Romanza! – The Eternal City!
Departure: Friday Oct 15 at about noon we set off on your latest adventure! We hopped on our local bus #27, got off at baker street, and then hopped on the EasyBus up to the airport. This EasyBus trip typically should take about 1.5 hrs, but with the afternoon traffic it took us about 2 hrs to get there. We arrived at the airport, boarded the plan and then we were off to Italy!
Arrival: 2 hrs later we were in Bergamo, Italy, which is medium sized city about 20 minutes outside of Milan. We paid for a bus ticket (big mistake as no one in Bergamo pays for the bus and no one enforces payment either) which took us to the central station and then we walked to our Bed and Breakfast. We got lost like 3 times on the way there and had to ask locals for directions. Unfortunately no one spoke English so we got really good at nodding politely and trying to follow their hand gestures to get an idea of where to go. Our B&B was really nice, but kind of weird. This guy named Nikola is a student and owns a 2 bedroom apt and he rents one of the rooms out for 60€ a night (which is actually a great deal). The place was super clean and nice, but it was weird cuz he lives there too! So, we were sharing his bathroom, his kitchen, and his everything! Also, we were sitting at his table, munching on nuts while he was cooking polenta and steak all for himself! It was so funny, but he was cool, place was nice, and we liked it overall.
So: after dropping our stuff off at the B&B we took off to the Upper City which is really the super old part of Bergamo. It is right in the center of the city on a huge and steep hill that you have to take a cable car up to get up there. The Upper City is built like a fortress with multiple walls surrounding it. When we were approaching the city, the sun was just setting, there was a light fog, and the view was like something from Lord of the Rings. Once inside the Upper City we went to Mimmo’s for some pizza (at Nikola’s recommendation for a place to get “cheap” pizza). The place was super nice, but, just as Nikola said, the Pizza was only 5€ ea. per whole pizza. So we got two pizzas, and a 2€ water. The final bill, however, said we owed 18€ - 5€ x 2 for pizzas, + 2€ water, +6€ Coperta. We called the waiter over and said, “oh sorry, but we didn’t order any “Coperta.”” He didn’t speak English, so he called the manager over who explained that “Coperta” means cover charge. Apparantly almost everywhere in Italy there is a Coperta of some sort. So we were pissed, but paid the man 18€ for our crappy pizza… jk it actually was delicioius pizza.
Next Day: We took the train to Milan (about a 30min train ride) and saw the “Duomo” there (ie the Cathedral). It is the 3rd largest in the world and it was amazing! Has something like over 1000 Statues adorning the exterior and interior and something like 1600 stainglass windows inside. Also, they have a nail hanging above the altar which apparently was the nail which pierced Jesus’ right hand. Don’t know if that’s true, but if so, that’s pretty neat.
Also: After the Cathedral we wandered over to Milan’s fashion district, mostly for me as Nikki didn’t care too much about this section of town… NOT! Nikki loved it. We saw Armanni, Gucci, Fergamo, and more. Also, there were like 4 Lamborghinni’s, 2 Porches, and 3 Ferraris parked out front too! Those stores suck, though, in my opinion. Come on, 1600€ for a skirt by Armanni! Wow.
Then: At about 2pm, we boarded another train – this one bound for Venice, the city of love! 2 hrs later we were there, and let me tell you, it is amazing! It really is exactly like you think it is going to be – a floating city! The only problem with our stay there, however, was that it rained the whole time. The rain kind of fit well, though, with the city’s water theme so it looked even prettier. Upon arrival we walked to our B&B cuz we didn’t want to pay the 6.50€ for the water busses. We’re dummies though, cuz again no one pays to ride these public transports – the locals don’t anyway.
