The next morning, I ate where Dario suggested. The hot chocolate was good but I hesitate to call it great. Oh, and a sandwich again.
Next, I had to get from his house to the Sestriere bus stop. The custode told me to get on Tram 9 and ride to the train station. They even gave me a L1000 pass and wouldn't take money. I lugged my suitcase to the tram stop and boarded. I think I was suppose to place my ticket in a box at the entrance, but no one else did it so neither did I. It took me about an hour to find the bus stop and then rewarded myself with a beer. I really guess I felt guilty to sitting in the bar where I purchased the ticket and not purchasing anything...
i got on the bus and tried to read the signs as to find out where I was. When I saw Sestriere, I ask the bus driver and attendant. They didn't know anything about Palace Residence 2 but the bus driver got out and made a phone call for me. He took me to the place where the PR bus picks up people. He wouldn't accept a tip or reimbursement for the phone call... Wow!
Now that I gotten my room, everything has been uneventful. I walked to & around town, bought groceries and went home(5-8 miles). One beautiful girl tried to talk to me in the hall, but I couldn't understand her. Shucks!!! Oh, a beer cost L5000 (4 dollars) here!
I finally got on the slopes today. They are are bad compared to Colorado. In Colorado, a little bit of ground showing is really bad. Here, that's all you see. The good snow they have is man-made. I literality skied on grace today, that's a first. I did find some power way up high on the top of mountains where no one had been, but it was HARD power! One time I fell and the power cut my hand up. The good side is that it was warm. I skied without gloves, sweater or hat.
The Italian line breaking is getting to me. I really hate fighting for my place in line. One English man threw a fit when some Italians got in-front of him. I said to him "Isn't it a bitch to fight for your place in line?" He muttered something about the world going to pot. I started to say "That's the Italian way" but for some reason held my tongue.
Well, I finally went to a Pizzeria for dinner, the closest thing to a restaurant for me so far. I had a Margherita(pronounced like the drink.) It wasn't anything special, cheese, oregano, tomato sauce. I really need to eat a real meal,..
I watched GhostBusters 2 tonight with dubbed in Italian phrases. I couldn't understand the show even though I had seen it before.
One scary thing, America started bombing Baghdad again today. I could only catch a few words like "Nuclear", "Stealth", "Americans." I hate not knowing what is going on. On American TV, they leave the original speaker's word in the background and have a louder translator's voice on top. They cut out the original voice here completely. I sure hope the Italians are on Americans side.
I woke up late and ran out to the slopes to get what skiing I could. I ended up on one of the other mountains (Sauze-D'Olux) and couldn't get back. I finally panicked and skied through the woods to get someplace I knew.
I took my camera with me and got some shots of "mountains" and "towns". Not too exciting but at least I did it for once.
I was in a bar today and realized that they play American music! In Mexico, you have to go all week long before recognizing any songs. Here, every other song is an American group. Strange...
Got up early this morning so I could ski to France. I only made one wrong turn which cost me 30 minutes; that put me at the board 30 minutes to late to make it back to Sestriere! Bummer.
I finally went to a restaurant today. When I first sat down, they made me move to a table in the back because I sat at the only set table which had room for 10 people. The Italians have a 2 or 3 course meal of very small servings. (Thanks to an English couple next to me that told me this.) I had homemade pasta and pizza. This pasta is the best I've ever tasted, raviolies with cheese inside with butter & spice seasoning!
The English couple told me that many Italian families eat together; that's the reason for the large tables. I then realize (looking at the people in the game room & bar on the way home) that Italian families just sit and look/talk to one another. Now, I understood why Lisa's family sits around after eating.
Why did the person who cleaned my room closed my curtains?
Well, I finally met someone. Her name is Gabrella and she is a Swedish live-in nanny for a British family staying here.
We went out dancing until 2:30 in the morning. The disco we went to charged us L30000 for 2 drinks! At least they had good American music.
Well, I'm packing my suitcase to send back and trying to decide what to carry in my backpack for the next 3 weeks. UPS is shipping my luggage back and they want L310000 to do it! Ripe-off #1.
Gabrella & I sat in the bay and watched all the Italians look at each other. We met some people who invited us to this real cool piano bar across the road from the PR. They weren't there, I guess we went to the wrong bar, but we did have fun.
I shipped off my luggage this morning, got on the bus to Oulx and caught the train to Aix-les-bains. I didn't do much more than walk around and eat at a cafeteria. While there entering information into my computer, some French guys approached me. We ended up talking for 3 hours until my train was ready to leave. There names were Fred & Lionel. They gave me their address & phone number and told me to come visit them. I might take them up on it.
I got on the train and slept in a bunk until Nice.
I got of the train at 9:30 this morning and walked around Nice most of the day. I even sat on the beach; it was quite warm.
