Ancient Brothels and Lemocello

This day was a whirl-wind day, we started in Rome, had lunch in Capri and dinner in Sorrento. We started early, on a ferry ride from Rome to the Island of Capri where we could get a glimpse of the “High Life”. This Island is for the rich and famous. It was so expensive we could hardly afford to buy lunch and a few beers stretched the budget and almost destroyed a few of the younger Contiki crew members. We got together for drinks and hired a little dingy, so we could see some of the famous spots.

Nathan and Shane in their Dingy

Cruising around Capri, backpacker style

It was a bit of a rush as we had to catch the ferry back to the mainland for dinner that night in Sorrento. We drove the boat to the Blue Grotto and jumped in for a swim. The water was blue as blue and so clear you could easily see the bottom. This was an added bonus as we could see the rocks lying on the sea bed. As we were leaving we noticed another bunch of travellers who were stuck right up close to the cliff in their hire boat. They had dropped anchor exactly where they were told not to, on the shallow rocks. We couldn’t leave them like that so we went over and gave them a hand. We pulled up along side them, tied a rope to their dinghy and pulled them off the rock that their anchor was attached to. Once they were free we carried onto the amazing Hole in the Rock (Scopolo) which we were told “DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH” the Hole in Rock.

The hole in the rock

Do not drive through the hole in the rock

We seriously thought about driving through, it was huge but our better judgement decided not to. We carried on, having a few drinks, stopping now and then for a swim and bumping into some of our friends.

Isle of Capri

Swimming in the bluest water

The Blue Grotto

How blue is that water???

Now when I say that Capri is for the Rich and Famous, I am not pulling your leg. Check this Mega Yacht out. This private Mega Yacht was chilling out in its own private bay. It was HUGE!!!! We struggled to get the entire thing in a photo. I could not see anyone other then the workers on the yacht. There were people cleaning the many levels of decks, some people painting the boat and what I think was an electrician changing a few light bulbs, I was thinking that could be me.

That night we found ourselves walking the skinny side streets in Sorrento, over looking the sheer cliffs and over the magnificent views of the coast and the Bay of Naples. My wife was in heaven tasting the delicious local liqueur Lemoncello. Which we ended up buying some hand painted bottles in the shape of an “Italian Boot”.

The painting's on the wall


The next morning we stepped back in time to check out the well preserved ancient ruins of the infamous city of Pompei. This place amazed me as it has amazed millions of people. It was incredible to see the remains of ancient life frozen in history. I think our tour guide made the experience even more memorable. He was a legend and just oozed passion for Pompei.

Pompei resident

It was amazing how they found these people

Pompei Ruins

Beautiful day to explore Pompei

Pompei Ruins

Pompei Brothel

How would you like it sir?

I found the worlds oldest industry in Pompei very interesting. I don’t really know what that says about me but it was interesting for me, coming from a country town in regional Western Australia that is well known for its colourful history of brothels. We walked through one of Pompei’s brothels and there were still well preserved paintings on the wall. The tour guide explained that the paintings were a kind of “menu”.

Pompei Brothel

Menu sir???

Pompei Brothel

Comfy beds

Pompei Brothel

Penis Paver

I remember a story that the guide told us. He said that if you were wondering around the maze like winding, skinny streets of Pompei, how could you find a brothel? He said this looking down and we all noticed the penis shaped paving brick that we were standing around. Apparently the direction of the penis directs you to the nearest brothel. An ingenious way I think?

Mt Vesuvius

View over The Bay of Naples

After visiting Pompei we were treated to a surprise trip up tp Mt Vesuvius. The drive up was impressive, with really tight turns and sheer cliffs drops at the edge of the road. Our awesome coach driver Rado got to show his skills behind the wheel of the huge Contiki coach. The path up to the volcano rim was riddled with loose rocks that if it were not for the volcano I was certain were there to trip you up. Once at the top we were treated with an amazing view over The Bay of Naples.

