Croatia Pt 2 of 2: Dubrovnik

After two days of working out in Plitvice, we headed to our final destination in Croatia; Dubrovnik.  This was also one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We took a bus to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia and the airport was deserted that it was really hard to believe!.

The heat in Dubrovnik was especially intense during our visit in summer. Unfortunately it was easy to get headaches if one is not used to the heat (i.e youknowwho); thankfully there were delicious cooling ice creams sold almost everywhere especially at the main street; Brsalje Street.

I couldn’t find out a lot of the names of the buildings, but their ancient look made the city look almost rustic. We walked around the city; it was a lot smaller than expected so we kept going about in the same place. The second afternoon, after a cable car ride, we took a boat ride to a nearby beach and dipped for a couple of hours. The water was crystal clear as the seabed was made of rocks instead of the usual sand.  On the final day, we climbed the city wall. We managed to use our student discount though our student card had expired for a week and counting.

Pile Gate, Dubrovnik

Pile Gate, Dubrovnik

Those green windows

Those green windows

St. John's Fortress

St. John’s Fortress

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Stradun, Dubrovnik

Stradun, Dubrovnik

Cathedral

Cathedral

Bell tower, Dubrovnik

Bell tower, Dubrovnik

Fort St John

Fort St John

Beautiful steps

Beautiful steps

Pretty flowers in the balcony

Pretty flowers in the balcony

Night view of the bell tower

Night view of the bell tower

Cable car ride

Cable car ride

View from the top of the hill

View from the top of the hill

Dubrovnik city

Dubrovnik city

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

Along the city walls

Along the city walls

Lovrijenac, Dubrovnik

Lovrijenac, Dubrovnik

View from the city wall

View from the city wall

From the top of the hill

From the top of the hill

Summer wear ;)

Summer wear 😉

The sea view from the boat ride and the beach:

City Harbour

City Harbour

City Harbour from City wall

City Harbour from City wall

Boat tour for a reasonable price

Boat tour for a reasonable price

At a distance..

At a distance..

Approaching the beach

Approaching the beach

Beautiful landscape

Beautiful landscape

Can you see a shape within the clouds?

Can you see a shape within the clouds?

The private beach we didn't get to go

The private beach we didn’t get to go

The beauty of the sea

The beauty of the sea

The island of nobody

The island of nobody

Sparkling sparkling water

Sparkling sparkling water

Trail from the boat ride

Trail from the boat ride

Picture credit: cluthofinspirations.wordpress.com

Picture credit: cluthofinspirations.wordpress.com

Goodbye Croatia

Goodbye Croatia

Recap:

Although it was really hot (scorching hot) and I gott a few shades tanner at the end of the trip, the beauty of the waterfalls and lakes in Plitvice as well as the seaview in Dubrovnik certainly made this trip worthwhile. We took a lot of scenic pictures but failed to remember to get a group picture in my camera.

For those who are thinking about a trip to Croatia in summer, the important thing: sunblock. sunblock. sunblock. SUNBLOCK.

Related links:

Croatia Pt 1 of 2: Zadar, Dubrovnik by ripplesoftruth

Dubrovnik, the Charming Old Harbour by retireediary

Croatia Pt 1 of 2: Zadar and Plitvice

In less than 24 hours upon arrival in Manchester (a story for another day), I took the bus down to Liverpool for a flight to Croatia. This was our final trip together as students, our ultimate graduation trip. We started off in Zadar, then Plitvice Lakes National Park and finally Dubrovnik.

A recap of Croatia:

Day 1: Zadar

Upon arrival at Zadar airport, we were split into two groups of six and transported to two separate accommodations. I had no clue which one we were going, but it was quite a long ride as the airport is located outside the city walls of Zadar. As soon as I got out of the car, I bang into a fire hydrant; what a way to start the trip.

