5. Venice

But we did make it to Venezia. When we crossed the border I got this huge feel in me, telling me I was sort of home. I just totally love that wonderful country. There is absolutely nothing I can find negative about it. The people, the sceneries, the people, the food, the people, the openess, the people. Everything is just so wonderful.
Stepping out from the train station of Venice was something quite extraordinary. When I ususally describe it to people I tell them it's almost like in Star Wars and when they are in a space harbour and step out and you see all these space ships hovering above everything and you don't really have roads. That's exactly how I felt stepping outside and seeing these big steps leading down towards the water. And all you could take to get anywhere were these tiny ferries and other types of boats. It truelly was like in a fairy tale.

We were here only over one night but it was quite enough. Venice is definitely not big. Most of this city is on the mainland, but "old" Venice as in the "real" Venice, so to speak, is surrounded by water. But the modern parts of the city is on mainland Italy as not many people actually live in the "old" Venice.
Just walking around was amazing. You just walked over tiny bridges and turned around a corner and just let the whole scenery soak your eyes and mind. Even though you had no idea after a while where you were it was no problem keeping on walking, as sooner or later you would end up in a familiar place.
We actually lived right behind the big Church on San Marco Square. So right in the centre, which was very cool. You know, the Indian Jones famous scene with all the pigeons.
In the evening we had our first, of many, great meals at an Italian restaurant. Then we kept walking around, it was great in the evening. Even if we weren't being romantic you could really sense it around and it is definitely the Romantic City that it is known for. Anyway, later on it started to rain and a massive thunderstorm came along. Definitely the biggest Iv'e experienced. Thunderstorms in Sweden are never that impressive as in the US or Australia for example. Or here in Venice I got to experience.
But it added another aspect to the city, Venice turned itself into this spooky old town. Like how London is portrayed in From Hell. It was awsome seeing how everything looked one way and then the next minute completely different.

6. Rome

So we headed towards my last stop on this journey. We took the train early in the morning and arrived late afternoon in Rome. On our way we stopped in Florence and if coming over the border was like feeling like home Florence was even more so. God how I love that town. And all I saw this time was just the outer parts and the train station! I know I'll be back soon. Next to Stockholm the greatest city in the world. Without a doubt.

But if we're talking big cities then Rome is right on the top of that list. It's so huge, but what makes it more special is that it's so old as well. In most cities the old parts are in one specific area of the city, in Rome it keeps on and on and on. But of course with the Prada and Gucci stores thrown in here and there.

View of Rome from the Vatican. See the flynig lizzard at the top. Fucking massive bird.

The first day we went to the Vatican. Thought we would do it straight away cos after it was going to be the weekend and so forth. My parents by the way, were in Rome last year and talked extremely foundly about it, just like the Vatican. And I can see why.
Now I am not a Catholic and all that but of course I can appreciate what it actually is. It's quite overwhelming. Anyway, so we were walking inside St. Peter's and at one side there was this place for a little mass and I asked Emily why she not go inside the ropes and just feel the atmospehere for a second. As she is catholic and who knows when she would be back in Rome. So she did (I stayed outside it) and it was funny cos right after I talked her into going to one of the benches to sit for a second, three priests arrived and a mass was actually starting. And she of course didn't felt like standing up and walking out like that so she got to experience a complete hour of a real proper Vatican mass in Italian and Latin. While I had to stand outside the ropes and walking around waiting for her. It was quite the happening.
Sadly the picture I took of it turned out quite blurry as I was trying to figure out my new digital camera and the lightning in there. On the second pic to the right, well don't ask me why it looks like it's tilting to the right, I thought I took the pic standing straight. Heh. Oh and it was 40 (!) degrees everyday in Rome. And I had the freaking flu! But I lost a couple of kilos walking around that city with a flu and that heat so it all turned out good in the end.

The day after we went to some of the "important things to see in Rome"- places and Fontana Di Trevi was one of them. Really impressive stuff. Now, we asked this guy to take a picture of us with the fountain in the background, but the idiot zoomed in on us so no fountain... So I had to take another one (took several actually) of the fountain only.

