Saturday, June 23, 2012

Venice, Italy

A first class ride from Florence to the famous island of Italy, Venizia :) First class means riding with businessman/woman traveling what looks like a routine. We changed our reservation from 1900 HRS to an earlier one since I have got my 3 things to do in Florence checked! :)

So, after a the second last station (I'll find out which); we were the only two in the coach! Oh, we didn't get a seat together. The highlight of the trip was that the woman who sat beside me who couldn't utter an English word not even one; wears THE bag! The YSL Chic in Black!!! OMG, I should have written to start a conversation probably specifically on the BAG itself! Sigh, I dream BIG - can't help myself. Hehehe...

We were greeted with a helpful lady on the Vaporetto counter; she's Marina - saw that on her name tag :) After paying €50 for 2 passes of 36 HOURS ride on actv rides and additional €3 for a Venice Map (they don't give one free here), off we go to Veniglia Venezia Guesthouse at Santa Elena.

What a view! Breathtaking... I've been to Venice twice, this third time - the same 'cantiknya' came out from my mouth. We reached the area when the sun was setting down. In no time at all, we found the place; just like how Izza described it.

We were greeted by a boy, the son of the owner. We were set into a room, view exactly as pictured in the web. 5 minutes, Adriano arrived and we did a little registration complete with a FREE map of Venice and short briefing about the city itself! He recommended us to walk straight as the crowd thinned down at the time but we were already tired. So after refreshed and solat, we went down to the Automatica Bar to get a sandwich and drinks through the many vending machines available :)

In the morning, we started off with a walk to Piazzale San Marco. Zukry in one hand and a camera on the other, the serenity of the area - the sound of boat engines was somehow muted by the water splashing the shore. When we started to walk, the day hasn't start to the tourist. So we got to view how the venetian all ready for work and sending kids off to school. But as soon as we arrived at the center, tourist start to pour in.

We got a little cleverer this time. I decided that we need a new camera, and when we bought this awesome GX1 Lumix; it came with a tripod. So you could imagine us posing for the many shots together, thanks to no 'tembok' but a tripod ;) Yeay! It was still not an easy task, as too many people accidently passed by our camera! Huhu, expected-lah kan!...

We have no idea where each alley lead us to, but I know to bring Zukry to San Marco square, Rialto Bridge, where the gondola rides take place and to my surprise; we found Hard Rock Cafe Venice! (where we had our brunch)

After a complete round the many blocks, we then head home (oh-so-near, I Love it!) to refresh. Up next is another island famous for its glasswork, Murano. It was a 40 mins vaporetto ride away. The second we arrived, a man waiting by the stop announced that there is a free glassmaking show just opposite. So, no thinking there - we head straight to it. A man explained the process in English with a heavy Italian slang - which was somehow nice to listen to although I could only get some of it :P

A €10 for 3 bowls made of Murano glass; we immediately head back to Rialto, hoping to see the market. Unfortunately, it's closed. Only the smell of fish lingered around the area.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Florence, Italy

I have maximum of a week persalinan. Our laundry spot was Venice. So Bravo Tini, I don't really need all the clothes in my wardrobe I guess. Hehehe. 

Everyone looks so intense in this pic including Zukry. The others were probably dreading work, Zukry on the other hand was watching a lame movie :)

It was indeed a beautiful sight. Much better than the hustle and bustle of Rome which I think have nothing but the ruins to be proud of.

I have only 3 things that I would like to fulfill here in Florence. 1 is to really see the Duomo. What was it about, as the last time I was here in 2006; it was Maghrib time and all I could remember seeing was a large crowd of youngsters loitering around the area. It was indeed the same thing now... The building was not preserved or was it in the process of preservation? So, I didn't miss anything much then I guess ;)

Sorbet to cool off :)

No 2 is to climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo and watch the sunset. I did it. In a maxi skirt and a pair of Adidas sandal! It was quite a climb BTW :) Berpeluh! The view, just like what was described in the reviews I read about the place. The perfect view of Florence and it's Tuscany countryside. The hills, the country houses, the Duomo from afar (significant from other buildings) with music sounded like Jason Mraz-ish (there's this guy selling his music - serenading us) while sitting on a stairs canoodling with husbands/wives/bfs/gfs etc. enjoying the beauty of the city from an ascended view.

No 3 cost a me a fortune - that I have included in my budget BTW. To spend on a pair of Florence pride in fashion brand 'Salvatore Ferragamo' - a black pumps! I have done my research and decided on one particular shoe and all I got to do is enter the boutique. After much research on which shoe to buy, I didn't find out where the boutique is, just believing it's gotta be huge. So, Zukry did all the map stuffs and when we got to the place; I'm just this girl who grins and stomps her feet making rounds of trials in the pumps that she dream of. After 10 pairs of different sizes in two types patent and normal matte finish leather black pumps, I got the perfect pair and gleefully announce, 'yeay to first Ferragamo' to the salesperson who attended me - less than 2 mins after that, I accidentally dropped the bag containing the precious pumps on the floor, probably my way to say Arrivederci to the boutique :P

I want to remember these 3 things and my stay at Hotel Pensione Ferreti in Florence. After what was not a disaster, but not exactly fancy B&B in Rome; Hotel Ferreti (link here) was a nice experience. Located almost too near from the train station (Santa Maria Novella Stazione), we went a whole block to find the place! Thank you to free wifi service around the center of the city, we were brought back to the hotel. Greeted by a friendly face at the reception area, and "the world is little" as I was surprised that a group of Malaysian chinese were also registered at the same hotel :) 

Given a mighty heavy key, we were told that it needs to be given away to the reception if we are going out. The room was the exact picture as what was on their website. All white and a little green with curtain to match. We got a view of some of the small alleys in front of the hotel. A small sink in the room, a bed that was measured by cm in the description to notify us that although it's not queen size; it's not exactly single size too (Just enough for my big butt and Zukry's. Haha!) and a clean shared bathroom with rather interesting foot paddle to pump the water up at the sink! 

