My hotel room in Noale (a nearby town @ the Italian mainland) was bordeline dodgy...80s decor & cigarette burns in the carpet & nightstand...YEAH!!! Also- the toilet was in the shower and we had a bidet in the bathroom...Which was cool to use.
Watched the Italian tv, went to bed...Was awaken by the racket outside...Didn't get much sleep afterwards. It turned out that our bus driver got drunk and passed out in the hallway (he had the next day off, thank god!). One of the girls in our group took a photo of him w/her blackberry cam.
4-November: We took the train ride to the Italian shoreline and then a water cab to La Venezia Bella! Venice is romantic, rustic and the perfect atmosphere for amore! I saw two of my fellow travellers holding hands. :)
It rained all day in Venezia...It was cold and not a great day for touristing. First we went to a glass blowing demo, which was pretty cool! (Random odd sighting- Japanese tourists w/surgical masks on) From there we had our free time. While people were busy shopping for Venetian glass & carnival masks or getting great deals on Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and other Italian fashion labels, I spent my time trying to keep warm & dry. First @ the Basilica di San Marco a Venezia, which is this ancient cathedral that is so massive & ornate, it's an artwork in itself then @ a bookstore. My shoes wet and my pants were soaked up to my calves & I was so unhappy! Most of the people went on the gondola ride while I remained at the bookstore and contemplated life. How exciting...When the rain dried up, I roamed around Venice and took pics...It was an amazing city!
Dinnertime came. We went to an Italian restaurant, where we pigged out on unlimited pasta, bread & wine for 30 euros. I scarfed down food and got drunk off of wine. I will not tell you what happened to me afterwards, but it was REALLY embarrassing! Apparently, I nearly set the water taxi on fire cos I was playing with a lighter and I had to have it taken away from me.
We took the boat back to the mainland and ended up @ a bar in Noale. I was basically peer pressured into going cos it was the night before my birthday and people wanted to celebrate (like they needed a reason to get drunk off their asses). Drinks were flowing abundantly, glasses were broken and I conversed with drunk cross-eyed Aussie fools. One of the guys bought a round of jager bombs for all, which tasted like cough syrup w/o flavor or sweetener.
One of the Canadians drank a bottle of absinthe and left the rest of us on Earth. (He came down the next day thank God!) A girl threw up on herself...Classy. YEAH!!! (it would've been so much cooler if I blew the boat up, dudes!) I left to go back to the hotel. Again, the Aussies came back to the hotel loud and rowdy! Woke me up and I barely got a wink of sleep after that.
5-November (aka my 32nd bday): We took the drive from Italy to Switzerland, which was very scenic and jaw-droppingly awesome.
Lucerne is a beautiful city which sits in the valleys of Suisse, surrounded by large snow-capped mountains and a river that runs through the land (like . Big pain is that they use the Franc, which is just as pretty as the Euro, but virtually useless anywhere else BUT Switzerland. While everyone bought Swiss Army knives & watches, I stocked up on chocolates and scenery!
We checked into our hotel, which was a converted women's jail...My floor looked like a cellblock and my room looked like a cell. It even had bars on the cage & windows. It was kinda cool and I got to brag to my peeps back home that I spent the night @ a Swiss jail cell! If I ever go to Lucerne, I'd stay there again!
The tour manager arranged it so that we got into a nightclub + VIP seats 100% free! I had all the young guys buy me drinks b/c it was my bday...5 vodka cocktails down the hatch! And by the just about everyone was drunk, even the two Japanese girls. (they were so cute)
The nightclub was meh...Reminded me of a lame early millennium throwback in Long Island. Most of the guys looked like guidos and they played music I haven't heard since the dawn of my 20s! But they had a go-go cage & light up platform...so that makes it ok. I swung off the bars, danced with everyone in the club...Including a girl from Portugal. I also high-fived a Turkish dude...He was cool.
