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!

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Greece is the Word – Day Nine

4.10am is way too early to get up if you’ve only gone to bed at 12.30am. We are certainly living every minute while away.

Last night, time just flew by as we caught up and laughed with new friends and relatives.

The early start was due to having to be at Pireaus by 5.45 am, to catch the 6.45am ferry to Naxos.
Luckily, we had picked up the tickets yesterday as it was just a mass of confusion when we got there. It wasn’t clear where we had to go. We were almost going onto one ferry when told no that was the wrong one. The guy pointed in the direction we had to go but there were so many ferries there and it’s just not marked. We had no idea! there didn’t seem to be any clear lines either.
This is Greece.

 

When we did finally get the car on, there was a guy there telling us how to back into the spot he wanted us to be in. “left, left, Pull left, LEFT!!! Go, Go, Right, Pull right, Left, left LEFT LEFT, STOPPP.
By this time it was only the driver in the car and it was just too funny to watch it happening from our vantage point. And by the way, the driver did NOT need instructions as to how to back into a spot!

The ferry is a lot bigger than I imagined. I took a photo of a few others that were around. Ours looked a  lot like these (below)

I also took a lot of pictures while we were waiting to leave and along the way. The journey was six hours with a stop in Paros but it was so peaceful and relaxing!

 


The next lot of photos were as we were pulling into Paros, and a few more on the way to Naxos.

 

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Soon we were in Naxos. Just breathtaking!! I can’t wait to explore this town!

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First stop was the supermarket to stock up on supplies. Ooo, look what I found!

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Unfortunately the label was turned away but both of those bottles are huge bottles of wine!

After the supermarket it was time to unwind at the hotel.

We found ourselves once again going the wrong way on a one way street but by now, it doesn’t even bother me.

Somehow it all works out. Most of the drivers are so helpful also, the way they roll their windows down and make sure you’re aware you’re going the wrong way but pointing in the opposite direction.
The only law is that there is no law.

It took a bit of driving on gravel roads to get to the place we’re staying at on Naxos. It’s about 20-25 minutes out of the main town.
It seemed a bit barren getting out there but the beach is pretty nice and the rooms themselves are pretty good!

 


We got changed and headed for the beach. Such a perfect beach with few people there as it’s a bit off the beaten track.

 

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We were told there was a track going down to the beach from our rooms but hubby and I tried to find it and had no luck.

The first road we went down ended up being part of someone’s property.

The second one (left) we went down became so overgrown that it would have been impossible to get through.

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In the end hubby and I decided to just get there via road. The rest of our party were already there so we just kept walking via the only route we knew.

We stopped and had a glass of rose’.

Oh I should mention that every time I’ve ordered wine here, they’ve brought it out in these type of glasses.

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It just doesn’t always feel like I’m drinking wine but I’m enjoying it nonetheless.

Instead of going into Naxos we had dinner locally.

The sun was almost down and this was such a gorgeous setting.


The food was pretty good. A few things were different (for me)

We started with salads again. Seems to be a staple. I then chose the omelet with potato.
I’m not sure what you’re thinking when I write that but I’ll tell you what I got.
Here’s my dinner.

I expected omelet with bits of soft potato through it but what was through it were french fries. If you look closely at the picture on the right (near the top) you’ll see one coming through the egg.
Did I like it? I’m still thinking about it.

Hubby and I walked home. I was a little nervous as it was dark and there aren’t many lights. Not nervous for any potential crime, but for those cars that come racing around corners, not expecting to see a couple of tourists walking late at night.
We are not in a populated area.

Finally it was time to sleep. Maybe tomorrow morning will be the day we finally sleep in.

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Greece is the Word – Day Three

Our adventures continued on during the night where hubby and I broke the bed we were sleeping in.

Before your imaginations run wild, the bed broke as he shifted position in his sleep at 3am.
Thank you Ikea.

We managed to put it together in a way that allowed us to continue sleeping but I’m sure one of us is going to fall through it again at some point during this vacation.

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Hubby and I found a supermarket around the corner from where we’re staying and bought a few more things. It feels really comfortable shopping here, unlike Japan, where everything is a mystery! At least we pretty much know what we’re buying every time.
We enjoyed the beautiful streets along the way.
That building on the right is typical of dwellings you’ll see here.

