Thursday, 24 September 2009

Still alive... just.

In a camp site just outside Rome at the moment.
We've survived Barcelona, the French Riviera, Florence and most of Rome by now.
Marike and I have both been infected by the dreaded Contiki cough, not enough sleep and too much drinking, so we've been trying to take it a bit slower the past few days before we're sent home to make use of the NHS to fix our pneumonia.
No worries though, we are not missing the whole tour because we're drinking too much, I can't say exactly the same for most of the other people on the tour though. I don't know how they can keep on drinking for weeks on end and how they afford it, but I guess they've been practicing a long time, bloody Aussies.
Barcelona was fantastic and nightlife was even better. I also discovered that Florence's nightlife is a lot more alive than the stately Renaissance front would like you to believe. Karaoke, dancing and lots and lots of alcohol make for a lethal combination.
Rome is still hot and dirty and historic and now I'm really looking forward to the rest of the tour as I haven't seen any of the other cities or countries coming up.
Pretty soon I will be listening to Mozart in Vienna, drinking beer at the Oktoberfest, going up the Alps and paragliding over Austria.

I would like to lodge a formal apology to Mr. Kimball, I did mean John's house, and not Johannes', my brain isn't really working any more. Can't wait to make use of your hospitality once again very soon. And I still love you too Johannes.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Paris, Beajoulais (or something like that) and Barcelona

Just a quick update to let you know what we´ve been up to for the past week.

Went back to London on Friday after living it up in the villa in Italy for a few days.
Luggage got lost on our way from Florence to Frankfurt to Heathrow. Had to sleep dirty for the first night in London.
Luggage was delivered at Johannes´s house at 17:00 on Saturday, we started packing for our tour whilst drinking, writing articles, applying for jobs and sending e-mails.

Got on the bus to France on Sunday morning 7:00. Saw Paris, a cabaret show and had a good French dinner in Paris. Met a bunch of new, fun people.
Drove to the French wine region, got to know the bunch of new, fun people better in a chateau in the countryside. In my opinion the French countryside is even prettier than the Italian.
Drove to Barcelona today with what felt like a hangover, that got worse during the day and eventually turned out to be a cold. I´m thinking it´s probably because of all the drinking that´s been going on, hardly any sleep and closed, confined spaces.
Swine flu has nothing on us, we have the Contiki cough.

Tomorrow we´re of to see Barcelona, see Flamengo dancing, go out on the town and just a totally fabolous time.
Will report back again as soon as possible. Otherwise I´ll either see you in London or South Africa one of these days.

By the way, thanks for all the comments on the blog so far. The article is meant to be published in May 2010 or maybe a little earlier.


Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Six weeks and then some

Our time at Valgiano came to a bittersweet end yesterday and we said a sad goodbye to everyone but with a spring in our step because we knew we had three days of doing absolutely nothing ahead of us.

The weekend was so good we almost decided to stay on in Valgiano until Friday, but when we started picking and sorting grapes again on Monday we knew we made the right decision and the time was ripe for us to move on to new pastures.

On Saturday we joined in on the tasting of all the ferments where you taste almost thirty glasses of something between grape juice and wine. Since I've done that I can actually taste some more differences when I taste proper wine. Maybe I'm turning into a connoisseur? The rest of the day was spent eating and drinking around the table before going to the beach for a swim and to see the sunset. I didn't expect to find any proper waves in the Mediterranean Sea but there was a strong wind so it almost felt like swimming at Hartenbos. The sunset was spectacular, as expected, but it was overshadowed by the seafood we had for dinner. The tastiest, most tender squid, prawns, shrimp and other goodies I've ever had.

We tried to get some ice cream in Pisa afterwards but the shop was closed so instead we just went to the tower to have a look at it in the full moon. It is quite bizarre to see a building leaning over like that. That's about all I can say about that though.

Sunday was spent being even lazier than Saturday as we got up, had coffee for breakfast, started cooking lunch, and had lunch. Sat around the table until we started cooking for dinner and eventually had a huge dinner as well. I think my stomach is the size of a football by now.

As I said earlier, Monday's picking and sorting just convinced us that it was indeed time to go. It felt like the day went by in slow motion until we had a break at 18:00. Our boss decided to give us a proper farewell and before I knew it I was next to Marike inside one of the fermenters with almost a 1000 litres of almost wine. Not the worst farewell I've ever had, I even took a few sips.

So that's it for the Wwoofing experience. Now we are hanging out at Villa Guinigi. Sleeping in everyday, taking long, hot baths and not doing much. The long awaited article for the rooi rose needs to happen before Friday, but except for that we have no responsibilities and it is marvellous.

On Sunday we're off on our Contiki tour, will try to report back whenever I can. Just for fun.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

What a week

It's the end of the week and all of a sudden I appreciate the weekend so much more. We've worked hard this week, picking grapes, sorting grapes, crushing grapes, eating grapes, fermenting grapes, cleaning grapes. Oh, and drinking wine.

The work is tedious and the hours long, but we really are enjoying ourselves for the first time on the trip. No trying to convince ourselves that it really is fun and telling ourselves that it is all part of the experience. We're working during the day, chatting with lots of great people, eating wonderful food, drinking some amazing wine, learning a lot and experiencing things we will never experience again.

During all this Marike is of course being herself and charming everyone with her gracefulness. She's always walking into things, messing stuff all over her and keeping everyone's spirits up by just being herself. The highlight of all her escapades so far has been "the bidet incident", when she tried to relieve herself on the toilet like normal people do, but she was in such a hurry that she sat down on the bidet instead. Of course, she only realised this once she tried to flush the toilet and couldn't find the flusher anywhere. Luckily for us it was only a number 1.

So between all the grapes, Marike is keeping the trip interesting, the people are amazing and the food even better. I have now ticked everything from my little to-do list and am ready to go back to London and start the Contiki tour and work on my other list. We have both crushed the grapes in the barrels and have had countless meals at a long table under the trees. Usually I eat so much that I am almost crying after lunch while I'm sorting grapes, luckily we're only here until Monday, so after that we can hopefully try and eat normally again.

A word of warning to you all, the Italians are saying that we are now nice and tanned. They've even stopped calling Marike Mozzarella, so don't be startled when you see us again.