Sunday, November 25, 2012

Europe: part 10

Cinque Terre

We woke up in Milan where we took the early train heading down the western coastline of Italy. Brian saw on Rick Steve's Europe the night before we left the area Riomaggiore along with 4 other close cities. It took us from Milan to Riomaggiore about 4 hours. On our trip down we ended up talking to a couple from California who gave us more information on the 5 cities. They said there were cool trails from each city that linked them together and that it was a must do! We also heard from them that Vernazza was hit really hard last year by a heavy rainstorm and a mudslide. We decided in order to see everything we wanted we would need to drop our bags somewhere and get on the trail.  We decided to get off at the middle city and work our way from there. When we got off in Cornelia we realized we shouldn't have stopped there because the train station was by the sea and the city itself was on the hill way up behind us! But we made a decision right? We got our bags and began climbing the hill. We reached the top both angry and hungry when an Italian came up to us and said. Hungry? Come. Sit. Eat. And pointed to his outside cafe overlooking the Mediterranean and the beautiful city a few miles south. 

We ate yummy Italian food.

We decided we wanted to go stay in the southernmost city, which is Riomaggiore. We went back down the hill with our luggage and had to wait at the train station again for over 45 minutes! I was frustrated because the sun was out and here we were with our luggage and nowhere to go at 2 in the afternoon. Finally the train came. We hopped on and rode it down two stops and began looking for a place to stay the night. 

We ended up asking a man who pointed us to edi. We went in and asked edi for the best view for our hotel. Although we paid double that night than any other night, it was worth it for the view we got right on the marina. 

Once we got our luggage in the hotel we set off for the trails. We first went to the lover’s trail that was a lovely walkway right on the coast. It was beautiful and only 20 minutes of a walk. We were then in the next city. We jumped on a train north to Vernazza and walked around the city that was destroyed by the horrible thunderstorm and mudslide last October. 

We got a gelato in town and walked the city. We couldn't get up the tower Brian so desperately wanted to get up to because I believe it was having repairs done to it. We instead set off for the trail between that city and the one northern most. We began and we saw a sign that said the trail would take 90 minutes to walk and complete. It was a beautiful hike and a great view of both cities. 

I wished that it would have really taken 90 minutes because 2 and 1/2 hours is way too long! We got good pictures of the trail and city though. 

While on the trail, we ran into a man who was selling fresh squeezed lemonade.  He said drinks were 1 euro.  I told brian I was dying of we got one!  after he squeezed the lemon and put it in a cup for us, i took a drink and said "Mmm thats good".  He said that will be 2 euro.  We were said one.  he said oh no..its 2 euro...  dang Italians!

By the time we finally hit the northern most city we walked to the train station and headed down to Riomaggiore once again. There we decided to eat outside by the sea. It was very nice and we had a great view of the sunset.  

The food was great and the hot chocolate was pudding. We left that place and got some gelato. This was by far the most expensive area of our trip, but the most beautiful. After that we went around the city just walking until it was dark out. We then went to our amazing hotel and went to bed.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Europe: part 9

The next morning there was a fantastic breakfast by mom, really it was better than any other breakfast we have had.  We went for a drive and it was raining again. We stopped along the coast and i skipped some rocks while mom tried to get pictures taken, suddenly a bigger wave than before came and washed over Brian’s feet!

The driving there is insane. We nearly got in so many wrecks, and parking happens wherever you want. Even in the middle of the road. Mom and Dad took us to a market place where we had some guy yell at my parents they didn't belong there in Cyprus. That Cyprus is Greek orthodox, and America is where they belong. Funny thing is, we saw the exact guy the next day on the docks. He walked by and told us not to listen to dad. Ha ha, if he only knew we were related. After we went to the store, we saw the elders near the church and gave them the squeegee we got at the store.  After that, we went to Aphrodites wall where we tried to get a good picture of me Brian and dad but mom kept stepping on the snails, crunch! We are laughing in all of those pictures.
LUCY! stop killing snails! thats what my dad is saying...ha

After the wall we went to Lazarus church where Brian had to drape himself with a skirt thing to go in.  We saw Lazarus tomb and looked around the church a bit.

 After the church we went and got gelato.  Mom tried to get Brian to have 5 scoops! He only got 3 though. After that we drove down the coast of the Mediterranean. We then went home because Brian was soaked from his calves down because of the big wave that hit him. At home Brian changed and mom made lunch. We waited till about 1 and then headed to the camel park on the way we almost died in the car. That is a given every time you step foot in a car in Cyprus.

 We rode camels and had a good time trying to not get wet on the playground equipment. 

 After we rode the Mechanical bull, I think the guy took it easy on us because the mattress thing was all wet and dirty. We both "won". 