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There are plenty of people begging for money here but they are usually prepared to do something for it.

For example, this guy was playing his instrument as we were on the subway, for coins.

Speaking of the subway, I took a photo of this ad we saw on there.
(pictured below)

Maybe not as funny as the ones we saw in Japan but even so, I think it’s some kind of Metro ad, but why are there mops on their heads???

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IMG_6183We gathered our party and headed to the Acropolis! That was first stop on the agenda today. It was pretty warm! But we were excited and as soon as we started to see it we got even more excited. So much history! To think of the people who had walked the very streets we were now walking!

Everybody we passed had an accent. Tourists everywhere!
It got quite congested up the top where the Parthenon is and the path becomes quite slippery in places. Such an amazing sight.
Not like in the movies though. In the movies when people go to the Parthenon, there’s no one around and they normally can go quite close to it. Today there were millions of people and we couldn’t get close. Well, not as close as I would have liked. There are ropes everywhere and even though we know Greeks can be a little cheeky when it comes to rules, no one dares to cross any of the ropes because if you do, alarms will sound like you wouldn’t believe.

We took lots of pictures on the way up, everyone better than the last one.
Here are a few from my collection.

I don’t know how much time we spent there but it was over two hours and the time really just flew by! There’s tons of information about the restoration project for those interested.

IMG_6240Something I’ve noticed is that there are stray cats everywhere here!!

A lot of them looking sickly.
It’s pretty sad.

You’ll see them going up and down the streets and even into some of the stores.
There’s also people who try to “gift” you things that they then expect you to pay for. Things like wrist bracelets and little gifts. We were told to refuse anything these people tried to give you as they actually do expect money, no matter how friendly they seem and they get angry if you eventually don’t give them any. We were approached by a couple of guys and no matter how much we said “no, I don’t want it” they actually came and put something on my wrist. They want you to feel obligated. He kept saying “don’t worry, it’s in friendship” as if he didn’t want me to give him anything but as more of our party came up to us and I said “thank you for your friendship but I really don’t have anything to give you”. He then huffed, refused eye contact and took that thing off my wrist without saying a further word to me. A complete 180 degree change in attitude!!!

It’s all part of the experience. We spent HOURS walking into the different stores here. The area I’m told is Plaka. A lot of the stores had similar items but they were of things I hadn’t seen before and a lot of it just looked so good!!! I know I’m going home with a suitcase full of junk but it’s Greek junk!!! Like you know, from Greece!!
Because we’re going with a group I know there will be tons more shopping opportunities. It’s not something hubby normally likes to do so when it’s just he and I shopping always feels rushed.

Oh, and almost as great as seeing the Acropolis today was finding an amazing Moussaka!! Yes, it was on the menu and YES I ordered it and it was just DIVINE!!!!


We also ordered a Greek salad which came almost identical as the one we had yesterday.
The nice restaurant also gave us some complimentary drinks at the end of our meal! How nice was that!


We are warned continually about pick pockets. Hubby and I are the most careful people when it comes to being aware of our belongings and yet…
After a few hours of shopping we were back on the subway going to our car. The subway was packed. Hubby had his wallet in his shorts pocket. The pocket was buttoned up. The pocket was on the side of his leg and at hand length.
When we got back to our apartment, we realised that his wallet was gone. We had JUST been talking about we can’t understand how people don’t feel it when pick pockets take things off of them and yet, it happened to one of the most careful people I know.

We cancelled his cards right away and it seems that whoever took them, hadn’t tried to use it but what a hassle!! Not to mention the feeling of knowing that someone did this to you.
Yes, it could have been worse, things could always be worse, but it’s still an awful thing to have happened.

