Saturday, October 08, 2005

Departure from Europe

The day is finally here. We are checking out, ready to fly back home. Last night we stayed at a 5 star hotel at the Vienna airport, and we were all treated to the best buffet breakfast we have ever seen. Hot food, cereals, fruits, cakes, pastries, juices and coffee. Everybody piled the plates up, now being acquainted with the taste of plane food. The boys have had a good trip, but are now ready to come home. See you soon!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday 7th october

Yesteday (the Day of Waiting) we waited for the ferry in the morning in Sorrento, we waited for the mini bus on Capri to get up to Anacapri, and then back down, and we nearly missed our return ferry getting out. In other words, we lost a lot of time today and didn’t get the time we should have had to explore Capri. (And they say that this is the quiet season.) On Capri some boys took the chair lift to the very top for spectacular views and an impromptu cultural dance performance. Others took in the shops and the sights. Back to Sorrento for a couple of hours of final shopping for loved ones (and ourselves). We had a formal dinner where everybody got dressed up, followed by a concert and gala awards ceremony. Some of the concert items included: The Price is Right with Matt Murphy, Make 3 wishes, A poem by Brendan Russell and 4 Charadey Characters.

Today we got up early for a final pack before heading to Rome via Pompei. We did a 2 hour guided tour of the site and explored the well preserved ancient city. Afterwards most boys bought some very expensive pizza from some shady characters. Not many happy customers. Back on the bus to Rome via Montecasini. The T-team today is Liam King and Chris Shean. Todays talking point was what do we most look forward to in Australia and why. Some responses included: Family, friends and loved ones; big breakfasts; sleeping in our own beds; no more shady characters and school on Monday. (Note: It is required that all boys attend on Monday) We arrived at Rome airport at 4.30, booked in, and headed for Vienna at 7.30. Arrivedeci Italia! Only one more night left in Europe.

Wednesday October 5th

We left from Lido in the pouring rain heading for Ravenna. Along the way we encountered a long traffic delay due to a collapsed road. Even though thousands of vehicles were affected, no one was doing anything to fix the road. Unfortunately we arrived in Ravenna an hour and a half late and didn’t really have time to explore the town thoroughly. We did however walk to Dante Alighieri’s tomb and walked through the medieval streets. Back in the bus around 3pm, to head for Assisi. Arriving around 5.30pm. There was much excitement when the boys discovered an extra star on the hotel. This hotel turned out to be the best yet (dcspite a very long delay on the dinner due to the chef walking out) and the fact that some boys had to sleep in queen beds. The T-team for the day was Matt Murphy and Adam Rath. The talking point was the most memorable moment of the tour.

Today we went to Assisi early in the morning and visited Basillica di San Francesco. There are two churches build one on top of the other and the lower one contains the tomb of St Francis and some of his artefacts including a habit and some chalices that he used. The upper church had large frescos telling the story of his life. After the church we wandered through the town to the central piazza and had a couple of hours of shopping and eating time. After lunch on the road to Sorrento and we hit Napoli at about 5.30 then we met with a massive traffic jam through Sorrento which took about 2 hours to clear. We arrived at our hotel after 8pm. We were surprised to find the Stromlo high group at the same hotel and while the hotel had a spectacular view of the sea, the meals, the rooms, the cold showers and the service left a lot to be desired. Lucky it was in a nice location.Today’s T-team is Cain Holgate and Marc Bombardiere and the talking point was the favourite place in Italy. Some examples were Florence, the Colloseum, the Vatican, Pisa and Villa d’Este.

