Sunday, 27 March 2011

Buona Serra from Venice (21st Sept)

Hi all,

We sadly said good-bye to Florence this morning but not before a last minute wander through the markets.  Melinda felt this was her last opportunity to help the Florence economy so she purchased 4 scarves.  The nice scarf man showed Melinda 4 new fashionable ways to wear a scarf, so to help her memorise the different methods, she decided to colour code each method with a different coloured scarf.  The blue scarf signifies the 'round and round' method with a knot at each end. The purple scarf utilises the 'fold in half and thread through' method.  The green scarf starts with the purple method by the folding through but has a technical little twist at the end; and finally the brown scarf is the 'shawl' method with an extra fluff of the pretty fabric.  See, when explained, it makes perfect sense to have purchased all 4???

Melinda appears to be creating an Italian style rainbow with her colourful purchases.  She is adding her new scarves to the purple, green and tan leather handbags (3) and red, black and brown leather jackets (3) and purple leather gloves (1) and brown and red leather purses (2) that she had already purchased in Florence.  And yes, that was 3 leather jackets!!!!  Need you wonder where my bad influence is coming from??  She intends searching for her matching leather boots in Venice!!

While we are on the subject of purchases, I made a very exciting purchase this morning.  It is the latest development at solving the lack of 'spending space' (room for purchases) in my backpack.  I am now backpacking the Modern way (for someone who is stuck in Italy with a wheel-less backpack).  I have a new small Carry bag WITH wheels!!!!  So this morning as we trudged from the Hotel to the train station, my ears were joyously listening to the sounds of wheels on the pavement beside me.  I proudly wheeled (yes, wheeled) my new Louis Vuitton look-a-like carry bag by my side and was able to forget for 10 minutes that I had a crushing weight on my back that was compressing each vertebrae.

I even managed a smile when I had to hoist the said backpack onto the overhead baggage compartments above our seats in the train.  Actually, to be honest, I think the smile came when Melinda expressed her admiration that I could get it up there on my own.  Just prior to that it might have been more a re-enactment of a chinese weight lifter trying to go for gold with a weight that was clearly too much for them (complete with leg wobble, grunts, strained look, and perspiration). 

Oh, Oh, Oh, my next most exciting news - I have met my new Italian love interest!!!  Well, maybe I didn't quite get to 'officially' meet him.  He was a bit busy at the time.  He was the clarinet player in the Italian Orchestra playing in the Piazza in Florence.  I'm sure he would have noticed me if he wasn't so busy (I was dressed more appropriately and this time the foundation was intact).  Actually, I'm surprised he didn't notice me.  My camera zoom lens was extended so far it could have almost reached him.  It also meant I was ready when he looked my way and smiled (I have checked the numerous photos at least 35 times to ensure I captured his every expression, including the smile when it finally came).  No, it is not called stalking when you are a professional photographer???

I have named him 'Donatello'.  He was like one of those God-like creatures I've mentioned previously, so he needed a good strong name.  Donatello is soon to grace the Front Cover of my new Christmas Italy Calendar. I bet you all want one now!!!

Melinda informed me that I was a tad older than Donatello (Cougar image springs to mind), but she is the same age as I am, and it certainly didn't stop her taking photos as well after I pointed him out to her!!!

Anyway, we loved Florence and were sad to have to leave.  We did a wine tour on Friday evening in the Chianti region, which ended in a beautiful 3 course meal.  Was lovely.  We met a really nice Canadian couple who promised if I ever went to Canada she would find a nice man for me.  Good to have scouts out there helping search for that elusive (older) Donatello!!

We arrived in Venice at 2pm today and spent the afternoon wandering the streets in awe.  An amazing City.  Again, it is so different to all the places we have been so far.  Am sure to have some stories for you by my next email.

Ciao Caio, til next time. 

Love Joyous(ly) tripping around Italy...................

Hi from Florence (18th Sept)

Hi All,

Well, we sadly left Corniglia (Cinque Terre) on Tuesday morning.  Probably a good thing for Melinda because she seemed to be in the wars.  On the first day there she caught her finger in her elasticised travel clothesline which caused her hand to swell for 3 days.  Then after all our walking in the hot sun her legs broke out in a terrible (& very unattractive) heat rash.  They make them soft in Tasmania!  And to top it off she fell down the internal staircase of our apartment and ended up with a massive bruise on her thigh.  Gave me an absolute heart attack as I heard her fall and thought I was going to find her unconscious in a heap.  Thankfully no, just in her PJ's sprawled on the ground, claiming she had a cramp.  Personally, I think she was trying to slide down the banister and fell off, but she wouldn't come into that!

Then it came time to re-pack the backpack.  Well somehow after only 5 days, the small space I had left for purchases at the top of the pack was gone.  I can't explain how 2 postcards can fill such a gap?  I mean, I put my other purchases in the bottom of the pack but that shouldn't have made a difference???  I made a new discovery though - you can actually simulate that the pack has wheels, simply by just dragging it!!!

