A Travellerspoint blog

Rome!

A Beautiful City with and Amazing history!

sunny 15 °C

I had an awesome time in Rome!!

On the day I arrived, I made friends with more Australians. That night we did a free night walking tour. One the tour we saw a bunch of different fountains and plazas. Of course we went to the Trevi fountain, and it is just as beautiful as in pictures. We also went to Piazza Navona, which had another beautiful fountain. After the tour, on our way back to the hostel, we came across the Pantheon.

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The next morning I met with the Australians again and we went to the Vatican Museum. It is so big!!! We barely stopped to read things and it still took us an hour and a half to go through it. It had some beautiful artwork and statues, and even a real mummy in the Egyptian part. At the end, we saw the Sistine Chapel, which was one of Michael Angelo's finest and most frustrating projects. As we left the Museum, we came out the front doors of the Vatican, but we didn't have time to actually see the inside of it. We then went to go meet with a girl from Argentina in Piazza Navona and we went to the Pantheon to see the inside of it. That night we hung around the Hostel's bar and talked.

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On the Saturday morning, I went to Pompeii with 3 people from Argentina. It was a 2 hour trip there. Unfortunately, we arrived to Pompeii a little later than we had planned, and there were no more guided tour going. So instead, we grabbed an audio tour and walked around the city. The city is absolutely amazing! It was so cool walking the city and seeing how they lived 2000 years ago. We got back pretty late that night.

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On Sunday I did a walking tour of Ancient Rome. It was awesome because there was only 3 of us on the tour and our guide was awesome! We saw Circus Maximus, which was a horse and chariot racing track. Palatine Hill, which was a palace built for the Emperor, and was the first building to be called a Palace. The Jewish Ghetto. The Pantheon. The Vittorio Emmanuel II Monument. And of course, the Colosseum. We weren't able to go inside the Colosseum because it was closed by the time we got there, but I went in another day :) That evening, my friend I met in Munich, Grace, arrived at the hostel. It was so nice to see her again! We hung out at the bar talking with this really annoying guy from Australia.

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On Monday we did what we felt was the best and stupidest idea we have ever had...we drove a Vespa around Rome for 4 hours! It was the best idea because there is no better way to see Rome than from a Vespa, and it was the worst idea because driving in Rome is crazy! But we did it anyway. I drove because Grace, being from Australia, still couldn't get her mind around the whole drive on the right side of the road thing. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we had the time of our lives! We ended up choosing a pink Vespa, and I'm glad we did, because it definitely told everyone that we were tourist, and everyone mostly stayed out of our way. We only got honked at about 3 times, which I am proud about haha It actually wasn't that bad, probably because it is winter time, I can't even imagine what it would be like in the summer! We managed to get back without damaging the Vespa or ourselves :P

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Tuesday was my last day in Rome, and my last day backpacking, so we made the most our of our day. We left around 10:30 in the morning, and didn't get back until about 6:30, and we were walking for pretty much the entire time in between! We walked to the Colosseum. A ticket for the Colosseum is actually a combo ticket that lets you in to the Forum, the Colosseum, and Palatine Hill. We got out ticket at the Forum because it doesn't have a line, and started off by walking through the Forum. It was really cool walking through knowing that that used to be the market place so long ago. For more info, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Forum. We then went to the Colosseum, and it was even more spectacular than I had imagined! We spent a while there just walking around and imagining it full with 75,000 people in the stands and a gladiatorial fight going on down below. We then went to Palatine Hill, which had a beautiful view of the city. Our next stop was the Vatican. It took us a while to walk there, but it was worth it. We went inside St. Peter's, and it is the biggest church I have ever seen! We then went all the way up to the top of the dome and saw the most amazing view of Rome. You could see everything from up there! One our way back to the Hostel, we both had to buy some stuff, so we went to the main shopping district. By the time we got back to the hostel, we were both so tired from being on our feet for so long that we just hung around the bar drinking and playing cards.

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On Wednesday morning, I made my way to the airport to hope on a plane to Turkey!!

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Posted by Jess McElroy 08.02.2013 01:08 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Venice

More friends in a beautiful city!

sunny 0 °C

Venice is such a beautiful city!

