Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Europe Bound

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

24 hours to go before we return to the air and start winging our way to Milan for the beginning of our Euro’venture – 2011.

The bags are packed and the cameras are ready.  3 weeks of traveling through Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Germany.

Europe – what a fantastic place to spend 3 weeks!

Take a look at where we are staying by clicking on the following link.

Cernobbio, Lake Como, Italy

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Gooda Bya Roma – Time For Some Dim Sum

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

We rose a bit earlier this morning because we needed to leave the hotel around 9.15am.  This meant getting up at around 7am in order to finish packing the bags and getting down to breakfast with enough time to enjoy the wonderful “spread” that was put before us each morning in our hotel.

With our stomachs full we returned to the room and confirmed that we had all of our belongings before commencing the “bag drag” to reception.  Whilst the fourth floor was serviced by a lift our room was up a flight of stairs above the fourth floor.  This meant that we had to get the bags back down a steepish flight of stairs before getting to the lift – not a real challenge after the thigh and calf workout of the previous days!!

We opted to avoid the challenge of the bus/train option to the airport this morning.  Instead we arranged for a “shuttle” to pick us up.  We thought it was going to be a van with driver but it turned out that the “shuttle” was in fact a lovely Mercedes complete with chauffeur!!  The cost of this was not substantially more than the bus/train option – LESSON LEARNT!!.  The return trip to the airport was wonderful.  Ah……. what a difference a chauffeur makes.  The Princess was very impressed – as was I.

With the bags unloaded in front of the departure terminal (by the chauffeur of course) we loaded the bags on to a trolley and proceeded to the Cathay check-in desk.

We had not listed (not through a lack of trying) for the flight however, the
flight was “wide open” so we were checked in and given seat allocation at the check-in desk.  Indeed, we were allocated exit row seats.

So………..  here I am at 5pm Rome time (dark outside as we head East) sitting in seat 54C next to my beautiful Princess on an Airbus A340 heading direct to Hong Kong.  We have been “fed and watered” and I am enjoying my third glass of French Merlot and listening to Mary Black on my iPod and finishing the last of the Roe’s Winter Tour series.

It is hard to believe that we have been on the road for three weeks (four weeks for The Princess).  We have literally travelled around the world.  We have visited 5 countries (6 if you included Hong Kong) and 2 continents (3 if you included Hong Kong).  We have attended 2 conferences, met and associated with wonderful people.  We have experienced below -21 degrees in temperature, snow, sun and little bit of rain.  We have completed the whole journey on standby (staff) travel without any hassle and the who adventure has been without incident or argument.

We have learnt that we live in an incredible world in which the people are all motivated by the same thing – something to eat, something to eat, some love and a place to sleep.

We have also learnt that we are truly blessed to be able to experience the wonder of some of our earth and we can’t wait for our next trip.

We hope you have enjoyed the summary of our trip.  In the coming days we will publish some of our photo’s to our gallery.

You can visit the gallery at:http://gallery.mac.com/princessandroey

We look forward to catching up with whoever takes the time to read our travel blog.

Until our next trip.  Roey and The Princess

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Christian Opulence

Friday, February 8th, 2008
Well, what a difference a 9 hour sleep makes.  Ah……….  it felt like we had slept for weeks after we woke up this morning!!

Breakfast this morning was again delightful however, The Princess had an allergic reaction to something and her cheeks and throat swelled up after breakfast.  Not a good start to the day after a nice sleep!!

We paced ourselves again today because we were only intending to tour the Vatican (Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s).  With this in mind we left the hotel around 11 am and caught the bus to the Termini.

We had a quick “heart-starter” cup of coffee (no Starbucks in Rome!!) in the Termini  before boarding the Metro (underground) to the station near the Vatican.

We decided to see the Sistine Chapel first.  I thought this was going to be a short tour through a small chapel.  Well, how mistaken can one be.  Indeed, the Chapel is located inside the Vatican Museum and the museum is an incredible place that is as interesting (if not more so) than the Louvre.  We toured the Louvre just over a year ago and we found it to be staggeringly overwhelming.  The Vatican Museum is substantially smaller but truly fascinating.

It is full of “apartments” and Chapels and they are all too incredible for words to describe.  And what does one say about the Sistine Chapel?  “Go and see it”!!  It is awe inspiring and I cannot do it justice.

From the Vatican Museum we braced ourselves for the walk through St Peter’s Basilica. We had walked into and out of several basilicas over the past two days but nothing (I mean nothing) can prepare you for the sheer size of St Peter’s.  This structure is a testimony to man’s ability to dream, design, construct and maintain the most staggering building that has been put on this earth.  The “WOW” factor is beyond the scale when you walk into St Peter’s.  Please do yourself a huge favour and visit Rome and St Peter’s basilica – regardless of your religious persuasion.  You will be inspired.

