Thursday, 28 August 2008

28 August 2008 to 4 September 2008

Valencia, Spain to Dublin, Ireland
28 August 2008
This afternoon Debra and I headed to Dublin. I had a week to spare and why not spend it in Dublin with Debra. It was great to get to Debra's house to relax a bit and do some washing. Not too much relaxing was happening though as it was Debra's night off and we decided to hit the Dublin party scene. We headed to a bar in town that a lot of kiwis/aussies go and met up with Debra's flatmate Lisa and her boyfriend.

They had to work the next day so they left and we continued on our way into Temple Bar where we danced and drank the night away just like the good old times.

29 August 2008 - 4 September 2008

Various days in Dublin were spent relaxing on the couch as both myself and Debra had caught the (never ending) flu, I did however venture out to

- Trinity College

- Molly Malone statue - (also known as "Cockles and Mussels" or "In Dublin's Fair City") is a popular song, set in Dublin, Ireland, which has become the unofficial anthem of Dublin City. It has also in Ireland acquired the status of an Irish anthem.- Guiness Storehouse
Ireland’s No. 1 international visitor attraction

-Kilmainham Goal
One of the largest unoccupied gaols in Europe, covering some of the most heroic and tragic events in Ireland's emergence as a modern nation from 1780s to the 1920s.
- Glendalough and the Whitlock Mountains
Is a glacial valley located in County Wicklow, Ireland, renowned for its Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin, a hermit priest, and destroyed in 1398 by English troops.
In Dublin they still have some men to open and close the train barriers, needless to say this can cause major annoying traffic delays!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

26 August 2008 to 28 August 2008

Barcelona, Spain to Valencia, Spain

26 August 2008
We checked out of our hostel this morning and headed to the train station to catch our train to Valencia as we had booked a La Tomatina hotel tour with Topdeck. We checked into our hotel and headed to the beach to meet up with Hayley and Niki who were also in town for La Tomatina. We laxed out on the beach and chatted about our holidays so far. A little foreign lady came up and offered a massage for 15 euros and Debra thought this was a bargain and had a massage on a beach in Spain!

27 August 2008
We woke up early this morning to get on our bus to take up to Bunol for La Tomatina. Unfortunately for us though our bus broke down!! Nooooo, lucky we left lots of time to get there and once our replacement bus got there we drove on. As we got there later than a lot of other people we were determined to get in the action and not miss out, and in the action (with pinkie - my camera) we got, we squished, pushed and pummeled our way through 45,000 plus people to get a good spot in the action. The locals love La Tomatina and love spraying the tourists with water from their balconies!

Debra's outfit -----------Me all determined ---------------Tomato truck

As we were walking through the crowds there was just chaos everywhere. There was a group of guys in the street having a massive t-shirt fight and for any unsuspecting females just ripping their clothes off left right and centre. Fortunately for us we made it though unscathed, phew!!

We found a good possie in a side street with Debra holding me up and making sure I didn't get lost or too squashed. We were a comfortable squashed until they brought in the trucks. Imagine you are squashed you can't move but can still breath. Well, imagine, everyone moving so that a truck can come through!! Owwweee! Once the trucks had passed through and dumped their load the fight was on. We were knee deep in tomatoes and fighting and throwing to our hearts content. There were tomatoes everywhere in my camera lens and every other crevice of your body! Once you got knocked over there was not getting up by yourself you either put your hand up and some young lad would pull you up or make the fetal position!

After 20 minutes or so we decided we were all tomato fighted out and decided to make our way out. We headed towards what we thought was the exit but before we could even think about leaving we had to make our way though the t-shirt fight. We took few deep breathes and bolted, in the middle we thought phew we can make it, it wasn't until the other side that they hit. About 10 Spanyards surrounded us, they attacked Debra first ripping off her sturdy t-shirt and then they hit on me. They started ripping my t-shirt off, I fought for my life and after a kick to the gonads we managed to escape! Bastards! We then had to battle though the rest of the crowds - imagine before we had to fight our way though 45,000 people going pretty much the same way, now we were going against the tide. This would have been the worst part, you couldn't move, you couldn't breath, lucky we found some guys and I pretty much got lifted out of there by Debra and two hot Spanyards, cause once you fell you would of got trampled and cause I am so short I got lost in the crowd. I can tell you I fell lucky to have made it out alive with my clothes and my shoes on!