I had fallen sick a week ago, and was still feeling a little jetlag from the previous trip; I had several nose bleeds in the first couple of days.  There were some attractions in Zadar (pictured below). We walked about and climbed the bell tower. The attraction I like most was the Sea organ and sunset at the “Greeting to the Sun” circle. The sea organ plays beautiful music by waves and tubes located underneath the set of marble steps.

City Gate, Zadar

City Gate, Zadar

Church of St Anastasia, Zadar

Church of St Anastasia, Zadar

Five Wells Square, Zadar

Five Wells Square, Zadar

City Sentinel, Zadar

City Sentinel, Zadar

Zadar - Bell Tower

View from Bell Tower

View from Bell Tower

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Zadar - The beautiful Sea

 Piano seats

Piano seats

The Greeting to the Sun, Zadar

The Greeting to the Sun, Zadar

Butterfly #1

Butterfly #1

Something happened during the bus ride to Plitvice that made me a half wet blanket for the rest of the trip. I sincerely apologise for this. I’m not usually the one who offers explanation but if anyone wants to know what really happen in Croatia, I am ready to talk about it (limited to Manchester Circus only oops!).

Day 2 & 3: Plitvice Lake National Park 

We reached our accommodation slightly earlier than the check-in period, but did not inform the owner in advance. The landlady was quite annoyed (and rude), but let us put our bags in our rooms at the end. After settling down, we set foot to the national park.

Plitvice, a UNESCO heritage, is famous for the lakes and waterfalls. The first day, we walked around the lakes and we were all close together so we followed the same route. On the second day, we set foot to see majestic waterfalls! We split up and walked at different paces; I was taking a lot of pictures so I was quite left behind.. unfortunately.

Plitvice main entrance

Plitvice main entrance

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Electric blue dragonfly

Electric blue dragonfly

Bee

Bee

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Highest Waterfall

Highest Waterfall

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Plitvice - IMG_8383 Plitvice - IMG_6879

The view was breathtaking, wasn’t it? I had the weirdest fascination for insects and the most unique insect I saw was the electric blue dragonfly!

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To be continued…

Summer in Paris

Eiffel Tower. Lourve museum. Notre-dame Cathedral.  Sacré-Coeur. Champs-Elysées. La Defense. Orsay Museum. Arc de Triomphe.  These are some of the popular landmarks we immediately thought of when someone mentioned “Paris”.

Paris is beautiful. The thing about Paris is even if you see the same monuments all over again, you never get tired. At least not for me.

Paris attractions from http://www.aviewoncities.com/

Paris attractions from http://www.aviewoncities.com/

I returned to Paris for the second time after 2 years. On the first day I arrived, I had the whole day planned out in the train, from the place of attractions to the breakdown of time and public transportation used. It wasn’t until two of my friends who were already in Paris texted if I wanted to join for lunch before I realised; I forgot to slot in time for lunch.. and dinner. Too excited perhaps?  😆

Lunch at Benoit was awesome; especially the escargots. This restaurant offered a lot of complimentary starters and desserts – good stuff. In the spirit of trying something new, I ordered a dessert “Armagnac Savarin” which is a fancy term for alcohol-infused bread. Not a wise choice, definitely.

The restaurant, Benoit.

The restaurant, Benoit.

Escargots

Escargots

Complimentary cheese puffs

Complimentary cheese puffs

Chicken and mushroom puff

Chicken and mushroom puff

Line caught whiting

Line caught whiting

Armagnac Savarin

Armagnac Savarin

What the "Armagnac Savarin" is made of

What the “Armagnac Savarin” is made of

Complimentary chocolate and pistachio cakes

Complimentary chocolate and pistachio cakes

Complimentary awesome stuff

Complimentary awesome stuff

After lunch, we walked about to see several landmarks as pictured below.  I didn’t manage to climb the basilica Sacré-Coeur on the last day as I decided that shopping for a friend (and myself haha!) was more important.

Opéra de Paris Garnier

Opéra de Paris Garnier

Tuleries garden

Tuleries garden

Lourve museum

Lourve museum

My company for the day!

My company for the day!

