My Roman Holiday II

On our second day in Roma, we went to the Colosseum and to the Roman Forum. These two sites you should never miss when you visit the Eternal City. Since it’s a packaged ticket, you get to see both places when you purchase a ticket.

There is so much history there and the architecture is a marvel. It is a wonder what the human mind can do, even in the Ancient times.

The Colosseum is an oval amphitheater where gladiator battles were held as well as many other public spectacles of the age. Nearby, the Roman Forum is a place filled with the ruins of Ancient Roman structures. As it was the center of day to day life in Rome then, it was where the government buildings and markets were located.

Later that day, we also went to the Fontana di Trevi where, as they say, if you throw a coin in over your shoulder, make a wish, you will return to Rome one day. The fountain itself is very beautiful – with the crystal water from the aqueducts that flow through the city. Although it’s hard to get a decent picture with all the tourists around, it is definitely worth a visit. Why not throw in a Euro and make that wish? It couldn’t hurt.

The next day, our third day, it was a “chill day” as it was our last full day in Rome.

First up, we visited the Pantheon. It was formerly a Roman temple but nowadays it is used as a church. On the day we went, before all the tourists were allowed in, there was a mass held inside. Tombs of notable people are housed there too, like that of the artist, Raphael.  In the middle of the dome-shaped ceiling of the Pantheon, is the Oculus.  Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest non-reinforced concrete dome. It’s basically a big circular whole in the roof that keeps the structure standing. It’s amazing how innovative those Ancient Romans were. How did they come up with these things?

The rest of the day was filled with shopping and cups of espresso.

Here are some of the snaps for all those days described above. (All pictures are SOOC.) They don’t do the place justice at all. Rome is one of the places you have to go to – truly one for the bucket list. You have to experience that magic of the Eternal City, even just once. Even I want to go back someday soon.

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My Roman Holiday I

So, tell me, is there a blog post title more cliché than that? I’ve decided to name the last leg of my family’s Euro trip as such because, obviously, we were in Rome – the Eternal City. This starts the final days of our trip.

I didn’t expect it but I fell head over heels for this city. To me, it felt fantastical being there. It was a mix of magic, mythology, history and time travel all rolled into one place – it was right up my alley! Seriously!

We boarded a train from Bologna to Rome and as we stepped out Roma Termini, there was an ad for a Filipino restaurant, Asian Delight. So, of course, after weeks of devouring foreign food, we went there to have dinner. We had some lumpia, pancit and of course, crispy pata! Tasted like home!

On our first official day, we went to visit and see Vatican City. We explored what the Museo had to offer and went to St. Peter’s Square and basked in the grandeur that is St. Peter’s Basilica. Of course, we didn’t miss out going inside the Sistine Chapel where photographs were not allowed. Suffice to say, it was a tad underwhelming. I honestly thought the Creation of Adam would be this huge painting on the ceiling but nah, it was quite cute from where we were standing. Images online are quiet deceiving. The whole ceiling depicted scenes from the book of Genesis and that as a whole was quite a sight.

To top of our day, we had some pasta and desserts at a cafe right outside the gates of Vatican City. It was quiet a memorable day.

More on the Rome leg of our trip to come!

ciao Italia – one short day in Firenze

After exploring Bologna and Venice, we hopped on a train from Bologna to Firenze.

Florence is a wealthy city in Italy, in both art and history. There are numerous museums in the city that are home to many masterpieces. Although we did not venture into any of the said museums (long lines!), the architecture in the city itself was wonderful to behold.

We had the day to walk about the streets of Florence. We saw the iconic Duomo, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiorewhich surprisingly had green and pink hued walls. We wandered the streets and looked up at the yellow buildings. Midday,  we stopped by a cute little restaurant that was next to a bell tower which chimed by the hour. For lunch, we had pizza and pasta, of course. As the day went on, we also bought gelato and sipped on melted granitas as we explored the city. We looked on at the statues that lined the piazzas. We shopped for some Italian leather goods, which Florence is known for. We went inside a scoula that taught people how to create the said leather goods. And we also said “hi!” to a replica of Pinocchio, a puppet who wanted to be a real boy, whose story originated in this Tuscan city.

finally.

so, this is what it feels like…

to finally come up for air after you’ve been pulled under water

to finally exhale that breath you’ve been holding in

to finally break out from the prison you’ve been caged in

to finally open your eyes and see what was invisible to you after you’ve been blind for so long

to finally see that the world has been waiting on you to just let go.

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ciao, Italia – Day 2 in Bologna

It only goes to show that not everything will go as planned when one travels. Always, always be prepared for whatever happens. Sticking to the planned itinerary is good but what if something comes up? Like, let’s say, the Gelato Museum you planned on visiting that day just closed for the season. Yeah, do some thorough research but also be flexible and roll with the punches.