As we were walking down the side streets brushing all the tomatoes and man fur (ewwww) off our bodies, who should we meet up with - Hayley and Niki - out of the 45,000 people wandering the streets we met up with them, totally random.
They however weren't covered in tomatoes, as they were pushed out by the crowd, we soon directed them to a good spot and they soon got covered.

The locals were real great and hosed us off as we walked back to the bus. I had a great time at La Tomatina and would totally recommend it but make sure you have a friend bigger than you and that you are prepared to be molested, squashed and smell like tomatoes three days later!!

Tomato dreggs

28 August 2008

Feeling battered, bruised and still smelling like tomatoes we headed into "colon" to look around before collecting our gear and heading to the airport to start our Dublin adventures!

As always more photos in my photo gallery.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

23 August 2008 to 25 August 2008

Rome, Italy to Barcelona, Spain
23 August 2008

We decided to get an early transfer to the airport to ensure we had plenty of time and boy did we have plenty of time. As it was Sunday there was no traffic on the road so we had, about, oh I dunno, 4ish hours to spare at the airport. We managed to fill in the time and I also managed not to go over the 15kg weight limit. Upon landing on our Ryanair flight in Barcelona the Spanyards started clapping and cheering ... bizzare ... do not all flights land well in Barcelona that when they do people get excited?? Has anyone else had this on any of their flights? Me and Debra just looked at each other quizzically... Hmmm...

24 August 2008

This morning we decided to do a bus tour around the city and signed up for two days. We jumped on the bus and headed off. A bus tour or a walking tour is a really good way to go around the city. It highlights the best parts and also includes some history. Barcelona hosted the 1992 Olympics and is just beautiful.

We decided to do a full loop of the bus tour before jumping off at some of the best stops. Our fist stop was the Casa Batlló (dragon house) this house is just amazing so amazing that we decided to purchase tickets and head inside.

It seems that the goal of the designer was to avoid straight lines completely. Much of the façade is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles (trencadís) that starts in shades of golden orange moving into greenish blues. The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon or dinosaur. A common theory about the building is that the rounded feature to the left of centre, terminating at the top in a turret and cross, represents the sword of Saint George (patron saint of Catalonia), which has been plunged into the back of the dragon.

The Casa Batlló was designed by an architect called Gaudi. A lot of Barcelona's architecture is influenced by Guadi and its just amazing. We spent the afternoon looking at some of his other creations the Casa Milà (hotel) - LEFT and the Sangrada Familia - BELOW

Originally designed by Antoni Gaudí (1852 – 1926), who worked on the project for over 40 years, devoting the last 15 years of his life entirely to the endeavor, the project is scheduled to be completed in 2026. On the subject of the extremely long construction period, Gaudí is said to have remarked, "My client is not in a hurry". After Gaudí's death in 1926, work continued under the direction of Domènech Sugranyes until interrupted by the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

Parts of the unfinished church and Gaudí's models and worksho
p were destroyed during the war by Catalan anarchists. The present design is based on reconstructed versions of the lost plans as well as on modern adaptations


For dinner we decided to head to a noodle bar by the sea that Debra had seen advertised. We got to write down our own orders with our selections and names. When my order and name came up I jumped off my seat to go and collect it from the chef the look he gave me was priceless "but your a girl" yes I know and Toni is my name thank you very much!

After dinner we had planned to go to the casino and got all dressed up for the occasion with our two for one voucher, unfortunately though we did not have our passports they wouldn't let us in. We instead decided to go for a wander up the boardwalk before heading back to our hostel for the night.