Champs Elysees

Champs Elysees

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur

Opéra de Paris Garnier - night view

Opéra de Paris Garnier – night view

This was the day we went into several shops along Champs-Elysées, from bags  to watches to jewelries . Service was nice in most shops, even though we did not get anything in the end.  The three of us had dinner at a different restaurant, with more escargots and frog legs. We ended the night early as we were heading to Disneyland the following day!

Frog legs

Frog legs

Duck... i think?

Duck… i think?

****

The most significant addition to this trip compared to the last was seeing the famous Mona Lisa painting. On the final day,  J and I queued up as early as 8.30 am at the Lourve museum.  It was free entry for students *glees* with a valid student card.  We were provided with a brochure of the layout of Lourve museum. Believe me, it was a lot bigger than I anticipated. The first stop was no doubt; Mona Lisa. Unfortunately for me, it was a lot smaller than I expected (i was expecting to find a poster size painting silly me!) and protected by the glass. #potongstim While we were at the museum, we went around to have a look at several other famous statues and paintings. After an hour and a half, we decided that it was more than enough.

Lourve museum - morning queue

Lourve museum – morning queue

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa.. is small

Mona Lisa.. is small

After that, I parted ways with  J and lingered around at the Tuleries garden in front of the museum. From where I was sitting, I was drawn to the Eiffel tower and the attractions on the way. So I went to Eiffel tower, yet again! At the  tower, I met another fellow Malaysian who was on her own solo trip – how awesome was that! We were dodging a lot of people who pretended to ask for donations.

View from Tuleries Garden

View from Tuleries Garden

Musée d'Orsay

Musée d’Orsay

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

****

At the end of the trip, there was a failure to communicate. As I was staying in a separate accommodation, I took the bus to the train station by myself. Upon arrival, there was an escalator on the left and platforms right in front of the main door. Because there was so many posters, signs and flower pots here and there, I mistakenly assumed that we had to go up the escalator, and down to the platforms (when in fact, the platform was a straight path from the main door). My friends called and called and each time i answered: “I am almost there.” thinking that I would meet them after going up an escalator and down a different one.

When in fact, the escalator led to the check in area for the international train back to London. I reached the lounge at 6pm for a 6.15 pm.. and realised that awful mistake I made – there was no way down to the platform where my friends were waiting, and worse; they had not checked in yet. Luckily, none of us missed the train. I could tell by their facial expressions that they were annoyed even after I apologised, but sometimes, mistakes were made to teach us a lesson.

Well, lesson learnt.

Paris Disneyland

…in the eyes of a 22-year old.

When my friends added “Paris Disneyland” last minute as part of their Paris adventure, I was immediately drawn to the trip and quickly looked up the price of train ticket and accommodation. I decided that it was worth going, and although it was pretty last minute, I went for a 3-day Paris trip. Disneyland Paris was a day trip on Day 2.

ParisDisneyland  - IMG_5560

4 June 2013. (Day 2)

How to get there? We took a RER train from Paris city centre to Marne la Vallée. It was pretty tricky, because it looked like a direct ride (RED line) but we had to transit at Chatelet Les Halles stop for a RER B train. We reached our destination about 9 am; the station was slightly deserted, but there was a small crowd at the main entrance of the park not far away. For more details on planning your trip, refer to this website.

At the gate: The last time I was so excited at an amusement park, I was 7 in Jerudong Park Brunei. My most prominent memory of the trip was the water-ride; I went for the boat ride three consecutive times! As I looked around that day, I see lots of little kids; we were probably one of the very few young adults without accompanying children.

There was no proper queue as everyone was crammed at the gate, but everyone was  nice to each other and didn’t push or shove. We waited while the crowd converged across the respective ticket counters.  And in no time.. it was our turns!

Paris Disneyland Gate

Paris Disneyland Gate

I bought a 20th anniversary ticket online, which allowed 1-day entry (and re-entries) in 2 parks; (1) Disneyland Park and (2)Walt Disney Studio Park.