Quotes of the Day:

There are no new quotes for the day since the old ones are just getting recycled

Monday, October 03, 2005

October 3rd - Padua, Lido di Jesolo & Venice

Sunday morning we left Montecatini (in the rain) and headed for Padua. A very quiet 3 hour bus trip with most of the boys sleeping, even Tim Dal Cortivo. We arrived in Padua at around 11.30, and headed straight for Basilica San Antonio, mass was in progress as we ventured through, and visited and touched St Anthony’s tomb. We were overwhelmed by the number devout pilgrims moving around the perimeter of the church. Some of us were able to have communion as part of the mass. After the cathedral we got very lost (First time for Mr Slater, orienteering teacher), but eventually found some fellow Australians who navigated us through the maze of cobbled streets to our desired pizzerias. After lunch we got back on the bus and travelled for another hour to the sea side resort of Lido di Jesolo (a very wet version of the Gold Coast) and the boys tuned in to the local derby between Juventis and AC Milan. The score – Juventis: 2, AC Milan: 0. The hotel this time is a fair bit more impressive than the last, boasting tasty food, comfortable beds and a coffee machine that makes hot chocolate. There was however, a very disappointing lack of shower curtains.

Today we awoke to the sounding of pouring rain and strong winds, which persisted the entire day. Unfortunately, this was the day we chose to go to Venice. Venice was a wash, the main square was flooded, the platforms were out for all the tourists to walk on, and everybody ended up with wet feet. But despite the conditions, we managed to complete everything on the itinerary. Doges Palace was the first stop, which was at least dry, but also housed many amazing paintings (most of which contained a woman who represented Venice, and her lion representing St Mark), corridors, golden stairs, the bridge of sighs, and a very cold prison. There was then time for lunch and shopping, some of the boys bought some very extravagant Venetian masks. After lunch, we headed off to Murano and Burano islands for a glass blowing demonstration and even more presents for loved ones. Sadly it was too wet to enjoy the buildings along the Grand Canal and the islands and so had to cut the day short by about an hour, heading back to the hotel to dry up and settle down. Tomorrow we head to Ravenna and Assisi. Todays T-Team was Haydn Marsh and Michael Nobel. There quiz was very thorough and factual. The talking point for today was the most memorable moments of the tour so far. Moments included St Peters Basillica, St Antonio’s Basillica, Vill d’Este and getting rejected by most of the girls we came across in Italy.


"Admission into Palace - $5, Tour Guide - $200, following around another groups tour - priceless"

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Half Way There! October 1st – Lucca, Pisa

(^^^^ This picture is us writing the blog ^^^^)

Sleep in until 7.30 this morning, with the standard breakfast (bread and coffee), which the boys have now become fairly accustomed to, or more to the point, have been forced to like. We then made the short trip for Lucca. The guide spoke to the boys in Italian, with lots of questions, and this was a good language learning opportunity for the boys. The guide was very impressed with their fluency (particularly the teachers ;-) ). There was a large international conference of the Holy Spirit which added some meaning to many of the churches we saw. Lucca was a medieval fortress with massive walls and a moat (emptied now), and we had the opportunity to walk on top of it. A little shopping time (including some expensive jewellery purchases) has been strengthening the Italian economy.

Dal’Lucca, abbiamo viaggiato a Pisa, dove siamo stato confrontato di neri africani con rolex loreggieri e’ goillerie genuine. Il bracialetto dei neri ho costato 300 euro ma abbiamo comprato per 3 euro! – Marco Castrucci

After lunch we climbed the leaning tower of Pisa (as a group) since it has been stabalised and took some terrific photos of the view. We then had a guided tour of the cathedral square which featured the tower, the cathedral, baptistery and cemetery. Across the road was the hospital. Today was another great day. Brendan Dal Cortivo & Marco Castrucci were the T-team today and made the best quiz so far. (Fortunately for all at home, we aren’t going to put it up due to its extreme difficulty.)

Quotes of the Day:

“5 Euros!”
“Look! A brumbies jumper!”
“24 Carrat”
“Make 3 wishes” (with strong Italian accent)

Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday 30th September

We left San Cesario on Thursday morning and bid a sad farewell to our generous home stay families. We are now on the road for the next 10 days. First stop was Siena, a beautiful Tuscan medieval town where we walked and walked.. and walked. Mid afternoon we travelled to Montecatini and settled into the Hotel Venezia. The rooms are incredibly small, as is the quality of the breakfast, much to many of the boys disappointment. Early this morning we left for a day in Florence, starting at the Duomo, with the world’s largest fresco on the inside of its dome. Our guide then led us through the streets of this jewel of the Renaissance, stopping off at significant piazzas, monuments and buildings. Our wanderings were punctuated by many coffee, gelato and pizza stops. One of the most exciting things for the boys was the massive markets in Florence, where we spent the afternoon. We all left after much bargaining with bags of treasures for our loved families. At the end of the day, some of the most adventurous of us climbed the stairs of the duomo for a fabulous view over Florence (see photo).

