Rome Alone

 

Five hours in the Eternal City is never enough to cover and discover all that this enchanting comune has to offer. That’s what I had though when hubby and I went “roaming alone in Rome” for some me-time each with the challenge of not taking a taxi but just the metro trains. :D I was hesitant at first but, I thought it would be good for me since I walk slowly, I could drink in the culture, sights, atmosphere and scenery more and escape the eye rolls I get from the annoyance I seem to bring hubby whenever I get left behind. ^_^

Five hours….considering my being slow, I could have seen more, taken photos of the city more but, in a nutshell, this is a story of what I did and saw in Rome…alone. Well, with a good-old map actually and my ever-reliable 7d.

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Sunny view of the Colosseo

Sun high-up (it was 5:30PM!), kissing my skin as it pleased, people – tourists and locals alike walking here and there…vendors, gladiator-clad men, each busy with their routine abound. Hubby and I separated at the metro train station Colosseo – most probably named after the  building just across – the largest ampitheatre the world has known. Albeit a famous tourism spot nowadays, the Colosseo or Coliseum still stands proud today, 1933 years after its completion and even marking its way to a spot in the New Seven Wonders of the World list.

A few steps from the Colosseum is another historical monument, the arch of Constantine. For some unknown reasons, I cannot find a decent shot of it from my archives. I think they were doing some renovations to it as on many other buildings that time. The above photo though shows it peeking a bit…(I’m sure hubby took a photo of this when we went back together but that would be in another post).

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tourists dwarfed by the Colosseo

Not being a sun-lover, I went around the elliptical structure immediately, stopping in middle-awe (where there’s shadow of course) and just savoring all the history and magnificence it imposes. Had hubby been there, we were sure to have gotten in but, I was hesitant to go in alone so I got back to the train station instead. Rome’s train stations are relatively clean…well, most that I’ve been to and as expected, the trains themselves are crowded.

Did spoke with an American family while on board…they’re from Detroit and spending a whole week in Rome, then was there last day. What struck me would be the sticker warning signs the train doors have. Quite morbid for my taste. :D

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going down to the trains

So I got off at the metro station Ottaviano, one of the nearest station that leads to Vatican City. Via Ottaviano (street) is lined up with shops, trattorias, pizzerias and of course residential houses. I was tempted to just shop than actually go to my destination – St. Peter’s Square. Hubby and I went there early in the morning that day but, it was too warm and humid I didn’t really enjoy it so much, I was seeking shelter from the shadows of the surrounding buildings at the plaza.

It was a bit before 7 then so it has cooled down a bit. It was also at this time when I saw the time-traveller musician. (Had you been to my music and food blog you’d know him). I walked the street parallel to via Ottaviano, the wall of the Vatican city on the right and a handful of souvenir shops on the left.

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not sure which street :D

I entered the plaza/square via the colonnades – the right side and this time, there aren’t as much tourists, no sun to annoy me but, also no hubby to go inside with and see the beauty of the Sistine chapel ceiling, nor the Pieta and not even the Vatican Library. Even not being catholics, seeing these historical pieces were on our bucket list. Sad to say, we run out of time the following days and never got to fulfill this. Rome being an hour away from Vienna by plane is easy to revisit and I’d definitely cross these out  from the bucket list when I get back. ^_^

At the square, the Tuscan colonnades were towering over the crowd of people as it was designed like to embrace them – symbolically back into the church. It is said to be one of Italian architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s most innovative design.

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St. Peter’s square – Colonnade, Obelisk and Maderno’s fountain

I walked around the square a bit more, shot this and that corner and went back the same route I had earlier. This time, I did some shopping. Bought some chocolates – Italian kisses, Baci, and a handful more sweets, some souvenirs and a few pieces from my favorite design house, Desigual.

I spent a considerable amount of time gawking at stuff there, teehee…when I finally got hungry and when my phone battery was almost dead, I went to the nearest restaurant I saw…and that’s a review shared on my food blog. ^_^ Long story told, I had one of Rome’s more known dish, pasta alla gricia made special with the experience of meeting a polyglot.