About 5:00, I made my way out to a youth hostel. For my real first day walking, I was pretty tired and ate dinner at the hostel. I was the youngest of about 8 people and the average age was around 40. The place was not too clean but the people were really nice.
I roomed with a guy who was a street musician (he played the accordion) and he he took his "work" very seriously. I listened to him practice for almost 3 hours; he was pretty good. I didn't give him anything for the private concert. Should I?
I got on the train to Monaco (30 minutes away) and walked around it for the day. I checked into the hostel there; I was the oldest person & the people who ran the place were in their late teens/early twenties. 26(my age) was the oldest you could be to stay in this hostel; big difference from yesterday.
That night I went to Monte Carlo (they were preparing for the Monte Carlo Grand Prix next week) and lost 200 Francs ($45) playing Blackjack. I was the most underdressed, but they let me in anyway.
I got up, stuffed 2 or 3 bytes of breakfast in my mouth (most all hostels/hotels include breakfast over here,) ran to the train station and jumped on the first train/only morning train/moving train to Cannes. I hated this city. I had a hard time getting around & people weren't very friendly.
I got on the next train to St. Rapha‘l. I like this town; its quite, peaceful & WARM! There's nothing to see or do here; it's just nice.
From here, I headed to Marseille. I didn't care for this city either. It was dirty and police sirens were always going. I didn't feel very safe.
I got my first hotel room. All my clothes needed washing. They almost completely dried by the morning.
One thing I've noticed, most all these cities have a J. F. Kennedy Blvd. Why?
This morning, I got up and walked to Notre Dame, a church/lookout point above Marseille. The walk up the hill was not easy but I made it.
I then got on a bus out to Liminy University. A person I met on the train the night before said to go to Calanques Sigiton, a park which is kept by the uni (as they called it.) I walked pass the uni, down a blocked off road and onto a trail. About 45 minutes later, I was standing on a cliff looking down at the water below. This place is great! There were students mountain climbing and I did a little rock climbing for myself esteem.
From here, I headed to Montpellier which Fred (one of the French guys) suggested. I got there about 7:30 and all tourist places were closed. While I was looking a a map of the town on the wall, a bum approached me. When he realized that I spoke English, he spoke back in near perfect English. He wanted money of course. I told hum if he showed me where the youth hostel was would give him something; after 2 minutes of randomly scanning the map he pointed to a place across town and said it was there. I didn't believe him but I gave him 12 Francs and he left. I spent another 5 minutes at the may and found out that he was telling the truth! Now I feel bad for giving him so little.
All the people in tho town are young, the streets smell great (its dinner time) and its clean. Yea!
I found the hostel and it's closed! So, I went to have dinner and worry about my accommodations later.
I had salmon, French style; I didn't care for it. In the restaurant, I met some IBM employees there on business.
After dinner, I went back to the hostel just to check again. Maybe they just stepped out. When got to the front door, it was still locked... A person coming out of the building next door looks at me funny and informs me where the hostel entrance is at. It is open! I got a place to stay.
That night I met Brian, an American in Europe for 8 months. He had a really bad story about hitch-hiking from Paris to Montpellier in the cold with no food or water. And I panic with the tourist office is closed...
The next morning, I saw Brian and met Nicole, Bill & Brad at breakfast. They were headed to Barcelona so I asked to join them.
On the train, we met Alexandra, an artist moving from Naples to somewhere in Spain to paint with an artist group. I think she was Canadian.
Once we got to Barcelona, we got lost trying to find the hostel. A Spanish man on the street was real nice and walked us there.
We checked in and was requested to register. When the workers was I was 26, they changed my age to 25. I guess there's an age limit here. This was the nicest and most expensive hostel I've stayed at so far. They had a pretty decent dinner too.
Hostels are good cheap places to sleep. I just hate having to be in by curfew and none of the people staying there ever have any money to go out at night. After dinner (at the hostel) people just hang around. That's when I met Peter & Jackie (both females from Australia.) Bill & Nicole had met them in Northern Europe a couple of months before.
Nicole had a big desire to spend the day by herself so I walked with Brad & Bill around Barcelona. We covered the whole city visiting mostly cathedrals. The most exciting one was (name). I climbed up in its spires and looked out over the city; that's when I noticed all the pollution over Barcelona.
I said "Bye" to Bill & Brad and got o the train for Lyon. On the train, I chose a compartment with a guy named Fred from Ft. Worth. For most of the trip back, I got to talk computers. That was heart warming.
On the train, a smoking European sat down in the non-smoking section. Fred politely asked him to move the smoking side of the train. Even though he quickly moved, he became real defensive and rude about the request. Fred & I then feared falling a sleep knowing that our stuff would be gone when we woke. We didn't have any trouble.
Got to Lyon early, rode train to St.Enntinne and back because I felt it was too early to call Fred. I slept on both trips.
