My Roman Holiday II

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

There’s so much history there and it’s an architectural marvel as well. It is a wonder what the human mind can do, even in the Ancient times. The Colosseum is an oval amphitheater where all those gladiator battles were held as well as many other public spectacles of the age. 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 is 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, 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? It couldn’t hurt.

The next day, our third day, it was a very chill day as it was our last full day in Rome. We visited the Pantheon. It’s a former 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. Tombs of notable people are housed there, too like that of the artist, Raphael.  In the middle of the Pantheon is the Oculus in the concert dome that is the ceiling.  Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. It’s basically a big circular whole in the roof but it 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 snap for those days. (All pictures are SOOC.) It doesn’t do the place justice at all. It’s 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 once. I even 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 very rich city in Italy, in both art and history. There are numerous museums in Florence 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 a day to just walk about the streets of Florence. We saw the iconic Duomo, Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiorewhich surprisingly had green and pink hued walls. We wandered the streets and observed the yellow painted buildings. We stopped by a cute little retaurant that was next to a bell tower that chimed the hour to have pizza and pasta for lunch. We ate our 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.

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 out 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 decided to have a chill day back in Bologna, so, we decided to just go to the city center and see what it had to offer… our stomachs! Because that 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 thing the comes to mind when someone says “Venice” is, of course, 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 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 travelled 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! This was mid-August and it was super hot, like middle-of-summer-in-the-Philippines hot. Add a huge crowd of tourists (which we were a part of), it can be quite a disappointment. The boats were packed with people, which makes it super 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, it was a fun trip. 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!

 

 

 

 

cześć, Wrocław!

After the Paris leg of our trip, we headed to Wrocław, Poland. My older sister went to Poland for work a few months back and we decided to stop by her new home, explore, check out some 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 especially pretty town. Pardon the haphazard post processing of picture, 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 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 place to visit on the 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 causing much stress. It was this moment that I realized, “Wow. You’re in Paris. You left your stress 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 have been like to live in one. Being a reader, I gravitate to fantastical or 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 guess, 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. Doesn’t hurt that it’s 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 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 super crowded and it was. The line just to the entrance was a mile long so we did a skip-the-line tour that lets you skip the line (duh). The tour package also had audio guides for which narrated bits of information in each room we went to inside the palace. It was all very interesting – to see the walls, the paintings, the furniture, the history! It was magnificent and opulent and a bit overwhelming. It was just too much of everything that I couldn’t comprehend how such things 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! Even just in the gardens! I don’t think it’s allowed though. 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!
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Cobble stones – I learned are 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 get to go to all parts.

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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 chanelling 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.

bonjour, Paris!

After hours and hours of being in transit, we finally arrived in Paris, France.  It’s still kinda surreal that I get to say (type) that.

Paris is one of the places that I get to check off my bucket list. I can’t thank the powers that be enough for this opportunity. I can’t help but be grateful of every blessing that has been given to me, this trip was one of those wonderful blessings.

In Paris, the family and I stayed in this cozy Airbnb in the 19th arrondissement. A bit far from the center but it was within our budget. When we arrived, we took the chance to explore the vicinity and have lunch at a nearby cafe.

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Liberte. Egalite. Fraternite.

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We ate at Le Pavillon des Merveilles – an Alice in Wonderland themed cafe. It was decked out in huuuge cards and had other cute decors all around the place. The food was very good too, especially the dessert! I remember we had these chocolate cookies – yum!

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Bienvenue! Welcome!
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Alice in Wonderland themed.
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These cards were huge – human size!
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Croque Monsieur, Gazpacho,  and a veggie lasagna? I forget. Super yum though!

After lunch, we decided to take the train to the center of the city and explore some of the must see touristy things. What better way to see everything than by walking? So, we got our phones out, opened Google Maps and went exploring. Here are some of the places we saw on our walk – Notre Dame, Pont Neuf, and The Louvre Museum.

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Their public toilets, high-tech!

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pretty buildings…

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Notre Dame de Paris

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that iconic glass pyramid – you know you’re at The Louvre
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somebody’s happy

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The Seine with the top of the Eiffel Tower peeping out – magical!

 

And this was only day 1 in Paris!

 

Disneyland Paris Feels

So, something amazing happened. I went to Europe! For three weeks! With the family! It was amazing… but more on that later.

What kind of Disney kid would I be if i pass up the chance to go to Disneyland Paris? I mean, aside from the part that my sisters’ main purpose of stopping by Paris was just that.

Here I am, sharing my excitement… and slight disappointment from my day at Disneyland Paris. Excitement because, hey! It’s Disneyland! In Paris! but disappointment because, that was it? Disneyland? In Paris?

It may be my fault that I got disappointed. I got my hopes up, expectations were high. Even after reading and researching about the park, even after finding out that it wasn’t the best of all the parks, I still expected so much. Oh, well, it was still quite an experience, though, no doubt about that. That is one more park to check off the list!

There are so many unique things to the park like Sleeping Beauty’s castle with that super cool dragon inside; some things common to some other parks but a new experience for me – like the Pirates of the Carribean ride and Peter Pan’s flight (which was super fun!). It was still very memorable and amazing. I would not take it back. I would probably not make a point to visit it but if by some miracle, I may find myself in Paris once again, I’ll be sure to go.

i DisneyBounded as Snow White. can you see it?

posing with statues is fun. funny the one that posed before me was a little kid. LOL
which way to go?
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – so pretty.

so, is this Maleficent? or not?
sound advice