Europe | Featured | Italy

Travel hotspots in Northern Italy

By on October 9, 2013

 

Romance, great food, a true Italian welcome, olive oil and wines, and family values have drawn visitors to Northern Italy for centuries. With beautiful views aplenty, and value for money, it’s the perfect getaway for the whole family.

In Venice, take a trip on a gondola down its world famous canals, and pass under the Rialto Bridge, or simply get lost in the maze of tiny streets. If you fancy a bird’s eye view of the town and the lagoon, head to the top of San Marco’s Basicila in Piazza San Marco, or to the top of the San Marco Campanile (don’t worry, there’s a lift for legs of all ages!), and check out the town’s rooftops and Doge’s Palace from above. For masks, costumes, and lots of good fun, head to the Venice Carnival, the city’s biggest annual event.

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Venice, busy everywhere but I’d surely go back

A trip to Northern Italy isn’t complete without a visit to Verona, home of most romantic couple of all time, Romeo and Juliet. Head to Piazza Bra for a coffee under the parasols, or check out the arena in the city centre or the castle on top of the hill. For families that enjoy adventure and theme parks, Gardaland has special events depending on the time of year (for example, Halloween, Christmas) as well as rollercoasters, parks, and an aquarium.

From Venice head to a resort around Lake Garda, where there’s plenty of water based activities to keep everyone occupied. The area around Lake Garda, like many parts of Italy, is true wine country, vineyards line the roads, wineries welcome visitors, and with hills and mountains lining the lakes, the scenery is perfect for simply gazing at. If getting out and about to see the local area is in the plan, the towns of Malcesine, Bardolino, Garda, and Brenzone offer the ideal excuse for a day out to see a traditional Italian town, and enjoy great food in local cafés.

 

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Il Duomo

Check out Florence if art and breathtaking buildings like the Duomo and Uffizi are your cup of tea. Florence sometimes experiences magnificent thunderstorms that cloud the sky for just 30 minutes before amazing sunlight reigns over the city. If this happens, seize the day and head into an Italian delicatessen for the best Chianti, homemade cooking, or an expresso like you’ll find nowhere else on the planet. The family is at the heart of every Italian welcome, so you can expect the kids to be spoilt rotten in these family run places.

No visit to Northern Italy is complete without the obligatory photo of the Leaning Tower of Pisa on everyone’s hands. From Florence, Pisa is just 60 miles away, less than an hour by the very regular train service. Spend half a day in Pisa, taking your own photos and laughing at everyone else as they pose, play around, and picnic near the tower.

For a fashion central day out, Milan is the place to be seen in. Browse the shops and leave strutting your stuff Milano style, a great excuse for a fashion show or inspiration for some creative costume making and fancy dress days when you are back home!

Rail travel and flights are the best methods of travelling to Northern Italy. You can get info on rail prices from Rail Europe, while Momondo.co.uk has a great page for comparing Italy flights prices.

medieval cathedral of the Archdiocese of Pisa and leaning tower
the medieval cathedral of the Archdiocese of Pisa and leaning tower (bell tower) behind

 

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Featured | Italy

Legends, Are They Born or Made?

By on September 9, 2013

 

Years ago, I travel by myself – alone, not minding that I don’t really know the place as much. Not minding if I don’t know anyone from that city or town. It’s local yes, but a 6-hour travel to an unfamiliar city is quite a feat for a teenager during my days! lol. Going to a city by myself rarely happens now. That’s why when hubby and I explored our neighboring country Italy, we saw to it that we spent a few hours apart and see the cities to ourselves, discover something while alone.

So we did that in Rome and in Florence. Armed with a map, a camera and a friendly aura, I had about 5 hours walking in Rome, hopping from train to train, shooting whatever moments and scenes I can. I visited the Vatican city, walked around the Coliseum, shopped, shoot (if I literally can, I would have) gladiator-clad men and dined Italian where I met a very friendly polyglot. With his help, I found my way to the Pantheon, just when the sun had set. Hubby and I agreed to meet at  Piazza della Rotonda, in front of the iconic ‘temple’ and the fontana before it.

