Thursday, July 21, 2016

Italy part 1 - Brindisi & Rome

July 21 - 31

We left Kotor, Montenegro on July 20 and headed across the Adriatic Sea. It was 130 miles to Brindisi, Italy. The seas were still lumpy as a system had passed through the day before. We were able to set our sail (main and jib) for 15 hours on a starboard tack. Over the course of the 20 hour sail the wind moved from our bow to our stern. We had a constant 18 knots of wind which Element loves.

We furled our jib in at 7:30 am (by mistake I had sailed us 2-3 miles too far) so we had to motor back to our entrance point. There was 20 plus knots of wind as we entered into Brindisi. As it was really choppy we kept our main up until we could find calmer waters to drop it. We had the coast guard motor up to us and give us trouble for having it up while inside the break water. We promptly dropped it and continued on to the town quay (which was privatised and cost 50 Euro a night).

sunset after we left Montenegro
full moon rising
sunrise on our way to Brindisi 
Brindisi is a true Italian city. Very few tourist which was a welcome relief. The wifi is terrible at the quay so we made our way along the waterfront. The fellow that works at the quay recommended a place around the corner called Bernardis. It was nice but s little pricey. Later in the evening we made our way further down the waterfront to the Betty café that has awesome wifi and a great vibe (and great wine).

We headed back to the boat and got the girls ready for bed. Shaun and I wanted to walk around a little bit more so off we went to see what we could find. I was getting tired from our sailing and from the walk so I headed back to the boat while Shaun headed out a little longer. He was in search of the chandlery. Instead of finding it he found more of the city. The following day we all went for a walk into the city with its beautiful architecture and cafés. We found a candy store which is equivalent to Canada's Sticky's.

inside the breakwater 
excellent marker on the breakwater
enjoying some vino at Betty's café

monument across from our quay 
streets of Brindisi
the candy shop 
a mariner themed fountain 

Our original plan for Italy was to stay in Rome, Naples, Cortona, and Cinque Terra. It turned into Rome and Cortona as the prices in Cinque Terra were extremely high. As for Naples we decided that we might be able to sail there on our way to Sicily and Sardinia.

Our train from Brindisi to Rome departed at the crack of 6:11 AM so we had to get up very early. We were able to eat breakfast and walk to the train station in plenty of time. Thankfully we brought Jordan’s scooter so that she could keep up. 

can you guess who isn't a morning person?

During the train ticket purchase we had to upgrade to first class as there were no seats together in second class. We were served a beverage and a snack upon our arrival. The trip took us just over 5 hours on the high speed train.

We arrived into the chaos of Rome termini station. We hadn’t experienced this many people in a very long time. It was overwhelming to say the least. Once we were off the train and up at street level we had to figure out where to go. Our apartment/hostel contact Monica (Night and Day) had given Shaun directions. Once we muddled our way through and arrived at the apartment Monica spent at least an hour with us going through reasonable places to eat that are near many of the attractions. She gave us the name of a famous gelateria and we are so glad (best gelato ever). She also gave us a map with all of the transportation options to get to the various sights with tips on how to avoid long line-ups. She is a saint and we are so glad that she gave us the extra information, it was appreciated. 

Once we were finished with the maps she showed us the keys that we would need to access the building/gate/rooms as well as the coffee machine and kitchenette. She and three others have 20 rooms that have been converted into rental suites. If you ever visit Rome and want a reasonable place to stay that is in the heart of everything, this is the place - Monica went above and beyond with her services.

As it was Saturday evening we decided to walk around to get acquainted with the surroundings. We found the famous Trevi fountain and went to the famous Giolitti gelato (huge scoops for a fair price).

The following day (Sunday) we went to check out the area behind the Colosseum, then on to Circus Maximus (where chariots raced) and finally the Colosseum. Monica from our apartment had recommended purchasing our tickets at the area behind the Colosseum to avoid lineups. It was GREAT advise.

There were so many people...... but seeing the Colosseum up close was incredible! It is so much bigger in person. If you go make sure you get tickets before arriving as the lineups are insane.

the girls room
the message board for thoughts
Shaun hard at work planning our trains
Trev fountain
another shot of the fountain

a cool fountain
another square
a famous gelateria - super tasty
huge scoops of gelato
excellent architecture
the streets in the evening
a church
a monument to a general
Trev fountain in the day

cool mini magnets
side street

ruins on the way to the Colosseum
a church
the street leading to the Colosseum

our first up close view of the Colosseum and all the people

taking a look at the area behind the Colosseum

a view of the UN building behind

circus Maximus

The Colosseum

entering the Colosseum with throngs of people


statue of Caesar

On Monday we took the metro to the Vatican and Sistine chapel. The metro system in Rome is incredible. The only down fall is the ticket machines are temperamental. We were directed to but our tickets from the newspaper stand outside. Word to the wise.... skip the machines and buy from the news stand.

As we exited the metro and walked down the road there was a water re-fill station. We had seen water spouts frequently in Rome but this one was incredible with the option of sparkling or still water. What a great idea, no one will ever go without water.

The Vatican was huge and the lineups were crazy. Luckily we purchased our tickets online and could bypass the HUGE line. We had booked a tour but arrived early and decided to make our own way through. With the throngs of people it wouldn't have been possible to fully take advantage of a tour especially with Jordan. It worked our perfectly as we could go at our own pace or that of the people.

In grade 4 Paige did a french speech on Michael Angelo so it was very important for us to see the Sistine Chapel. There were no pictures allowed but it was unlike anything I have ever seen. Incredible!

Once we had finished the tour we met up with Natalie and Toby Sanft for dinner. Natalie was Paige’s grade 3 teacher at Laronde. The day before I happened to notice a Facebook post that she was in Rome. I sent a message to ask where they were staying and she replied near the Fountain Trev. Hmmmm, strange that is where we are. We arranged a time and place to meet. We met up, had a fabulous dinner and time catching up. I knew Toby from my teens so it was extra special. We soon found out that they were staying literally 6 doors up from us on the same street…… Small world! It was nice to see familiar faces.

heading down the escalator to the metro
Rome has water spouts throughout the city but this one offered sparkling or still water
St. Peter's Basilica

giant fractures sphere

did I mention the number of people?

a very cool mosaic

we noticed a lot of Egyptian statues

Paige and the Sphinx

an interesting 3 legged table

the tapestry wing

old maps

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I thought this was painted well

this was an interesting painting

we believe that this was completed with recycled materials

a very neat globe

this reminded me of The Game of Thrones

postage stamps from the Vatican

the exit spiral

our friends from Canada who happened to be in Rome Natalie & Toby

just the ladies - from left to right - Jordan, Sherrie, Natalie & Paige

Follow our video adventures on our YouTube channel: Video adventures of s/v Element

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