Oct 13 2005

Done and done.

Jeffrey Larson

We’re home and our trip has drawn to a close. It was such a great time.

Our last couple days in Rome were pretty fun. We checked out the old Roman stuff which took most of the day, and the next day we rode a bus and saw the Trevi Fountain (you know, 3 coins in a fountain) and the Pantheon (supposedly the best maintained ancient roman structure).

On the Monday of our flights we decided to take the bus/metro to the train station and catch the train to the airport from there. If we had only known there would be a fake terrorist attack drill. (See this article)

The first bus ride was fine. We got on the metro no problem. Rode a few stops and then we were told to get off and leave the station. We were about halfway to the train station. No one would tell us what was going on. Up on the street it was pouring rain and there were hundreds of people trying to catch buses. I guess we needed to catch a bus past where the problem with the train was and continue on.

We walk a block or so and asking a bunch of people ended up on an empty bus who’s driver said he was going to a metro stop that would allow us to get to the train station (Roma “Termini”). The bus soon filled to the brim with people trying to get to where they were going and also out of the rain.

Traffic was slow on this second bus of ours. We had calculated the worst-case time for us to arrive at the airport, but hadn’t factored in the possibility of the metro shutting down. Oh well, as long as we make our flight.

The bus came to a round about which was packed with cars… there were uniforms everywhere, taping off roads. The bus turned a bit to the left and everyone on the bus started yelling in Italian. The bus driver yelling back, we have no idea what he’s saying. He turns the corner further and the bus empties… everyone leave except us and a couple other people. The driver says that this bus is going to the train station, and he says that its not going. Huh? We end up getting off, in the rain, and asking some uniforms which way to the Termini. They say no, we say yes, termini, they point, we walk.

Eventually after walking quite a while (all with our giant packs on) and asking everyone we see which way to Termini, we get there. The airport platforms are quite a walk inside the termini. We make it the the train at pretty much the time it’s meant to depart. The lady says, that our eurail passes won’t work with this train since there are no 2nd class seats left. !? We end up paying 11€ each! Cram on to this already full train. There is no place to sit, no even a place to stand, smashed up against people on the isle, we are on our way to the airport…. some first class that was.

Anyway, we made it to the airport, 3 hours after leaving the campground, and 24€ later. Too bad we decided not to take the 9€/person shuttle directly from our campground to the airport. Who knew we could have saved 6€, and avoided taking 2 buses, a metro, walked part way across downtown Rome, being confused for a long time, and being crammed on a “1st class” express train to the airport…. who knew indeed.

Sarah and I joked that we needed one last adventure before taking off. Yep, I’d call that an adventure.

We arrive in a cool Copenhagen which was quiet, clean and pretty. Our two days spent there were relaxing and expensive. Everything there is the equivalent of double what we pay in Canada… as in, a cheeseburger meal at McD’s is $15 CDN… not that we ate there, heh.

It feels good to be home, in a place that’s familiar… and most of all, it’s great to have our own giant bed back.

We couldn’t sleep much the night we got back so we drove to Kamloops that morning and then spent Thanksgiving weekend with my family. What a great way to finish off an amazing trip.

Thanks for reading about it, and checking out all of our pictures (they are all uploaded by the way).


Oct 1 2005

Roma

Sarah Marttunen

Yesterday we toured the Vatican museums and city. We spent 7 hours looking around! Needless to say we were exhausted by the end. It was pretty cool. We saw Leonardo DaVinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and many other famous artists works. At first the Sistine Chapel was not as exciting as I thought it would be. There were about 4 or 500 people inside at one time all “speaking in hushed tones” which meant talking loudly (: But as we looked closely at the paintings on the walls and ceilings it grew on me. It is really quite spectacular. It was neat to see the famous “Creation of Adam”… I’ve seen it so many times in posters and such, it was surreal to see the original.

We also spent some time climbing to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica to see Michelangelo’s Duomo up close… but AFTER we got to the top (like 500 stairs or something ridiculous like that) we discovered that it was closed due to mass. Argh. We went into the Basilica and saw two popes… their bodies anyway… each in a glass tomb. Sort of weird… one was green.

Today we head to the Forum, Palatine hill and the Colosseum. We are looking forward to seeing these, some of which being over 2000 years old.

