My Travels :D – Pompei

On one of my days in beautiful Roma, I decided to take a long awaited trip to the historic city of Pompeii. Luckily there was a bus trip to the city from the campsite I was staying at.
For many years I have looked at the history of Pompeii and learnt many things. I have since then longed to see the site of Vesuvius’ rampage. My pictures unfortunately do not do it justice at all. When we arrived we had to get tickets from the ticket office and once we were all kitted out with headphones and had met our tour guide, we were led down a long path. Pompeii was situated up on a hill, well more like a mound, so as we walked around the mound following the dust trail, we were gradually ascending onto Pompeii. The first stop that was on our little tour was an amphitheatre. Imagining the stories that the many people who lived there would sit, watch, listen and learn and now it was just all dust and brick. It’s extraordinary, it really made me think about what it must have been like. Even though it has been uncovered after thousands of years it still had the most amazing acoustics, a whisper at the bottom could be heard all the way at the back.

A short walk up another dust trail led us to the longest road in the city, this was where most of the traffic would happen, large boulders manipulated into squares were laid in the street acting as stepping stones due to the amount of liquid that would run through the streets, pretty genius way to keep your feet dry I’d say, especially since all they would have worn are sandals.
We were able to see inside a few of the houses that were on the street. It was difficult to think that many people had lived in these houses. It made me think whether they would have had similar conversations or whether they had delinquent teenagers, having tantrums. Of course they did. It was just difficult to imagine the normal day to day lives they led not knowing that an impending doom was overshadowing their little city in the form of Vesuvius.
It did shock me to see that at the base of the volcano, little houses at the base of the mountain. I could not help but think that these people are completely out of their minds, to happily and willingly live right underneath an active volcano, especially when the tour guide told us the amount of time they can give people to evacuate the area, and then the ratio of how many people they can evacuate before eruption. Let me tell you, it’s not a lot of time, and probably half of the people would escape. I would not like those odds at all.

It all became very real when we got to the main square, a vast space that would have been used, no doubt for markets and such. To the one side of the square were cages, obviously to keep people from touching and damaging the objects within. Inside these cages on platforms and shelves were artifacts, pots, vases, things that you would find in any normal household of that time, but there were also shells of people. People that had been under a layer of burning fragments and ash… or Lapilli ย for a thousand years.ย Looking back on photos that I had taken, I remember what it felt like to see them. The people of Pompeii. Still in the contorted positions that they were in when they were caught in the firestorm that devastated their city, their home. They are the most publicised pieces of the town, they have indeed given us a lot of information about the aftermath that the volcanic debris can cause, but as incredible as it was to see, it felt invasive. These people did not get the right burial that they so truly deserved, and now hundreds of people daily come to stand and gawk at them.

Nonetheless, Pompeii was a true experience that I am so glad that I made the decision to go to (there was no decision, I was dying to go… so I went.) It is something that I will never forget and I would absolutely love to go back in the future.

My Travels! – Rome – Part 2 :D

After my terrifying stormy night, Morgan and I jumped on the campsite bus (which I was late for) and headed to Vatican City, just a short twenty minutes away from where we were staying. It was my goal to see the Sistine Chapel by the end of the day.
The journey didn’t take very long, and when we arrived they had dropped us all the way down the road. We had made friends with two lads from the campsite… I think, I didn’t really speak to them, they were just there. So none of us knew where we were, but, we all just went on a lovely little jolly and wondered down the street, following street signs that were in Italian (we just followed the drawing of a cathedral.) We were just waiting to find a sign to say that we were close to the Pope’s House.

Hooray. We had finally found it it eventually, after about twenty minutes of walking. So many people flooded The Vatican. Long lines of eager people, tourists like myself all speaking different languages, and then you have the Italians, locals, sitting outside cafe’s admiring the views of scantily dressed women and laughing at the men who followed them like lost puppies.
Again it took us too long to actually find out where to get the tickets to get into the museum. We luckily found a small gift shop that luckily acted as a sort of ticket master, we were also able to pick up a few souvenirs as well… Bonus.
Unfortunately, we were unable to go in the wide open square with the balcony that the Pope occasionally comes out and says “Hi” to everyone. It was a shame but at least I will have something to look forward to the next time I travel to this beautiful city.

