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London2Barcelona cycle


I don’t usually use my blog for things like this however as one my longest, oldest and dearest friends is involved I will make an exception!

The boys will be riding from London to Barcelona to raise money for Yorkhill Children’s hospital, it is easy to donate money no matter where in the world you are through their justgiving website. Every little helps them reach their targets!

Send a donation HERE!

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In their own words…

Covering a distance of more than 2215km (1384 miles ) we will be averaging over 150km each day on road bikes and attempting to take in two of the toughest mountain stages of the Tour De France.

These mountain stages will see us climb Mont Ventoux (1617m) in the French Alps as well as the Col Du Tourmalet (2115m) in the Pyrenees.

WHY WE ARE DOING IT
We are undertaking this monumental challenge to raise as much money as we can for an extremely worthy cause and one which is close to everyone’s heart – Yorkhill Children’s Charity. We all know family, friends or loved ones who have benefitted from and rely on the wonderful work they do helping sick children not only in Glasgow and the West, but throughout Scotland.

Please help us in raising as much money as possible for Yorkhill Childrens Charity

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

The Route :

Sun 6 = London – Dover = 136 km

Mon 7 = Calais – Amiens = 144km

Tues 8=  Amiens – Antony ( Southside of Paris ) =150KM

Wed 9= Antony – Auxerre = 177km

Thurs 10  = Auxerre – Charlon – sur – saone = 184km

Fri 11  =  Charlon – sur-saone – Saint Vallier=148Km

Sat 12 = Saint Vallier– Mount Ventoux – Malaucene =184Km

Sun 13 = Malaucene– Valras Plage =217km

Mon 14 = Valras Plage – Toulose = 188KM

Tues 15 =  Toulouse – Col de Tourmalet =173km

Wed 16  =  Col de Tourmalet – Foix =170km

Thurs 17 =  Foix – Perpignan = 141km

Fri 18 = Perpignan – Gerona =99km

Sat 19 = Gerona – Barcelona =105km

Don’t forget to DONATE HERE!!

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Home to Scotland for a visit 2014


Arriving back in Scotland after our Euro trip it was safe to say we were both utterly exhausted!! We had decided to postpone Vietnam for extra week giving us time to catch up with family and friends… and give my mum time to prepare a Christmas dinner!!!

 

Top of Ben An'n

Top of Ben An’n

Mum and dad took us up to New Lanark, home to a world heritage site and where the start of the River Clyde is located. You can also walk around the old cotton mills and take a walk up to see if you can spot some peregrine falcons which come to nest here. It is a really beautiful location, and one that I don’t ever remember visiting, we were also really lucky and were able to get a glimpse of a peregrine falcon in its nest. You might have to look closely at the picture but it is there!!

We took a trip up to Elie to try our hand at the Elie chain walk one of Scotland’s best kept secrets! The day we had decided to go up the mist and fog was crazy, I have never seen anything like it… all the way from Glasgow right up to St Andrews the fog was so think you could only see about 20 meters in front of you! We arrived in Elie and walked across the golf course to the beach where the start of the chain walk was, only to realize when we were closer that it was high tide and a bit too dangerous to go on it with so much water crashing into the rocks.

A bit too much water at high tide!

A bit too much water at high tide!

We decided instead to head for St Andrews and have a go on the Himalayas,

Champions!

Champions!

which was over taken by grannies last time! For those who don’t know St Andrews is home to the world-famous golf course… however off to the side is a putting green full of hills (hence the name) and is a McKie family tradition to have a good old bit of competition!

Great conditions.....

Great conditions…..

This time we decided to play boys against girls…. A fair competition since Andy and I can’t hit a ball to save ourselves… it was also nice not to be the one that people fight over NOT to have in their team!! It was unbelievably cold and foggy with a nice wind to make things even harder to put. However in the end the best team won and mum and I walked away victorious!!

After a spot of lunch and a coffee we headed back to Eile in hope that the tide was now out and slightly less of a death trap!  Luckily for us it was and we were able to have a go but not before some sun bathing on the beach of course!!