After walking through/around St Peter’s we entered to “Tombs of The Popes”.  This was very special too.  To be able to walk past the resting place of each of the Popes and St Peter is an incredible experience too.  The history is hard to comprehend.  Again – a must visit place.

From St Peter’s we walked back toward the Tevere River and past St Angelo’s Castle then off in search of Piazza Navone and the Pantheon.  Enroute we entered a few more basilicas (some of them are literally metres apart!!) listened to masses in German and Italian and said some prayers before continuing our walking tour.

Walking through the streets of Rome at night is a truly special experience so we soaked up the atmosphere as we navigated our way toward the Pantheon – another incredible structure that makes one wonder how such a building could be constructed and still stand intact for over 2000 years!!

From the Pantheon we caught a bus back to the Colosseum in search of some presents.  Unfortunately the shops were closed.  However, we were able to take some night photo’s of the Colosseum- another special experience!!

The express bus back to our hotel ran past the Colosseum so we boarded it and returned to the restaurant that we dined in on the first night we arrived in Rome.
We tried something different tonight and, again, we were not disappointed.  The food and the service were great.We arrived back in the hotel around 10pm and took some time to pack our bags ready for our return trip to Hong Kong tomorrow.

Into bed at a reasonable hour tonight although we will need to get up around 7am.

Until tomorrow!!
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Overwhelmed By The Empire

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

We didn’t need to get out of bed too early this morning because we had done so much touring yesterday.  Indeed, our the main focus for today was to tour the Colosseum and we knew exactly how to get there direct by bus.

So, with some “time up our sleeves” we took in a very slow breakfast and checked our emails before walking to the bus stop.

The weather today was perfect again – a little warmer than yesterday but still cool enough to require jackets.

Now it would appear that we were not meant to tour the Colosseum even though we arrived nice an early (before the 1.30pm expiry time of our tickets) the Colosseum was closed!!  The workers had some “assembly” on (union meeting?) so we had to wait until 12.30pm before we could get in.  We took the time to walk around the local area and take in some more of the sights and sounds.

Because we already had tickets we were able to walk to the front of the line and get into the Colosseum quite quickly.
The internal tour (self guided) was very interesting but we both agreed that the structure and Colosseum “experience” is more interesting from the outside than from the inside.  That said – it did provide us with some great photo taking opportunities.

With the tour complete we headed off in the direction of the a range of sights that were listed on the map that we had.  We walked through the Rome Forum again (the reverse direction of yesterday’s tour) and took some more photo’s.  Rome is a photographers delight.

From the Forum we walked the streets in the direction of the basilica which houses the “mouth of truth” before crossing the river and walking uphill to see the Acqua Paola Fonte (fountain).  The walk up the hill was not what the thighs or calves really needed however, the elevated view of Rome as the sunset was spectacular and the walk through the park lands was very special.

The sun was just setting as we walked back down toward the Tevere River and into St Peter’s Square.  Walking into the square and seeing St Peter’s Basilica for the first time was really special.  The sheer size of St Peter’s is something that words cannot explain – truly inspiring.  We are going to tour the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s tomorrow so we didn’t spend a lot of time there today – just enough time to take some night photo’s.

We decided to save our legs a bit today so we walked to the nearest underground station and caught the train back to the Trevi Fountain (after a quick stop for some vanilla gelato!!).
We had aimed to catch up with an Italian friend that we know from Hong Kong (she lives near the Trevi fountain).  However, she was not able to make it tonight so we took some night photo’s of the Trevi fountain then walked back to a place where we could catch the express bus back to the area the our hotel is located in.  This meant that we got back to the hotel reasonably early.  We bought some pizza at a local restaurant and ate it back in our room.  It was nice to stop and relax at a reasonable hour.  We have been on “the go” now for nearly three weeks and we haven’t really slowed down too much in that time so tonight was a bit special.
Off to St Peter’s and The Vatican tomorrow.  Early to bed tonight.  Yeah!!!!!
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Cathedrals As Far As The Eye Can See

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

We both slept very well last night after yesterday’s “bag drag” around half of Rome city!!

Feeling refreshed we headed down to the delightful little restaurant where breakfast was served and devoured a wonderful continental breakfast.

On return to the room we packed everything we needed for the first day out of touring Rome.

Having confirmed the directions for the return trip to the Termini we set off with our 3 day travel pass in hand and found the bus stop (very close to the hotel!).

The weather today was spectacular albeit nice and cool – perfect for walking the streets of Rome.

