Girls Gone Mild – Day Five

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Today is our last day. I got up early to hit the gym again.

Every morning I’ve been, I haven’t seen anyone else in that gym.

It’s nice having the whole area to yourself.
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This morning however, someone else came in and it was still very early. 4am to be precise.  I wondered what the hell someone else was doing in the gym that early on a Sunday morning!

Then ten minutes later, someone else came in! A girl who was doing some stretching and yoga. A few minutes after that, two more people put their heads in.

This was all before 5am on a Sunday morning!
I was going to let myself go  easy and walk more than run however with other people in the gym, it forced me to run more because, well that’s just what we do right?

b4784d4f53d6fd5bb580055961ab52bc--fitness-gym-fitness-humorMy sister came in very early also and when we were leaving (about 6.30am) we saw there were people in the games room playing table tennis!!! What is going on! Why were all these people up so early on a Sunday morning!

If I’d known I’d be encountering other humans, I wouldn’t have let myself be so scary looking and actually attempted  to look vaguely alive.

Have to say, the facilities in this place have been pretty good!

As we weren’t able to store our luggage in the building we were staying at, we didn’t leave our room until just before check out time. I mean who wants to walk all over the place with heavy luggage?
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We thought we’d go to Victoria Markets again just to kill a bit of time and perhaps snap up a bargain.

You don’t realise how difficult it is to pull a heavy luggage bag until you have to do it up and down crowded aisle ways.

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It’s even more difficult when you’re a party of five and trying to somewhat stay together.


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In any case, after buying a few more trinkets, including a pair of earrings that the shop owner assured me would not go green if worn in the shower.

We shall see about that!

We stopped to get coffee in a nearby foodcourt and I saw this…

You probably can’t read the sign above the piano but it says “play me”

I wasn’t going to but I heard a couple of others tinker and realised I wasn’t going to be worse than they were so I got up to play also.

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What I didn’t see was the woman at a table behind me who had her fingers in her ears!

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Ah well, can’t please everyone!

IMG_8179Time to leave the market…

Have to share this funny sign we saw along the way to the bus station.

Not sure if it was just because we were tired but it made us chuckle!

We were hoping to leave our luggage in a locker at the bus station but unfortunately, they were mostly all taken! So again, we were faced with the prospect of trailing them behind us.

Luckily, we saw the outlet store about the bus station and the foodcourt there had lots of comfy seating so we took it in turns to mind the bags while the others shopped.

After some more successful shopping (No photo, but I got a jacket from Jacquie E that was original $249 for $34.95!!!!) we hopped on the skybus back to the airport.

My daughter and I were on a different flight to the rest of our party so we had to separate at that point. It was sad, especially after spending so much time together.

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But we made up for it by sending photos and messages while we were waiting for our planes to leave.

As my sister, mother and sister-in-law had more time, they went to  a wine tasting that was set up in the airport.

They drank their samples and then the guy asked my mum where she normally buys her wine.
I’m pretty sure he meant what winery she was partial to.
She replied “Liquorland”

Ah, I wish I’d been there!

On our flight we were given snacks.
IMG_8183I saw the cabin crew coming down the aisle and I thought she said “Cheesecake” as she handed another passenger a box.

“Cheesecake!!” I said excitedly to my daughter. “We’re going to get cheesecake!”

But no, I was wrong, it was cheese and crackers.
Can you imagine the disappointment.

So I sent the picture of our cheese and crackers to the girls on the other flight.

They sent a picture of their “cheese and crackers”

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And yes they definitely win!!!

My mum had these taralli with her AND some cheese that had been left over from our trip.

Throughout the whole time away, no matter how obscure, if I asked my mum if she had something, the answer was always yes.

“Do you have some sharp nail scissors?”
“Do you have some water?”
“Do you have tissues? No, the wet kind… like you get from KFC?”

There’s loads more but I just can’t think of it right now. She came prepared! And we loved her all the more for it.

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They sent us this photo and I took one of my daughter and I to send back but I was making a face in that one that is definitely not fit for public viewing so it didn’t make it to the blog.

