Tuesday, 30 December 2014

But First, Vatican Museum

Luke is the only one among us who haven't been inside the Vatican Museum.  It wasn't pricey but if you leave it to last minute, it will take you ages to get inside as the queues are very long.  I remember, queueing up for the first time and then booking a tour as we can't be bothered with the wait.  It did cost us as we didn't do our research and it was summer but it was the best decision we've done at the time.  

There are Pros and Cons on doing the DIY Tour VS the Tour Guide:

Tour Groups will have a special pass that enables you to by-pass the long queue.  Assuming that you have a very good tour guide, you will learn more as you can interact with your guide.  The Con, you do as you are told.  You may end up skipping some areas in the Vatican that your guide deems insignificant.  This happened to us on this tour.  It felt shorter than usual. In fact, it only took us an hour and a half.  I was disappointed but what you don't know won't hurt you.  :P

DIY tours on the other hand takes so much of your time queueing up unless you are the first one in the line.  The Vatican Museum opens at 9AM but when we get there at 8AM, it was a block long queue already.  You can stop and take photos, you can rest in between and you'll be able to enjoy everything the museum has to offer.  You can have breakfast inside the Vatican if you wanted too as well.  In short, DIY tours enables you to go about on your own phase without waiting for anyone.  It's always the question of time when you are on holiday isn't it?  Time has to be spent wisely.

We paid 41EU per person for this tour but that was after bargaining.  If you are on a bigger tour, maybe try haggling.  It wouldn't hurt to ask.  :)

One of the few painted ceilings in the Museum.

From the Vatican Museum, you can access the St. Peter's without having to queue up.  This is probably the best group photo we have inside as my husband is opposed to having too much "selfies" inside the sacred place.  If you happen to go inside the St. Peter's, you can also go see the tombs of the previous Popes.  No photos allowed but people always try to sneak in.  BTW, St. John Paul II is open for viewing.  

Had a very tiring morning.  Later that day, we flew back home to England and I went back to work the next day.  I wonder where and when the next trip is?  With so much unexpected bills monthly - e.i boiler and car breakdown, I don't think it's wise to spend money no?  Stay tuned. 

Monday, 29 December 2014

Roman Historical Tour - Colosseo Roma and The Forum

I wasn't born well-off.  Both my parents were employed when I was growing up so I guess we are what you call middle class.  I didn't even travel abroad until I was 20 years old.  Not by choice but we don't have the means to do it.  The farthest I've been before my 20th was maybe an overnight trip to my grandma's in Marinduque or a two hour plane ride to one of the islands in the Philippines so I consider myself extremely lucky when I get to see one country twice in my life.  I had a slight obsession on going to a country that I haven't been before once a year provided that we are not overdoing it.  I may be, but my dear husband puts a stop on my craziness.  :P

Like I said, it wasn't my first rodeo in Rome.  This is why I am taking everything easy.  My first time was very hectic trip with my mum and my sister and I lost a lot of weight walking from that trip.  We didn't dive in to any culinary experience as we were on a budget.  I am very stingy and strict when I need to.  

On our third day in Rome, we left late and headed to the Colosseo Roma.  I went crazy with Luke with the train tickets as the attendant gave him a single journey ticket(1.50EU) when I wanted him to purchase a day ticket(6EU).  I was annoyed but he was able to disperse it.  Thank God my husband knows how to handle my craziness.  Noone like him.  :)  

So much has changed since I first visited Rome.  Even so when Luke first visited.  Apparently, the Colosseo was free then and you can just go anywhere the ruins and walk anywhere.  I went in the summer so we definitely queued up but it was never as full as when we visited.  Everywhere you go, people are carrying monopods or selfie sticks in the European world.  :P  The only good change at the moment was the diverted traffic around the Forum and Colosseo.  
We missed the Forum Tour as I had a 30 minute wait at the toilet.  The next one was 3PM so we had coffee and pizza at the restaurant across the Colosseo.  I wouldn't recommend but I was desperate to eat, sit and to waste 1.5 hours of my time until the next Forum tour.  It was bloody freezing that day as well and I wasn't winter ready.  I didn't factor in wind to the trip.  