It’s amazing when you think that someone actually lives in the Vatican and gets to see what I saw nearly every day if they felt like it, well I imagine so anyway. The statues and marble work is absolutely phenomenal. Everything amazing that has come out of history were inside the walls of one of the most famous house in Europe. In all the museums that I have visited, this is my favourite one.
My mother knows that by this time of my adventure I was completely over the whole tourist thing of pushing and barging people. Even the “Oh yes, let me just stop in the middle of the corridor in a massive group and stare inanely at something for a very long time and hold EVERYONE up.” This was not fun for me, I am not a fan of crowds on the best of days, but when it’s hot and you’re carrying a heavy bag, sometimes you just want to walk at your own pace. But No… unfortunately some people just can’t comprehend that. I had lost Morgan and was wandering around the place, getting lost… AGAIN! The place is like a massive maze. Never the less I really enjoyed it.

It was getting late and I had given up on achieving my goal… and then… I MADE IT! I made it to the Sistine Chapel. I will tell you something else about tourists, we really cannot shut up. Whilst I was in the chapel, we got told off at least five times for being too loud.
As I walked in I witnessed someone most likely giving confession or asking for advice. I was ushered to the back of the room where I stood staring at the ceiling with my chin on the floor. I stood like this for about ten minutes. The amazing, pristine detail in everything was just mind blowing. I don’t think I will ever forget that view. It’s etched into my mind.

My very last day of Rome, I made the journey into the city for the last time, I was making my way to see one of my favourite things… the Trefi Fountain. It was unfortunately under restoration when I went, but I could still gaze upon the glorious site, and indeed I did the classic cliche of tossing a coin into a makeshift pool just in front of a plastic wall to keep tourists out from the building area. Looks like I will be going back in the future.
I took the opportunity to try some very delicious gelato from one of the many gelaterias, and once again I went shopping… happy days!

Completely safe to say that I miss Rome a little… OK, a lot!

Definitely will be visiting this historic and stunning city again in the future. No stopping me. ๐Ÿ˜€

 

My Travels :D – Rome

When choosing my destinations for my trip, some cities were easier to pick than others. Rome was a definite. I love Italy and I wanted to spend as much time as I could exploring the gorgeous cities. I decided there was too much to see in my favourite capitol so I had to stay a little longer than the other places.

I stayed in Rome for five days… it was not enough at all.

When we arrived I checked myself in and had to walk (with my heavy bag, up a hill… I thought I had left all the hills in Wales!) to my little caravan (better than the tent in Venice.) Now I am not the brightest spark in the plug, but I am aware on how to open a door with a key… or so I thought. I spent at least five to ten minutes trying to open this caravan door with no luck. Happily my roommate for three days arrived (she was on the same bus trip I was on) It took both our intellects to work out how this door opened and finally we succeeded.
In all fairness, I didn’t pay much so I wasn’t expecting much but it was lovely, plus I would only be sleeping here so I was happy with anything.

My new friend Morgan and I decided to go and check out the shop and restaurant, meaning let’s get alcohol and pizza and be happy.
The restaurant on the campsite was very, very nice. Outside they had hanging umbrellas instead of lights which was different, but super lovely. I had ordered a pizza, because you’re in Rome, why not have pizza. And it was gorgeous. Bravo Rome, Bravo.