Scottish sunbathing!

Scottish sunbathing!

The Eile chain walk is actually a bit deceiving as it is not actually a ‘walk’ more of a scramble with a few climbs! The first part was actually slightly dodgy as the rock below was covered in slimy seaweed and my mum was so afraid I would fall down into the sea that she kept a strong grip on my trousers resulting in the biggest wedgie ever… thanks mum!!! The chain walk is great fun and involved massive chains bolted into the volcanic rock with foot holds in place so you can keep your grip and not fall into the freezing sea below. Parts of the chain you have to side step along the rock, while other parts involve you pulling yourself up or climbing down!  We both had a great time despite the cold!

One of the things I had asked my mum to do before we got home was to get some food ready for us… the kind of food you could not get while I have been away including the two most important meals… Haggis and Christmas dinner! (I had not had Christmas dinner with my family for three years!) It may sound silly however it is the little things like home cooked meals that you miss while you live away especially my mums amazing Christmas dinner!! We had roast beef, turkey, roast potatoes cooked in goose fat, Yorkshire puddings and all the veggies to go with it! My mum had even gone the extra mile and kept her Christmas table-cloth and crackers … even better than I thought it would be!!

While we were home we although thought it would be the best time to have a mini engagement party since we really would not get one as we were moving away again the next week!! It was also a chance to catch up with the whole family, parents, granny, aunts and uncles! All of them!! It was a great night and was a really nice way to end our adventure back home!! Thank you to every one who made it!!!

With a very short trip home, which I even managed to fit in a concert to the Backstreet boys with Hannah in (I know embarrassing!!) It was time to move on once again!!

Bags packed we set off for the airport to our 5th country to call home… Vietnam!

Last stop on the Euro trip! Reunions in Madrid


Madrid was the climax of our European trip for many reasons. Not only were we heading to a beautiful city but I was also going to be reunited with my older brother Andrew (I’ll use his full name to avoid confusion with Andy!) for the first time since I left home over 3 years ago!

Andrew and I :)

Andrew and I 🙂

 

Not only that but it was also going to be the first time I met Aida, my brothers girlfriend and the first time Andrew met my now fiancée Andy!

We jumped on the bus from Barcelona which might not have been the quickest route at 7 hours but was the cheapest! After traveling now for 3 weeks we had to seriously consider the dosh and at triple the amount the train was just too expensive! Not only that but Andy and I are pro’s at the long bus rides now so 7 hours passed quite quickly!

Jumping off the bus I was reduced to a blubbering wreck upon seeing Andrew. It seemed not long ago that we hugged goodbye in Glasgow airport as I left for Thailand three years ago, since then so much had happened and our lives had completely changed!

We jumped into the metro and was soon at Andy’s new flat where we had a long-awaited catch up! After a few hours Aida arrived home, as Andy popped back out to work Aida and I were able to have a big chat and get to know each other.

That night we went out for some tapas like food which for the life of me I can’t remember their name!! They were like tapas but you order one and it comes on some bread. What ever the name it was delicious! We got to try Morcilla which is a blood sausage similar to black pudding only with rice in

Bull fighting!

Bull fighting!

it as well… not everyone’s cup of tea but I loved it!!

Next morning we got up and headed out with Andrew who had his Spanish class. Andy and I spent the afternoon wandering around the streets and just chilling out, we headed to the bull fighting arena to take the tour only to find out it was closed that day due to a concert which was taking place! Typical!!

We took the metro back to the city and walked around the park before finding a nice pub to sit down and relax while we waited for Andrew and Aida to finish work.

Saturday and Sunday were set aside for sightseeing, we headed off first to the Temple of Debod which was actually built and stood in Egypt until it was donated to Madrid by the Egyptian state as a thank you for helping to save the Egyptian temples and to help preserve the temple which was under threat.

Temple debod

The temple is located in the park near the Royal Palace which was our next stop. The palace gardens were lovely and we both enjoyed walking around taking in the view.

