Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cinque Terre: Favorite Place On The Planet. Hands Down.

The start of our hike. BEAUTIFUL Vernazza, the second village
(of the five in Cinque Terre). This is were we stayed.

Cinque Terre is the region of five (cinque) villages on the beautiful, most amazing, Northwest Italian coast. I cannot say this enough, Cinque Terre is my favorite place on the planet. As soon as we arrived, I knew it would be. I had heard about it from my sister Kim and her husband Josh, who had been there 2 years prior and totally fell in love. You can hike between all of the villages, through the hills, along the ocean, beautiful. So, we started in Vernazza, where we were staying, and went to the next three villages. It was the most amazingly beautiful hike I have ever done. Above is a view of Vernazza at the start of our hike. I apologize for the multiple pics, but I have soooo many more I wish I could post, but I will spare you.

Locks along "Lover's Lane" (Via dell'Amore) between the villages of Manarola and Riomaggiore.
My lock is the newest looking gold lock on the top middle.

The hike became more and more beautiful the further we went and the closer we hiked down to the ocean. There was a section of the trail that was sheer up from the ocean, we were walking in half tunnels carved out in the cliffs, it was called the "Lover's Lane" (come to find out later). There were graffitied like a mofo, but it worked. I would never really say that graffiti was beautiful, but I think that this walk would not be the same without it. I was mesmerized. We kept noticing that there were random locks (as above) all over fences lining the trail. A little confusing. Then, we can upon all the graffiti and, what I can only assume was called, the "Lover's Chair" with locks on the railings surrounding it. I had to put my lock on there, obviously. I had to leave my mark on Italy. I have never been so excited in my life. It was sooo great!!

Me and my new Italian best friends from the Blue Marlin Bar in Vernazza.
Mossimo, Jeffrey, and Perfection (as Kim and I liked to call him)

We finished the magnificent hike and had an amazing dinner in Vernazza. Where Kim and David proceeded to chat up a couple of older ladies. Next thing you know, they are offering to do David's laundry if he will haul their bags down the stairs from their hotel in the morning. Done and done. Random!!! We had read in the Rick Steves book (we called him our fourth traveling companion, he made our Italy trip that much better) that the best local bar was the Blue Marlin. So, obviously, we headed down there. Oooooooh man, we had no idea what we were in for. BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE! Yep, I just said that. We proceeded to drink a ton, I was watching all the locals guys with their dreads (I looooooove dread locks, fyi). Hotties with naughty bodies indeed. Just saying. There was a local pommeranian that was hilarious. He/she pranced in the bar, and noone even noticed, like it happened all the time. Soo awesome! So, I was taking my usually ridiculous self pics and pictures of the hot bartenders and awesome bar owner, Mossimo, bustin a move with drum sticks on liquor bottles behind the bar.
Next thing you know, Mossimo is talking to me. He is asking me about taking pictures, yada yada. He asked if I would take more and email them to him. HELLLLLL YEAH!!!! It's on bitches! At this point I was so freaking excited/buzzed that I could hardly contain myself. After bartender Jeffrey (born in CA, but Italian - awesome!) made us awesome drinks and shots all night, I took a shitton of pics, and probably said "this is my favorite bar on the planet" about 100 times, the bar was closing and it was time to head out. I went over to Mossimo and told him we were leaving, but I wanted a pic of the three of them. He made Jeffrey and Perfection stop making drinks and get together for a pic for me. Precious, obviously. Then, I was like, I want to be in one with you all, too. Mossimo, "yessss!!! get back here" (behind the bar). That is the picture above. Then I said goodbye to Mossimo and we made sure that I would email him the pics. He hugged me and kissed me on each cheek (I almost died). I was in love... Said goodbye to Jeffrey, he was the best, and we made our way down to the water front, then back to our room!!! TOP NIGHT!!!

The next day, we packed up and headed to the first village, Monterosso to lay on the beach. (They have the only beach in Cinque Terre). It was a glorious, relaxing day. From where we sat on the beach, we could see the other 4 villages along the coast (above pic). Absolutely amazing!!!! If you ever go to Italy, you HAVE to go to Cinque Terre. Next time I go to Italy, I want to spend the majority of my time there, it is totally worth it!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Florence...The David is That Tall??

The leather market, aka, handbag heaven.
We stayed at a pretty rad hostel in Florence for three nights, Plus Florence, and had a pretty awesome roomies. Since our first day there was actually spent in Tuscany, we had to make up some time and head to the museums early in the am. David and I headed to Uffizi Gallery, which was freaking amazing! On the walk there (which was surprising shorter than we expected from our hostel) we passed the Ponte Vecchio, which is basically a bridge with jewelry shops on it. You can see the pic below. It is beautiful! Then, Kim met up with us for some delicious (I thought) hot chocolate, then we split off from David to go to the leather market. Basically, the leather market was the greatest thing that has ever been created for my life. I think I bought 6 handbags (2 for my sisters) and I could have bought soooo many more, but I stopped myself. I also bought a ton of pashminas, which are glorious and every Italian wears one everyday.

