Girls Gone Mild – Day Three

This morning we were back in the gym very early – even though we knew there was going to be a lot of walking today. There’s something soothing about being in an empty gym in the wee hours of the morning (trust me, there is no sarcasm in my words)

IMG_7977As I was making breakfast and going through our groceries I saw a few of our purchases from the Asian Supermarket from yesterday and realised we forgot to open the SoJu!

We saw it in the Korean restaurant we went to yesterday but didn’t drink it so bought a bottle later in the day because we wanted to have some – Will need to make room for that tonight.

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Our plan of attack today was to visit the QueenVictoria Market. This time I checked the opening time online and saw the food and veg sections open at 6am and the rest of it opens at 8am!

That didn’t sound right to me  but we got ready and walked down there. As it turned out, most of the shops were open and trading!

Melbourne has really turned on the weather for us! 22 degrees today and it was such a lovely fresh walk down there.

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We spent a bit of time clocking up steps, walking up and down the aisles but not really finding anything to buy.


I think we got more excited to go back to “our” coffee place. Last year we exhausted their supply of “free to try” chocolate coffee beans. (We bought lots of jars of them too!)

This year, we were excited to be back and wouldn’t you know it, the woman who served us remembered us from last year! She was lovely and I’m sure we were memorable not for raiding their chocolate coffee bean bowl, but because of our lovely personalities and enviable good looks.


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On the way back mumma bear wanted to stop in a kitchen store and I saw this which I thought would go perfect in my kitchen at home!

The only thing missing is the word “permanently”

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The next stop on our agenda was St Kilda so we topped up our public travel cards and hopped on a tram.

A vigorous discussion about whether you had to “tap on” and “tap off” ensued and a local woman thankfully interceded and said tapping off was not required on the tram.

We got to St Kilda and passed the various cake stores. I’m not sure how others feel but those cake stores seem to be better in fantasy than reality. Every time I go there I feel excited to try something but often it disappoints and my mum noted that the cakes at Brunetti looked better.
We didn’t get any cakes.


We ended up lunching at the same place we did last year. Well it was pretty good last year so why ignore a known entity?

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And the food was pretty good!!! Those serves were huge! In fact we were wondering whether we’d be able to take our leftovers with us so when the server came to take our plates away my mum asked “Do you do doggy style?” 
Of course she meant “Do you do doggy bags?” which the rest of us girls quickly restated.
I bet that server will have a story to tell tonight!


My mum wanted to walk to Port Melbourne. Sounds like a good idea in theory but it was so very windy and we were against the wind and walking in a warm sun the whole way.

Of course we stopped for pictures and coffee as we walked.


And finally we were there!! For a brief horrifying second we worried that there might not be a tram from there to Melbourne but thankfully there was.


I’m not sure why the “thumbs up” (Fonzie would be proud) has made an appearance in our photos but we all got into the spirit of it by the end of the day.

I’m not sure about the other girls but I’m pretty sure that I’ve had enough excitement for the day and am looking forward to getting into bed and dreaming about days with no wind.

Now, where’s that Soju…

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Girls Gone Mild – Day Two

I know what you’re thinking. You’re all wondering how much Baileys is left right? And how can I call this “Girls Gone Mild” when there’s Baileys???
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Let me educate the uninformed.
When you give a bunch of women (who normally don’t drink) a shot or two of Bailey’s, it very quickly becomes a “Girls Gone Mild” night with some of us not even making it to the end of The Bachelor (save the jokes, I get it – The Bachelor would put anyone to sleep)

But the early night meant that a couple of us were ready very early for the 24 hour gym!

 

The gym has more than treadmills but that was the only thing I was interested in. It’s a nice huge area but there are no televisions. We made do with Netflix/podcasts on our phones and we definitely appreciated the gym, television or not.

IMG_7892Like any city, there is a lot of poverty around and it just breaks your heart.
Every now and then my sister especially, is moved to speak to one of them and share what she has with them.

Yesterday she met Craig who she had a little chat with and she had some left over food with her so she left that with him.

 

Yes I know there’s a whole debate about why there’s a homeless situation in the first place but I know that at the very least, this guy’s day was a little better for that moment.

 

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Today we were adamant that we weren’t going to do anything else until we went to DFO.

It was such a nice day that we decided to walk down there.

 


Snapping a few pics along the way of course….

