OK, I may or may not be hogging a computer again, so I'll see. Hopefully not. Actually, I just hope everything makes sense, since I'm out of it.
In the meanwhile. I went to Cinque Terre! It's an area on the west coast of Italy (a bit northish), where there are these five villages, called Riomaggiore (ours!), Manarolo, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monteresso. There's a train running through them, but you can hike there and in some cases drive there, too. I bumped into someone from my hostel in Rome at the time, so we went to a hostel there together. It was really a set of apartments. Everything in a little apartment! It was some going uphill, but there you go. We actually missed our stop at our village (because the train didn't stop there!), so had to take a ride back for two minutes. But when we got off, I found the guy I was travelling with for a bit sitting on a bench! So we talked a bit, next to this fountain that kept coming on and off sporadically. I'm pretty sure that it turns on when a train arrives, and off when the train leaves. I will take that to the grave. Despite the fact the fountain seems more on time than the trains (which are also on time, I just want it to be the way I think it is, cause it sounds cool). So
anyway. Hostel. Apartment. Met an Australian fellow there, with an Bacon and Eggs belief (but it's really Eggs and Bacon, aha!), and we ended up hiking Cinque Terre the next day. When we bought our tickets (that's right, tickets for hiking), we got them without the train option (to train back, that is). I was optimistically thinking, 'pfft, yeah, hiking back is eeassyy!'....yeah. Not. The first three villages were OK. beautiful, you see the coastline, hills up and down, and then little villages, yellow, orange, pink buildings situated on top of the green - and signs of grapevines in neat rows lining the hilltops - those people must be really in shape! But there are more steps than hiking in that trail. The steps that would pretty soon become the bane of my existence. The trek to the 4th village was utter death. There was some confusion with maps and villages, and we thought the 4th was the 5th. It was such an ouch, that we sat down, thinking 'we made it!'. We had lunch in the sun, watched tourists wobbling about, and contemplated nicking this bread left on a restaurant table that no one seemed to notice (I mean it needs some attention too, you know). And then we started back...and saw we actually had one more village to go! So we did. I nearly died. Whenever there were people coming towards us, I would heroically stand aside and wait for them to pass (but really I was in so much pain I couldn't move). Everytime we would come across a new bend there would be more stairs. Ah! The bane of my existence! But we eventually made it. At Monteresso, after successfully arriving in one piece, we waited a few hours to buy groceries (eggs!), because shops like to close from...2pm to 5pm. For example. In the meanwhile, I realized that my insides have been so shaken up by the lovely Cinque Terre, that I was afraid I would start doing that thing the little person in Jenn's Mandarin book of illnesses did. But I didn't. We also took a train back. We made a lovely dinner and enjoyed a 3 Euro bottle of wine. The next day everything hurt, so we went to sit on a bench in Riomaggiore (our town). It was beautiful, you see the ocean stretching on ahead forever, to the left Riomaggiore and it's little houses, to the right more little houses and hills sprouting up behind them with their little rows of grapevines going up in rows. We actually sat there for 8 hours. The weird thing is, my backside didn't hurt. And it was quite a metal bench! Then we had dinner and more 3 Euro wine. (Started to become a trend) It was actually homemade, but so good! And so cheap! How could you say no?
Next up, I went to Venice. The first thing you notice as you're arrived in Venice in the train, is that the train is going at a slower speed, and it's going across a long bridge...to your left and right you can see water stretching out, with islands in the distance and wooden beams coming out of the water every little bit...as far as you could see. The sun may be out (like it was that day), making everything a hazy blue, with silhouettes of buildings, structures, and little boats. Pretty! I was in pain for about a week after the lovely Cinque Terre, so I arrived in Venice after going Via Pisa, Via Firenze (I pretty much went all over North Italy to get there by train). I was tired, and in pain...and as I found out eventually...the addresses that were written for the hostels weren't the street and number (as addresses usually are), but the area of town and number. (?!) I walked around Venice for a nice two hours, before finally seeing the area where my hostel should be (because no one it Italy believes in normal phones). I had no idea where to go...but I also saw three young guys with loads of bags ('hostel goers!') and I more or less rounded on them (in what must have represented a hyena) as to where the hostel was. They pointed me to it, and later we started talking a bit and hung about for the next couple of days. Venice during that weekend was in total chaos, aside from the usual tourists (of which there were A LOT for an October). There was a running marathon thing happening two days from my arrival, and there was an architcture exhibition happening around the city...so there were lots of people from different countries and different parts of italy. So Venice was a running time, in whch I saw very little but had a great time. I had to switch hostels (because of fullness). The first one was pretty much beds - and a bathroom - but the one the people I met stayed at (around the corner) had considerably more. I got to have free dinner there (because one person was away at the time). That hostel's sister hostel (called Muzeo) is the one we stayed at the next night, and it might as well have been a museum. It had heads on the ceilings above the doors, and things like that. Venice is otherwise, an interesting walk..needless to say. At first, you just think streets and corners (since you're looking for things), but afterwards you get used to it. Little alleyes turning every which way, little bridges to cross every two little blocks, shops everywhere, boats, rowboats, gondolas (happy tourists taking pictures of themselves and with objects they have no real knowledge of). It's incredibly picture-esque, like you see in the millions of photographs there are of Venice. But somehow it seems different when you're there, if that makes any sense. St. Marco's square is one of the only areas I've seen while there, and it's...amazing. That whole area is is so grand, that no matter how many clicks people take, they'll never catch any of it. There are boats (like buses) that take people all over, to difference parts of Venice or to different little islands. You see gondolas with tourists (that payed a crapload to be in them), happily floating down, while the guy in the striped shirt looks politely annoyed and exhausted. We had to take a gondola, too, but it was 50c and it was to the other side of the water. It was two minutes long, but it was a gondola, they were wearing striped shirts, and we were in it. Ha! There are people in boats, tutting past with vauge speed, going about their business. At night we went to a bar where these guys with bongo drums and a sax came (in that square) and started to randomly jam - it was brilliant! Everyone was so laid back, it was better than any presentation or club I've been to. Good vibes from that place. Needless to say. I liked Venice very much.