On my second day, Morgan and I found our way on the bus and underground into Rome. (We were staying a few miles outside of the city) We had to get to the old forum to begin a walking tour that was organised by the Busabout company. No word of a lie, it was sunny when we went into the underground, but when we came out the other side we found ourselves in a downpour. Neither of us had brought an umbrella or coat, I was wearing a thin, green vest and within five minutes I was soaked.
We had a great tour guide who really knew what he was talking about, he was Scottish or Irish, I can’t remember. We walked everywhere, learning about the history of the great city. I couldn’t believe how amazing everything was. All in semi good condition… considering how long it has all been there.
So during the tour, the weather, although very warm, had obviously noticed I was missing my Welsh weather and had given me rain. First it was sunny, then it was raining, then there was thunder and a bit of lightning (everyone had umbrellas or brightly coloured ponchos… I was terrified) I still managed to take a LOT of photos even though I had to hide my camera underneath a random scarf in my bag.

The Colosseum… beautiful, The Forum… stunning, The Vatican… Amazing.

I’m getting ahead of myself. The second night in Roma was one of the worst on my trip, and yet one of the most incredible all at the same time. We found ourselves in the middle of one of the worst storms I have ever seen. I have only experienced something like that when I was much younger, so this was a truly terrifying experience, it is something that I will not forget in a hurry. Earth shaking thunder claps and blinding lightening strikes. A storm that you never really see in the Welsh/English countryside. I remember hearing the laughs and cheers of the two girls, only a few years younger than me who were staying in the adjoining caravan and the other girl that was staying in our part of the caravan. I couldn’t believe that there were people actually enjoying mother natures tantrum. With the thunder claps sending vibrations through my entire body, I didn’t think that I would ever get to sleep. Thankfully, the land of nod did indeed find me… eventually.

I think I will leave it there for now and pick up from where I left off… I still have many things to cover of my time in Roma.

 

 

 

 

My Travels :D – VENICE

My next stop on the best bus journey of a lifetime was the magical, VENICE!

I adore Italy and have always longed to go on holiday here so when the tour guide said we had crossed the border and were now in Italy, safe to say I was jumping for joy (albeit quietly) in my seat.

When we got to the campsite where I was meat to be staying I had a few accomodation problems. A little tip for any one thinking of doing this, NEVER say you will go in a mixed gender tent, you may get what I got and instead of having some fit older lads (hopefully Australian) I got 2 fourteen year old french boys who told me that it wasn’t my tent and that I had to leave. :O Shocked was an understatement.
After a very teary phone call to my mother (Yes I rang my mum from Italy… I was desperate) we decided that she would book me a hotel and I would have a few nights away to rest properly and be alone ๐Ÿ˜€ I love my mum.

My hotel was very, very lovely. The concierge was so nice, he helped me work out how to get some food, he helped me with my Italian and he helped me work out the relatively easy transport to the islands. I really enjoyed walking down the streets and seeing the Italian people go about their business and I loved my hotel room. I was living the dream!

When I got to the islands of Venice I decided to just let my feet wander, it was a blistering hot day but I did not feel like I was burning. I was too excited to see the gorgeous city. A lot of people said that he would smell really bad but to be honest I couldn’t smell anything.
I ventured down the streets, letting myself get lost in the wonderful architecture and the cobbled streets. I went into my first Italian bookshop and spent almost half an hour strolling around the very small place and ended up breaking my rule of buying no books on my trip and bought two. You can’t not go into a place like that and not buy a book.

It all seemed really quiet until I managed to find myself somewhere near the Realto Bridge and all of a sudden there was hundreds of people, they all swarmed around me like bees on honey. Thankfully I managed to chart a different course and head away from the crowd and unfortunately the bridge as well. At least I got to see a little bit of it.

I do wish to go back there at some point in my life due to the fact that I got completely lost and to be honest I don’t know if I saw half the things I thought I did. All I know is Venice is beautiful and I wish that I could spend all my time there.

Beautiful food. Beautiful views, Gorgeous weather and Lovely people. All the best things that I enjoy.

Grazie Tante, You beautiful city!

My Travels :D – Vienna

Vienna waits for you… Yes it certainly does.

Vienna. Words cannot describe how gorgeous this city is, another place where I felt perfectly safe just walking around. It was how I imagine Paris to be. Very weird that I felt like I was in a French city when actually in an Austrian one.

