Country 10 & 11: Italy & Vatican City – May 2006

11 May – Pisa, Florence
Accommodation: Camping Internazionale, Florence

I couldn’t believe how different things were from France the instant we crossed the border. Our first stop was at a service station and we went in and ordered pieces of pizza and paninis. They were unbelievably tasty, especially seeing Australian service station food is so bad. Some people had two pieces then went back for more! You know you’ve arrived in Italy when the service station pizza is fantastic.
The coach hugged the coastline for a bit longer than gradually came inland and arrived at Pisa. We parked a fair way away from our walking destination so we had to be guided by Tash through the suburban streets. As soon as we got off the bus these African guys were trying to sell us counterfeit bags and sunglasses and jewellery and they just wouldn’t go away, but at least they didn’t touch us or force things on us. Still, we survived and made our way through the hundreds of souvenir stalls to get to the Leaning Tower Of Pisa. We all took photos, tried to make it look like we were pushing it over, bought a yummy gelato and a tacky souvenir or two, then it was off to Firenze! We arrived at the campsite with nothing else planned today, so we played cards, had beers, and turned in. Peroni was refreshingly cold, Nastro Azzuri was disappointing.

12 May – Florence / Firenze
Accommodation: Camping Internazionale, Florence

Another day in a big city with lots of sights to see seemed slightly repetitive even at this early point, but little did I know it would be one of my most enjoyable days on my tour. First stop was a leather shop, full of leather bags and jackets and pants along with a short demonstration on good and bad leather. I don’t know why I had hope that this would be good but it was just as much a waste of time as some French perfumery we visited the day before, which to me was just a wave of smells. This was a pretty good ploy by Contiki as we weren’t told anything about the city and couldn’t get orientated so we pretty much had no choice but to go to this thing or get lost.
Anyway, pretty much all of us opted to take the paid guided tour starting in the main square. We got to see a large statue of Michaelangelo’s David but even though it was impressive I didn’t realise we’d be seeing a larger one later in the day. The little statues in the main square of these people in some sort of battle were pretty interesting and graphic. Ripping off people’s heads, stepping on people’s bodies, I enjoyed it.
Then we were taken down this huge open air stone hallway with the entrance to the Uffizi gallery on our left with a huge lineup. I didn’t really know what was in there so I didn’t bother lining up. Down this stone hallway we saw head and bust sculptures of lots of with Michaelangelo, Leonardo, Galilei, and a few others I didn’t recognise, and it was good to see those big names I’d heard about.
Next it was off to the Ponte Vecchio, apparently the only Florence bridge not bombed in World War II because Hitler liked it too much to knock it down, if our guide was to be believed. Sadly it had mostly been turned into a series of jewellery and tourist shops, but the historical look of the bridge itself was still there. One thing that was pointed out to us was that the bridge was previously used for couples who as a tradition was attach a lock to the bridge which would mean they would have good luck in their relationship, however there were hundreds and thousands of couples doing this so the local authorities banned it. Although there were still a fair few people still attaching their locks to the middle of the bridge.
