my job is pretty great on a normal day. and then - there are days that are even better! for 10 days in june I got to go to italy and greece with work to experience one of our amazing tours
. I got to see so much - the colosseum in rome, the duomo in florence, the acropolis in athens and much more.
I should preface this by saying that WAY more photos are up on facebook
(like...hundreds) and I've also got some up on instagram
, too.DAYS ONE and TWO
day one was a travel day - my coworker from toronto and I flew to rome through detroit (on delta - who I keep hearing horrible things about, but who is actually pretty good..one of the more enjoyable trans-atlantic flights I've been on.) when we arrived we met up with our tour director (our tour director ["TD"] was with us for the entirety of the tour - she was great! kind of like a tour guide, she was in charge of keeping everyone on track and keeping the tour moving on time) and had some time to kill before the other groups arrived (our tour was made up of 4 groups from across america.) we went to the seaside town of Ostia for some fresh air, a coffee and a quick leg stretch. we picked up our other group and then headed into rome where we saw the trevi fountain, the pantheon and piazza navona. it was a lot of walking, I was still in my plane clothes (jeans and a long-sleeved shirt! way
too hot to be wearing in rome!) and by the time the day was done I was ready for my bed! our hotel was about a 1.5 hour drive outside of the centre of rome, on beautiful lake albano (castel gandolfo is nearby - that's the pope's summer residence.) we had our supper and went to bed to rest up for day two :)
we got up bright and early to drive into vatican city. we spent the day exploring the sistine chapel, st peter's basillica and square and the area around vatican city. it was beautiful! we had some free time for lunch (pizza!) and then met back with the group and went to the colosseum and the roman forum (that's a whole lot of sights seen in a couple sentences!) I really enjoyed the colosseum - it was so cool to see something first hand that I've spent years seeing in text books or in movies. amazing that it's still intact! the roman forum was fantastic, too - also very cool to be walking around something that's so ancient that's been in the same place for thousands of years. in the evening we visited the spanish steps and had some free time walking around via dei condotti (a street lined with shops I can't afford to go into!) before having a yummy supper near the steps.
day four saw us travel by bus from rome to florence (a loooong 4 hour drive.) florence is a really beautiful city and it was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of rome (it was also a few degrees cooler and by a river, which was nice.) we got off the bus and did a walking tour of florence and saw the statue of David (this was actually so beautiful that I went back and stared at it for a while), the duomo and a leather-making demonstration. afterwards we were given some free time so I walked around, went to the pointevecchia bridge over the river arno and had a coffee and chilled out (well..not "chilled" as it was pretty hot out, but relaxed.) in the late afternoon we made our way back to rome by bus through a massive thunderstorm (we took a bit of a detour through the country on the way back, which was really nice and quiet) before meeting the rest of our group back at the hotel for supper.
the next day we packed our things and headed for the coast! our first stop was pompeii - it was so cool! it's really well-preserved ancient town (it seemed like it would have been a pretty happening place a few thousand years ago.) the take-aways for me was 1) there are penises everywhere. on the roads, on the walls, etc all leading you to the brothel district of pompeii (it was a sea-side town so there was a fair amount of sex-traffic) 2) they had lead piping for water! how cool! 3) it's pretty well-organised and seemed fairly civilised. 4) they had a great baths system - I'd love that! while browsing the pompeii gift shop a colleague of ours (also in europe on a tour, but not the same dates as us) snuck up behind us and surprised my coworker and I! it was nice to see a familiar face so far away!
from pompeii we carried onto naples where we boarded a ferry to the isle of capri. very pretty, very picturesque. we had lunch there and went on a mini-cruise around the island (we saw the faraglioni rocks, the multiple grottos [our captain was amazing and got us inside the grottos - I was impressed!] and a lot of expensive famous-people residences.) we had some free time and took a funicular up to Anacapri (a village at the top of the island, up high on a cliff) where we walked around, shopped a bit and enjoyed granita di limone (a lemon ice thing that capri is famous for - kind of like a lemon slushie. SO satisfying on a hot day!)
from capri we sailed to mainland italy, to sorrento, where we spent the night. there was a huge rain storm so we hung out for a bit and in the evening I went with one of the teachers on our tour and one of his kids into town (there was A LOT of stairs to climb to get from our seaside hotel up to the town centre..I thought I was gonna die), walked around, did a bit of a pub crawl and then found an english pub to watch the england v italy world cup match (so much fun!)DAYS SIX and SEVEN
we woke up in sorrento and drove to bari (we drove near the amalfi coast, which was beautiful! a bit of a scary, winding, up-high drive, but lovely) where we boarded an overnight ferry to greece through the ionian sea. it was a nice catch-up day where we just hung out on the boat and relaxed and when we woke up we were in patras!
from patras we drove to delphi (on the way we passed by the corinthian gulf and through the amfissa olive grove - it was miles of olive trees as far as the eye could see - easily thousands of trees - it was beautiful!) our hotel was neat - it was a main floor and one floor up and 3 floors down, carved into the rock kind of like a cave! we spent the afternoon visiting the archaeological site of delphi and its museum. this was a really cool experience - delphi is well-preserved and it was neat to imagine how it would have been in its prime with people coming to visit the oracle of delphi and such. for supper we had a greek meal at our hotel, along with live music, and in the evening we got to walk around (delphi is not too big - literally about 2 main streets that are maybe 200m long each.) we spent some time talking to a very handsome guy who works in the adult film industry who visits canada a lot (I told him he looked like a viking [he did] and he had no idea what I was on about lol) and then called it a night.
we drove to athens from delphi bright and early and were dropped off in the plaka district (an older, market-y area of athens) where we had free time. my coworker and I had a really yummy lunch (moussaka! rice! potatoes! tzatziki!) and then walked around, did some browsing, went for loukamades and hung out before meeting up with our group to do a guided tour of the acropolis and parthenon. we also did a bus sight-seeing tour of athens (sadly, athens is not the prettiest city going..it was great to be there but they could do a lot to make it a bit nicer) before heading back to our hotel to freshen up. in the evening we went for a greek evening of traditional greek food, singing and dancing. I was up on stage several times singing and dancing myself - it was madness!
on day nine we got up super
early to catch a boat (there was A LOT of boating on this trip) - some of our tour group went on a three-island cruise from athens to hydra, poros and aegina. all three were lovely - hydra had a beautiful little church that I visited on my own which was so peaceful and beautiful. poros was supposed to be known for its lemons, though I only saw one lemon tree. aegina is known for its pistachios, which we saw lots of. we got back from our cruise in the evening in time for supper with all our of tour participants and then called it a night!
and that was the end of the "work" portion of my trip! it was a great time and I saw so many cool things, it was fantastic.