Friday 9 Oct
After getting up at 0400 yesterday and Nadja dropping me off at the airport I found myself waiting in a queue for the check in to open up. Just before 5, when ii suppose they opened I noticed another line up to my left, I hadn't really thought about what I was doing and had just joined the first line ride when I had got there. Turns out this was the wrong line and everyone around me was lined up to go to Frankfurt. I would have looked really dumb had I rocked up at the front of the line with a different ticket.
I got through security no wuckers and onto the plane without a hitch. I'd asked for a seat next to the emergency exit. However this plane seemed to be the only one in the world where the emergency exit isle was no bigger then the others.
The plane had taken off and hadn't even reached altitude before it was descending for the second half of the 30 minute trip from Graz to Vienna, for the flight all I wanted to do was sleep however I made myself read the Rome section of my lonely planet. After two shots at getting through security and passport control in Vienna I found myself sitting in the waiting room for the flight to Rome. Sitting across from me could not have been a bigger cliché gold digger asian. Quite beautiful but tarted up way too much. And she sat there for 20 minutes reapplying make up at 0700 in the morning in her fur coat.
In the plane I fell asleep almost immediately and didn't even wake up for the take off. I woke up somewhere over Croatia, and realized that I'd flown almost exactly over Graz. My original location. The rest of the flight however tired I was I couldn't sleep as the scenery was so beautiful. And I'm glad I wrote in my diary instead.
After landing in Rome I walked through FMC airport to the luggage terminal. Where I waited for 40 minutes for my luggage to come out. It was really, really frustrating and starting to give me the s***s abit. The lack of sleep was starting to catch up with me. However I took a reality check and realized that I was holidaying in Rome and really a little delay at the terminal was nothing.
After finally getting my bag I went to find the local travellex ex, so I could buy another couple of those cash passport cards to act as back ups. Due to my lost wallet. This was great in theory and I waited behind someone trying to get money for about 15 minutes. Once at the teller I was greeted with the information that every travellex in the world sells the cash passports except Italy, Fantastic!!
I headed downstairs and caught the train into the city after grabbing a quick bite to eat. I'd banked on there being a meal on the flight from Vienna to Rome, however I was bitterly disappointed only receiving a bag of Peanuts. Hardly filling the gap.
Buying food over here is quite difficult. You have to decide what you want from the deli, then go to the cashier and pay for it, where you receive a ticket, you then take the ticket back to the deli to receive your food. However the ciabatta was definitely worth it
I got into Rome Termini at 1110 and walked to my Hostel, I got there and pressed the buzzer on the outside door. There was no answer. I tried again. Still no answer. I tried calling the number on the piece of paper and it wasn't working. Starting to worry a bit I went and spoke to the guy in the bar beside the hostel.
I asked him if he knew how I could get into the building beside as the buzzer wasn't working. "wo wo wo, slow down, my English is slow, start again" I just pointed to the name of the hostel on the paper. "yes yes this way." he grabbed the key out of the register and showed me to the button I'd been pressing two seconds earlier. At that moment someone came out of the building, so I just thanked the barman from next door and let myself in.
I'm sitting at roma fiamenco or Lianardo Da vinci airport. It's been a massive weekend. I'm absolutely knackered. Catching up on all this writing will take a good few hours. I've got a good couple of pages of dot points to expand on, and I really cant be bothered. But I better get into it.
There are a lot of businesses in this building to I set about finding the door I needed. I scoped out the lobby and went for the stairs. I climbed all the way up to the 4th floor looking for the right door. I couldn't find it.
I'd seen one door that was open, some sort of printing shop, so I went to it and asked where pit agora was. He said "the level of the land". "Ground floor?" I asked and he nodded his head so I went back downstairs.
I tried ringing the door bell for about 5 minutes to no avail. I decided to try calling again, I'd seen a nuber on one of the other floors, it had the first 3 numbers of the number I had except they were preceeded by a 0, so I thought I'd give it a crack. It worked and I was soon speaking on the phone to the owner.
He said he was 10 minutes away and he'll be there soon. Less then 5 minutes later he came through the door, being early, that's different. He was carrying two massive bags of linen and came through puffing and apologizing. I told him not to worry and helped him with the bag.
Once inside he started talking about me not being on time, too early he said. And when I thought about it I did remember putting down a time of arrival but had just palmed it off thinking it wouldn't matter.