Next was lunch and I was ready to find a place with some nice pasta, but instead of getting separated from the group I tagged along and for some reason they chose an Australian-themed café which was strange because it had memorabilia from several countries in it but nothing distinctive from Australia or Italy. My pasta was basically boiled pasta with tomato paste and nothing else but at least it was cheap, and my espresso was good. Others said their pizzas were good but I wanted to branch out and have more than just pizza.
A few of us then decided to go find the Accademia, a which housed the original Michaelangelo’s David. After lining up for about an hour in the warm sun, we finally got in and we pretty much went straight for it. We got into the first room and I felt a bit lost looking around while taking in all I could, then Harro in his country Victoria style casually said “oi guys, Dave’s in ‘ere”. I laughed. After seeing the replica David statue outside, the original version was just astounding. The craftsmanship and the intricate cutting of the statue was amazing to see up close, and thankfully the place wasn’t as packed with tourists and tour groups as I expected so I was able to stand right up next to it to really examine it from all sides. We were told not to take photos of David, but I took this as a challenge and snuck in a quick one, and so did a few others in our little group.
Then we separated after a while and I wandered around the place to take in as much as I could with the time I had left, then we all met up in the late afternoon to head back to the campsite to get ready for a dress-up for dinner.
After getting all dressed up our first stop back into town was back into town for our group photo with the Florence backdrop behind us. Somehow I scored a spot in the back row, and the only girl standing with us was Megan who was at least 6 feet tall.
We walked through the streets of Florence and eventually reached our restaurant for the night. There were already two other Contiki groups there at the time but there were enough tables to fit all of us in. We were supplied with a huge barrage of food, from bread to soup to pasta to salad to meat, and a few bottles of wine thrown in as well. It didn’t taste spectacular, but it was still pretty nice and satisfying. Then being all full of food and a bit of wine we all made another trek through the streets of Florence to the Space nightclub. On the way there Dale from our group was chatting to a group of girls from another group and he introduced himself as Ben the bus driver and he used it as if it was a pickup line, and we had a good laugh at that.
Getting into Space we were given a drinks card with a free drink on it, and what we would do was get our card stamped every time we ordered a drink then we were to pay for all our drinks at the end of the night. It was a pretty novel idea and I liked it because we didn’t have to search for money all the time and paying for drinks didn’t hold up the line. There was karaoke then we were all ordered to go upstairs where there was dance music along with a bit of dancing, and that went on for about 2 or 3 hours before we all got together and headed back to the campsite in group taxis.