 After that, we drove to the monastery only for men. Mom and dad were a hoot in trying to get there. I kept wanting to ask, haven't you been there already? So once we got there dad and Brian headed to the top and learned secrets only men can know. We talked to one of the guys while up there. He'd been there 30 years! They wear black robes, and hats that remind Brian of Hasidic Jews. Must be that coupled with the awesome (read, disgusting) beards they all have. Been around since 339 AD. 
 We went home for lunch/dinner. Then to institute where mom gave an awesome lesson to the Phillipine girls and Nigerians. We left for home soon after the lesson because of dads customary, lickitey split exit. We went and got kebob meat after that and it was hilarious trying to get the guy to understand what we wanted. Finally it clicked and we went home and enjoyed our meat. We also gave mom a blessing for her hips and joints.

Day 2 Cyprus:
That morning we didn't have a very large good breakfast like I'm used to with mom sadly.  We had to save room for fish and chips later. We then left to go on a walk at the promenade, dad snagged a good parking spot, that's where we saw persecution Pete.  We went to get fish and chips at the place mom and dad said was the best and most authentic. Then we had to go back and grab our laundry (it was going nonstop the whole time...).  We packed up all our stuff and we headed to the airport and had a tearful goodbye. 

We went through all of security and got into the boarding line, luckily a worker made her way to the back checking boarding passes. She was like, you can't board unless you have this stamped. Brian told her that he looked around at the beginning and there was no Ryanair check thing, so he thought it came later.  We had to run back through all of security to the very front, and got it stamped by Swiss air or something (c'mon people, they invented signs for a reason). Then ran back through security, luckily everyone had just seen the stupid Americans go by and helped us move quick. So we ran up to the gate and...... There was still a huge line. So no worries. There was some crazy European dude who went to the front of the line and ducked under the ropes trying to get ahead of us. Luckily Michelle out maneuvered him or he would have been ahead of us! Then he did the same thing to get on the plane first, got off the plane first of course, but still had to wait on the bus, ha. The bus only took us like 30 feet to the building too. When we got out to the bus station, we had like 30 min till ours came to pick us up. Another company pulled up and the guy asked if we were going to Milan, I told him we had already bought tickets. He was like, you know, I'm not sure if your bus will be here, there's a wreck on the freeway. You might have to wait a really long time. Luckily we didnt have any plans so that didn't worry us a lot. Only when the time came our bus pulled up, and we got on, and left before the other guys' bus did! You sneaky Italian! Made it home, Brian’s backpack was safe, thank goodness, and we slept really well that night.

Europe: part 8

Brian wrote the next little part of our trip: We were nearly late to our train in Venice (I think Michelle needs to wake up two hours before its time to leave:) We made it to the station though and found out that it was a holiday so trains weren't leaving as often. We took the one an hour later, as it started raining.  We were on the train and the conductor came by asking for the reservation to be on the train. What?? So we ended up paying another 8€ a person to be on that train.  Oops. Turns out practically all trains to and from Milan require a reservation because of the high traffic of people coming through. While on the train, I tried to eat chocolate, but Michelle wouldn't let me because it was still morning.

In Milan we couldn't find the info stand in order to get to the airport an hour away so we could fly to Cyprus.  Eventually, we did make it to the busses and bought our tickets to get to the airport that night. In Italy I'm paranoid that someone will take advantage of us, so buying bus tickets to the airport was scary. We then walked to our hotel that we would be staying at the night we were planning to fly back from Cyprus (I cannot believe how messed up the streets are, even with my phone we got lost).  We found the hotel and with the help of google translation we were able to communicate with the front desk guy what we wanted.  We wanted to leave our bags there for a short while, then leave my backpack there until we checked in 3 days later.  Ryanair, the airline we were taking to Cyprus only allows 1 carry on bag, so we had to leave my backpack in Milan.  We bought two subway tickets and headed to the Duomo. When we came up from the subway, we were amazed to see the Duomo!

 Inside were awesome stained glass windows that depicted stories of Christ's life.  Here are just a few pictures we captured.

We got lunch at a café next to the duomo, pizza this time.  Michelle was having a great time in milan with the duomo and Gucci stores.

After walking around Milan for a while, we randomly found a castle thing. There were mobs of nigerians or something that grabbed Michelle's wrist and tied a piece of string around her telling her it was greetings from Africa wishing luck. They then stuck out their hand and asked for change. She didn't have any and asked the Nigerians to cut off the bracelet tie thing. They did not cut it off instead they cut their losses and left. 

We decided it was time to head back to our hostel and grab our luggage we needed for Cyprus so we could make the 4:45 bus to the bergamo airport. As we headed back. We got off at the wrong spot and had to wait for 5 minutes for the next train to arrive. When we got to our stop, we realized we were not going to make the 4:45 bus but would make the 5:15 instead. By the time we finally got back to the hostel where we left our luggage, it was 10 to 5. We got our luggage and quickly walked into the rain to get to our train which would get us to our bus. We got to the underground train and realized it would be another 8 minutes for the next train. Finally at about 5:08 we caught the train and rode it to the bus near the train station.

