Personal, Travel

Topdeck: Winter Spirit – Italy, Austria

Day 9: Rome, Italy to Venice, Italy

I didn’t attend the Toga Party … I was feeling very run down so I had to put myself first. What a shame.

Since the Vatican was closed over Christmas and Boxing Day, most of us visited the Vatican in the morning.  3 hours of walking through the Vatican visiting various section of the place.   To be honest, I lost my interest half way through the tour and by the time I got to Sistine Chapel, I didn’t really care.  I just basically wanted to get out of the building – I don’t understand why this place is so important to several people.  I wasn’t even amused by the paintings on the ceiling and so forth.  I am not being anti-Christ … I think I has had enough of visiting churches across Italy and basically similar painting and so forth across Italy.   Plus too many people in the Vatican has turned me off.

After the Vatican, we made our way to Venice via Verona.  The true story about Romeo and Juliet happened in Verona.  We missed the Juliet’s Balcony by 3 minutes because of the delay waiting for few people in Rome!!  It was a shame.  Would have loved to go in there and have a look around.  Next time.

The Arena di Verona, is beautiful and continues to deliver theatres and concerts.  We all has dinner in Verona before heading to Venice.

We arrived in Venice late in the evening and hit the sack for a big day in Venice.  We stayed at Jolly Camping, which is outside of Venice.  As you are aware, the bus cannot drive into Venice and everything are done by walking and boats.

Day 10: Venice, Italy

Prior to leaving for Venice, we were told to buy a mask for tonight’s Masquerade Party.  Okay, I was planning on getting one anyway so I had something of Venice.  We arrived in Tronchetto to catch the people mover (motor-rail) into Venice.  We commenced the tour from Piazzale Roma.

Our first stop was the Musuem of Leonardo da Vinci followed by Accademia and then we arrived at the famous old bridge, Realto Bridge.  Lastly, we arrived into St Peter’s Square where it consists of Piazza S. Marco, Palace Dulace, St Mark Basilica and Sigh Bridge.

We were taken to the last standing Lace School in Venice, and I believe in Italy, the Il Merletto Lace School.  Beautiful work and I just fell in love with it.  I had to tell one of my friends back in Australia about it.  I even asked if they has a website and no they don’t unfortunately.   It’s the place to get the lace done if you want specified lace patterns.  Depending on the type of work requested, it can take 4 weeks to months and possibly up to 2 years to complete a project.    It is a shame that the Lace School is dying out and this is the last standing school in Italy.

After the Lace School, we went on a half an hour Gondola ride in the main Venice Channels.  I loved it.  Yes, it smelled a bit here and there … but it wasn’t a big deal really.   I saw a sign that says, “City of Venice condemns homophobia and transphobia”.  WOW!!!

After the Gondola ride, it was our free time so I headed to lunch with one of the crew in a hidden lane restaurant.  We had pasta and salad for lunch, which was delicious.

After that we went to St Mark Basilica, which is the church of gold … OMG!! Gold everywhere – well gold tiles and the view from the church into St Peter Square and the Palace Dulace was beautiful.  The history of Saint Mark was interesting, as the relics has to be smuggled into Venice, just for St Mark Basilica.

After the visit to St Mark Basilica, we went to the Bell Tower to get the view of Venice … so beautiful and on a such lovely day, the view was perfect in it own way.  You can see all of the channels throughout Venice and the islands.  Just wow!!  I would certainly come back to Venice again.

One of the crew and I separated our way as she wanted to catch the waterbus where as I wanted to visit Leonardo da Vinci after being so naïve about his history – sorry I thought he was just an artist! Apparently not so I made the effort to go to the museum.

Firstly, I had to buy a mask, which I did, and it a beautiful black half face mask with rhinestone and feathers. See photo.

Then I made my way to Leonardo da Vinci Museum.  His science and technology inventions were so amazing and I get to play with some of the equipment.  Wow, he has a great mind!  Like I said before, I have been so naïve about his work as I was taught about his arts work – Mona Lisa, Virgin of the Rock, and Madonna serious.  I learnt nothing about his inventions in science and technology field.  I learnt a lot on that day and I am really glad that I visited the museum.