13 May – Florence, Rome, VATICAN CITY
Accommodation: Seven Hills Camping, Rome

Time to move on again, as is the fast-paced nature of the Contiki tour, even if it stretches over a whopping 29 days.
Our first stop today was a spot just around the corner from the entry to the Vatican which seemed exciting enough, until we saw the lineup itself. Tash told us it wasn’t uncommon for large groups to squeeze into the line rather than join the end and advised us to give it a try, which seemed a bit dubious to me but eventually that’s just what we did as the line just kept going and going. Thankfully after standing in line on a fairly warm spring day we got inside after about an hour or so which was apparently reasonably fast. I’m glad I didn’t come in July or August otherwise I could’ve been there all day! Inside we found another lineup for tickets, but we were used to lines at this point. We got inside and found our bearings.
Firstly we came across a few sculptures and head statues and such, then we walked through to some spectacular paintings all over the walls and ceilings. Then as we were awed by those we entered the next room and there were more just as amazing as the previous ones. As we walked on it seemed to never end. It was unbelievable to see just how much of these paintings and murals we found. It just kept going and it took us at least an hour to get to the Sistine Chapel but the ride along the way was definitely worth it. I really can’t explain just how spectacular the whole experience was. It just has to be seen to be believed. It’s one of those things every sightseer needs to do once in their life. It was even a bit of a maze trying to get out of there.
Once we escaped a few of us went for lunch. I had a reasonably nice pasta although I was quickly realising that the food you find in the tourist areas isn’t really worth the trouble. I should have made the effort to find a decent pasta somewhere but it was all about convenience really. After lunch we made a relatively short walk down to St Peter’s Basilica. The square it was situated in was absolutely huge but the basilica itself was spectacular. These Romans don’t build things on a small scale, that’s for sure. There was a slight dress code, which I believe was no singlet tops and no shorts above the knee, but we all got through fine. Outside were dozens of huge pillars and inside I found unbelievably high ceilings and huge long hallways. There weren’t so many glass stained windows as I’d found in cathedrals but there was a hole built into the roof to let in the light which shone on all the gold and colourful decorations and huge Latin lettering around the interior. I noticed several sculptures of previous popes in very strong and forceful stances. I tried to mimic one of the stances but I just came off looking like an idiot.
This day was also the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul’s assassination attempt and we were there just in time to see a ceremony, and luckily the basilica wasn’t closed off to the public so we still had time to look around. In fact we were to find out later that anyone could enter the basilica while the ceremony was taking place, so that’s exactly what we did. A little while after 3pm there was a huge parade of thousands of people following each other into the basilica to line up to watch a group of Catholic dignitaries say a few words in Italian (well we were in Italy after all) and do some Catholic chanting or whatever it is that they call it, which was repeated by all the Italians inside the basilica. We came in on the side and caught a glimpse of who we thought was the actual Pope in between the cardinals, but we could only go by the cheers of the huge crowd as we couldn’t understand Italian to be able to identify whether it was him or not. Just to be safe we told each other it was him, but mostly for bragging rights. It’s a story to tell people, and this is where the saying “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story” comes in.
After our supposed Pope sighting we met up in the middle of the square and Tash took us back to the bus and off to our campsite. The setup was a bit unusual. The dining area and phones and bar and restaurant and toilets and showers were up the top of a hill and down 3 or 4 flights of stairs were out two-person wooden cabins. A few of us had wood fired pizza at the restaurant and they tasted fantastic, probably the best pizza I’d have in all of Europe, and no better place to have it than the capital of Italy. People gave their washing to a lady who was to wash and dry it and return it to us, but I don’t trust just anyone to handle my clothes so I decided against it. I didn’t do much else before heading off to bed.