By this time on my travels I was getting bored of the museums and intelligent stuff so I decided to save the tours till I go back next time (and I most definitely will.) So I went shopping instead. I needed a few things that I noticed that I had not thought to bring with me, so I made a stop and got a new SD card because there was no doubt in my mind that I would need to change them over very, very soon (ended up being the next day.)
The sun was shining, making me very hot. I got a little concerned that I would burn and ย I also failed to bring a hat (well done me.) Thankfully I did not burn on the first day, I spent most of it jumping from shop to shop taking refuge from the sweltering heat.

I had realized that what I saw of this city was utterly beautiful and honestly, if I could go there right now, I would in a heartbeat ๐Ÿ˜€

Luckily, I decided to make the very short journey on the underground to the Schonbrunnen Palace. A Palace showered with historical moments. It is the place that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was taken after he was shot and later died, this began the first world war. It was surreal to see the room which he died in. It was not all fantastic, I can remember messaging my mother about the other tourists around me. I was annoyed that there was no decorum in the smallish corridors, you would be walking around at a nice pace and then people in front of you would just randomly stop, so you would have about five people pushing you from behind. I was not a happy bunny, but the palace gardens most definitely made up for the hustle and bustle that came from inside.

Although the rooms were magnificent, my favourite part of the visit was being able to wander around the vast gardens, exploring the great treasures that the Austrians hid away. I was surprised that every time a turned a corner there was something glorious. Including a fountain, smaller than the Trefi in Rome but just as beautiful. ย ย IMG_3002

Just minutes after dragging myself away from this sight I saw a beautiful, large building on top of a hill. Inside there was a cafe where I sat, enjoyed the sunshine and a lovely slice of apfelkuchen. Before that, I climbed the narrow staircase to get to the top of the building, and what a sight I found when at the top. I could see the entire city of Vienna, and it was beautiful. It felt like I was at the top of the world.

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Who would not want to live here? Who would not want to just pitch up a tent and stay here forever? I certainly did. Dragging myself away was very difficult. But I knew what would be coming up next in my adventures and I couldn’t wait….

Next stop – ย VENICE!

My Travels :D – Prague Part 2

My last day in Prague was mainly going back into town and walking round everything. I was having a break from museums, I was mainly checking out the tourist life and the beautiful architecture of all the buildings.
I went across the beautiful Charles bridge as slowly as I could without being pushed left, right and centre by the amount of people around and wondered the streets, attempting not to get lost (I got lost a lot) I loved to walk the streets, it was weird that I felt safe being on my own. I know that I was surrounded by hundreds of tourists but when you travel alone, you can be alone and enjoy everything so much more.
Before I went across the bridge I stopped and listened to a man and a woman singing and playing together, they sounded absolutely amazing and just wanted to give them a shout out even though I don’t know what they were called.

I would love to bring my friends back here one day, only for them to stand by the amazing castle and look out at the beautiful city. I am in love with Prague.
I also began buying gifts for myself and other people here, I started to collect postcards and some beautiful black and white watercolour pictures of the streets and tourist attractions. I knew I had to have them immediately.

Prague was the only city on my travels that I had to change my euros for. When I worked out how much I had actually spent in Prague I was amazed, I thought it was a lot more.

For the first time since I had left home I was starting to think that I would not go home. My homesickness was passing and I was using up all the memory on my SD card taking photos of absolutely everything to remember my time. I couldn’t wait to carry on but also I wanted to stay longer and walk the streets of Prague all day.

Next Stop VIENNA ๐Ÿ˜€

My Travels :D – Prague – Part 1

Well here we are…. Prague.

Prague was my fifth stop on my five week tour of Europe, and what a city it was ๐Ÿ˜€

Prague has to be the most underrated city ever, I will admit that when i first arrived I was a little uncertain of the area but by morning and seeing the difference outside of the window I was ready to start exploring. I went to the front desk of my lush hostel and changed some of my euros in to kronnau, and also asked for directions on how to get into the town. The front desk people were so helpful, better than most of the hostels I had been to.
Within half an hour, after finding the right tram stop, and panicking whether I was going in the right direction, i was on my way to see the castle. I remember simply going around the corner and looking out at the entire city, it was beautiful. I had never seen so many oranges and dark pinks.