He said it was no problem, I showed him the print out of the confirmation and he opened his ledger. I doubt this bloke pays all his taxes. My booking was amongst others scribbled onto a page of a book that hardly looked like it could stand up against a tax audit. Next to my name was 1500, and it was only 1230. Dispite this he insisted on pointing to my printout of the booking at where it said 1712 and that I said I'd be here then. He was pointing at the "time sent" section of the email.
He insisted that it didn't matter so I didn't bother pushing the point or correcting him. He did say that I'd have to wait 10 minutes for him to clean the room. Next he wanted me to pay. I pulled out my credit card and asked if this was ok. No no, only cash he said. "righto I thought and pulled out the last of my cash. I was hoping that my last card would work here in Austria. Otherwise I might be doing the old western unioning money to myself.
After he'd cleaned the room he showed me in. It was pretty sweet really for the price I paid. Had one large bed in the centre and a bathroom attached to it. I still reckon there was an electronic error that landed me with this room. I threw all my gear on the bed and got in the shower, which managed to semi flood my bathroom and the rest of the room. No matter
After a super quick shower I headed out the door and texted Drew saying I'd be at his train station in 10. "Righto I'll be there" he said. I got there a little after 10 mins a little worried I was late, I shouldn't have tho 10 minutes later he showed up with his sister and her Friend. I didn't see him at first. All I heard was "LOCKOOOOO!!" just like from the deb, 5 years ago. I turned and ran at him pretty much crash tackling him into the ground.
I suggested we grabbed a coffee at a near by café. The waiter came out and I ordered an espresso. He went through the others. No one wanted anything. These guys were traveling on a super super budget, not unlike the gappies from the tour.
I felt kinda awkward there and we were sitting in rome, so I suggested we walk down to the colloseum, which wasn't too far away. Drew and I soon got away from the girls and he proceeded to complain hard about them. Saying how much they were driving him insane and that he couldn't wait to come traveling with me. He was starting to get my hopes up again. But I still doubted it will happen.
We'de only just got down and walked around a little of the colloseum and we were approached by two gorgeous american girls spruiking a pub crawl. I'd already done a bit of research and asked if it was the one that started at Piazza Navorra, the "feet crawl". straight away they said no and started criticizing it, telling us how bad it was and all but accusing it of being the sole source of cancer, typical Americans. I just laiughted, said "nice sales pitch" and walked away, they didn't look very happy
Myself, Drew and his sisters next went for a free tour. The tour was run by a guy named…….. Damn I cant remember but he was an arts history student.
At one point we're walking through some narrow streets, Drew had met a couple of girls and was talking to them, I was following them about 15 m behind, assuming that they could see the leader of the tour. We rounded a corner and I realized that we'de gone the wrong way. I called out to Drew explained our situation and told them all to wait. I did a quick bomb burst running round a few streets looking for the group. I eventually spotted the red feet flag that denoted our tour and ran back to grab the others
We finished the tour at 1700 at Piazza Novorra, I'd found a restaurant on an internet sight called dirtcheaprome.com and asked the guide to point me in the right direciton. He gave the explanation and showed it to me on the map. Explaining the errors in the s***ty tourist map. I asked the 2 girls Drew had met if they'd like to join us. They were Damn Australians!!
We had dinner at a place called , I'd also found it on the dirtcheaprome website. I had an awesome pasta and a beer. Our meals were mixed. The girls didn't like there's but what did u really expect ordering brocholli pasta?
I really pittied the two girls. They'd been traveling for 7 months, they'd worked for the first four somewhere in Ireland. Yet they'd experienced nothing. They Epitomised everything I pitty about the stereotypical Australian traveller. The only story they had from the last 7 months of there travels in Europe was getting drunk at the church in London. A place frequented only by Australians, new Zealanders and kiwis who want to get laid or end up at the Redback, another Australian pub.
They were from a little town 3 hours west of Brisbane in the middle of no where. And at least I could commemorate them for getting out of the country, and not getting stuck like all their friends. They were only 18, as Queenslanders they'de finished school at the age of 17 and had left overseas straight away. Hopefully the two of them meet us in Slovenia and we can actually have some real fun with some stories to take back to Australia.
After dinner we walked back to Piazza Navorra for Icecream and coffee. We found one place and tried to order straight from the bar. But first we had to go to the counter and pay. Most places in Italy you have to goto the servery, decide what you want, try and remember the name of it and order and pay for it at the counter. You then take your ticket to the servery and hope you get what you originally wanted.
