A Travellerspoint blog

Rome - Take II

Hello!

I have spent the last eight or so days exploring Rome. The first few days I was on my own in a pretty sketchy hostel.. I tried to take a shower the first morning I was there and the door to the shower fell off in my hand! But the hostel offered free breakfast and dinner, and the wifi was decent, so it wasn't too bad. I wandered back to the Colosseum and stared at it again, and it's still breathtaking. I don't think I could ever get tired of seeing it. The full day I was here alone I got some laundry done, which by itself made me feel a lot better. I don't think I will ever take clean clothes for granted again!
Harry and his friends from school arrived in Rome the next day, so I continued my streak of hanging out with a group of Australians. They seem like cool people. We did some things together, and then when they went to do things that had been part of Contiki, Harry and I went and explored. We went to the zoo! I was very excited, despite Harry saying that the Australian exhibit was not very accurate. The whole group of eight had dinner together each night though, and a lot of gelato was consumed by all. My sense of direction quickly became legendary among the new group, and I found the bewildered looks quite amusing whenever we went somewhere off the main roads. But no one got lost :)
The hostel the group had booked was way better than mine, so once they arrived I booked a room at the same one. The hostel offered day trips to lots of places, so I went down to Naples and Pompeii the other day. It was a very long day, but it was broken up nicely by stops along the way for food and sunshine. It was a gorgeous day for it. I got some great pictures. And Pompeii itself was incredible. The only part I didn't like was looking at the plaster casts of the children they found.. That was very sad.
I have quite enjoyed Rome. I will likely be back on a future trip.. I can't imagine never seeing it again. If anyone comes with me, I will be happy to point out the most amazing gelato shop ever, and a store that sells a ridiculous amount of flavours of liqueur and olive oil. If it wouldn't be so difficult to carry around, I would have bought quite a few.
Harry and his friends went to the airport this morning, which was quite sad. I've just been hanging around since then, as my train does not leave until 7:00 tonight. I'm headed to Vienna, which I am quite excited about, even though I'm feeling a bit sad and lonely right now. I'm officially on my own, as I think everyone that I met on Contiki has left the continent. Hopefully I will meet some new people in Vienna; the hostel I've booked is supposed to be good for that.
Alright. I'm going to go get some food to sustain me on my 14 hour train journey. I hope the train has wifi...

Missing everyone.

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 07:13 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

I'm 20!

Hello!

Sorry, I know it's been a while. But I am still alive, don't worry!

Nice is gorgeous. I very much enjoyed wandering around and staring at the ocean. I went up to the lookout the first morning I was there, which was a bit of a hike, and then stayed at the top for over an hour because the view was so amazing. See the video on my Facebook for proof. Harry the Australian and his friend Nick came down to join me the next day, and I went back up again with them. It was a quiet, sunshiney couple of days! Then, it was my birthday!! I'm 20! That is so weird. Harry and I got dressed up and went out for dinner, and then I spent the night in my birthday present to myself - a nicer hotel! I quite enjoyed the big fluffy bed after three weeks of single beds.
The morning of the 12th Harry and I took the train to Milan. It was a long journey, as the only train available for Harry's Eurail pass was not a high-speed one. When we arrived, I said to Harry "you know, I haven't been to Italy since I was a teenager.." I'm so funny. Anyway, Milan was cloudy, and not spectacular in terms of sightseeing, although the big cathedral is pretty amazing. We came across a fair in the middle of a park, so walked around that for a while, and counted over 70 dogs that day.
Yesterday we took the train again, me to Rome and Harry to Florence. I am now in my hostel in Rome, which seems a bit sketchy. The PacSafe is in use! It's also a bit loud, but it includes free breakfast and dinner, which is pretty cool. The plan for today is to find a laundromat! So exciting, I know.

I have officially been away for a month! I miss you all, and I hope you're doing well. Happy Valentine's Day :)

Love,
Jenna

PS: Thank you for all of the birthday emails!! :)

Posted by jennamiller 04:27 Archived in France Comments (0)

Au Revoir Paris, Bonjour Nice

Hello!