The bus trip into town (this time by day) allowed us to see more of the street-scape and, we were not overly impressed.  It appears that the young Romans need to express themselves “unchecked” with graffiti.  Everywhere you turn you are confronted by graffiti.  We think it has something to do with the fact that Romans have been using graffiti for thousands of years so it may be a “right” that they believe they have.  Quite overwhelming at first.

We also got to experience the road “rules” here in Rome.  We are not sure whether there are any rules and, as a tourist you have to remember that “he/she who hesitates – dies”!! The drivers and moped riders here are insane but the safest place to be is on the road because they will just beep their horns and drive around you.  Quite bizarre really.

The trip back to the Termini took around 30 minutes so we were back on the streets of Rome by mid-morning.  This started a walking trip that finished around 10.30 pm – yes around 10 hours of walking (apart from sitting for lunch and supper)!

With “map” (read yesterday’s comment re tourist directions) in hand we basically wandered the streets toward the Rome Forum.

Enroute we “stumbled” across one magnificent building after another.  The most impressive of these was the “Tomb of the Unknown Solider”.  This staggeringly large building has to be seen for one to be able to truly appreciate the size of it.  Wow.

The Rome Forum is located just behind the “T of US” so we entered this area and strolled through it over about one hour.  Without a formal guide (written or verbal) we took in the detail and beauty of the place without getting “bogged down” in lengthy descriptions.  One could spend a day in this place without learning 1% of what it was all about.  Indeed, you could spend weeks in Rome just concentrating on the basilicas or the archeology or the fashion shops.  It is an experience in so many ways.

From the Rome Forum we paid for the combined Palatino/Colosseum tour and set off to walk around the Palatino.  This must have taken another hour.

We were getting a bit peckish (now around 2pm) so we walked toward the Colosseum in search of a place to eat.

Seeing the v from the outside is one of those “must see” experiences.  It really is very special.  We took some time to walk around the outside before settling on a place to eat – a nice little cafe across the road from the Colosseum.

With our bellies full we set out to tour the Colosseum however, on arriving at the entrance we were told that today’s entry time had expired – “come back tomorrow”.  Fortunately our tickets are valid until 1.30pm tomorrow!!  We were a little disappointed but we took it in our stride and set off for the Trevi Fountain.  More walking.

The walk through the endless number of piazza’s and the occasional “peek” inside one of dozens of staggeringly beautiful cathedrals (basilicas) was wonderful.  For us, the “Rome Experience” is one of immersing yourself in the street-life.  The sounds, the smells, the sights – they are all wonderful.  It is a fascinating place and well worth a visit if you have not been here before.

We found the Trevi Fountain after a few diversions (lack of a decent map) and took plenty of photos of this beautiful monument before continuing on to the Mignanelli piazza.  The sun was starting to set as we approached the Mignanelli piazza so we took in the sunset as we continued walking toward another beautiful piazza – piazza del Popolo.  The walk to del Popolo. piazza was along an elevated road so were able to take some photo’s of the sun setting on the Rome skyline – very special.

del Popolo. piazza is beautiful – like all the piazzas in Rome and it provided us with more photo taking opportunities.

Wanting to continuing “absorbing” Rome at night we continued walking the streets in search of some places to take night photo’s.  We opted to find the Tevere river and use it as a backdrop.  A good choice.
The night lights on the various buildings mixed with the river provided us with some excellent photo taking opportunities.  We photographed a range of the pontes (bridges) that cross the Tevere river along with the Saint Angelo Castle.
Our camera lenses were starting to “fog” up with the cold air and The Princess was starting to get a little cold too so we found a wonderful little restaurant and settled into a lovely supper.  Just what we needed to restore some of the body heat and energy.

The restaurant was on a bus route to the Termini so we were able catch an express bus back to the Termini before boarding the No 90 bus back to the area that our hotel is located in.

Into bed around midnight – tired but full of wonderful memories of our first day touring Rome.

Until tomorrow!!

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Enroute To Roma

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

I am writing this to you from the economy class section of an Alitalia MD80.

We arrived at the Istanbul airport around 11.30am and headed back to Starbucks for our morning coffee fix.  Thank God we have invested in Starbucks – maybe need to up the shares a bit!

We took advantage of the free Wi-Fi and booked our hotel in Rome.  We didn’t know if we were going to be on the flight but having checked the loads before leaving the hotel we knew we were not going to have a problem.

A short stroll from Starbucks had us at the check-in counter for Alitalia and a pleasant check-in girl.  We received confirmed seats on the 2.10pm flight to Rome, checked our bags in and headed for the departure gate.  All very seamless.