As there were so much to see and do I am happy we stayed five nights. In the evenings we went out to restaurants, not the same one twice, need to try as much as possible eh. Some were better than others but none were bad (we're in Italy for God's sake). But the best ones were incredible. The last night we went to the southern part of Rome where Melania had tipped me about a great restaurant. We being from the north of the hemisphere went to eat around 7-7.30 so we were the only ones there! It was quite funny. We sat alone in their garden and it was really nice. Melania had told me the name of the owner so I wasn't sure if she actually knew him or not so when we were having dessert I asked one of the owners, you could see it was two brothers and that they owned it as they walked around and talked alot with the customers, (By the dessert time, people had started their first course. Haha.) if he maybe knew Melania or Stef and he said no but probably his brother (I had asked the wrong brother and sadly that brother wasn't around then) But he became really happy and talked with us for a while and when we left 30 minutes later he came up and shook our hands and talked some more. I know it's cliché but it almost felt like some kind of Godfather movie. Hehe. I had established a good contact for my future business. Hehe.

View from the Spanish Stairs

While we were at the Vatican we of course wanted to go to the Sixtinth Chapel and the Vatican Museum but it was way too crowded so we got a tip from one of the guards that it was going to be free on Monday so we went back and of course that tip was very well known. It was the longest queue of people I've ever seen. So we went back on the Tuesday and payed for it. And it was worth it.

The whole castle and buildings were so beautiful. All the walls and the ceiling was painted, so not only the Sixtinth Chapel. Below is where we started from and again the pic is not the best. I had just bought a digital camera before I left for the trip and hadn't learnt everything yet of how it worked. If I would take all these pictures again they would look a lot more artistic. Oh well, true perfection has to be unperfect as a wise Gallagher once sang.

And there were so many rooms of these things and paintings and sculptures. Impressive is a word I think I've used the most describing this trip and things I've seen but this was something really special. And we finally got to the Sixtinth Chapel, quite a tiny "room", to get you an idea on how it is. I took some pictures, there were no signs saying you couldn't. I took one of the famous part of it, see below, for example. But then the speakers came on and some guy almost screamed "Put away the cameras". But thankfully I had already taken some. Heh. But I guess it is good that you are not allowed as well, cos maybe the flash of the cameras tear on the paintings. I don't know.

And the best one, quality wise.

Some sculptures in the Vatican Museum. It's astonishing the perfection of the faces and bodies.

I could just post picture after picture of artifacts and buildings. Rome is just so beautiful everywhere you turn. But then again, so is most of Italy. As I said earlier, everything about this country is fantastic. I haven't talked about food that much but it's gotta be experienced. Sensations in the mouth all the time. And then it's sensations for the eyes by the scenery. And sensations for the soul by the people and impact of the whole society that Italy is built of.

Colosseum was another highlight. There is another one in Tunisia that is way more well preserved but the "real" one is bigger and all that comes with it, with the gladiator culture and all that. So even if it is partly destroyed it is very powerful being inside it.

Left below: A guy who actually knew how to take in the scenery with the picture he took of us. Right: Me trying to be a bit artistic with the angle of the picture.

So, you might wonder about the quote at the start of this travel-journal. It's from Nick Hornby's excellent book "A Long Way Down" that I read through the trip. I love that section of the book and I thought it sort of summed up how a compact time together with someone can develop. Now don't take it literally in the sense that we fell out at the end of the trip. We didn't. But surely we had our ups and downs together. Spending so much time very close to someone you've met once before can be difficult, even if we were only friends anyway, which was the case. But I knew it would be an experience, and it was. But you grow and again with the clichés, realise deeper of what kind of person you are. We had a lot of fantastically funny times during our trip though and it is definitely something I don't want to have undone. It has riched me alot for the future. And we got along as great friends and that I am happy about. Her journey continued back up to Florence and then onwards to France, Spain and Holland. Who knows, she might do a journal of her own of that part. In that case I give you the link. Now I end this thing and give you an advice to do take the chances that come in life. It riches you, in whatever way it turns out. I was lucky to find a good friend and see some of the best places in Europe. Carpe Diem, madferits.

Me home again after three weeks, all bronzed like an Italian God.