Our Italian Honeymoon Adventure

Well, I know that you guys wanted to know all about the honeymoon and to see some pictures, so yeah, I am going to post some of them here. Be warned, there are going to be a lot of pics here – which is unusual for us. My husband (eeeeep) and I don’t do the pictures and camera thing at all, but made the concerted effort to do so when we were out there.

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Now, Italy was an experience, let me tell you that. We had such a blast!

Alright, so we got married on a Saturday, and on Monday we drove up to Johannesburg to catch our flight to Dubai, and from Dubai to Rome. We were on those planes forever! Luckily there was a really great entertainment system on the planes, so I managed to watch some movies and what not. Arriving in Rome, my phone hit up the Wi-Fi and I had a super freaked out Natasha demanding to know where I was making my connecting flight, to find out that Brussels had been attacked that morning. It was really not nice, but explained the tightened security at the airport.

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Navigating a new, foreign country is pretty daunting when you do not have a working phone or the ability to belt it in Italian, but we managed to come right and organise a shuttle to our apartment. We arrived and the first thing that we thought was that we were in the ghetto and were going to be killed. Seriously. Back home, areas that have that much graffiti in them are super sketchy, the kind of places you avoid. We learned fast enough though that in Italy, but especially Rome, tagging things is sort of like a right of passage or something. There is graffiti everywhere.

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We ventured out that night and got a sim card, which automatically made us breathe easy because we could at least communicate. Walking around the neighbourhood was amazing. We pretty much can’t walk anywhere here at home, not even kidding. It was the most liberating feeling in the world to get up and walk out of the apartment whenever we wanted and it was safe to do so. Also, another thing to note is how clean it is out there. I was shocked. There were thousands of people, but no trash and junk lying around. Amazing. And such a police presence!
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We downloaded an app and we marked all the points we wanted to explore for each day on there, and took a bus from where we were staying to where we needed to be, and spent each and every day walking to all the different sites, seeing all that was around us. It was truly an amazing experience. Rome really is a lot smaller than you would think – once you are at any given site, the others are a stone’s throw away. One thing that did suck, however, was our currency exchange rate when we went over. Urgh. Thanks to our delightful fuckwit President Zuma, the exchange rate went up from R12.50 for €1.00 to R20.00 for €1.00. It was sheer lunacy, but we made it work and had tons of fun, though it did limit a lot of the things that we could do.

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Also, the pizza out there. Like oh my goodness. I am not usually a pizza fan because (I am saying it) there is usually too much cheese going on and a sloppy base. In Italy? Crunchy, wood fire pizza, minimal cheese and delicious toppings. You can taste everything! I must say though, the few pastas we did eat out there were really bland, which surprised me. Soda is also super expensive out there, and it is not refrigerated (just the little cans are). I was shocked, too, by how you can buy liquor (and not just beers, the hard liquor, too) anywhere. I mean it. Cafés, grocery stores, sweet shops, anywhere, they all had liquor. Like, everywhere.

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Let’s not forget to mention the architecture out in Italy, because that would be a crime. You know, pictures are all impressive and stuff, but it just doesn’t compare to seeing the actual buildings, statues, monuments, doors, etc. I was overwhelmed by how tiny I felt – the architecture, the age, it all drives home how ancient and amazing things are. I travelled thousands of kilometres to see this, and so have millions of other people, over so many years. It really is something to take in.
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From Rome we went to Florence, and man, I fell in love. While Rome might have been the more entertaining of the two purely because there is an inordinate amount of things to do, Florence is hands down the more beautiful. It is clean, the people are insanely friendly, it was cheaper there than Rome or Venice, and it, too, was small. Totally more my speed. We drank wine, ate pizza, explored every day, and I loved every moment of it. We did the tours, the photos, the walking… seriously, I walked through two pairs of shoes while I was out in Italy. I was so stoked to be able to walk anywhere at any time, so I took advantage of it like crazy. I have also always wanted to see the Duomo, and I was not even remotely disappointed. It was so beautiful and vast and impressive and… I don’t actually have words for it. WOW.

