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.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I left you yesterday with tales of our trip to the aquarium but Genova hasn't been all fish and octopuie.

Wednesday we were meant to make our way to Cinque Terre but we woke up that morning, saw the blackest sky we've seen since our arrival in Italy are realised that there were probably better times to check the weather than an hour prior to our departure. As the five towns were calling for thunder showers all day, we decided to stay in the city and skipped the planned hike.

I'm not going to lie - I'm a little gutted. I've wanted to see Cinque Terre since leaving Italy six years ago but I have no interest in a five hour hike in the pouring rain with an angry ginger. Go figure, I like life easier than that.

No worries. We've filled up our day in Genova and made it count. I really do love this city.

We found a great bar last night so today we spent too many hours ditching galleries and getting wasted in the sun that eventually arrived. Time. Well. Spent.

By the way, if you're ever traveling round these parts, make sure to order a vodka coke. If 7 Euros seems steep, don't worry. Each glass comes with approximately 3 and a half shots and coke in a separate glass. So uh... I feel like I'll be hung over for the rest of my life.

Tomorrow we're off to Florence. Woot woot.

Here are some more pictures from Genova. Try not to fall in love with my life right now.

Oh good. I see you left me room for some coke. Too bad it's still clear when I add it.

Worst. Garden. Ever. I just... I can't. Seriously, visit our house if you wanna see a garden.

Saddest Lion in Genova.

Scooter parking!

Palazzo Cat Stretches.

Worst Falafel Place. Just terrible.

Nice Buildings. Bad Photographer Skillz.


Ok, so this photo is creepy. But we saw these adorable twins twice in Genova. They are so chubby that when they stretch their arms you can see their skin is white in the fat folds. Which coincidentally happens when I stretch my arms only it's significantly grosser on me.

So that's Genova.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Genova I Love You

Sorry for the delay in updates. I've been a little over indulgent lately, what can I say. Following Brocks tourist diatribe the last post, I've decided to start paying a little more attention to the online world while we're away

First things first, I'll answer the question that I know is on everyone's mind. Yes. Carly Rae Jepson is a big deal here. Her terribly annoying song has made it across the world and is tormenting the minds of Italians everywhere.

So, we've arrived in Genova. Actually, we're leaving tomorrow. It is our third day here and it has been fabulous.

After the onslaught of tourists and the utterly un-Italian first impression of Italy, Genova has been a welcome break. Our experience in Venice was at once, exactly what I had expected while still being such a flippin' pain. I don't want to complain - we're loving our stay in Italy. But Venice is not for us.

Genova is a port town, built on a hill and one of the more amazing Italian towns I've had the pleasure of visiting. It's truly beautiful here. It also reeks of piss and is dirty as H-E-double-hockey-sticks but beautiful none the less.

It is also cheap. Or maybe it's just normal. But compared to Venice, we are living like kings. Our hotel is gorgeous and the least expensive of our trip as we booked it through Expedia. The service has been incredible, the room is beautiful and the hotel is gorgeous. I'm sure everyone here is well aware we booked through Expedia as we trek through with our back sacks and groceries, emptying the fridge of expensive mini-booze to fill with deli cheese. But whatevs. We love it.

Our first day here we visited the Aquarium. We had originally planned to stay in Cinque Terre but when we saw the Aquarium, I was sold. Because I LOVE AQUARIUMS. It's the second largest in Europe, after the amazing aquarium in Lisbon, and it was everything I had hoped for.

So I'll end this post with a couple pictures of fish and that should keep you on the up and up until I return tomorrow. Because, I will, return tomorrow.