Tuesday, October 2, 2012

When in Rome

We set out to Galleria Borghese on foot and walked through an amazing park... and found out you need to buy tickets in advance... damn you Italy!

 So we went to the zoo next door... not a bad consolation prize.

The giraffe ran laps for us... like a boss... still... our zoo in Toronto is way better... take that Bob Barker.

The only free thing in Rome... sometimes you can drink out of the fountains and sometimes you can't... but it still tastes kinda funny.

People watching at the Trevi Fountain should be an event... you see old men with magnets on the end of retractable wands fishing euro out of the fountains... tons of people doing the picture scam... and even local guys trying to pick up single ladies travelling alone... they even bring an extra helmet to wisk them away on their scooters... smooth... and creepy.

Trevi crowd above... bring a beer and clutch your bag.

I will never have pasta this good again... I am still coming to terms with this.

The Pantheon!

The architecture in Rome is mind blowing and at every turn... this doorway was on a side street around the corner from Campo de' Fiori an outdoor market.

They will literally let anybody into the Vatican.

There was NO line... until you got inside... then we were promptly herded like sheep for 20 minutes until we out ran the giant groups.

The opulence was off the charts... it almost became ho hum after a while.

Then you run into an Otto Dix painting! What is a vacation without Otto Dix?!?!?

Then Francis Bacon... I'll give that to the Vatican... they also have controversial catholic art in their museums... and two of my favourites!

More $$$

The best part about the Vatican isn't the Vatican itself... it's the ten or so shops across the road that sell all the religious kitsch... where else can you get lighters and beer openers with the popes face plastered all over it? I don't know how I managed before my Pope John Paul coffee mug.

And Mussolini? Sure why not?

St Peter's Basilica... and just when I thought I knew Ashley she informed me she finds it funny when people pray... giggle giggle... good times!

People mimicking Pope hand signs... similar to gang signs... kids these days!

I tried out for the Swiss guard... I didn't make the cut.

Mystery Pope Theatre.

Then there was the enoteca that clearly the Pope made right around the corner from our hotel... it was 100 yards of wine in the basement... we bought some.

Rice Ball.



The End.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Got New Sunglasses. And other notes from our trip.

I'm gonna start this post off right. Check out the sweet shades that lovely boyfrien of mine, Brock, presented me as an early birthday gift. Who's lucky? This girl. I also wanted to show you how much I'm missing a blow dryer. Not that I even blow dry my hair properly. But hot damn, does shaking your head over warm air make a difference.

Yesterday started out terribly. I'm not easily phased by travel issues but the shit show that ensued when we tried to buy train tickets made me want to cancel the day and head back to bed. Lucky for us, we're currently sleeping in one of the worlds least comfortable bed so I decided to preserver and almost four hours after we set out, we arrived in Siena (a 1hr train ride away).

And I'm so glad we worked that shit out. Because Siena did not disappoint. I've travelled here twice before but can't remember ever going into the Duomo. Not sure if I'm just being a space cadet but I'm pretty sure when I went with school with stuck to the Museo and two other churches. 

The Duomo in Siena is a pretty extravagant showing of Catholic opulence. The detailing is unreal and so overboard. It's not like it's the fresco's or the statues or the alter or the floor. Every single element of this church is decorated. From the stain glass, to the carved floors to the striped marble. I don't even know what to tell you about. It's overwhelming and packed to the rafters with people but it is a true sight to behold. I was so taken with the floor carvings. As well as one of the security guards chatting on her cell phone while screaming at tourists to stop using their flash.

Which brings me to a side note. Tourists, stop using your flash. Preservation of the art work, blah blah but mostly, you will get much better photos if you turn the flash off, and instead learn to hold the camera steady/ rest it on something. Much truer colours. Much kinder security guards. All around good time. No more auto-flash!

(I will mention here that they provide you with mirrors to see the fresco's so there is no neck strain. So sweet)

We had pizza in the square afterwards and I decided I will not have another slice for the rest of this trip because holy eff, too much pizza makes ashley a chubbo. I'll stick to pasta thank you very much.