Our Hotel: We finally made it to our B&B after getting lost in Venice’s winding maze of streets. Our B&B room was nice, but very small. Also, the floor was slanted slightly to the left so everymorning we would wake up and our bed had slid down against our door. Ha ha, seriously. Breakfast there was super tasty, consisting of pastries (and Nutella of course), cereal, hot cocoa, and bread with cheese. That night we ate pizza and gelato…. Mmmm… and wandered the city. Venice has quite the party scene, btw, which Nik and I were privy to. As for my working out here, I did bottom to bottom Tabata Squats (8 Consecutive rounds of 20 sec of deep air squats followed by 10 seconds of rest – but rest is in the “bottom” of the squat position – score is the lowest number of squats you get in any one of the 8 rounds – my score was 13).
Next Day-Sunday: We made our way to Venice’s Duomo. This one is not as large, but the interior is beautiful with intricate gold inlays and paintings. Then we wandered around, ate pizza and pasta and gelato, took a gondola ride, and then back to our B&B to watch Italian TV. As for the Gondola ride, we kind of cheated. Typical “romantic” gondola’s cost like 100€ per 40min ride – way out of our budget – so we just found this two-man gondola that will just take you from one side of the main canal to the other for 1€. This ride lasted about 1 min – just long enough for nik and I to take our picture. As for Italian TV, the only thing they had on that was in English was Jersey Shore. So we watched a marathon of that show, and now we love it.
Monday: we ate breakfast at out B&B and then hopped the train to Florence – birthplace of the renaissance. Honestly, Florence wasn’t my favorite. I thought it would be more antique looking and classic, but it is quite modern and city-like. Our B&B there kind of sucked. It was small, and a little dirty, with no breakfast, and mosquitoes. That day we ate at an “American” diner. It actually was super good. I got a burger and fries, while Nik got lasagna. I also got a milkshake but the Italians haven’t got the hang of that yet as it was all watered down and runny.
Workout that day: 10 sets of Max Rep Pullups on the local scaffolding of a building project.
Next Day – Tuesday: We went to the Duomo first. This Cathedral is amazing! The exterior is very extravagant with numerous statues, green, red, and white marble, and gold inlays. The interior however is very sparce. This stark contrast was very nice however. The interior of the dome was painted by Michelangelo and it is huge and amazing. Nikki climbed the 493 steps to the top of the dome too and got a spectacular view of Florence.
Following this, we went to the Accademia, where Michelangelo’s David is housed. We paid 14€ ea for our tix. David was cool, but I don’t know if he is worth 28€! Jk.. the sculpture was amazing. It is about 20 feet high. The rest of the museum though is not very noteworthy at all. Thus, when you pay 28€ to see David, you really are paying 28€ to see David. Actually, one other beautiful sculpture is there … the Rape of the Sabine. It is a cool one. *Side note: apparently you are not allowed to photograph David, and there was the intense curator there who was making sure that everyone was aware of this. When someone raised their camera to their eye you would hear from across the floor, “NO FOOOTOOOOEE.” And then you would see this crazy little curator running over to hold her hand in front of the lens if need be. HA! I actually hated her… we snuck a pic or two as well.
Later that night, we snuck on a Local Bus (nobody pays, so we didn’t either) which took us to Palazzo de Michelangelo. This Plaza is on a huge hill overlooking Florence. The sun was just setting so things looked amazing. I played my hacky-sack up there while Nikki took a billion pics.
Finally, we ate dinner at this little hole-in-the-wall place that our Hotel Concierge told us about called Il Contandino. It was freakin delicious! Nikki got the Ravioli and I got Rabbit! Let me tell you … Rabbit is Delicious!
Workout that day: I did 8 rounds of 50m walking lunge and 50 double-unders. Kinda funny, as I was doing this workout in the local
Wednesday – The weather was still crappy, but there were occasional bouts of sunshine. We took advantage of the sunshine by going to the local markets to pick up some goodies and souvenirs. Later that night we wandered around the Duomo Plaza and then tried to sneak into the Palazzo del Veccio (a museum), but we got caught and had to leave. Luckily, just outside the Palazzo there was a Creativity Festival going on so some dude was speaking in Italian about something creative … we don’t know what it was but WE WERE THERE!