After our jam-packed and super warm day in Venice, we wanted to have a relaxing back in Bologna, so, we decided to just go to the city center and see what it had to offer… our stomachs! Because that original plan to visit the Gelato Museum didn’t push through, we went where we could and stuffed our faces. Fun times! Pasta, granita and, yes, gelato!

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ciao, Italia – Venezia!

It’s one of the most unique places in the world. With it’s rich history and culture, Venice is definitely a place you must visit.

The first things that come to mind when someone says “Venice” is, of course, the canals and the gondolas. It’s a very unique site to see, there are no roads, just canals; no cars, just boats. Other than that, Venice is a very picturesque city, as all other Italian cities.

We decided to take a train ride to Venice for a day, to see what it was all about. Italy is a country that’s easily traveled by train. It can get quite expensive but if you book ahead, you can get some good deals.

When we arrived in Venice, suffice to say, it was HOT! It was mid-August and it was scorching, like middle-of-summer-in-the-Philippines kind of hot. Add a huge crowd of tourists (which we were a part of), it was quite disheartening. The boats were packed with people, which made it convenient for those nasty pickpockets. My sister almost had her stuff stolen. She noticed someone slowly opening the zipper on her bag and thank God she did! She stared the guy down, so he just moved on and got off at the next stop. We’ve been warned about pickpockets in Italy, but since Venice is a major tourist attraction, there were certainly a lot there!

Other than that though, it was an enjoyable trip – memorable. We had fun taking pictures all over and I must say, I think these photos are some of the better ones from our whole trip. Venice is just that pretty. Here are photos of our day in Venezia!

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We have our tickets! Let’s go!

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You’re in Venice, for sure!

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a parking space for gondolas? LOL

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Sorry, random people! I have to take a picture!
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The Bridge of Sighs – this is the bridge where convicts pass through before their execution. Fun, eh? 
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Piazza San Marco

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Basilica di San Marco
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St. Mark’s Basilica
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Campanile di San Marco
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Lunch time!
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We grabbed a bite at the oldest cafe in the world – Cafe Florian.
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It was a tourist trap but hey, desserts!
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At least, I get to say that I had lunch at the oldest cafe in the world. That counts for something, right? LOL
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Rialto Bridge – one of the bridges that cross the Grand Canal

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“Sikit-sikiti lang!” This was in the boat to Murano. It was like being in a tightly packed jeepney back in Cebu, comes with pickpockets, too! Felt right at home! Just kidding! 
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Glass blowing demo in Murano.
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The finished product, well almost, it has to cool first. Let me point out, that after the demonstration, we spent a lot of time in the gift shop. Got a pair of glass earrings, too! Hmm, wonder if they had glass slippers?
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Picture time!

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By the time we were in the boat ride back to the “main land”, since Murano was a bit farther out to sea, we were drained.
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Of course, PIZZA!
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Now, back to Bologna! 

The day went by so fast in Venice. Although we didn’t get to see most of the place, it was amazing being just there. I would want to go back someday, when it’s cooler, and explore the city some more.

More Italy adventures to come! Thanks for browsing through!

ciao, Italia – Day 1 in Bologna

Happy 2017, world! It’s the new year and I still haven’t finished posting about our trip to Europe. Slow and steady, huh? Here’s the next part of our trip! ( channeling Dora the Explorer there LOL)

On the last leg of our European trip, we spent most of our days roaming around the beautiful country that is Italy. If there’s one thing that is a must-do in Italy, it’s FOOD! And hence, that was our first stop. We went straight to Bologna – the largest city in the Emilia-Romagna Region which is best known for their, wait for it, FOOD!

We decided to make Bologna our home base and travel from there to other cities, instead of hotel hopping. So, we secured an Airbnb and got to exploring! It was pretty convenient as well since the city of Bologna was in the middle of a few key cities that are a must-see when in Italy. Posts on those cities, soon.

Here are a few (more like a lot of!) snaps of our in Bologna.

When we checked in at our Airbnb, it was already night time. What better way to kick start our days in Italy than with an Italian dinner? We stopped by the restaurant at the corner, Le Rosa. We kept on going back to that little ristorante for the next few days of our stay. It was reasonably priced and the food was very good. Suffice to say, we were happy!

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the Ristorante Pizzeria at the street corner, Le Rose
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When in Italy, eat pasta!
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Hands down, the best lasagna I have ever eaten.
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A simple caprese salad but with the freshest ingredients, so yum!

On our first day, we decided to go on a walking tour of the city, with food tasting, of course! We booked a walking tour with a local. What better way to get to know the place than to explore on your own two feet with the people who know it best?

On our way to the city center of Bologna…
…trying to figure out the directions LOL

Basiica di San Petronio at the Piazza Maggiore

This little street was filled with food, food, food
We ate some gelato (of course!) while waiting for our guide to arrive.

Out and about with our guide

the oldest university
they studied Human Anatomy there

If you haven’t noticed, there were arches everywhere!

