A Travellerspoint blog

Florence Day 4 (22 May 2008)

Exploring Florence

We woke up. Ate breakfast. Bathed. Packed our bags. Checked school email. Facebook. Gmail. Yadayadayada. And got out of the house. At 12 NOON. DSC03298.jpg

Caught a bus (with a friendlier bus driver) to Piazzale Michelangelo. Almost missed the stop. Cos we all know how good Gershon is at reading maps. Anyway, the view is fantastic from the Piazzale for we had a bird’s eye view of the city of Florence from there. DSC03401.jpg We are so glad we are not on some skanky tour group where they will tell you, “Okie, you have TEN minutes here to take photos” cos we spent like more than an hour photo-whoring there. We listened to the history of Florence through a DIY thingy they set up there. Felt quite learned, well at least for five minutes… Saw a wedding photo session taking place there too.

We ran for the bus and we caught it! We smiled with glee at our agility and speed. Just to realize that it wasn’t going to move for another ten minutes. Wonderful idiots we were. Okie anyway, so the bus got going and Gershon finally knew where to get down! We bought two oranges DSC03433.jpg on the way and happily strolled along, savoring the juicy sweet fruit in the clear crisp weather. And hol-lan. (that’s Hokkien for getting lost). Thanks Gershon. You totally ignored the UNESCO sign which says “Here to the world heritage site”. So much for getting off at the right stop. Okay, so we backtracked 10,000 meters and got to Boboli Gardens and found that it costs 10 euros (that’s SGD 21) to get in! What do they plant inside man??? Money tree ah??

So being cheapo us (and having toured some random park earlier on when we got lost), we walked along the perimeter. Hurhur… Turned out to be a good decision after all, for we found………. FOOD. Not just food, but cheap good food. It’s feeding time!!

We ordered some random spaghetti and some random penne. DSC03456.jpg Turned out to be the best pasta we ate in Italy! We were very satisfied with the food, which cost only 3.8 euros each, very cheap in Italy for a sit down meal. HAPPY!

Then we passed Pitti plaza and then to the Duomo. We headed to the street market where we saw many stalls selling all kinds of merchandise – masks, jewellery, leather stuff, souvenirs, clothes, shoes blah blah blah. Some guy tried to sell Gershon a leather jacket, quoting him 250 euros. Siao! But then again, being Singaporeans, we ain’t gonna leave the market without buying anything. Janice bought a fountain pen and earrings. Gershon bought his jester mask which he eyed for like 30 min, yet made Janice walk up and down and up and down the streets (and got lost in the meantime) before finally making up his mind. Tired.

We wanted to see David (Michelangelo’s finest creation) so we stood in the queue in front of the Galleria Accademia for 40min. But we also wanted to see the leaning tower of Pisa later on at night. Fearing that we may run too late (cos we had to take an hour’s train ride to Pisa) we left the queue and headed for the station. 1 min after we left the queue, they let the whole batch of people in. Great decision making huh?

Thereafter, we decided we were hungry and were sick of looking for good Italian food. Guess what we went for? McDonald’s – I’m loving it, especially when we had two coupons – buy one get one free burger and another for drinks! This was our cheapest meal in Italy! 6.80 euros for two persons. Beat that!

Posted by orangenutz 18:05 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Florence Night 3 (21 May 2008)

Pek cek travelling...

Reached Florence in a couple of hours.
Bus drivers in Florence suck… We took bus 25 to our hostel and wonderfully it stopped right at the doorstep of the hostel. Then guess what? Then the bus drove us. With us STILL IN IT! There are three doors in the typical bus in Italy. Apparently, we were at the last door at the back that was meant for boarding. So despite us shouting to the bus driver to let us down, he just closed the door for alighting and drove off! We think he was in a hurry. So much that he couldn’t spare us TWENTY SECONDS to get down the bus. Petrol must cost a lot in Italy isn’t it? PEK CEK!!!!! And the next stop was like 500 meters away. Not too far, just that it was a stewpid 45 degrees uphill!!! So we had to cross over to the other side, wait for another like 15 min to get to ONE bus stop back down to our hostel DSC03161.jpg …. Sigh… Not to mention we were lugging an army load of things. Gershon’s silly trolley (without a proper support mind you) weighs 17.5kg!!! And our hostel? It was on the top floor, fourth storey you know? And it was built even before elevators were invented, or so we think….!!!!

Well, the saving grace was that the host that received us was very nice. He was very welcoming and warm and cooked us pasta to eat. YAY! FREE DINNER! The room and beds were mucho nice. Everything just felt very cozy and homely. Beats Alessandro hands (and legs and what have you) down. It felt more like a home. The chap’s name was Salih Thaqi. DSC03865.jpg Only 19 years old and was very humorous. Everyone loved him! He’s studying Management part time now and doing this part time for the owner of the place.

After dinner, we headed downtown for a night stroll. The feeling in Florence was very different from that we had in Rome. Life ran at a much slower pace. There wasn’t as much things to see but we liked the feeling more. More tranquilo (Spanish for chillax)

We went to Ponte Vecchio (ponte is Italian for bridge).DSC03255.jpg Then we trekked through the streets, passed the Queen of Museums – the Galleria Uffizi and saw the Duomo. Grabbed a very very tasty but teeny weeny bit salty pizza before heading back to sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Very tired (Janice will tell you that. 45 times a day to be exact.)

Posted by orangenutz 17:55 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Vatican City Day 3 (21 May 2008)

We're off to see the Pope!


