Verona and Venice

The Nanny Gang with the Bard

The Nanny Gang with the Bard

Getting Gelato in Venice - Nia, Audrey and I

Getting Gelato in Venice – Nia, Audrey and I

Again, so sorry about keeping this updated. Here is what i had typed out in July a month after arrivng at my au pair job in Venice:

The last month has gone by so fast and due to difficulty accessing internet and quite frankly being too busy enjoying myself I have been extremely lax in updating ye olde blog, so please accept my apologies for this. Since recalling recent travels is quite a task I am going to take baby steps and tell you about the weekend I have just had while I gaze over the canal and sip extremely strong German beer.

On Friday the children I am looking after (3.5y/o twins, Marco and Anna) were well behaved and we had a day at the Quattro Fontane beach on Lido, which is two streets away from the apartment where the children and their mother, Silvia, live. I have a bedroom there as well which has two twin kiddy beds and two windows which usually have the Venetian (!) blinds kept down since it is so hot. At 6pm, I was free for the weekend! The weather in Venice in July is typically hot and sunny, with temperatures averaging 30 degrees during the day, and not much cooler at night. After attempting to straighten my hair I met up with Audrey, Leticia and Nia to go to one of the best pizzerias on the island. Audrey is a cute French girl who I met at the park on my first day au pairing who speaks good English and I feel that I am closest to since we spend a lot of time together. Nia is Welsh and lives in Venice and looks after an Irish family, and Leticia is Spanish and has only just arrived on Lido. Nia, Audrey and I formed the original “Nanny Gang”, which has now grown to 6 or 7 au pairs dotted over northern Italy. The pizza was incredible (mine was margarita with grilled vegetables), and at 8 euros is pretty reasonable. Unfortunately when you eat out you are often charged about 1euro for “cutlery”, and even water is 3.50euros so it soon adds up to UK prices. Alcohol in bars and restaurants is insanely priced – even the cheapest pint of Italian beer is 6euros…. I miss the 1.20euro steins of beer in Bratislava!

Of course after pizza you HAVE to have gelato, and I went for my favourite flavour pistachio as well as a scoop of chocolate (when in Rome…) and it was superb. We heard about a party on Alberoni beach and the four of us went on a mission to find it… which resulted in a 20 min bus journey and wandering around Mallamocco at 11pm at night where there wasn’t a soul around. We could *hear* the music but just not find it! After much hilarity and silly conversation we called it a night at 12:30 as we had an early start the following day to get to Verona.

DSCF3710

On Saturday morning I woke up feeling hot, but ready for the day ahead. Audrey and I met at the vapparetto station, and got a water boat to Piazza San Roma at 9am, which unfortunately was on line 1 which stops at every single stop on Venice. Early morning in Venice is beautiful, the sun is high and perfect for photographs and there are very little crowds. The city absolutely reeked, and the reason became clear when we alighted at the stop for the train station – the canal was full of dead fish floating on the water in the canal K I have no idea why! Audrey and I met up with Nia and Joanne – a girl from Manchester who is au pairing in Trieste for a wealthy family spending the summer on their private beach in a 6 bedroom beach house – and since we missed the 10am train we got the 11am train to Verona. There was time to get some nutella donut things and a cappuccino at one of our favourite places to get gelato on Venice, and we boarded the train to Verona and found four free seats on an air conditioned carriage, and spent the next 1.5hours comparing families and discussing life back home and admiring the beautiful scenery of farm land and long thin conifers passing us. We arrived in Verona and met up with two more au pairs, a Polish girl called Angelika and an American called Amy, and the six of us traipsed around in the 33 degree heat looking for the famous balcony from Romeo and Juliet. Verona seems really big, with a lot of shops and people but it is absolutely stunning. It reminded me of Prague with its large river running through it, and often yellow coloured buildings. When I thought of the balcony I expected a large square with maybe a handful of tourists. In reality it’s a teeny, tiny square that you can only access through an alley that had its walls covered in scribbles and love hearts. Underneath the balcony there is a padlock of love thing which was jam packed with red and pink padlocks, and on the wall there was a mass of chewing gum which had peoples names scrawled on it. Oh, and about 100 people squeezed in to have a look! After photos, we walked up to the river and had a general walk around. Since it was so hot I got some delicious passion fruit gelato in a cone, which was the most refreshing thing I have had to date. Since Audrey and I had to be back in Lido by 7pm to babysit we rushed back to the train station and had a memorable journey back to Venice. After an “adventure” trying to get back to Lido on the water bus I arrived back to the apartment to look after the kids while Silvia went to the festival in Venice, which meant an eight thirty bedtime for me L