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Saldi…calling me to shop. :) I obliged

When dusk blanketed the city, I headed for the Pantheon. I didn’t follow the map this time but the advise of the above-mentioned polyglot. I took the scenic, longer bus route. I hopped off at Lagro Argentina and went the wrong way so I had to ask for directions a lot of times. ^_^

The Eternal city lives well to its name, the night streets so picturesque, I think it took me longer than I should reaching the spot where hubby and I would rendezvous because I stop by every corner to click my camera.

Still very much alive at 9 in the evening, my perception of Rome as a very busy city all transpired there.

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streets at night

I arrived at Piazza della Rotonda in one piece. ^_^ Rome’s very lively culture, the Italians’ happy disposition and free-spirited nature can all be seen in here. I spent some minutes listening to Italian music played on guitar at the middle of the plaza….I was waiting for hubby but, I was too surprised when I saw him there held (actually dragged) by a pantomime…Had I not been so quick, he would have probably been taken away by a chinese lady! ^_^ The night went on with some more walking, night shots, wine, pasta and more walking. This trip may not be one of those cheap late holidays we booked in a hurry…we definitely spent more but it’s all worth it! Sometimes opting for the budget offer is a good idea, but spending a bit more, that’s both time and money, in a city as Rome, is definitely one to try!

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Piazza della Rotonda and Pantheon

 

Mirabell Palace and Gardens in Salzburg

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lawn flowers
mirabell gardens
Entrance, little boy and Papagena fountain behind him

What’s more appropriate to do in Salzburg than visit the special locations it’s famous for? Aside from being the birthplace of music genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg became known for the film musical The Sound of Music which brought us the songs “Edelweiss“, “My Favorite Things”, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”, “Do-Re-Mi”, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”, and “The Lonely Goatherd.” Salzburg tourism capitalizes on this fact and many tours were arranged for visitors to exclusively see the locations that were highlighted in the movie. Such tours start by the Mirabell Palace which explains why there are buses parked outside.The Mirabell Gardens and Palace was where Maria and the kids were singing

We opted to go impromptu, walking as we please and because we arrived a little late (travel from Vienna took almost 3 hours). We were visiting along with a friend, a writer for the Philippine Star (I do hope he wrote niceties about Salzburg and Vienna).

From the entrance, one can already have a feel of how impressive the geometrically-arranged Mirabell garden would be.

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Mirabell Palace

Passing through a small garden, one would be welcomed into a bigger lawn. Flower beds carefully laid out, walls covered with vines, benches here and there, Roman statues and stone flower vases lined up, fountain features and an arbor to walk through when the scorching sun is up enchanted the photobug in me.

The palace is comparably small to other palaces and castles I’ve seen or perhaps that was just an impression as we never actually got in. :/ I truly blame having to arrive so late. But, as most palaces in Austria, the Mirabell is of Baroque style.

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arbor (side of) and passageway
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Baroque museum by the garden
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garden and arbor seen from the second floor of the Salzburg Baroque Museum

I was able to visit the the Salzburg Baroque museum which was at the southern wing of the orangerie. It was relatively small, 2 storeys but they have awesome sketches that the kids and I were able to view hurriedly. It was prohibited to take photos inside so I just took photos from inside of the view outside the window. The museum holds drawings and paintings by Rubens, Bernini and Algardi, but also Cortona, the local hero Rottmayr, Altomonte,, Tiepolo, the Guardis, and Maulbertsch among others. Art enthusiasts would be happy going about and savor each on display, as mentioned the museum is “small.”

If you’ve watched the Sound of Music, you’re definitely familiar with the scenes here, if not, go ahead and squeeze it into your schedule…it’s never too late to watch a classic Julie Andrews film, you’ll probably find yourself singing to one of its catchy tunes.

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fountain at the middle of the garden
statues
exit -

 

Charles Bridge, Prague

 

Charles Bridge is a historic and an important bridge in Prague connecting Prague Castle and the Old Town…it crosses the River Vltava (Moldau). The bridge is full of people crossing by, taking photos and buying souvenirs as the stretch is full of portrait artists, craft sellers, street performers, locals and of course, tourists. The gothic bridge is also lined by statues as old as 1683 and done mostly by known Bohemian sculptors  Matthias Braun and Jan Brokoff.

