Just wrapping up our journey. Our last day in Rome was uneventful. we were at the Best Western Rome Airport Hotel so was not a lot to do. We left quite early for the airport as we had to checkout anyway. Our flight left at 10pm and we arrived in Dubai around 5.30am. After a 4 hour stopover we headed off to Singapore at about 9.30am. It was only a 6 hour flight but due to time differences we arrived in Singapore at 9pm. As you can imagine our body clocks were well and truly confused. We were all a little disappointed with our "luxury 2 day break" in Singapore as the hotel was not what we were expecting. Had a lovely pool area and that is pretty much all you could say. We made the best of it and bought HOHO tickets so we could have a look around. We cruised through Little India and then got off in Chinatown where we had lunch and bought some cheap tacky souvenirs. Later we got off at the Raffles Hotel and I fulfilled my years long ambition to have a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar. It was great to finally see inside this beautiful colonial icon building.
I was amazed at the way Singapore has changed after my last visit about 10 or so years ago. The buildings are fantastic and we were all fascinated by the Marina Bay Sands Hotel which consists of 3 towers and a ship like construction which sits across the top of the towers. I believe it is about 280 metres tall. fantastic.
Reflecting on our trip, I think it would be better to pick a couple of places to stay and explore from that base than to keep moving. Though if you have never been before it is good to have a quick look like we did to see where you would like to spend more time. Research hotels thoroughly and don't believe the blurb they put on their websites. Expect the unexpected. Don't plan things on days that you are travelling on. Don't forget the taxes that are added in to menu prices and the accommodation tax now payable per person per night throughout Europe. Don't plan activities too rigidly as there are always things you don't get to hear about until you are there. Check out opening times of venues you want to go to.
Pack your sense of humour. I am going to try and add photos now that I can do it from my own computer. Another tip! Set up one of these travel pages, they are great fun, free and a good way of keeping in touch.
Thanks to everyone for all the messages. We love to know that you are all reading about our adventures and to hear that all is good at home.
Unfortunately we did not have much luck with getting photos on. We did try and were about ready to throw the computer out of the hotel window when one of the staff told us it was not possible to put photos on from the hotel computer (after nearly two hours of trying). Anyway we enjoyed our time in Florence and have now moved on to Rome. Somehow it is very different to what we had all imagined. Our apartment was in a little alleyway just off Piazza Di Pietra. The building has huge wooden front doors which open straight out on to the alleyway so we had to remember to check for cars before stepping out. It was situated in the centre of the historical area so most things were in walking distance. We were able to visit the Parthenon, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps within a 15 minute walk. We got up very early on our second day and beat the other tourists so we could take photos without zillions of people. We did two free walking tours one to the Vatican and one to the Colloseum. The two of them took about 5 hours plus we had walked to and from the start point for both so we were exhausted. Our apartment was very quaint, the lift only held 3 people (breathing in) and two of the beds were upstairs on a mezzanine floor which we had to reach by little more than a ships ladder. The beds were made from planks. not very comfortable at all. The Colosseum is the most amazing place, Aussies cant comprehend the age of the buildings in Rome. We left Rome yesterday 1/5 to do our 3 day tour to Naples, Sorrento and Capri. We travelled on a coach with 54 other people from all different nationalities but met a lovely Chines couple who lived in Texas and another older couple from New Jersey who we ended up having dinner with last night. On the way we stopped for a few hours at Pompeii to explore the excavated ruins. Utterly amazing (seems to have become our favourite word, along with stunning). Our hotel in Sorrento is fantastic, built right up against the mountain way up above Sorrento and beautiful views accross the Bay of Naples. Today we spent a few hours on the isle of Capri which, even though it is very crowded and touristy, is lovely. We had a great time even though the weather was not the best and we did not get to see the Blue Grotto.
Arrived safely in Florence after 2 hour train journey. Our hotel is lovely and the room is beautiful but the beds are hard and the pillows terrible. We have done a bit of exploring on foot the day we arrived. Yesterday we did a day tour through Tuscany. We started at the ancient medieval city of Sienna then on to an organic winery for lunch which included wine tasting. We toured the cellars and a little of the farm then went to the dining area for wine tasting and lunch which was very nice indeed. All the wines and food were produced on the property except for the pecorino cheeses we tried. These are all produced locally on a different farm. The winery also produces olive oil and saffron.
From there we went to Sam Gimignano which is another medieval city with many towers. Sienna and San Gim are both full of lovely narrow cobbled streets. One of the streets we walked on in Sienna is the oldest in Europe and was constructed 2000 (no that is not a typo) years ago.
We then moved on to Pisa and had fun trying to hold up the tower and took lots of photos. While Di climbed the tower of Pisa Chris and I climbed the steps up the Baptistro which is 3 metres higher but not so many steps. Inside the ceiling is domed and every half hour one of the staff come out and call up into the dome. The acoustics are beautiful and you would have sworn there was a choir of monks chanting. It was a long day 12 hours but the best tour we have done on the trip. The scenery lived up to expectations and even the cold gray weather could not spoil it.
Today we had planned on visiting Michaelangelo's statue of David and the Boboli Gardens but they are closed. We have been to Ponte De Vecchio and it is raining and miserable so we have returned to the hotel. We finally have free internet here so are going to have a crack at loading some photos on to the page. It looked like a very expensive exercise before this but we will have a go.
