Tag Archives: solo

A good start to my week in Rome

17th  June 2012

After saying all my goodbyes it was time to move on to my new home for the next few days – ON MY OWN!

I haven’t had to carry my luggage or organize anything since I arrived at the hotel in Milan almost 3 weeks ago, just listen and be at the right place at the right time. A few of us even failed at that a time or two, but we all got there eventually.

As we were near the termini a taxi was no trouble and my new hotel’s on via Nazionale so that’s easy to say. If someone told me I’d have trouble with the next bit I’d have thought they were nuts, but I arrived at the correct address, there was a sign on the outside of the building and on the doormat to tell me I was in the right place but do you think I could find anything else remotely resembling a hotel reception area – no, nothing, nada, nowhere to be found! All I found were closed doors, a set of stairs and the tiniest elevator I have ever seen in my life, no other signs or directions to the whereabouts of the hotel.

Smallest elevator I've ever seen

Smallest elevator I’ve ever seen

Okay, I had my reservation paperwork with the phone number so I rang and explained my problem, no worries he said, just go in the elevator to the 5th floor. So, I got myself, my 20kg (I think it was really more like 25kg by this time) suitcase and my carry-on bag into the elevator – barely, and went to the 5th floor. Here I was in groundhog day, the same place but 5 floors up – nothing but a set of stairs and closed doors on the landings, no hotel reception, no signs.

Darn, down I went to the ground floor and phoned again, yes, yes, you have to go to the 5th floor!

I did go to the 5th floor I told him!

Yes, yes the 5th floor he said, so I repeated the process just in case I had been on the wrong floor, nope, still the same so down I went again and rang – AGAIN.

You know what it’s like when you’ve already asked someone the same question 4 times and still can’t work out what they’re saying? I just smile and nod and hope for the best but obviously that wasn’t working in this case, time for me to buck up and think for myself.

I loaded myself and all my gear back into the elevator and stopped at every floor, had a peek out and kept going until I got to the 4th floor where I hit pay-dirt.

Found it at last

Found it at last

Woot woot, I found it – reception!! I guess 4th and 5th  sound pretty much the same in a lovely Italian accent, don’t they? Oh well, I apologized profusely for being so painful, but he was lovely and didn’t mind a bit me phoning 3 times in 10 minutes for directions when I was already in the building. He probably shook his head a number of times though when I left!

What a start to my solo travel career, I was almost ready to phone home in tears, thankfully the time difference saved me from that mistake.

So I did the next best thing, found my room, had a nice refreshing shower and a sleep. Yeah, it was only midday but my theory about not missing anything on the tour made for one very tired “mid-life” traveller by this time.

Rome can wait a few more hours for me.

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Day 7 – Montecatini Terme in Tuscany

Jet trails from Castelbrando, Italy

Jet trails from Castelbrando, Italy

5th June 2012Oh well on the road again today but I explored around the castle on my own this morning and took more pics. I love having people to talk to but really appreciate my alone time, it’s natural I guess but I seem to skim the surface of the places I see when I’m with the group but on my own they really seem to soak in more. It amazed me to see all these jet trails this morning I hadn’t heard one single plane!!

Wonderful food for sale at service stations in Italy

Wonderful food for sale at service stations in Italy

We stopped at one of those amazing servo’s again today where I had my coffee and chocolate brioche – not doing wonders for the waistline, but I console myself that I’m walking lots so that keeps the guilt at bay for now. Took some pics of the meats and cheeses at this one too. The tour guide was really good to listen to today, he sure knows his stuff.  I usually have good intentions of remembering what he tells us but most of the time it doesn’t stick – good thing I take photos I guess! It seemed like a long day travelling today but we were at Montecatini Terme by early afternoon so I can’t have been too bad. We’re staying at Ercolini & Savi Hotel, it’s another lovely place right in the middle of town.

We had dinner at Fattoria il Poggio a little way from Montecatini. It’s an olive growing, wine making farm with restaurant and also I think they host cooking classes as well. We were inside the bigger building on the farm for dinner at big long tables, was great atmosphere, all dark wood and stone with wine barrels and other old bits and pieces all over. The food was delicious, platters of everything brought to the table to be passed around – just fantastic. The wines were of course their own and more than drinkable too. All round it was a great night, a few people had the wobbly boot on by the time we left and the tour guide serenaded us on the drive back to the hotel – I think he fancies himself as a bit of a singer he often bursts into song on the bus, I must admit though he does have a rather nice voice.

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Day 6 – Venezia in the Rain

4th June 2012

Had a great nights sleep in the castle, think I must have been switched at birth or something – I felt right at home!