Breakfast was not included; but with additional 5€/pax, the little cafe with self-service spread of breads and croissant, drinks, cereals with a quaint ambiance - I'd say it's an experience of a true Italian home breakfast :) 

We had our dinner and lunch there too, tried the variety of vegetarian and seafood pasta but there were not to our liking somehow... Not worth the highlight - boleh tak? :P

See you in Venice, Italy

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rome, Italy

Rome is almost over. I'm typing on iPhone note while sipping cafe latte at moka - a food court in Termini. We just had our first Italian meal - pasta al-pomodoro for Zukry and Pasta Salmone+ Rucola for me. Both veggie and seafood base... They were OK, nothing exciting. The most is just the fact we're brave enough to try...

So, what do I think about Rome?

We can't help it, we love London more... Our first day was almost ruin by an incident. There was this boy trying to find his way but he asked us in Italian so I thought if you're local; why ask us? Who BTW were trying to find our B&B. The drama started when a police ( or is it not? Cause he's not wearing his uniform, just showed his police ID ) stopped us and asking to see our ID and money - in case we have exchanged them for drugs! Syukur, Ya Allah I showed them what's in my purse - the RMs! So the 'police' let us go... 5 minutes after, we arrived at the so called B&B... Alhamdulillah!

The B&B as what it is called in Agoda, is just a flat run a guy 'Joseph' who rent his 3 bedrooms and provide simple breakfast at 8AM every morning. The room is small, tiny with a bunk bed, a 1 door cupboard and a fan. The WC is clean so that's a definite plus but all other things like the kitchen and dining table - as what he wrote on them "No Use" which I believe means "Don't Use" ;)

Rome truly starts when we went out after about 2 hours of rest and refresh. Come to think of it, it's not exactly Rome as we went exploring Vatican City first. We already bought our Roma Daily Pass, so train ride was no problem.

As we were walking towards the Basilica St Pietra, banyaknya org Bangladesh and Hitam trying to sell their fake stuffs - handbags, purses, etc. But as the authority drives along the way, they pack and run for hiding (kononnya); within minutes after the car went off, they start again - and this goes on and on and on... ) We watched while having gelato at one of the cafeteria on the sidewalk.

Vatican City, a holy place for Christians and the queue to enter was as long as we-don't-have-the-patience-to-wait kind. So we took pictures. From the outside, it's majestic. I thought "so this is where the pope lives!" The Sunday Mass obviously is over by the time we arrived... So we couldn't really see what going on except for the long queue to enter...

We then decided to not enter but only at that time cause we came back feeling it is somewhat not right for us not to go in as we are already in the area! Rugi. But honestly, behind the magnificent statues and painting, this was just a church where Christians pray...

The day wasn't over even though our feet were killing us. Thank you for the Asics bought in London earlier this year, it wasn't as bad. So we explored a little bit more. Next was the Spanish Steps - ramainya orang (again)!

Take pictures. Decided to stroll along a street that locates most of designers boutique and entered Furla. I got really frustrated to finally find out how Candy Bag feels like. It's damn heavy! I know it's made from plastic, of too good quality - on it's own is already maybe little less than 1 KG! Think water hose use at your house, the thick one - ha, camtulah material dia!

Monday is all about the famous ruins of Rome. We explored Colosseum, Palatino and Roman Foro. We were already with tickets bought online, but I thought hey, let's get the audio guide for additional information on the self- tour we were about to do. Additional €6 for the iPod guide.

As we are finally done with Colosseum; that is about 2 hours of taking pictures of different angles and views, reading and listening to the guide/info board, it starts to drizzle. More picture-takings outside, and it finally rain. I don't know it was out-of-spite or simply refusing business from the so-many-Banglas that it becomes irritating; I rather went soaking wet than buy their umbrella/raincoat! I guess, when people glared they must be thinking "dia pakai tudung, OKlah" Haha, pepandai!

So off we went exploring Palatino and Foro Roman in the rain ;) After a good walk in the rain, our lunch - halal nasi beriyani daging nearby Termini Stazione. Then, head back to the small room for a rest and refresh. To continue, we head straight to Vatican City to enter the Church of the whole World!

Like I said, nothing much just beautiful painting and statues made from way back when. After a few minutes, we were uncomfortable. A prayer was going on (not lead by the pop BTW), so we left.

The third day in Rome, we were on a roll! Rushing through time to get to some of the other attractions like the Pantheon, Piazzale Novona, another trip to Fonti De Trevi and searching for souvenirs ;) We bought posters for our new houses... Then head back to our room for the bags before our first trip of the Eurail Experience - From Termini, Roma to Santa Maria Novella Stazione, Firenze.