 

From there we walked into the Plaza Mayor, a huge square filled with people and buskers. Some of the buskers were quite cool however, some were just plain creepy, like the Mikey Mouse who looked like he should be in a nightmare!!
We stopped off for lunch at an Argentinean restaurant which served AMAZING meat… after Korea where the meat is average unless you pay mega bucks this was awesome and so tasty!!


Continuing our tour we reached Puerta del Sol another big square which is also ‘KM 0’ meaning it is the centre. The square is crazy busy and again filled with buskers… some really good ones…. Some creepy ones!! (Clearly some buskers put more effort in than others!! Ha!) The Puerta del Sol is also famous for its statue of the bear and the tree, the symbol of Madrid.

We walked down all the little roads and streets before heading home for a siesta, it something that would take me a lot longer to get used to as after a sleep in the afternoon I can’t sleep at night and I can not get my head around eating so late!! We headed out to a tapas bar and had a lovely dinner followed by a few beers  in the KM zero area which was packed out with people out for drinks and dinner before heading home.

Andy and I

The following day we spent our time walking around, enjoying a coffee and visiting the Parque del Buen Retiro, one of Madrid’s biggest parks which was previously owned by the monarchy and opened to the public in the late 19th century. The park is massive! It is nice to walk in off the hustle and bustle of the city into a calm, quiet and beautiful park. The park also holds what is claimed to be the only known public monument of Satan and shows Lucifer falling from heaven. You could easily spend hours walking around the park and you could even go on a rowing boat and row yourself around the pond.


And just like that our time in Madrid was over! It was lovely meeting Aida and obviously seeing my brother again after so long and seeing how happy he is in Madrid and how well suited he is to life there.

 

Andrew and Aida

Andrew and Aida

Barcelona!


After another plane ride we landed in sunny Barcelona! I had visited the city just before I left for Thailand so was full of hope about the things I could show Andy!

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Getting to the city was very easy and we bought 1 T10 pass… A pass for the public transport that you could use 10 times and we could share for only 10€.

We were staying just off Las Rambles a famous street known for its buskers, shops and restaurants and cafes.

We got set up in a lovely (but hard to find) hostel then went off to find some food along the pier where we encountered the ‘looky-looky’ men or touts. We had seen them the whole trip and they are all over Asia, however I explained to Andy that these guys were terrified of the police and how it’s really funny if you see a police man coming as they grab their stuff and run!

Palace Guell

Palau Güell

Right on queue, while I had a bracelet in my hand a police man came round the corner and they all swept up their merchandise, snatched the one out my hand and bolted.  As the guy I was with was selling jewellery there was a trail of jewellery running down the pier! Gave us a bit of a laugh!

The next day we got up and headed out to see the sights, we had mapped them all out and as it was a really sunny day we decided to get some exercise and walk to all the places we wanted to see.

We walked up Las Rambles past Palau Güell and up to Casa Batlló another one of Gaudi’s buildings. It is on the high street and sticks out between the buildings on each side.  We continued walking up again this time up to Casa Milá which was sadly under construction with scaffolding over the whole exterior which is usually a curvy mosaic building.

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Casa Batlló

 

Never the less we headed on again to Barcelona’s most famous attraction- The Sagrada Familia. It is enormous and hard to miss and is so famous as despite starting construction 300 years ago it is still being built!!! I could actually see the difference in the building compared to when I was last here some 3/4 years ago! We went to find the end of the queue only to find it wrapped around the entire length of the building on 2 sides with a staff member saying it was around a 1 and a half hour wait and a further 4 hour wait if you wanted to go up the towers!!! Crazy!

Luckily the Sagrada Familia has a lot to see outside and we took our time going round the building and checking it out.

Next stop was Park Güell famous for its mosaic art work by Gaudi including the lizard on the stairs and the wavy seats. We sat down in the sun and had a few snacks before setting out for the square where we noticed a line. I asked the staff member why there was a line to get onto the square and she informed me you needed tickets. (something you never needed before!) She then told me the price….8€ each!!!!