We had a great time being silly together and I’m grateful to have such a loving, close family.

I was also very excited to see hubby who was waiting for us as we arrived.

And now I don’t want to think about anything else but my bed!

 

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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 Three

We wanted today to be a relaxing day. We just wanted to walk around, do a bit of shopping, take a few pictures and to see what happens.

First thing we did was go to the supermarket where I spoke to the guy behind the counter. I’m just so proud of myself whenever I do that! It’s only because I don’t expect to be able to speak but when I’m there, it comes natural. They don’t even ask me where I’m from or anything like that. It makes me feel like a local.

I had read a bit about Villa Borghese so we were sort of making our way towards that.
We were walking on Via delle Quattro Fontane and found ourselves at the intersection where the four fountains were!
I took pictures of the fountains – some were taken from across the road so not that great but still a cute little intersection.


We didn’t really have breakfast because hubby wanted to get some pizza like we had yesterday. Yesterday we saw these particular types of pizza places all over. Today, for some reason, we couldn’t find them.
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As we walked around looking for this special type of elusive pizza place, we stopped at different sights.

I could not believe we were taking so much time to look for pizza in Rome. I don’t blame Rome, I blame hubby who passed quite a few places that were “not right”. He could have had pizza if he wanted.

We were walking for about an hour when we got to the top of the Spanish Steps and decided to explore the church that is there.

There was a guard up there refusing entry to anyone who had exposed shoulders/arms or legs (Wearing shorts) About half of the people trying to enter were turned away.

I took a few pics inside.


It was very quiet in there. People were respectful of their surroundings. I had spent a bit of time by myself taking photos and looking at it all and realised hubby wasn’t with me. When I was done, I looked around for him and saw him sitting quietly in one of the pews. I motioned that I was ready and he got up and we went out.
When we were out I said “Were you there all that time? What were you doing?”
Without missing a beat he replies “I was praying for pizza”

Alas, that prayer took a little time to be answered.

Took a few pics of the Spanish Steps during the day this time.

We walked and walked without any direction. Passed lots of places selling foccacia…

We eventually found ourselves in Piazzo del Popolo. The Piazza del Popolo (the People’s Square) is located inside the northern gate of the city, which was once called Porta Flaminia. The square is situated at the beginning of Via Flaminia and was the main entrance to the city during the Roman Empire.


There is a Leonardo Da Vinci Museum there and we were going to go in but when we went to buy the tickets, it was SO stifling hot and humid in there we couldn’t stay!!! What a shame.

Shortly after, a miracle occurred. We saw a place that had pizza that hubby wanted to eat.
I hear the angels singing as I write this.

I spoke Italian to the guy behind the counter like a champ and ordered us some pizza slices. They charge by weight so you just tell them how much you want and then they cut and weigh it.
I took some pics through their display windows.


It was REALLY good. I think they fry the base or something. It was really crunchy and the one we had was filled with prosciutto. YUM!!

With our hunger satiated we were able to think clearly and we moved on to Villa Borghese.
It was an interesting little place! There’s statues of lots of famous people. The one to the right is Victor Hugo.

Lots of people were getting around on bikes and carts which you can hire relatively cheaply.
Here’s a few more pics from inside.

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There’s nice views of Rome from the top. It was really peaceful up there and if you find yourself in Rome and want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist spots, I recommend you come here.

We were tiring by now.

Looking for the perfect pizza place will do that to you.

We just walked and surprisingly, we found ourselves at the Vatican again.
Although we didn’t have a plan, that wasn’t the direction we would have chosen so we changed direction and before we knew it, we were at Piazza Navona.
At least I think that’s where this is.

 


Very pretty place!! Probably more so if you’re not sun struck and tired.

Hubby and I wanted to try some authentic Italian Limoncello so we went into some place that advertised a 500 ml bottle for 5.20 Euro or something like that. When I paid for it, it was 7.20… damn those people who scam tourists!!! In any case, it was still a good price and as I write this, I’m quite a few shots in so I really don’t mind!!!

We’re full up on Limoncello, cheese, proscuitto, salami and bread. Not sure we’re going anywhere for the next few hours!