My time in Paris is now complete. The last two days passed quietly, as it finally hit my body that I had been travelling at a crazy speed for three weeks. I was sick and exhausted, so I decided to just take some time and relax. I did a bit of exploring, and also read my book, watched a movie, skyped with people, used a face mask, and did other self-care things. This morning I boarded a train, and five hours later arrived in Nice. The view from the train was amazing, especially during the last hour as we passed through Cannes. I arrived in Nice at 3:00 and checked into my hostel shortly afterwards. The girl at the front desk told me that the hostel wasn't super busy right now, so upgraded me to a four bed room with an ensuite and said if other people showed up she would try to put them in a different room. As of now, 8:00, I have the room to myself.
After I got settled, I began my customary walk. I went through a very pretty and very hilly residential area, and then went down to the beach. There is a little fair set up across the street from the water right now. I timed it perfectly, and took a ride on the Ferris wheel as the sun was setting. It was an absolutely gorgeous view.
Then, I sat by the water for a while and just breathed and thought about how lucky I am. It's difficult for me to wrap my head around right now that if a few things had gone differently, I would never have seen any of these places. I would never have been to the Colosseum, stood on top of the Swiss Alps, or watched the sunset in Nice.. I would never have planned what to do on my 20th birthday in the south of France, let alone turned 20 at all. I would never have met the people on my tour. I cannot begin to say how happy I am for things to have turned out the way they have. I don't have any set plans for where to go after Nice yet, but I'm sure I will continue to fall in love with each place I visit.

I hope you're all enjoying following along.

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 10:46 Archived in France Comments (2)

Lucerne, Paris, and the End of Contiki

Hello!

I am surprisingly sad to say that my Contiki tour has ended, and basically everyone has gone home. It seems I have grown a bit attached to the Australians, and there were a few tears this morning as we went our separate ways. But anyway, about Lucerne:

Lucerne is absolutely gorgeous. It looks exactly like a postcard, by day and by night. We drove in after the sun had gone down, and saw the city sparkle by the lake. We had a quick curry dinner at the hotel, kind of an odd choice, but tasty, and then everyone went off to bed. The next morning was incredible. We took a tram up to the top of Mount Pilatus, and spent about an hour at the top, taking pictures, throwing snowballs, and breathing very deeply. I love mountains. The view was spectacular, and I would have been quite content to stay there all day eating Toblerone. Alas, we caught a gondola down and drove back into town. From there we went to a Swiss watch shop, walked to the lion monument, and then had the rest of the day to ourselves. I'll let you guess what I did. I ended my day with some Thai food and some time sitting next to the river, watching swans and feeling very peaceful.

The next day we drove to Paris, and while en route we watched Star Wars, Shrek, and the Incredibles. It was a long drive. We arrived in Paris in the evening, had dinner, and then got back on the coach for a little tour of the city by night. We happened to pass the Eiffel Tower at exactly 9:00pm, which is when it starts sparkling. Very cool. Another early night followed, with everyone saving their strength for the last hurrah of the trip. Our full day in Paris was pretty good - a tour of a perfumery, a quick jaunt up the Eiffel Tower, and free time. Basically the entire tour group went shopping during our free time to find outfits for that evening. We had decided to suit up, since we were going to the Moulin Rouge. And, I have to say, everyone did very well. Suits, bow ties, and even suspenders. We hit the town looking splendid. Dinner at the Moulin Rouge was delicious - smoked salmon, steak, roasted potatoes, and bread. And the show was quite a spectacle. Lots of breasts and glitter. Post-show, the group went around the corner and celebrated the end of the tour the only way Australians know how... With alcohol!

This morning, most of the group loaded onto the coach and headed out, either being dropped off at the airport, or taking the free ride back to London. I was surprised at how upset I was, since I have been spending a fair bit of time alone on the tour. But I guess the Australians grew on me, and tears were flowing freely. Thankfully I wasn't the only one. Harry, Emma and I were staying at the hotel until later, seeing as they left at 7:45am, so the three of us went back to one room and made a pile of cuddly sadness for a while. Harry took the train to Munich this afternoon, and Emma and I are planning to meet up again tomorrow. We're both too sad to explore alone!

This afternoon, I remembered I have nothing booked after Paris. Oops! So I've booked a train and a hostel, and when I depart Paris on the 8th, I will be heading to Nice! It should be good, albeit lonely. If anyone wants to come out and join me, feel free.

I may or may not try to update this more frequently now that the tour is over. I'll have more free time, but I also won't be doing as much, so we'll see. Whoever is reading this should send me an email and let me know how things are going. I said that before but I only got one message! (Thanks mom.) Seriously though, I miss you. Sending hugs.

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 09:56 Archived in Switzerland Comments (2)

Rome & Florence

Hello!

