Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ciao Bella!

Alright so here is how Rome went:
got to the airport at about 16h30. POURING down rain! Pretty sure I only packed for warm weather, and had just one pair of sandals for the two weeks. FML. So we finally got to our hostel after HOURS of searching in the rain. No one spoke english there and looked at us like we were from another planet. There were only 3 rooms in the hostel, and our room seemed to be the only one booked up, with 4 other people in it already. They got real annoying real fast, so we decided that we deserved a nice dinner after all that we had gone through. We headed out to what seemed like a good area, according to our guide book. Seeing as I spent 2 weeks planning these trips, and Rome was supposed to be 4 days long, we chose our top 4   for the city and explored one of the 4 areas. We ran into the Trevi fountain on the way to dinner.       Throwing my coin in.   On our walk to the square, we hit this  lil guy. We thought it was the Pantheon, but later was made fun of for about 3 hours by some ex-pats because clearly it is not. Im still not sure what it is though? Rome went by a little fast :/

Dinner was delicious, but it was pouring harder than I have ever seen in my whole life, no exaggeration, and like I said, neither of us were prepared for the weather, so we turned that in to a 3 hour dinner pretty quickly. 
After dinner, clearly not wanting to go back to the hostel, we decided to head to a bar. I had heard millions of recommendations for bars and clubs that I was so excited to try out, but given the weather and the lack of enthusiasm for this city, we headed next door to an all American, beer pong playing bar. Yuck. The last place in the whole entire world I would ever want to be. We did meet the ex-pats here though, and we had some fun just chit chatting with them.
Headed back to the hostel pretty early that night, seeing as we had a tour of the Vatican at 10 am and a flight at 16h. 
Again, this is where the FML part comes it. Our hostelmates stumbled in at about 330 am, and decided to get in a HUGE fist fight/ cursing contest with the people who work there. Apparently someone stole someone's jacket, which of course requires a brawl in the middle of the night. I politely, ok maybe not, but still, asked them to shut the freak up and to put me in a 4 star if they didn't stop, and was cussed out by the guy who owns the hostel? Okay... 
Flash forward to 7 am, the people who work at the hostel decided to throw a raging bash with everyone they know, until about 9 am. Lovely.
Flash forward again to about 930 am, time for us to check out, no one coherent is anywhere to be found, and there are people passed out everywhere. Ew. Finally I snoop around, seeing as we are already going to be late to our Vatican tour. The only person I can find is the guy I got in a fight with the night before, NAKED, still drunk probably. He casually helps me check out, still naked. Eh? Let's just thank god that's over with.
Headed to the Vatican for a tour following an umbrella with a bunch of Americans. Who am I?!
So, here are my pics of the Vatican Museum for all y'all:

Newest addition: the spiral walkway in the museum. St. Peter's basilica behind me (still raining). 
Large head in the pine cone courtyard. 

 Pine cone.

 Sneaky pic of the Sistine Chapel, not to be confused with the Sixteenth Chapel.

 Vatican City. Inhabitants: Roughly 300. Only home to the Swiss guards of the Museum and Pope. Only after 2 years of service can they invite their families in to live with them in the city. Or something like that.  St Peter's Square.  St Peter's Basilica.  The inside of the church.  Stairwell leading to where all the popes are buried. Icky. 

Sorry for my lack of Vatican pictures. It was overwhelming/ forbidden/ we were really tired.
So after the tour was over at about 13h, back to Rome to do 3 hours of sight seeing and head to the airport right-quick.  
So in a nutshell: here is Rome

 Run really quick to the Pantheon, which has a whole in the roof? Okay. Briskly walk to the Colosseum. Run into the ex-pats from the previous night. Small world? Find out that it is free (!) to enter the Colosseum just for that day. Do a quick tour while the sun comes out for 35 minutes.  Feel really sad for the people who lost their lives, but smile for a necessary picture, and feel a bit inspired to watch Gladiator.  Get a nice picture of one of Rome's 3 (4?) versions of the Arc de Triomphe.
Leap over cobblestones to the Spanish Steps. 

