Choir Trip 2014: Italy

It’s choir trip time again! This year, we went to Italy and stayed in a lovely hotel in Verona, near to Lake Garda.

After a 28 hour coach journey and a 90 minute ferry, during which many films were watched and numerous service stations were visited, we arrived at out hotel on Saturday, and spent the afternoon by the hotel pool before a lovely buffet tea and a rehearsal.

On Sunday, we visited the Gardaland Theme Park which had many huge roller coasters, which none of my group were particularly interested in, as well as some entertaining Jungle Rapids, two log flumes, a pirate boat and more. After the theme park, we performed Faure’s Requiem in the lovely San Zeno Basillica, Verona.

I think Monday was the best day of the trip, despite the 2 1/2 hour drive plus boat to the wonderful city of Venice. We arrived about 11 AM and had a few hours of free time before we had to leave, so we headed straight for the gondola rides and managed to fit our group of 6 in one boat! We were very scared about the gondola tipping over but were reassured by our well-spoken gondolier that they are very hard to tip over. He took us to all of the landmarks in Venice, including St. Marks Cathedral, the Campanille (bell tower), the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs and the Golden Island. The 45 minute ride was €20 each, but there is a 30 minutes one for €80 in total, so the more people there are, the cheaper it will be!

We found it so easy to get lost around all the alleyways and streets that looked so much alike, but we didn’t mind too much because every time we turned a corner we found another little shop to delve into and a new gellateria to discover. We stopped at a reasonably-priced restaurant overlooking the water for lunch and ordered some pizzas to share (because you can’t go to Italy and not order pizza, can you?!)

That night, we performed an outdoor concert beside Lake Garda, with a surprisingly large turnout for 9 PM on a Monday night.

Venice Gallery:

 

On Tuesday we took a 3 hour drive to visit Milan. Before heading to the city centre, we stopped at the Santa Maria delle Grazie church to see the Last Supper fresco by Leonardo Da Vinci in the adjoining museum. It was bigger than I thought it’d be, as it took up almost the whole wall of the museum, and was surrounded by air locks to protect the painting from damage due to changes in the atmosphere or pollution.

We arrived in the main square of Milan, which houses the Duomo di Milano, or Milan Cathedral, and had four hours of free time to wander around the streets nearby. We immediately headed to the shopping centre, not only to get out of the rain, but to find somewhere for lunch that wasn’t asking for €80 for salmon pasta. However, when we saw not one, but two huge Prada stores opposite each other, we knew that would be tricky. We eventually found a restaurant our wallets liked, and despite being charged €4 each just to sit down and then being told that we had to order at least 4 pizzas for the 6 of us, it only ended up costing €15-18 per person.

We found many expensive boutiques, being Milan, but only had to walk a few streets away to get to more affordable shops, including a Disney store! There were at least three of every shop scattered down different streets. We had half an hour left, so we got some more ice cream (the lemon flavour is very good) and were kept entertained by observing the failed attempts of courtship behaviour between pigeons, who were nowhere near as timid around people as British pigeons.

On Wednesday, we had to load up the coaches with our suitcases before heading off for a morning in Verona, visiting the Casa di Giulietta to see the famous Juliet’s Balcony and statue. We also saw the Roman arena and visited the market stalls where we managed to buy pizza for lunch for just €3. This was followed by some more ice cream and yet another visit to a Disney Store. They had Star Wars towels on sale reduced from €15 to €12 but I didn’t buy one as I am still holding out for a better price.

At 2.30 PM, we set off for home, saying goodbye to one of the best choir trips ever. I recommend Italy to everyone, especially Venice, because everything was lovely and wonderful and I would definitely love to revisit in the future.

Have you ever been to Italy? Which was your favourite city?

 

Update: End of exams checklist

It’s been 8 weeks since my exams finished, so I think it’s time for an update on the checklist I made of post-exam activities.

  • Disney Marathon – I made the list, and we’ve watched a few films, but we always end up doing something else, or being too tired, or just not being in the mood to watch a long film

Disney Film List

  • Build more Death Star – I have been busy with this one, I’m now halfway through building (I’ve just finished box 2 of 4, post to come in a few weeks) and plan to continue sometime next week.

 

  • Learn to code – after visiting umpteen university open days, I’ve learned that knowledge of computer programming languages is not needed upon application, and any required languages will be taught during the course. Still, I’d like to at least try one or two to see what it’s like.
  • Catch up on TV – for someone who watches as much TV as I do, I can’t believe that I’ve not watched a single episode of any show that I missed due to revision. n fact, I don’t think I’ve watched nearly as much TV this holiday as I’ve watched in previous holidays.
  • Read – I’ve started reading The Children of Húrin and have borrowed The Fellowship of the Ring from the library, so it’s a start. I’m also halfway through Introducing Artificial Intelligence, which, so far, is quite interesting.