I arrived around noon on Saturday and checked into my hostel. The guy at the hostel told me that it was the beginning of Carnival and that there were celebrations happening around the city. After checking in I went for a walk around Venice. There are so many shops and bakeries! Because it is Carnival, there were a lot of people walking around in masks and costumes. It was a beautiful sunny day, but it was cold. I was pretty tired from travelling to Venice, so on my way back to the hostel I went to the supermarket to pick up food for the week and made myself some dinner at the hostel. The same day, I met 2 girls in my room, Gabriela and Lila, and their friend, Taylor, all of whom are form the US. I ended up hanging out with them for my entire stay in Venice. Gabriela and Taylor are friends from the same college in the US, but they are studying in Europe (Gabriela in Spain, Taylor in France), and Lila is studying in Spain with Gabriela.

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On Sunday morning we took our time getting ready and then went out for a walk in the afternoon. We found a place to have lunch and then went to the Jewish Ghetto and the Jewish Museum. We then went to go meet up with a group of students from Gabriela and Taylor's school back in the States. The students are on a 3 week tour of Italy with a Professor as part of a class. They happened to be in Venice, so we went to go meet up with them. After walking around some more, we went to dinner and got some delicious pizza. That night we met Cory, who is also from the US, who will be studying in Italy for 3 months and is doing a bit of traveling before school starts.

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Monday was a very rainy day. In the morning we went to the Doge's Palace. It was so beautiful! The coolest part was going through the cold dungeons at the end. It's so crazy to think that people lived in that palace hundreds of years ago. In the afternoon, we decided to go back to the hostel and have a relaxing afternoon because the entire city shuts down when it rains. Later that night, we went to dinner at a restaurant nearby and had the most amazing pizza!

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On Tuesday, we went to Morano Island, where all the glass blowing factories are. We were going to take the waterbus, but it was a very foggy day and the waterbuses weren't running, so we took a watertaxi instead, which was more expensive, but it was faster and fun :) When we got to the island, we watched a demonstration of glass blowing. It was so cool! The guy first made a vase and then a horse statue. Most of the glass blowers learned the skill from their fathers, and it takes at least 15 years of practice to become a master. After watching that demonstration, we walked through the galleries and looked at all the beautiful glass. If I ever win the lottery, I will definitely be buying some big glass statues from Morano Island! I bought some jewellery and the others bought some souvenirs. After having a very expensive day on the island, we decided to go back to the hostel and make some pasta, a much cheaper option than going out! One of the most frustrating parts about Italy, is that restaurants have a service charge just for sitting down, they can be between 1 and 4 Euros per person... That night I taught them all how to play Oh Shit, we had a great time.

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The others left on Wednesday morning. After they left, I took my time getting ready and then went for a walk. The best thing to do in Venice is to get lost, so that is exactly what I did :) At one point, I came across this store where a man was blowing glass. It was at a much smaller scale than the first demonstration we saw, and it was so cool! He was making little fish. I watched him work for about 20 minutes and then decided to buy a little bird and a dolphin. I kept on walking and I saw so many cool shops, and of course, more people in masks. Eventually, I found my way back to the hostel. I was about to head up to my room when the man at reception told me that Lila and Taylor had accidentally switched passports and they couldn't get on the plane, so they were coming back! Within an hour, Gabriela and Lila had arrived back at the hostel, both very frustrated and upset. They had had a day that sounds like it couldn't be real, like it was from a movie. Everything had gone wrong! Before they had even figured out that Lila had the wrong passport, they had already missed their plane because the waterbus took so long to get to the airport! So now they had to stay one more night in Venice. We went to the supermarket and got the makings for pasta. We went back to the hostel and started cooking. Eventually, Taylor returned as well. We ate pasta laughed at how crazy their day was, and played more cards.

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On Thursday morning, we all went our separate ways. As far as I know, everyone arrived at their destinations safely.

Now to explore Rome!!!

Bye!

Posted by Jess McElroy 01.02.2013 15:27 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

South of France

Beautiful weather and a gorgeous sea :)

sunny 19 °C

I had a relaxing few days in Bern :) There isn't much to do in Bern in the winter, so I just relaxed and walked around the city a bit. Unfortunately though, I still managed to get sick again... oh well!