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Lastly, we moved on from Florence to Venice, and that was something I was interested in seeing. I remember my wedding photographer asking how long we would be in each of the places (she had gone to Italy before), and when we told her we were in Venice for three days, technically four because our flight was leaving so late, she sucked in her breath and said that even two is overkill for Venice. Now that I have been there, I can see what she meant. Venice is beautiful and magical and an experience, it really is, but Venice is also really small. We spent four days traipsing all over Venice and hiding out in the apartment when we just couldn’t anymore, and when we left on the last day, we were actually really looking forward to coming home. That is  how I knew we had a proper holiday – when you get to the end and you have had a great time and you are all good for exploring more, but you are also perfectly fine with going home, sleeping in your own bed, on your own pillow, not living out of a suitcase anymore or burning through ridiculous amounts of money. We were there.

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Anyway, there is just way too much to say on the adventure, too much for one post. The experience was overwhelming and awesome and heck, so much fun! I do not regret it, and would go again in a heartbeat!

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Gelato… you can’t go to Italy and not live off the stuff. It is GLORIOUS.

BUT there was one thing I missed so much while we were out there it was like a physical pain, and it was the first thing I purchased when we got off the plane back home, even though the airport is crazy expensive about it.

creme soda

Review: Hannibal – Thomas Harris

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Hannibal Lecter #3

SYNOPSIS: Years after his escape, posing as scholarly Dr. Fell, curator of a grand family’s palazzo, Hannibal lives the good life in Florence, playing lovely tunes by serial killer/composer Henry VIII and killing hardly anyone himself. Clarice is unluckier: in the novel’s action-film-like opening scene, she survives an FBI shootout gone wrong, and her nemesis, Paul Krendler, makes her the fall guy. Clarice is suspended, so, unfortunately, the first cop who stumbles on Hannibal is an Italian named Pazzi, who takes after his ancestors, greedy betrayers depicted in Dante’s Inferno. Pazzi is on the take from a character as scary as Hannibal: Mason Verger. When Verger was a young man busted for raping children, his vast wealth saved him from jail. All he needed was psychotherapy–with Dr. Lecter. Thanks to the treatment, Verger is now on a respirator, paralyzed except for one crablike hand, watching his enormous, brutal moray eel swim figure eights and devour fish. His obsession is to feed Lecter to some other brutal pets. – via Goodreads

GRADE 6You all know I absolutely loved the first two Hannibal novels. The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon were both absolutely brilliant, beautiful, well-structured and very well written. Hannibal Lecter was creepy, freaky, the stories were intense, Will Graham and Clarice Starling were in fine form, the books were, simply, smart and chilling. I have been waiting years to get to this novel (I know, I really need to work on how I prioritise what I read) and I finally got to it. I have praised how loyal the previous movies were to their books, which is amazing. I know that Scott’s Hannibal does not get so much love, and I wondered if that was due to a bad book adaptation or what. Harris is a great writer, and I honestly thought this book would be so much more than it was, but let me tell you, it’s quite the disappointment. It starts strongly, it really does. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the initial setup, there was so much potential. But then the story took on this weird, not-suited life of its own and it went downhill from there. Steeply. It was unbelievable, and not in the grand, oh wow kind of way, either. The writing that had started so crisp and rich dwindled, the story setup and the characters that were so fascinating were quickly thrown aside, Hannibal was brought front and centre and then there was this horrible sense of disappointment because the Hannibal of this novel is so intensely different from the Hannibal that has been set up before. Lecter and Clarice no longer chill and thrill, and that conclusion? People complain about the movie conclusion and then there is this one… the whole thing simply becomes a caricature of what it was, which is a real pity. I feel bad about scoring it what I did, but I cannot possibly score it any higher. It starts with a bang and just loses steam and becomes jilted and silly. I mean Hannibal takes on this whole supernatural power, and then there is the drugging and hypnosis and he cannot be caught (I could deal with it – but it got messy). A large chunk of this novel was simply not credible. I couldn’t buy into it like I could the other two, not to mention that the book itself just wasn’t as engrossing or thrilling as it could have been. What a waste.