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I couldn’t believe it as this was my favourite spots last time and they wanted 8€ to go up the stairs and only the square!! The rest of the park was free except for this tiny area. Apparently they have been charging this since October 2013 which I think is ridiculous, fair play charge… But 8€  for a tiny area!?! On your bike!! Not to mention part of the fun last time was sitting on the seats watching all the buskers which filled the square who were nowhere to be seen!

Feeling a bit disgruntled we grabbed some lunch and sat out in the sun before making the long walk back down to Las Rambles. Once back on Las Rambles we walked down only to realize that there were no longer any buskers!!! There were two right down the bottom but majority of them were gone- last time Hannah and I spent ages walking up and down Las Rambles checking out all the different buskers!! I was quite disappointed.

One of the few buskers out

One of the few buskers out

By the time we got home and freshened up it was time for dinner so we headed back out onto Las Rambles for one of the special deals many of the restaurants had going for 3 tapas, a main of paella, pasta or pizza followed by a small desert for 8.95€. We got a deal each which was lovely…. Until the bill came for 35€.. Um how?! Turns out the Diet coke we got each was the same price as dinner at 7.95€….we couldn’t believe it! No wonder we couldn’t find it on the menu! Feeling completely ripped off we headed off for a walk to pick up a few small gifts and trinkets.

The next day was a designated beach day/relax day! After the craziness of the last few weeks we didn’t want to be dead on our feet when we finally made it to my brother, so we walked to the beach and spent the day chilling out reading our books. Was awesome just to sit back and chill.

With that Barcelona was over, it was a short and slightly anti climatic trip compared to the last time! We had a super early bus ride the next day so had an early night!

Next and last stop…. Madrid to be reunited with my brother after a long 3 year separation!!

Night sculptures

Night sculptures

Paris- Eiffel Tower, Disney Land and a proposal!


After another quick flight we landed safely in Paris… The city of love! To get from the airport to the city was actually very easy and cheap at only 10€ via the train and metro system. We were staying at a great place in Menilmontant a bit far away from the main attractions making it nice and affordable!

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

We were planning on taking the city bus tour round the city for 2 days however our hotel informed us that due to pollution levels all public transport was now free for the next 3 days and we thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up not to take which in the end saved us an unreal amount of money. (80€ on the tour bus alone as it was 36€ each as well as the metro ticket to where we could catch it!)

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

The first day we got up nice and early and headed out, Andy was insistent on heading to the Eiffel tower first so we set off on the (free) tube ride to get there. Unfortunately due to the pollution the air was quite foggy and not the best day for seeing things from the top however not much we could do about that!

We came to the first queue and Andy told me to wait while he checked out the lines, after assuring me we were in the correct line we waited for a good 20 minutes until the front of the queue could be seen where I noticed the French writing saying ‘stairs’ I asked Andy what line we were in and he commented the lift whilst pointing to the ‘escaliers’ sign…. DOH that’s stairs not lift!!!! 

By the time we noticed this mistake we were almost at the front of the line and could see the queue for the lift was MASSIVE!!! So we decided that after all the bread, pizza and pasta in Italy a bit of extra exercise wouldn’t go a miss!

View from the top of the Eiffel Tower

View from the top of the Eiffel Tower

To take the lift up the tower it is 15€ however for the stairs it is only 5€ to the second floor and then 6€ up the last part which you need to take the lift to. If you don’t want to wait in the lines the stairs to the second floor are really not that bad and by the time we had got there we would probably still be waiting for the lift.

As we got up to the top floor Andy started acting a tad… Strange… A bit shifty which I put down to nerves about being up high as he is not the biggest fan of heights. I turned round and there he was on one knee!!! Long story short… I said YES!!! We both are not fans of being center of attention so we were both quite glad we did not attract too much attention but also gave me such a huge admiration for Andy who was willing to put aside his fears to give a proposal I will never forget!!!

