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Yeah, my girlfriend is from Naples, and I know exactly what you mean :-)
I think it's an interesting study in the ability of governments to provide good living conditions. Take that away and replace the people in power with corrupt dodgy motherfuckers like the Camorra and suddenly everything goes to shit. I just don't understand why normal civilians say in Campania, it sucks, move somewhere else already!
Don't shit me. REALLY??
Norway's prices are ridiculous. Oslo constantly comes up in the list of "most expensive places to live" and is currently the most expensive if you don't take realestate prices into account. People there earn alot - like I was talking to a dude in a metal bar who drive forklifts (ie: basic unskilled manual labour) and he gets about $40/hr - but for visitors it's ridiculous. Considering the day before I'd been paying £2.50 for pints, I got a Jim Beam at a bar and the chick's like "73 kroners". Due to the shitty Sweden train thing, I had to spend like 6250 kroners on another night in the hotel, and flights to Finland. Do the currency conversion on that :P
I'd particularly like to take a trip to Scotland myself one day before I die.
Do it! The Scotland tour I did I booked through Contiki but it's run by a company called Haggis Adventures. I'd definitely recommend doing a tour for at least a little bit (ours was just 3 days) as there's really so much stuff you can drive past and miss which the guides tell you all about, giving you little snippets of history and walking stops to nice locations and basically showing you things you'd never otherwise see. Their parent company (Radical Travel) does tours of Ireland and the rest of Europe too. Definitely spend at least a couple of days in Edinburgh, we didn't get to tour the castle but you could kill half a day doing that too. On the street leading down from the castle there are walking tours of the city, including "underground tours" where they show you all little secret alleys and stuff off the normal beaten path, and ghost tours into the sections of the city which haven't been open since the 17th century where they stuffed people who had the plague and stuff like that. There's so much to see just walking around. Like there'll be a fucking 17th century castle with a sign saying it's a school or apartments or something!
Reading that just solidified my desire to travel to Berlin.
It is totally rad. The tour we did there was the "Famous Walk" which you'll see yellow pamphlets for everywhere. It's sposed to go for 4 hours but our guide just loves history so much and talked heaps (which is a good thing!) so it went for more like 5 and a half. The amount of museums and other sites we were shown would have filled a week to explore fully. There's even a museum which has the actual gates from the City of Babylon! You can also do tours with a Third Reich sort of angle, and there's a concentration camp one available too if you're into WW2 history like me. Definitely learn a few words of German - please, thankyou, some numbers, food, drink, table, do you speak english - and the pronunciation of all the letters like ä and ö. Most people around touristy areas speak enough English, but you'll definitely find people who don't speak any at all. The public transport system is awesome, and you can buy a Berlin Welcome Card for like 25€ that gives you free transport and discounts to heaps of tourist attractions. Go down to the U-Bahn (subway) at Hauphbahnof (central station) and there's a bakery which has the warmest softest pretzels rolling off a machine almost constantly. Mmmmmmm <3
I ran out of space on my DSLR memory card whilst in Rome, so needless to say I have plenty of photos to put up. I'll sort out a Picasa gallery or something this week.
Super Jamie said:
Rome [...] traffic is just mayhem, pedestrian crossings are pointless, to cross the street you just walk and hope drivers see you.
Protip: wait until a local starts to cross, and then cross yourself, staying within a foot of them.
But yeah, crossing the road in Rome can certainly be a scary experience. I ended up planning my routes around the place so as to avoid having to cross any of the major roads more often than I needed to. I was briefly in Rome a year after my first visit, and put this knowledge to use when guiding a bunch of Americans (whom I'd met on the train) around some of the highlights. One of them nearly got his arm sliced off by a closing door on the Metro, but at least no one got run over.
Gotta say I loved Rome though. While a lot of the ancient buidlings have been buggered about with, there's still an astonishing wealth of them left. And often the story of what has been done with them over the centuries is just as interesting as the ancient history itself.
If you want to see more unspoilt ruins, then you might want to consider visiting Turkey. But be sure to get a few hours drive away from the main tourist centres. The more accessible sites have been made more tourist-friendly (and are busier), whereas the less popular ones are more the way the archaeologists have left them. A typical comparison would be Ephesus (highly developed) vs Miletus (with, e.g., an complete amphitheatre that has been excavated but not added to).
Otherwise, Libya reputedly has some of the best preserved Roman cities, but obviously the practical difficulties of getting there are considerable.
And if you're back in Naples area some time, go to Herculaneum if you didn't on this occasion.
In defence of Norway, their system involves heavily taxing what are regarded as luxuries, and heavily subsidizing things that are regarded as essentials, so that wherever you are in Norway they remain affordable. And while to a foreigner, this seems to be overdone and the definition of luxury can seem odd, consider the practical difficulties and expense of getting items to all corners of this long and sparsely populated mountainous country. What would a pint of milk, or fresh fruit or vegetables, cost in Finnmark if the price were left to market forces? Yet these truly essential items are the same price there as they are on Oslo. Scandinavia may seem strange in the way they distribute wealth, but the people seem very happy with it. I recall Danes being convinced that the UK must be a very poor country because there are homeless people. When I explained that London had the highest concentration of wealth of any Europeam city (at least it did at the time), they found that hard to believe. How could a country be considered well off when its poorest people were in desperate need?
Super Jamie said:
I think it's an interesting study in the ability of governments to provide good living conditions. Take that away and replace the people in power with corrupt dodgy motherfuckers like the Camorra and suddenly everything goes to shit. I just don't understand why normal civilians say in Campania, it sucks, move somewhere else already
A couple of years ago I was visiting Naples at the height of the waste management issue that they've been suffering there. The bags kept on piling up into an ever increasing heap in the street outside, until they all finally vanished the day before I left (apparently, the army collected them).
It's just one example really though. There are some pretty serious problems there. As another example, during the day if you park a car in the city during the day, you have to buy a parking ticket. After the sun goes down, you no longer need a ticket; instead, some helpful gentlemen appear who will "take care" of your car for you, and it's probably a good idea to pay them.