Rialto Market

IMG_6784The Rialto Market is most definitely a foodie’s dream destination. The stalls in the central area aren’t the most fantastic, though they are incredibly aesthetically pleasing. The real magic, beauty and most importantly, delicious food, comes in the sprawling side streets, alleyways and hole-in-the-wall stores.

IMG_6773From bakeries with exquisite treats, to tiny windows serving pizza to massive queues, there was definitely something for everyone, and multiple excuses to keep returning.

The fish market nearby was perhaps somewhere to walk through quickly (the smell is very strong) but still just as vibrant and exciting. It was also very well positioned by the waterfront. As was the fruit and vegetable area, making it a great place to grab some fresh fruit and sit down to soak in the views.IMG_6780

The Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel Vatican

 

Unlike many of the tourist destinations in Rome (ok, technically it is The Vatican City), the Sistine Chapel was not at all what I was expecting. Apart from the obvious (i.e. the art), the imagine in my head was of a much larger, more ornate, cathedral like building (e.g. St Peter’s Basilica). Instead, it was a small, square room, that felt as though it was underground, given the rest of the Vatican complex has grown all around it like a parasitic cyst.

There was a ridiculous amount to take in, with every inch of wall and ceiling covered in the amazingly ornate frescoes of Michelangelo. It took me a wee while to find The Creation of Adam, and once I did I subsequently made a bit of a spectacle of myself spinning around in circles to see if it really is true that no matter what angle you look at it, it appears to be facing you (true). At least I wasn’t taking photos with an ipad.


Sistine Chapel Vatican

It was hard to imagine it being the site of the election of the pope and other such important ceremonies when it was chock full of tourists trying desperately to get photos. So much so that I was hoping there were no epileptics in the room. It was actually kind of funny watching the two young boys of the Swiss Guard desperately trying to enforce the no photo rule against 200 snap-happy tourists. Myself included, obviously.
Sistine Chapel Vatican

334. Vilaverde and El Cotilo

Two charming wee towns on the Island of Fuerteventura. I loved all the white painted bungalows and cactii everywhere. Seriously charming!

I can also confirm that mountain biking from Vilaverde to El Cotilo before lunch is fun because it is downhill and you can stop in at some cute cafes for a meal, but coming back afterward is horrible, as it is all uphill and the sun reflecting off the tarseal will make 35 degrees feel like 40. It will, however, make you finally understand why siesta time is a thing, and provide for the best cold shower of your life.

327. Parc Guell

IMG_4798 (640x480)Parc Guell was absolutely my favourite place in Barcelona. Designed by my now favourite architect (not that I had one before, but that’s unimportant) Antoni Gaudi.  Gaudi was fairly outrageous in his day for abandoning all the rules and creating structures inspired by organic forms, but eventually the craze caught on and was copied all over Barcelona. Although his pièce de résistance was the Sagrada Familia, the Parc Guell is a really fun, quirky and different place to explore, not to mention its fabulous views. I particularly enjoyed not only wandering through and taking it all in, but being able to round a corner and see an entirely new and different creation. Continual amazement!

304. French language fail

Surprisingly enough, emerging from the catacombs, our appetites were very much intact, and we went in search of a nice cafe (you come out the other end in rather a nice neighbourhood).

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On the recommendation of a fellow traveller, we found a place that served what we found to be a most excellent combination: crepes and cider. And what an array of crepes there were! They were offering something like €8 for a glass of cider and a crepe, which was a pretty good deal for Paris. After settling on a blue cheese and walnut gallette (which was amazing), I guess I must have been sick of snobby waiters scoffing at english language, so ordered in French. I asked for a bottle of cider, probably force of habit from far to much Monteiths deliciousness, and the waiter came out with an enormous 1L bottle! It was fairly strong stuff too, so we ended up feeling quite the buzz in the middle of the day. Oops.

IMG_3468 (480x640)The cafe also had some really cool decor going on, I really wish I could remember what it was called as it was by far one of the best meals I had in Paris!

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292. Release of the Danish Christmas Beer

IMG_8281 (480x640)There should be a giant sign at the Danish border that says “Be warned: you are now entering Beer Country.”

The Danes love beer like a fat kid loves cake. And at Christmas, the breweries bring out all their Christmas beers. Tuborg in particular does a massive marketing push, with the release of their Christmas Beer being a massive event all over town on the first Friday of November. It used to be a Tuesday, but apparently workplaces and Universities nationwide were unimpressed with Wednesday’s productivity.

