Monday, 10 December 2012

Day 106 Vatican City and Villa Borghese

Thank God for low season!

I went down to the Vatican today, and luckily there were no lines, no waiting whatsoever! And this at a place famed for how busy it gets. If you're going to be there in the summer, for sure reserve online! I saved more than half the 15 euro Museum fee with my student discount (win) and St. Peter's Basilica, like every other church in Italy, is free!

Being at the Vatican was quite an experience. St. Peter's Basilica is massive, and so opulent. Really makes you wonder how a religion preaching charity is doing on the whole, "put your money where your mouth is." The church is beautiful though, and full of huge statues of former Popes and saints (sometimes the same thing...). The frescos and gilding are everywhere, but honestly it's sort of just like every other Catholic Church I've visited, but on steroids. I had the hardest time finding the cryot, or grotto, where many of the Popes are buried along with St. Peter's remains. It's a crazy hidden staircase near one of the statues, and after all my poking around I made it down there.

the Vatican's "Death Star"
There are gorgeous frescos everywhere, and honestly, I couldn't quite understand the hype behind the Sistine Chapel. It's obviously stunning, no doubt a masterpiece, but there are some gorgeous ceiling paintings all over, in rooms far less crowded. The Sistine Chapel, is kept really dark to protect the art from the sun, and full of people bumping into each other with their necks getting cricks. I discovered that I'm not really a museum person, and while I'm incredibly impressed with the talents of others, I am completely incapable of 'getting' the nuances. As I was leaving, I ran into two guys and we started talking... turns out their names were Sean and Shawn, and they too were at the Yellow! We stopped at a market on the way home and picked up some (illicit) wine, and parked it at the itty-bitty balcony near the dorm room. I unfortunately was left drinking with two Brazilian newcomers from across the hall... ahhh Rome.

Having seen the sights, and the Vatican, I decided to walk to the Villa Borghese Park, where I spent a few hours meandering around. Ensconsced in the trees is a darling lake, which features an old temple to the healing god Aesculapius, around which couples rowed and basked in the sun. I found an awesome bench to chill on, and as I caught up on my journal (which I miraculously managed to finish despite grossly neglecting this blog), I was awkwardly attacked by crows though, which sort of ruined the vibe... Katie, the girl I'd walked around with a few nights before, had accidentally booked a viewing at the Borghese Museum for the day she was flying out, and had graciously given me the tickets to use. Sean and I met and headed into the fabulously decorated villa. Most of the impressive pieces were those commissioned by the family to decorate the house before it was turned from a private residence into a display for sculpture and art. The most incredible piece was one done by Bernini called Daphne and Apollo, in which she is part tree and part woman as he catches up to her. You are not allowed to take any photos, so I'll just have to remember it... or search it on google!
The Temple of Aesculapius at the Villa Borghese Park.

Can you believe they sell wine like this?
Another slow night, I repeated my balcony secrecy with some new friends. Sean and Shawn had moved hostels owing to the lack of space, but we would be meeting up in Athens at the City Circus, which I was excited for. At the end of a full night of hanging out with cool travellers, I turned in, alarms set so I could catch the airport bus departure, and head off to the second last country on this amazing trip of mine.

Day 104 Roma Caput Mundi

I got a full day of sightseeing in right off the bat. I knew I wanted to spend some time one of my days in Rome lounging around, doing (much needed) laundry) and essentially being a bum. The kind of fast-paced travel I've been trying to do the whole time is not conducive to "chill time" so that was a priority for me, seeing as I had four days in the great Italian capital. I ate a quick breakfast of some fruit sitting with a French girl, with whom I spoke English because she claimed to be unable to understand my Quebequois accent... I never!

The genuine carving/inscription I cited
in a university paper!
I got in on a Wednesday and hit up the major sites: the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, Colosseum and Piazza Venezia. As a snack I lunched on some olives and smoked ham from the supermarket, both specialties of the region. The olives I got were packed in water instead of brine though, a new taste, and maybe not one I loved, but they balanced well with the deliciously salty prosciutto! Happy to have saved the $25 on a guided tour, I wandered around with wikipedia pages downloaded into my offline reader, and my own plethora of Classical knowledge and did just fine on my own!