Disneyland Park: 

We headed to the Disneyland Park first. Before we enter, I was already taken by the beauty of the entrance. A grand building itself, and the beautifully trimmed Mickey-shaped bush in front of it. I realised, I was more excited about taking pictures than actually going on rides, but nevertheless still EXCITED.

Disneyland Park entrance

Disneyland Park entrance

Mickey clock on Disneyland Park entrance

Mickey clock on Disneyland Park entrance

Hippo bush.

Hippo bush.

As soon as we entered the park, the most beautiful sight was the Sleeping Beauty Castle (Le Château de la Belle au Bois). This castle was inspired by Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. I have never read the story about Sleeping Beauty, but like all fairytales, it all end with the Disney princess finding her Prince Charming and they lived happily ever after. Now, which little girl won’t be swooned by that beautiful fairy tale?

That being said, take a moment to appreciate the few pictures of this majestic castle!

Cinderella Castle

Cinderella Castle

Cinderella Castle

Cinderella Castle

Cinderella Castle

Cinderella Castle

Cinderella Castle

close up Cinderella Castle

In Fronteirland, our first stop was the Phantom Manor as there was least queue. A lot of attractions were closed either because it was too early or for maintenance’ such as Big Thunder Mountain and a few others. It didn’t really matter to me, I was already contented after seeing the castle.

ParisDisneyland  - Frontierland

Phantom Manor

Phantom Manor

Big Thunder Mountain

Big Thunder Mountain

Boothill

Boothill

Cottonwood Creek - Cowboy Cookout Barbeque

Cottonwood Creek – Cowboy Cookout Barbeque

Pocahontas Indian Village

Pocahontas Indian Village

The layout of the park was a little uncordinated; there were a lot of caves and shortcuts; I did not even realised when I was at the next land: Adventureland.

Adventure Aisle

Adventure Aisle

Indiana Jones: Temple du Peril

Indiana Jones: Temple du Peril

the ride

the ride

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean

Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship

We  enter Fantasyland briefly for the Mickey Mouse  Meet and Greet. We queued up for about 40 minutes, right in time for lunch. I felt the skinny little teen beneath the Mickey Mouse as he gave me a hug. I bought the overpriced picture – because I waited for so long!

Peter Pan Flight

Peter Pan Flight

Meet Mickey Mouse

Meet Mickey Mouse

Meet Mickey Mouse

Meet Mickey Mouse

Lunch was fast food at Discoveryland.

Discoveryland

Discoveryland

Space Mountain Mission 2

Space Mountain Mission 2

Disney Lunch

Disney Lunch

Look how adorable Drink Goofy is looking at Burger Mickey.

Midday Parade: 

At midday, there was a short parade at the Main Street USA. I only got pictures of Mickey and Minnie. There were other characters like Chip and Dale too!

ParisDisneyland  - midday show (1)

ParisDisneyland  - midday show

Walt Disney Studio

After lunch, we exited the first park and headed of to the second. Upon exit of one park, our hands were stamped with an ‘invisible’ castle which can only be seen with UV light. We met up with the rest of the group.

Walt Disney Studios

Walt Disney Studios

Mickey Mouse statue

Mickey Mouse statue

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse

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“To all who enter this studio of dreams.. welcome. Walt Disney studio is dedicated to our timeless fascination and affection for cinema and television. Here we celebrate the art  and the artistry of storytellers from Europe and around the world who create the magic. May this special palce stir our on memories of the past and our dreams for the future. “

We headed to watch a stunt show for cars. Speed and precision were very important, and we were shown the behind the scenes and slow motions replays. In some scenes they actually used double identical cars!

Moteurs Action

Moteurs Action

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The ending was spectacular; a flame of almost three stories high.

End of show

End of show

After the show, I went on some thriller rides. My first ride was the Rocky Roller Coaster. I closed my eyes in the first few seconds and finally see the flashing lights here and there. There were a lot of loops and high speed, and definitely not a ride for people with motion sickness.