I took a long 9 hour train ride from Switzerland to the South of France. I arrived in Nice around 10:30pm, and the first thing I noticed is that I didn't have to wear my gloves, I was unzipping my jacket and I was comfortably warm!!! It was such a nice change!!

The next morning I went down for breakfast and I met Alex from Australia and Elke from Germany. They told me that they were going to Monte Carlo and invited me along, so I went with them. It was a beautiful train ride along the sea! Monte Carlo is an amazing city! We went to the exotic garden, which had the most amazing views of the beautifully light blue Mediterranean sea :) Out of habit, I brought two jackets with me, which I had needed in the rest of Europe, but I definitely did not need both of them, I barely even needed one! It was 19 degrees and beautifully sunny!! In the exotic garden, we took a tour of a cave, which was really cool! We spent the afternoon walking around and looking for an affordable restaurant. By the time we gave in and went to a more expensive restaurant, their kitchen was no longer open...so instead we decided to head back to Nice to eat dinner. Our hostel had a good kitchen, so we stopped off at a supermarket and made ourselves some pasta for dinner. It was very delicious and cheap!! We also had enough leftovers for lunch the next day :)

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The next morning we decided to take the train to Cannes. Again, another beautiful city. And again, it was around 19 degrees and sunny :D We spent most of our time walking along the beach taking in the sun. At one point we took off our shoes and walked in the water.

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That afternoon Alex and I went back to Nice and walked around the city. I figured that seeing as how I was staying in Nice, I should probably actually see Nice! We walked along the rock beach and along the boardwalk. We then went back to have a snack and went back to the beach and listened to the waves and watched the sunset.

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The next morning I left to catch a plane to Venice. I decided to fly instead of take a 10 hour train ride, and I am very happy with my choice :)

I'll talk about Venice in my next post!

Bye for now!

Posted by Jess McElroy 28.01.2013 14:59 Archived in France Comments (1)

Munich, Interlaken, and Bern

So many new friends and amazing experiences!

snow -6 °C

Munich was awesome!!

On my first night in the hostel, I met 3 sisters from Brazil (Yasmin, Tathiana, and Fernanda) and a guy from the Netherlands (Roald). The 5 of us went out in search of a bar, but somehow ended up at Macdonald's instead haha

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The next day the 5 of us did a free walking tour of Munich. We learned a lot about the city. It is a gorgeous city! We also met 2 guys from Australia on the tour (Ben and Jimmy). After the tour, all 7 of us went to a famous beer hall called Hofbrauhaus, where we had giant litre beers and sausage :) We then went back to the hostel where we met Grace from Australia, and a guy from the US. For dinner we went to a different beer hall where we met Rish from Australia, Anne from the US, Jack from Australia, Max from the US, Stefan from Germany, Laura (I don't remember where she is from, and a girl from Belgium (don't remember her name). We all had a great time at the beer hall. On the way back to the hostel we had an epic snowball fight. The australians (particularly Grace) loved the snow!

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The next day Grace, Ben, and I went to Dachau Concentration Camp. This trip was very intense. We had very good guide who did a good job at telling us enough details to make us uncomfortable and to really feel it. After that tour we went back to the hostel to meet up with the others. For more information please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dachau_concentration_camp

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The next day Grace, James, and I went to Neuschwamstein Castle outside of Munich. It was really cool! King Ludwig II (the guy who built it) had some major social problems...

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That night we went out to another beer hall, where we bet Nigel from Scotland. On the way back from the beer hall we had another awesome snowball fight :D

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One my last full day in Munich, we were all very tired from the previous day, so we all just hung around the hostel and talked.

I had an awesome time in Munich! I made so many new friends :)

The next day I made my adventure to Interlaken in Switzerland. When I got to the hostel I met Adam and Tim from Australia (there are too many Australians in Europe!). We had dinner, played foozball and table tennis.

The next morning I went paragliding in the Swiss Alps!!! It was absolutely amazing! That afternoon I walked around the town, it is a very pretty town at the base of the Alps.