In the Old Forum.
The Roman Forum ticket also encompasses a bunch of other sites, such as the old Circus Maximus, the Colosseum, and the Arch of Titus. These are some of the archeological spots that I studied, referenced, and wrote about all through my years of education, and so really neat to see in person. The weather was lovely as well, and the lack of tourists in the off months made Rome a really pleasant place to be. I actually saw a block with a bas-relief carving of the Advent of the Magna Mater, which if anyone has read the Mcgill Hirundo journal from 2012, will know was a topic upon which I was publishes last year. SO basically no one would know... but still, this was an actual artifact that I specifically referenced in that essay, right there in front of me! So cool. The arches, the temples, the foundations of old palaces and villas all instilled a sort of surreal sense in me, as I walked through history, and dredged up fun facts from my studies.

Much of the Forum is in ruins, a state perpetuated by the Vatican's looting for church building materials in past centuries, and by careless archaeology in the days before caution was severely exercised. I suspect it is because my trip is close to it's finale, but I wasn't quite so awed by the churches, ruins and structures as I might have been with more energy and brighter eyes. I really have seen SO much in these past months. You have a sort of energy and zip in the beginning that it is important not to waste, because let me tell you, it is not endless! Rome is also a bit less vibrant I felt than Budapest and Prague, though perhaps it is just that I met some really fabulous characters there who helped make that part of my trip what it was. I was impressed to see the Via Sacra, the processional way upon which triumphant generals paraded their spoils under huge arches, and the Curia, or Senate House, in which Caesar was assassinated, and decisions about the vast Empire were decided.

They're using this old Curia to house bits of an exhibit, continued in the Colosseum, called "Roma Caput Mundi" which translates more or less (thank you Latin) into Rome at the Head of the World. It seemed to me to be a blatant attempt to rehabilitate the war-like, racist and elitist characteristics ascribed to the Romans. In the displays, the descriptions try to convince tourists of the inclusive aspects of the state, how Emperor Caracalla, out of what they paint to be moral reasoning, extended citizenship to all those encompassed in the Empire, rather than out of political motivation, and how they Romanized subjugated cultures because they believed it was "the greatest gift they could bestow." Well... I know this is all essentially bull, but at least the attached exhibit about Mussolini was interesting! Some of his propaganda posters are outrageous, awful caricatures of black and Jewish "interlopers" who would destroy Roman culture and purity. Really terrible stuff.

The mass of student protesters near the Forum.
All through the city there are these piazzas, which range from tiny to full on squares. In these little crossroads, there is usually a fountain dispersing good drinking water, which I often used to beat the heat and the tiredness of walking around. As I rested and looked about in one of these spots, I started to hear a commotion nearby, which turned out to be a massive student protest! Drums, banners, riot cops, the works, all moving in my direction! The Piazza Venezia is dominated by a MASSIVE white monument known colloquially as the "wedding cake", from which Mussolini used to make speeches and parade his troops. This area was all blocked off however, and this river of dissent wound noisily through the city all afternoon. I managed to keep a few steps ahead essentially, but it reminded me of all the protests and demonstrations we used to have in Montreal, when Kristy and I lived right next to St. Catherine's street! The helicopters buzzing overhead did nothing to lessen the familiarity, though I never did get a straight answer about what they were going on about.
Riot Police in the Piazza Venezia

I got a lot of journaling done at the beautiful and famous Trevi Fountain. The name is actually just a description of it's location - at the crossroads of three roads, "tres via". I accidentally left the spot before making a wish and tossing a coin, but went back the next day and rectified the mistake. You're supposed to leave three behind, which signifies that you will return to Rome, fall in love, and get married. I only wanted to assure myself of the first, so I kept most of my Euros rather than try to snag a Luigi or something equally ridiculous. The fountain was commissioned by a family that lived nearby, and was essentially a backyard ornament, but has some cool symbolism. One of the horses is agitated, and one is calm, reflecting the dual nature of the sea, an element over which control was very important, and is a theme consistently demonstrated. The impressive figure of Neptune, emerging from a triumphal arch with his water nymphs is iconic in itself, and I sat there for a while people watching. It's all lit up at night as well, and well worth the repeat trip to see.
The Changing of the Guard.