After the visit, I returned to Tronchetto to head back to Jolly Camping and get ready for Masquerade Party.  We all has fun wearing our masks that night despite the poor taste in music.

Day 11: Venice, Italy to Salzburg, Austria

Another day of driving … I don’t really have to explain about the driving although we did stop at one of the place up in the mountain and it was snowing powdery snow.  The crew got excited about the snow. 🙂

We also got our Topdeck order – some got t-shirt, some got polo t-shirt and others got hoodies.  I ordered red hoodie.  The design on the back, we all get to design something and voted on it.  It happened on the way from Swiss Alps to Florence.  Majority of us decided on the snowflakes as some don’t believe in Christmas – religion belief or other belief.   We chose how we want the design to be and I am very pleased with the outlook of the hoodie.  Beautiful.

We arrived in Salzburg and the Topdeck guide took us around town on a quick tour.  Its not that big and still interesting. Dinner followed by and we has the “famous” chicken schnitzel and apple strudels.  To be honest, I didn’t enjoy it.  The chicken was too dry and I prefer the apple strudel warmed.

Day 12: Salzburg, Austria

I chose this day to be my free day so I decided to sleep in … didn’t happen because I panicked at 6am thinking I need to get up and pack my things and be ready for the bus … It has been like that for the last 12 days and I am already tired of the early starts and late nights.   Only 12 more days on this trip.

I decided to visit the Salzburg Cathedral Church, the graves and the Hohensalzburg Fortress today followed by doing some food shopping at the supermarket for the bus trips.

Salzburg Cathedral Church was beautiful and simple… nothing too fancy.

Then I bought a ticket with furnicular (cable car) to the Hohensalzburg Fortress.  An interesting place indeed.  The view is beautiful as you got the view of Salzburg and the view of the snow capped mountains.  This is the place for you if you like the fortress history – basically wars and so forth.  It has the radio that was used in World War II as Austria was in alliance with Germany.  Interesting.  Although, for me, it was ok and I am glad I made the effort to go up to the castle for my curiosity.

I came back down to visit the water wind and the grave.  The grave is so interesting … I don’t understand why they use skeleton as a place of gravestone.  I have some photos for you. I tried to google it however no luck so if anyone knows why, please share.

The rest of the day, I just got some food from supermarket and spent some time on my laptop as I have two grant applications that I need to write with one due on 13th January 2014.

I will be hitting the town for dinner and tomorrow is another day of driving to Vienna for New Year’s Eve.

Travelling on Topdeck

Although we are only half way through on this 24 days tour and everyone is now tired and wanting to stop to rest for few days… I am in the same boat too.  We have been getting up early to keep going to next location or going on the tour to explore the amazing place.

I am so glad that I chose to have today as a free day.  Few people chose to do that too.  Only 11 people went on the Sound of Music tour and few others went skiing.  I chose to explore when I want to today so I am happy with the decision that I made.

This tour is good for quick overview of each country so you know which country you want to come back to.  Beware if you decide that you want to be on this tour, you have to brave the early morning and few parties.  They are worth it.  The country that is on my list to return to are Switzerland and Italy.  Not so much of France or Austria … That is just me. 🙂

One thing I am starting to really laugh at … there is a chain of love locks everywhere we go … Starting in Paris to Jungfrau to Florence to Rome to Venice to Salzburg … You will see them in the photos.

If you are thinking about doing any tour that is like on-the-go, only do it once in Europe.  Trust me.  Busabout is only available from March to October hence why I went with Topdeck Winter Spirit.  I love it however exhausting.

Also being oral Deaf (note the capital D) is starting to have impact on me as well … half the time, I just zone out and miss a lot of information.  I get the information via brochure or google.  It is the best way for me at this point.  People tends to forget that I am Deaf and I rather not keep reminding them.  Just get the key information that I need.  So hopefully in the future, the next tour that I would go on would have interpreters signing everything to let my brain rest without straining to lipread or hear the information.  I also miss signing … that why I try to have Facetime with my partner as much as I can.

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