Yar, we woke up real early to go to the Vatican today. Being kiasu Singaporeans, we walked really fast and overtook a total of 38 people! Amazingly, there was not much of a queue at the Vatican and we managed to clear the security within 5 min. Quite a feat.

Once inside, the view of the plaza was astoundingly pretty! We were surrounded by a circle of the statues of saints. DSC02810.jpg Overtaking more people, we got into the St Peter’s Basilica, and we overheard that the Pope was coming out today! Like our MP meet-the-people session. So being the kiasu Singaporeans, we were of course not going to miss seeing the Pope. I mean, it’s the Pope! So we waited for 1.5hrs to see him and we finally got to see him. He was really small from where we were, like 1.5 cm. We had to use our cameras to zoom in on him. Oh, and he was really white too. DSC02953.jpg

After seeing the Pope, we had to squeeze our way out. Really SqUuEeEzZeeee. We had to jump over blockades to get out too. We got into the queue for Vatican Musuem and it started to rain. Pitter patter, pitter patter. After 20 min in the rain, we got inside and to our surprise the first exhibit that we saw was CHINESE! DSC02995.jpg Thought we went into the wrong museum…. But we realized that they were gifts from various countries to the Pope.

We were really wanting to see the famed Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo so we followed the signs. And we followed the signs. And we followed more signs. We forgot how many times we saw the stewpid sign which said “Sistine Chapel ” Along the way we saw Raphael’s Room Number One, Room Two and the Room of the Maps. We must say that the rooms were really very impressive and pretty! But then there were still the rooms of Modern Art, Contemporary Art and Dunno What Art yadayadayada… We think it was almost one hour before we reached the chapel. And we spent a grand total of FIVE minutes in there. Seriously, we thought the Room of Maps DSC03104.jpg was more impressive. But then again we are not the most cultured people to judge huh?

Okie, on to something more important: we found the most delicious gelato that we have eaten just outside the Museum! Yum yum yum! 1.5 euros for two flavours! More yum yums! The Kinder Bueno flavour is SUPER GOOD!

Anyway, we got back to our Hostel at Alessandro’s and went to the Stationez Termini to catch our train to Florence. Ate a terrible terrible horrible hard-as-rock baguette from Mr Panino. Yucks. Please don’t buy their shares if they ever IPO. Confirm chui…

Posted by orangenutz 17:53 Archived in Vatican City Comments (0)

Rome Day 2 (20 May 2008)

Pitter patter... pitter patter....


After a rainy night, the morning seemed promising. That is, till we got to the Colosseum when the dark clouds started to gather. DSC02618.jpgAnd then it rained and it rained and it rained AGAIN! Our shoes were soaked from splashing about in the puddles of water.

ARGH.... We give up. We took the train away and went to eat lunch near Circus Maximus. Caborana = Fried noodles with eggs. The pasta was gross. DOUBLE ARGH...

The rain let up after lunch and we went to Palatine Hill. DSC02573.jpgIt was the Roman Forum of rulers in the past. The view at the top was pretty nice and we saw very nicely preserved ruins of Ancient Rome.

We ended off the afternoon in the Capital Museum. It specialized in Archaeological remains and we thoroughly enjoyed myself there! DSC02654.jpgThere were sooooo many figures there! And they all have so much depth of history and meaning we couldn't have enough time to explore everything!

The rain didn't let up in the night. We trekked in the rain to visit the Trevi Fountain, which was the highlight of the whole trip. DSC02768.jpgWe were so glad we went at night because the sight of the Trevi was simply breath-taking at night. The lights softly light up the flowing waters of the ancient fountain, and the whole structure seemed so tranquil yet alive. You must see this when you are in Rome!

We were pretty satisfied after spending a good 20 minutes looking at the Fountain. How the ancient people manage to create such a beautiful fountain I do not know. But one thing I know, this must be one of the most beautiful water structures Man has ever made. You have to see it to believe it. :)

Posted by orangenutz 07:53 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Rome Day 1 (19 May 2008)

The rain begins....

rain -17 °C

Taking the Leonardo Express from the airport we reached Central Rome at Statione Termini in the evening. We checked into a seemingly quiet neighborhood into our first hostel for the trip - Alessandro Downtown. It was not too bad I thought. Decent beds and showers.

And so begins our Roman adventure. DSC02483.jpgLike Obelix the Gaul, we needed a good meal and Tripadvisor.com old us that was one in Travestere that was nice. Somebody told us you could walk from one end of Rome to the other in an hour so we walked, armed with a map in hand.

And we walked.
And we walked.
And we walked.

Then it started to drizzle.
And then it rained.
And then it poured.
And then it was like heaven's plumbing system went wrong.

Without umbrellas and ponchos, we were like hapless little kittens stranded in the rain. We found a small lil spot in front of a store and sat there, with a few pages torn out from a magazine as our mat. PATHETIC we were. Nobody told me grad trips were supposed to start like this! Wet, cold, miserable and worst of all, HUNGRY!

But the rain let up after about 45 min and we ran to the nearest restaurant for a meal. We ordered a set meal and I ordered some lagsane with scallopini. Don't really know what that was but it sounded nice so it must be right? BOY, was I wrong! It was some beer battered pork, and it tasted very very very bitter! And it cost us 18 euros each! that's like SGD40 dude!

So the rain sucked. The food sucked. But tomorrow shall be better. Or at least I hoped...

Posted by orangenutz 01:17 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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