Thursday, August 2, 2012



French Riviera > Venice
Day 12

We woke up and sadly pulled ourselves out of our LUXARY sleeping accommodations, to quickly get excited because TODAY WE GO TO ITALY!!!!  We got ready, got our things together and headed to our last wonderful breakfast in the hotel.  My last baguette in France...The night before, we had all pulled money together to give the waiter (one waiter for 37 people!?!) a tip, because he had been so kind (especially considering he was French) and patient with us, even though we were a pretty needy group when it came to food, so service in the morning was great.  We packed our things on the bus and headed to ITALY!  After a good portion of the trip, we stopped at Serravalle, a designer outlet mall on the way (apparently the only reason this tour stops there is because there are so many girls on this particular trip!).  Ellie, Kelsey and I walked around to see a few stores, but it was SOOO hot and we were all fairly tired, so no one really bought anything.  We got back on the bus and everyone pretty much fell asleep until we got to Venice!

Venice was the first location we were at a campsite. Just to clarify to everyone, we were still in cabins, not tents, but it was nothing glamorous.  It was as expected for a campsite overrun with drunken 18-35 year olds. Because it was on the canal, it was mosquito central. The Aussies & Kiwis called them, "mosies", which I found weird every time they said it. Emma, Kate and I got to our cabin we were duplexing with Ellie Rachel and Zoe. We went right to dinner, which was Macaroni and salad. Not too bad for a free meal. Then we decided to go to the bar, where the "amnesia," was the drink to have which consisted of vodka grenadine and who the hell knows what else, to make it taste super refreshing and then make you blackout! We played a drinking game called, "why do we drink? TO GET FUCKED UP," where we have hand symbols and pounded the table. Our driver, Rui, had the next couple days off because he couldn't drive the coach in Venice and we got him, "Rui-end." The group that had arrived before we did, had 4 hours of drinking on us, so we were all still fairly sober when that group started to take articles of clothing off and get sprayed down with the water from the bar.  That shit cray. We got Rui to find out Zacs age, which is 24. That shit is also cray. He acts a bit older, but doesn't look it. This was also the first night I was semi coherent enough to see Zac cut loose, which apparently had happened a few times before in Paris and Barcelona.  Let’s face facts, I don’t remember anything from the Chateau, so I can’t really speak of the interaction there.  It was great because he would slip in secrets to any conversation, then move past it as if he hadn’t said anything. I forget why I decided to turn in, but am glad I did when I did because I knew we had the Venice walking tour and all the next day. I took another cold shower(did I mention there was no ac) and put my semi drunk and sweaty self to bed. 