IMG_2615ย When I got off at the suggested stop for the castle I was surprised to see how busy the area was. I had forgotten that it was still a holiday destination for many people. I made my way up the very steep hill, maneuvering around the tourists and the street sellers, stopping every ten steps or so to turn around and take about five pictures a time. I couldn’t get over how breathtaking the site was. When I finally reached the top I went through the gardens which were obviously gorgeous, just like the view and the castle itself. I spotted a little remote control lawn mower on one of the small fields, I was mesmerized, could not help but stand and watch it laughing to myself.

Once I had made it to the gates of the castle, I was in awe, I could see the entire city from the top of the hill. You only get a few of those moments in your life, but I thought to myself “Maria, you almost missed out on this gorgeous place, aren’t you glad you stayed” ๐Ÿ˜€ I was standing in the middle of a massive courtyard, being chased by people on segways and admiring the antique cars taking tourists for a tour of the castle like never before. It was amazing to stand there, taking everything in, it was one of the first times on my tour that I didn’t feel like going home.

Words cannot describe what I saw in the castle cathedral except I fell in love immediately. It was breathtaking, completely breathtaking.
IMG_2659ย Was really difficult to get a good full length picture it was that big ๐Ÿ˜€

I went back to the Hostel reluctantly, the weather was turning from the wet and windy in Amsterdam and Berlin to lovely and hot weather, I could only last so long ๐Ÿ™‚ When back at the hostel I found out that for a second time I had been put in a room full of boys (last time I pick mixed gender honestly) The boys I met were very a few lovely lads from Newcastle waiting on their A-Level results so I really hope they all got what they wanted ๐Ÿ™‚

This is the end of Part 1ย I’ll get started on Part 2 later ๐Ÿ˜›
ENJOY!!!

My Travels :D – Berlin

Hello everyone, sorry I have not posted in a while, I have been busy with University and have not had internet ๐Ÿ˜ฆ but i’m back and here is the post about my not so favourite city – Berlin.

I only stayed one night in Berlin as I had been there before for a school trip a few yeas ago so I had seen what I wanted to then. Besides… Berlin has a way of giving me chills down my spine… even in the hostel. It was full of people and yet the corridors were deadly quiet I had to keep turning round in case any ghosts came up behind me. Creeped me out to no end.

I had somehow been put in a room full of boys (just my luck… none attractive) fortunately they had a friend who got put in a separate room, so I was the nice British girl who said I would swap. I was only there for a night so it didn’t seem like a big deal, at least I managed to get some sleep.

In the morning I got onto the bus and before leaving the city we stopped off at one end of the Berlin wall for a photo opportunity.

There we go… my very short time in the fourth city ๐Ÿ˜€

Next up – Prague (definitely less boring)

My Travels :D – Amsterdam

So after a wonderful three days with Charlie i made my way back to Amsterdam which was only an hour away on the train (A DOUBLE DECKER TRAIN) I made my way to the hostel I was staying at from the station which to be honest was not very far away I was just lazy and got the tram. I was staying right by Vondelpark, it was such a lovely place with really nice rooms and a nice communal area, it was a shame the weather had not cleared up, it felt like being right back at home. The hostel was called Stayokay (for future reference) When I was finally allowed in my room I was the one in there, the second was a Canadian girl called Reka, who coincidentally I spent most of the next day with.