14 May – Rome
Accommodation: Seven Hills Camping, Rome

Today was an exciting day which started off with a tour of the main sights of Rome, and first stop was the Colosseum! We all caught the metro train into the city and got off at the suitably named Colosseo train station. I have to admit that while it was great to finally see it I expected to Colosseum to be bigger than it actually was. I’m sure it was a gigantic structure of its time but these days there are so many huge stadiums that this was seemingly dwarfed in comparison. Still, it was impressive and I could still say I was there to see it. Our tour guide was giving us more information about the Colosseum than I cared to know and I contemplated leaving the tour so as not to miss out on other sights, but I was interested to find out that at one point around the 14th or 15th Century when Rome was poor and in ruins there were people pulling parts of the Colosseum apart to use as materials to build houses and whatnot (I didn’t explain that accurately but it was being pulled apart at some stage for some reason), and the rulers of the time actually had to stop people from pulling apart such a huge landmark, even though it wasn’t regarded as being all that valuable at the time in comparison to its validity today. The Colosseum had an inner wall and and outer wall, and while the inner wall was almost completely intact, half of the outer wall had been pulled apart and it would’ve most certainly not have been there today if someone hadn’t stopped people from dismantling it. There was a lot of scaffolding around parts of it also as it was being restored, although I found this with a lot of ancient structures across Europe. It’s necessary to preserve it but unfortunately detracts from the view of it all, so I guess it’s a necessary burden.
Next on the tour we visited some ruins where we saw several pillars and structures scattered all over this large area. Our tour guide took us through here and told us more things that I’ve now forgotten but it was quite interesting at the time. The tour finished up at a huge building with several pillars and flights of steps which looked relatively new and intact compared to what we’d just seen, and there was a man on a horse up the first flight of steps. I wish I could remember the name of the place. Anyway, Tash met us here and took us on her own tour of Rome. She showed us the Trevi Fountain where she told us to toss a coin over our shoulder into the fountain for good luck, we scored some awesome gelato, and she took us to the Pantheon which I found absolutely astounding. I don’t what it was about it but I totally loved this building. I couldn’t get enough of it. It looked so familiar to me so I guess this was an icon that had been etched into my mind of what ancient Europe should look like and it was finally coming to life for me.
After a bit of a pizza stop (this time they were square slices quickly toasted and still tasted pretty good) we had the opportunity to walk around the Rome city centre by ourselves or join people from two other Contiki groups to see a local football match at the Olympic Stadium of all places between local side Lazio and visitors Parma. I’d done a fair bit of sightseeing already and figured this could be a rare opportunity to see a football match without having to organise it by myself so I joined the group. There were about 20 of us from 3 different groups, about 5 or so from our group including myself and Corey and Harro and Janice and tall blonde Lindsay and Carly, who followed the Aussie tour manager who actually spoke fluent Italian (I’d say he was from Melbourne or Sydney and had a large Italian family) so he was able to negotiate tickets and ask for directions in the local language which was a major advantage. We caught the tram over there which was pretty exciting in itself to be catching transport to the match with the local football supporters, and got off making our way towards the stadium. When we got there our new tour manager found out the ticket offices were about half a kilometre in the other direction so he found negotiated a price with some scalpers which was about 10 Euro extra for each ticket for the 25 or so of us. It would’ve been too much hassle to do anything else and the match was due to start soon anyway so everyone agreed to it. All the tickets worked even though they had different names on them (those dodgy scalpers) and we all got in. We were searched and patted down on entry and they took the tops off our water bottles which I thought was strange. We got to our seats and they were as far up in the stands as you can go, they were true nosebleed tickets. The stadium was only three-quarters full but the atmosphere was still pretty electric. The group of the noisiest supporters were down the front left from us and there must have been at least five thousand of people singing and chanting and shouting throughout the whole match. Their enthusiasm to me was amazing. I only wish we had this sort of passion in Australia. The rest of the crowd was getting into the mood too. In Australia there are always people getting up to go to the bar to buy beers but one thing I noticed here is that NO-ONE gets up from their seats for the whole match. I was surprised at this. Corey and Harro and I went up at different times to buy beers and there was no lineup at all. The place was deserted, and it was great. I had 3 beers by half time! They were nice Bavaria brand beers also. By the time I went down for my 3rd beer run just before half time Lazio scored and the crowd went wild, moreso than before! That was to be the last and only score for the match, Lazio were winners over Parma 1-0. We piled out of the stadium pretty easily, leaving a few minutes early to miss the rush so as not to get stuck in the crowd. Before we knew it we were back in the city centre happy with our experience, and on our way back to the campsite.
After dinner which Contiki supplied this time unlike the night before, we headed up to the bar to check out the action. There were some seats outside the bar so a few of us went to the shop to see what sort of cheap alcohol we could score. There wasn’t much selection and I wasn’t about to buy a huge bottle of 40% alcohol so I went with a 20% bottle of mandarin-flavoured liqueuer which only set me back 10 Euros. Tall blonde Lindsay later told me that it was hangover in a bottle, and I laughed. I couldn’t even taste the alcohol and I didn’t bother finishing it or getting drunk in the end. Later we all went inside the bar and there was a bit of a dance floor with a large number of our tour getting down but for some reason I wasn’t overly in the mood for it and left a bit early for bed. The highlight of the night though was Corey getting up on the elevated pole and doing a pole dance for us which consisted of swinging round it several times and hanging by his legs and somehow not falling over. It was pretty funny but that was his style.

