Time really does fly. It felt like the day before yesterday when we were sitting in the office in Lecce planning our next activities with VulcanicaMente or enjoying the company of friends on Santa Chiara square. Now it has already been months, 3 and a half months! since we have been back in our hometowns.
We made a really amateur video of our experience. Here are just some photos of the 10 000 and more that took up too much space on Tairi's laptop. We tried to make the point that EVS has been one of the best experiences in our lives. And though it might seem scary and difficult, like staying in a new culture and managing the budget, it is totally worth it and forces you to be more creative. We really developed cool survival skills.
Before finishing EVS I started to feel that the end has come and soon it is time to go back to Hungary. I was sad, but curious too.
Seeing my family and friends after a year was amazing. But I had to realise that in my city nothing had changed, only me and my point of view. I had to find a job which was really difficult at first but now I am a happy bartender.
I learned and improved a lot during my EVS. I became more confident and patient. I improved my english and I can say that parlo italiano anche. I met so many different people from all around the world and made really strong friendships. This EVS thought me that your happiness is not depending on money, it's about the company and you need to find and enjoy those little things too.
Of course I can't live without some Italian habits. I drink only espresso, have siesta time and I am trying to cook italianish with lots of veggies.
I am really thankful to VulcanicaMente for this amazing experience and Lecce will always be my second hometown.
The girls are writing a blog about their experience doing European Voluntary Service. Alright, but why is the blog just about travelling? They are not working at all?
Yes, it's true that our blog has been mainly concentrating on our travels. But we are also working a lot. And in this section we would like to give a try to make you understand what we have been doing here for 11 months. This section will be all about work. At least we will try to keep it very professional..
The posts you can find here: OUR WORK
To reach Torre di Mezzo we first took a bus from Agrigento to Gela. Hanged in the train station for 40 minutes and took a train to Vittoria. When we exited the station we had to pass a narrow corridor which was full of old men playing cards. The moment we entered the place was filled with dead silence. I guess they don't have 3 blondes passing by too often.
From the station our host Gaetano picked us up, made a city tour in Vittoria by car (showed the 2 sights of the city :D) and we drove to Scoglitti where we ate an arancina with parmigiana inside. It was incredible! The place where to buy it is named "Tinghino". If something ever brings you this small city near the seaside, we totally recommend to eat there. Also, the lovely lady working there gave us a gift, some local sweet pastries called cassatelle. YUM!
After the small aperitivo we drove to his house in Torre di Mezzo, took a shower and went to a barbecue party at his friend's house. We ate loads of meat that night.
Next morning we spent time on the beach. It was the first time we swam in Sicily. Torre di Mezzo is a tiny village next to the seaside, they have a small beach there. It is a quiet city, perfect for relaxing after some crazy days in big cities.
In the afternoon we went to Modica with Gaetano, he was so kind to drove us there and make a city tour. One of the most memorable moments of Sicily happened in Modica, in a pastry shop named Antica Dolceria Bonajuto. We bought cannoli and went to food heaven.
Modica is known for it's chocolate. Luckily we found a shop with free tasting samples. To our taste it was a bit sugary.
The city tour ended with a cute sunset in Cava d'Aliga. And then it was time to say good bye to Gaetano and meet our new host Mattia.
He took us to a family dinner party. It was really nice there. The chef cooked pansiccia (pane + salsiccia, a super clever name). We had nice conversations with the families and were playing games with the kids and since Sofi has a lot of experience of teaching children English in Caprarica, she tought them some English. In particular the song "Head, shoulders, knees and toes".
Next day we had a plan to explore Ragusa, but it was Sunday, and the only bus that left for Catania was at 12.00, so we decided to take the bus instead. At that moment we still didn't have a place to stay, so we started sending requests on couchsurfing page. Luckily after 30 minutes we found a nice guy who said that his friend was available to host us in Nicolosi, a town near Catania.
When we arrived to Catania we found Raimondo on couchsurfing hangout, and met him in the centre. He knew a lot about the city and made us a very informative city tour.
We really recommend using the CS hangout when you are planning to explore a city you don't know. We have done it also before, it saves a lot of time, is more informative and you can meet really nice and helpful locals.
In the afternoon we were picked up by car and taken to Nicolosi, to meet our new host Salvatore. He had planned a dinnerparty with his friends for that evening, so we ordered pizza and had a nice, relaxing evening.