Putting that behind us, we continued on with our plans and traveled up to Mount Lycabettus.
The drive up there I would rather soon forget.
It’s not that people are bad drivers here, it’s just that there are NO RULES! And driving up that narrow windy road with cars parked on both sides… oh my god. I wasn’t even driving yet I thought I was going to go into cardiac arrest.
And Google, you should be ashamed of yourself! I always thought it was more to do with the person, than Google Maps when people followed Google maps into lakes and off non existent bridges but tonight it happened to us!
We were driving down the steep road with sharp turns and cars parked either side of the road when Google drove us right to a dead end street where it was simply not possible to turn in any way, shape or form.
Luckily we had a “professional” driver on board who reversed us 300 meters to get to a “T” junction. I had to put that in quotes because I’m sure you’re imagining something that is a lot simpler than what really happened.
But no sooner had we reversed and gone the other way, we found we were in the same predicament. How do those people live!! So hubby had to reverse us 300 or so meters again and this time up around the “T” junction and… well the rest is a blur as I passed out mentally at that point.

In any case,  I’m so glad we went as the views were spectacular! I tried to get photos but my iphone wouldn’t do it justice so I stole one from Google Images.

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There’s amazing views of the city of Athens from the top and you can see the Parthenon lit up. It’s just so magical.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. I really loved today and can’t wait to explore more tomorrow!

In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Three

I know I’m always going on about the Supermarkets here but honestly, it’s just so different to what we’re used to.
We made another midnight supermarket run last night and I took a few snaps of the food just sitting out on the benches unrefrigerated.

 


As you can see, some of the items have egg in it. Just sitting there on the bench waiting to be bought by someone. I must admit, I’ve been tempted to buy some of it. I mean they wouldn’t sell it if people got sick right?

In any case, today was Kyoto day! I tend to get up quite early so I thought I’d go for a walk and let hubby sleep a little longer. Streets in Japan can be quite confusing as they don’t follow the nice parallel lines that I’m used to however I had internet with me and google maps is always available.
I took a few snaps along the way.


One thing I didn’t know about Osaka until I visited for the first time is that it’s full of canals. It’s the Venice of Japan.

It wasn’t long before we were off to Kyoto. We’ve been there twice before and had very different experiences. Today, again, it was like we were visiting for the first time, seeing things we hadn’t seen before. This city just amazes me.

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Straight off the train we cross the river into the main part of the city. This place was so full of tourists today! All colours, all sorts of different accents.

After a little snack we headed on over to the Gion district. We had stumbled onto this section by accident last time and just fell in love with it. It’s just olden day Japan. People can hire traditional clothing and walk these streets. So many people do it! It really adds to the atmosphere.


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The Japanese are so helpful.

See that yellow sign in the picture above on the left?

Here is a close up of what it said.

And I’m glad they clarified by adding the picture of the camera.

We walked by instinct. We were searching for the  steps that had rows of shops alongside. Before reaching that area though, we came to some beautiful tranquil gardens.

At least it would have been tranquil if we weren’t sharing the space with 50 million other people. IMG_5506

And then, the steps!


Sorry those photos aren’t in order and I didn’t take as many as I thought I had. The last two are just random pictures along the way. The left one is of a sacred cemetary and on the bottom right is bamboo. We wanted to go to a bamboo forest but we didn’t plan well so when we saw this, I just took the picture to make myself feel better.

After browsing the shops full of wonders, we came to the top. I should probably know what this is but I don’t have the info with me right now. I’m so full of information right.

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It’s a bit of a climb but well worth it!

Here are a couple of funny signs we passed along the way


We decided to go back to the main centre to get some lunch. It was udon noodles today and I’m pleased to say we didn’t gorge ourselves!!

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When you go into a restaurant here, they give you a little basket to put your bag in so you don’t have to leave it on the floor.

I love that!

And although hubby told me “NO CAKES” this holiday, he didn’t fight me when I suggested to go and get some pastries. OH MY GOD they were so delicious!!!!


It was so hard not to grab one of everything!

We walked around the amazing Kyoto Station for a while. It has a department store, hotel and lots of shops and restaurants in there. Such an interesting building. It’s a worth a visit even if you’re not catching the train.
It’s such an amazing design with new things to see at every turn.


I didn’t take many photos this time as I took so many last time.

It has been raining most of today so we didn’t really want to go out walking in it again. We decided to get the train back to Osaka and continue our adventure there.
Poor hubby was wiped out and joined the majority of Japanese people who sleep on the train.

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And please let me indulge in some more supermarket talk.
I was feeling brave tonight and bought a whole of things even if I didn’t know what they were.
Amongst my purchases were the following.