Once in Lyon, I couldn't find the Tourist office. After asking around, I was told to go to the center of town! People weren't very helpful and I thought that they were just trying to get rid of me. I went ahead and walked into town where I found the Tourist office right where I was told. The Tourist office wasn't very receptive either but at least I found something to do in Lyon.
I went to the old theater ruins and sat for about an hour. This is the only thing to see in Lyon as far as I was told.
Around noon, I called Fred and then met him & Lionel at the train station in St.Enntinne.
They told me "There's nothing to see in St.Enntinne" so we went to the mine museum which was quit good. It would have been better had the lift going down into the shaft been real. The museum acted like you where going down a few hundred feet when in actuality you only went down about 20 feet. St.Enntinne is an old mining town.
I then sent a fax from Lionel's house o Mom&Dad but ran it through the machine backwards. I hope they know to read it in the mirror.
That evening, Fred's Mom made collie flower, potato casserole and meat for dinner. The potatoes were great!
That night, we went to a bar in a nearby town. I learned to say "Salute" (Hello) to a lot of people I didn't know. From there, a friend joined up and we went to another bar. I got to hear some hard rick French songs. Out next destination was the Casino. They wouldn't let me in because I had tennis [they called them basket] shoes. The Casino didn't care that I gambled in Monte Carlo in the same clothes. (Remember, these are towns the size of Palmer.) Next, we went to a club that was farther off in the boonies than my house! It was packed! Wall to wall people and really good American music. We got in around 3am.
Fred's Mom made salad,white beans,fish,rice and a special sauce for lunch.
I have talked to other people going around Europe about the fear of not having a place to stay. They said "Don't worry; something always comes up." So,
I got into Interlaken at 11:30 and missed the only train back to Bern where I knew a warm room existed in the train station. Out of desperation, I hitched a ride with another person in a Taxi to an inexpensive hotel. I got a room & bad by myself. It's not such a bad place after all if I could get rid of the guy snoring in the next room.
This was more or less a wasted day; I spent it on the train. After I found out that going through the Bernese Oberland to the Jaugfrau cost $100 and I would not have enough time to see much, I headed to Italy's Cinque Terre. Had I taken a later train, I would not have made it.
I got off the train in Riomaggiore and wanted to go to the hotel Dario suggested. A man stood in the shadows at the train station; it was kind of scary... After walking this little town, I asked him some questions. He ushered me into Mama Rosa's hostel. At least I got a place to stay.
This place is great (not the hostel, no hot water!) I found a walk way high above the water in the cliffs. I sat and listened to the water crash against the rocks. This place is beautiful; I cant wait to see it in the morning!
This morning, I went straight for the ledge that I sat on last night. It was still great! I found a walkway (marked "Dangerous") from Riomaggiore to Manarola. There, I found the hotel Dario wanted me to stay in. I continued the trail to Corniglia and on to Vernazza. The entire walk took 3 1/2 hours over mountains, ledges, rock slides, caves, bridges, etc. Vernazza was my favorite of all towns for no specific reason. I guess because the people were just casually friendly. They expected tourist; a total of 25 were there at the same time at me.
From Vernazza, I took the train to La Spezia and on to Pisa. I walked the town and saw the leaning tower... then went to Florence for the night.
I think I got ripped off on my hotel but me dinner was great. I had broiled chicken and pizza with octopus on it. The octopus tasted very good, I just mentally had problems bitting into the tentacles. I found that if I cut it up into small unrecognizable pieces, it wasn't so bad.
I walked around Florence for about 3 hours, then took the train to Orvieto and a bus to Bagnoregio where I found Al Boschetto's restaurant, bar & albergo.
In Orvieto, I panicked because I didn't have any money, the banks were closed and the ATM machine wouldn't accept my VISA card. I was relieved when it did take my Mastercard...
At Al's, I panicked because I left my passport in Florence; now I have to waist a day going back! Anyway, I ate dinner at Al's, fettuccine, chicken (it may have been rabbit, I couldn't get a straight answer) and salad. Dominico (a very drunk Dominico), Al's son, sat with me (I was the only there) trying to converse and keeping my wine glass full. After three hours, I think I was beginning to understand him... scary, but real fun. I got a nice room and bath, I just think they turned off the heat!
I found Civita! The town was dead; I saw a total of 4 people for a town that could hold 100 easily. One woman enticed me into her "store" and charged me L1000 for looking around. I laughed hard & gave it to her; it was a little for what I saw. On a ledge for below, one man was clearing land by hand. That had got to be a big job when looking at what he had yet to complete. I wonder, how to this people make a living? After he finishes (a month or two away,) the land doesn't look farmable. The other two were working in a small garden with the wife doing most of the work. This place is great!
