Today started with a Late breakfast and a late checkout at the hotel. This was due to the Ferry which would take us to Corfu (Greece) did not depart until 8pm. Turned out the hotel did not know about our late breakfast and had packed up our breakfast room so we were sent to the normal dining room which only had scraps left.
After breakfast we checkout out of the hotel and loaded bags onto the bus. After a short ten minute delay while Kritz moved the bus between cars and trucks so we could leave the hotel we were soon on the road again for the drive to Port de Bari where we would depart for our overnight ferry to Corfu. On the way to the port we took a detour to a place called Montcassino. It was the site of the Battle of Mont Cassino during the war in 1944. It was destroyed and later rebuilt after the war. For our bus driver this is an important place. Many Polish soliders were killed here and he had never visited the site before. Unfortuantly we just missed out on doing a tour and no other access to the site is available, We left here and descended the hill again to rejoin the motorway.
We arrived at Port De Bari at just after 6pm. This is where we learned our first new fact about Greece. In Greece and including the ferry you can’t flush toilet paper down the toilet. You place it into a bin next to the toilet. Seriously in 2013 they have not overcome this? After boarding the boat and dumping our stuff in the room most people then went back to reception to purchase WiFi passes for the nights journey and then made themselves comfortable around the bar.
After just one drink and dinner with Rhian I went to bed. I was buggered from the night before. The ferry ride was really smooth. Surprising. I expected it to be bumpy but you could only feel the rumble of the ships engine. The phone in the room rang around 0530 to wake us up and let us know we were nearing port. Three guys from our group stayed up drinking all night and one was in the same spot I left him last night passed out.
The boat arrived at our first destination at around 0600. We departed the boat and the bus got refueled near the port. Our breakfast was handed out which was not all that interesting. We had to wait around the port for another three hours until our next ferry departed for Corfu. Once departed the ferry only took two hours to reach Corfu.
Our bus dropped us off in the old city. We had a few hours to kill before we could checkin too the hotel. A group of us walked up and explored the old fort. We climbed to the top and took a few photos before coming down to find lunch. After lunch we took a walk around the old city until it was time to get the bus too the hotel and checkin.
Our hotel is located just near the Corfu International Airport. From the balcony you can see part of the runway and the terminal building. Our room also has a great view of the pool at the hotel. After dropping bags in the room and a quick shower most people made their way down to the pool area for swimming, relaxing and drinking.
We had around four hours to kill before dinner so was perfect time to take advantage of the three euro beer. Dinner was great. Was a full buffet. This was probably the best food we have had on the tour. So good I went back for seconds. After dinner most of the group headed across the road to the other hotel which had a bowling ally. You buy a drink and you get a free game of bowling. Rhian and I stayed for two games with the others then returned to the hotel and went to bed.
This morning we had to get up early as we have to depart for the Vatican at 7:15am. We got up and we were the first to be in the Topdeck Breakfast room again. We had breakfast with another Topdeck Tour group that was doing the Italian experence. Breakfast isn’t fancy pretty basic.
We said our goodbyes to some of the group as that was there last day. Many were catching flights that day. Bec the American was sad because she got along with a lot of people on this trip and she said it was the best group she has been on tour with. We lost about 17 people, some were staying at the hotel with us before others moved on to other hotels.
From our Hotel we caught the metro to the Vatican and had a short walk to meet our tour guide Mela she was Sweedish but had the looks of an Italian local. She was also 7months pregnant. She gave us our ear piece and radio so we could listen to her talk. We walked to the Vatican. Once we got there we had to find the line for entrance there were heaps of sights. However what we saw was nothing in the scheme of the number of things there is to see at the Vatican.
Some of the exhibits we saw that I can put a name to though are the Sistene Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica, Hall Of Tapestries and also a Statute of a Torso that was foundthat was found being used as a leg for a table. There were lots more but I don’t know the names and can not find them. I’m sure Rhain took enough photos to work them out later.
After the Vatican we went and had pizza for lunch with a few people from our group. After lunch we then caught the Metro back to the Colosseum. Tickets were only $12 euro so we lined up for tickets. After getting in we had a quick look around. Took the photos we wanted and left. Everyone was too tired of tours do another one.
After the Colosseum we took the Metro back to our hoteland had a rest before dinner. Dinner was not included tonight so we organised dinner ourselves and went to a restraunt around the corner from the hotel. After dinner some went out bowling but Rhian and I went back to the room. I had the worst nights sleep ever. Woke up freezing then the extra rug I got out made me hot. Was not a fun night.
We checked out of the hotel very early this morning. We had to get the bus loaded early because of road closures due to the UCI World Cycling Championships. The race ran straight past the front of our hotel. I don’t need to say just how much I wanted to hand around the city and watch the racing. If we had a free day here then I would be as happy as a pig in shit.
However was not to be and we had organised a walking tour of the city by a local. We met the local shortly at 9am. The guide showed us around the city and told us the history of some of the buildings. This is Florance. There is nothing of major importance. We were shown the Fake David statue. Florance had a lot of statues. Where ever you looked there was a statue of someone.
After the walking tour we visited a leather shop. We were shown how leather boxes were made and how to tell the difference between real and fake leather. Still don’t think I can pick the difference the likeness is so close only a real expert could pick it. The speaker also told us that many stores mix both real and fake leather products together so as to make it even harder to pick the real products from the fake ones.
The walking tour finished around 10:30am. We had a couple hours to explore on our own and find lunch before the bus trip to Rome. Rhian and I stayed with a group from our tour and we found lunch at a small Pizza shop down an ally way. After lunch everyone else in the group wanted Gelarto. They found a store and got their fix. After this it was time to make the long walking jorney back to where we were supposed to meet the bus. The bus was meant to meet us on the circut for the UCI Team Time Trial. Racing had finished at this time and so the bus was actually allowed on the circut to pick us up. However I didn’t get my request for the bus to do a lap of the circut.
On the way to departing Florance we made a quick photo stop then hit the road to Rome. We arrived in Rome around 6pm. We had enough time to get off the bus, drop our bags into the room and then head out on another walking tour of Rome by our tour leader Kristy.
We did a lot of walking on this tour but we did see (from the outside) a large number of the sights of Rome. Some of these included
Piazza del Popolo
Fontana di Trevi
Gelateria Della Palma – According to our tour guide this is the best Gelarto in Italy. I think it tasted like any other ice cream.
Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II
Museo di Palazzo Venezia
After our walking tour we finally caught the subway to where we would finally be having dinner. It was 9:45pm by the time we got to the restraunt and everyone was hungry. Some had to wait an hour and a half for food but it was worth the wait.
After dinner Rhian and I caught the subway back to the hotel for a well earned sleep.