 Another one for the books.  
 I'm inlove with Rome's "umbrella" trees.  
This is why Luke is desperate to do the Forum tour.  He loves history and Rome has so much history to offer.  This is just half of the Forum.  Unfortunately for us, when our tour concluded, the Forum closed as well.  So I suggest do your tour early.  The place closes at 4:30PM.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Hello Rome, We Meet Again

Oh My God!  I haven't blogged in ages.  So long that I have forgotten my email address.  I went to a full on panic mode when I entered my old email address and I was told that the email has been deleted.  Yes, I have used several email addresses in the past and created more than one blog. I belong to the era where everyone wanted to write and over exposed themselves.  :P  I had a personal blog once, a fashion blog and a blog to sell my clothes but I only maintained this one as my personal life has began stagnant, my fashion went nowhere and I have sold all my unwanted clothes.  

From July until November, I was focused on work.  Honestly, the only social life I had was my workmate's leaving do.  I was basically married to my job.  Travelling 20 hours each week, working full time and working for my dream job.  Only now I realised that I shouldn't waste too much time on work but on things that matters.  Anyway, this is a travel blog so let me tell you about my trip to Rome.

This isn't my first time to Rome.  Let's get that out of the way.  Rome holds a special place to my heart as it was one of the first European countries that I've been in.  It was also the starting point of my 2009 European trip.  2009 was my most challenging year.  It was the year that I lost my first high paying job, I experienced a proper broken heart, my family got separated to work in different countries and it was also the year that I started dating my husband.  Just telling you about it makes me feel exhausted.  Rome is a city full of history.  It is exciting if you are into it, but not so if you hate walking.  This trip was planned but I had nothing on our agenda as it was my MIL's 60th.

I had to work boxing day and my husband booked a late flight so when we arrived in Rome, it was almost time for dinner.  The first night was spent eating seafood, pasta and cheese and drinking Proseco.  :)  The following day, we woke up early for the mass in Vatican.

Shot of the Vatican City at 7:30am on a Sunday.

As a Catholic, there is nothing more exciting than attending a mass in Vatican or seeing the Pope.  Luckily, I was able to experience both in the same day.  On our first trip to the Vatican, we were able to see the old Pope, Pope Benedict and attend his mass as well. This time, we attended a mass in Italian by a Vatican priest where I had to respond in either English or Tagalog.  I know how mass sequence goes but I also had to focus on trying to understand what the Priest is saying as I don't know how to speak Italian.  Some words I did understood so I just had to piece together what the Priest was saying.  If you want to go to the Vatican City or attend the mass, I suggest you go super early so you don't have to queue.  It's nice to see the square deserted as well and you don't have to queue up to get inside the St. Peter's.  On Sundays, Pope Francis gives his speech as well.  I was on the verge of crying just experiencing his Holiness.  

From the Vatican, we walked to the Pantheon.  It was a 20-30 minutes walk.  Apparently, it was a Pagan site until it was converted into a Church.  Forgive my photos as everything was taken from my iPhone. 

My photo don't do justice to the place.  It was a magnificent structure that survived the test of time.

From Pantheon, you can walk to the Roman Forum and the Colosseo Roma.  At this point, I was knackered and my feet was hurting so we had to go back to the hotel and rest before my MIL's birthday dinner.

My MIL's birthday was a success.  It was very intimate, immediate family only and partners.  I am lucky as my MIL is incredibly generous and kind woman.  She thinks about her family first and is extremely over protective of the people that she loves.  She raised her children well and I thank my lucky stars everyday that I met my husband.  

 My husband and I overjoyed.  Not even a drop of Proseco at this point.
That parcel was filled with cheese.  Cheese with pancetta and asparagus is amazing together. 
The chocolate panna cotta that is a normal panna cotta drizzled with chocolate.  You had me fooled then.  Nothing still beats the panna cotta in Morocco.  


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