Mt Vesuvius

At the top of the Volcano that buried Pompei

Mt Vesuvius

There is always someone trying to sell you something.

That night we boarded an over night boat from Italy to Greece, ready to get our party on in Corfu.

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One Life, One Search

Perspex Police Stations, Thieving Backpackers and Ancient Rome

Well Rome hit home hard. It was one of the places that I was most excited to see but just ended in a bad experience. The first night we got our expensive DSLR camera stolen and lost 17 days worth of photos. So Rome started off in the pits. The Contiki coach had been used over night to pick up another Contiki crew from a club in town that was serving cheap drinks.. They had spewed all over the seats in the coach and had managed to nick our friends bag with their phones which were found after a full tent search. But we never found our camera. So that morning after trying to settle myself down and keeping my wife from going crazy we missed our Contiki’s tour of the Colosseum and spent the morning aimlessly wondering around the dodgy back streets looking for the police station arguing with each other. Have you ever had to find a place in a strange city with a map in another language, just trying to match street signs? Well it is not easy, especially when you are arguing and you’re both so worked up as it is, it just does not make for a very pleasant way to start a day.

After a few hours of bickering and sweltering in the Roman 40+ degree summer heat, asking for directions at tiny little shops and having to buy a chocolate to get directions we noticed a Polizia car drive past. Then we turned a corner and saw another one and then the sign! The Polizia sign was like a giant neon beacon in the sky. Well not really, it was an almost ancient sign in the same condition as the colosseum. We looked inside and it was this dodgy derelict building, with dirty faded green paint and a very scary looking police officer behind a perspex window which was barley see-through. He started to speak to us in his language to which our bewildered looks must of gave it away that we did not speak Italian. “English” is all I could say to which the response was a shrug of his shoulders and he walked off. I thought that was it, after hours of wondering around we were not going to get service anyway. A few moments later another officer said “Come”. We walked up the stairs and into a decrepit office, he put a piece of paper in front of us, it was in Italian and some English. We figured out what we needed to do. So filled it out, the officer signed it and we were off. The officer really didn’t care one bit, he knew that we just needed it for our insurance. So it was almost as if he just made it easy for us, get us in and out, without much speaking.

So now we were free to roam around Rome. We could see the colosseum, as you can pretty much everywhere in Rome, it is huge. As we got closer we saw the crowds and we started to get the typical tourist hotspot scammers coming at us. Little did they know that we were already not having a good day and they were just in my way. I think they soon got the picture.

Juice in Rome

This was the saving grace of our shit day

We decided to stop for something to eat and drink at this little café that we had passed earlier a few streets back. Lucky we did as we had this amazing fresh juice. It doubled up as a way to de-stress after the excitement of the morning.

colosseum tour

The colossal colosseum

When it felt right to move on we made our way to the colosseum. I was not going to let a thieving backpacker ruin my Rome experience. We brought a guided tour and it was pretty bloody awesome. Turns out it was a better tour then the Contiki crew did. We got to go under the stage and right up to the very top. These two spots are only accessible with the official tour. We got to see how they operated the stage floor and even got a close look at how the roof parts were connected.

The official colosseum tour

Shane under the colosseum

As you could imagine we were not in the mood for much after our morning so we just wondered around, brought some lunch at a rather expensive café on the hill over looking the colosseum. It was ordinary food but a bloody good view. Later that night we caught up with our crew and had a few drinks and a swim in the pool. A nice way to end a shit day.

Official tour of the colosseum

Kristy at the Top of the colosseum

Vatican City

The Vatican City

The next morning we wondered up to the Vatican City. Another country off the list. Now a little tip: purchase your water before walking into the Vatican City. It is much cheaper in Rome then inside the gates, more then double the price actually. I suppose the pope needs to make money some way? Any way back to the Vatican City, it is huge and it is grand! I am

Vatican City Rome

The grand entrance to the Vatican City

not religious at all but this place is pretty special. The amount of money here is astronomical. There is gold everywhere, grand statues and huge paintings. My wife and I are always conscious of what we wear when visiting religious areas. However we did see some tourists being asked to cover up and offered cloth, if they didn’t cover up they were not let in. Please, if you are a visitor to any religious site please be respectful.