Rocky Roller Coaster feat Aerosmith

Rocky Roller Coaster feat Aerosmith

ParisDisneyland  - rocky roller coaster

After that, I was pretty excited about going on rides and went on a few more. My personal favourite was the Crush Coaster ride. With underwater theme, the ride was decorated with coral reefs and cartoon sharks, also featured Finding Nemo. We went to Toy Story Playland and I sat on Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin and RC Racer rides. The former was very childish but Slinky was one of my favourite characters in Toy Story.

Buzz lightyear!

Toy Story land.

RC Racer

RC Racer

Slinky Dog Zigzag spin

Slinky Dog Zigzag spin

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop

ParisDisneyland  - stamp

I was at Walt Disney Studios!

Evening Parade:  

We reenter the DIsneyland Park for the evening parade. This time i took more pictures, and I took the video in portrait mode. Silly me!

Cinderella

Cinderella

Lion King

Lion King

Jungle Book

Jungle Book

Peter Pan

Peter Pan

ParisDisneyland 5 - Mickey2 ParisDisneyland 10 - Mickey ParisDisneyland 16 - Mickey - end ParisDisneyland 13 - IMG_5884

Minnie Mouse

Minnie Mouse

My favourite shot of Mickey

My favourite shot of Mickey

Mickey in close proximity

Mickey in close proximity

End of the parade

End of the parade

Midnight Show.

Fireworks, fireworks and more fireworks!   I recorded the whole show and took some pictures with my iPhone.  The sight was just too magical and was definitely a wonderful way to end the night.

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And finally, the end:

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest was a weekend getaway, although technically it was a 4d3n trip from 1 Feb to 4 Feb. Semester 2 has just started; apart from dissertation, there was only one taught unit remaining. We used the Jet2Holidays travel package and stayed at Atrium hotel.

Did you know Budapest became a single city with the unification of west-bank Buda with east-bank Pest of the river Danube?

Day 1: Pest Side

Wought a 7-day travel card priced at 4950 Ft (≃£14.50) at the airport. We used the bus and the metro to reach the hotel. The tram was old and had a lot of graffiti on it.

On the tram

On the tram

After checking in, we had our first and only fast food at KFC. There were some food that were exclusively available in Hungary, but unfortunately were beef. I opted for a classic chicken burger of 1500 Ft (≃£4.36)

KFC McChicken

KFC McChicken

We walked around and past the Library of the Hungarian Parliament, the hole in flag, the St Stephen’s Basilica, where we took a short rest inside.

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Library of the Hungarian Parliament

Library of the Hungarian Parliament

The Hole in the Flag

The Hole in the Flag

“The hole in the flag is a symbol of Hungary’s freedom after the collapse of communism. The communist hammer and sickle were in the past the emblem on the flag. This flag waves next to the grave of the unknown soldier in the garden infront of the Parliament building“¬

Library of the Hungarian Parliament

Library of the Hungarian Parliament

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View of Buda Bank

View of Buda Bank

St Stephen’s Basilica

St Stephen’s Basilica

St Stephen’s Basilica

St Stephen’s Basilica

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By then, it was nightfall, after a short walk along the world famous shopping Vaci street and Vörösmarty square, the heart of Budapest, we had dinner at Sorforra’s, an Eastern European cuisine.

Vörösmarty square

Vörösmarty square

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Pork Chop

Pork Chop

Fish soup

Fish soup

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Day 2: Buda Side

Free breakfast! We left at almost noon every single day because of the complimentary breakfast from the hotel.

It was raining the whole day. We checked the weather forecast in advance, so all of us are well-prepared for the light shower. We climbed several flights of stairs, before finally reached the Matthias church.

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Matthias Church

Matthias Church

Lunch was at iCafe, a restaurant along the way. We walked past the chain bridge, and visited the Hungarian National Gallery for almost 2 hours.

ALL OF US!

ALL OF US!

