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Friday, October 19, 2007

Possum and Orson's European Adventures - chapter 1

So I am back in the land of the blogging, and the working (bleh), after almost three blissful weeks of travelling.
Jono and I strapped our bags to our backs on the 27th of September and headed out on our adventures - the first of which was trying to find Glasgow Prestwisck airport, which contrary to its name is no where near Glasgow! Things were a little smoother after checking in [and paying an extra £5 because my bag was 1kg over the meagre 15kg limit], and we were off to Rome!
Roamin' with the Romans
We arrived in Rome pretty late and had to take an overpriced coach into town as we were at the cheap airport miles away. By the time we made it into town everything in the area was closed except mcdonalds and a couple dodgy kebab places. We set off on this half hour trek through stinky garbage covered yuckiness to find our hostel, which was sightly less hostel-y than, say, a hole in the wall, but it was a bed and everyone else was asleep and we soon were too.
Rome by night, unless you're in the swanky or students areas, virtually shuts down. Everyone pulls grates down over their shop fronts, showing off last night's graffiti, and Romans seem to be more liberal about their garbage collection policies.
The hostel, area and moods were infinitely improved by daylight. The houses in all shades of terracotta are charming, with shuttered windows and flower pots on window sills. We discovered this tiny place near our hostel that sold us cappuccino worth waging war over for 3 euros and we sat in the sun with slip slops and sunglasses for the first time in over a year!!!
We then meandered our way through Rome to the Colosseum and Roman Forum, where we joined a tour for a fairly reasonable amount (cant remember) and ooh'ed and aah'ed appropriately for the whole day.
It is an intense experience, whether or not you have much interest in Roman history. For me, having studied Classics - it was almost overwhelming. Thank God, there was gelati to calm me down!
Over the next few days we found a bit of a routine: cappuccino in the mornings, walking our bums off all day, gelati, ruins and history, pasta, gelati, bed.
We went to Venice in the middle of our Rome stay [details details to follow], and on our return went to meet the Pope, or his Popey-ness as we like to call him, Big B to his mates...
On Wednesdays, people, plebs and pilgrims have an opportunity to attend an audience with the pope, during which he comes out on his pope mobile and waves and blesses everyone. It was interesting. He is like a rock star to some people. One little granny just about knocked me out with her elbow in her effort to get to the front.
Then we went through the Vatican Museum, St Peters Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. We coughed up a huge sum of money for all this [as we went round on a tour] but it was well worth it, as there is too much to see and too much to take in, and it helps to have someone focusing your attention and leading you to all the essentials
Lessons learned: don't buy food from the wagons near the tourist spots or you'll choke on the bill. Traffic and drivers in Rome are every bit as bad as you've heard and the pedestrians are suicidal (but immortal). Gelati can fix anything in the world, ever!

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