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The Pantheon

I was truly proud of myself for those hours, still not being at ease, I braved the unfamiliar streets, and since my Italian is very basic – below basic actually so I always converse in English. I felt I could survive when left alone for long. Then again, Rome is a city – not as remote as some of the places we see on the TV series, Survivor. So, imagine if you – a very confident, social and truly able man would be stripped off all the gadgets you have and all the technology available around –  be brought to live in a far-flung Philippine island, what would you do to survive?

 

That is ‘Voyage’, a new campaign from premium beer brand Heineken® where men from across the world, of different upbringing will be dropped on in different global locations with nothing but the most basic of supplies and directions. The result of each man’s adventure is ‘Dropped’ – a series of experiences following our “fearless” explorers on their legendary travel experience.

Legends, are they born or are they made?  ‘Voyage’ is the fifth installment of the Heineken ‘Legends’ platform, the combined campaign, which will be broadcast live across digital and mobile media. It’s main channel will be via the Heineken® Dropped YouTube channel. Here, viewers will be able to follow each ‘Dropped’ voyage, have access  to the documentary-style content and also share their own video entries to the ‘casting couch’ –  with the ultimate chance of partaking in their own legendary travel adventure.

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There, I found hubby held by a pantomime clown being introduced to a chinese lady, lol.

Each voyage’s final destination is: home. Will a traveller be able to go back? Will he become a legend? The answer lies of course within each participant – their ability to adapt, overcome language barrier and their resourcefulness along with other factors will determine their survival and success. This and that, these and those, put them all together and one can create a legend or be one, no, sometimes, legends may not be born nor made but Dropped. My solitary adventure is definitely not in league. :/

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My dirty, sunburned feet on a stone path surrounding the Coliseum.

 

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Featured | Postcards

Postcard #12 – Venetian Las Vegas

By on December 18, 2011
venetian las vegas

I won a number of postcards from a friend’s blog giveaway last summer – my daughter tucked them away in her box so I almost forgot until I saw hubby’s photos of his trip to Las Vegas.venetian

Stunning might not summarize how the Hotel Resort is. ^_^ Photos-wise, I’ve seen hubby’s photos of the Las Vegas version while I saw photos of my brother-in-law in the sister casino resort in Macao. True that both are replicas of Venice only cleaner. ^_^ There are also replicas of the Rialto Bridge and the Campanile de San Marco…

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IMG_8412 (photos by hubby)

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Canada | Featured

Vancouver Surprise

By on November 2, 2011

Hubby’s vacation was – unplanned. I say that but it’s actually – I was out of the plan – because he told me he’s going to the US and perhaps Canada only after he had the plane tickets. — Yes, spontaneous and I don’t really mind anyway, he deserves his own “him time.”

He didn’t avail of any vacation deals but he accompanied an aunt to visit her aunt – his grandmother so he saved bucks off the plane tickets and accommodation. He took time off seeing friends in California particularly LA and San Francisco and went about the state before heading to Las Vegas and parts of Nevada.

A surprise for me was indeed the Canada trip. He met a very close friend of mine whom I haven’t seen since 2001…10 long years. Had he the time he would have visited our newborn nephew in Winnipeg but it’s at the other end of Canada so it didn’t happen.

pathway, butchart gardens
path

 Hubby having arrived 4 days ago had only shown me some photos, some stories here and there. I’m sure as the days progressed there’d be chunks of stories he will share to me. For now here are some of the photos he posted on Facebook – a welcome sign, part of Olympic village and a Japanese garden, I’ve yet to ask him about.

butchart gardens
sunken

 

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Czech Republic | Featured | Prague

Prancing in Prague

By on October 11, 2011

prague

Eight years ago, one of my closest friend and I agreed to have a rendezvous in Prague. She was there for 5 days and since Vienna is just 5 hours away by train, I thought of meeting her there. Unfortunately, her trip fell on the month when I’ve just given birth to our second son. I wasn’t able to see her there…

So for this visit, I had been thinking of what might have Prague been during her visit. The city is charming, that’s given. Architecture-wise, it has a feel of Vienna – having been an important city for the Habsburgs during Austro-Hungarian Empire and a touch of Rome – having been once the capital of the Roman empire, the influences are obvious. Yet, it still has a distinct fascination all its own.