We grabbed our ice cream and I went to a counter that was close to grab my coffee. The barista was singing a familiar tune. The younger guy beside him sheepishly laughed and apologized to me smiling at his elder collegue. I said not at all and temporarily joined in with the barista much to the younger guys admiration
We were going to sit at a table, but they wanted to charge us 10Euros just to sit down, as is the way in Rome. So alternatively we went and sat on the cobblestones next to the giant statue we'de visited earlier in the centre of the piazza.
We sat here for ages. Just talking and having a laugh. Soon enough we were approached by many people selling different kinds of crap toys, a variety of flying objects a guy with a gun and even a guy who had one of those things you put in your mouth which tweets. He also had a penguin thing on a stick and moved up behind sam and put it beside her and made the tweeting sound. She jumped out of her skin and he was onto her trying to take advantage of the surprise, the only problem was his idea of selling his product was by taking it out of his own mouth and offering her a try. I could believe it, I wonder if anyone had every taken it and tried it themselves. We even got offered a pen laser with a false button, the false button sending a shot up your hand, watching the girls try this was a bit of a laugh too.
Not to long after we sat down a guy set up beside us on a stool with a gold sheeth over himself with a mask on, looking exactly like a statue of Tutankhamen he'd stand very still untill someone put money in his bowl to which he'd bow very slowly and then stand back up. Drew decided to take advantage of this by putting himself in a rather compromising position with the statue while it was showing its gratitude for the 10 euro cents he'd put in the jar. Admittedly it did make for a fairly funny photo.
All the passengers around me arer hating me. On the way onto the plane I asked one of the stewards if there was a meal provided on the flight. He asked which class I was in, which I found amusing, and explained that only the bussiness class receives a meal. He was just moving up the isle collecting rubbish and noticed how mmany wrappers I had from the snacks I'd tried ot use to replenish my system, he asked if I was still hungary, to which I replied I was starving, he said he'd see what he can do. He just returned with a meal. "We have ONE (he stressed that for my fellow passengers) meal left over from business class" everyone's looking at me. I feel I should share it, but it tastes so good.
We were also approached by a guy spruiking the feet pub crawl. Here we go again I thought. I asked him about the other crawl. He was really good, explaining that they were both good, just different, the other was bigger, but had big walks between bars, and the feet crawl hung around the local bars.
We also got given some cards to a bar, on them it explained that there were 1 Euro shots for girls and 3 euro shots for guys. He also explained to us that if we said we were Australian we get in for free. I knew straight away there was no cover charge.
We left and went to this bar for a few drinks. I walked upto the table and put a 20 on it. I asked if I could have 20 shots, obviously for my self and drew too. After a little bargaining with the barman, we had our way, and we sat down with a rainbow of different flavored vodka shots at a table. This was good fun, we all had 3 shots and toasted, good times and russel crow(just coz of gladiator).
We then left and went to Drew's Hostel. They had a Sangria and Bruschetta night on, so we thought we'de take advantage of that. The walk was really cool. We were walking around at one point and rounded a massive building then out of no where a huge structure was presented to us from the other side of a huge roundabout. The building was the national war memorial. It's only 100 years old but it looks magnificent. A combination of some huge copper statues, white marble and 2 eternal flames mage this building the most grandest I'd seen in Rome.
At one point Matilda tried to lead the way, she said "Ok it's down here to the colosseum and then to our hostel." I said "ok we can go all the way down to the collosseum and then back up or we could go straight this way to your hostel." After a quick verbal snap kick to the face, where Matilda looked like I'd stolen her soul, she conceded and we went the way I wanted to go, the correct way.
We got to the hostel at about 2300. Both Sam and Alana, the 2 girls we'de met, decided to just call it a night and drew walked them to the Metro, which was pretty close, while we all went upstairs. Here we had to give them our pass ports, a legal thing they said incase the police come so that they can proove we're all staying there. I reckon they were just covering their backs in case we messed up. Fair enough.
The sangria night was well and truly over, with just a couple of plates with some splatters of tomato on the table as well as a giant bowl with the remnants of what I imagine would have been a fairly impressive Sangria.
We sat around talking to a bunch of Scottish guys who were there for their mate's sisters' wedding. They were a good laugh and pretty soon we were passing around the few bottles of 1.5Euro red wine having a sip and passing to sample as many different types of the local vino as possible.