We spent ages up the top chatting about the last few months and how I had figured out it was coming but didn’t know when. The sun was out and it couldn’t have been more perfect!

 We took the stairs back down and had lunch overlooking the tower with a car show in front of us much to Andy’s delight!

As it was a nice day we walked towards to Arc De Triomphe taking a wrong street leading to a massive circle round what should have been a 20 minute walk. Unfortunately it was under construction but we could still see most of it, however after the walk up the tower my legs couldn’t take any more stairs… Not to mention the top was covered in scaffolding! We found an artist at the bottom and bought some art as a keep sake of Paris which will forever hold happy memories.

We hopped back on the metro and took it to the red light district so we could see the Moulin Rouge, unfortunately to see a show as about 80-110€ each… a bit out of our budget however it was fun walking through the red light district seeing all the sex shops and strippers which Andy was shocked at how open everything was!

 We then jumped over a stop on the metro to the Sacre Cour where we stopped to eat some french macaroons while taking in the view (would have been rude not to!!) By this point in the day we were both exhausted and decided to head home to relax, phone the family and clean up for a nice meal to celebrate our engagement!

sacre coeur

sacre coeur

We found a nice restaurant where we lived and had a mojito to celebrate… which was maybe not the best idea on an empty stomach as it was so strong and so big it came in a pint glass!!! The dinner was incredible and was one of those meals where all you can do after wards is lie down!!

 The next day we were a bit slow in getting up and out but took the metro to the Louvre. One of my biggest regrets about my last time in Paris was not checking the opening times and turning up on a day it was closed! This time we didn’t make that mistake and got inside. It would be impossible to see everything in the museum as it is MASSIVE! The one complaint I did have, was there was little or no English signs so many of the exhibits had no meaning.

If you want the English then I think you must have to pay for the audio guide. The whole museum was quite over whelming in the sense there was just so much to look at. The biggest attraction is obviously the Mona Lisa which is almost impossible to see as there were so many people trying to get a picture of it. I almost got a bit art’ed out after a while and we left after about 2 hours.

 We walked along the river and came across the bridge with the ‘locks of love’ we decided that we would put our own lock on as it would be silly to put one up in Seoul but not one up in the place we got engaged!! So we brought our lock the spent ages trying to find a spot (as the bridge was literally covered in them!) for it before clipping it on and throwing the key into the river Seine.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Walking a bit further down we made it to the Notre Dame and took our pictures…the line to get in was enormous stretching the whole length of the square it was in…. We decided to pass as we had a deadline to get to the Catacombs before they closed at 5.

 We took the metro down which brings you out almost right at the door of the Catacombs however we got there only to discover another huge line followed by an official telling us to come back as we would not get in today. If you want to see these then you need to be there at 9.45am ready for them opening up at 10am!

With one more day in Paris left we decided to turn back time and bring out our inner child’s taking a trip to Disney Land…. Again the air was still ‘polluted’ which meant the subway there was free!! (Would have been 7.50€ each each way otherwise meaning we saved 30€… the price of half a ticket!!) We bought our tickets online which I would strongly suggest doing as its cheaper (only by a few€) but also means you get to skip the first queue of the day! We arrived at 9.45am as the park opens at 10 and went straight for Space Mountain.

Disney Land

Disney Land

It was a beautiful day and clearly everyone had the same idea as us as the place was packed out! We worked our way around figuring out how to use the ‘fast pass’ machines which I DEFINATLEY recommend! Only a few rides have them (check the map for the ‘FP’ sign) and basically you scan your ticket and it gives you another ticket for that ride with a time attached so you can go away and do non fast pass rides first the come back at your allotted time with no queues…. There are not so many in Disney Land but these are on most rides in Walt Disney Studios… Something I wish we had known before!!

By 4pm we had done most of the rides in Disney Land and were kicking ourselves that we didn’t pay the extra money to visit both parks, however after asking at information and paying an extra 10€ each (meaning our tickets were 72€ each) we got a pass for the other park…. result!!

