of you XXXXXXX
2nd November 2013

So inspired. Thanks x
6th December 2014

Travel wish lists...
Your descriptions of your experiences are fantastic, as are your photos - they took me right back to Italy. My younger self didn't write down my travel wish lists, and so I think I've conveniently 'forgotten' the things that I don't wish to do now... :)
8th December 2014

Haha Thanks! I have found that sometimes succumbing to tacky tourist traps can be fun, as long as you don't make a habit of it!

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