The Famous Trevi Fountain.
As I left, I saw the changing of the guard! They do this everyday at the Piazza Quirinale, which seems a fabulous use of tax dollars to me, but at least draws a small crowd. The band plays, as two platoons, generally from different arms of the military, exchange places at the gates of the presidential house. They do a lovely rendition of "Hail Italia," singing loudly, which was fun because I haven't really heard any anthems from the countries I've been to! I headed back to the Yellow Hostel, which honestly wasn't the best in terms of clean bathrooms, and you have to make your own bed with unfitted sheets (one of the things in this world that makes me SNAKEY is using an unfitted sheet on the bottom), and you're not allowed to drink your own booze owing to the bar downstairs. I will admit, they have excellent prices, but still, nothing beats a 3 Euro bottle of wine! The party scene is excellent, and we played Canada vs. America flipcup until they moved the tables at midnight, brought in a DJ and a full blown dance party started up! Wednesday night Win!

Rome at Night.
Thursday I did a whole lotta nothing: I slept in, I got laundry dropped off (a little more expensive in my area, 10 Euros rather than the 5 in Berlin), and I wandered around the city, revisiting the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. The name of this monumental staircase is in honour of the Spanish Embassy, with whom the French had an ongoing feud, and for whom they built the steps as a peace offering. They're pretty famous for being a favourite people-watching place for poets such as John Keats, who died in the house adjacent. Casanova spent some of his days here hitting in the ladies as well, a pasttime I saw many engaging in... I watched lots of tourists, and many peddlers selling cheap things, and was fascinated by these "helf-buses" they have. It's a regular city bus, but owing to the lower volume of people on certain routes, its just the size of the front half of one of our accordion buses here in Montreal. Kinda cute for an automobile! The scooters are EVERYWHERE.

The Front of the Pantheon.
The night agenda saw us on a self-guided walking tour. We were only 5, and had we been more our guide would have stuck around to tell us more about the sites we hit up, but instead we got her to give us the run down and send us off into the city. We started at Piazza Repubblica, where the Baths of Diocletian are now used as a church. The structure is still well preserved, and used to house the largest baths in Rome, with many pools of all temperatures, a shopping complex, meeting rooms, a gymnasium, and cafes. It was essentially the most pimped out YMCA you could imagine. The best part is that it was almost always free to use, sponsored by the Emperor himself, or some politician currying favour with the masses. It was serviced by an ingenious aqueduct, which was destroyed in the Vandal invasions, along with many other things. This didn't just spell the end for the Baths, but for Rome as well. A city that once boasted a massive metropolitan population of 1.5 million, a huge feat for ancient cities, and a number that would only be reached again by Industrial London, now dwindled to a few thousand. The lack of fresh water, and the use of the Tiber river as a sewer, meant that many were forced to leave or risk seriously illness by drinking from the major waterway. The seat of the Catholic Church was also moved to Avignon, and for a long time Rome faded into obscurity. The Church eventually moved back, envisioning a return to it's inception, and launched a widescale building agenda intended to restore Rome to a city worthy of the head of Christendom. They dismantled many buildings to cannibalize materials, and converted old temples into places of worship, such as with the Baths and the Pantheon. The Pantheon used to be dedicated to all the Roman gods, and is a feat of ancient architecture and engineering, and after two thousand years still boasts the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. There is a circle in the centre open to the sky which helps with the immense weight of the material, and when it's raining the effect is pretty cool. The sunny days have their pros as well though, with the circle's light acting as a perfect sundial on the concave roof.
The masses of scooters around Rome.

Rome was again beautified by the unifier of Italy, Victor Emmanuelle II. It was selected as the new capital, something the Pope was not particularily happy about. The water supply was reinstated and large parts of the city revived. The Pope strongly opposed some of the measures taken by Emmanuelle, threatened by the presence of a new secular leader in Italy, where before the Church had all the power and influence.

The Pantheon Ceiling
The Italians seem to have a fascination for water, it's dual calm/ferocious nature, and the power it took to control. The city's numerous fountains all pay homage to this theme, as I saw at the Trevi. Another famous fountain in found in the Piazza Navona, which represents the four major waterways of Christendom: The Ganges, the Nile, the Danube, and the Rio de la Plata. The architect, Bernini, was at odds with his rival who built the beautiful church bordering the Piazza, and a subtle interplay exists between the two structures. The Danube river god holds his hand up, as if to sheild his eyes from the horrific structure in front of him, while a nymph on the bell tower closest to the fountain turns her head away in the same sentiment. You really do learn so many cool urban legends and facts when a guide is involved!
Putting my "two cents" into the Trevi

Things are so different at night! Not as busy, and all lit up, we stopped at a deli for some bites, and then turned in once we got back to the hostel around 11. I was perfectly ok with this, I needed a chill, easygoing day after all the crazy moving around! I have two more days here in Rome, so plenty of time to see the sites, I think tomorrow I'll see what the Catholic State has to offer!