At first we were quite disappointed that we didn't find a host in Catania, because Nicolosi is a small town, nothing much to do there. But, we didn't realise how lucky we actually were, because it is a town next to the volcano Etna. So in the morning we took a bus to the volcano. The price to go up there is 80€, of course we didn't have this kind of money to pay. But a friend of our host told us a path we could take for free to see a valley of magma. Before the beginning of the path, there was one food truck. They made incredible panini there. For 6€ we got a huge panino which was enough for 3 persons. It was filled with loads of different types of cheese, meat proucts and vegetables. They were all local products. The workers were from Nicolosi and they were super nice. We also got some delicious pistachhio cake as a present. Before departing we asked them if they could store our packbags, because it would have been terrible to carry them all the way up. They kindly said "no problem!". Just before starting our journey Tairi hurt her finger really bad, there was a lot of blood and it didn't seem to stop. The waitress was giving nurse services too. For the next 15 minutes we were fighting with the blood, that was escaping from the finger. Here is a picture of the activity for stopping the blood.
The name of the place on Etna is Valle del Bove and it's incredible. The colours of the landscape were so beautiful. It takes around 40 minutes to walk up there, of course it depends on how slow you are. We had medium level of slowlyness.
In the evening we took a bus to Catania and started looking for a host for our last night. That was a little complicated, it's hard to find a host last minute, specially when you are in three. But thanks to CS we finally at 22.00 found the new host, Pietro. We were actually only supposed to meet him. When he saw us with the back packs, he understood that we were without accommodation. It was a little shock, but he made some phone calls and after 10 minutes said: "okay let's go, I have a house for you!". He drove us to his family house a little bit out of Catania, invited his friends and we had a nice evening with a perfect view from the balcony.
We left the house quite early, because we wanted to reach Siracusa. After a rich breakfast we took the bus. Catania has a really nice bus system, you can buy round trips for a really good price. You can buy them to all the closest cool tourist attraction cities. Siracusa's highlight is the old town, Ortiga, that is on a peninsula. The city is nice, it reminded us of Gallipoli. It was a very hot day and we were with the back bags, so we were just hanging on the stairs, on the beach and went swimming too.
The day passed quickly and in the evening we said good bye to Panna, who took a flight to Budapest and we went to eat a kebab in Catania. That 2.50€ super delicious kebab was a perfect end to our trip in Sicily.
When we arrived in Trapani we had a walk in the small city. It's cozy but there is not much to see. The amazing places you should visit in that area are more in the north, at the seaside, but sadly we didn't have enough time. But, we ate a tasty arancina in a place called U Cartasu, definitely recommend this place, the best ragu arancina so far. Then we found a park which was a bit like a zoo. There were peacocks, turtles, parrots, bunnies and guinea pigs. Oh, and we took a gelato from Panna & Co, that's a really good gelateria.
Panna & Company (Tairi)
We had to be in Marsala in the evening, so we walked to the road to try hitchhiking. We were standing next to a gas station where the workers were cheering for us and observing the process, but at the same time repeating that pretty much noone is going to Marsala from there. Since we had an hour before the next train, we decided to try anyway. After one hour we realized that we failed again. Most of the people didn't even stop, they were just waving from the car. And the one's who did, wanted money (30€, train ticket was 3€) or were heading to Palermo. So we took a train to Moiza-Birgi (before Marsala) because our host, Gianni, picked us up from there.
And what happened next is indescribable. We changed our clothes to swimsuits and walked to an island called Isola Lunga. Long time ago there was some factory and now its not allowed to go there. This place is used to produce salt from the sea. The salt has a pinkish shade that colors the sea also. By the way, there is only one way to get there (unless you have a boat), a walk through the sea. It's about 200m from the shore and the sea is quite shallow.
This was the most beautiful place we had ever been to. We arrived about 7pm and the sunset made the scenery even more magic. There are "salt hills", Tairi felt a bit like she was in Estonia, because it seemed like the snow. We made snow (salt) angels and a snow (salt) war. We felt like we were on another planet or we died and this was the heaven. We are really thankful to Gianni because without him would have never been there.
After this incredible sunset we went to Gianni's house in Marsala. He and his friends offered us a great selection of local wines & Panna cooked a delicious hungarian dinner. After filling our stomachs with pizza, lecsó and the best liquids of Marsala, we danced pizzica and salsa on the terrace.
The hungarians in action
In the morning we went to see Marsala. It is a quite small but very cute city. We had a nice cappuccino next to a fountain. It was really hot outside and after a small tour we went to relax in the house.
After lunch we took a bus to Agrigento. Our host, Alberto, picked us up and took us to Valle di Templi. The ticket is 5€ if you are under the age of 25. So they asked for our documents. When they checked Tairi's ID card the first question was: where are you from? Estonia. When hearing this answer the worker left to check some papers, came back after a minute and said, ok, you're good to go. That was a strange moment, that it didn't even come to our mind to ask what happened. But later we heard, that to get the discount you need to be from a European country. So probably she went to check the map to refresh her memory about Europe.