We’re slowly posting pictures, internet is expensive and slow in Italy so some may wait until we are back in Canada. Which is coming soon…. we’re sad to be at the end but ready for our own bed to sleep in!!


Sep 29 2005

Chianti in Chianti

Jeffrey Larson

We have now arrived in Rome, our final city in Italy, before heading back to Canada with a stop in Denmark for a couple days.

The last couple nights were spent camping in Siena, south of Firenze in Tuscane. We had a really good time. Had one of the best Italian meals we’ve had in Siena’s old town. Also yesterday we did a 5 hour wine tour through the Chianti region. It was sweet. We went to a few small towns from Medieval times and also a winery that was in a 1000 year old castle. We tasted some pretty good wine and learned a bunch about the process. The bus full of people from all over the world was pretty fun too.

The Cinque Terre pics are all uploaded now, and the Venice ones are on their way. Look at them!

We decided we wanted 3 fulls days in Rome so we have all of Friday, Saturday and Sunday to check out the Vatican, the Roman Colosseum and Forum, and whatever else we can find. We’re pretty stoked to be in one of the most famous cities in the world.

Our last train trip was today was quite nostalgic… can’t believe this first trip of ours is coming to a close… this first GREAT trip! We’ve loved it, we’ve loved each other on another continent, and had so much fun!


Sep 26 2005

Dinner along a Rio

Jeffrey Larson

A Rio is a river street as they call them here in Venezia (Venice). We had some pasta and wine as the taxi boat motored and gondola’s paddled past last night.

Our camping ground is like a youth hostel, lots of young people, partying at the bar. We set up our tent too close to the pub last night and we’re quite surprised when the live music started. So we played some yahtzee instead of going to bed early. Sarah had a giggle at the Italian dude singing popular american songs like ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.

We’re going to have a day in Venice today, walking around and checking it out. Gondola rides are reeeeeally expensive so I don’t know if we’ll try that, maybe just a waterbus ride.

We had a really great time in Cinque Terre, and had lots of great walking time… to counter all that great Italian cuisine we’re been enjoying. We didn’t look at any museums or churches or anything there, which was a nice change, laying on the beach was great.

We finished uploading the Firenze photos, cinque terre’s are on their way up.


Sep 25 2005

Florence and Cinque Terre

Sarah Marttunen

My first weblog in Italy and we’ve already been here for a week. We started off in Pisa after spending the night in the Girona airport (1 hr from Barcelona). Needless to say we didn’t get too much sleep. But we quickly found a beautiful pensione in Pisa to rest. The tower is cool, actually quite comical. It actually leans… a lot! I was surprised to see it with my own eyes. I was also surprised to see everyone in the square posing as if they were holding the tower up. I mean everyone! Jeff and I sat and watched people for about and hour and laughed the whole time.

In Pisa we had our first Italian meal. It was so good Jeff wanted to go back and have more lasagna for breakfast! In short, Canadians do not know how to make pasta. It’s incredible, don’t be surprised if you don’t recognise me after all the weight I’ve gained (:

Next we headed Florence (Firenze) where we found a fabulous campground overlooking the city. We had yet another amazing meal and met a very cute older couple from the States (the most unamerican american’s I’ve met though). They “really enjoyed us as a couple” and invited us to stay with them in their Tuscan villa! We passed it up though.

The next morning we met my mom and dad for a touristy day in Florence. We spent much of the day exploring the streets and standing in line to see the duomo, a part of the major cathedral built and decorated by half a dozen different artists. We went to the art gallery to see “David” but didn’t feel standing in line for the remainder of the day was something we felt up to. We settled instead for a lovely replica in the square outside! We went to a different museum and saw some amazing art and pretty cool 14th century palace decor. We had a great pizza dinner with mom and dad and then shuffled them back to the train station (they’re in Rome) while we went back to the camp.

Next day we headed to Cinque Terre where we spent 2 glorious days. It’s a little peice of heaven on the north west coast of Italy. We camped just outside the national park in a village called Deiva Marina. Our first day we spent hiking the 14km (I think) walk between the 5 cities. It was spectacular! The tail end was harder and I feel like I climbed up and down nearly a thousand stairs, but for the veiws it was worth it. We swam in the turquoise water collecting quite an audience (I think because of Jeff’s gorgeously untanned torso!). The next day we rested on the pretty sands on Monterosso and had a delicious dinner in Manarola (both Cinque Terre cities). It was a great rest for our travel weary bodies. Except for the fact that this morning we got up early (5:30qam) to catch a bus that never came. So we had to “hitchhike” (is it still considered hitchhiking if you don’t actually get picked up?) the 3.5km walk to the train… with our enormous bags! Oh well, we’ll recoup here in Venice!