Woodcraft Construction: VW Beetle

Kit: Quay Woodcraft Construction kit P305 VW Beetle

Time to build: 16 hours

Difficulty: 4/5

Fiddly-ness: 5/5

Fun: 2/5

Best for: Expert

Photo taken on a Nokia Lumia 520

July Favourites

Film: How To Train Your dragon 2 (2014)

Although this came out 3 weeks ago, I’ve only just got around to blogging about how amazing it is, probably because I’m still in awe of those people at DreamWorks able to pull off a sequel that’s as hilarious as the first one. P.S. Guaranteed tears/shock at major plot twist which I won’t reveal for those who haven’t seen it yet.

Album: Meatloaf – Bat out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose

I love their songs, especially ‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now’. Celine Dion’s cover was good, but the original is the best, and at over 6 minutes, it’s definitely epic.

Tech: The Sims 2 Pets for Nintendo DS (2006)

Having rediscovered my DS Lite two weeks ago, I’ve become re-addicted to this game, and am obsessed with treating as many pets as possible. The graphics are typically Sims-like and are not as fine-tuned as what I’m used to with today’s technology and all, but it’s a great game and is very easy to follow. I thought it would get boring after a while, curing the same pets of the same illnesses, but now I’m determined to earn enough money to move to a bigger house and cure more pets!

End of Exams Checklist

My exams finish 24th June. After this date, I might be slightly light-headed from months of revision and seemingly endless purchasing of exam-only stationery (black pens, clear pencil cases, long rulers, sharp pencils etc.) However, I will need some tasks to do over the summer holidays to prevent complete boredom, something which the TV seems to be very good at initiating these days.

So, I created an end of exams checklist to keep me occupied until September. Aside from the obvious (eat, sleep, pray for a good outcome on results day!), I think this should be enough to last me for a good few months

  • Disney marathon

My sisters and I are planning to watch Disney films back to back over Summer. I’m not talking about the recent Disney films, or their live-action offerings, I mean the classic animated Disney movies. Mulan, Cinderella, 101 Dalmatians, Winnie-The-Pooh. I suppose if a rogue Pirates of the Caribbean makes its way into the list, it wouldn’t be the end of the world!

  • Build some more Death Star

Main box

Since January and the end of box 1 of 4, the completion of my Lego Death Star has come to a standstill due to exams, a-levels and genuine lack of motivation due to exams and a-levels. But an exam-free Summer will be the perfect opportunity to get stuck in and get past page 93.

  • Learn to code

I’m hoping to study Computer Science at university. However, my school doesn’t teach a-level programming/computing/computer science, so I don’t know the first thing about coding or programming, and I don’t want to turn up at uni without knowing anything. If anyone knows of a good online tutorial, preferably free, to help me out here, please leave a comment below!

  • Catch up on TV

I’m sacrificing the start of series 3 of New Girl (starts 10th June on E4), Mary Portas’ new show (started Wed 4th June on Channel 4) and an entire series of Watchdog (Wednesdays on BBC1) as well as countless repeats of Police Interceptors, Four in a Bed and Charmed to put as much effort as possible into revision and past papers for these exams. It will be worth it, I’m sure.

  • Read

Over the past year or two, I’ve acquired 14 non-fiction books with science/maths/random information on how to get a sofa round a corner (if only Ross Geller decided to move the couch 16 years later!) and 2 novels, all of which I haven’t even started reading.

Non-fiction: Science/maths

  1. The Astronaut Wives Club (2013) – Lily Koppel)
  2. Packing for Mars (2010) – Mary Roach
  3. How to Live Forever (2011) – Alok Jha
  4. Inflight Science (2011) – Brian Clegg
  5. How to be a Genius (2011) – Robert Allen
  6. Introducing Artificial Intelligence (2003) – Henry Brighton and Howard Selina
  7. Popular Science FYI (2011) – edited by Bjorn Carey
  8. How to Build a Brain (2011) – Richard Elwes
  9. The Science Magpie (2013) – Simon Flynn
  10. How to Get a Sofa Around a Corner (2011) – Mark Frary
  11. Stargazing for Astronomy (2010) – Will Gater and Anton Vamplew
  12. Wonders of the Universe (2011) – Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen

Non-fiction

Are we Live?, QI Advanced Banter

Are we Live?, QI Advanced Banter

  1. Are We Live? (2012) – Marion Appleby
  2. QI Book of Quotations Advanced Banter (2008) – John Lloyd and John Mitchinson

Novels

Sorceress, The Children of Hurin

Sorceress, The Children of Hurin

  1. Sorceress (2003) – Celia Rees
  2. The children of Húrin (2008) – J.R.R. Tolkien

 

On second thoughts, I don’t want to be too busy…

Original photos taken using Nokia Lumia 520

Top 5 Film Blogs

I’m not an expert when it comes to films. I love watching them, but I’m not the sort to know the director or screenwriter of every film off the top of my head. But here’s 5 of my favourite film blogs that may help!

  1. Oh My Disney http://blogs.disney.com/oh-my-disney/  You can never have too much Disney!
  2. Today I Watched a Movie http://todayiwatchedamovie.com/   Short, simple film review
  3. The Galactic Pillow http://galacticpillow.com/   Good, in-depth reviews
  4. Cinema or Cine-meh? http://allihavetosayaboutthat.wordpress.com/   So you know what not to waste your money on
  5. Let’s Go to The Movies http://letsgotothemovies7.com/   Reviews of films new and old