In the Valle di Templi we met with some other couchsurfers, who were also staying with our host. We had a nice time sharing travel experiences with them. The place itself was amazing. We arrived by the time of sunset, the best time to visit the valley, because firstly, it was not so hot anymore and secondly, the light from the sunset coloured the place so beautifully.
When it got really dark our other host, Ignazio (because actually we got 2 hosts on couchsurfing for that night, but anyway they were friends who were hosting in the same house), picked us up and took us home. We ate a lot of delicious pizza, had funny conversations about couchsurfing experiences and later went to a bar on the beach. There were not so many people, but we had a lot of fun dancing to the DJ's Spotify playlist, even though he didn't have premium and we had to listen to the advertisements all the time. In the end of the party he started to play Sud Sound System and pizzica. So it ended up to be a very traditional Salento night.
After a long adventurous night we woke up at 11.00. The plan was to go to Scala dei Turchi, but we soon understood that we were far from the city. Alberto had left to Palermo and Ignazio said he could take us to the center in the afternoon by the time we had the bus. So with bleeding hearts we had to forget about visiting the incredible seaside.
That was a relaxing morning. We ate pizza leftovers for breakfast, walked around the neighborhood and enjoyed some gelato. Also, we started to plan our trip to our next host Gaetano, who we had to reach on a beach in the middle of nowhere, a beautiful calm place called Torre di Mezzo...
On a rainy Monday morning at 7.25 we sat on a bus in Lecce and started our journey to Sicily. The trip took 13 hours (ofcourse with some delays) and finally in the evening we arrived to Palermo. This time we are travelling with a hungarian girl Panna (cotta) who we met during our last trip, the couchsurfers summer camp, on the coast of Amalfi.
On the ferry to Messina, Sicily
When we got on the bus in Lecce we still didn't know where we were going to stay in Palermo. So we had a mission to find a host by the time we arrive. After sleeping for a while we started scrolling the couchsurfing app. At 10.32 we got a message from a sicilian guy Gabriele who accepted our request to stay the first night at his home. Little did we know at that moment how lucky we will be with our host. When we arrived to his beautiful appartment he greeted us warmly with his friend Mariano. We took a shower and headed out to explore the city at nighttime. We knew that in Sicily the most famous streetfood was Arancina. It is a fried meatball with rice and ragu. This is the original one, but we ate also with ham&cheese and salmon. We have tried in Lecce, but this one was so much better. After these, Sofi needed something sweet so she tried cannole. This is a local dessert with ricotta in side of a cooke type pastry (amaaaazing). Then we went to a very strange/hippie/alternative party district called Vucciria. The bulidings were destroyed during the 2nd world war, they were never renovated and the artists are making incredible graffities on the walls.
While waiting for a drink in the bar, one local man started to convice me (T.) to drink his vodka, because i am from Estonia and apparently that's what we do... To my surprise everyone who I talked to knew Estonia, and were sharing their knowledge about drinking vodka and the main keyword was always Russia.
We finished the evening playing games in the house of our host and had loads of fun until 4 am.
We woke up around 10 and went to have a breakfast in a caffeteria. The easiest way to spend too much money is to feel superhungry and step into the first bar that you see. We ended up paying 7€ for a cappuccino and panino (that's the price of 3 and a half arancine!!). When I (T.) started ordening I had the feeling of taking a sweet pastry, so I did. The idea of having a nice cappuccino and a nutella crossaint in a beautiful morning in Palermo was just so appealing. 2 minutes later I realised, heey Tairi, you still don't like sweet breakfast! So I went back to change the order to a sandwich. Anyway, food was good and with full energy we went to the center and visited the cathedral of Palermo.
We were wandering around Palermo, following Panna who has become our map reader and trying to find places we should see. Luckily our dear host Gabriele came to save us. He walked us to beautiful places, which we didn't even know to look for. For example a rooftop of Rinascente with a panorama view.
We also entered the City Hall like we owned it. It is always the best idea to explore the city with locals to firstly, not to waste time finding your way to places and secondly, who know the city better than people who have been living there all their lives?
He also took us to a park with very old and big trees called Ficus. And of course we visited the famoua market Ballarò. Unfortuantely or fortunately we didn't buy anything. We thought there will also be a second hand clothes part or old books, but no.
Thanks a lot, Gabriele, for opening you house to us and showing the best of Palermo.
After another supertasty arancina we walked to Catacombe dei Cappuccini. It is a really cool underground place where you can see dead people hanging around. There are skeletons from long time ago wearing their original clothes. It costs 3€ and is totally worth visiting. Something for Game Of Thrones fans. We have no photos to share, because it was not allowed take pics, but google helps.