25 August 2008
We took advantage of our bus tour ticket today and headed off to Gaudi park. A park dedicated to Gaudi. Its wasn't that interesting but this small cottages were nice.

We then hoped back on the bus and headed to Olympic park. It was amazing to see how big it was and imagine what it would of been like (as the Olympics were on at Beijing at the time).

Thursday, 21 August 2008

21 August 2008 - 23 August 2008

Siena to Rome

21 August 2008

Today we checked out of our Tuscan villa and headed to Rome. On the way to Rome we decided to head into Orvieto a small township. In Orvieto we headed up the hill to look at the massive and very impressive Duomo. This church is beautiful and decorated in traditional Italian style with a massive organ in the corner. After looking at the Duomo and having gelato (I also ... pulled a muscle in my tounge .. weird I know but extemely painful) we headed back down to the car as it was hot! Upon hoping in the car and cranking up the aircon the temperature guage read 44 degrees, eeek thats hot!!

We proceeded to Rome where we checked into Camping Roma and our airconditioned room. We spent the rest of the afternoon laxing out by the pool!

22 August 2008

Today we said goodbye to Michelle. Michelle was heading back home via New York as her visa had run out. As it was still extremely hot outside me and Debra decided to make the most of the sun and the pool and spent the morning relaxing by the pool and soaking up the talent. In the afternoon once it had cooled down we headed into the city and wandered around the Colessum, Roman Forum and various other roman ruins and buildings.

23 August 2008

This morning we ventured out to the Vatican City.

FACT - Did you know that the Vatican City is its own country? Is has a pretty much zero percent birth rate (being that most of its country people are nuns)!

Vatican City' officially the State of the Vatican City. At approximately 44 hectares (110 acres), and with a population of around 800, it is the smallest independent state in the world by both population and area. Vatican City is a city-state. It came into existence only in 1929. The state of Vatican City issues normal passports.

Another FACT - the worst gelato ever was brought at a place near the Vatican City and it was extememly disappointing that our last Italian gelato was unedible

In the afternoon we headed to the airport to start some more adventures in Spain.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

18 - 20 August 2008

(sunset setting on my camera)
Siena - Tuscany Region
18 August 2008
After having a fantastic breakfast in Poggi we checked out of our hotel and started heading to our next destination, Siena.

On the way we stopped in at Monteriggioni (Monte) - Sitting on a small natural hillock, this completely walled medieval town in the Siena Province of Tuscany was built in the 13th century - yip, another smalled walled in medieval town. The was teeny compared to the others. After a quick look around on the walls we were on our way again. - SORRY FORMATTING IS BEING DUMB

We arrived in Siena and after a minor accident(!) and a trip to the giant co-op to stock up on food we headed out to our ... wait for it ... Tuscan Villa!! in the Chianti Region. The villa was amazing, self-contained, stone, shutters, pool near fields of grapes and magnificent views. That afternoon was spent sunbathing by the pool and then cooking ourselves an amazing dinner.

19 August 2008
Today we headed into Sienna to look around. It was pretty much like all the other towns, souvenir shops, gelato, leather and handmade painted bowls.

In the afternoon our accommodation was offering a free wine tasting and tour so we decided to head along. The wine tour was fun and informative and we got to test some wine (Debra ended up with most of the testers as both me and Michelle don't drink wine) and some amazing olive oil. After our tour and with Debra some what liquored up we headed for the pool ... with the camera in tow. Got some cool photos and you will need to head to the photo gallery for most of them, I put the setting on a quick take picture setting which means there are about 10 pictures for each event, if that makes sense, so its like you can actually see us moving its was heaps of fun and my camera still works


20 August 2008
Today others girls when for a drive in the Chianti hills as I was a bit over windy roads and small Italian towns I decided to spend my day productively by the pool working on my tan.
We attempted to go out for dinner and got all dressed up but it seems that restaurants around that area are closed on a Wednesday.
(The tanning went well, maybe some airbrushing would be good!)