15 May – Rome, Pompeii
Accommodation: Adriatic Ferry

Back into the bus in the morning and our final destination for the day was the east coast, but our first stop was the exciting ruined city of Pompeii. I’d fallen asleep on the bus but woke up by the time we arrived in the town. We piled out and headed straight for the entrance (yes they were charging admission for an ancient site so I had to assume it was mostly going towards preservation) and walked inside and up a large number of stone steps. After seeing so many attractions already and the ruins of Rome I wasn’t expecting anything special but I must say I was blown away by how much of this ancient city was still intact thanks to a volcanic eruption. It was so amazing to be standing in a place that was almost 2000 years old with so much of it still standing! With Mount Vesuvius not too far off in the distance I could see how this place could have been prone to a natural disaster but the way that it preserved the town as it was all those years ago was just remarkable.
Pillars, roads, walls around houses were all intact, but the most impressive parts for me were the human bodies that were found buried alive by the hot volcanic ash and lava. The bodies’ mouths were open, supposedly due to shock or asphyxiation from the toxic volcanic gases. I couldn’t imagine how horrible that would’ve felt. The bodies were found in the exact shape that they died covered in volcanic remnants so that they looked like stone casts of themselves.
We also got to see roads which seemed to be about a kilometre in length which was quite astonishing to see, and we saw the remains of some houses from the kitchen to the toilet which was sloped downwards on one side towards a hole at the back so that nothing was sitting there waiting to be cleaned but just escaped out of the back of the house. Everywhere I looked was design and ingenuity that seemed ahead of its time. Those Romans were smart.
The little town just outside the gates of Pompeii wasn’t as touristy as I expected. I picked up some tasty juice from the reddest-looking oranges I’d ever seen and scored my usual fridge magnet. The café food wasn’t the best but it was at least more exciting than Contiki campsite food.
It was ferry time again as we arrived at the coastal port of Brindisi. It was pretty similar to our Channel crossing but this time we didn’t need our passports and Tash just gave us boarding passes. We actually had to board with our bags separately rather than get on with the bus, but it made sense as we were taking our belongings into cabins with us. It was a bit of a shambles getting all of us onto the ferry and into reception to collect our cabin room keys, but we were getting used to waiting up to half an hour to get from the bus to our rooms. The cabins had enough room to accommodate us, but we weren’t spending any time in there other than to shower and sleep. After our usual Contiki-style dinner a small number of us assembled up the front of the unpopulated indoor seating deck for a few beers but the majority of the group had stayed in their rooms, most likely gone to bed. It was becoming apparent that this group was not the type who were willing to party every single night like some other groups I’ve seen, especially the group we’d met in the French Chateau.
I walked around the ferry for a while and it seemed like we were the only people on this ship because most of the people I saw were in our group. I walked past the electronic poker machines to the back deck where I saw a few people. There wasn’t much to do on this boat but drink or talk or sleep and I wasn’t really in the mood for any of those so that was pretty much my night.