I know, I'm terrible. Good internet is a struggle to find. I'm now in Switzerland, which apparently has excellent Internet, so here's the update:

Rome is incredible. As I think I mentioned before, I'm going to go live there. Although that residence would be entirely unproductive, as I would just walk around staring at beautiful things all day. We drove into Rome in the late afternoon, and promptly began our walking tour. Gelato, the Pantheon, more gelato, the Trevi fountain, the Victor Emmanuel monument, pizza, and the Colosseum were all featured. I basically just walked around for two hours with my mouth wide open (both for eating and gaping at buildings). That night consisted of a laundry run and a good sleep. First thing in the morning we went on a tour of Vatican City. Unfortunately, our tour guide had a very thick accent, and I had trouble understanding what she was saying. Although, I was too busy staring at everything to pay much attention anyway. Four boys from the group got kicked out of the Sistene Chapel (and technically the country) for talking loudly and taking pictures. They had to wait outside until we were finished. After the Vatican was the Roman Forum and Colosseum tour, which was my favourite of every tour we have done so far. The ruins are absolutely amazing. Yes, I took pictures.
Can anyone guess what I did after the tours were finished? Same thing I have done in every city so far... Walked around! I walked for about four hours, and loved every second of it. I went back to the Trevi fountain for lunch and just stared at it for a while, then walked to the Spanish Steps, which were under construction. Then I just walked in no particular direction, turning down whichever street looked interesting. I ended up at the river, walked along it for a while, then turned back up towards the more touristy section. I passed a big park just as the sun was going down, where there was a big stage being set up for a concert that evening. I sat and listened to the sound check, which was quite cool. It was a man singing opera, and he was actually really good. I walked for about another hour after that, and then jumped on the metro and went back to the Colosseum, where our meeting place was. I was early, so I just sat and stared at it for 45 minutes. It was lovely.

From Rome we went to Florence, which was an interesting experience. We arrived in the evening, ate dinner, then went to a karaoke bar. Yes, people sang, and no, I did not. It was fun though, and the drinks were huge. On our full day in Florence, we did our walking tour and then were set free. Yup, I walked. I actually got lost this time, and not on purpose. I ended up really far away! I just walked along the main road following the signs for city centre to get back, as the bus system was extremely confusing. But I found my way, as I always do. My feet were pretty sore by the end though. That night was our Tuscan Evening dinner - bruschetta, pasta, salad, pork, tiramisu, and wine. Afterwards, most of us went to "The Space Bar", where we were joined by another Contiki doing the same tour in the opposite direction. They also had one Canadian, so I hung out with her for a bit. She's from Vancouver. I had my fair share of alcohol, I admit. I asked one of the girls at one point if this was what people without anxiety feel like all the time, which she found quite amusing. I danced! And even more surprising, I had a lot of fun. At one point our tour guide put on a superman costume and crowd-surfed.. That should give you an idea of what the night was like.

Today we drove from Florence to Lucerne, stopping in Pisa to take touristy photos. Our guide suggested we run around high-fiving everyone doing the tourist pose. It was a long day of driving, made all the more interesting by how horribly hungover everyone was. I, happily, felt fine. I am quite excited for the day in Lucerne tomorrow. I'm sure I will collect many more pictures.

Sorry for the delay.. Hope everyone is doing well. Hugs to all!

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 12:00 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Venice

Hello!

My visit to the floating city was a great success! We took a water taxi into the city in the morning, as our hotel was on the mainland, and immediately began a walking tour from Piazza San Marco. Our tour guide was an old Italian man who was quite funny and quite racist. Everyone was happy that there were no Japanese people on our tour - that would have been very awkward. He ended every single thing he said with "eh" and other random sounds, so it was a bit difficult to tell when he actually stopped giving us information. After the walking tour we had some free time, and a group of us immediately went for pizza and gelato. The trip manager recommended Opera flavour gelato, which turned out to be chocolate and hazelnut, and when I said it was hedgehog flavour everyone looked at me like I had grown a third arm. I guess they don't call it that in Australia. It was quite delicious though! After lunch we had our classic gondola ride, with our gondolier wearing the striped black and white shirt. We asked him in Italian to sing for us, but he wouldn't. I would imagine he got asked that quite frequently. The gondola tour was fun, albeit short. But I got a lot of cool pictures. After the gondola ride we had more time to wander, which is exactly what I did. I got lost on purpose with two other people, going over the Rialto bridge and then turning down whatever street looked interesting. I have no idea where we ended up, although we did find an outdoor skating rink. Eventually we wound up at the train station, orientated ourselves, and headed back to the main square. It ended up being a three hour walk, and it was quite enjoyable. Obviously, more gelato was consumed along the way. We met up with the main group for dinner at a small restaurant that gave us welcome bellinis, followed by five courses, each large enough to satisfy a person if it was the only thing they were given. I have to say, I cannot recommend squid ink risotto. Even the people who normally like rice wouldn't eat it. After dinner, we waddled back to the main square and back to the water taxi, waving goodbye to Venice. As our hotel was a ferry ride away from the city, we only got the one full day there. Thankfully, everyone had a quiet night at the hotel, and was on time for the bus the next morning for the drive to Rome.
We arrived in Rome last night and did another walking tour. I would have walked for hours, which is probably what I'll do today. This city is so beautiful.. I might never leave. Sorry! I'm sure hundreds of pictures will be taken.