Anyway, after an uneventful 2.5 hr train ride we arrived in gorgeous Florence (Firenze).  Our Hotel is a sensational 4 stars, right in the centre of Florence.  And only a 3 minute taxi ride from the Train Station.  Melinda wanted to walk from the train station to the hotel but I didn't want to arrive looking like a misplaced 'leaning tower of Pisa', so I convinced her a taxi was how people who stay in 4 star hotels should arrive!!

I LOVE Florence!!!! Our first afternoon in Florence we searched out the San Lorenzo Markets - stalls of leather handbags, leather jackets, trinkets and persistent salesmen.  So persistent, I was forced to make a number of purchases!!  What choice did I have, really?  Then we found a wonderful little pizzeria - thank God I am back on normal food.

On Wednesday we were greeted with rain, which although that didn't help with my cold, it meant we had to shelter in the clothes shops for fear of me getting wet.  We also had to shelter under the eaves of the gold shops along the Ponte Vecchio bridge (There were many eaves to shelter under).  I'm afraid the temptation of all that jewellery just waiting to be tried on, then convinced us to venture into the shops.  To mark those rare occasions (3 rare occasions), I left with a shiney gift bag that the nice shop lady gave me as gratitude for visiting her store!  So when I come home penniless (yet tastefully decorated in bling), I will know to blame it on the rain.

Today we took a train ride out to Italy's Medieval town of Siena.  It was lovely - just a maze of narrow sreets with marble statues, fountains and ornate doors everywhere.  More photos to sort through!!! 
Tomorrow it will be a day of photographing Florence,  as hopefully the weather forecast is correct (sunny day ahead).  We are also going to try and jump onto a half day tour out to Tuscany for wine tasting (fingers crossed).   

And on that note, it's time to head out into the streets for a quick wander before retiring to bed.  It is such a happening place.

Hope all is well with everyone.

Ciao, Ciao,


p.s.  Will email again in Venice.  Absolutely can't wait to get there. 

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Hello Again from Cinque Terre (12th Sept)

Hi all,

Just me again from this gorgeous part of the world.  Not in a hurry to return home.

Well, I've learnt so much since beginning this walking tour.  The following summarizes my newly acquired knowledge:

1.  Ensure that one can read maps before embarking on a self guided walking tour.  Or at least travel with someone who can, as towns may appear to be closer than they actually are (especially if following me).

2.  Wearing make-up (with SPF10) may make one look prettier to the locals, but it does not replace the need to wear sunscreen.  Foundation tends to slide off one's face after climbing 500 cobblestoned steps in the midday sun!!

3.  Having diarrhea for 3 straight days can be a good thing.  Even when wearing a money pouch tucked in front of one's pants, one still has a very flat stomach!!

4. Hot young Italian man sells foccacia bread in town called Manarola (took photo to prove it).  Also tried to flirt with man but foundation had already slid off face and only managed to scare foccacia man instead.

5. One must have diet of wine, pizza, pasta, foccacia and gelati while staying in small Italian towns.  Unless one has diarrhea and eats plain boiled rice for 3 days (yes, sadly that part it true).

6. One must stick to fitness plan before going on walking tours.  Walking tour means walking along narrow cobblestone/rocky paths, up steep inclines and down countless steps for many hours over mountainside before reaching civilisation.  Walking tour does not mean idling along pretty streets of small Italian towns eating gelati (unless tour is slightly modified by those guiding selves??).

7. Orange netting hanging between trees in orchard is to cover trees for pests.  It is not to be used as a hammock to rest during long walks through orchard (must remind Melinda of that one).

8. One must take many photos to prove one visited pretty Italian towns (and man in foccacia shop).  Friends must be able to see pretty towns from every angle possible!

9.  When using Italian toilets, there often is a need to not only BYO toilet paper, but also the toilet bowl and seat.  However, if unfortunate enough to need to utilise the 'hovering over small hole in ground' method, ensure that one runs quickly after pressing flush button (otherwise free feet and leg wash included).

10. And most important one - if a friend suggests you take a backpack (WITHOUT wheels) as your holiday luggage, they are not your friend.  They are a very evil sadistic person!!!!  Note: one very nice backpack soon to be advertised on EBAY (comes with chiropractic gift voucher).  What a stupid, stupid thing to do - why did someone not remind me I am 43, not 23!!

On a serious note, I am having a wonderful holiday.  The photographic opportunities are endless.  Just when we think we couldn't see anything more beautiful, we round the corner and are amazed once again.

I have decided that my goal is to complete an "Italy" calendar for 2010.  That may mean sorting through 30 gb of photos (by the end of the trip) to find 12 decent ones, but I am up for the challenge.  (Will be taking Christmas Calendar orders in November - Ha Ha).

Today we went to PISA for the day hoping to rest our weary aching calf muscles, but it didn't quite work out the way.  We had to hike up 293 steps to get to the top of the leaning tower of Pisa.  Well worth the effort though.  The view was sensational..and yes, it is leaning.  Felt very unsettling walking up on an angle.

Anyway, I hope all is going well back home.  And for those that asked, I am doing remarkably well with the language.  I understand about 80% and talk about 20%. 