We wondered around and visited the St Peters Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. We met up with a few of the crew and chilled out on the steps in the summer sun, until we were told to move on by the guards. To which we then found ourselves at a bar down the road. All in all Rome is a place that you must see. I’m happy I did but I won’t be rushing back. It is dirty, it is hectic and it is full of scammers and dodgy people. However it is full of history and magnificent ancient monuments and you can escape the chaos and find your little espresso café in a back street and see how the locals live. Maybe just maybe not have a scammer trying to do you over. Go see Rome but keep all your personnel belongings close by, do not flash your smart phone or cash around and certainly wear your travel bag under your shirt.

What was your Rome experience?

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Thank you Vee for letting us steal some of your photos.

One Life, One Search

Thinking on the Tower of Pisa

We all left Venice with sore heads and headed towards Florence. Our Contiki coach wound its way through the Apennine Mountains and through the breathtaking Tuscan country side to the “Renaissance” city of Florence. We stopped at one of the most recognisable site in Europe, The Leaning Tower of Pisa or simple “Tower of Pisa”.

The Tower of Pisa's massive lean

The unique Leaning Tower of Pisa

This very unique structure obviously was never designed to lean. However during construction the famous tilt began, caused by an inadequate foundation. I completed my apprenticeship in the construction industry and am well aware of the importance of a good foundation. Something that that caught my eye on this tower is you can see that the builders attempted to rectify the tilt. Near the top you notice that they have adjusted the levels in an attempt to correct the tilt. This just adds to the uniqueness of this bazaar tourist attraction.

Inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa gardens

Inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa gardens

When we arrived at the Leaning Tower of Pisa we were given a challenge, everyone who visits the tower all ways takes one of the famous photos of the tower, you know the one. The one where you look like you are holding the tower up. Well we were given the challenge of the “Most Unique Photo” of the tower, would win a 6 pack of beer. Now we’re backpacking on Contiki so you could imagine free beer was a BIG prize, so everyone was thinking of the winning shot. We had people standing on top, the usual holding up photo, the boys did the giant doodle photo, we even had one bloke do the “Sneaky Nut” on top of the tower a rather unique one, but I took out the prize. I took the “thinking” of the most unique picture quite literally and posed as “The Thinker” sitting on top of the Tower. Yay for me a 6 pack of beer, which funnily enough was used as payment to a local when our coach driver got lost in Albania, but that is another story.

I loved Florence, pity I have no photos of the beautiful city, thanks to a swift, dodgy traveller in Rome. Sorry I bet you are all getting sick of me talking about my DSLR getting stolen. The city is so beautiful and full of those little places that I just love getting lost in. Those little back streets with cool little shops, bars and art work. The artwork in Florence is a little bit extra awesome, Michelangelo awesome. We visited The Statue of David; Ponte Vecchio the Medieval stone bridge over the Arno River, which has some cool shops on it; the Medici Palace; the awe inspiring Duomo Cathedral; Basilica Santa Croce; Giotto’s Bell Tower; the Baptistery and Piazza della Signoria.

 We were treated to the usual Contiki stop at Leonardo’s leather making and watched as they showed us the regions traditional art. That night we headed out for a Tuscan dinner and partied on at the Florence’s biggest club, Space Electronic Disco. Where we were treated to amazing Karaoke and some very bad drunken mumbling into the mike. At one stage I had two glow sticks through my ears. Once again in the morning we were packing up our tents and hitting the road to Rome.

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One Life, One Search.

Contiki, Florence

10 litre Beer? YES PLEASE!

Contiki Florence

1 massive Cocktail at Red Garter Karaoke

Contiki, florence

The boys and their 10 litre beer

Contiki Florence

Sing your heart out boys!

Contiki Florence

The tiny little Karaoke bar completely packed out!

Contiki Florence

More Karaoke and a Gremlin