Wall-E Disney Land

Wall-E

Tower of Terror

Tower of Terror

We hopped over to the next park and were confronted by immense queues and no fast passes left!! We got to the park at 4pm meaning we only had a few hours remaining! (Walt Disney Studios closes at 7pm, Disney Land at 10pm) we spent almost an hour and half in a line for the Tower of Terror which was over in about 30 seconds!! We ran to as many rides as we could the best being Aerosmith ride before jumping in the line for the toy story roller coaster 5 minutes before the park closes. The rule goes- as long as you ar in a line before 7pm you can go on! Lucky for us!

When we had finished we went for a quick bite to eat before jumping on as many rides as we could in Disney Land before the big finale at 10pm! The finale was awesome with a mixture of lights, fireworks and lasers lighting up the castle all done in time to Disney music it was really good and you couldn’t help but sing along!

And with a bang Paris was over… One of the most memorable parts of our Euro trip! We headed back on the train to the airport (still free!) with my new piece of bling and set off for our penultimate city…. Barcelona!!!

Disney Land by night

Disney Land by night

Venice- City of water, boats and bridges


We took the high-speed train from Pisa to Venice and arrived into a gloriously sunny day in Venice. It was just as beautiful as I remembered,  however it seemed just as confusing!

Venice

Venice

We got a ticket for the water bus for 7€ which took us from the top of the grand canal right down to where we were staying at the bottom of the canal. The boat was actually an awesome way to sit back and take in the sites of Venice. We made our way slowly through the winding canal, under bridges and passing boats and gondolas as we went. We were also able to see some buildings that you might have missed while walking around. We jumped off at our stop and found our hotel in record time! After dumping our bags we set off to find a supermarket to buy lunch and snacks for the coming days, (as prices in Venice can be very high!) we then took a spot along the water front at a nice restaurant and ordered our dinner where we were treated to a beautiful sunset! We ate our dinner as the sunset grew prettier with each minute.

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Teatro La Fenice

 We woke up the next morning and headed out on a mammoth walking tour around Venice. Finding our way back to the grand canal we walked down the side streets until we came to ‘Teatro La Fenice’ a theater which holds the opera, the building was impressive to say the least!

Everywhere we went there was small canals never more than about 10 meters away with gondolas everywhere!

We continued through the side streets until we reached ‘Piazza San Marco’ or St Marc’s Square. The square was huge but thanks to the time of year not as busy as I remembered! Right in the middle of the square stood the Basilica Di San Marco a huge cathedral decorated with intricate designs and sculptures, to the right of the Basilica was the ‘Palazze Ducale’ or the Palace of Dodge which for 16€ you can go inside and visit the prison and the Bridge of Sighs which was given its name because  it was the last view of Venice that prisoners saw before they went to jail and they would let out a sigh. However if you do not visit you can still see the Bridge of Sighs just to the right of the Palace.

We grabbed a seat on the canal front and relaxed in the sun, after the last week of hectic travel and site seeing adventures we were loving the sun and the chance to just relax and rest. The air felt so fresh and clean, especially after the air in Korea which made us constantly sick and it felt strange being able to notice such a big difference! As we started to bake in the sun we felt it best to gather our things and move on.

Travelling back through the square and straight up we made our way to the ‘Ponte Di Railte’ the grandest and best known bridge along the grande canal. On our way we stopped in at loads of different shops and checking out all the art shops and mask shops. We bought a bottle of absinthe each (more for the fancy bottle I think considering we are not big drinkers!!) and a few very small souvenirs for friends and family back home. Andy also decided that he wanted a mask to put up in our house (when we eventually go back to Oz) but not just any mask, the mask of a creepy red devil… Not sure where we are going to put it… Maybe at the front porch to scare away any would be robbers!!!

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Finally we found the bridge which was packed out with tourists and even a bride and groom who seemed to be following us about Venice!