From the beeeaaautifullll sites of Cinque Terre, it is ciao for now.

Love Joy xx

Hi (10th Sept)

Hi All,

My first holiday update.  Will be a quick one as Melinda is sitting around waiting for me.

So, gosh, where do I start. 

Had a great time in Dubai (2 nights).  The highlight was a four wheel drive tour of the desert.  Was like going on a four wheeler roller coaster over the sand dunes.  Hang on for dear life!!  I have never been one to go on roller coaster rides, but I loved it.  Can't say the same for poor Melinda who was quite sick (literally).  We were then treated to an Arabian style BBQ in the desert.  Very Cool!! 

Then it was off to Milan, Italy - City of gorgeous Italian men in Armani Suits (well, that is how I will remember it).  If you ever hear me say I am not into Italian men, hit me over the head!!!  Italian Gods!!!  They were everywhere!!!!  Unfortunately, they didn't appear to notice me.  Surely it couldn't have been the way I was dressed???  Shorts, T-Shirt & joggers.  Even Melinda was walking behind me, pretending she didn't know me. Well, it was her fault for not telling me that Milan was the 'Fashion Capital of the World'.  The only attention I appeared to receive was when the shop assistants looked down at my joggers in disgust.  I thought they were trendy joggers??  Apparently not!

Anyway, after many hours of admiringly gazing into the shop windows of Prada, Louis Vuiton & Cartier etc we sadly had to leave Milan and all those Italian God-like creatures.  I will return one day (and perhaps a little more appropriately dressed).

We are now in the Cinque Terre Region.  Am LOVING it!!!  We have the most amazing apartment in the town of Corniglia.  We walk down a gorgeous cobble stoned alley and right at the end, overlooking the sea, is our 2 storey apartment.  We are here for 6 nights as part of our self guided walking tour.   They gave us maps as part of our tour, but it was a shame they didn't explain how to read them.  My first attempt yesterday saw us walking in the complete opposite direction to where we were supposed to have gone.  Yes, completely my fault!!!  We did the walk we were supposed to have done on day 5.

If you look at a map, we walked from Corniglia to Manarola & Riomaggiore.  Just spectacular scenery!!

Today  Melinda took over the map reading responsibilities (she doesn't trust me after yesterday).  We have walked to Venezza today.  Another absolutely gorgeous sea-side town with coloured buildings (and thousands of tourists who keep getting in the way of my photos).

I have already finished a 4gb memory card and am half way through my 2nd one.  If you don't know, apparently you have to take the same photo of the same scenery 50 times to make sure you get a decent photo???? 

Anyway, I could go on forever, but I need to head off before Melinda leaves without me. 

Hope all is well back home.

Ciao from Bella Italia.

Amore, Joy x

My First Italian Adventure (1st Sept 2009)

Three days to go before I land a Wog. Ooops, mean head to Wog land (1st Sept 2009)

Hey all,

Just a reminder, I leave on Friday.  Am very excited now. Three sleeps/two & a half days/about 67 hours before I fly out, but who's counting???

While I'm away I will only be contactable on this email address. We will be checking our emails at least once a week, so please email me.  Will be nice to know what is happening back home, plus I then get to reply and boast about our trip.  If there is anything that exciting to tell, don't worry, I will be sending carrier pigeons!!!

Have already started preparing some emails before I go (to save time while I am there):

Email 1: Ciao, How's things back home.  Having a fabulous time.  We started our walking tour today.  Was only a short 3 hour walk.  View was sensational.  Took heaps of spectacular photos.  Miss you all.

Email 2:  Hey, another great day.  Walked 4 hours today.   One small hill, but managed to stop and take heaps of photos to stop myself from thinking about the blisters that have started to form on my toes.   But hey, no pain, no gain.

Email 3:   Hi.  Yes, you guessed it.  5 hours walking today.  Camera getting quite heavy, but still concentrating on those great photos I am taking.  Have blisters forming on blisters, but trying not to complain (out aloud anyway).  Now wish I had chosen the ugly comfortable shoes instead of the pretty trendy shoes I bought for the trip.  Powering on!

Email 4: Hello.  MFBC (More F**king Beautiful Countryside).  Would be enjoying it more if it wasn't for the elephant blisters all over my feet.  Decided to take my small digital camera today.  Other one getting too heavy.  Lost track of how many hours we walked.    Felt like 10, but Melinda assures me it was 5.

Email 5: If I have to walk another f**king step, I am going to scream.  Bought a handful of postcards today.  Had nice pictures on them.  No photos taken.  Too tired to lift camera. 

Email 6:  Praise the Lord, the walking tour has ended. Soaked feet in tub for 3 hours. Threw shoes away. Photography over-rated.  Shopping tour starts tomorrow.....Starting to feel better already.  Be home soon.


Only joking. Talk to you when I get back!!!  And, I promise even though I will be surrounded by Italian men, Italian leather (bags, shoes...), jewellery & incredible scenery, I will still miss you all. 

Love Joyous