Michelle again with story of the trip time: Brian ran ahead to catch the bus before it left with 2 minutes to spare. I was left behind trying to also climb the stairs quickly with my luggage.  Our poor feet were still killing us! When I came to the top of the stairs Brian was nowhere in sight. I noticed familiar things in the train station from earlier that day and found the direction I needed to run to catch up with Brian. I began to run. Fast. As I was going around the corner, Brian came up behind me yelling are you sure the busses are this way? I went the other way! Lucky me I was right. We came around the corner and there was a line of busses. Brian ran ahead as I tried to run. I got to the bus that I thought Brian was getting on and he was nowhere in sight. Again. I frantically looked everywhere for him. Finally I spotted him three busses down waving me to hurry in the pouring rain. We made it! We both got on the bus with seconds to spare. When we got to the airport. We got off and everything went smoothly as we went through security and straight onto the bus which took us to our little Ryanair plane. We got on and our flight took off for cyprus. About 10 minutes up in the air they announced that they had all these delicious beverages on today's flight. I was excited and realized how thirsty I was. They then said beverage prices were listed on the back of the magazine they passed out. Brian and I decided to use the euro change we had to get a drink. It was 1,80 for a 7 up.  Which was about half the size of a normal American soda can. Can you say rip off? Ugh. I fell asleep on the flight and Brian read. We finally landed in Cyprus at 11:15   We went thru customs and opened the doors to see my parents sitting on the other side! We were thrilled and got hugs and we loaded in the car. Dad got in on the right side of the car where the Steering wheel was? Weird. They drive on the wrong side of the road. We got some good QC in as we drove 1.5 hours to their flat in Larnica.  We got to their home and went straight to bed.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Europe: part 7

Worst night of the Trip/ Venice:
At about 430 am, we arrived in Verona Italy. Everyone in the bus had to get off and get on a train the rest of the way to Venice. We were too tired to care about being in Romeo and Juliet’s love land of Verona.  We crawled into our train and both were dead asleep all the way to Venice.  We arrived in Venice on time at about 7 am. We were so tired at this point! 

We went and found the nearest café and grabbed some croissants for breakfast. We were lucky because they were actually pretty cheap, delicious and filled with jam! We then went back to the hotel and waited outside the door for the person in charge of the hostel. We got to leave our bags there and we left to explore the city. We decided that even with our lack of sleep, we needed to put on a happy face and enjoy Venice in all its glory.  We bought waterbus passes, and took it down the main waterway of Venice.  

We took it a few stops and got off at this big tourist stop with a big square and long line to get into this cathedral. 

We decided the wait was not worth seeing the cathedral they were in line to see and instead we headed to the outer island to see the beach.  Once we found the beach, we pulled out our lunches and ate some deli food we picked up earlier that morning.
The Adriatic Sea

We stumbled upon a harry potter bus!  Brian liked it :)

When we headed back to our water taxi, we noticed a really cheap gelato shop.  Of course, how can anyone turn down gelato, especially Brian?  We ended up getting some, and it was amazing. Best gelato of the trip for sure.   The guy heaped the ice cream on and then poured chocolate syrup on top.  Can life get any better than this?  I submit that it cannot!  

After eating every bit of that deliciousness, we got on the boat and rode back to the main part of Venice.  We hopped off and began to tour the city seeing all the waterways running through the city.  

I have to say though..this was one point of our trip where Brian and I did not have a good experience.  We got lost!  We had a map, but we could not follow the map!  It was totally confusing.  We couldn’t find the main waterway again, and if we did find the waterway, the watertaxi could only be entered on the other side of the water!  There are bridges that we could walk to, but we had to walk back into the city and loop around to get to the bridge, ending in being lost once again! sometimes the sidewalk would just...end into some water...  

Finally after about an hour and a half, we found a bridge that could take us to the other side to get on the waterbus!  By this time any waterbusses we were riding were cram packed and standing room only. The workers would give a constant "permiso" to move around and then start yelling in Italian and gesturing for us to make room for the huge group about to get on. Each stop I swear there were five people to get off and ten more on. How they fit baffles me.   Our feet were KILLING us!  We did, however, see lots of beautiful bridges while we were on the waterbus though.  

We got back to our hostile about 3 pm and had a nice nap in the afternoon where we rested our poor feet from walking everywhere. While we were resting, our new roommate from France came in.  He was meeting his girlfriend from the United States there that evening. They were a nice couple, and we didn't see much of them. We headed out again, roamed the city, and got dinner at a nice sidewalk cafe right next to a cool cathedral. fun clips of the night:

This ended the day well.  We headed back to our water taxi that took us back to our hostel for the night.