The Gondola Ride in the Monsoon!
28.07.2010 - 31.07.2010 26 °C
So, I last left off on my way to Venice. It was a long ride as we had to go back through Florence to pick up our bus driver. They have a very strict number of hours they can drive, so they must take days off. Therefore, we had a shuttle driver take us to and from Rome while Derrick rested in Florence.
Once Derrick was back, we were on our way! About half way to Venice stopped in the city of Bologna. It is a city of about 400 000 with still a very strong Communist stronghold. They are also unique to Italy because of their love of basketball more than soccer. Those are about the coolest things about Bologna. Otherwise, it wasn't very pretty and there wasn't much to see. We stayed for about an hour. I bought a cool ring with butterflies on it.
Once we got to Venice we enjoyed a yummy meal at our campground. There was a "Beach Party" happening there that night with competitions between Contiki buses. Naturally, the best bus of all won! Together the people of our bus enjoyed 3 bottles of champagne while dancing up a storm! We had a GREAT time that night.
The next day we were up bright and early to catch the ferry over to Venice. When we got there we met our tourguide. We got to wear those cool little boxes around our necks and listen to her with headphones! She quickly pointed out that the sky looked scary. We began walking and listening to her explain things and then it began to rain. I did not have an umbrella or raincoat, so I got wet!
The tour ended and a few of us decided to grab some lunch and shop before our gondola ride. It didn't rain much during our shopping adventure at which time I spent loads of money (shoes and a bag and lots of other souveniers)!
We met the group and our tour manager, Seb and walked to a glass blowing demonstration. This was very cool. I bought a necklace.
Next we went to a lace demonstration. It was really interesting. I didn't realize beforehand that Venice was so well known for its lace. I bought a tablecloth and napkins - for the house I don't own yet!
Okay, so next is what you've all been waiting for......THE GONDOLA RIDE! Well, there were 6 of us per gondola and a fat Venetian driver. We loaded, took a bunch of pictures then turned down the first canal - RAINDROP, RAINDROP, RAINDROP. "Do you think I need to open the umbrella I bought, girls?" That was a stupid question. I've never been so cold and wet in my life! It just poured and poured on us. We stopped under a bridge for a bit, but then our crazy diver just continued on! All I kept thinking about was - protect the hundreds of dollars of stuff you bought today. So, the front of me was dry, but I had to sacrifice my bottom - and dry underpants to save the items. The girls on the boat had a good laugh at the water streaming down my butt crack. In all though, we were still having a great laugh and enjoyed ourselves the best we could.
We headed back towards the ferry, then to camp. I had a quiet night because my health is not that great - terrible cough and sore throat.
The next morning we were off to AUSTIA! We didn't have to drive as far today then we stopped for our White Water Rafting adventure. This was quite funny because we all had to get changed beside the bus (don't worry we had bathing suits on) into our wet suits and lifejackets. Then we took a group photo, broken into groups, had quick lessons and then carried our rafts to the water. The water was pretty darn cold, but beautifully fresh.
We got in our rafts and headed down river - the 'Inn' river which runs from Switzerland to Germany. The guide then said, "Okay, just up here we all swim" ......."Excuse me, what? Don't you hear me coughing up my lungs over here?" Yep, I went it.....purposely to the freezing cold RAPIDS! We had to practice getting people into the raft when they fall out, and we had to see what it was like to get pulled back it - great fun actually. We were pulling people in and falling all over each other - a good chuckle by all.
A cameraman took our photos as we continued on our way. Some people who didn't go also took photos from a bridge. We had a great time. I wished we could have been on higher grades of rapids - these were about a 2 out of 5. Maybe next time!
We headed off to our stopover - not a campground but a Contiki hostel this time. At this stop I am a "Cookie" someone who helps with the cooking and serving of food. Everyone has to take a turn. It was kind of fun and it brought back some of my serving skills from my time at the golf course! It was also a very yummy meal - schnitzel!
Today was our big adventure day. This morning I went on a mountain biking trek for about 12km. The whole group did a lot more, but I was having trouble breathing from my cough, and let's face it, was a bit out of shape for all the uphill climbs so a few of us turned back about half way. The views were more beautiful than words can descbribe - I felt like I was driving through a scene from "The Sound of Music".
When we got back we had a bbq lunch of sausage and baked potato. Yum! Then we took a shuttle van to 800m above sea level. This was the base for our tandem paragliding adventure. I took a gondola to the top (1450 m above sea level), then proceeded to run and jump off the edge! Crazy eh?! It was the scariest and BEST thing I've ever done in my life!
We started with a photoshoot at the top, then just after we ran and jumped off he took more pictures (while I was stearing) with a camera on the end of a long rod. Then he asked if I wanted to do rollercoaster - which meant he spun us in a circle as if we were out of contol and going to crash. First he asked if I wanted to videotape it, so I got out my camera and taped the whole rest of the ride, including the landing which involves simply landing on your bum!
I am extremely exhausted today so hopefully it will be another quiet night - I can't keep up with these crazy kids!
Tomorrow were off to Germany (MUNICH) with a stop at Dachau Concentration Camp.