So I've got to write about these two days together becuase frankly, I don't know where one stops and the other begins.
Starting at the beginning: Thursday morning.
After my little bout with heat exaustion, I woke up feeling pretty crappy. I had no energy at all, and just walking up and down our hostel stairs left me beat and having to sit down. Great way to feel in one of the most beautiful places on earth, right? It was pretty pathetic, but I did my best to just get through because heck- we are in Italy!! The name of the game for Thurs was basically kill time. We'd basically done everything we'd wanted to do in Cinque Terre, but we had to stick around until 1 AM, when our train would depart for Venice that night. After some nutella crepes we checked out and headed down to the ferry dock. Britt had her heart set on riding around on a boat, so we got a pass and spent the day riding around from town to town. Given my condition, I don't really remember the first part of the day up until Vernazza, where everyone put their bags around me on the beach and I slept in the sun for a little while. That combination of sun and sand must have had healing powers, because when Cade came to check on me and woke me up with a scolding, "will you EVER learn?!" I felt better! We spent the rest of our time in Vernazza watching the Italy vs Slovakia soccer game. Have I mentioned that I love World Cup? It was so great to be able to watch a real Italy game in a real Italian bar with real Italians! I really hope I'm in Europe again in 4 years, because life here is electric around this time, and the games are not at unholy times like they are in the US. 4 PM games here are at like 2 AM there- no wonder people don't eat, drink, and live soccer! Anyways, like I said, Italy in Italy was such an experience, even though they lost. Just imagine how much energy you think was at that bar, and you will be right!
After Vernazza we hopped back on the ferry to Monterosso one last time, where we just sat on the beach for hours with our baggage, then went for pizza at some restaurant in the city. Oh pizza- there really is as much of it here as I imagined there would be, and it's just about as delicious! I will probably have pizza withdrawls when I come home, because for the last week I have eaten it every day... sometimes twice. 5 euro margherita pizzas have my heart.
At 11 we finally decided we'd killed enough time and could go to the station to begin our long night hopping trains to Venice. As we took one last glance at the Mediterranean, we saw there was a big ol' festival going down by the water, complete with processions, candles on the water, and fireworks as we left on the train. Yep, we left Cinque Terre with a bang.
Now this is where the days get fuzzy, because I didn't sleep enough Thursday night to have a defined break between them. When planning our trip, Casey and I thought it would be a great idea if we could save money by riding night trains a lot of the time... but all I know is that after our night train experience, I feel like any hostel is worth every euro! We went to La Spezia first to wait for the departure of our 1 AM train, among the shady riff raff of the town, complete with the sleeping bums littered around the station. I wasn't that tired at this point, but right when we found our car on the train, I was out. When I woke about half an hour later, we were in Pisa.
There really is nothing like trying to find the Leaning Tower of Pisa at 2 AM. For some reason, we all had the idea that the landmark would be close to the station, so when we finally found it on the map outside and saw that it was not really that central, our dreams of taking cliche pics were almost crushed! That was, however, until Casey had the bright idea of just getting a cab over, so we did. Well, let's just say that was the easiest 8 euros the driver ever made buecause the trip over was definitely not as long as we'd imagined! He pocketed our cash and sped off, leaving us in a creepy dark city with a lit up slanting tower. Haha one of my favorite memories of Europe will forever be going to see Pisa at 2 AM and trying to take pictures with it. The fact that is was pitch black outside really hindered our abilities to hold the tower up, and the flash crushed them completely. Basically we ended up with great pictures of us holding up blackness, but I will always know what was behind that veil of dark, even if no one else does!
Our next train was departing at 4 AM, so after snapping some pics, we tried to find our way back to the station. This was about the time everyone started getting crabby, probably because of lack of sleep. Again, it was a relief to be on a train to get a little sleep in, even if it was only for about an hour to Florence. In Florence we checked our bags so we wouldn't have to carry them to Venice, got some food, and waited for yet another train. This time we went to Bologna, then transfered to another train to Venice. I was really intrigued as to how we were going to get to Venice by train, seeing as it's an island, so when we started riding the rails right over the water, I was pretty much giddy. How do you build train tracks right on the water?! I do not understand Venice, but in a matter of minutes we were there.
Venice, Italy is probably one of the coolest places I have ever been. As we got out of the station I had a very large WHOA moment. There were tons of people all over, a huge river with beautiful boats and gondolas cruising around, and lots of neat buildings littered all around the other side of the river. None of us really knew what you do in Venice, so we did just what people tell you to do: Get lost. It's really easy to do, seeing as the city is basically a maze of windy streets, canals, and bridges. After a stop for some food at a bar and a little bit of freshening up in the bathrooom, we spent the next couple hours wandering around, walking in and out of mask shops, taking pictures with gondoliers, and going over a lot of bridges. The water here is really neat- obviously there are no cars, so the boats reign supreme. Garbage boats, mail man boats, taxi boats, and gondolas all cruised around on the canals all day, and we were all impressed with their boat navigating talents!
When 4 PM hit, it was time to watch some soccer. Cade, Dan, and I found a bar to watch Portugal and Brazil in, while Casey and Brittany went to ride in a gondola. While I would have loved to be serenaded by an Italian, I just couldn't afford the 70 euro for an hour charge, plus I was beat. Sickness had yet again caught up with me, and that teaming up with hardly any sleep had me feeling pretty crappy. The bar was a much needed break, and the game was great, even though I fell asleep a good portion of the first half.
After the game we all met back up and headed out of Venice and back to Florence to find our hostel and get some much needed sleep. After arrival and finding our home for the next two days, we ventured out to find food, and settled on kebaps. I had never heard of a kebap until going to Spain, so don't feel too bad if you have no idea what that is. A kebap is a type of Turkish wrap with lettuce, tomato, onion, special sauces, and some kind of undistinguishable meat they shave off the spit right in front of you. (I always opt for falafel, a fried garbanzo bean patty, instead) Basically I've come to realize that these little shady shops selling the worlds best price to calorie ratio are on every corner of every big city in Europe, so we get them a lot. It's a good break from pizza every now and again :)
After dinner it was back to the hostel to sleep. This place isn't half bad, and my favorite part has been listening to the owner sing along to the Beatles as I've been typing this in the lobby. We've got a private room this time, the beds are decent, and there are even towels! The only bad part is the shower- it's just a showerhead in the wall by the toilet, so the bathroom floods ever single time it's used, but life goes on I guess!
Well, people keep coming over, sending the "you've been on here long enough!" vibes, so I guess I will wrap up now. Today we are getting artsy in Florence, seeing David and Duomo, and prepping for our journey to Rome tomorrow! 4 days and I will be home! Crazy how fast time goes, but I think I am ready to be back on American soil after 2 months- it's been great, but I miss toilets that aren't holes in the ground and free water. Ciao for now!