When we eventually woke from our gastronomic stupor, we wandered back out for some good authentic food. Everyone here beckons you to come in. It’s hard to say no. We went into one place and didn’t really like the menu so after being sat down, we got up and said we were looking for something else.

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We walked past this one place close to our apartment and liked the look of what we saw on other people’s plates so stopped in.

It’s getting quite addictive for me to speak Italian to the servers or really, anyone else!
I’m just so darn proud of myself. (Yes I’ve said that more than once)

I was pretty happy with my pasta! I just wanted a simple meal with a beautiful, flavourful tomato sauce and I got that.
Hubby’s pizza was also good. I can’t remember the pizza’s all having a thin crust when I was here last but they are all like that. Super thin!

Water in restaurants is relatively expensive. We paid 3 Euro for some table water.
Public washrooms are something else that mostly aren’t free. We’ve seen them for one Euro. Hubby and I will usually duck in somewhere and get a drink or coffee and use the bathroom rather than pay extra for a public one.
I won’t tell you how long we spent trying to locate a McDonalds one day, so that we could use their restroom!! If you have young children and you’re coming here it’s probably something to consider.

Only a few days left of vacation now. We have to make the most of our time here.

Buona notte amici

Roman Around – Day One

Surprise! We’re in Rome!!

I woke up with mixed feelings. Sad to be leaving Greece but also excited for what lay ahead. I’ve been to Italy before but it was too many years ago and hubby has never been at all so this was going to be something new for both of us.

It was sad to leave the rest of our travelling buddies who were going back home today. After being with the group for so long, it a little strange to just be on our own. I kept thinking we were missing somebody.

When the group got to Athens airport we saw that we were departing from different gates and had to go through different security screening areas. We asked the security officer if the gates meet up on the other side as we wanted to know whether we were saying goodbye now or if we would have more time together.
The guard said in a heavy accent “No, it separate. Say bye-bye here”
It was just cute.

The goodbye was too quick and too sad…

The flight from Athens to Rome was only 2 hours and it seemed to go fairly quickly. I had last minute anxiety about speaking Italian so was reading the Italian inflight magazine for most of those two hours in the hope it could increase my vocabulary.

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Hubby and I had researched it and decided we would take the bus to our apartment which is pretty close to the train terminal in Rome.
I tried to take some pictures as it drove along but that never works.

Some of the streets were so pretty with green trees shading us but the buildings are all full of graffiti! We saw the same thing in Greece. What is it with these places and graffiti!

We kept driving and then… out of nowhere, out jumped the colosseum!! I think the whole bus exclaimed at the same time!


It looked pretty impressive. I’ve seen it before but it was still a thrill.

Our apartment is just a short walk away from here and we just fell in love with the building as soon as we saw it!! I was so happy that it was as nice as the pictures we’d seen online. Maybe even better than the pictures.


The picture top right is the ceiling in our apartment. It’s curved like that. Looks pretty good! And the ceilings are so high! It feels like were in a palace. I love this place!!

We were going to rest and take it easy but got caught up in the atmosphere and immediately went out exploring. I snapped at things without knowing what they were. Tomorrow is the “proper” sight seeing day. This was just a bonus walk.

We stopped for some dinner. We really wanted authentic pizza but not sure we got that. The place was ok but not amazing.
We also ordered a bottle of wine for both of us. Although I drink often, I don’t drink a lot and a whole bottle between two… well I can tell you my Italian was flowing after that.

The first picture above is the restaurant we stopped at, the second is our wine, third our meals (pizza and calzone) and last is the complimentary limoncello the owner brought out! How nice was that!
We passed a million tourist shops and lots of them sell these things. I haven’t gone in to see what’s in them, but I’ll just leave the picture here for you to see. Try explaining that one to your kids.

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Without looking for it, we came upon Fontana di Trevi,


It was pretty impressive. Much more than I remember when I was here last.