Ciao Amicis

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Day 102 Northern Italy and Old Floating Venice

The culprits of Davide's shortened night.
So my hundredth day out here passed without much fanfare, but I did spend it in the company of Davide, so Montreal homesickness was a certainty. We found ourselves in Udine, and after a bit of drama regarding where to stay, it was decided that we would sleep in the bar! Tetris is a new spot, opened by his buddy Luca, who lived and worked for a decade in London. His girlfriend Korinne is the cook there, and they had called for a consultant to help the kitchen with its service. It's designed to be like a house, and has a gallery, lounge (with benches and cushions, where I laid my head), a room for board games and a room with four xbox consoles! You can chill with coffee, or go watch the footie game, or spend a night of the weekend there when it's super busy and there's a DJ. All in all it's a mixed bag of awesome. I actually got invited to work there, and almost did for a shift, before it became clear that Monday nights are not busy enough to merit two bartenders, much as the owner would have liked!
sleeping angel haha!
cool Tetris decor.

We started early, being as there is not much to do in the city, especially in the rain and winter weather! I did get out to the squares though, and there are some especially gorgeous ones. The nice thing about Udine, versus Rome for example, is that everything you need to see is all in one area, and you can survey it very quickly, and know you haven't missed anything. I am constantly worried in these big cities that I've skipped over something I will regret later! Too much to see, and so little time! The perk of Davide's consultant gig was the free beverages, from Brandy and Tea, to Spritzes, I was all kinds of hooked up. Luca made me a Spritz (which is like their aperitif, pre-dinner cocktail) with Cynar, a bitter derived from artichokes of all things! It's mixed with white wine and soda and served with an orange slice and ice. Delicious!

Look what I found!
We had lunch at the apartment where Michele, Davide's brother, lives with his three roommates. A delicious cauliflower soup is pretty much all we ate all day though, which along with the strawpedos I introduced to him, explains the extreme levels of intoxication experienced by Davide later. The bar provided the backdrop for the rest of the day, and by 9, when we had returned to the apartment to include the boys in our fun, Davide checked out and Korinne and I were left to return to Tetris, where I camped out after it closed at 2.

Floating market!
The next morning I woke up really late, a side-effect of the lack of sleep from the previous few days and the abundance of wine from the previous night. Davide was feeling pretty off, but working out his hangover with some xbox and coffee. I spent the day catching up on my journal, a pasttime I had neglected since Ljubljana, and playing boardgames (which I turned out to be quite good at!). Luckily we had been invited to stay at the apartment, so we turned in early, and watched the Rocky Horror Picture Show, during which I passed out.

Hilarious advert in Venice.
I woke up in time to catch the 10:07 train to Venice Santa Lucia station, saying goodbye to Davide, who was sad to see his link to Montreal heading off. I was really glad to have someone to talk about home with, and before I left we got a few traditional bracelets, which represent wishes that will come true when they fall off. I'm slowly but surely accumulating quite the hippie collection of mementos on my wrist! It was not raining in Venice, and the aqua alta had receeded, so my feet were out of danger!

Neat clock in the square showing astrological signs.
Armed with my trust ipod maps application, I wandered around the city taking in the major sites -  the Rialto Bridge, the Piazza San Marco, and the bevy of canals and winding streets that make the city so picturesque, and so easy to get lost in! I found an inexpensive place to buy Murano glass (some of you are getting presents!!) and another to grab a salad in. The city is full of couples, so that was a little tough, but I made the best of it and appreciated the city for its uniqueness. There really is nothing like it, boats that sell fruits and vegetables to people as they pass, the (very overpriced) gondolas, and the knowledge that you're walking through the city as it looked in the 16th century. It's honestly just a massive museum, and very cool. I wasn't as stunned by it as some are however, and I imagine in warmer weather, with a travel partner, that it would hold more of my interest. I was lucky to avoid the crowds and smell of summer though, so there was a plus for sure!