 


6We walked along at our own place and were soon sitting in the DFO Food Court Area.

We hadn’t thought to look up the time the shops opened and were 30 minutes early.

Perfect time for a yoghurt parfait if you ask me.

My daughter, sister and I were eager to start shopping and had been counting down the seconds to 10 o’clock.

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My mother and sister in law were more relaxed and just happy to be out and about and if a bargain presented itself, all the better.

But thankfully they were happy enough to sit and wait for us while we tried on just about everything we put our hands on.

Speaking of trying this on, here are a few pictures of things we may or may not have bought…

 

With regards to the pic on the most right, in my defense, after a couple of hours taking off and putting on your jeans, if you don’t have to take them all the way off, leaving them at your ankles is fine enough. (Have you got a certain Nickelback song going through your head right now????)

11aHubby, who tried hard to invite himself but is sadly not on this trip (I don’t think he understands what a “girl’s shopping trip” means) wanted to shout us all a birthday meal in honour of my mum’s birthday. So sweet – and as we passed Sam Sam (Korean restaurant on Swanston st) my daughter got super excited and that was enough for her nonna to say “Let’s go here” and what a good choice it was!

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Some of us had never had Bibimbap (bottom right) so four of us ordered it!! And it was just so good!!!


The next mandatory stop was the Dangerfield outlet store, with a few more pics along the way. Hubby look away now because if first base is hand holding I got to first base with this guy (below). I think he was puckering up for a kiss too. Bit forward.


After a few more hours of shopping (and some fabulous purchases) we saw this sign above a store.

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Before I knew it, the words “in other words, old and fat” came out of my mouth. What I didn’t know, was that the owner of the store whose sign this was, was standing in the doorway. Suffice to say, she was not impressed.

We were getting overdue for a drink break so found ourselves in one of the lovely malls and stopped for some dessert and drinks.


We were going to stop at Hopetoun Tea rooms (pic left) but it was too crowded so we moved on. I can’t remember the name of the place but when we told the waitress that it was my mum’s birthday, she brought out a candle and helped us sing! She was so lovely.


The desserts, coffee/tea and wine were pretty good too!


And a few more pics of us because why take the pictures otherwise?


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On the way back to the apartment I was approached for money in a unique way so I gave him a bit of time.
He told me he was an Aussie legend (yes self proclaimed) and involved or responsible for the Ocean’s Eleven movie.
He said he was trying to produce a new movie that was a comedy along the line of “Shameless”.
I didn’t have any cash on me but I was interested to hear how he was going to spin this plug for money.

My mum, being mumma bear, finally had enough and got between us and said “we don’t have anything to give you” and I’m pretty sure there were curse words being spoken behind me as we walked on without him. Ah well. Who carries cash with them these days anyhow??

I’m pretty sure it’s going to be another night of Netflix and The Bachelor but we’ve had such a full day, nobody is complaining!! Plus, we have an abundance of shopping bags strewn about the apartment that are a testament to the great day we have already had!!

So please excuse me, I have some organising to do!

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Roman Around – Day Four

We have done so much walking today!!
It was probably as much as the other days but it felt like so much more because we really went off track…

36352971_10156480851687480_5418792849602772992_n.jpgWe started the day early, walking into the historic centre.

Had to stop for a coffee first and this place was kind of interesting!!! Something to note if you come here, if you have your coffee at the “bar” rather than at a table, you will save yourself at least 2 Euro!

We wanted to take a few pictures at the Fountain of Trevi during the day, and then continue on into Travestere.

We found the fountain ok, but even at that early hour it was full of people and hard to get a decent shot.
We still haven’t thrown a coin over our shoulder into it!! Must remember to do that.

36347765_10156480856152480_8660236558026145792_n.jpgNext stop was the Pantheon!! Another site I wanted to take day photos at. We stumbled upon it by accident. Such an impressive building.


I know we’ve seen these sights before but soon we’ll be gone and who knows when I’ll get to see them again.

Found this cute little sign on a wall.

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We passed through Piazza Navona again which, in my opinion, is underrated. I looked up at the apartments and wondered who lives there!! and what are they paying to live there? Do the constant stream of tourists bother them? So many questions!


We hadn’t really had breakfast so hubby and I decided to look for more “special” pizza to have. We didn’t find it right away, but we did see this. Have you ever seen a bigger piece of Mortadella!!!!