21 May – Verona, Venice
Accommodation: Camping Fusina

After catching an overnight ferry from the Greek island of Corfu, I woke around 7:30am to have an 8am breakfast, but by the time I was finished and back in my cabin to pack my bag everyone else had left and gone out onto the outside decks. We were in Venetian waters and were coming ever closer to the breathtaking city buildings and canals and landscapes. We didn’t dock until about 9am but we spend a good half hour slowly drifting towards the dock just staring at the beauty of Venice. We were back in Italy again.
We walked off the ferry with our bags, loaded them back into the bus, and we were off again on the freeway, first stop Verona. We arrived and the bus parked next to a very high stone wall which apparently used to keep the city surrounded and away from its enemies in earlier times. Tash led us to the main square then through some streets past shops to the statue of Juliet from Shakespeare’s famous play Romeo & Juliet. There was a short tunnel or archway to walk through to get to Juliet, and on the walls of the tunnel were thousands of notes and pieces of paper that people had posted there. Apparently it was a tradition to write something romantic to your current or future partner and it would could true, or so Tash told us. It all seemed a bit tacky to me, but the view of the walls were impressive to see.
We reached Juliet’s statue which also had a tradition, so Tash told us. Apparently if we placed out hand on her right breast we would have good luck in love, but I mainly did it just to get a photo of me touching a famous girl’s breast, even if it was just a statue. The detail that the original sculptor had made on the breast had worn away from all the millions before me who had touched the breast and unintentionally eroded the detail away with the acid in their fingers, so this certainly was a popular attraction.
After we felt up Juliet we had an hour to kill, so we had free time to walk around Verona. Personally I didn’t think there was much to see other than the usual touristy shops and fashion stores, although back in the main square there seemed to be some sort of local marathon taking place so there were a few stalls around to keep us occupied for a while, but otherwise we could’ve spent half an hour in Verona in total and that’s all we would’ve needed.
Back on the bus to Venice and we arrived in the afternoon, making me wonder how and why we wasted a whole day doing something that was only worthwhile for half an hour. After dodging the 12-Euro-per-bag washing at Corfu, I had a mountain of stuff to wash and I wasn’t the only one as everyone seemed to head straight for the laundry. There were only one or two machines left when I arrived and I barely wasted time getting my stuff together. 2 Euro for a huge wash and 2 Euro for an equally huge dryer and looking after it yourself definitely beats 12 Euros just for one bag and not knowing whether someone will shrink your clothes or make the colours run. Massive respect for the Venice campsite already.
Just behind our cabins was literally the river that we were to take a ferry on to get to Venice township, and it was a pretty nice and peaceful view.
Ok, bar time, and we just had to get acquainted with this drink we’d just found out about, the Attitude Adjuster. White rum, dark rum, tequila, and vodka all poured straight into a huge glass at the same time without measuring, and topped off with a whole bottle of watermelon-flavoured Bacardi Breezer. Girly and manly as well, it had something for everyone, and it got you plastered for a mere 8 Euros! About 15 or 20 of us sat down together and had one each, and birthday boy Shaun downed his first one before anyone else in about 10 minutes! He didn’t waste time getting number 2 either. I could tell this was going to be a fun night.
Someone found out that any girl who flashes their tits at the bar gets a free shot, and also gets a photo taken of them and posted on the bar’s website. None of our girls were interested in that, but someone heard (or made up) the rumour that if two girls kiss they also get a free shot but no-one was willing to go up and do it. Then alcohol led to girls daring each other to kiss without even bothering to get the free shot. So two girls volunteered, I can’t remember who in our group did it but when two girls kiss does it matter who they are? What I do remember is the next two who kissed. After polishing off a second Attitude Adjuster, Shaun boasted for a dare that he’d kiss any guy in the place. No-one was game and a few people tried coaxing several guys who all said no, then Harro not willing to back out on a challenge quietly said “yeah I’ll do it” and then it was on. Lots of laughs, cringing all round. After that point there was a lot of talking and I went to bed after 2 Attitude Adjusters. We did still have a full day of walking in Venice tomorrow so I had to be reasonably prepared. Before I went to bed though I noticed a B-grade Aussie celebrity surrounded by all these people, so I went over for a chat and got a quick photo with him for the hell of it. I suppose being the winner of Big Brother means your media attention only lasts for . I spoke to someone from another tou who told me he had been given an all-expenses paid Contiki tour by Ralph Magazine in turn for writing an article on his experiences with some funny anecdotes. I never bothered to follow up on it and buy the magazine. I didn’t care really. I guess he was just lucky to be riding the wave of success by getting a free overseas trip. Why not take it while you can get it, because it won’t last.

