We are now in Venice, Italy and the last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. After leaving Taganaga, we spent a few days in Santa Marta, the town next door, mostly lying by the pool and catching up with folk we met previously. From Santa Marta we decided to fly down to Bogata, as the bus and flight prices were pretty similar and we couldn't stomach another overnight journey on the horrendous Colombian roads.
Bogata is a pretty dull city and it rained most of the time we were there which was quite depressing. Luckily we had found a pretty decent hostel and spent a lot of time hiding from the rain in the tv room watching movies. On our last day there we caught a bus out to a nearby town to check out an underground salt cathedral we has been told about. The miners had built the cathedral within the mine so that they had a place to worship. The original cathedral was shut down in the late 90s as it became unstable, so they built a second one deeper within the mine. It was a really cool thing to see and worth the 2 hour bus journey and escape from bogota!
After bogota we headed up to New York for a brief stopover before flying to Europe. Having come from Colombia, we were expecting a nightmare experience through customs, but it was unbelievably easy and hassle free - no searches or checks or anything - much better than the drama of Australian customs! In New York we had struggled to find a hotel room as NYU were having their graduation, so we eventually scored an apartment through my new fave website - airbnb. It was a 1 bed in a great spot on the corner of 52nd and Lexington. Unfortunately we only had 3 days in New York, but we made the most of them with lots of wandering around, and of course, shopping. We saw most of the highlights, walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, past ground zero, Chinatown, Little Italy, Soho, Grenwich Village etc. Jas also went up the Empire State Building while I continued the shopping!
So after New York, it was on to Italy for the big family reunion and wedding! The villas dad and Megan had booked for the week were amazing and had brilliant views across to Barga. We had an amazing week catching up with everyone, eating ridiculous amounts of delicious food (7 courses being the norm!), drinking wine and playing in the (freezing cold!) pool.
Dad & megans wedding was on a pretty little balcony and even the local paparazzi turned up for the occassion! (photos and commentary on the Barga news website). The lunch afterwards was immense and they ended up canceling the last course because everyone was so unbelievably full! Afterwards everyone came back to the villas to lounge around and play in the pool. We had a really nice night sitting around chatting, drinking wine, and somehow, eating crisps!
We loved Tuscany so much that we decided we wanted to stay on after the wedding week. We were planning on looking for an apartment, but friends of Adrian's (who live out there and are building a house) said we could stay with them and help on the house. So on Saturday when everyone else left, we moved in with Tom & Jenny. They were so generous with us, taking us out, showing us around and letting us use their car. In return, we helped build some walls, and did some painting and gardening (Jas is now a strimming master - although he still insists on calling the strimmer a "whipper snipper"!). While staying with Tom & Jenny, we met a few other expats living the Tuscany life and ended up helping bottle olive oil for a day with 2 girls from the uk, Farah and Vicky. It was a fun day doing something a bit different and the highlight was definately lunch, when Jason was handed an empty wine bottle which he filled up straight from the huge vat of homemade wine in their cellar. Delicioso!
We are now in the beautiful city of Venice. It rained on and off for our first couple of days, but that didn't stop our wandering. Today is our last one here and the weather has been beautiful. We caught the water taxi all the way up the grand canal, and then took a few hours wandering back through the alleys (stopping for ice cream and a nice cold glass of Prosecco of course)! Tonight, we're heading out for one last amazing Italian meal before catching a flight to Prague tomorrow.