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I should have got hubby to stand next to it for perspective.

Before we knew it we were crossing the bridge over into Travestere


That picture on the left is not Bocca Della Verita but I really wanted it to be… so we went past it and continued over the bridge.

Oh my god was it so nice over this side!!!! It was quiet, and peaceful and just what you’d expect Italy to be. We also noticed the prices were much cheaper.
We just wanted to keep ordering food!! We got coffee at one place, dessert at another. I didn’t even photograph the dessert I was so excited to eat it! It was full of this delicious custard! Oh god, it would be worth the walk over the bridge to get that again!

And it was just so pretty over there. Please, if you find yourself in Rome, you MUST go to Travestere!


I really should have taken more photos. I felt so at home in this section.

Without any plan or guidance, we started walking south and it soon turned, not so nice.
Well , in fairness, it got average, and then not so nice.

I had been looking for a handbag since we were in Greece and didn’t see anything I really liked. There was this one bag from a street vendor in Greece I kind of liked but was not in the mood to haggle.

I noticed it on the street in Travestere and while hubby was looking at the price, the guy came up and said it was a super special morning discount. The price quoted was 40 Euro but he said he’d sell it for 30 Euro. I said I wasn’t interested and for that price, I really wasn’t.. but he was so desperate and he said “What price would you pay for it” and I answered honestly “20 Euro”. I thought that was fair. It’s not leather after all, just a nice big bag I can wear on my back.

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He tried to ask for 25 Euro but when I said I wasn’t going to pay that and started to walk away, he said “Ok 20 Euro” and started to take the paper stuffing out to prepare it for sale right away, as if he was scared I was going to change my mind about the 20 Euro.

I felt so bad.

He just seemed so desperate for money and there is such poverty in the streets here.

I love my new bag though!

As we continued walking we found ourselves in an area that could be anywhere in the world. Not old, not new, just neutral. We didn’t really know where we were, we just continued walking.

We got some pizza at a pretty good price! And a couple of arancini balls.

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We needed a bathroom break so ducked into the free washrooms at McDonalds and I took a photo of the menu – Not sure if you can see it. Interesting to see a familiar menu in a different language.

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By now we were pretty tired and had no clue where we were. We crossed the bridge back over to “our” side but still had no clue. Nothing looked familiar and we were on wide roads with tons of cars streaming past. I looked on Google Maps and told hubby I thought we should be heading in a certain direction, but he was sure it was another direction and off we trotted…. and we walked, and walked and walked… and finally I said “Please for the love of God we have to ask someone or check Google Maps”
And turns out, we were walking in the wrong direction… Probably on our way to Naples.
Not that we could tell what Google Maps was saying as we had no reference point.

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When we asked the guy at the petrol stop where to go, he pointed in the direction we had just come from and said “second left after the gate”

I think he meant this gate?

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It still felt really foreign and we passed all sorts of ruins we hadn’t seen before or even heard about.

I’m sorry I didn’t take pictures. I think I was just too tired.

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I promised hubby we would stop for icecream (haha) so as soon as we hit civilisation, (as we had been walking down a freeway for quite some time up until this point) I got us some ice cream.

It was absolutely  delicious!

When we finally got back to the apartment I had a glass or two of Limoncello and I was out like a light.

No more Limoncello for me ever again please!!!

IMG_7520Although we love pasta and pizza, we were looking for something different tonight.

Am I wrong in thinking there’s only so much pasta and pizza you can eat?

We walked past a million places and finally settled on this one place that seemed ok. I think we were just tired of walking and looking.

Hubby thought he might like some risotto and this place had it on the menu so in we went.
Most people sat outside but I kind of liked the interior. It was cute.

I don’t think you can see it in the picture but at the top of the wall there is a painting of different parts of Rome. It’s really well done.

I went for something light – Some bruschetta and minestrone soup and hubby had a risotto and cannelloni.


I wasn’t a fan of the bruschetta because it had rocket throughout it and not basil.
The minestrone was ok. Hubby was happy with his.
I feel like I need a change of cuisine tomorrow thought.

The supermarkets close at 10pm here which meant we couldn’t get any sneaky snacks to bring home! Probably just as well.

Goodnight and god bless.