In the evening we took a bus to Mondello to enjoy the seaside.
According to Panna's iPhone's health app we walked 22km that day. Exhausting, but a memorable day.
That night we slept in the house of a french EVS.
We woke up early in the morning and took a bus to near the autostrada, to hitchhike to Trapani or Marsala. The spot we decided to start was terrible for stopping cars, so finally after 30 mins of bad luck, one lady took us to the busstation. And after 90 more minutes we arrived in Trapani.
To be continued..
When we were in Naples for the first time, we really wanted to see the Amalfi coast, but we didn't have enough money and time for it. Luckily, 2 months ago, we met Jesus (lovely spanish guy, and yes we are always making jokes about his name) during a project, and he told us about a couchsurfing camp in Amalfi. The timetable seemed awesome, full of excursions and since it was quite economic with everything included (trips, food and also drinks), we immediately booked the tickets. The camp started on the 29th of June, but we had bus tickets for the 28th, so we stayed in Naples for a day in the house of the lovely volunteers Eleni & Lola. Visiting Naples is always a good choice if you want to eat a perfect italian pizza. We love that city even with the crazy traffic, and Tairi found new sandals - jackpot (fun fact, by now they already broke and I had to glue them back together - Napolitan quality + poor volunteer life - always need to glue shoes until there's nothing left to glue). We went to see the panorama view from the hill, and finally we could take a ride on the funicolare (if you have read the previous post about our stay in Naples in March, you know what we mean). The colours of the city were amazing after the rain.
Next morning we took a bus to San Lazzaro to find our camp. We knew that there will be about 100 people from all around the world, so the excitement was big. We got a tent from the organisers, so we spent 3 nights sleeping there all together (us + Ruta). As we arrived we started to introduce ourselves to a lot of people and it was clear that everybody was opened and wanted to meet new persons. Everyone was easygoing and getting to know each other went very smoothly from the beginning. As we arrived we were super hungry, but luckily we were greeted with an incredible aperitivo. This was followed by a short excursion to a hilltop next to a castle, from where we could see a very nice view over Amalfi. After dinner we learned some traditional folk dance with live music. Also, we were dancing the Polish wedding dance which we know very well, thanks to the polish group we met in a project we organised in Lecce.
DAY 1 - POSITANO
We woke up early (8 am), but in the sense of the schedule it was too late. The bus left at 8.20 so we were late to have a cornetto for breakfast, but we were fine also with just cookies and coffee. The bus took us to the beginning of the Path of the Gods. It is an amazing 8km long way to Positano. It goes up and down on the hills, but it's not too extreme. Also what makes passing the road so much easier is that a marvelous view of the seaside and the island of Capri is accompanying you along the way. The path is full of cliffs and blooming with colourflul flowers. We cannot find words to write more about the beauty we saw, you should just go there and see for yourself. :)
When we arrived to the end of the path, they gave us a choice to take a bus from Positano or walk there. The trick is that the walking way goes 1800 steps down the stairs. But it is totally worth going by foot, because of the view of the coastline and the cute houses on the way down are making you forget that you have 1780, 1779... steps more. Even though that after around 900 steps the legs start shaking a bit, and it gets worse after every 10 steps, the path is actually not so difficult to pass and the stairs end before you know it. As you can guess, we took the stairs, had muscle fever for days, but it is impossible to regret it, because of the view totally paid off the leg work.
When we arrived to Positano we went straight to the beach. By that time the sun came out (we were lucky that during the hike the sun was hiding behind the clouds) so we were ready to get some sunburn and cool it off in the water. The beach is nice, but just a small part is for free and meant to be for lying. Also there is a small square of the sea that you can swim in. But the water is clear and when you turn around to take a look at the city, you find yourself gazing at an incredible view. We did not stay too long on the beach, because we wanted to discover the city. The main product of the area is Limoncello, we could see the yellow colours of the lemons everywhere in the small cute shops. After a short walk in the centre we found a “balocony” and stayed there to have an ice cream and a beer in nice company. In Positano, the more down you go towards the beach the more expensive the food and drinks are. So the best place to buy everything is a small gas station up the hill, near to the bus station.
After enjoying the view for an hour and making one hundred photos the bus took us back to the camp. We had dinner and danced all night, even though we were totally exhausted. But we couldn't skip the evening, because it was the night of pizzica, the traditional dance from Salento.