Church in Piazza San Marco,
the famous Rialto Bridge.
5 hours of wandering was enough for me, and I headed to the Mestre train station to await my first ever sleeper train experience to Rome. One problem with this agenda was the 6 hours waiting to be passed before the thing arrived! I spent a lot of time sipping a glass of wine in the wifi spot across the street, and a lot of time with a coffee in the McDonalds in the station, reading the book Davide gave me. Finishing this, I sat in the cold after the restaurants were closed and passed an hour on my dying iPod, listening to some good ol' Shane Murphy and missing home. I will say this: it was all worth it! The sleeper train is one of the best travel experiences! I slept like a rock, and woke up refreshed in a new city! Sure beats sharing a row of seats with someone on a bumpy bus, or trying to get comfortable in a plane. I was lucky with my last-minute discount, and it cost me €42, but if it ends up costing almost the same as the bus, I would definitely do it again. Unfortunately, cost is usually the deciding factor, and more often than not, it's buses for the win.

Rome at 6:30 am wasn't particularly fascinating to me, so I got to the hostel early, checked my bag in, and took a shower. I was unaware though of the first level problem of alternatively scalding and freezing water, and it was the worst! I managed to only wash my face before being chased out by the temperature fluctuations, and was grateful the fifth floor, where I ended up staying, suffered no such issues!

Rome awaited, and there is so much to do and see!

Love From Abroad, the countdown begins and I'm home soon to see all of your beautiful faces!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Day 99 Ljubljana the Hard Hitter, and Off to Italy

Well I had no expectations about Slovenia at all. I really hadn't planned to go there in the first place, and only made the trip as a connecting city to Italy, as I really wanted to get to Venice. A friend from Montreal, native Italian Davide, lived near there and had offered me a spot to crash and a tour guide for the famous city, so I was itching to get somewhere chill. Turns out I needn't have worried, because the capital of Ljubljana is awesome, as was the hostel I stayed at and the people I met.

Hostel Celica
I arrived at the Hostel Celica, voted the Trendiest by Lonely Planet in 2012. It is fairly new, and used to be a military prison before it was converted. It houses a cafe and bar, and has these cool rooms everywhere, such as the chill Oriental Tea Room where we spent most of our time.

I managed to make the 11:00 walking tour, on which I was the only tourist. The guide and I walked around the city together and I got my own private tour for the low price of 5€! It was a tad awkward though by myself, and I for sure prefer to be in a group if possible. The city is quite condensed, or at least the old part of town, and really nice. I was lucky with the weather (which would not be the case when I reached Italy), and the blue skies made sightseeing so much more pleasant. Ljubljana has some really wonderful bridges, all designed by a famous architect who built most of the city's main buildings and monuments. The Triple Bridge, the Dragon Bridge and the Lock Bridge (probably not their real names, but meh) were all gorgeous, especially the crazy sculptures on them! The Dragon Bridge is flanked by the reptiles, and has griffins all over it as well. People have nicknamed it the Mother In Law Bridge, shame! The Lock Bridge's name is derived from all the (you guessed it) locks that people have left their over the years, throwing the keys into the river. They signify relationships, and couples' hope for lasting happiness, the way the lock will remain with the bridge forever. It was really cute, if cheesy, and I spent a lot of time at a cafe nearby chilling and watching various people contribute to the collection.

A Raw Milk machine!! We need one!
I was lucky, there was a market going on nearby that day, and I was able to score a taste of pickled turnip, which is a lot like saurkraute, and delicious to boot! We saw a neat church with a crazy door depicting the history of the city, which the guide claimed to be about 7000 years old! Crazy! The river that passes through disappears into the ground at intervals, and in years prior was though to be different each time it re-emerged, lending it the nickname of the 'River of Seven Names'. There are fountains all over as well, and it is generally just a cool city to relax in. One of the neatest areas is right next to my hostel acutally, called Metelkova. It's been overtaken by the alternative crew, and covered in street art and cool structures. There are a bunch of bars there that cater to all kinds of music tastes, and it's a lively area at night! I wandered around taking pictures, feeling like a total tourist as the locals glared at me with my camera. Hey though, now I can show all of you, so it was worth it!