One of three Davids in Florence. This was not to scale of the main one. It was outside of the Uffizi Gallery.
We later reconnected with David to go to Accademia and climb to the top of the Duomo. Accademia is where The David is. After waiting in line with an ex oil company big wig (and his wife, they were awesome) from who used to live in AK and is real close to Sarah Palin - random- we made our way through the museum. I was looking at some statues when David called over to me, "uh, Hannah" I turned around to see the 15 foot tall David statue and was left speechless for about five minutes. I am not even joking. It was the most perfect, beautiful, amazing piece of art that I have ever seen. We walked around it and stared at him forever. I could not keep my eyes off it him. Every vein, every muscle, every wrinkle, my mind had officially been blown.

The beautiful Ponte Vecchio.
After seeing the gloriousness that was David, we met back up with Kim and climbed over 400 steps to the top of the Duomo (church). It was quite a haul, but totally worth it. The view of Florence was phenomenal!! I was pleasantly surprised with Florence. Kim and Josh had told me how much they loved it (and Kim loved the market, of course), so I knew I would be just as jazzed. Florence, you are amazing!!

Tuscany: San Gimignano

Vineyards of Tuscany...Soooooo amazing!!!

San Gimignano was one of my favorite places in Italy. Mainly because it was quaint, beautiful, in Tuscany, and full of red wine. Before I left for Italy, I had decided that I was going to buy a case of wine and ship it back home, no matter how expensive. San Jim Jam was the village for that I went to the first wine shop I saw and asked the old man about shipping wine home. He spoke very little English, but some how we could communicate. He was basically my favorite person on the planet at that point, he was talking to me in Italian, showing me all the different kinds of wines in his shops. Needless to say, I was mesmerized. But, I did not buy any wine from him. So, I moved onto another shop where the man was real cute and he let me taste 5 wines. When I say "taste" I mean pour me a full pour of wine. I was in heaven. I bought 6 bottles to ship home and they just arrived back in AK 2 weeks ago while I was in New York. I am reeeeal excited to open a bottle with my fam when I get home. We spent the evening in San Jim Jam watching all the locals and have a great dinner at the cutest restaurant I have ever seen. We took a train back to Florence to start our grand Florence adventure!!!

Several of the beautiful towers in San Jim Jam.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tuscany: Siena

Duomo in Siena

We were on our way to Florence when we realized that basically every museum is closed on Mondays, so we needed to figure out something else to do that first day in Florence. So, we decided to go to Tuscany. Helllllll yeah!! I was so freaking excited. I am addicted to red wine. It is my favorite thing on the planet, next to dvr. We arrived in Sienna and I was blown away. It was such a beautiful town with alot of stories to tell. David and I toured the beautiful black and white striped marble duomo and we walked all over town. Siena is the town in the first chase scene in the newest James Bond movie, fyi. You know, the part with the horse race? Yeah, we were there! From Siena we took a bus to San Gimignano, which we could never pronounce, so we just called in San Jim Jam. That was the cutest, most surprising little tuscan village. I instantly fell in love.

Venice, I Am in Love With You!!

Gondola clusterjam under the Rialto Bridge.

I just wrote a freaking fantastic Italy post, and accidentally deleted it. I guess that is what you get with a new laptop and my inability to adapt to a different keyboard. The other day I was writing an email and accidentally deleted it 3 times before I could finally hang on long enough to send it. I'm retarded...
On to Italy. I met my friend Kim in Portland and we made the trek to Italy together. The flights were surprisingly awesome! Minus the fact that Kim had a d-bag sitting behind her who basically told her that she could not lay her seat back all the way because "his legs are too long". Really? Are you going to be that rude on a 9 hour flight were no one is comfortable? I am not really sure why you being too tall is our problem, you probably should have gotten an exit row or first class seat, just saying. I understand that you have real long legs, but...ok, enough ranting.

We made it to Milan and immediately got on a train to Venice to meet up with David. It was a pretty uneventful 2 hour train ride, aside from the two hilarious Italian men sitting across from us. How do I know they were hilarious? Well, the one sitting across from me (and I mean knee to knee sitting, real awkward sometimes) kept looking up from his newspaper at me, then talking to his friend and laughing. I was amused. We randomly bumped into David at the train station and on we went to explore the magic that was Venice.

St. Marks Square and Basilica were freaking fantastic! The Gondola ride was all I thought it would be. Of course, I bought my first of many Italian leather handbags in Venice. We stayed on Lido, which was a separate island from the main section of Venice. It was fantastic!!! Side note: Salma Hayek got married in Venice the day we were there. And who attended? Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, my crushes. I really wanted to find a way to crash that wedding, I am pretty sure I could have made it happen, but ran out of time. Next, onto Florence!!