We arrived in Venice a few hours ago and are here until Tuesday. Then Sienna (wine country) then Rome then Kopenhagen then home! I can’t believe our trip is nearing it’s end. Still many wonders to see though.

Take a look at the few pics we’ve uploaded… this computer is slow sorry!!


Sep 19 2005

Adventures of Jeff Sarah and the Midnight Bandit

Jeffrey Larson

In the youth hostel in Barcelona we stayed one night. A weird night.

This youth hostel had magnetic key cards which I hadn’t seen before. Anyway, the keys sometimes didn’t work, and in the one night we stayed there, we had to get our cards re-magnetized a couple times, as some of the other people in our dorm did.

We didn’t meet all the people in the dorm as we dropped our stuff off in the morning and then went back for bed at a reasonable hour (before all the night-lifers would come back).

At about 2am there was a dude knocking at the door, after letting him in he was thankful, I guess his key didn’t work either, but he only spoke Spanish. Sarah and I tried to go back to sleep.

This dude was making so much noise, going through all his clothes, it was like he was reorganizing and packing his stuff up. Half awake I become half alert and kept my eye on him.

What made me question him was that he then went on to another bed to get some of his clothes… !

“What are you doing man?” says Jeffrey.

He says a bunch of Spanish, all of which I ‘no intiendo’.

“Who are you?”

He says more, I pick up the name Michael, and I think he saying that Michael crashed his motorbike and he was getting Michael’s stuff or something… mmm, I don’t buy it.

Sarah and the other girl (Italian) in the room wake up. They back me up with questioning support. The Italian girl demands he describe his friend as she thinks she knows who sleeps in this bed. It doesn’t add up. I think he’s robbing our room with us in it!

Sarah heads down to the reception for help while I stand in his way out the door to wait for more security. Italian girl sees her shoes in his bag of goodies, that’s it!

“That isn’t your stuff!”

I think he pretends like he accidentally took that and “oops, that wasn’t Michaels”.

This dude is wearing a girlish looking red hoodie under his jean jacket… “is that yours?”

He takes it off like he made another mistake, apologetic… weird.

He’s wanting to leave, but I’m in his way. It was probably only 30 seconds, but the reception dude comes after what seemed to be a long time. We tell him what we saw. A bunch of spanish… and they leave.

10 minutes later he comes back… asking what he took, none of us know because we were sleeping, I say I know he took the red sweatshirt but he put that back by now, and he had a bag of clothes. The reception dude takes the bag from our thief and puts the clothes back on the beds. He’s also got a little backpack on, Sarah and I wonder if its his or what. They leave again.

After a bit of baffled “what the?”‘s, we try to sleep again.

I think everything was put back, but I don’t know for sure what was in the bag. Crazy that this dude would take probably 20 minutes to rob a room with people in it. Didn’t make sense.

At about 4:45am, 2 French girls who were apparently staying in this room wake me up with what I’m pretty sure is swearing in french… “maird”? I tell about a bit of what happened, they’re freaking and then decide to sleep and do a thorough check for all their stuff in daylight later.

In the morning they questioned why we opened the door, how were we supposed to know… but they did say they still had all their stuff, since the precious stuff was locked in the lockers. Still, no one likes having their stuff gone through.

Weird night, gotta remember that one.


Sep 18 2005

A hot mug of pudding

Sarah Marttunen

It is our last day in Spain. This time tomorrow we will be exploring Pisa, Italy! Hard to believe that our journey in Spain is coming to an end.

Last night we met up with my mom and dad as they are in Spain as well. We went with them to see a water\light show at the Barcelona Expo. It was fun to see them. Afterward we went for a cafe con leche and enjoyed swapping stories. We may meet them next week in Florence. Kinda cool to see family half way around the world.