Typical view in Venice

Typical view in Venice

Did a bit of a panic this morning because I couldn’t top up my phone credit to answer a text from work. I tried to use iMessage instead on the iPad and couldn’t get that to work either, I then tried the email app I usually use to try and email instead but it wouldn’t send so I gave up and went for breakfast – got the priorities right there didn’t I?

Used the good old Hotmail after brekky and it worked a charm so I hope they got the invoices imported they were having trouble with but I guess I will find out eventually.

Off to Venice this morning bright and early, arrived about 10’ish and transferred to St. Marks square by boat for a guided tour of the Basilica and other bits and pieces. Had a great local guide again, this time a woman who liked to give our tour leader a hard time. We toured the Basilica then walked through the back streets to the Rialto Bridge and then on to the Rialto square (I think that’s what it was called). The church bit left me a bit cold but I guess you can’t visit Venice without seeing some of the famous religious things. The Rialto Bridge was a bit the same, they had a couple of advertising banners hung over one side and the other side had graffiti on it so not sure where all the beautiful pictures come from or when they take them.

I feel bad that I’m not more informed but have really caught the travel bug and hopefully next time I travel I will be brave enough to do my own thing so will be able to spend more time finding out the stories of the places I go.

You could hardly move for people but it is a long weekend in most of western Europe and great Britain so there were hordes of holiday makers. Absolutely loved the rest of the day walking the streets either gawking like an idiot at the buildings or looking for gifts for some of my nearest and dearest. Was a bit difficult at times trying to juggle the umbrella, keep my handbag in front and protected, get the camera in and out of said handbag (always remembering to zip closed after each extraction or replacement), take photos and carry above mentioned gifts. I really don’t think the gypsies or pickpockets were out today because I would have been the ideal target I’m sure…

The condom lookalikes??

The condom lookalikes??

A lovely couple who I have been spending a bit of time with had pastel pink and blue rain cover-ups with hoods that had little peaks on top. I thought they looked a bit like a pair of cute little gnomes but one of the men christened them “the condoms” – it was hilarious when he said it totally dead-pan. The whole group then had to take photos of course. They took it all in good fun but we reckoned it was just karma for teasing me so much for being late on Isola Bella!!

We caught a couple of water taxis back to the bus, this time going along the Grand Canal which was great fun and just how you imagine it to be, lots of noise and boats going everywhere and buildings looking like they are just floating on top of the water. I took miles of pics but I think Tony took even more than I did. Back to the castle with just enough time for a soak in the bath and to get dressed for dinner – its a hard life! Another excellent dinner tonight with new table mates, Margaret and Ron, Jan and George and Rita and Tony. We are off to Tuscany tomorrow for, I think, a five night stay which I’d say will be just excellent. It’s almost 1am so I’d best put the next lot of stuff to be charged on the chargers and get some sleep.

I am really having the time of my life and every day at least once I find myself just sitting quietly taking it all in and I think how fortunate I am. I keep finding it hard to believe it’s me having all these great experiences, but I’m sure making memories I’ll look back on happily for as long as I can.Ciao all!

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So much in such a short time

Central Station Milan

29th – 30th May 2012

Well, I don’t quite know where to begin!! Bear with me, but I didn’t quite realise how much everything would be so different. I feel very naïve being this old and only just travelling overseas for the first time. I didn’t feel like shopping in Dubai – amazing I know but 15 or so hours on a plane will do that to you. I felt quite pleased with myself paying for lunch in dinars and knowing what to do to collect it with no trouble. There were young people having more trouble than I did – small things I know but I was chuffed.

Then I realised I didn’t have paperwork for a transfer from the airport at Milan to my hotel – panic set in for a while but I texted good old Sarah and asked her to look into it for me. By the time I got off the plane at Milan she had worked out I didn’t have one and should just catch the train to Central and the hotel would be close by. I ended up almost missing the plane in Dubai as I don’t think they call you like they do in Australia, was one of the last on, all adds to the excitement I suppose.

Anyhow got to Milan okay and took a shuttle bus from airport to Central for the same price as the train. All Jay’s words of wisdom about not talking to strange men went out the window when I got off the bus. There were all these guys there with little hand trolleys trying to carry everyone’s luggage and of course one of them targeted me. I figured he would probable sting me for money but he seemed to know where the hotel was so I said yes he could show me to my hotel.

Cost me 5 euros for a three-minute walk but he was a nice man and everyone has to earn a living somehow I guess.

I went for a walk this morning in the area near the hotel and the train station, and what a train station it is – so not like the one in Dalby! I even bought a coffee and brioche and stood at the counter like the locals to eat.

Meeting up with the tour group in a couple of hours so I shouldn’t get into too much strife between now and then.

Bye

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