DAY 2 - Maiori &Minori
After breakfast, we went to Maiori by bus. We were hanging on the beach until lunchtime, and then we went to a local pizzeria. The prices there were nice, it was much more economic than Positano. But of course the pizza couldn't be compared to what you get in Napoli. After stuffing our faces with Margheritas we put on sunscreen and started our next hiking trip. We took the Path of Lemons. It is an awesome way to avoid taking the bus to Minori, but to enjoy the beautiful nature that is between the two towns. On the way we could see plenty of lemon trees and panorama views to die for. The path was not so long like the day before, so after an hour (because we were very slow and stopped to make photos a thousand times) we arrived to Minori. The two cities are very similar - small, cozy, surrounded by cliffs, hills, the sea and lemon trees. We went to a Pasticceria to enjoy delicious local cakes.
We didn't have much time in Minori, but anyway it is quite small and the best part seemed to be the seaside. So, 5 minutes before the departure of the bus Tairi decided to take a swim. The bus driver didn't seem too happy to see her entering the bus wearing a towel and water still dripping from the hair.
That night happened amazing things. Tairi went to see the castle nearby with the guys and I (Sofi) went out from the camp with Ruta to enjoy the panorama. We were sitting and one guy appeared on a horse. I love horses, and I always look for an opportunity to ride them. I was brave enough to ask the man and he let me ride a horse by myself.(!) That made me sooo happy! Also, the guy told us that an observatory centre nearby had an open night. So after dinner we told everybody about the event, and went together. with a lot of people. It was amazing! We could see Saturn with the ring surrounding it and Jupiter with it's 4 moons. We also saw the Moon, with a very detailed view of it's surface. And last but not least, we enjoyed a beautiful view over the city of Praiano at night. Meanwhile in the camp a band from Brazil was playing, and we joined them later to dance samba.
DAY 3 - Amalfi
In the morning the bus took us close to the Valle delle Ferriere (Valley of Iron). We hiked a bit with a wonderful view. Even though we had been enjoying incredible views for 2 days already, we were still amazed and surprised once again how beautiful it was there. We knew that in the end we would reach a waterfall, but we did not expect so much, just a small one at least. BUT, that place was like a fairytale. Everything was green, and the waterfall was huge and amazing. And we could see two rainbows inside the falling water. The water was very cold, but it was a nice refreshment after hiking with hot weather.
The last hours with the surfers we spent on the beach of Amalfi. Had very good seafood there, and buying an ice cream with a taste named after Amalfi is highly recommended. It is creamy, lemony and super delicious. From Amalfi we had to go back to Napoli because the camp had ended. We really loved the 3 days with the people from all around the world. We made new friends, talked about our experiences with travelling, heard interesting stories about Dubai, Algeria and much more. When applying to the camp we didn't expect to be hiking so much during the 3 days, but it was perfect. If you just use the bus to go everywhere, you miss a huge part of the beauty that is hidden on the coast of Amalfi. Big thanks and a hug to the organizers, we would not have found a better place and people to see the wonderful coast of Amalfi.
Allora, we arrived to Verona at 8 pm. We didn't have accommodation again, but at least we had arranged a city tour with a local guy Simone. He came by car, so we could leave our bags there while exploring the city. We drove up to a hill and found a beautiful view of the whole city.
This city tour was the most informative we ever had. Simone and his friend are architects, so they knew everything about every building. We learned a lot about the history of Verona. And most importantly, we called for Romeo in front of his house.
By 11 pm, Ruta received a phone call from a guy who could host us. Yaay, no sleeping outside! He picked us up and brought to his amazing house in the countryside, in Vallese. We stayed up until 4 am, enjoying a bottle of very good Soave and chatting about life.
The plan was to go to Lake Garda this day. Luckily we made a 2-3 hour city tour of Verona the previous evening, so we didn't need to waste more time on that. But before leaving we had to stop in Julia's house to grab her boob for good luck.
To have good luck in love you need to call for Romeo under his balcony, touch Julia's boob and throw a flat stone into Lake Garda so that it bounces at least twice.
After this, we took a bus to Sirmione to visit Lake Garda. We had a small walk in the city. Very short walk, because it was so hot that we couldn't wait to get into the lake. The region there is beautiful. Unfortunately it was very foggy and we didn't have a clear view of the surrounding areas, not even the mountains. We can imagine that on a clear day that place looks out of this world.
The next challenge was to reach Padova, where we had a sleeping place at Ruta's friend's house. We had a train from Pescheria di Garda at 18.53. It was 18.15 when we started to look for a ride and the place was a 20 minute drive from us. We were in a hurry again. After some time hitchhiking a cute girl picked us up. She was on the way home which was near, but was kind enough to take us to our destination. We arrived 18.54 to the station and luckily the train was a few minutes late, so we made it.
We arrived to Padova at 9 pm, and Marco was there to pick us up. At home he cooked us burgers and we could finally wash our clothes in the washing machine.