I returned to the hostel and met my roommate Nathan. He's only in for the weekend, and then goes back to being a suit in the finance sector of Staffield (is that an oxymoron? Brits, anyone?) He bombs around Europe on the weekend, taking advantage of the cheap flights that us Non-Citizens are so jealous of. My God what I would do if it cost me €40 round trip to go somewhere awesome... dangerous. We headed downstairs and played some Jenga, before hitting a little supermarket and buying booze and dinner stuff. Lately it's been a trend that I end up in hostels where outside alcohol is not allowed, but I usually cheap out and make it work anyways, refilling a wine glass over and over until the bottle I stashed in my room is gone.. heehee! Ah well, when you're on a budget you have to make it work somehow right?
What are they doing to that weird dog thing???

We were joined by David, another traveler who is 42 and wanders around on his time off, seeing the world. I am pretty awed by him, he came out and partied with us at the electronic show we went to later as well, and had some pretty insightful things to say. He's also a diver, and reminded me that I really need to use my license when I get back, because that is a FUN thing to do! The three of us hung out and smoked shisha, listening to the weird hipster accordion show going on in the next room. We eventually headed out, as I'd been tipped off in the loo about a cool Progressive Trance concert with free entry. We had a ball, dancing and chilling until 4:30 in the morning. I got two hours of sleep, and then luckily woke up to my alarm, signaling the end of  my surprisingly awesome stay in Slovenia.

The Oriental Tea Room
Green Apple Shisha!
I caught a sketchy looking minibus to Venice, and on the bus met another friend, this time a Northern Irish guy who gave me so many awesome tips on South East Asia and India when I eventually get my act together and head over there. Did you know you can go tubing down this lazy river type thing in Cambodia, and paddle over to bars along the way? How awesome does an orangutan and gibbon safari sound, where you zip-line around and stay in the tree-tops? I'm going to love that part of the world I think!

I met Davide at the station. The guy was nice enough to travel into the city for 2 hours to hang out while we waited for a return train and then traveled 2 hours back! We caught up and talked about what is new with us and our friends in Montreal. He was pretty devastated to hear that a certain Brutopia waitress is now married and pregnant... seems he had a crush while he was in town! We visited this little town in the Pre-Alps called Belluno, the biggest in his area. The North of Italy is very different from the South - quiet, sleepy, and covered in mountains. While I'm sure there is bustle from time to time, it's not like the busy streets of Rome, or the Mediterranean weather and vibe that comes from sea. We had a local delicacy, roasted chestnuts with mulled wine, and visited a free art gallery showcasing a bunch of wood carvings competing for prizes. I snapped a shot of an amazing one, depicting a tree stump with mushrooms and fauna growing about it.

We headed into his little town, Cornie, where his adorable Mom had prepared a fantastic meal of Radicchio Risotto and Saffron Chicken. MMMM! She speaks no English, and my Italian is derived only from my knowledge of French and limited abilities in Latin and Spanish, so whenever we would get a point across the result was always mutual excitement. I showered, a strange experience as they had no curtain and you basically use the shower head as you crouch in the bathtub... very strange, but since it worked I guess I can't complain! I was even gifted a pair of slippers, which I have been wearing non-stop since. It's funny the little things you miss when you're away from home, and slippers has been one!

We had planned to walk into the bar in town, it being Saturday and all, but an onset of rain and tiredness changed these plans into the far more tame ones of watching a show and hitting the sheets. Davide has two twin beds in his room, so I was not relegated to the couch as I had assumed, and I had a great sleep until the morning, when we had to rise early to take a taxi to the station and head into town. The buses don't run on Sundays in Cornie, so this was a necessity, but it does bring my total taxi count to 6 on the trip so far, and I'm going to try and keep it that way! I like public transport, honestly!

 The rain from the night before had worsened, and owing to this, and the reports of intense Aqua Alta (High Tide) in Venice, I decided to take Davide up on his offer, and head to Udine with him. Udine is near Slovenia, and he was asked to consult on a new bar there for a friend. It's not so far, and seems like a good place to while away a few days, this trip's about spontaneity right? So I was off to Udine, one of the most expensive cities in the area. The wealth per capita is huge I'm told, so I'm pretty glad I've got a free place to stay and a free place to drink! Though we didn't know where we were crashing exactly, Davide told me it would all get figured out, and I wasn't phased.

I had hoped to sleep on the bus, but talking and looking at scenery proved too much of a distraction, and we ended up in Udine no more rested than at 6:45 when we had woken up. These early mornings are getting to me I swear!

Ciao Amicis!