Happy birthday to Marlowe! Hope you all have as good a day as I will :)

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 22:09 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Munich

Hello!
After a very long day of driving, I have arrived in Venice. And I'm actually updating this right away - go me!
Munich was an interesting experience. Lovely city, lots of history, good food, giant soccer stadium.. Unfortunately, my time there was marred a bit by some of the other folks on my tour. Yesterday was Australia Day, and the 36 Australians were obviously quite excited about this, and found an Australian themed bar for us to go to after dinner. The bar itself and most of the time there was fine, albeit not super exciting (although we had to find a different way of getting there, as the main square in Munich was blocked by police thanks to a Fascist demonstration apparently). Anyway, the Australians all got drunk, unsurprisingly, which wouldn't have been an issue except for one guy who I have been making friends with decided to leave the bar alone and wander away, after falling asleep at the table, throwing up, and then drinking even more. As the only sober person around, I went to go look for him, hoping he would just be waiting in the square outside the bar. He wasn't. Panicking slightly, I went back in to get my jacket and ask if someone would come with me to look for him. No one would. I spent the next 40 minutes searching the blocks closest to the bar, before coming across the rest of the group who were heading to the train station. They took me with them, saying that this guy would be back at the hotel already, he'd be fine etc etc. At this point, I'm pretty scared. I spent the day with this guy, and his sense of direction is not the best, even without alcohol. And he was REALLY drunk. But I had no other plan at that point other than checking to see if he was back at the hotel and then waking up the trip manager if he wasn't. So I went with them, corrected them when they tried to catch the train going the opposite direction, and waited. The missing guy happened to wander into the train station as we were waiting, thank god, and all was well, other than my anxiety level.
So yeah. I was terrified that this guy would get lost or hurt himself, and pretty angry that everyone else was more concerned about their drinking games than looking for him. Not a great way to end Munich.
However, before that, I quite enjoyed the city. We did another walking tour, and had dinner at Hofbrauhaus, where the smallest beer size is 1L. A group of us went the the FC Bayern stadium and walked around, which was quite cool. They have an extensive museum of the team's various trophies and memorabilia.

Today we drove from Munich to Venice, with a quick stop in Innsbruck, Austria. (I still find it funny that here you can drive from one country to another, with a stop in the middle in a third country, in just a few hours.) Innsbruck was gorgeous, and I got lots of good pictures while eating apple strudel. Tomorrow we spend the day in Venice, which I am quite looking forward to.

Hope you all are well. If anyone wants to send me a long, chatty email, feel free. I'm a bit lonely. And someone please tell Marlowe that I miss her!

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 13:10 Archived in Germany Comments (2)

Prague

Hello!

I have said my bittersweet goodbyes to Prague, which is probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Our time there began with a walking tour of the castle complex, which is apparently the largest in the world. Gothic architecture, stained glass, snow, tons of statues, and men with furry hats made for quite a lovely sight. The fact that the sun was setting and there was an almost-full moon only made it better. We were told all kinds of stories about things featured in the complex: a painting whose artist crucified a homeless man in order to get Jesus' facial expression right, a lane where an alchemist may have turned stone into gold, and a statue outside of a toy museum that has been questionably handled. (When you repeatedly rub a statue, that part gets very shiny. I'll let you guess which part of this statue of a young boy was bright gold.) We then continued our walking tour through town, past the Franz Kafka museum and the John Lennon wall, over the Charles Bridge, and into Old Town Square. All the while, snow was coming down, making the city even more beautiful, and making the Australians very excited.
The full day in Prague was a bit rough, I'll admit. My uncle's funeral had taken place during the night, and I was feeling quite guilty for missing it. However, a call home from a payphone did help, and I spent the rest of the day wandering through the streets. I walked for about five hours before catching the tram back to the hotel. The day concluded with a river cruise and buffet dinner, narrated by a very funny Czech woman. Apparently, it is a Czech tradition for boys to make whips out of branches and whip the girls on Easter Sunday. The girls are then supposed to thank them, because the more whips you get, the more beautiful you are. Also, my name day, which is kind of a second birthday, is May 24th, just in case anyone wants to get me a present.
This morning we departed Prague for Munich, which so far has been quite enjoyable. But, as usual, you don't get to read about that until I make it to Venice. Hope everyone has a lovely day :)

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 13:42 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (2)

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