After this, we ate a delicious crepe at a little sweet shop and then saw one of the best street performers we’ve ever seen. He was this little Italian guy dressed like Charlie Chaplin. He called out three people from the crowd, including this cute little Norwegian-looking 8yr old girl. Anyways, he did all kinds of clown-type antics and he was sooo funny. Some of his jokes were super dirty – almost a little too dirty – but beyond that he was hilarious. The crowd there was huge and his show was like 35min! We gave him a couple €’s.
Workout that Day: I did 100ft of walking on my hands, and then some abs.
Thursday: We took off via train for Rome! Before we left, however, Nikki decided to drink one of our frozen multi-fruita drinks, but, to our unpleasant surprise, someone had stolen them! Those jerks! Nikki was pissed! So then we got on the train and after a couple hours, we were in Rome! We took the shuttle to our hotel, which was just outside of the city, a little place called Campanelle. Oh, we had to wait for the shuttle at one of the Metro stops. We got there right on time and came up the stairs on to the street expecting to see a shuttle there waiting for us, but we saw nothing. So, we called the Hotel asking if we were in the right spot and where the shuttle was. They told us we were in the right place and the shuttle was on its way. Nikki then said, “what does the shuttle look like? Is it a car, or like a bus?” The hotel lady said, “Uh… it’s a huge bus.” Nikki said, “does it say Hotel Campanelle, or what?” (you see we were on a busy side of the street and didn’t want to miss the shuttle) And the lady again said, “Uh… yes it says our hotel on it.” So we hung up the phone and waited. Two minutes later this huge bus rolls up and there are huge yellow letterings on the side that say “HOTEL CAMPANELLE.” Nikki and I were thinking, “oh duh…no wonder that lady though we were idiots…it’s a huge bus with Hotel Campanelle on the side…guess we’re idiots.” Ha ha.
So – our Hotel was sweet! Nikki found it online and it was a 4 star place for super cheap! After checking in we took the shuttle to Rome and first saw the Trevi Fountain. This fountain is beautiful and has a huge statue of Poseidon being pulled on a chariot by two horses – one calm and docile, and the other wild and rearing, representing the two faces of the sea. The fountain was so crowded, but it was sooo beautiful. Then we went to the Pantheon! This church is beautiful! The dome is as big as domes come! It was very cool.
After that we walked along the river up to the Spagini Plaza. We thougt that was the Spanish steps, but it wasn’t, it was the Spagini Plaza. I went up this little staircase on the side and I was like, “this is the Spanish Steps??? They suck!” But, it wasn’t and they don’t suck.
Workout that Day: On the roof of our hotel I did 15rounds of 20 Double-Unders and 10 Pushups.
Friday: Breakfast at the Hotel was sweet! We had yummy cereal, hot cocoa, eggs, meat, cheese, potatoes, toast, pastries, and Nutella! Mmmmmm!!! I took some up to the room for later too even. The we went out to the parking lot to catch the shuttle. Luckily we got there just in time to get a seat, because there were lots of people vying for seats. By the way, people are retarded. There is like no designated spot to wait for the shuttle, so even if you are out there waiting for like 20 min, people still come out side right as the shuttle is showing up and try to “start their own line” for the shuttle so they are first in line – bunch of idiots. This happened on Saturday, but luckily this old man was nice and knew we were there first so he told the “fake line” to backup and let us up front. He was very nice.
So when we got to Rome went straight to the Vatican. As we were about to get in line for tickets, this seemingly nice young lady stopped us to try to get us to buy “40€ tour tickets” saying that if you buy tour tix you get to go straight in w/ your tour guide and thus skip the “two-hour” line. She said if we don’t get tour tix then we will end up paying at least 28€ ea. to see everything. She said you have to pay for 1) the museums, 2) the basilica, and 3) the Sistine Chapel. LIAR!!!! Luckily we waited in the line which turned out to only take 1hr – and entry to EVERYTHING was only 10€ ea.! What a homo… she totally lied to us.