We were not sleeping inside Padova, but near. So we never saw the city because we hitchhiked from the house straight to the beach of Sottomarina. We were very quickly picked up by an italian mom with her lovely daughter. They took us to the beach and offered us a Spritz. Very generous people.
The beach Bagni Oasi Sottomaria was not the prettiest beach we have seen. But it was okei for a quick swim until we found a piece of poo swimming around.
We changed the wet clothes, put the backbags on our shoulders and walked around 4 km to Chioggia, which is known as small Venezia. It was a quiet and small town, with nothing much to see. The ports looked good and we had a delicious panini in a local caffeteria. The prices are very cheap compared to other cities we have visited. There was one nice place we liked in the city. A canal, not like in Venice of course, but looked cute.
At 5 pm we started to hitchhike to reach Forlí. The first car took us to the autostrada that takes to Ravenna, which is on the way to Forlí. After 20 minutes another car picked us up. They were guys from Marocco who were selling belts on the beach of Sottomarina. Unfortunately they only took us 10 km further, because they had to go home to eat couscous??? For the next half an hour we were stuck in the middle of nowhere when finally one car stopped to take gas. They picked us up, but it came out that they were on the way to Firenze, so they left us in the next gas station. We were in a town called Rosolina and our plan to reach Forlí that day didn't seem to work out. Luckily in that city there was a trainstation so we caught the last train to Bologna. Fernando was super kind to take us into their house again. It was Sunday, but since we had not been out for socialising for already two nights, we decided to go out and enjoy the nightlife of Bologna.
Day 12 - the last day of the trip
Finally we managed to wake up early in the morning at 8, it was the first time for us. We wanted to go to Rimini and later San Marino by hitchhiking. To get out of the center it took us one hour by bus, but we were still in Bologna. We found a superstrada, but that seemed very dangerous, so we walked more to find a better place. This didn't work out for us. We tried to find a road that is out of the city, but after getting out of Bologna another city started. So there was no way to hitchhike. We decided to take a train from there. It was a very sad situation because we were already used to our luck (except the previous day). Maybe it was karma, but no regrets. We arrived to Rimini at 3 pm. So it took us 5 hours to get there, normal time by train is maximum an hour and a half.
The weather was super hot, so we went to the beach. We had a swim and laid down for 10 mins, when we were told that not every part of the beach was for free. So we needed to change place. Honestly we were again totally disappointed because the smell was terrible and everything was very expensive on the beach.
San Marino which is small country in Italy was the next stop from there. We were afraid that we won't have enough time to visit the city because we had one and a half hour. But it came out that the time was perfect for walking through the whole city. We enjoyed beautiful views from the hilltop and the beauty of the cute centre. It was very calm, because it was already 7 pm. There were just a few tourists and even the shops were closed.
In the late evening we returned to Bologna and rested well for today. We are on a train to Orte from where we will go to mid-term training for our EVS project.
Genova - the longest hitchhike so far
So from Firenze we managed to hitchhike to Genova. First an amazing italian mother took us to close to Pisa. We were next to the superstrada where actually you can not hitchhike, but the petrol station seemed safe. We had to wait about 20 minutes and two trucks came. First we were hesitating to go or not because we had to sit in 2 separate cars. Well we didn't want to wait more so Tairi went with 2 italian guys, Ruta and me with one. We told them that we want to go to Pisa but their destination was almost Genova. So we started thinking about going to Genova without visiting Pisa. The way was so long because they were porting wine bottles and had a speed limit. After 2 and a half hours we were out from the trucks in Sestri Levante, quite close to Genova. Came out that they were not going to actually in the city of Genova. We were again next to the superstarda. We started to write a new poster with the name of Genova, but we couldn't even finish the word before two guys picked us up and we reached Genova finally within 30 minutes. The guys were super nice and the story is not yet ended with them.
We were very lucky (as always) because we had a pleasure to stay with two volunteer girls Ana Karen and Brenda form Mexico and Argentina. We arrived quite late so it was time to have dinner. We made the typical dish from Genova - pasta con pesto. After that, the girls recommended a festival. They live in the historic center, but the place was a little bit far so we took a bus. It was a festival about peace and culture. A band from Chile was playing and we totally fell in love with the South-American rhythm.
After the concert we visited a Genovese Erasmus party in the port. We had so much fun there and met people even from Salento. Nope, the party didn't finish, we went to a local pub in the center. It was a very strange place, it's similiar to hungarian ruinpubs but it was totally ruined. The citizens don't like the noise (ofc we can agree with that) so to scare off the people they are throwing from the windows plastic bags with water (they have also other options instead of water, but better to not know it).
