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Day 13 - May 11, 2005 - Rome, Italy to Venice, Italy

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I woke up at 6:45 to what was the worst sore throat of my life.  I had managed to stay relatively healthy thus far.  In retrospect, I have nothing to complain about though.  Still awaiting a good full night's worth of sleep, the mornings were getting progressively more difficult.  I actually began to hope for a boring night in the following days.
 
Before we left for Venice, I had breakfast with Kim, Yvonne, Kent, Freddy, and Olivia.  To relieve us of the moderately lengthy drive, I played Osama Bin Hacky with Neal and Matt.  Thinking back makes me miss that game.  I can't wait until the next time I'm on a coach like that.
 
The next activity during the drive was the coach olympics, as Rex called them.  The game consisted of each side of the coach competing against each other.  Rex would announce an item that someone from each team would have to produce, pass it to the back of the coach, then to the front.  The items ranged from everyday objects like a hairbrush or a pen to very personal items like a bra or a tampon.  It was fun for a while but I thought it got old before it was finished.  My team won by a landslide.
 
The next game we played was Dear Abby.  Dear Abby is a newspaper column which gives advice to people who send in letters explaining their problems.  I didn't think it was popular enough for enough people to know what it is for me to be playing it in Europe.  Anyway, our version was, in my opinion, significantly more entertaining than the original.  We selected Scotti to act as Abby, either randomly or voluntarily on his part (I can't remember).  We each then wrote down a "problem" we were having on the tour and passed it to him.  He then took an hour or so to think up some great wisdom for us.
 
The personal problem that I addressed was how my friends on the tour made fun of me for being the Osama Bin virgin.  I explained that it upset me that everyone was able to score except for me.  His response basically just assured me that practice makes perfect and I need to play with my balls more if I wanted to score.  His responses truly were more creative than I could ever come up with.  I will avoid getting into specifics, to protect some of the embarrassed, but the whole thing made up for some of the most comical moments of the trip.  Good job, Scotti!
 
One of our stops along the way that is worth mentioning was Verona, home of Romeo and Juliet.  It's a nice, small town somewhere between Rome and Venice.  We went to Juliet's balcony.  It was, well, a building with a balcony.  Other than that, the statue of Juliet, and the wall of love letters, there was really nothing there.

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FOUNTAIN IN VERONA

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VERONA'S COLISEUM

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THE STREETS OF VERONA

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JULIET'S BALCONY

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THE WALL OF LOVE LETTERS

We soon went for a walk through the town.  We stopped at a Spizzico, which is the Pizza Hut of Italy.  Unlike Pizza Hut however, Spizzico's pizza is amazing.  If you get a warm, fresh slice, it's among the best pizza you can get out there.

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MMM... THIS SIGN STILL MAKES MY MOUTH WATER

We then observed an artist on the street and stayed until he finished.  He was using spray paint and pieces of cardboard and paper to mask parts of his painting.  He created a nighttime landscape with an astrological theme in the sky.  It was amazing watching him work.  The way he began each section of the painting left you wondering what in fact he was doing.  Then, out of nowhere, a mountain or a moon would appear.
 
After some hacky sack, we left our final stop and soon arrived at our campsite in Venice.  Rex explained that this would be our last campsite of the tour.  This was very surprising since we had over a week left and virtually all of the previous accommodations were campsites.  Nevertheless, I was not complaining at all.  I was ready for a hotel or, at the very least, a hostel.
 
In Venice, I roomed with Matt and Neil.  After a quick round robin of Rock Paper Scissor, Matt took his own room, while Neil and I shared the other.  The cabins at the campsite at Venice were, hands down, the worst of the tour.  Our doorstep was broken in half and the entire area between the cabins smelled of urine.  By the way, the toilets and showers were slightly less than a cab ride away.  We quickly went to dinner but I can't remember who I ate with.

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OUR "LUXURIOUS" CABIN IN VENICE

After dinner, I went to the shore with Vince, Yoon, Freddy, Olivia, Kim, Yvonne, and Kent.  You could see the city of Venice on the other side and, for me, it added to the anticipation of the following day we had to spend there.  We had an intense competition of skipping stones and throwing stones, in attempt to hit buoys, and other various objects protruding from the water's surface.  I believe I won the stone skipping, but I lost to Yoon to be the first to hit all the objects.

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THE CAMPSITE'S BEACH

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AND THE OTHER WAY

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THE STONE SKIPPING COMPETITION

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SOME SCENERY NEAR THE CAMPSITE

After the fun, and after I had a notably sore throwing shoulder, Vince and I headed for the campsite bar.  There, I ran into Steve, Jeff and Tal, all from the other tour and all of whom I played killer hacky sack with back at the chateau in France.  Naturally, we all felt the urge to play some more.  Matt went back to our cabin to get his hacky sack.  Before we realized it, he was gone for a very long time; close to 45 minutes, I'd say. 
 
Just as I was going to attempt to find Matt, we met Heather and Vanessa from Ontario.  They were two friends from high school and they were traveling alone, as opposed to traveling with Contiki.  They said they had run into several Contiki groups along the way.  We played hacky sack with them and several people joined and left the game.  Afterwards, we played ultimate frisbee for a while.  Since I hadn't played a real game of ultimate frisbee since high school, it was definitely lots of fun.  Eventually, someone (I want to say Matt) accidentally threw the frisbee on the roof.  I think we were able to climb up and get it though.
 
After being pathetically worn out from our mildly physically demanding games, we relaxed at a table in front of the bar.  We constructed a pyramid out of the 20 ounce plastic cups that were served to us.  It was definitely the largest and most impressive beer can/cup pyramid I've ever been involved with.  At one point, it became three dimensional and, in our drunken stupor, it began to resemble one of the pyramids of Giza.
 
At what would end up being one of my most intoxicating nights, I can't really remember anything about it.  Therefore, I have no idea when I went to bed or how I got there.  Vince later told me that before I went to bed that night, I told Heather and Vanessa to meet us at the bar at 12:45 am the next night.  Why I picked 12:45, I have no idea.  I'm sure 12:30 or 1:00 would have been just as sufficient.  Well, another amazing day was in the books.

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AT THE CAMPSITE'S BAR

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MATT AND I WITH HEATHER AND VANESSA

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OUR AMAZING PYRAMID

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ACTION SHOT

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YOON, VANESSA, HEATHER, ME, AND STEVE

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OLIVIA, YVONNE, ME, AND KIM

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GROUP SHOT AT THE BAR

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CHRIS THE DRIVER AND ME

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ME, SUE, AUSSIE JUSTIN

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MATT AND I WITH A GIRL I DON'T REMEMBER