Holiday Pics + I’m Back!

If you haven’t guessed already, I’M BACK BABY!

Okay, granted I should have done this as my first post when I came back, but there was a tag I was dying to do. Then I decided to wait until today so that I could include my Counting the Stars post. Really, I’ve been back for just over a week.

So where did I go?

ITALY!!!!! AND ENGLAND!!!!

Rome:

First off we flew into Rome, where we stayed for a total of 5 nights, 4 days.

On the first day, getting lost numerous times throughout the day (or the whole holiday, rather), we went to Piazza Venezia, the Colosseum and a church with Michelangelo’s Moses.

Colosseum1

Then on the second day we went to a Renaissance house (the name escapes me), did a tour of the Vatican, which took most of the day, before going to the Pantheon after lunch. On the third day, however, we had a day trip to Florence! Unfortunately, this was the day I got sick. I ended up sick for quite a large chunk of the holiday – I just couldn’t get better (or at least not fast enough).

Florence Duomo1

Then on our last day in Rome, we went to Castel Sant’Angelo which is actually the Mausoleum of Hadrian. I can’t remember what we did after that, but then we went to Pizza Navona (one of my favourite places in Rome) and Campo de Fiori where we looked around the markets. I REMEMBER WHAT WE DID NOW! We went to the Spanish Steps and some Roman ruins we accidetally stumbled across.

Here’s a view of Rome from Castel Sant’Angelo:

Rome from Castelle1

Vico Equense:

6 nights, 5 days

Super sad and not ready to leave Rome, we went to our next stop, by train through Naples and all the way to Vico Equense, which is very close to Sorrento.

We spent the first afternoon there thoroughly dehydrated. Arriving in a local Italian town on a Sunday afternoon means everything will be shut. Including water stores. Lesson learned.

The next day we went to Pompeii and Poppaea’s Villa in Oplontis. DEFINITELY GO TO THE VILLA SHOULD YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF IN THE AREA. Amazing. So well preserved. Then we spent the next day relaxing and enjoying this lovely view from our villa and the ever present view of Vesuvius:

Vico Equense Terrace View1vesuvius1

The day after we went to Herculaneum and the museum nearby (well worth it BTW). It rained and I of course managed to look like a drowned rat. Then we spent the next day relaxing again and popping down to the beach. It sounds easy to pop down to the beach and all but we had to climb 400 Roman steps that were over thousand years old. Tiring stuff.  On our last day, we took a day trip to Positano. We wanted to go to Capris, Ravello and the Amalfi Coast, but it was a little hard to get there from where we were staying. We could only manage Positano.

Positano1

Venice

4 nights, 3 days

Then we had to go all the way from Vico Equense to Naples airport to fly to Venice. It was only an itty bitty flight though, and I got some good reading done.

Venice was amazing. Easily my favourite place. But we were so lucky with our timing, because while there were still stacks of tourists, we missed the great Summer hoards and we missed the floods. Seriously, wegot therein flooding season and there were already tables in piles everywhere ready to be set out for tourists to walk across. 

On the first day we did a free walking tour, which was fantastic FYI. Really amazing. Our tour guide was fantastic and she told us soooo much useful information. The tour went for about 4 hours in total, which was a long time, but well worth it. On that tour, she actually took us to a bookshop. Now, I have a love/hate relationship with this bookshop. BECAUSE BOOKS. But since Venice frequently floods, the books get bady damaged. So what they’ve done is put the boks in good condition in gondolas so that they float in a flood and made stairs out of the damaged ones.

gondolabooks1bookstairs1

It feels wrong to walk on books. But I guess it’s great they have made use of them. The other cool thing about this bookstore is that you buy ad sell books by weight. Like tourists can bring in a kilogram of books and get a kilogram in return!

Then we went in a gondola, because, Venice. The next day we did a private tour of the canals and went under buildings like an old church, which is only accessable during low tide. Here’s a photo taken from the boat:

venice building1

On our last day in Venice and Italy, we went to Murano and Burano. The glass wares in Murano are beautiful, but super expensive. And Burano would have made for some amazing photographs, but I couldn’t post them because there were people in them.