Today we spent the morning touring Southern Barcelona. We went to the Picasso Museum which was very cool. It told the story of his life, each room a different phase of his career. It was very interesting. I discovered how much I enjoy his paintings! Next we jumped on our bus and saw some more sights. We just got down Christopher Columbus’ monument “Barcelona Colom”. It’s a tall skinny tower and you can take an elevator to the top… only 6 people at a time in the elevator though and room for about 12 at the top of the tower (: So it was up and down pretty quick.

Tonight we have a few sites left to see and then we train to Girona where we fly to Pisa. We have to check in at 4:35am so we’re sleeping in the airport… ugh! We are excited to move on to a new adventure, but will miss Spain. It is a beautiful country!

We’re posting more pictures of Tarragona on the site so take a look!!


Sep 17 2005

Café con leche con mi papas…

Jeffrey Larson

Sarah and I are now in Barcelona after spending yesterday in San Sebastian and taking a night train back to the Mediteranean.

Cathedral we saw in BarcelonaSan Sebastian was pretty and was quite enjoyable, really glad we went… althought the weather wasn’t sunny, this the first time on our trip.

We took a railcar up to a peak overlooking the bay (there was a theme park on top, but it was closed) and then walked down to the beach where we napped… which was well needed after a nearly sleepless overnight train from Tarragona (we were in a coachette with 6 people and the 6 seats folded down into 3 beds… not so comfy). The train ride back here to Barcelona was much better, we both slept almost the whole way (9 hours) which was great.

Went and checked into the hostel downtown here from the metro. It was raining almost all day but we did manage to go see a couple things in the city. We’ll explore some more tomorrow before catching a train to Girona (where the airport is for our flight to Pisa, Italy).

The food in San Sebastian was cool and they speak yet another language there in Basque Country… “Basque” fittingly. Here in Barcelona (in the state of Catalunya) they speak Catalan not spanish, but most people understand spanish, so it works out.

I’m going to try and upload some more of our pictures tomorrow… time to sleep.


Sep 15 2005

Tarragona all the way to San Sebastian

Jeffrey Larson

We now have reservations on the over night train to San Sebastian which is in Basque Country (a Spanish state). I really looking forward to checking it out.

San Sebastian is right on the north coast of Spain just near the French border on your map. After that, we’re planning on going to Barcelona where we will finish our exploration of Spain… on to Italy!

There are more photos to look at.

Oh by the way, we’re currently in Tarragona, which is the oldest city we have ever been in. It was founded in the 2nd Century BC! There are roman amphitheatres and circus’ and such that are 2000 years old! It’s so cool. And the beach is quite nice, we had a nice little stroll there last night. Not enough time to get ALL the pics from here up yet, but you’ll see.

Adios…


Sep 13 2005

The Spanish Travellers

Jeffrey Larson

We’re having so much fun here in Spain. We have seen 6 cities in the week that week that we have been here… the way it is looking, in the next week we will probably see 5 more.

Jeff's the king of the castle!We’re currently in Granada, which is home to the Alhambra. We went and had a look at that for a couple hours yesterday. The Palacio Nazaries (Nazrid Palace) is the main Muslim palace in Alhambra with absolutely gorgeous interiors. That’s what many of the photos in the Granada album are of. At the request of our brother in law Kris, there are TONNES of new pics for you to check out!

I think we are pretty much over the jet lag, yep, and getting used to the eating at different times. For that we have been buying snacks to carry, to tide us over until 8pm-ish for the late dinners.

I’ve learned that I absolutely love being inside castles on the top of hills. We’ve seen a number of them and I just love the feeling… imagining what it was like when the castles were actually used for their purpose rather than tourist monuments. That’s why you can see quite a few photos of Sarah and I in between the squared tops of the castles.

We think we’re going to head north to Basque Country before the end of our trip (ends in Barcelona). Look for San Sebastian on your map.

Inside Alhambra's Nasrid PalaceCamping was pretty fun, even though it was basically just a motel that we got a site to set up our tent at, instead of a room with a bed. There was laundry, tennis, swimming, a supermarket, a restaurant and bar and hot showers as well. It was much cheaper, so we were happy about that. The only thing that we didn’t like was that we didn’t really have any mats to sleep on. Foam mats or thermarests would have provided better sleep than the extra clothing we tried to use for padding!

I can’t believe how nice the weather has been, its been sunny and hot everyday so far! Hopefully it keeps up!

Keep the comments on the weblog and photos coming! We’re loving sharing this trip with you guys!