I have taken the time at the departure gate and on the flight to update the past few days of our travels so all I need to do now is add some photos and upload the pages to the site.  I hope you enjoy them.

We haven’t slept on the short (2.30 hour) trip to Rome although we could have done with a quick catnap after last night’s (this morning’s) late finish.  Oh well, I guess we will operate on the energy reserves until we get into our hotel in Rome.  Having said that I am looking over at The Princess and I see that she is struggling to stay awake.  I think we will be having an afternoon nap on arrival at the hotel.

The hotel that we booked in Rome is located about 15 minutes from the city centre.  There is a free shuttle service into the city so that will serve us well.

We aim to catch the train from the airport into the city centre (Termini) and then call the hotel for pick-up.  It sounds like a cunning plan – let’s hope it works like this when we arrive.  If it doesn’t then we we will go into “remain flexible” mode and change plans.

I shall type some more after getting to the hotel as we are now on descent into Rome.  It is a bit bumpy and I can’t read the screen.

Ciao!!

OK, back again.  Well, we arrived without incident to a beautiful sunny Italy.  The flight over Italy to Rome was very picturesque – lots of green paddocks and the Alps in the distance.  Rome has had a lot of rain in recent weeks so the place is lovely and green.

The baggage claim and passport control procedure was relatively simple – the Italian authorities were not too phased in getting to know us.

After working out where the train was we made our way to the train station and bought some tickets (11 Euro each for the one way trip to the Terminii in Rome).  The train arrived after a few minutes and we started the challenge of getting to our hotel!!

Getting on the train was not a simple procedure.  There are around 3 steps (up) to get into the train then you have to negotiate your way into the carriage.  Quite remarkable for the “airport train”.  Not very well designed at all.  However, once we got into our seats and settled in the trip into Rome was rather straightforward.

The trip into Rome was rather uninspiring.  The airport is a long way from the city centre so you pass through some farmland before reaching the city outskirts then finally into the city itself.  There was nothing of note to see on the way to the city.

The trip into the Termini (Central Station) took around 40 minutes and, as mentioned, it was quite comfortable.

On arriving at the Termini we grabbed a trolley, loaded up the baggage and went in search of the bus to the hotel.  We had spoken to the hotel at the airport and they gave us the directions on how to get to the hotel.  Not as simple as the description on the phone!

I had to find a bank that I could get some money from before I could by our three day pass.  It turned out that I was standing next to it but I circumnavigated the Termini before realising this fact.  This was fortunate because during my short navigation exercise I was able to work out where to buy the tickets from – you would think this would be obvious in the Termini – not so.  This was our introduction into the complete lack of information and guidance for tourists in Rome.

Anyway, we sorted out the tickets and received directions to the bus.  So, with trolley in hand we set off to find the bus stop.  Enroute it appeared that the trolley suffered a complete malfunction so we found another one, changed over all the luggage and set off again.  Around 10 steps later this one seemed to malfunction too.  Bugger.  It was only then that we realised that we had reached the allowable area for luggage trolleys.  A magnetic “shut me down now” strip was embedded into the concrete and would not let the trolley go any further – back to bag dragging mode!! Fortunately we didn’t have too far to go to the bus stop.

Getting onto the crowded bus with the number of bags that we had was a bit of a challenge but the crowd were obliging to the two “struggling tourists” and allowed us to pile our bags on to the bus.  They also obliged us in giving advice on when to get off the bus – thankfully.  We would not have had any idea otherwise!!

This is where the fun began.  After getting off the bus (similar exercise to getting on to it!!) we called the hotel for directions again.  “After getting off the bus you will see a flower shop (should have been a fruit shop as it turned out).  Go past the flower shop and you will see a bank. Turn left there and you will see a gas station.  After to petrol station take the next road and go uphill to the hotel”.  This all worked out perfectly. However, it was the wrong hotel, we were nowhere near the actual hotel and if it wasn’t for some Canadian Italians who spoke to the hotel for us we would still be walking around Rome!!  The Princess was broken and Roey completed a month’s worth of exercise lifting the bags up flights of stairs and hills.  Lesson – take the airport – hotel direct Mercedes Benz to the hotel on arrival in Rome!!

We finally found the wonderful little hotel, checked in, carried our bags a few more flights of stairs then collapsed.

Being rather famished after the bag dragging we asked for directions to the nearest restaurant, rugged up in some warm clothes and set out to get some supper.  The restaurant was delightful and we enjoyed some lovely pasta, pizza and red wine before returning to the hotel.  After a warm shower we collapsed into bed and slept like “logs”.

Off in search of “The Complete Rome Experience” tomorrow.

Ciao!!

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