Each day there is a T-team (Tour Team) consisting of 2 students who are the leaders of the tour for the day. Today our T team was Lachlan Smith and Liam Flynn (they dubbed themselves the L team). The day starts with a talking point, for example, today’s was “The best and worst of Italy” and one boy from each homestay family speaks. Some examples of today’s best things about Italy: Food, Sights, Women, Shopping, Getting to places quickly. Examples of worst things about Italy: The flight over, breakfast at the hotel, the drivers, not being able to wash, gypsies and having to pay for public toilets.

The T team is also responsible for organising a quiz on each days activities. For this post we have included today’s quiz on Florence for you to try. The most correct (and quickest) response will win an Italian souvenir which will be presented at the presentation evening. Please ensure you post a reply with your FULL NAME. Only family members of study tour students are eligible.

1) What does St Maria del Fiore translate to in English?
2) How many stairs to the top the dome in the Duomo?
3) What is the fine in Italy for being caught with purchased fake products? (ie. A fake Gucci bag)
4) How many stairs to the top of Giotto’s bell tower?
5) When our guide told us where the best gelati was found, who pleaded, and begged that we should stop?
6) What does “ponte vecchio” mean in English?
7) How many jewellery stores are there on the Ponte Vecchio?
8) Who spent their entire life savings today on a wallet and a pair of shoes?
9) Who is the father of the Italian Language?
10) What does the L stand for in the L team?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wednesday 27th September

Today is the final day of homestay. All boys are enjoying the company and food of their families (especially the food). Monday we spent a full day in Roma, visiting the Colloseum, Trevi fountain and the Spanish steps. We threw lots of coins into the Trevi fountain. Some boys bought some very expensives pieces of string turned into bracelets.. not that they wanted to (The leading two, 5 Euro – Adam Rath, 3 Euro – Marco Castrucci). On Tuesday we went back to Roma, to the Catacombs of St Sebastion, the Baths of Caracalla, the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basillica. Tuesday was the World Day of Tourism, so there were people everywhere. We queued for one hour to get into the Vatican Museum, and another half hour to get into St Peter’s. It was free entry so every man and his ‘cane’ (Italian for dog) was there. The wait was well and truly worth it. There was a little time for shopping at the end of the day to buy gifts for our very unfortunate families back at home. Today we visited Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este (or the Tivoli gardens). After the first 2 exhausting days, it was a little bit easier on the feet. The gardens of Tivoli was the most interesting sight of the day, boasting 400 fountains that work on gravity. Tomorrow we have to leave San Cesario and head north into Tuscany.

Quotes of the Day:
“This is sooo Indiana Jonesish.” – Catacombs
“Zebra crossings and traffic lights are only for decoration in Rome”
“Show us your string”
“Summer Edition”
“The first coin is your return to Rome, the second coin you will find love with an Italian partner, and the third coin.. you will divorce (or marry)” – Trevi Fountain
“Fun Factory” – Cain was given a 2 hour ban on this phrase.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Arrival in Europe (Vienna Airport)

It is 7.45am Vienna time, we have been travelling for about 32 hours, and are about to board a flight to Rome. Everybody is sitting around the airport pretty quietly as they are all tired. We can report to mishaps along the way: Firstly, Ben Lodder lost a tussle with a coke can wearing one band-aid; Secondly, Michael di Gigliemo headbutted an airport metal detector while retrieving his hacky sack from an unused boarding lounge.. The detector is okay, but Michael's pride (and head) are injured. (Both boys have since fully recovered, and there are no lasting injuries.) The soccer tour has left us for London, and there were over 60 marist boys on the plane over to Vienna.