We found steps under the bridge to stop and enjoy a spot of lunch and relax! I think I will forever think of Venice as a beautiful city where you can relax!! When we had finished we headed off again taking in as much as we could. It is an insanely beautiful city that you should just walk through and get lost in enjoying the atmosphere and view!

As much as we would have loved to take a gondola ride we just couldn’t justify paying 80€ for a 30 minute ride, however if your heart is set on riding on a gondola then you can hop on a ‘traghatto’ which is similar to a gondola but without the fancy decorations and is what the locals use to get across the canal. You might only be on it for a few minutes, and you must stand but at 2-5€ a ride its a much cheaper option to get the Venice experience. You can see signs for the traghatto at the sides of the canals away from the bridges!

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All in all Venice was one of the most enjoyable cities we have visited in Italy… not so much for site-seeing but more for relaxing, getting lost and just wondering around taking in the sites, smells and tastes of the city.

 Next stop…. Paris!!

Being the ultimate tourist in Pisa!


We jumped on a train from Naples and arrived for a very brief stop in Pisa on our way to Venice. I remembered just how confusing Venice could be from my last visit and did not fancy trying to find our hotel in the dark as the train would not arrive in until dinner time. We decided to head to Pisa, get in late afternoon and visit Pisa, stay the night and continue on wards to Venice the next morning.

Pisa's Cathedral Square with the cathedral and tower

Pisa’s Cathedral Square with the cathedral and tower

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The leaning tower of Pisa is another one of places that has always been on my bucket list so the chance to visit it was too good an opportunity to pass up!

We were staying right beside Pisa airport which is only a 30 minute walk from the tower,  we both noticed the dramatic change between the cities as Rome and Naples were very dirty, covered in litter and graffiti where as Pisa was spotless! We must have counted about 10 street sweepers cleaning the streets, the vibe was more relaxed and it was just a lovely place to walk around.

As we entered the area where the Cathedral and tower (Pisa’s Cathedral Square) are the first thing you notice is just how much the tower leans… I know this sound a bit silly as it is called the leaning tower but the lean on it is incredible and I didn’t expect it to be as far over as it was!

When it was built, it was built straight (obviously!) but due to the land below over the years it began to sink to one side. If you walk to the base of the tower you can actually see just how steep the gradient is of the base. Crazy!

Holding up the leaning tower of Pisa

Holding up the leaning tower of Pisa

We looked up and noticed people at the top and thought it would be quite nice to go up despite it actually being quite small, maybe 6 stories?! We asked at the front where to buy the tickets and the lady pointed in the direction of the building off to the side and casually added “Ticket for top 18€”…. Say what?!?!?! We both just stared in disbelief at the price they wanted to charge, that’s MORE than a ticket up the Eiffel tower which is about double the size or almost double the price of the Colosseum!

Needless to say we decided to give climbing the tower a miss… However even if you don’t decide to pay to get into the area is free and watching the tourist’s is almost as much fun as trying to get the ‘picture’

As you start to walk around you are surrounded by people doing the ‘invisible high 5’ pose, then you have the people crouching down trying to ‘balance’ the tower on their head, some are doing hand stands, some are having a tug of war with friends while some are pretending to pick up tower with their hands…. It is quite something to see!! You also have the copy-cat tourists who will see someone’s picture then try to recreate it in the exact same spot with the same pose! There was also a group of teenagers who were running around ‘photo-bombing’ as many pictures as they could or giving a high 5 to anyone with their hand out, which amused us quite a bit! Here are some of our best ones….

Although Andy hates getting his picture taken… Especially when there is a pose involved…. Even he got into the mood and was up on top of poles trying to get the best shot. The whole experience was good fun and the cathedral and dome were also very impressive.

We sat down in the grass and just enjoyed the scenery and sun before setting off again through Pisa taking in all the quaint streets and fancy buildings. We had a spot of dinner before heading home to book our tickets to Venice for the next morning.

Venice by night!

Venice by night!

All in all a great wee detour on our way to Venice.