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I T A L Y 

26.09.2010, 19:45   ---   Pizza, Pasta and a leaning tower

The long journey to Pisa was quite exhausting, so I instantly fell asleep when I got to bed on Friday. But the cold is getting better already! Saturday me and two Scottish girls from my hostel explored the city and enjoyed the Italian food. :-)
The no. 1 sight was the leaning tower of Pisa of course!! It’s not just a tower, but the bell tower of the cathedral right next to it and not drunk constructors are responsible, that it’s leaning, but the sandy soil in Pisa . But not only the Tower itself, but the whole Campo dei Miracoli and the city are absolutely beautiful! It’s a little city and although it’s full of tourists the atmosphere is still cozy and relaxed.

Today the hostel offered a free walking tour which was really interesting and we got to see many more nice places. And apart from the leaning tower there are even more leaning buildings all over this place, so it’s kind of a leaning city! ;-) Well, but nowhere it’s as obvious as at the tower. Now it’s already my last day here and tomorrow I’ll move on to Rome !

29.09.2010, 21:00   ---   The eternal city

WOW!! Rom eis so unbelivable beautiful, impressive and full of history… that’s hard to describe.

My hostel is only a 5-minute-walk away from Vatican City , so this was the first sight to go. St. Peter’s Place is soooooo huge and it feels incredible to stand inside. With a girl from my hostel I visited St. Peter’s Basilica, which is also huge and really beautiful. I wished I didn’t forget all the details of Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons”…
In the basilica’s basement we also visited the toms of many popes, including the tomb of Pope John Paul II. which is strictly watched by guards.
Afterwards we went to the Vatican Museum to see the Sistine Chapel, the place where the cardinals elect a new pope after the death of the last one. And also the Vatican Museum is sooooo huge… it took us over an hour from the entrance to the Sistine Chapel, which was only one part of the whole museum. Together with a big crowd of people we passed huge paintings, heaps of statutes and chambers where ancient popes lived. Everything seems to be made of marble and all the walls and ceilings are perfectly and detailed decorated.  

At night me and some people from the hostel did a little night-walk. We passed the Piazza del Popolo (the place of public executions in ancient Rome ) to get to the Spanish Steps and finally to the Trevi Fountain. That was just breathtaking beautiful and huge!!

Today I explored the ancient Rome. First of all the Colosseum of course! That is so impressive to stand in front of such a huge and very old building! In earlier days 50.000 people could be seated inside to watch the brutal fights, where thousands of gladiators and wild animals were slaughtered. Right next to the Colosseum is the Palatine Hill. You can still see the last remainings of the oldest part of ancient Rome , where the emperors and high society lived. From there you can straight walk to the ruins of the Forum Romanum, the place where all the public life of the Romans took place. That was really interesting to see. At last I went to Circus Maximus. That was the biggest arena in ancient Rome , but today there’s just a grassy basin left.

And just by the way: The Italian road traffic is just crazy!! No single car driver cares about zebra crossings at all! As long as you’re standing beside the road nobody stops. So you just have to step on the street and hope that every car will stop… That works quite good so far! ;-)

01.10.2010, 13:30   ---   Ciao Berlusconi, Ciao Roma

I’m just sitting in the crowded train to Naples und take a rest after my early morning exercise today. ;-) I didn’t have the time yet to climb the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica and actually wasn’t about to do it any more. But this morning I just felt like walking stairs for some reason and so I decided to take a later train to Naples . :-)
551 steps!! Uff… after that you really know what you did! There were some very narrow and steep spiral stairs and narrow, leaning corridors obviously on the outer circle of the dome. But the effort was definitely worth it - the view over Rome was just amazing!!

Yesterday we didn’t do much. We just walked across the city for a while, visited the Pantheon and ate Pasta. Somewhere in a little street we saw some heavily armed Carabinieri (the highest grade of the Italian police) and a few steps further a crowd of people was waiting for something in front of a huge building, everything was roped off, television teams, Carabinieri everywhere… They were all waiting for Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister! We had heaps of time and so we joined the crowd, but he let us wait for quite a while… Finally he left the building, waved to the crowd and disappeared in a dark car. But a moment later he passed the place we were standing with about one meter distance and waved out of the window.

03.10.2010, 23:30   ---   Naples

Loud, chaotic, narrow alleys, heaps of scooters and garbage wherever you look – that was my first impression of Naples ! But I found a very nice hostel! In the middle of the historic centre and Giovanni, the owner, is just amazing!!
With two other girls that I met here I walked around the city at night and it was surprisingly very nice. So many people in the streets, street artists, music… just a great atmosphere. The city itself also has nice places, churches, an old castle and a beautiful view.

But especially around Naples there’s a lot to see. Today we’ve been at mount Vesuvius, an active volcano. We took a shuttle bus to the altitude of 1000 m from where we walked the rest to a height of almost 1300 m and also quite a bit around the crater. That’s just huge!!! And we got a beautiful view over the coastline and Naples from up there.