Day 13

We woke up fairly early and were pleasantly surprised when we opened the door and directly across from us a "walk of shame," was happening.  A girl stumbled out of the cabin and a guy was semi dressed and did not shut the door.  Then we saw the bed/cot, which had the mattress and frame dangling on the ground below it.  Must have been a good night.  Venice, you do not disappoint!   I got Emma, even though she was definitely still drunk for the night before, to braid my hair.  Love her!  We had to be at breakfast early and Kate and I tried to go into Venice a bit early because I was stressing about getting to a Western Union, which when I mapped it was a 30 min round trip from where we needed to meet our tour guide. After the lively Italians took their precious time buying tickets and asking questions about the taxi in, we realized that there was no way we could catch the 9:00 am boat taxi in. We headed back to the site that was LITERALLY around the corner and decided to go in with our peeps and the prepaid fare. The ride over was nice and calm, nothing too scary to report about. We were dropped off and it was FINALLY the moment I felt like I was in Europe. Everything to this point had truly seemed like a movie set, thanks in part to me always going to theme parks my whole life. For some reason I knew Italy and I would be a match. Ellie, Emma, Kate, Zoe and I all headed through Piazza San Marco to scout the place out, when Zac offered to show us a great gelato place. I was pleasantly surprised to see a Travelex right next to the gelato place and headed in, knowing it was also a western union. I got my money!!! I was overjoyed and so relived, it definitely made the trip a lot more calm! We headed to our meeting spot to start our Venice walking tour with the absolute best guide ever. I wanted to take her home with me! She was so knowledgeable and may have had the odds in her favor anyways because she spoke so melodically, which I realized most Italians do now, my face hurt from smiling so much. She took us specifically to a place that had Murano glass (what Venice is known for) to tell us that there was 2 glass chickens inside at one time for 10,000€ each and now they are gone, and how crazy she thought it was that someone paid that much money for an animal that she thinks is crap, "not a horse or anything, but here in Italy a chicken is like, bleh." So charming and wonderful!  We walked around to the Bridge of Sighs where all the prisoners crossed after they had been tried and then taken to prison.  She told us that the gondola men go through vigorous test to become a driver and it was always male, but now there are 2 females and she just thinks that's weird because they are really buff. She ended the tour with telling us where the Ponte delle Tette, or "tits bridge," was, where apparently all the courtesan used to hang out. I was obviously drying to see the but the girls (Ellie, Rachel, Zoe, Emma, Danielle and Kate) were all really hungry, so we found a great little café!  The man who worked at the café moved around all the tables outside to make sure we would be able to sit together outside, even though the view outside was just a wall. A lovely accordion player came over and the Italia flag above was blowing in the breeze.  Perfection. I had a pizza with Brie cheese, prosciutto and fungi aka mushrooms. I had to have pizza as soon as I got into town, come on! I tried a spritzer( Zac assured me I had to try a Spritzer, Bellini and Lemoncello in Venice),which I ordered strong and was expecting to be like a sparkling fruity wine beverage but the color was so deceiving! It was bright red and I was preparing to be wowed by a refreshing fruity drink and almost “spewed” when it tasted like pure bourbon. The smell of it nearly knocked me over! I immediately ordered a Bellini and was brought back to life. The girls and I decided to head back to the square, knowing there was some shopping in the way. I wanted us all to get Venetian masks to wear on the gondola rides! Some girls did and some didn't. No biggie. I ended up buying 2 anyways, because after I bought the traditional one, I saw more "lacey," looking ones and when I tried it on, the sexy salesman told me I looked sexy in it.  Ok Italian man, you obviously know I will buy anything from you.  Damn Italians and their damn accents.  I got to spend a lot of time with my Ellie girl and just fell in love with her! The group got a little split after Ellie, Zoe and I had spent a lot of time in the tourist markets and then the other girls wanted to get swimsuits, so Danielle, Ellie, Kate and I headed back to the square, where we went back to the gelato place to have more Bellini’s. They were amazing. The place was so beautiful and the service was phenom dot com. The waiter even brought us chips (American not English) and olives while we drank at the bar. I picked up a few souvenirs for my America girlies and then we went to meet the group for our gondola rides. Zac surprised us all by getting us 2 bottles of Prosecco each  for the ride! What a gem! Kate, Zoe, Ellie, Rachel, Emma and I got in our gondola and realized quickly that our driver was not in the mood to deal with 6 excited girls that wanted to be romanced by stories and song. Assface.  At least we had alcohol. The ride seemed more like we were in bumper to bumper traffic than a romantic gondola ride like you see in the movies, but we didn't care too much, especially after Rachel went to open the second bottle of Prosecco and the cork ricocheted off the walls of a narrow passage, making a loud, "POP," and ending up in the water, polluting the driver’s city. It was quite obvious he was over us when he kicked his driving into high gear, passing about 4 other gondolas, getting us back to the drop off quite quickly. Zac had 2 bottles of Prosecco next to him and I asked if I could have them, and he said,"sure!,” because they were extras apparently. Gem. I decided to stay in the city with a small group because the itinerary was to leave by 6 and I was just not ready to leave the city that I felt so apart of.  We headed back to Piazza San Marco and paid the 8€  it cost each of us to ride the elevator up the bell tower and get the best view of the city.  So worth it.  After that, we went on a little shopping trip on the way to an area Zac recommended to Elizabeth and Matt and settled on a lovely café in a plaza with a fountain. I ate gnocchi for the first time with red wine as the sunset in Venice, Italy, while being immersed in conversation with the people I, now, consider family. I was super full, but forced myself to have tiramisu. Needless to say I was uncomfortably full after that. We took our time going to the taxi stop that would take us back to our Contiki crew and Elizabeth and I considered going into a place where a classical concert was set to start, but the rest of the crew was eager to get home. We crossed over another bridge that was a "lock" bridge, which I adored. When we got to the taxi, pick up around 9 so we had some time to kill.  There was a guy with a Boston Terrier named, "Mocha," that I just had to pet. I missed my Boston baby, Betsey.  We eventually got on the taxi and found another Contiki group was heading over to the campsite so we mingled enough with them for the drivers to think we were part of that group and for our ride for free.  The other group was sitting ahead of us and made sure we knew they were a "party," group, bragging about being too drunk from the night before to go into the Vatican. I would never forgive myself if I got like that. Just saying. After we got in, I quickly showered and changed to meet up with my peeps! Most were pretty drunk already, but Ellie was kind enough to save the bottle of Prosecco for us to drink together when I got back! A glass of Prosecco and it was on to "French pussy," shots and amnesia drinks. The group from the previous night was gone so we had command over the dance floor and even as hot and humid as it was, we managed to keep our clothes on. We found out Rui had been sick all day as threw up for the first time in 10 years the night before. Whoops. I spent the night dancing and loving on my Contiki family! I left when it was pointed out to me, that while I was sitting on the steps, talking and laughing with a few of our peeps, Zoe was passed out on the steps right next to me.  Kate and I took her home, although she couldn't walk. We got her into bed and she suddenly woke up, halled ass out the door, proclaiming that she just needed to dance.  This was when Rachel stepped in, and somehow between the 2 of us promising that after she took a 15 minute nap, we would take her out dancing, she laid down and was out for the night. Since we were up, we went out to talk about some stuff that had gone on that night, away from the cabins and saw a very drunk “K,” being carried home practically. We finished talking and as we were walking back so “K” laying In front of the dining area. We thought she was dead. Then a Contiki rep for Venice came out with the rooming list, saying he needed to just get her home. Walking her home I stepped in a pile of what I HOPE was mud and grim, that smelled like ass, but with the 3 of us working as a team finally got her into bed. Then I went home, took the 3rd shower of the day and went to bed.  Venice, you did me good.  My speculations about Italy being incredible was correct, and so much more!

The "walk of shame," cabin...notice the mattress.

Arrivederci Venice!  Ciao Florence!

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