Once drew returned a few of the guys had started leaving or dispersing. We'de been left with almost a full bottlee of wine. We decided to just finish it, taking a gulp each and then passing it to the next person. Drew, surprisingly for a guy who grew up on a Vineyard was struggling, but we got through it eventually.
We then went down the road to where a bunch of the guys from the hostel had gone to an Irish pub, this place was so expensive. 5.50 Euros for a beer!! We grabbed those and went outside as the girls had decided to put jeans on, god knows why it was hot enough outside and boiling inside.
Saturday morning I decided to go for a run. I didn't have much time and I had to leave at 1010 to get to the walking tour on time. I left at 930 and was pretty keen on making it up the Spanish stairs and back. I got to the top of the stairs 15 minutes later, fair legging it the whole way. It was only after I turned around and realized that the whole run back to the hotel was up hill and it took me 20 minutes. I showered and changed in 10 mins walking out the door with out a top on. I hadn't cooled down and pretty much started sweating as soon as I got out of the shower.
I made it to the tour with 5 minutes to spare and went to grab some food. We chose the wrong street. The tour went down this street and we were explained that it was the most exlusive shopping street in Rome, sorta like chappel street or Collins street in Melbourne.
The tour was really good and finished at the Vatican. I gave the lady my 2 Euro tip figuring if every one did the same she'd make 30 Euros for 2 hours work, not bad. However no one else gave her coins. Every one gave her at least one note!! She made over 100 Euros. I'm definitely checking this out when I get home.
I left Drew and his sisters to go through the Vatican, I was going to go through on Monday when hopefully it'd be a bit quieter. In the arvo I just relaxed and ate Ice cream
Last night was so much fun. I'm really happy, the night was sweet. First I went to Piazza Navorri to wait for the guys. I grabbed some pizza, which they charge by the kilo. All the prices are per 100g, they cut the slice and put it on a scale before putting it under the grill. They then fold it in half and give it to you
I then went and sat at the fountain to wait and then realized that I had almost an hour before I was meeting, well supposed to be meeting, drew. So I did the next logical thing and went and got ice cream.
Again everyone was late, both Drew and his sisters. They were supposed to meet us at 830. Drew and his sisters rocked up at 915, 15 mins late for the crawl. It was ok though. And myself him and his friend Alex (A Chillian Australian) bar. Pheobe and Matilda pissed me off too. They'd pulled out at the last minute, sour sacks. I'm worried they're hardly going to have a good experiences too. Oh well
We went to the first bar at about 920, we had an hour to drink beer as much as we could, we spent the next little while meeting people and having a chat. There were so many Australians there. Which was kinda cool but a bit gay. And also heaps of americans, I'd say that we comprised about 70% of the tour. It was good, I made a few contacts in Milan and Porto, Portugul.
Drew was so funny, he was really really drunk. At one point he came upto my and gave me 10 Euros "Lach this is my last 10 Euros for the night can I give it to you, and you can buy me drinks for the rest of the night and I'll repay you in friendship." I took the money and looked after him for the night.
The night was good and I made a couple of contacts. I met a yank who's studying in Milan and a couple of Brazilians, gorgeous, who living in Portugal. The place was full of 80Percent Aussies and Yanks, except most of the yanks were living and studying Spanish in Madrid. This combined with the Columbians and the Brazilians meant that most people were speaking Spanish all night.
In between pubs I was having a laugh with Drew. We were wrestling and falling all over the place. I did an awesome handstand at one point. But when we got to the next bar I realized that my last bank card, which I'd clipped to the inside of my right sock had gone. I was so pissed off, for about 30 seconds. Then I got over it and continued partying. We were at this last bar untill about 0300.
I've got my passport. Now for the treck across town to Martin's house.
When we went to leave the last bar at 3 in the morning. It was pouring. One of The americans claimed to know where we could get a bus from so we went to wait for it. It was taking for ever so we decided to just grab a taxi, between the four of us it wouldn't have been much anyway.
Flagging down a taxi was proving more difficult then we'de anticipated and eventually the bus pulled up anyway. It was 3 or 4 in the morning so we didn't bother with tickets. We went and sat up the back. Drew and Alex made themselves acquainted with a couple of other girls sitting up the back.
The bus took us as far as Termini station. By then the rain was getting really really heavy so I just ran with my new bar crawl T shirts over my head to give the illusion of staying dry.