Tomorrow we head of to Rome
Location: Venice, Italy
well here we are in sunny Venice! Our journey here was not uneventful. This was the section we were most concerned about, not having heard of Transavia Airlines. The flight was really good no problems but when we arrived at Venice Marco Polo Airport we were unable to land due to fog (the local word for SMOG) and were diverted to Treviso, some 40 minutes away. This was all good as they advised buses would be waiting for us and thats where it turned to shite. There was no one from Transavia around to let us know which bus etc but we eventually got to Venice airport. From here we took a cab at great expense to the water bus station where to we caught the water bus to San Marco. From there it was a short but rough walk to our hotel. The hotel is in a very old building which is protected by the Heritage Trust. Of course this means no lifts but we had a handsome italian carry our bags up the three flights for us. We have done a tour to Murano , Burano and Torcello where we could buy glass and lace. Extremely beautiful pieces but of course priced accordingly. Chris and Di are taking a Gondola ride this afternoon while I am busy titivating for tonight as we decided to treat ourselves to a slap up dinner at the hotel tonight. It is our last night here in Venice before we move on to Florence. Venice is filled with people, you can barely move anywhere so it will be nice to get away from the crowds a bit. (maybe!) We have explored enough alleyways and canals for a while.
PS Message for Mumsie
please please please can we have roast lamb with lots of vegies for thursday nights dinner when we get back????
Hi Everyone, we have only just worked out how to get our messages. Thank you all very much for them. We are in Amsterdam and are sitting in the Cafe at Anne Franks house. We are having a great time and leave for Venice 23rd April.
First opportunity to update for a while and now have to use a weird keyboard so this will be the short version. We arrived safely in London from Edinburgh. Hotel room was absolute crap and someone needs to revise their definition of spacious but we did not let that stop us from having a good time. We purchased hop on hop off (or hohos) bus tickets as these are good value when you are time limited. Two day pass gives you 48 hours, free walking tours and a free themes cruise. We only used the cruise due to the walking tour times. We also bought tickets on the London Eye which gave a great overview of the city.
We left London in great anticipation of our first night in Paris as we were to do our river cruise, dinner at the Eiffel tower and Moulin Rouge only to find that our train was delayed due to a fatality on the line in France. We were hours late arriving in Paris and missed out on the whole lot. We have made numerous calls trying to get some help with it but there was nothing qnyone could do. Our timing is terrible because it is easter holidays here so very busy. We were bitterly disappointed but have made the best of it. We have ventured out on the metro rail system and got to see an amazing out and I think we have walked 500 miles. A nice tour guide took pity on us and got a discounted river cruise for us which was really good. The hotel staff here have been wonderful so that has been a bonus. L'hotel de la tour d'Avergne is quite well situated qnd within walking distance of Monmartre and there are plenty of restaurants etc close by. Again extremely expensive so we have been picky about what we pay to see. We are off to Amsterdam tomorrow. It would be lovely to see some messages on the page so we know someone is reading it.
Finally have found an internet cafe where we dont have to sell ourselves to pay for it. We travelled by train from Dublin to Belfast where we stayed over night in a quaint little bed and breakfast with no lift an the bathrooms are separate from the room. Fine until 3am!
we went by coach to the port at Larne where we boarded the ferry and went accross to Stranraer in Scotland. We drove via Girvan and Ayr before passing through Glasgow and eventually arrived in Edinburgh. The apartment is very nice and is on the bus route into the city. We have manged to find our way about quite well. \have had to be very discerning about what we want to pay to see as it is very expensive. I actually qualify as a Senior here (Cant quite believe I am putting that in writing) so when I ask for discount they assume that Chris and Di qualify as well so we have been saving a bit.
We spent a day in the highlands and visiting Loch Ness which we all enjoyed. There is so much history here so we are all on overload at the moment.
Yesterday we visited Edinburgh Castle and the vaults under the North Bridge where people actually lived. Very creepy!
This is our last day so we are going to look at a 17th century house which is as it was back in the day, hopefully it is free. Tomorrow we are back on the train to head down to Bath and London
We are now back in Dublin after an overnight stay in \limerick. We did not get to see and do all that we had intended as teh GPS in our hire car failed. We had a slight detour before we eventually arrived in \limerick. We spent a day exploring and met a lovely man named \noel who took us on a walk based on the book Angelas Ashes. \he was lovely and the 10 euros was well spent. The beautial Georgian Crescent was a hit with all of us. Next morning we decided to brave the weather and lack of GPS and return to Dublin via Waterford. It was a lovely drive and we all now appreciate the cost of Waterford Crystal.
We mangaged to find our way back to the car hire depot. They use shuttle buses to run clients to and from the airport. We could only collect and return our car at the airport. Our hotel is not quite central but it is only 10 minutes from the airport and the city and the buses run right past the door. It is not flash but very comfortable and the beds are great. Staff are very freindly and helpful (mostly).
Yesterday we purchased a Hop on Hop off bus ticket which was a bargain at 18 euros as it covered two days and also gave us a free walking tour. We sat on the bus and did both routes to get our bearings and today we will return and get off at the places we want to see. We will finish the day by doing the Literary Pub Crawl. Tomorrow we head to Belfast. (if we make it back from the pub crawl)
have arrived Dublin after two long flights. Spent last evening in the desert about 45 minutes out of Dubai "dune bashing". Watched the sunset (amongst 40 other vehicles) then went to a desert camp for dinner. There were camel rides, sand painting, henna tattoos and shishkah pipes available for smoking. Have just had a nice long walk around Dublin and are about to hit the bar for our very first Guiness!
Location: Perth, Australia
We are on the countdown now. Only3 more sleeps! feeling a little overwhelmed with all I have left to do but very excited. Now beginning to question the wisdom of our little self derive tour around Ireland. Will let you all know how that pans out (most likely will spend the whole day trying to find our way our of Dublin)