Monday, 18 August 2008

17 August 2008

Poggibonsi and San Gimignano

Today we left Florence and booked into a Hotel for the night.

The hotel we picked was in the small town of Poggibonsi halfway between Florence and Siena.

After checking in and unpacking we headed on a day trip to San Gimignano - San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. It is mainly famous for its medieval architecture, especially its towers, which may be seen from several kilometers outside the town.

San Gimi (as we liked to call it) was another small enclosed village. It is famous for its towers, one which we went up to get amazing views of San Gimi and the surrounding area. The highlight of going to Sam Gimi was the most amazing - Worlds Best actually - Gelato.

In the afternoon we headed to another small town called Volterra I was a bit over it and feeling quite car sick so I had a nice snooze in the car while the other girls looked around.

Friday, 15 August 2008

14 -16 August 2008

Florence / Firenze


14 August 2008

View of city from Michaelangelo Piazza

Today we left La Spezia and drove to Pisa to pick up Debra. We didn't stop in Pisa as I am going on my other trip and Michelle had already seen it. On our way to Florence we drove and stopped in Lucca - Lucca is a city in Tuscany, northern central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plain near (but not on) the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca. Among other reasons, it is famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls (although the city has expanded beyond the wall's boundaries). Lucca (like a lot of other small villages I visited) is surrounded by city walls.

Dummo in Lucca - Panorama of city centre in Lucca

We then proceeded to keep driving to Florence and pulled into our accommodation for the next three days - Camping Firenze (Florence). The weather in Italy during my whole stay there was hot. I am talking 35 - 40 degree heats. I love the heat (hence why I moved to Gold Coast) but can tell you the other girls (especially Michelle) were not coping well.

That night we headed down the hill from our campground to find some dinner. We stepped into this yum restaurant where Debra and Michelle had pasta and I had some much craved red meat. Unfortunately, as we found quite common in Italy, we got overcharged. After trying to sort it out me speaking no Italian the lady speaking no English we managed to fix it. Now I think over the course of my two weeks in Italy one of us must of got shortchanged/overcharged at least once a day, because of that we keep a close eye on charges and change. I recommend you keep an eye out should you go to Italy.

Super yum dinner - Michelle ahd tomato pasta, Debra had a pear with cheese sauce (what you see is pretty much all she got) and I had a yum steak dish.

15 August 2008
Fake David statue

Today we went into town to look through the markets and see the fake statue of Michaelangelo's "David". I had a yum chicken and potatoes for lunch and Debra managed her way through Bruchetta (she hates tomatoes) and a giant pizza. We got stung with a 2.00 Euro per person surcharge there, another pointer to watch when in Italy check the service fees before you sit down to eat.

After lunch to help us digest our food, we took part in one of our favourite Italian pastimes - eating gelato - some of us ate it more than others!! :) Lucky bronze boar

As soon as we hoped off the bus today it poured down!! Lucky for us we have all lived in London/Ireland and always carry umbrellas! The rain was a good thing though as it cooled down a bit.

After chilling in the tent for the afternoon we decided to head up the road to have dinner. I begrudgingly ordered a salad (felt I needed some vegetables) and since my steak looked so good last night Debra thought some red meat would be good. She tried to ask the waitress (who spoke no word of English) to see how big the steak was and after giving up ordered it anyway. It came out, all 750 grams of it. What a hero though, managed to get through the whole thing!

Debra's steak before and after

16 August 2008

After a freezing cold night in our house tent we headed into Florence again to have another look around and eat some more gelato.

For dinner we decided to go to a bar. For 8.00 euros each we got to eat some apperetives (see above if you don't remember what they are) and a (very strong) cocktail. The apperetives consisted of pasta, rice, pizza, carrots and heaps of other yum scrumptious dishes.