 Hop on a train, and head off to Barcelona on red eye flight with a Catalonian family reunion. In case you don't know, Catalonians are WAY louder than Spaniards AND Italians. Lovely to deal with whilst trying to get some shut eye for a quick 2 hours. Hence us sleeping practically in the toilettes. 
Ciao Roma, Hola Espana! 

And Now, For A Trip to Athens

Ok I do realize that I completely fail at life. BUT, I was on spring break for the past two weeks, so that explains a bit.
So here's what went down. We were SUPPOSED to be in Athens on the first Sunday of break, but thank you Icelandic volcano for exploding all over Europe and delaying our flight 3 separate times until Wednesday.

And when we FINALLY got a flight out, we were just about the only people in CDG. Eery but only took us a few minutes to get through security.
So, with Paris behind us, we headed off to Athens, for what should have been 4 days, but turned into 2 and a half.

So of course, upon arriving to our hostel at about 2 am, they didnt have any reservation under our name, but thank you cute Australian working at the desk at that hour for putting us into a private hostel for the night. I owe that cutie Chase my life... well maybe not that much.

So we got some shut eye and did some sight seeing the next morning. Pretty sweet, we got into Agora, which is the small "city" that the Acropolis is in, for free with our student ID cards. Thank you La Sorbonne!
So here are some pics of Agora:

Atop a large rock, overlooking Athens and then some
PARTHENON. Hello you beautiful beast.
Although, everything on our Eurotrip was either under construction, on strike, or both. 
Some pretty sweet sculptures.
We noticed that in Athens, there were puppies EVERYWHERE. They were treated better than the beggars on the streets even. Everywhere we went there were lil bebes sleeping and/or eating food put out by each shop keeper. 
After sightseeing, which took about 3 hours, we had a nice long greek lunch, and went to this wine/liqueur shop called Brettos. Its pretty famous, as I'm sure you can see why. We may have spent a little too long wine tasting, but it was just all so good, and the owners were so nice!

Our hostel. Perfectly safe and clean, no worries moms. 
After this, we ended up hanging out with some people we met whom had been stuck in Athens for quite some time, due to the volcano, and ended up having a really fun time at the rooftop bar of our hostel, which had an awesome view of the Acropolis. 

The next day is where it gets a bit interesting. It was our last day in Athens, and seeing as we had seen what we wanted to see and Athens is quite small, we decided to take a quick ferry to the island of Aegina. Bikinis on, magazines in our bags, and an hour and a half metro ride to the port later, we find out there is a strike, one day only, of all boats in and out of Greece. Lovely. Seeing as we were in the dirtiest place probably in all of Greece, we spent another hour and a half to get back to Athens, walked for about 45 minutes to the biggest park in Greece, to, surprise surprise, find out it is closed for renovations. So another hour walk later, trying to get to the hill of Nympheas (all we wanted to do was lay out in the sun and relax), we decided to get a taxi and sit at a restaurant that the guide book recommended. The waiter was so nice and told us of a beach just a quick metro ride away. A delicious meal and three hours later (apparently in Athens they put the bill under the table cloth? What in the? How where we supposed to find that?!) we ended up at the ocean! 19h30 and determined to say that we laid out...  (^ fake smile)
 (^ another fake smile)
 I know it may sound a bit like complaining and you say "Well Caitlin, you are in Greece, go with the flow" but i'm sure that 4 days of cancelled flights, no refunds, travel companies who don't speak english or french, creepy greek men, dogs with fleas, and sand that has more rocks than actual sand, you would complain a bit too. 

BUT! The next day we ate these v which made life a little better. We also visited the Temple of the Olympian Zeus which was really friggen rad, and yet again free!

  ^ Fallen pillar.

So Athens was quick. The good was mixed with the bad, but we made it work people, as my mom and Tim Gunn would say. Off to Rome for a quick 20 hours next! See you there!