Sunday, 28 October 2012

Venice ... you sure did test me

For those of you who following me on Facebook, you will know that I will never, that is NEVER be going back to Venice.

My three days in this city are overshadowed by mosquito bites that turned into enormous lumps and blisters .... and then there was the bed bug incident (which by the way has me checking every mattress in every hotel, guest house or hostel I now stay in) But enough of the bugs, Venice is a kinda cool place. And it was cold so the city didn't have the reputed bad smell lingering which was a plus.

I got off my luxury bus and jumped on the mono rail to central square. From there i had directions on how to get to my hostel. It was cool walking over the bridge of the grand canal (despite having to lug my pack), then through loads of narrow cobbled streets and over small canals filled with gondolas.

I wandered around the lane ways and squares then found a very cool local bar / restaurant where I had my first pasta in Italy. It was good. Very good.

As Venice has waterways instead of roads, transport is by water bus. I grabbed a two day pass and set off to explore. Despite the wet weather, the city is impressive. The architecture and history just blew me away.

I also spent an afternoon exploring the islands of Murano and Burano.

I fell in love with the bright colored houses and friendly people of Burano. Such a vibrant place full of happy locals.

These are pics from Venice that my blog has put in the wrong spot. It seems to have a mind of it's own sometimes .....

I also had an epic five hour visit to the Venice hospital due to the bug incident. Sadly I couldn't take any pics but the doctors were so very cute.

There is a link to all my pics in case you want to see more....
Italy - Venice

Thursday, 25 October 2012

A little slice of Slovenia

Sometimes you get really lucky and come across a place that you know nothing about but is totally amazing.

I was sitting in the Austrian sun having coffee with Andre while we were deciding where to go for the day. Italy was a strong contender but I was heading there next so we decided on Slovenia.

We banged Ljubljana into the GPS and hit the road. After a bit of a delay at a tunnel we were in Slovenia ... and it was only about half an hour since we'd left Velden.

Wandering around the streets of the capital of the country we were so impressed ... magnificent old buildings next to crumbling ones, funky cafes, a castle, a grand town hall and town square and even a river running through the town. This place seemed to have it all. The sun was shining and the locals were all out and about. The vibe of this city is very cool and everyone seems so happy.

We had dinner in one of the many cool restaurants then wandered around a bit more before heading back to Austria. The visit was short but amazing.... I will definitely be back.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

From Vienna to Velden

Vienna is fancy, there's no two ways about it. But the home of some of the worlds best classical musicians isn't stuffy at all, it is just plain elegant.

I hadn't done much research on Austria, I hadn't even brought a guide book. I was rocking up to this country to hang out with my friends. My knowledge was limited to a few musos like Mozart and some cool scenery ah la Julie Andrews in a sound of music. So I was more than impressed driving over the Danube into the heart of the city to see such an amazing place.

The buildings are decorative. And I'm not talking about a few fancy bits and bobs, I'm talking statues on rooftops, lining the tops of buildings .... everything is beautiful.

(I´ve included way too many pics, but I couldn´t help it)

One of the most impressive places I visited was the cathedral. Its soaring spires and decorative facade were very cool. For those of you who read my facebook posts you would know about this, but anyways .... I was standing outside the cathedral admiring the amazing architecture when a well dressed dude joined me for a ciggie. He explained that all the little men running about in navy velvet jackets and bow ties were part of a 150 man choir, and they were about to enter the cathedral to belt out a tune or two. Liking a singalong, I headed on in.

The interior of the cathedral was breath taking. I finally stopped gawking and pulled up a pew near the soaring pipe organ. In filed the choir and the organist started playing. As the choir started to sing i got goose bumps, such a magnificent sound. Then i got the shock of my life. My cigarette smoking buddy was the guest soloist, with the voice of an angel. He led the choir on a few hymns then sang the most amazing rendition of 'How Great Thou Art'. I had tears rolling down my cheeks and a big smile of my face. Unbelievable.

The cheeky git winked at me on his way out ... he sure fooled me.

I cruised around the city checking out official buildings, palaces and museums. And I might have tried a world famous torte.

Then Kristen and I jumped on a train, we were off to the other end of the country for a few days in Velden. I was so surprised at how beautiful the countryside was as our train wound its way south.

My friend Andre met us at the station and took us on a mini tour, then I got to check out his Harley, although I didnt actually ride it. We had landed in a picture postcard town. Mmmm I never knew such amazing places existed.

Velden is a summer resort town but it was late enough in the season for the crowds to have disappeared. Kristen and I had ourselves a beverage or two overlooking the lake before we prepared ourselves for a meal of a lifetime at Andre's restaurant. Food porn is the only way to describe it!

And I got to play in the kitchen ... probably a little bit dangerous really!

After recovering from an over indulgence of food, and ah and maybe a little too much Austrian wine, we spent the day cruising on the lake, stopping in some cute little towns. The sun was shining and all was perfect with the world.

Such an amazing place ... I hope I get back there again one day.

Vienna pics (click pic to go to the album)

Velden pics (click pic to go to the album)
Austria - Velden