England

5 nights, 4 days

This isn’t my first trip to England. Being half English myself, I have family there that we stayed with in Kent. On our first day in Kent, we went to Dover Castle. Dover Castle is easily the best castle I’ve ever been to, and I have had my fair share of castles. There are war-time tunnels, hospital tunnels (also converted in WW1), the medieval tunnels, the actual caste and LOTS of other things. While I loved the medieval tunnels, the castle was the highlight for me. It had been reconstucted as it had been in medieval times and it was just amazing. Here’s a very broad view:

dover castle1

The next day we went to Cantebury, probably my favourite place in England we went to this holiday. AND I WANTED TO BUY BOOKS THERE BUT ARGH SOMETHING WENT WRONG. The cathedral was once again, the best I’ve been to, Notre Dame included.

Cantebury1

Then on our last day in Kent, we went to Dicken’s World. Brilliant. It was entirely reconstructed to look like it was Victorian London. The tour was so interesting and yeah, it was great.

Dicken's World1

Then we went to London, ready to catch our flights the next day. We went out to lunch, then to the Globe Theatre and a couple of shops like Harrods. The next morning we went to the Science Museum before the airport, when we flew allllll the way back to Australia. Sniff, sniff.

Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. I had an amazing time and I wish I could live it again. I think I’m going to do my Counting the Stars in another  post actually, looking at the length of this one.

I hope you guys get the opportunity to go to both Italy and England one day. I’m always happy to recommend to you places to go 🙂

Review: Masquerade

Masquerade by Kylie Fornasier

Masquerade

Publication date: July 23rd 2014

Publisher: Penguin Teen Australia

Number of pages: 304

Series: Maybe

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Source: Received in exchange for review . This is my honest opinion.

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Goodreads synopsis:

It’s the Carnevale of 1750 and Venice’s ballrooms, theatres, palazzos and squares are filled with delicious gossip, devilish fun and dangerous games. In this glittering masked world, everyone has a secret…

Set in an age of decadence made famous by Casanova, Masquerade uncovers the secrets of seven teens, from the highest aristocrat to the lowest servant – their dreams, desires, loves, loyalties … and betrayals.

All the world’s a stage. Let the show begin.

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Review:

“In a city shrouded in secrets, it was only fitting that Orelia’s first view of Venice was shrouded in fog.”

That was the first sentence. That’s when I knew that the writing was going to be pretty. And just to be original, I’m also going to say that that’s also when I knew I was hooked. I just loved the writing. I have a thing for a books that are written in that style of third person.

And what made this even better was that the story was set in one of my favourite time periods ever – the 1700’s. A time with gorgeous dresses, and in this case, masks. The descriptions of the dresses were amazing and I especially love the idea of a ‘smoke’ coloured dress. So cool.

But it was even cooler that it was set in Venice. I mean, come on, Venice?! YES. It was pretty much pre-determined that I would fall in love. I loved the way we got to see Venice from the 1700’s with it’s gondolas and water – it was just so cool.

“You will answer in the same way everyone does; you’ll say you’re here to find yourself in the city of masks.”

Seriously? How perfect is that quote?!

And I loved the way that a few Italian words and phrases were weaved through the text. It was done really well – I’d even describe it as seamlessly. A lot of the words most readers would know, and if they don’t I’d say that it would be pretty easy to figure out what they mean.

One thing I found pretty curious that I really appreciated, was that when Oreliawas intergrated in to the family, they all got along? I have never really come across that before. Usually there’s the horrid/jealous sibling or evil stepmother, etc.

Still on the topic of characters, I loved how we got to follow lots of their stories. They were all complex with their own backstories and were woven in together. They were pretty realistic.

But one thing I was/am a little confused about is “Carnevale”. I don’t really know what it was. I’m probably missing something blatantly obvious or something. Feel free to point it out if you know.

I actually kind of got a Blue Bloods (Melissa de la Cruz) feel from it. The stories really can’t be compared but I think it was all the dresses, characters and maybe even the atmosphere that brought that feeling out in me. So if you liked those things about Bloodlines, maybe you should check this out?

Ahh the ending. Not quite what I was looking for, but I can deal with it. I’m a little heartbroken to be honest. There were a few plot twists in Masquerade actually, come to think of it.

It was a pretty quick read too, come to think of it.

I can’t recommend this enough. I loved it so much! Please let this be a series.

5/5 comets
Bye, bye Earth! Out of this world!

Add to Goodreads

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Author bio:

Kylie FornasierAs a teacher librarian, Kylie Foransier is in touch with what kids like to read, as well as being passionate about helping them enjoy that reading experience as much as she can. Kylie has won a number of writing awards, and already has a published chapter book and a soon-to-be published picture book with other major publishers. She is a strong believer in practicing what she preaches when it comes to her writing and so runs a writers’ group with the NSW Writer’s Centre and another in Penrith. Kylie lives in western Sydney.