Most bars in town will have a free keg of the Christmas beer to give away from exactly 8:59pm. From 8:56pm there was quite the mosh pit at the bar, but in an orderly Danish kind of way, as patrons competed to be the first to taste the slightly darker Tuborg. Once the keg had been given away, the natural progression from there was the limbo, and the more Danish Shnaps.IMG_8275 (640x480) IMG_8270 (640x480) IMG_8300 (640x480) IMG_8307 (640x480) IMG_8335 (640x480) IMG_8349 (640x480) IMG_8356 (480x640) IMG_8358 (640x480) IMG_8359 (640x480)

Just as I thought the free beer fun was over, suddenly a bunch of blue santas turned up and were handing out bottles, unloaded direct from the giant Christmas Tuborg truck. IMG_8362 (480x640) IMG_8363 (480x640) IMG_8366 (640x480) IMG_8368 (480x640) IMG_8369 (480x640) IMG_8371 (480x640) IMG_8373 (640x480) IMG_8375 (480x640) IMG_8379 (640x480)

The madness didn’t stop there, though, as we arrived in town later on to find even MORE blue santas, and a selection of other bars giving out Christmas beers from other breweries.IMG_8381 (480x640) The most entertaining part of the night was when people started drunkenly confessing that despite all the hysteria and excitement, most of them don’t actually like the Christmas beer!

289. Super Budget Halloween

What happens when you get a bunch of exchange students with super tight budgets from the business school together for a Halloween party? A whole lot of creativity!

In what was one of the more enterprising Halloween parties I had ever been to, the theme was definitely keeping costs as low as possible. So much so, that the party itself was organised by one particularly enterprising French Canadian, who had us all paying a cover charge and in return supplied well over 1000 beers, as well as food, a model that has been working fairly well throughout the semester and no doubt results in a tidy profit (and deservedly so) with the Danish recycling system!

What I really loved about this party, was that in an effort to spend as little as possible (we’ve all become masters of cost saving, what with being poor students AND backpackers at the same time), most of the costumes were clever gags, rather than the obvious but expensive witch or fairy or disney princess. There were a few from “The Office” including Jim’s ‘Facebook’ and ‘Three Hole Punch’ costumes, though my favourite was probably Hunter S Thompson’s Raoul Duke from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Possibly because working out that costume went something like

“I don’t know what your costume is, but you look like the guy Jonny Depp played in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

“YES! No one has guessed it” and then I learned how difficult it is to find bucket hats in Denmark, though cigarette extenders are comparatively common.IMG_8216 (480x640)

Another favourite was the old man, as well as the Christmas Tree, complete with decorations. And of course there was the usual proportion of Halloween Cross Dressers. My costume was well in line with an incredibly low budget, my token costume party item – a silly hat. Sadly, as with all novelty hats at parties, it disappeared off into the crowd, but at a grand expense of $2 I didn’t cry myself to sleep over itIMG_8214 (480x640) IMG_8210 (640x480) IMG_8213 (480x640) IMG_8205 (640x480) IMG_8222 (480x640) IMG_8224 (640x480) IMG_8233 (640x480) IMG_8225 (480x640)IMG_8211 (640x480) IMG_8226 (480x640) IMG_8236 (480x640) IMG_8243 (480x640) IMG_8223 (640x480) IMG_8217 (480x640)

Good to see the old man hadn’t given up, and was still trying it on with Little Bo Peep.IMG_8238 (480x640)

282. The Most Unhelpful GPS

I think most people say this about their GPS systems. They are such a blessing and a curse, but this one was particularly unhelpful (like every interaction with Spaceships Rentals). It reminded me of the days when Dad was giving me driving lessons and would say “Oh, you were supposed to go left back there.” On the bright side, I aced U-turns in the test.

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182. Swiss Alps

Most of the photos were taken whilst whizzing by in a car, so they aren’t the best quality. But I’m not sure that photos can ever really sum up the amazing views as you drive over the Swiss Alps!

It was interesting to see: an actual border crossing (though we didn’t get stopped with EU number plates); the highest road in Europe [Dad thinks]; the houses gradually getting more Swiss and less Italian; and patches of snow, despite being in the Italian heat only 30mins before.

176. Learning to Drive Like an Italian

Italian’s are just the most insane drivers. At pedestrian crossings you have to avert eye contact and just run for it – if they sense any hesitation they won’t stop! Apparently a 100km speed limit actually means 150km, and most of the roads are incredibly narrow. For Dad, who has been doing most of the driving, it was a bit of a re-learning process to be driving on the right instead of the left. And what an insane place for it.

After going round one tight corner where a house literally sticks out into the road, and having a Porsche come screaming straight for us on a one lane street, it definitely incited a few breaks to sit down and have a coffee!

We even saw an accident where a motorcyclist came of his bike after pulling out to for an insane overtaking manouvre.

Definitely a learning experience!