So the Museums were amazing! I liked them but Nikki was kind of over it all – I think she just likes crepes and ice cream, not so much into the arts and sculptures. My favorite room was the Hall of Tapestries. There are like 15 huge 30ftx30ft tapestries hanging on the walls. These are so intricate and it is said that they take between 20-30yrs to make just one!
Then we saw the Sistine Chapel! Again, what a beautiful piece of art. It is huge and took Michelangelo like 5 yrs to complete! The Last Judgment, also completed by Michelangelo is on the far wall and, in fact, it IS THE FAR WALL! It is huge and took Michelangelo 4yrs to complete. Nikki wasn’t into these so much again. She said, “I thought it would be bigger.” Ha ha…there’s just no pleasing that girl is there… ha ha.
Then we went into the Basilica and it is huge! Seriously, it is huge! Out front is Saint Peter’s Square and it is beautiful. There are huge columns and pillars, and tons of statues.
Finally, we went to the Castel Saint Angelo and the Bridge there. It was sunset by this time and things were beautiful. That night we ate at the Amalfi and had some delicious Pizza. We tried to use our own water bottles to avoid paying the 2€ for water, but the waiter put the Kibosh on that told us to put it all away. Lame.
Saturday: Delicious breakfast again! Then off to Rome! We saw the coliseum first (for free!) and just followed tour guides around (for free!) to hear what they had to say about the monument. After that we went to the Palatine – a large hill full of ruins which used to be a very posh housing development in ancient Rome. It was very cool. As we were walking up to the Palatine, this big buff dude, with long golden hair, and a gladiator uniform looks at me and says in an Arnold Swarzenegger-type accent, “Wanna picture buddy?” Ha ha.. it was funny. I said no.
After the Palatine we saw the Monument de Vittorio Emanuell. This was my favorite thing in Rome. It is only like 100yrs old, but it is beautiful because it is HUGE and brilliant White with amazing bronze statues on the top. I was blown away.
Then that night we ate at a ristorante close to our hotel and had the best Gnocchi we have ever had! Oh man I was in heaven!
Workout that day: 2 rounds of 20 L Pullups, 30 Toes to Bar, 800m run! Sucked!
Sunday: we finished up by going to the REAL Spanish Steps. They were awesome. While we were at the top we sat there and watched this freakin Cocola (that’s what Nikki and I call Indian Salesmen cuz they always are trying to sell Coke to foreigners and they call it “cocola”) with a bundle of red roses try to force them on tourists. He finds a couple, gives the lady a flower “for free” and then smiles, shakes the guys hand and walks away. He then comes back like 1 min later and says, “hey… don’t you wanna give me some money for that free flower I gave you.” Bahh! Its hilarious cuz nobody pays him but just gives the flower back. Ok, actually a few richy tourists paid him, but not us… I will not support those shady salesman tactics!
Then we went up to the Borghese Park and took a nap. We saw these girls riding around on Segway’s in the park and the one girl totally biffed it! It was soo funny. Then they couldn’t get back on their Segway’s because they were in a dirt area and it kept slipping. It was hilarious.
Then we went back down to the Palazzo de Spagini and saw this awesome street performer doing a Michael Jackson show. He was good… really good. After he finished, he sat on his stereo and his pimp gave him a shoulder rub. Seriously, he had a pimp…picture this little Michael Jackson dude escorted around by this big, long haired, fat, Italian dude with Mafia rings on his fingers. Then, before we left, we were again assaulted by the Cocola’s with roses.
Finally, we saw some breakdancing street performers (they were Ok, not the best show we’ve seen) and had Pizza dinner at a local bar. It was really fun. Then we went back to the hotel, and caught the shuttle to the airport, and got ready to fly home.
Workout that day: I went to the park and flipped over this huge log a bunch of times and did a bunch of dips.