The Aussie Crew (as usual) got annoyingly rowdy and shitfaced. One guy fell off the go-go cage and hit his head...Then he went and mooned a couple making out. Another one was so drunk he was cross-eyed and rubbing his crotch on peoples hands.
I wanted to take the walk back to the hotel and asked the tour manager for directions, which were shitty because he was pissy drunk. I got lost. Thank god the locals spoke English b/c I was walking into the Swiss ghetto! Got to my hotel...Tried to get some sleep, but guess who prevented me from doing such?
6-November: Long drive from Switzerland to Paris (9h). Tried to sleep on the bus but the girl behind me kept on pulling my seat back as she got up! We got to our hotel late in the night. By far the hotel in Paris was my fave because it was so cozy and neat...And it had a flat screen TV! We had dinner (which was veggies and mashed taters for me) I don't even think the French ever heard of vegetarians cos the waiter asked me if I ate chicken?
After dinner, we took a tour of Paris @ night. It sure is a magical city! Ended up @ the Eiffel tower, which had this wonderful light show to commemorate its 120th anniversary! Once we ducked the annoying souvenir vendors, we entered the tower and bought tix to go on the upper decks (I got up to the second level, while everyone else went to the very top). I walked around the deck of the tower, shot photos of the amazing Paris skyline and bought some souvenirs @ the shop.
After the Eiffel Tower, the bus drove around the city to see all of the typical touristy places- the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Notre Dame, etc. Then back to the hotel and bed.
7-November (last day): The tour group went to a perfume factory to see how French makes their perfume. I ended up buying a bottle and now I am sans $55 USD haha! After that, it was free time...Do whatever you want.
I walked around the shopping district, picked up souvenirs for my friends back home and took the Metro to the La Grande Arche, where a friend of F's lived. I had some American fare for her and since we didn't meet in A-dam, I was gonna try and drop off her goods w/this friend. He wasn't home and the concierge @ his building would not take my package, so I ended up making the long train ride back to my hotel room to drop off everything and dry out.
I went back out and took the Metro to the Louvre, which is MASSIVE. I knew I didn't have time to go inside the museum, so I checked out the outside garden, where I took photos of these cooky sculptures. While taking pics, I am approached by a gypsy woman who asked me if I spoke English. I looked @ her like she was crazy and kept it walking...Mostly because she was about to pull the infamous card scam that Rick Steve's website warned you about.
Europe has a large problem with pickpocketing and cons by the gypsies and usually that's the first thing tourists are warned about before going across the pond. They even have their children stealing when they should be @ schools getting an education. Everyone I know who has travelled to Europe has talked about the trouble they had w.the gypsies. It's really annoying as hell and I can see why the Euros don't trust them.
I walked around Paris and took photos of just about everything to the point where I was being scolded by vendors! It was embarrassing in the end.
And yes- it is true what they say about the French. While most Europeans in general know more than one language, the Parisians will not speak anything other than French to you. I saw an American woman approach a French man and asked him if he spoke English. He walked away from her saying nothing. I was like DAMN! COLD BLOODED! I ain't gonna hate on the French for that. Then again, basically EVERYONE who travels to Paris knows what they're in for...That's why I took the travel crash course. But magically, I regained most of the French I learned in school (and lost). Viva la survival mechanism...lol
I went inside the Notre Dame & roamed around a bit more to find a place to eat...But it was getting cold & dark, and most French cafés had no viable veg options. So back to the hotel room, where I found a pizza shop around the corner and had a kir royale @ the hotel lobby bar, while most of the tour went to see the Moulin Rouge.
Someone was knocking on my bedroom door @ 2am. I ignored them because @ this point, I was getting beyond annoyed w/these folks getting irresponsibly drunk. Turned out later that one of the 18 year old Aussies got drunk, lost everyone's hotel keycards and threw up on the bus so people were trying to find their hotel rooms.
8-November: Time to say goodbye. Dropped off @ airport. Bought a bottle of duty free liquor. I flew back home.