Bird

Bird

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Chain Bridge

Chain Bridge

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After a night view at the Chain Bridge, we realized that we are late for our reservation at 6pm, so we sped walk. Being one of the last ones in the group, the second half of the group got lost and after a phone call to TJ, thankfully YL walked back and guided us to the first half of the group.

Chain Bridge night view

Chain Bridge night view

Chain Bridge night view

Chain Bridge night view

Buda Catle

Buda Catle

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Dinner was great. We all had different food to our liking, and I had pike-perch fish. For dessert, we have Hungarian doughnuts (that tasted similar to any other doughnuts, imho) Unfortunately there was another reservation at 8, so we had to leave as soon as we finished.

Garlicky Roast PIke-Perch Fillet

Garlicky Roast PIke-Perch Fillet

I forgotten my umbrella and only remembered it upon reaching the hotel. How forgetful of me! TJ ran to get it for me the following day, but the restaurant was closed. (thank you anyway!) I got my umbrella back on the last day!

Day 3: Buda and Pest

Light Shower

Light Shower

It was snowing!

Freedom bridge and Szent Istvan statue

Freedom bridge and Szent Istvan statue

Freedom bridge and Szent Istvan statue

Freedom bridge and Szent Istvan statue

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

We climbed the Gellert Hill, with consisted of 350 steps, excluding slopes and flat surfaces, just to see the Statue of Liberty of Budapest. It was built in remembrance of Soviet conquest of Hungary during World War II. The sight of Budapest cityscape from the hill was beautiful, although there was a lot of mist.

Budapest Cityscape

Budapest Cityscape

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Millennium memorial

Millennium memorial

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After that we went to For Sale pub for lunch. Did you know we could throw the peanut shells on the floor? As we are split into two tables, there was a friendly peanut-throwing war between tables. The portion were huge, and even shared by 2, we could not finished all the food.

Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

Grilled Pork Medallion with letcho potatoes - half portion

Grilled Pork Medallion with letcho potatoes – half portion

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Our little note :D

Our little note 😀

We manage to catch the 4pm English tour in Hungarian State Opera House. The Opera House is not only one of the most significant art relic of Budapest, but the symbol of the Hungarian operatic tradition of more than three hundred years as well. The interior was amazing, and I loved the chandelier that hung grandly from the ceiling.

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Opera House Stage

Opera House Stage

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Carving inside

Carving inside

US!

US!

That night, we visited the Hero’s square, which is one of the major squares in Budapest, rich with historic and political connotations and the iconic statue, the Millennium memorial. On the way to the hot bath, we walked to across an ice-skating rink where we see some people playing tag on rollerblades!

Hero's square

Hero’s square

Ice skating rink

Ice skating rink

Thermal Bath

Thermal Bath

Dinner was at Fatal restaurant, where we were conned out of drinking a 1200 Ft shot. The manager originally said it was free, and when the bill came, he said that nothing is free. The food was delicious and the portion was really huge! YL tried to had a Fatal platter (for 2) all by himself but he could not finish it! Good effort!

Salad

Salad

Vetrece soup - cream of chicken with tarragen served in crispy bread roll

Vetrece soup – cream of chicken with tarragen served in crispy bread roll

Leg of Pork

Leg of Pork

Day 4: Great Market Hall

After breakfast and detouring to get my forgotten umbrella,  we went to the Great Market Hall. Here, we bought our souvenirs for our friends and tried Hungarian food specialty, lángos, which was just a deep fried flat bread made of dough.

Chain bridge morning view

Chain bridge morning view

Chain bridge morning view

Chain bridge morning view

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Twin kiwi

Twin kiwi

Nutella Langos

Nutella Langos

Decoration :)

Decoration 🙂

We went back to get our luggage and rushed to the airport. We arrived at the check-in counter 20 minutes before it closes. The flight back to Manchester was a bumpy ride, as there was some turbulence. Our luggage was forced opened, and our luggage lock was spoilt. Apparently, the airport security had a right to do so, but fortunately nothing was missing.