Roman Around – Day Two

Nobody tours like hubby and I tour. Now that we’re on our own we don’t have anyone to slow us down and that’s not a good thing. We need to be slowed down because we just walk to a site, see it, and then say “Ok, I’ve seen it now, what’s next”. We don’t go in, explore or get to know information about it.

In any case we walked many kilometres today and saw many things. Half the things I took photos of, I don’t know anything about. Or maybe I read a bit about it while we were at the site but I didn’t retain the information. It’s all on the internet if I want to know right?

So this is the uneducated version of someone’s trip to Rome.

IMG_7314We started the day with an espresso thanks to the machine in our apartment then hit the ground running fairly early, looking for a supermarket to get some goodies.
Everytime we go to a new country I’m so excited to see the supermarkets to see what foods they have, and how they differ to what I’m used to.

They had lots of pastries and lots of things I love. I didn’t take photos. I thought it was a little dearer than what I’m used to but we are in a tourist area so that probably has something to do with it too.

I tried to make a plan but it just doesn’t work with us. We walked and soon enough, we were back at the colosseum.
The crowds, as I had read, were just horrendous. I’m not even talking about the crowds to get in, just the crowds in general!!!

There were people trying to sell us water, hats, or just begging for money. They are EVERYWHERE! There are people trying to sell you “beat the queue” tickets. If you don’t like crowds or are even mildly agoraphobic, this is not the place for you.

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We walked past the Roman Forum and again, crowds, people and peddlers everywhere.

We found ourselves at this church. I didn’t get the name but the guy outside said “no charge” to enter and when he had enough people, he would give us a free tour.

Hubby and I looked inside and decided we’ve had our tour and didn’t wait for his guidance.
Not to say we made the right decision, just stating what we did.

More pictures as we walked along.

If you know what it all is, that’s great, I’m not going to trust my memory in fear of writing something that’s incorrect.

Oh and these guys were causing quite a stir!!! (above)They look pretty good don’t they!
If you think about it for half a second you can see how they’re doing it, but it still looks pretty impressive. Kids must love it!!! Be prepared to give a donation if you take a photo.

One of my favourite sites is Altare della Patria. The Altare della Patria (“Altar of the Fatherland”), also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (“National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II”) or Il Vittoriano, is a monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy, located in Rome, Italy. It occupies a site between the Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill.

I don’t know why I like this building, I just do.

A few more pics before we stopped for lunch…


Those ‘invisible’ men were pretty freaky. As you can see in that middle pic, the guy on my left held hands with me. The one on my right was saying “oh you are so beautiful I want to kiss you” then made kissing sounds. It was a bit gross. Again, you need to leave a donation if you want a picture of or with these guys.
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We needed a snack so we got some pizza. This was just so delicious!!!

I didn’t photograph mine but took a quick pic of the display inside.
It was just a pop up type store. No seating inside, just go in, get pizza, go out and enjoy!

When we did eventually stop for lunch, we probably walked into the wrong kind of place. What we did eat was so damn good but it was small and a bit expensive.
From my limited experience here, I think the street food is so much better, more authentic and cheaper.


However again, what we did eat was just delectable!!!

We decided to see if we could find the Vatican… I think we might have been going in the wrong direction (my mistake) but we saw things and I snapped pics along the way.


In the end I had to use my Italian to ask a security guy if he could point us in the direction of the Vatican and he was so nice and showed us the way…


Again, horrendously busy here. If you want to go inside, you’d be much better off pre-purchasing your tickets.

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We got some gelato…. sooo good!! Hubby was jealous because he thought mine was bigger than his but this is an argument we have often.
Mine isn’t bigger, he just wants more than his share.

Oh and I had seen this Roma cap in a few tourist stores for about 5 Euro. I went to one place and asked how much and he said 10 Euro!! I laughed and said “no way, I’ve seen it for 5”
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He then came back with “8 Euro for you” I started walking away and said, “No thank you” and even as I was away from him he was calling out “miss, miss, 7 Euro?”

And not even 100 metres down the road I found it for 5 Euro.

The exact same one.

Don’t know if you can tell how tired I am in that pic but I was nearing the end and knew we had a long way back still.

Snapped some more pics…


OH, and we’d seen movie trucks earlier in the day. When we were going through a certain area, we noticed some commotion and some girls asked us to wait as they were filming a scene.
I took a pic but couldn’t work out what was going on.