Close to mount Vesuvius are the ancient cities of Pompei and Herculaneum , which were buried by ash and burning lava when the volcano erupted in 79 AC. Herculaneum is pretty small, but very well preserved. You can even see old furniture, door frames and wall paintings. Pompei is not as well preserved, but far bigger. It feels strange to walk along the streets of a 200 years old city, passing the houses to the left and right, temples, roman baths, markets, theatres… and even bodies of some people of those days. The entire life of this city was just completely extinguished in a very short time.
Well, today we walked so much… everything hurts! So it’s necessarily time to go to bed soon! :-)

05.10.2010, 17:00   ---   Lazy day  

After that exhausting day in Pompei & Co. I was just lazy yesterday! I actually planned to take the ferry to Capri , but I spontaneously decided not to go and to sleep in instead. ;-) Anyway I obviously overstrained my knee on the walk up to the crater (an old ongoing problem…) and it hurt a lot when I walked. So I simply spent the day at the hostel, read a book, chilled on the roof terrace and only left for a pizza around the corner at lunchtime. :-)

This morning Giovanni invited me to a joyride on his motorbike. We drove to a lookout in the outskirts of Naples where we probably had the best view of the bay of Naples to Mount Vesuvius that you can get! Just the traffic was really scary in the beginning! No matter how narrow the alleys are – Italians speed like hell, overtake each other on the left and right hand side and they rather blow the horn than slowing down. But after the first kilometres you’re getting used to it and it was good fun then! :-)

Aftre the tour Giovanni took me to the train station and now I’m in Sant’ Agnello. I only had a quick look around in this area and it’s neighbour town Sorrento as the weather is quite bad today. Totally overcast and raining a little bit. :-( But tomorrow it’s supposed to be sunny again and then I’ll go on a daytrip to Capri !

07.10.2010, 18:00   ---   Amalfi Coast

Capri was brilliant!! I joined a tour organised by the hostel. They took us to the Marina in the morning where our boat was already waiting for us. We started towards Capri straight away where we got 3 hours to check out the island on our own. So Eileen, an American girl, and me explored the island together. A very touristic place, but really beautiful, stunning views and nice landscapes! A few times we got totally lost in all these small alleys and in the end our bus back to the marina was late, so we almost missed our boat! We ran the entire way from the bus stop to the boat (didn’t actually remember the way to be sooo far) and finally reached it totally exhausted – they were kindly waiting for us! ;-)
For the rest of the day we only had to relax. Sunbathing on the sundeck, nice people, cold beer, enjoying the view and in between a refreshing stop for swimming and snorkelling in the clear water. :-)
After driving around the entire island we headed back in the evening.

This morning I continued my trip to Positano and it’s wonderful! The little town lies in a bay right on the side of a hill. I’m just sitting on the hostel’s terrace enjoying the view over the sea. :-) But I already did quite good exercises today! The hostel is far up on the hill, so it felt like I had to climb down a million stairs to get to the beach. And back upwards again of course… Referring to the hostel it’s about 800 steps and that’s probably a good reason not to stay here for too long. ;-)

12.10.2010, 12:00   ---   From the path of the gods to paradise  

It’s already a few days ago that I wrote something, but I was just too busy with relaxing! ;-)
In Positano I did a little hike the next day – the Sentiero degli Dei (the path of the gods) from Positano to Praiano. The 12km-track lead along the mountains, up- and downhill most of the time and with beautiful views of the Amalfi Coast . After 3 hours we arrived in Praiano, allowed us an overprized drink by the sea and took the bus back to Positano. We spent the evening with other hostel guests on the terrace with pizza and beer and then I left in the morning.

Next destination was the little paradise Praja a Mare, a little village in Calabria . At the Hostel, which is actually the home of an Italian family, I bumped into two guys I met in Naples before. The daughter, who runs the place, is on holidays at the moment, so we stayed there together with 7 guests and “Mami” and “Papi”. Both of them speak almost no English. Combined with our pretty much non-existing Italian we ended up having some really funny gesture-based conversations. :-D
One Morning Papi took us on a boat trip to a little island, grottoes with unbelievable blue water, beautiful bays and beaches, we swam through tiny dark caves… and to the cliff jumping! The first cliff had a height of 8 metres, which was so much fun! The second one with a height of 15 metres was quite scary when we stood up there, but the adrenalin flash when we jumped was breathtaking!! :-) And the water is so unbelievable crystal clear!!! Even when it’s so deep that you can’t stand anymore you can still see the ground!
For the rest of the time we just relaxed. Sunbathing on the beach, swimming, eating ice cream, playing card games, watching the sunset on the beach… in the evening Papi cooked Pasta for Dinner and later we killed the time with lots of wine, drinking games and DVDs. Only yesterday it rained almost the entire day, which limited the activities a lot…

Now my time in Italy is almost over and I probably had enough Pizza and Pasta for the rest of the year – I’ll continue my Journey in Greece ! I’m just sitting on the first train towards Bari and will have to change the train 3 times (the connections in southern Italy are crap) and hope that I’ll get on the night ferry to Greece .


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