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Yesterday I took the train to Bern and walked around the city. It is so gorgeous!

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I am loving Europe! There is so much history here, you can see it in the buildings :)

That's it for now!

I have some pictures in here, but go to facebook to see more.

Posted by Jess McElroy 21.01.2013 08:12 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

Berlin

snow -2 °C

On my last day in Amsterdam I tried to relax. It was a pretty nice day, so I went for a walk in a part of the city I hadn't seen yet. I walked through a flea market and bought a purse.

That afternoon some people from my hostel and I made friends with a guy from the UK who was living in Amsterdam. We decided to head back to his place and make dinner. We made penne alfredo (my suggestion haha). It was delicious!

My train ride to Berlin was ok. I woke up feeling sick that morning, which really sucked, but I arrived safely. I was picked up by Gultan and her son, Ali, some distant relatives who had offered to let me stay with them while in Berlin.

On my first full day I did a free walking tour of Berlin. While Berlin is not the most beautiful city in the world, it definitely has a lot of history. We walked around to some of the major sights and buildings in Berlin and learned the history of each site.

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Most of Berlin was flattened during the bombing in WWII, so there are not many old building left. However, a lot of important buildings have been rebuild or restored to look as they once did. Brendanbourg Gate, while severely damaged, was not fully destroyed. It has been restored and it is very beautiful.

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One of the most interesting places to see was where Hitler's bunker, the one where he committed suicide in, once was. All that is there now is a parking lot. The government did not want to put anything there to commemorate the spot because they feared that it would become a shrine of worship for the Neo-Nazi movement.

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We also saw one of the remaining sections of the Berlin Wall, which was very ugly, as well as Checkpoint Charlie, which was pretty boring but important.

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The next day I decided to do a tour of Sachenshousen Concentration Camp. This camp is about an hour metro ride out of Berlin. It was built in 1936 and was used to hold political prisoners who were against the Nazis (communists and socialists). It also held Gypsies, homosexuals, the homeless, and other people who did not "contribute to society". It was mainly a work camp, but around 22,000 people died there, and hundreds of thousands of other people were shipped out of this camp towards death camps like Auschwitz. In 1942 it was also used to hold Jews. The sleeping barracks were built to sleep 100 men each, but at peak of it's operations, each barrack slept 400 men. This camp was mostly destroyed in the early 1950s, however some buildings remained and others were rebuilt to be used as a museum. It was a very emotional experience. It was about -2 degrees and snowing while we were there and the majority of the tour was outside. This gave us a very real idea of what the prisoners went through in the winter, especially given that we were cold in full winter clothing; I can't even imagine how cold it would be to stand out there for hours in just a pyjama-like uniform. This is all I'm going to say in this blog about this trip for now, however, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. For more information please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sachsenhausen_concentration_camp

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One my third day in Berlin I went to some museums with Gultan and her daughter (the family I was staying with). We first went to the Pergamon Museum where we saw the giant Pergamon Altar and we walked through the Gate of Babylon! It was a very cool museum. We then went to the Egypt Museum, which was also very cool. That evening we had dinner at a rotating restaurant at the top of the TV Tower. I got a beautiful view of Berlin at night! We decided to order dessert off the kids menu because they looked so much better than the ones on the adult menu. The waitress looked at us like we were idiots, but eventually gave in. When I got my dessert, you can see in the picture below what it looked like! I felt like an idiot eating it, but it was so good! haha

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On my last day in Berlin Gultan and I first went to see another section of the remaining Berlin Wall. This section was a little nicer because it had pictures on it as well as information. We then went to the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium :) It was snowing a lot and the animals were mostly inside, but luckily we were able to go into the buildings to see them. They were very beautiful, but it did make me sad to see them in cages. That night the entire family took me out to an Indian restaurant and we had a delicious dinner.

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I want to thank Gultan and her family for having me and for making such delicious meals (especially the homemade chicken soup!). It was very nice to have my own room, a nice shower, and a loving family for 5 nights.

It sucked that I had a cold the entire week. But as I write this, I am on the train to Munich and I am feeling much better.

Bye!

Posted by Jess McElroy 15.01.2013 00:13 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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