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Hubby and I bought a bottle of Lambrusco to enjoy this afternoon. Just want to have a little relaxing time before heading out for dinner. It was just delicious!  Every wine I’ve had here so far has been so good!

We had a long late siesta and didn’t leave our room to get something to eat until after 9.30pm. I was surprised to see a lot of places were closing or about to close! We walked past the supermarket about 10.10pm and found that to be closed too.

In the end we went past a sort of cafe that also sold goods and bought a variety of yummy foods to take away.

We walked more than thirty kilometres today so even though our bed here is as hard as a rock it wasn’t long before we were fast, fast asleep!

Buona notte!

Greece is the Word – Day Seven

Every evening I tell myself “I’m going to sleep in tomorrow” yet every morning I’m up as soon as the sun starts to come up. I can’t help it. I can hear movement outside, I knew the day is fresh and new and I just want to be a part of it.

It is no different here in Nafpaktos. We’re so close to the water we can smell that salty air and it’s so enticing.

We walked straight to the waters edge and continued along the coast to the area where the restaurants face the water. Even though it was early there were still people in the water or enjoying a cup of coffee at the tables.

I took a photo of the pebbles we were walking on. It looks so pretty and is so different to anything we have in Australia.

IMG_6751As part of our walk, we discovered this cute little bakery that made the BEST spanokopita.

That spinach filling was just so full of flavour and cheesy creamy. It was just delicious. We tried to go back for me to take on our journey today but she’d sold out. I almost cried real tears.

We took our spanokopita back to the beach area and found a bench to sit on while we waited for the rest of our group. As we sat there, a couple of cats started to gather round. Normally, when you’re at the beach with food it’s seagulls that start to circle you! Here it’s cats.

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And if you’re wondering, yes we did share with them. When they meow so tragically you IMG_6759really have no choice!

After a Greek Coffee or two, we did a bit of last minute Nafpaktos Tourist shopping before heading up to the castle once again. This time it was open!

It’s such an interesting place.
There’s tons of information on the internet if you’re interested but for us it was just something to think about the people who had walked the same steps we had walked in history. Thinking about when this was a working castle and the jobs people were doing.
There are also amazing views of the coast from up there and yes, it does seem as high up as it looks!


We left Nafpaktos and headed for a village where there was more family waiting to see us. The drive was going to take us through windy hilly roads again. I’m not a fan.

It’s gorgeous scenery though and the hills and mountains are dotted with wind turbines.
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It’s also not uncommon to be stopped by cattle… This happened to us more than once on our journey today!


We didn’t get to the mountain village until well after 4pm. Hubby hadn’t met his relatives before and it was all very special and emotional. We don’t speak Greek and only one of their party spoke English so the translating took a little while but it didn’t matter. It was lovely to spend the time together.
I took some photos from their balcony as the views they have are just breath taking.


They wanted us to share a meal with them so we stayed and talked about old times while eating what they had prepared. Most of what we were having had been grown on their land/property. Even the goat (I’m almost sad to say? Just quietly, it was soooo tasty!)

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This is by no means everything but there was Greek salad with home produce (the tomatoes were just so sweet!) potatoes, zucchini and feta cheese made from the milk of their own goats.

Everything was just too delicious! I ate way more than I should have just because I needed to taste more!

You may also notice the wine on the table, that was made by them as well.

Time was really moving on now and we were conscious of the long drive back to Athens, but they asked us if we wanted to see their farm. They had to go there to feed the animals.
How could we say no?

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We drove down a treacherous dirt path to get to it. I don’t know how these people use these roads every day…

Everything we saw at the farm was interesting and new.
From the goats to the cows with their baby calf.

We watched the cows feeding. I tried to take some photos but they moved back as we got close.

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Unfortunately hubby is allergic so we had to go and wait in the car but the kids in our group were able to watch the goats being milked and had a go at doing it themselves too! Now that’s an experience they wouldn’t get at school.

Again, the views from the farm are just breathtaking. I seem to be saying that a lot!


Everything took much longer than anticipated and we didn’t get back to their house until well after 10.30pm. They begged for us to stay rather than drive back down that awful road with minimum light but we just wanted our own beds and clean clothes so we left.

We didn’t get back to Athens until after 2.30am.

For the record, I have had my life time share of treacherous road driving.

And now, it’s definitely time for bed.
Kalinychta until tomorrow when hopefully, I will be sleeping in…