22 May – Venice
Accommodation: Camping Fusina

After the usual Contiki campsite breakfast we assembled to catch ferries into Venice. The ferries were strange. They were about 50 rows long with 3 seats on each side, and when you stepped onto the boat you climbed down some stairs so that when you sat down your window was just above the water line but it was almost like you were sitting below the water, and they moved surprisingly fast too. We got there in a mere 10 or 15 minutes, got off and walked down to the main square. It was pretty hot out there but much like Corfu it wasn’t humid, just very sunny. We had a bit of shade in the square where we were blindly led into a lace demonstration. I groaned and though oh great, another waste of time like the Monaco perfumery and Florence leather shop, and I was right. We learnt how lace was cut, were shown precut lace patterns, and what a surprise to find out there was some lace on sale. I was looking for a bottle of water to help with my slight hangover but nothing was open at this time of the morning for some reason and the only water was inside the lace shop. Obviously Contiki chose this time as they knew we had nowhere else to go. Eventually I just walked out.
First stop after that was a cafe just off the main square where a few of us scored a toasted panini and a ristretto, pretty much equal to a triple espresso. When in Italy, you’ve gotta go hard on the coffee! It tasted good too. A couple of the guys downed two of them. Across from that shop was a sex museum with a huge chastity belt out front. I figured since we were going to Amsterdam the sex could wait.
Next stop was the famous Rialto Bridge. It looked spectacular but was swarming with tourists and so many souvenir shops. I scored my mandatory fridge magnet, but the group I was with were too preoccupied with tacky souvenirs. I figured I didn’t come to Venice to spend all my time with this rubbish so I just left them there to go sightseeing. The streets were narrow, some streets weren’t on my map and some streets on my map were hard to find, I had to walk at least 15 to 20 minutes dodging people to get away from all the fashion stores, the streets had this weird smell I really couldn’t pinpoint but I got used to it, and finally I got out in the open to another square. I came to realise as I walked that every 10 or 15 minutes there was another square. After walking aimlessly I thought I’d try to find some of the landmarks on my Contiki-supplied map. Not many sights excited me that much, but I had a good walk around the place taking photos and occasionally passing people from my group along the way. I could’ve been walking in many places less interesting than this.
I eventually had to meet up back at the ferry docks for a gondola ride. I figured it was something I had to do and would enjoy. When we got on we were offered a bottle of spumante for 5 Euros. I wasn’t all that interested but on my gondola Tim was up for it, and he gave me a cupful of it before finishing off the rest. Chloe and Heather were quiet content to just sit back and take in the atmosphere, but it was all a bit too slow-paced for me so I was taking random photos of anything to keep me from being bored. The gondoliers didn’t even sing that much, and when they did they weren’t traditional Italian songs. It was a peaceful ride through all the canals and under all the bridges though and tourists were taking photos of us, mainly because we were in gondolas and not because we were overly photogenic to them.
So overall it was a bit of a disappointing day compared to what I expected. I don’t know what all the hype is about Venice or whether I just missed all the good stuff but I don’t rate it too highly. At least I had a good walk for several hours and it was a sunny cloudless day. Rain could’ve made things worse and most of the tourists were around the main square and major tourist shops so the places I walked to weren’t crowded.
We got our ferry back to the campsite after meeting up again in the main square, except for Tash who went to look for a few people who went missing as she wanted to make sure people caught the right ferry back to the campsite and didn’t get stranded. We had a bit of time to kill before dinner so I scored a couple of beers from the campsite shop, and they weren’t too bad for a country that’s more famous for its wine.
Dinner was simple yet great and one of the best on tour. Barbequed meat, cold and tasty salads, chips, and it went down well with a couple of beers. Then it was back into the Attitude Adjusters of course. There was a fair bit of music pumping tonight and other groups were having a bit of a dance but most of our group weren’t up for it, apart from a few girls who were trying to score a man. At one point two girls from our group were about to start a fight over a guy they were both chasing but it got broken up before it had the chance to start, so I heard. I wasn’t paying attention and missed the whole thing. Alcohol and lust can do weird things to people. I just sat there downing beers and the occasional Attitude Adjuster, and I got talking with people from another Contiki group. I met some people whose names I immediately forgot, but drinking is all about meeting people you’ll never see again but have a good chat with while you drink. I don’t know how it happened but I got talking to this Melbourne girl about how funny pop music was in the early 90’s, and we started reminiscing over bands like New Kids On The Block and Marky Mark And The Funky Bunch and that was a whole lot of fun, more than it actually sounds like, or maybe it was alcohol making things funnier. After she went to bed I decided to turn in myself.

The next morning after I’d gone to bed I’d overheard that Janice spilt her third Attitude Adjuster all over Tash’s pants and without wanting to waste her 8 Euros she started licking it off her pants so it looked like something completely dirty rather than the absurd situation it actually was.

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