Budapest from the plane

Budapest from the plane

On a whole, Budapest trip was an enjoyable and relaxing trip, when you take away all the dramas in between. I’m glad I went 😀

Italy Project Gallery

This is a gallery to showcase all the pictures taken and published in Italy Project.

Italy Project Pt 3 of 3: Rome

The last destination is no doubt the most exciting and hectic city: Rome. This city cannot be imagined without the remarkable and iconic places to visit; especially the colosseum (or coliseum), one of the seven wonders of the medieval world. Other places of interest are the pantheon, Trevi fountain, Vatican museum, Roman Forum, Pinacotea, St Peter square.

19 Dec – After visiting Venice, Florence and Pisa, we embarked on our final checkpoint of the Italy Trip; our 3d2n trip in Rome. We were welcomed at Hotel Sweet Home with very helpful receptionist who told us where to go and how to go. It is good to double check with a local, even with all the research. When asked about the transport to the Vatican museum, he told us that it would take 18 Italian minutes. Italian minutes, he explained, could be 10 minutes, maybe 30 minutes, or maybe never HAHAHAHA.

Hotel Sweet Home

Hotel Sweet Home

Our first destination is the Spanish steps. However, we took the wrong turn from the moment we exit the hotel. We walked in the wrong direction for about 20 minutes before realizing it. And the Spanish steps was 20 minutes the completely opposite direction. So a 20 minute walk turned into an hour long walk. It was fortunate because if it weren’t for the detour, we wouldn’t have witness sunset from the Spanish steps. And it was beautiful. It is advisable to watch out for ‘friendly’ people because our very own friend got conned out of EUR10 for a string bracelet that worth less than RM0.30.

On our way to Spainsh steps

On our way to Spainsh steps

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

We head of to Trevi fountain. The Fountain of Love movie “When in Rome” is inspired by this fountain, although it is different. (I thought it was the same at first). It is the largest fountain in the city and arguably one of the most beautiful fountains in the world. We followed a tradition of coin throwing. A legend stated that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they could and will return to Rome. It was rumoured that a minimum of one euro is required, and as I only threw 7 cents (all the coins I had) into the fountain, my chances of returning to Rome is merely 7%

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain - coin throwing

Trevi Fountain – coin throwing

There is a quick stop at the Pantheon, a building in Rome that is commissioned as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome. The architecture and interior design of the Pantheon is unique, but in my opinion resembles a mixture of a dome, opera house (with large pillars in front) and a church. In this church lies the tomb of King Humbert 1 and Margherita Savoia.

Pantheon

Pantheon

Tomb of King Humbert

Tomb of King Humbert

After an hour walk, much to our disappointment, the restaurant we wanted to go to only opens at 7 pm, so we settled for a random restaurant nearby. The waiter was really friendly and opened the door for us, which encouraged us to enter.Surprisingly, the food was quite good. I had a salmon pasta (can’t remember what the pasta is called). Then we head of to Giolotti for gelato, as recommended by another friend. The staff there were very snobbish, but despite that they did not have the annoyance in their voice when translating the different flavours of gelatos. I made a point to try unqiue flavours not easily available – so this time I had pistachio and some chocolate mixture.

Salmon pasta

Salmon pasta

Giolitti

Giolitti

We walked back to Trevi fountain for a night view. The walk back home seems shorter than the walk towards the restaurant. We retired for an early night as we had a full day planned.

Trevi Fountain night view

Trevi Fountain night view

20 Dec – The itinerary planned is an entire morning dedicated for Vatican museums while the afternoon for the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine. We had to take the metro during the peak hours which shows that some Romans can be really inconsiderate. We were literally pushed into the train.

The Vatican museums took shorter time than we expected, probably due to the lack of interest in the Roman history. As we had a prebooked ticket, we skipped the queue, much to our satisfaction of merely looking at the people who are waiting in the queue. There are a collection of museums from sculpture to painting. We started of with the painting museum, Pinacotea, then the sculpture museum. Also in the Vatican museum is the Sistine chapel, which has one of the most beautiful ceiling and wall artworks, but no pictures were allowed in the sacred place.