We stopped for a bite to eat. Oh, Parmaiggiano! 😍 Best cheese ever!
We had some cold cuts, yum mortadella…
…and some wine!
and soda for the lone kiddie!
The Two Towers
Look! They’re kissing!

Our guide showed us the one and only visible canal in Bologna. All other canals have been covered by the roads and sidewalks.

Our last stop for our walking tour, gelato!

That was Day 1 in Italy! More posts to come soon-ish! *fingers crossed*

cześć, Wrocław!

After the Paris leg of our trip, we headed to Wrocław, Poland.

My older sister went to Poland to work a few months back. We decided to stop by her new home, explore the city, check out some of the spots and most importantly, rest up. That time in Paris was a bit fast paced, so we took out time to relax in Wrocław.

Here are some of the snaps I took while we explored the pretty town. Pardon the haphazard post processing of pictures, I edited all these on my mobile.

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so many old time-y structures, such pretty colors!

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there were churches at every corner

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pierogi – Eastern European dumplings!

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the oldest beer house
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performance art! looks like a weeping angel (from Doctor Who), doesn’t he?
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Rynek – Market Square
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yes, we had burgers! in Poland!
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a girl has got to eat!
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yes, we had some Japanese food, too!

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the cutest toilet signs i’ve ever seen!
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pierogi again, this time, steamed!
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we should always try the local traditional food, yes?

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Costa Coffee!

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there were so many adorable statues of dwarves! each one had it’s significance and meaning.
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more dwarves!
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The Anonymous Pedestrians – a memorial to the introduction of martial law and the people who disappeared (“went underground”) in the middle of the night.

La Tour Eiffel

There are times in life when you experience things and you just want to pinch yourself to make sure you aren’t dreaming. This day, this very afternoon, was one of those moments for me. It was this day that it sunk in that, yes, I was actually, really in Paris, France – one of the top most places to visit on my bucket list.

I could hardly believe that I was there looking up at the iconic Eiffel Tower, carrying a box of Ladurée macarons. It may seem simple but it felt so surreal. Around this time, I was pretty burned out at work which caused a lot of stress. It was this moment that I realized, “Wow. You’re in Paris. You left it all behind and landed in Paris.” I was very happy to say, the least. It was a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

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Versailles

Growing up with Disney and the Princesses, I’ve always wanted to see palaces and have been curious on how it would be like to live in one. Being a reader, I gravitate to fantastical and historical stories involving mighty cruel villains, charming yet mysterious princes, strong and beautiful heroines set in magical lands – all wrapped up in the typical happy ending. (“Far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, a prince in disguise!” – Belle, from Beauty and the Beast) Being a bit of a romantic, I kind of wanted to be in a fairy tale.

I’ve always wanted to see Paris – the romanticized City of Light, and Versailles, with the Chateau and the Gardens where French royalty once presided. Versailles is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. So, it was no surprise that my historically curious romantic self was quite giddy on this day. I tried to reign the excitement in a bit, but I couldn’t help but be in awe of what I saw.

As it is a very touristy place, it was expected to be very crowded and… it was. The line just to the entrance was a mile long so we purchased a skip-the-line tour that lets you skip the line (duh). The tour package also had audio guides that narrated bits of information about each room  inside the palace. It was all very interesting – to see the walls, the paintings, the furniture, the history! It was magnificent, opulent and quite overwhelming. It was just too much of everything that I couldn’t comprehend how all that came to be, hundreds of years ago, because of man (and man’s desires).

The tickets we booked also included access to the gardens which we went to first. On a side note, it would be amazing to have photo shoots there! Speaking of photos, here are some that I took on our day trip to Versailles. Please note the captions. 🙂

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This was outside the train station. Most buildings looked like this – like there was a theme all over!
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Cobble stones – pretty for pictures, bad for walking on.

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When in France, have crepes for lunch – Le Carré aux Crêpes!
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They had set meals – with cider!
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The set meal includes a choice of savory crepe, “savoury galettes”.

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The set meal had a choice of dessert, too. This one was for my niece’s kid’s meal.
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Of course, creme brulee!
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Chateau de Versailles
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Jardin de Versailles
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Hello, fellow tourists! Let’s explore the gardens! These gardens were huge! We were given a map and we didn’t even get to go to all parts because there was no time.

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It was raining that day. Thanks to the handy umbrellas from our Airbnb hosts! 🙂
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had a bit of fun channeling Mary Poppins with the umbrella

waiting for our tour of the Palace
Looks rich, non?

mirror selfie in the Hall of Mirrors
Gold, gold, gold.
Lots of gold trimming

Totally unexpected! Laduree by the gift shops! Ahh!
Nothing like macarons to end the tour! See my extra happy face.
Our day didn’t end there. Here’s a peak on where we went to next! Any guesses? It’s quite obvious.