We are going to go to these sights again so we didn’t linger. In any case, it was absolutely littered with people. We were here in the evening and I’m sure there’s people here all day long but probably especially busy at night.

pain_web_1280x720.jpgI accidentally dropped my phone on a young girls head while trying to take an overhead shot of the fountain.
I still feel bad about that but it probably would have been a little funny watching it as an onlooker.

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I joked to hubby that if we kept going the way we were, we would see all the ancient sights before we even had our first night’s sleep!

We passed by the Pantheon and again, that was quite by accident.

We saw a sign for Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps) and decided that would be our last stop before heading back.
It was starting to get dark so I couldn’t take many photos. I was telling hubby how when I was here last there were vendors selling chestnuts at the bottom of the steps and they’re still there! You might see some chestnuts in the picture on the right.


Very weary but I want to show you the fabulous parking that people do here. Why stick to one direction when you have one of these cars?

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Backwards, sideways, parallel. It all works!

Arriverderci readers!

Greece is the Word – Day Twelve

Today is our second to last full day here in Greece.
I’ve not been able to find diet soft drinks (soda) here apart from Pepsi Max or Sugar Free Coke.
The same thing happened when we were in Japan although I did eventually find it in the odd store here and there.

Here in Greece, I’ve looked in many places and just can’t find it.

In Australia, and I imagine in Canada and America, there are huge selections of diet drinks. These countries also have the highest obesity rates.  Makes me wonder if there is any connection.

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Had to laugh at the name of this store (left).

Wasn’t sure if I was actually reading it correctly at first!

Speaking of walking, in Australia we drive on the left side of the road and consequently, when we walk down a footpath, we also keep left.
I keep wanting to keep left while walking here, but they’re used to keeping right. Everyone sub -consciously walks on the side they’re used to being on.

We drove to Kifisia. Such a pretty place and again, different to many of the other places we have been to in Greece. Kifisia is an upscale residential and shopping district with international designer boutiques, exclusive leather goods stores and art galleries. Imagine my surprise when I saw the store pictured above because that’s where that picture comes from.
There are pretty park lands in the area too.

Here are a few pictures I took as we walked along.


Not many pictures – I thought I took more.

We stopped for lunch and the place we went to didn’t have Greek Salad on the menu so we were forced to be adventurous which turned out to be a good thing because the salad I ate was so delicious with raisans and slices of orange in it. So good!!
We also got some pizza.

I can’t remember what the dish on the far right was called but it was mozzarella wrapped with eggplant and in that delicious tomato sauce. Again, soooo good!

9B790277-B321-465F-BA12-843803D2BCD3On the way back we passed by the Original Olympic stadium. The Panathenaic Stadium or Kallimarmaro is a multi-purpose stadium in Athens.

Hubby and I went to take a look and noticed so many people posing in front of it.

Some people were doing star jumps, others were doing John Travolta style dance poses.
It was fun to watch!

Of course, that meant I had to join in. Hubby and I tried to get some star jump pics in but I failed – I should really post the fail pictures because they were way funnier than these but I guess I still have some dignity left so I better work at keeping it.


And now for some other pics we took that don’t involve posing or star jump attempts.


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I lied, there was a bit of posing involved.

Oh and we noticed you could see the Acropolis from here too if you looked hard enough!

I like how the traffic sign here tells you how long you have to wait until you get a green walk signal.

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And a few more pics from the surrounding area…


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Had to laugh at this – I don’t think it was a typo, it probably means something but it was still funny to me.

Hubby asked if that’s the type of wine I like to drink…

Tonight for dinner we were back in that Plaka area – The same area that we caught the subway from where hubby’s wallet was pick-pocketed. I noticed there were quite a few people wearing their bags and back packs in front of them so I did the same even though I felt silly doing it.
By the way, Pláka is an old historical neighborhood of Athens, clustered around the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis, it incorporates labyrinthine streets and neoclassical architecture

Our company chose a fantastic restaurant where two guys were providing some great Greek entertainment.

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I did take a video later on in the evening when a couple of the diners… or one may have been a server, got up to do some Greek dancing! I took my phone out to video it and then looked around and there was at least one person from every table recording it!

Tomorrow is our last full day here and then a surprise awaits…. Stay tuned.