I was glad for the early night because on Sunday the whole family (Silvia, the grandparents and the children) and I got an early boat over to Lido to Jesolo, to spend the day in their “country house”. I didn’t know what to expect but after a 30 min boat ride we got to the island and collected the grandparents Mercedes and drove about 20km to the house, which is situated in a quiet road that has a lot of farmland. The house itself is nestled in a large garden bearing fruit trees and gorgeous flowers and is a large two story building with a lot of recreation space. Apparently the family spends two weeks at Christmas there, when it is cold and they have a beautiful fireplace in the kitchen which I can just imagine blazing away happily when its -5c outside.  Silvia took me on a drive to give me a tour of the area, which reminds me of the south coast of South Africa – lots of campsites and supermarkets and you can tell that this is firstly a holiday island, apparently hugely popular with Germans and Dutch people. So much so that a lot of the signage was in German. We stopped at a supermarket to buy lunch and I was startled to see horse meat for sale in the deli – we are going to get some soon apparently! The house is close to a protected area that was for conservation bird life, and had a Culbin Sands vibe to it. I had planned to cycle over after lunch to take photos, but after a delicious meal of pasta, chicken and a tomato salad from the garden I slept for 2 hours and didn’t feel like a cycle when I woke up. Instead, we went next door and collected an absolute boat load of peppers, tomatoes and aubergines from the neighbour who always shares his crop with Silvia since she does free law work for him. The vegetables here are so deformed and fragrant and tasty, they taste REAL! Unlike the plastic GM veggies you get in the supermarket in the UK. Afterwards we got the boat back to Lido, in time for dinner which was speck ham, salad, tomatoes and ricotta – so so good! Since arriving I have put on a few pounds (can you blame me?!) so I went for a cycle down to Mallamocco on the beach path, and happened to cycle past Audrey and Leticia who were about to go to gelato. I resisted and continued my cycle whilst reflecting on an incredible, fun and relaxing weekend.

Verona

Verona

The famous balcony

The famous balcony

With Juliet

With Juliet

Venice!

Venice!

Advertisements

Whats planned for 2013?

Thank you google.

Thank you google.

So after months of vigorous saving and squirreling away £500 each payday I have taken the plunge and quit my job to travel the world for at least 3 years. As you can see this is stage one, the attack phase, where my trusty backpack and i embark from May 2013 until at least March 2014. Gulp. The reason I want to travel is because I have always grown up with a wanderlust. Since my first trip abroad when i was 10 i have longed to see how other people in the world spend their lives, Now feels like the perfect time – I am at that age where i am still classed as young, but have enough life experience under my belt to get me through dealing with harassing hawkers/hostel creeps/scamming cab drivers/killer vermin etc, and I am currently debt free.

The list seems to be changing daily but so far this is what is on the cards:

Leg 1 – The Down Under Experience (Drop Bears Optional)
4 week trip that uses up the last of my annual leave.This is not technically classed as a solo backpacking trip since the reason I am going to Australia is because my darling cousin Caitlin is getting married, and I have the privilege of being a bridesmaid. Caitlin and I grew up together in South Africa before i moved to Scotland in 2000, and we are two peas. To get there I will be flying with Etihad Airlines for a gruelling 31 hours in total – i leave on a Thursday and arrive on a Saturday, but thanks to those helpful folk at reddit I have some great tips on how to deal with such an epic long haul flight. If they work i will make a post about it!
Australia has been on my list-of-places-to-visit (i REFUSE to use the phrase Bucket List, ugh) and I am lucky enough to be visiting one of the most tourist friendly parts – Queensland! I will be staying in Brisbane and I’ve been promised plenty of koala and kanagroo experiences.

On the way back since i am going via the United Arab Emirates, I will be spending some time in Dubai with Ricky, a friend from Inverness who works there, and his girlfriend Myla. I have only been to Dubai once before, and it was during Ramadan which was… an experience. Think smuggling bottles of water in my bag to drink in the bathroom since its frowned upon to consume anything during the day – even though the heat is in the high 40s, and walking around at night with what can only be described as a giant hairdryer blowing hot wind on the whole city.

Leg 2 – Canada (bitches!)
After two more months of work i will be flying from Glasgow to Toronto to have a 20 day tour from Toronto>Montreal>Quebec>Ottowa and South Mountain. Public transport in Canada seems extortionate compared to Europe, I can see why so little North Americans explore even domestically. Luckily there is the Megabus who can do one part of the journey for $10, and i may even try to hitch for the rest of the way (dont tell my mother.) Two years ago I visited Toronto and Ottowa, however they were flying visits and I didnt get to do anything touristy, so this time i am going ALL OUT.

This guy knows whats going on

This guy knows whats going on

Leg 3 – EUROPE!!
After months of awkward skype interviews and grafting with online profiles (i will write a post about it) I have secured a job in VENICE!!! working for 3 months as an au pair for a lawyer mum and her twins, 4 year old Marc and Anna. Since doing the school exchange trip to Tuscany when I was 14 I have had an affinity with Italia so you can imagine how thrilled I am at the thought of spending a summer there. I’ve been frantically trying to re-learn Italian but my host mom will be paying for me to do a course there so it isnt urgent. The hours are pretty sweet, during the week I will be looking after the kids while their mom goes to work, with all evenings and weekends off. This will be a challenge since the family arent completely fluent in English, but it should strengthen my Italian and any negative experiences I may encounter will be shelved as “character building”.
Before I start this journey I have planned a couple of weeks backpacking through Eastern Europe: Krakow, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. The plan is to do a mix of couch surfing and staying in hostels, with a possible Help Exchange job in a hippy aromatherapy retreat place in Austria. It would be a good wind down after all the inevitable partying in Krakow – where the shot girls at.

Leg 4 – Croatia and back to Italy
After my stint in Venice I have two weeks before starting my next au pair job in Turin, in the north of Italy, so i plan to tour Croatia with Sail Croatia. This will be towards the end of the season and *hopefully* a little cooler so i wont suffocate of heat in their cabins. Since Turin is a ski resort town I will most likely have to nip back to Scotland to swap my summer clothes for warm winter clothes. The family I will be staying with are comprised of two doctors and two kids, we have skyped a few times and they seem pleasant enough. By then my Italian should be passable, which will put me in good steed for any future plans.

During summer I plan to complete a TEFL course online, which could help me in 2014 when I move onto phase 2, ASIA! (maybe, or South America… Or fuck it i’ll most likely buy one of those RTW tickets)