I went for a short walk down the road and luckily came across the Rijksmuseum so I went for a gander considering I had plenty of time. I saw paintings by Rembrandt and Van Gogh which was amazing, just to see works from some of the most famous painters. I also saw the I AMSTERDAM sign, even though it was difficult to get a picture with me by it (like most tourists) only because I didn’t have anyone to take one of me. I didn’t trust to ask anyone to hold my camera.
One thing I did notice about Amsterdam and Holland in general is the architecture of some of the houses, some were boats on the river and some of the houses and slanting roofs (I can’t find a photo, but it was really weird)
The next day Reka and I walked through the bloemenmarket, and saw the bridges of Amsterdam (The Venice of Holland) and everything was beautiful and lovely, not exactly like I had imagined it, I think I was expecting something literally out of The Fault in our Stars. I did however just get an amazing feeling from just standing in the middle of such an amazing place. I was still feeling a bit homesick, but I couldn’t help but a feel just a little bit at home in this quaint little city. Amsterdam is definitely a place I would return to, I didn’t get to see half of the sights, such as the Anne Frank house due to the mega line that just round corner after corner for at least half a mile.

For one of my favourite places this is one of the shortest entries, for those who want to know… I did not go to the Red light district…

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My Travels :D – The Hague

Hello everyone, here is the next installment about my travels, it is rather long i’m afraid so bear with it ย ๐Ÿ˜€

I finally made it to The Hague and was met at the station by Charlie ๐Ÿ˜€ which was great. We had not seen each other since the New Year celebrations, so just the epic hug we had at the station made me feel so much better about being far away from home.
We got to the house where Charlie had been staying and I met her landlady, she was a lovely lady if it wasn’t for her accent she could pass off as English. We had some wine and cheesy things whilst chatting away in the back garden among the beautiful trees and sounds of birds. After that I quickly changed my clothes and then we were off out on bikes in to the town to meet some of Charlie’s Intern friends. Well I tell you what, fair douse to the cyclists out there, it is a scary world on a bike, I was so afraid of flying over the handlebars that I forgot about the cars in the middle of the road. Luckily I was not run over this time and I did get used to it by the time I left.

Charlie’s friends were so lovely but being the only British person in the crowd was often confusing, normally it was the odd American or Australian in a group of Brits, and we often unfairly made fun of Charlie’s accent on many occasion. I think she relished in making fun of my accent for once.

That night after watching a film we fell asleep only to be woken up by the strangest storm, there was thunder and lightening but then, sometimes, only lightening. Very odd to say the least.

The next day the weather was awful, wind and rain threatened the entire day, therefore we had lush chocolate pancakes for breakfast and then went to see a film in the nearby cinema. We watched SPY with Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law and many others. It was hilarious and action packed, such a good film.
It was crazy to see the aftermath of the storm, the streets were covered with branches, it was difficult to manouvre the bike around them. That night we went to a lovely Thai restaurant with Charlie’s friends, but oh my god the portions were massive I couldn’t finish it. We then went to Augustus’s (one of Charlie’s friends) flat, which was gorgeous, to have a few drinks (I say a few, I had a full bottle of Smirnoff ice… apparently that’s hardcore over the channel.)

The next day we went for a little tour of Scheveningen which was like a suburb of The Hague. It was lovely to walk along the beech and walk through the grand hotel, it was like walking into a tardis. We walked along the Pier and looked out at the sea trying to see if we could see England in the far distant (we did not, surprisingly)
We walked all along the coast watching the hustle and bustle of everyday life of the locals and of course the adventurous tourists. We ended up in the harbor looking at all of the grand sailing boats contemplating what we would name ours, should we ever manage to earn enough money to actually own one. It was in this harbor where I tried my first taste of bitterballen, which Charlie described as little balls of mashed up shepherds pie, but it is oh so much more, describing this is just not enough you have to try one to believe how amazing they are.

I was beginning to feel sad that it was my last night with Charlie, but we carried on and eventually made it back to the house (which was a perfect Netherland home) and got ready to join Charlie’s friends one last time for a meal at a burger place. It was true what they said about it, it was a very good place to eat, they were hardly stingy in their helpings. No surprise that my company were well known there.
After our meal we said goodbye to the boys and headed back to Charlie’s house. We ended up getting in our PJ’S and watching Smash which of course is brilliant that I need to carry it on now I am back.

The next morning we got ready to go our separate ways, it was sad but we knew we would see each other soon. Love that girl.

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