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From the bridge, the River Moldau can be admired  and enjoyed – bordered by apartments with their charming red and orange roofs, paddleboats, ships and fishing boats passing by add extra attraction.

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This restaurant by the riverside caught my attention. At the farther right is the Kafka Museum which I missed visiting. :( Hubby and I spent a considerable amount of time to see the Dancing House…

At the other end is the bridge tower on the side of Malá Strana (Little Side). This part is another charming area which I will feature in the next posts.

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(black and white, colored photos for sale and bridge tower at the background)

for:

Venice, the City of Waters

Venice  . gondolas, canal, hotel
boats and those

Here starts our (mine and hubby’s) Venice adventure.  We dropped off at the Cannaregio, the district most convenient as a base for those who arrive by car or train, as both the garage and the station are just minutes away on foot from any part of the sestiere (district). They say (Venetians) that this area closely resemble the Venice of old. Upon getting off the bus, one could easily see the charm the city has been known for. Basking in the glory of Grand Canal palaces, geniusly engineered architecture and a unique form of transportation, you would want to go and walk as much and experience the magic thriving in it since long ago.

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full water

Don’t be fooled, it may seem a small city but is not. A half-day isn’t enough to tour around all the districts.

Water transportation starts then and there. It’s one good reason that the city’s air is less polluted; unfortunately to the water’s trepidation. We got ready to enter a labyrinth of narrow passageways, alleys, canals and delicate bridges…unexpectedly we got lost but quite a beautiful experience too. Getting lost and looking for the right path back is wonderful if you’re with someone you trust. At the end of it all, you’ll find yourselves in awe of this wonderful city built on a lagoon.

Venice  - canal and gondolas
bridge

This is an old post dug from my archives. More posts about Venice are scheduled. If you need some travel inspirations or ideas especially in other regions, check out http://www.escapetravel.com.au for some destinations advice. They also have great discount on flights and tours. Related posts and more photos of Venice here.

 

Playmobil Funpark, 6 years after

 

For the kids, visiting their grandparents means fun…Aside from their oma’s cooking (grandmom) they enjoy walking around the place and swimming at the nearby pool. There’s also almost always a mention of Playmobil Funpark. It’s just a few minutes from their place. Just like before, dad-in-law would bring the first batch there (car is small for all of us) then come back for the second. First batch this time were mom-in-law, daughter and our youngest. Kuya C (my older son) stayed behind and went with hubby and I next. It was unusual since he is my mom-in-law’s favorite and he would always go with her without a doubt when invited.

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aged 8 and 10
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Daddy and D

 

The last time I was there was 6 years ago and I posted about it here…look at the photo of my 2 older kids in that post…They were then 2 and 4! Now, they’re 8 and 10…I was pregnant then with my youngest but he’s 5 now…I specifically asked them to pose – the two older kids together as a comparison to how young they were when we went. Although they went here 2 summers ago without me – only with my in-laws, I never saw photos.

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lograft
ship daddy and son
that big ship

Little boy wasn’t in the mood for photos, Daddy has to convince him to. The place is as colorful as I remember, Playmobil giant figures multiplied in number, a lot more water-play sections were added, there’s a mini-golf course now and if you haven’t been to our new blog, please do, we’re having a giveaway there.

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We did a lot of stuff, kids played to their heart’s content and I took photos as long as the battery lasts. Will show them here as the days progressed. This is surely another trip where hubby and I released our inner child. :)

 

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The place is not only fun it was also very scenic. It rained a bit in the morning but the sky was a lovely blue at noon.

Playmobil Funpark
Brandstätterstraße 2 -10
90513 Zirndorf, Germany

 

 


Singapore – The Merlion

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Mention Singapore and one immediately thinks of the Merlion. The lion-fish ensemble has become the mascot of Singapore over the years and says a lot about the city. The fish body represents Singapore’s origin as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, which means “sea town” in Javanese. The lion head represents Singapore’s original name — Singapura — meaning “lion city” or “kota singa”.