The burgers on the left were 98 yen… so about $1.20AUD. We shared the brown wrapped one and it was actually ok.
Better than I expected.
Not anything that would fill you up but ok for a quick snack. The bread is really so light that you hardly feel like you’re eating anything.
We haven’t tried the yellow wrapped burger yet and I haven’t put my translate ap on it so I don’t know what it is. Somtimes it’s better not to know.

The pic on the right were pieces of pizza sold individually. They were ok too. Better than expected. Even the one with egg on it.
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I sent that picture to my mum and she said she’d rather have egg than pineapple and I’m not going to give you her contact information as hate mail is just not nice.

In search of Cherry Blossom – Part Two

I’ve woken up way too early this morning. I couldn’t sleep and thought I’d just make myself a coffee.
Coffee is interesting here. They seem to love the cold varieties… Iced Coffee. Lots of it in the street vending machines-the kind in cans. Most of the ones we’ve tried don’t seem to have sugar in them.
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When it comes to hot coffee I don’t think it’s really a thing here (Unless you got to a chain like Starbucks.)
Even in the air bnb’s we’ve stayed out, we haven’t had coffee cups provided.

Milk
We went to the supermarket last night and bought some instant coffee (no other choice) what we thought was sugar and potentially full cream milk.

When we got to the check out hubby asked the lady serving (who didn’t speak English) if this milk was good for coffee. She understood what he was saying presumably and screwed up her nose. So we said we wouldn’t take the milk and she said she’d send someone to help.

The person coming to help was going to bring us “milk for coffee”. When he came, he was holding a bag of individual milk cups. Pictured right is an example of what Milk-lakeland-whole-milk-UHTI’m talking about. The kind that is normally never enough!! Hubby and I both like a decent amount of milk in our coffees and we both said, no, give us the original carton…

But that’s Japan. Everything is packaged here. They love their packaged sugars, packaged milk, individual packages of everything!!

I can confim that the milk we bought last night was actually full cream milk but I was a little nervous before tasting it this morning!

First thing on the agenda today was walking to Osaka Castle.We’re only a couple of kilometres away from it so it was a nice easy walk.


We did start to see some Cherry Blossom but not as much as I would have liked. I suspect we’re right at the end of the season. At least we got to see some of it.

And we did see interesting sights along the way to the Castle…

 


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There were tons of people at the Castle!!

We thought we’d walk back to Osaka city and get some lunch.

I love walking everywhere.

You just get to see so much more!

After walking up and down the endless shopping and market aisles, we went into the Hep building and found a place to get some lunch. I’m not sure what we ate exactly. It seems to be a type of omlette with rice inside? At least, the one we ordered had rice inside it.
On the menu it had two sizes. SS or S. SS is super small and S is small.
Hubby and I don’t like small.
The waitress said we could also order M for medium or L for large.
Now remember, we had been walking quite a bit by this stage and we were very hungry as we didn’t really have breakfast so we both opted for large.
The waitress was visibly shocked. I should have questioned my choice right then but no, I figured I’d be able to handle it.

I was mid sentence to hubby when I saw our order coming out and I just stopped talking, stunned by what I was seeing.


That, dear readers, is the large. Consider yourselves warned!
I’m sure the servers were all giggling at us. Some of the other diners were watching us too, seeing if we were going to finish… I was so terribly embarrassed.
It tasted amazing by the way!! Although I could have done without that brown sauce which was on there. Tasted like barbecue sauce.

Unfortunately I couldn’t finish it. I really really tried but I couldn’t. We really needed to walk our meals off after that so we walked down to the Dotonbori area.

I just love this place.

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We were stopped by four people who wanted to practice their English with us. The Japanese people are too cute!

Down one of the streets we noticed a huge screen, which was showing a live feed of people walking. I just had to get myself on that big screen!! Can I say I’ve been on Japanese television now?


We have passed a few funny signs but I didn’t take a photo unfortunately. On the train there was a sign saying the train was “mildly” airconditioned. Another sign contained “hot” information. Just love the way their language translates into English!

We were checking out some stores for headphones for hubby when we saw a confident Japanese man just having a shave. Try before you buy right?

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And to finish off, we finally did find some different flavoured Kit Kat. I didn’t buy any but I did take pictures.

Tomorrow, we hope to be off to Kyoto!!