Florence was my sleeping city. I found a market that went on for streets, where you could buy anything you wanted. It was night, and as I came out of one of the streets and looked finally out past the tents, over me I saw the large Duomo, looking very grand in the dark blue sky. It wasn't lit up, but it looked almost magical in the light from the market. The hostel I was in had bed bugs. Damn them. I met an interesting character here. It was a guy that had a Hagrid-like hair and beard (big, curly, big!) and wore a robin hood hat on his head. Had a funny jacket, like something out of some other time period, and a leather pouch tied to his waist. He was from Glastonbury. He looked like someone that came out of the fantasy world, it was awesome! Really nice guy!! He told me about the sword in the stone - that that story originated from a small town in Italy, called San Galgano. We were so close...I wanted to go there, but Italy bit such a chunk into my budget, that I didn't dare. So one day. Buses aren't very frequent to San Galgano to cities close to it, so it would have to be planned out better. I went back to Rome for my birthday, and visited other areas of Rome I haven't seen before. One of these was the Trevi Fountain. It's absolutely huge, coming out of a building...Poseidon (Greek name) stands above, the God of the seas. There are sea creatures and land creatures (winged horses and what looks like fauns, though they may be merpeople or people, I can't tell) are guiding the two winged horses up, the water is rising, and it's rising him - him trying to reach the love of his love up in heaven (cause she died). That's the story I heard of it. Either way - awesome! There is also an equally awesome gelato palce nearby, which is sold for a good
price. I found eating the gelato and watching the Trevi Fountain something very close to seeing Christmas when you're a kid. Rome was also the third time I bumped into a Japanese character that I've also bumped into in Venice and Florence. It was also, coincidentally, another place where a giant
ass student protest was taking place (starting right outside my hostel). It lasted all day, and I kept getting stuck in the mobs of human as I tried to walk around and see different areas of interest. After getting stuck in the mobs about five times, I wobbled back to the hostel somehow and passed out for hours out of pure exhaustion. Attempted going to a pub crawl on my birthday, but no one showed, so I got to see the Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum in the dark and rain and all lit up! Very pretty! The hostel (M&J Hostel, another really good one, has everything and price was good) popped open champaigne and gave me Tiramisu with a candle in it. Rome was an incredibly exciting city without me even knowing it. Brilliant!
After several days, I headed back for Bari, a port where I would catch a ferry to Croatia to meet Iain. Unfortunately for me, the ferry line I was to catch didn't go that day, because they suck. It was the Jadrolinija Line. Their website said a completely different thing. Knowing I have to arrive in Croatia quicker (couldn't wait until next week, cause of a flight out), I had to stay there two nights. A nice place, Bari, I learned to dislike it while there. First, it took me two hours to find accomodation one night. No one believes in sleeping over there. Second, the next day (when I found my second day CHEAPER accomodation), I had to wait an hour outside that hostel until I lost it and started hammering on the door (in short, there was a sign that said 'call this number!' and I had no phone and neither did the rest of Italy). A neighbour happened to come out and procure a magical phone out of some magical pocket and used it! (After I bought new (badly required) shoes!) I had to take a train ride up to Ancona (a four hour train journey), another port. I got to know the bus drivers very well, they're very nice people. Then an overnight ferry, sleeping in a couch in a corridor. A pretty comfy one. Eventually, I arrived in Split. Met my friend. Tired and exhausted, I can say that Split people believe in phones and in sleeping. I passed out in one position and didn't move until the morning. We visited Dubrovnik after a last minute decision and came back to Split. Dubrovnik is a strange city. I liked it very much, but it's so strangely situated, somehow! It's very long, stretching around the water and the hills. You see that when you come in on the bus. We visited the old town, which was like a castle with small streets or alleys, very narrow, with many stairs leading very much up. Little cafes are here or there. We got lost a bit in here, just admiring peoples' houses, or the bits and pieces of the view of the water that we would catch. It was in Split that we heard the storm, which started flickering our lights in the hostel. The thunder hit approximately two Ks away from us (two seconds from the lightning, I counted). And after that...rain. It's been raining like hell since. So I'm now in Split, waiting for a flight....I'm trying to hurry up and not hog the computer, so I'm gonna have to run now. But I can also add that this hostel, the CroParadise Hostel in Split is the best hostel ever.
I am now drying my soaked (yellow) shoes inside it, hoping to wear them tomorrow in a dry fashion. Miracles happen, who knows. The hog runs now.