As the night was so long we didn't wake up early, but we knew that we have a meeting with Giuseppe and Marco (they gave us the last ride to Genova). We went out from the city by car into the woods and mountains. The road was beautiful. The fresh air and the colourful houses in the green "jungle" were amazing.
After 1 hour of driving we arrived to a small village called Maissana. We had lunch in a restaurant that was run by a local family. First we had ravioli as a primo piatto. The second one was a kind of steak with zucchini. The dessert was ice cream with panna. Everything was so delicious and the place was really cozy.
Giuseppe then took us to Baia del Silenzio in Sestri Levante where we first met. It was a small but very cute place with a beach, port and a nice view.
Actually we wanted to go to Cinque Terre, but with a car it is very complicated, so he could not take us there. It was already half past five, we were thinking about going back to Genova, but at the same time we really wanted to visit Cinque Terre, so until the last minute of the train's departure we couldn't decide what to do. A few minutes before the train left, we decided to make the trip, so we were running to catch the train and for that reason we couldn't buy the tickets. We were so nervous during the whole 40 minutes, but fortunately the ticket controller didn't come.
Firstly we arrived to Monterossi. It has a long beachline and a cute city.
We were thinking to take the train back to Genova, but we checked that if we would go to the next stop of Cinque Terre, we would still catch the train and could see Vernazza. So we ran again to the train and arrived to the second village - Vernazza. This one has no beach, but it's still possible to go to swim from the rocks, there's a ladder.
10 minutes before the train we double
checked the info and found out that it is not going to Genova, but a town near Genova. So we had 2 more hours to spend before the next train. We sat down to watch the sun go down.
After 20 minutes we figured that we could also visit another village. There was only one more train so we decided to skip Gorniglia, which is the only one with no access to the sea, and take 2 stops to Manarola. We didn't have tickets and with two stops it was more risky. When we got on the train we saw the control guy coming to our direction. We became very nervous and Tairi immediately sat down with some random Americans and started having a conversation. It was more like throwing out words from a machine gun than a conversation. I (T) was so nervous that i forgot what i was saying in the middle of the story and was telling them random things and facts about Cinque Terre and our travel. They probably think i was nuts. But the Americans were very nice, and i would have loved to speak with them longer than 6 minutes train ride and while feeling normal. They were on a car trip in Italy and had stayed in Salento a few days ago. Anyway, the ticket guy just passed us and was not asking tickets from anyone.
Manarola was beautiful as well, the sun was hidden behind a mountain and we could see full moon.
We managed to visit 3 out of 5 five villages. But Corniglia we could see from Manarola, because it's on top of a hill. Unfortunately we had no time for the last one - Riomaggiore, that from the google photos looks the greatest. The coastal area in Cinque Terre is beautiful, but we were expecting something more incredible. We guess we are spoiled with the beauty of Salento. But, the villages are amazing. The colours and buildup of the houses are so cute and interesting. We are very happy that we decided to make that trip.
We went to buy the ticket from Manarola to Genova and found out that this price and connection didn't exist. So we wanted to buy a ticket to Sestri Levante, but since the time of the train was passed by then (the train was 15 mins late), we couldn't. According to the ticket machine, the train had left. We were nervously waiting for the train, not knowing how we will get to Genova, because the train only went to Sestri Levante and since it was late the next train to Genova would have been left before our arrival. A German couple Elizabeth & Dani and a Canadian guy Nathan had seen us before fighting with the ticket machine, so they asked if we managed to buy the tickets. We told them our situation and they said that their car was 3 stops away in Levanto. They were kindly offering to bring us from there to Genova. Such a release, we are so lucky all the time here. But we still had the problem of no ticket. The ticket controller came after one stop. She was a bit angry, but we explained our problem and she sold us the tickets for normal price (4€) and let us continue the trip. Super fortunately!
We had a great time travelling with our new companions for the next 2 hours. We were talking about our countries and travelling. Their stories were amazing, they have made a trip around the world and visited Italy many times. It was so great to share stories with them, remembering all the nice people who have ever helped us and them. If you read this guys, know that we are super grateful and hope to see you again somewhere in the world, hopefully in Lecce before November.
This morning we walked around Genova, because we actually hadn't had time before to see the city. It would have been sad to leave it, without seeing anything.
On one narrow street we met a super cute dog named Anakin, he was on the doorway of a popular barbershop in Genova. We stopped to pat him and met his owner Francesco who came out to be from Gallipoli. We are meeting people from Salento all the time, that's very nice. They are always so warm. He offered to make us a city tour, but because we didn't have much time we had a small walk with him and his lovely dog and talked about Genova and Salento.