Now, I have to go to Florence, get my passport and head to Rome. Sigh...
This was the sorriest breakfast that I've had in a hostel. I hope I don't have to stay here tonight.
I walked around the Vatican, Partheon, d. Monti (Dad said they were the Spanish Steps), Collossoo (Italian spelling), Circus Maximus and back to the hostel!
Some pickpocket kids with pained faces took a shot at me wallet; try didn't get it.
I'll have to leave for Greece tomorrow.
This is my last day of my Eurorail pass.
I got up and navigated the Rome transportation system out to the catacombs. To me, that was the most impressive sight in Rome.
A little bit of excitement before I left for Greece. I get off the train, bought my boat ticket (the man required me to pay cash so I was kind-of skeptical) and paid for it with Lire & Spanish Espuedos; the guy ripped me off for about $5 while converting the money. I got to the pier where there wasn't a boat, but there was another passenger waiting. I went to pay my port tax of L10000, instead, the directed me to another pier where the bat was. As I and Himˇ (the other passenger) got to the correct dock, we were instructed to run to the plank. Himˇ was allowed to board the boat but I was sent to another office (still running) to pay my port tax. I ran back to the boat and jumped onto the plank as they were lifting it.
I heard that some people got left. If Himˇ wasn't with me, I'm sure I would have been left; they thought we were together.
Now, I have a 19 hour ride ahead of me.
I was originally going to Corinth to check out the tows south of there, but the people I met on the boat (Glenn, Janine, John, LeAnn, Donna, & an Argentinean couple) invited me with them to Athens. I took them upon it.
After we checked into the hotel, an English man Donna met on the train from Patras to Athens, who was also staying at the same hotel (Bell, took us to this nice expensive cafe. I had chicken, potatoes (excellent), and wine for 2230dr.
We all toured Athens and got info on a trip to Mykonos that night. The boat ride was 5 hours.
As we got into Mykonos and headed to our hotel, we picked up another traveler (Allison) who was needing a place to stay. We invited her to join us.
We ate at a pizza place and I had spaghetti. It was really good and cheap.
We've walked around Mykonos and discovered that there is not much to do here. Most of the restaurants, bars, shops and hotels are closed. Its ridiculously cold here too! Athens was very warm so me just know the islands would be hot. The wind blows constantly here.
1:30 came and we went to the port to catch the boat. When 2:30 rolled around and there still wasn't a boat, we panicked! We all were going to miss our planes home! We then found out that the Tuesday boat had been cancelled too. Back to the hotel we go.
I should be on a plane home! Well, we got up late and went out for a walk. We found the island bus depot and got on as a tour. We rode to Paradise Beach and back. The bus driver & kids, school had just let out, didn't know what to think of us. We thought we chose a pretty good tour for winter time.
I then walked about 5 miles north to the next mountain, found a warm place and watched the waves crash against the shore of Mykonos.
We were told that the boat was cancelled Tuesday because of the weather. That's probably why the boat left early Monday. Will it run tomorrow?
Donna wakes me with a call at 8:45 in the morning; she says the boat was cancelled, but a plane is coming in at 10:10. I got up packed quickly, checked out and we all headed for the airfield.
The plane was full and we almost didn't get a seat because we were so late. They did run out of credit card slips so Allison paid for my trip; I paid her back. The plane was quite small, very noisy (rattles everywhere) and the trip was very rough. Allison cried the whole time when we were in the air. She says she's not scared of flying...
One annoying thing about Greece, no one knows anything about what is going on and they won't admit to it. So every person you ask for information gives you a different story. We asked the port police, "When does the boat sail?" "Everyday at 2:30." No boat! No reason! No one to greet you and give you alternative solutions. You never know about schedules in Greece until your on the boat or plane and it is moving. We think the Greek people just don't like to work & they found a convenient reason (the weather) not to.
The rest of the day we spent walking around Athens again and went to the airport around 10:30. We slept till our planes left.
Security is really tight at the Athens airport and even more so at the United terminal. LeAnn & John had to open up all their bags to be searched; I guess it was because they had so much stuff (2 large suitcases, 2 backpacks, 2 or 3 carry on baggage and they back pack across America & Europe with all that.) Janine and Glenn got questioned. It was a typical check-in for me at KLM.
Things I learned of this trip:
I won't do this again by myself.
Do it when its warmer.
Take a motorcycle.
The world isn't out of reach, I want to travel to Russia, India, Australia and Canada.
The world isn't all that dangerous; girls travel by themselves; I was right, most people are honest.
I don't have to learn the language of the country I'm in, but I should.
I like a routine. I don't like not knowing where I'm going to eat or sleep. I don't like having to plan...
I like going home, but I would rather have a job somewhere else in the world if it wasn't in Dallas or Austin.
These are the nationalities that I ran into (listed from most to least):