So after too much walking yesterday I dragged Brock back up the massive hill to San Miniato al Monte. I have no words for this spot. It is truly one of my favourite places in Florence and I tell everyone I know visiting Florence to go. And you know how many of them do it? SO FEW.


I don't remember the walk being so tough... I did it quite frequently while living here but today was no bueno. I believe Brock and I may be a little out-of-shape-o.

C'est la vie. The view is worth it. The church is quiet and beautiful. And the graveyard is spectacular.

Although we noticed on our way out a no photo sign. Opps. Sorry guys.

Oh look. I suck at taking selfies. I got none of the background in and I look terrible. Another tourist took one for us but his is worse.

After we finished with San Miniato we headed down the mountain and remembered we had intended to check out the Boboli Gardens so headed over that way. The line was super quick and we were in in no time.

The downside is that as soon as we got in I realised that the whole stupid gardens is yet another hill and our legs were not having any of it. We stalled and checked out the Costume Gallery in the Pitti Palace (because it came with our ticket for free) and a really bizarre exhibit on Native North Americans (which was clearly a bust for us Canadians) and then eventually, we forced ourselves back up the hill. 

Brock was visibly (and audibly) disappointed by the gardens. He may do a stint working for the Pitti Palace sharing with them his grass growing skills. I however quite like the gardens. They have cats. Pretty trees. But way too many hills. 

So that's my update. More has happened (we saw a terrribly fat Italian woman scream, call the police and spit on people after she was short changed at the Foccaria) but this is all I have the patience for tonight.

We're off to Rome tomorrow and then home on Saturday. Try not to miss me too much more.


Sunday, September 23, 2012


So everyone knows Italy has great food... even if you haven't been here... but stay far away from there ginger soda... shit tastes like sticks in rubbing alcohol!

But ribollita on the other had is heaven in a bowl... it's a soup made with day old bread and vegetables... and the restaurant Za Za in Florence makes a great one! We've been twice since coming to Florence and I won't rule out a third time.

And yes the pasta... when I return to Canada I may never it pasta again... it takes an Italian 10 months to change a light bulb... but they make up for it with truffle linguini.

And just like everywhere in Europe... cheese is a right... this massive piece of parmesan cost $6... at home you would drop about $20 on it... and it literally melts in your mouth.

Huge statues with wieners EVERYWHERE!

Walking over the bridge in Florence... in the distance is Ponte Vecchio... the entire bridge is lined with goldsmiths.

We went to the market one morning and bought fresh pasta and sauce... our huge meal cost us about $13... I would become one fat man here.

We walked up to Piazza Michelangelo and watched the sunset and the police play games with the Africans selling illegal handbags... the police show up they runaway... the police leave they set backup... then they return two minutes later... hilarious!

More nude statues and me licking Davids' balls... this obviously isn't the real David... you can't take photos of him.

The Domo at night... it's fun to sit in the square and people watch.

So pizza is a staple... if you go a day without... you're missing out!

Ashley insisted we go to La Specola... and it's probably the greatest thing I have ever seen in my life... not in Europe... but the greatest thing I have ever laid my eyes upon... the weird thing is that it's completely empty... not a single tourist in sight... which was fine with me... no lines and no tour groups... half of the Specola is taxedermied animals made is the late 1800's... they have everything from a hippo to a dodo bird... the other half is wax mannequins used to teach medical students a few hundred years ago... if you go to Florence it is a must see!

So Italians have so of the most beautiful art in the world... but there system is completely archaic... you can wait in one line and pay the standard price... or you can pay more and get into a slightly faster line... or you can join a group with a guide and walk right inside... but the groups ruin the galleries here... as Ashley says, "If it isn't named after a Ninja Turtle they blow past it!"... crowding around the most important pieces of art and ruining it for all... they are mostly American (fuck you Rick Steves!)... and Asian... and the worst part is most of the people in those groups could careless about art... Italy needs to fix this asap... sometimes it shouldn't be about money... but I guess the mafia and Rick Steves need to make money somehow... there should be one line with one price.