There are five Merlions in Singapore, that are recognized by the STB (Singapore Tourism Board), they are as follows:

The 8.6-metre-tall original statue at Merlion Park
The two-metre-tall cub statue standing behind the original statue
The 37-metre-tall gigantic replica — with Mouth Gallery Viewing Deck on the ninth storey, another viewing gallery on its head and The Merlion Shop — at Sentosa Island
The three-metre-tall glazed polymarble statue at Tourism Court (near Grange Road) completed in 1995
The three-metre-tall polymarble statue placed on Mount Faber’s Faber Point

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For our three-days stay we were unfortunate to not see all the merlion statues. So here are three different views of the giant replica at Sentosa Island. Isn’t she lovely, glowing in purple shade at night?

Life and then Som

Paris – Disneyland Park – Fantasyland

Disneyland Park, is mostly the fantasy-filled area of the Resort. It is divided into Main Street, USA and 3 other ‘lands’ .

Disneyland Hotel (above and below), an in-house hotel and also the entrance to the Park.

C and A posing by the Mickey flower ensemble in front of the hotel entrance.

My boys sitting at the Pavilion which is parallel to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, the street lined with flags is Main Street, USA. The street has 1920-inspired houses (emphasizing on football and automobiles). The houses serve as shops (from souvenirs to photography equipments) and restaurants (coffee, pizza, ice cream, and more).

During the parade, Tigger (Disney’s Winnie the Pooh) and Geppetto (Pinocchio) on board. Notice the rail tracks, as the street has a tram for the visitors too.

 

One of the featured automobile also on parade, they also tour around with the guests and sometimes with the mascots.

 

Front of one of the shops. Notice: Kodak, yes they sell mostly Kodak products. The attendants are really friendly but they would almost always speak to you in French when you enter. Most of them speak English especially the Africans. But it was also nice when a cashier who seem not fluent in English heard me speaking with Charlton later on conversed with me in German. I felt confident I won’t get lost.lol.

 

Inside the shop, a surplus of Mickey mouse and other Disney toys, souvenir items, clothing, memorabilia and more. The prices are generic at all of the shops. Security is a little lax though, don’t be surprised if you see people shoplifting…coz I did. I tip my hat off to those who remain honest (like us! hehe).

One of the stuff we bought that proved to be useful later on is a gown for our little princess. See, she’s standing here with Sleeping Beauty’s castle at the background. The dress was perfect, should we have bought Cinderella’s dress then the castle should be blue…fortunately, she likes pink and pink is Aurora’s gown.

However, meticulous as she is, she had one complain. “Mali momie, kasi black ang hair ko dapat dress na lang ni Snow White, I can’t be Aurora, hindi naman kasi ako blonde.” (This is wrong momie, I have black hair so it should have been Snow White’s dress , I can’t be Aurora, I’m not blonde after all.) Oo nga naman.

One of the uses I was talking about is this: sending entries to the Disney Princess magazine.

Sitting by the bushes…behind is Alice in Wonderland’s Curious Labyrinth.

Jiminy Cricket from Les Voyages de Pinocchio , a 2-minute ride which will show you the journeys of Pinocchio, presented by puppets…the rides were made of wood inpired by Geppetto’s works.

Waving while still on board Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

Jack’s Beanstalk minus the Giant…

 

At the entrance of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle was a small door with a vitrine full of crystals. Most of them are Disney character’s mini-sculptures but there are huge masterpieces as you see here partly, a replica of the castle.

Hubby and I were awed at how they are made so we looked around and there, hubby’s attention was caught by the hologram-like crystal boxes with yóur own photos! (more pics to follow)

We decided that this precious piece would be our souvenir from the Park. The attendants took our photos starting from Daniel. The woman in the photo appears to be the Supervisor here, she came and spoke to us (english) but when she heard me call out: “Da-niel!” She instantly knew that we speak German ( just by the pronunciation..as in English would be pronounced Day-nyel, Pinoys would say Dan-yel, and in German we say Da-nyel).

The rule is to not move for 5 seconds while the photo is being taken and to look on top of the camera…the box was ready after 2 hours and we paid an addition since there were 5 of us…the most that they have made were for 4 people.

 

 

<–The castle glowing at night, too bad we run out of batteries for the fireworks =(

 

 

There were still so many stuff that we were not able to see, but we had enough memories to make us remember the fantastic and enchanting experience at Disney’s Fantasyland.