We just arrived to Verona in this moment. We have been writing this post the whole time in the bus - more than 4 hours. Also we managed to find someone through couchsurfing to make us a city tour when we arrive.
New town, new adventures. We'll keep you posted!
Siena - cute city full of surprises
On Monday we hitchhiked from Firenze to Siena. We arrived without any plan where to sleep. We tried to get accommodation through couchsurfing, but unfortunately nobody accepted us. We are a group of 3, so it is a bit more complicated. So we were thinking that, it was not so cold anyway, so we could sleep under the stars.
We made a small city tour, visited Duomo di Siena, which is one of the most beautiful cathedral we have ever visited.
After walking around for a while with our huge backpacks, we decided to take a rest and charge our phones. We entered a bar which looked like under construction, but never finished. It was an empty, but big hall with a small bar and a few tables where elderly men were playing cards. Nothing special about that place, so the wine cost 50 cents. When we got to the end of the place and opened a door for the terrace we were reminded of a very smart sentence - never judge the book by it's cover. The view what was released behind that door was breath taking.
Meanwhile we announced on the couchsurfing page hangout section, that we are looking for a place to stay for 3 persons. We started receiving letters that maybe some people can host us, and some people just wanted to hang out and show us the city. After a few hours of chatting with different people we arranged to meet with someone on Piazza del Campo.
Arrived 4 guys with 2 cars. From that moment everything went only uphill. They took us to one of the guy's home, which was just in the centre, a very beautiful house. They cooked us dinner, offered good wine and great company.
Later we went out to a karaoke bar and had lots of fun.
We were planning to stay just for one night, but the guys offered to show us around Tuscany the next day. Since our trip is not strictly planned (not planned at all), we decided to stay for another day.
Unfortunately we woke up quite late the next day, so the guys didn't have so much time before work, but they took us to a place near Siena, close to Castello di Leonina where we found an incredible view of Tuscany.
The rest of the day we were discovering Siena and met a nice indian guy from couch surfing, who took us to the university mensa (caffeteria) for lunch.
In the evening our dear hosts took us to a fancy party. It was the opening of the summer terrace of a place called Cantina.
That evening we slept in a cute and cosy house in the region of Chianti. We arrived at night, so in the morning it was amazing to look out of the window. Such a pleasure seeing the grape fields surrounding us.
We really loved Siena. Tuscany is amazing and we hope to go back there during our stay in Italy. We are thankful for everybody who helped us to get there, starting from the busdriver in Firenze who showed us the way to the right road for hitchhiking, the 2 car drivers and super grateful to everyone who opened their homes for us and made our stay in Siena unforgettably incredible.
This morning we hitchhiked to Firenze and from there we are now on the way to Genova.
firenze is amazing
We arrived to Firenze around 5 pm. We made a selfie in front of Santa Maria Novella and found a park to hang out while waiting for our host.
In Firenze we were staying with a lovely hungarian family who had a beautiful house with an incredible view of the city.
In the evening we met a sweet Lithuanian girl who made us a small city tour.
We found a couchsurfers meeting event on the CS page and went to check it out. It took place in a bar named Slowly. There weren't many people but we had a nice aperitivo and met a local guy Monju, with who we continued the evening in a nightclub called Space. Firenze is full of americans, it seems like there are more of them than the italians. Also the nightclub was loaded with them. We felt like pieces of meat in there but apart from that we had lots of fun dancing for hours.
Since it was the first Sunday of the month most of the museums were for free. We visited Galleria Palatina and Giardino Boboli - huuuge garden, we didn't even manage to see half of it. To go there you should bring good shoes and food for picnic. Would be lovely. Lastly we visited Galleria di Uffici.
For dinner we stood 10 mins in the line to buy a panino (sandwich) from a place called All'Antico Vinaio. Very nice and big panini for 5€. A little bit dry, but probably could have asked for some sauce.
By the time of the sunset we went on top of a hill where were loads of people sitting on the stairs enjoying the view. From there we could see a beautiful panorama of the city.
Somewhere up there
The evening continued with a beach party next to the river with good dance music.
When we finally arrived to our house Sofi managed to bend the key inside the lock, she is just so strong. When Tairi tried to make it straight again, the key broke into two pieces. What a joke! We started to think about staying up all night, hanging around somewhere, but in the end decided to ring the neighbours and finally got into the house.
This is our story of Firenze. We really loved that city and our home there. Firenze is beautiful and full of surprises, and the nightlife is great. It's probably a city where you never get bored.
Today we hitchhiked to Siena. We were very lucky because one lady took us to the car road to Siena and immediately another one picked us up and brought to the destination.
We are planning to stay for one night and tomorrow try to reach Pisa.
Tairi & Zsófia