Vatican museum entrance

Vatican museum entrance

Adam and Eve poster

Adam and Eve poster

Sculpture museum

Sculpture museum

We then passed through the St Peter square, and took plentiful pictures of the St Peter’s Basilica. This is the largest basilica of Christianity, with 186 metres in length and a dome with 136 metres high and 42 metres large diameter. The interior is very beautiful, and is decorated by many famous artists, Michelangelo included.

Interior of St Peter

Interior of St Peter

St Peter Basilica

St Peter Basilica

St Peter Basilica

St Peter Basilica

St Peter Basilica

St Peter Basilica

As we finished earlier, we hovered around Piazza Campo de’Fiori. We had lunch at Virgilio, and the food was very delicious. I had a sudden craving for lobster, and ordered it on the spur of the moment. I tried the garlic bread with truffle, a kind of mushroom in Italy.  This is followed by two scoops of gelato in Blue Ice; cappucino and Fererro Rocher flavour.

Garlic bread with truffle at Vigilio

Garlic bread with truffle at Vigilio

Lobster at Vigilio

Lobster at Vigilio

Gelato at Blue Ice

Gelato at Blue Ice

In the afternoon, we went to the Colosseum. Being one of the medieval wonders of the world, this place requires no introduction. I was very impressed with the structure and wished we had more time taking picture. We missed the Roman Forum and Palatine tour as we hovered too long inside the Colosseum.

Rome28The Colosseum exterior1

Rome29The Colosseum exterior2

Rome30The Colosseum exterior3

Rome31Me with Colosseum1

Rome32Me with Colosseum2

Rome33Me with Colosseum3

Rome34The Colosseum group photo2

Rome35The Colosseum group photo3

Rome36The Colosseum group photo1

Rome37The Colosseum interior1

Rome38The Colosseum interior2

Rome39The Colosseum interior3

Rome40Night view

Once again, we took shorter time than expected, so we spent the rest of the time in a tearoom called Café Café. There were a variety of tea but I had the traditional hot chocolate. I tried an orange tiramisu. Did you know tiramisu originates from Italy? The last dinner in Italy is remarkably the best meal I had in the entire trip. The place is called “La Taverna Dei Fori Imperiali”. All the meals were very VERY high quality, for a reasonable price. And here, I had the best dessert I had in years; a soufflé topped with vanilla ice cream and the ice cream with pine nuts and chocolate. This place deserve a second visit.

Orange tiramisu @ Cafe cafe

Orange tiramisu @ Cafe cafe

Swordfish @ la taverna dei fori imperiali

Swordfish @ la taverna dei fori imperiali

Scaloppini with ham and sage pan fried with wine @ la taverna dei fori imperiali

Scaloppini with ham and sage pan fried with wine @ la taverna dei fori imperiali

Pork Fillet with truffle and cheese @ la taverna dei fori imperiali

Pork Fillet with truffle and cheese @ la taverna dei fori imperiali

Sliced ice cream with pine nuts and hot chocolate @ la taverna dei fori imperiali

Sliced ice cream with pine nuts and hot chocolate @ la taverna dei fori imperiali

Chocolate souffle @ la taverna dei fori imperiali

Chocolate souffle @ la taverna dei fori imperiali

21 Dec – on our last morning in Rome, we spent the day shopping for souviners and relaxing at yet another coffee shop. We head for the airport in the afternoon, and reached Manchester in the evening.

After almost a week travelling in Italy, I had to agree that Italy is a place worth visiting. I am glad that I made a right choice to go to Italy, especially in the winter where the weather isn’t too unbearable. For those who have never been to Italy, I would suggest that on top of the four cities I’ve been to (Venice, Florence, Pisa, and Rome), other places to visit include Cinque Terre, Tuscany, Milan etc.

Go for an adventure. Plan your trip. Get inspired.