As I mentioned, the trip was about 5 hours. We boarded the train on a Friday, half an hour before 5 o’clock…the kids still had to attend school and hubby left the office a bit earlier. We met up at the train station around 4…That’s at Wien Meidling at Vienna’s 12 district — and from there we had to pass by our district again…too bad they don’t stop at one of the stations nearer our place. Since it’s gonna take us 5 hours, I readied my camera for a lot of drive by shooting. (You’d see those shots on my other blog.)

hungerwallshipprague dusk

 

We arrived exactly at the expected time, went to find the local trains and it was not hard to do. We just had to  get some change since they still use Czech crown and not Euros. I withdrew a thousand which is about 40Euros (woot! feels like pesos) but we only needed coins for the tickets (32 for adults for 90 minutes and kids below 10 years are free, yes, free ride in Prague for my kids hihi). There are a lot of stores at the Praha hlavní nádraží (English: Prague main railway station, abbreviated Praha hl.n) still open so it was easy to get a change, I bought some postcards and Lays, because we don’t have them here in Vienna lol. Worrywart me easily comes out when travelling at night so the people who keeps looking at me like they wanna rob me or something takes a clear look of don’t you dare from me. Chos! I just stay away and be alert. hihi. Most of the store attendants speak English and others speak German so conversing isn’t much of a problem.

 

prague   duck prague

 My in-laws who arrived earlier that day fetched us at the train station near our hotel…from the main train station, we took one ride, 5 stations I think and we walked to our hotel with them. It’s less crowded than Manila but certainly busier than Vienna. Ok, I’m paranoid I tell you but knowing how some groups (read: pickpockets) operate won’t be harmful. Stay away from those who have crutches…most of the time it’s just a front…so when we came from the station, there’s a group of men and women already following us. I saw one  with crutches and his companion was really going behind dad-in-law. I walked further behind pulling hubby with me and them to watch and just when we were passing by a club, the one in crutches walked normally…lol. My hunch was true, it’s a good thing dad-in-law walks fast too!

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Our first morning was cold but lovely, we walked and walked and walked as far as our shoes can handle the friction…It’s a crowded city alright but you can always find a quiet spot for you to be by yourself enjoying the swans, the water reflection, the beauty of a river that lies quietly.

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(To my dear friend Barb, sorry, I’m 8 years too late, but I know we’d see each other in another lovely city soon, I don’t doubt.)

For:

Wednesday Whites, Watery Wednesday

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Featured | Greece | Travel Plans

Remembering Dad’s Travels

By on August 6, 2011
greece
Theseus Temple, Vienna

My late dad, a well-traveled seaman during his days, made me interested about the countries he visited through his stories. If you’ve been to my other blogs then you know that already or you might have read it here, on the about page. 🙂

Dad’s work as a seaman made him able to land on and visit different European cities and towns. His favorite among those would be Greece…full of mythology and architecture older than Jesus Christ. He sent us a lot of photos when he visited Athens…I was in the 4th grade then – 10-years-old. (Your memory gets sharper when you’re older and when the people a memory is connected to is dead…well, that’s just an observation I have of myself though I’ve always have a good memory to begin with hihi.) I clearly remember those photos because he personally wrote notes for me. His photos during Netherland visits were addressed mostly to my older sister.

When I went with my younger son to the Volksgarten during a last-year-excursion I was nostalgic and teary-eyed seeing the Theseus Temple. Though newly renovated and all clean and white, it truly resembles the temples of Athens. It made me want to buy one of those cheap flights to Paphos advertisements I see on my sidebar often and hop on the next available flight.

Greece is still one of the country on my bucket list. I don’t know how far or how many years more should I wait to see the temples myself but I surely will and in memory of my beloved Father.

 

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