A Travellerspoint blog

Two days in Rome

Eternal City of wonder

overcast 27 °C
View London 2013 on Saussi67's travel map.

4/10/13 Yippee on our way to Rome for our surprise stay, a fantastic friend had paid for our accommodation for our stay in Rome. Arrive at the Bologna station and find where our train is leaving from, board our train, super second class travel (wondering what that is). The train is packed, we had assigned seats, two women in our seats, not another seat to be had. So Paul spoke to one of the train staff who shoed the women off to another carriage. Some seats sorted our luggage stowed, we can relax. Another couple are in the seats sitting opposite us, they are not in their right seats too, never mind they get off at the next stop. We get our proper seats back and then we had the four seats to ourselves for the rest of the journey.

Paul goes off to the catering carriage to get coffee. He is gone for an amazingly long time. Have to resist the urge to text him to say look out the window now. The landscape was so changeable, little towns, cities, farm land. Fertile lands, with fields of melons, pumpkins, corn, cattle vineyards, and olive groves. Lots of tunnels. Past little villages perched high up on hills with church steeples almost piercing the clouds above.

Paul arrives back two coffees in hand, sits down then manages to spill one all over himself. to say he is p'd off after waiting so long, after people pushing in and then spilling it on himself was an understatement. A lovely man in the seat opposite talked to the ladies serving refreshments and asked that someone come and help clean it up. Paul drank my coffee and a little man came and cleaned up our mess. Time to sit back and look at the passing landscapes.

Arrive Rome Termini Station, we had already determined that we could catch a short metro ride out to our accommodation, which was near the Colosseum. Leave the main termini to go down to the metro lines. At the ticketing machine is a gypsy saying he can help with our tickets, we didn't need help nor did we want to hand over money for such unwanted help. Disembark at Colosseo metro stop and we are outside the Colosseum, wowoowww. This thing is massive, people everywhere, ancient ruins just up the hill. Amazing.

We head up the hill to our accommodation. This place is just amazing, actually is right in front of the Colosseum. We pushed the buzzer to be let into the building. Ride the single person lift to the second floor. Roberto greets us with a warm smile and a hearty greeting. Ushers us into the apartment entrance, 4 rooms through a seperate entrance, We are shown to our room, we are given a bit of a tour of the room. All I wanted to do was open the window and gaze out at the view. This place is decorated in my colours, purples and silvers, such a calming effect plus beautiful. The bathroom is amazing the bed huge, but the views. Open the windows and see the Colosseum and ruins down the hill. Wowwww.

Thank you thank you so much my kind friends for this little bit of luxury.

Time to visit this eternal city. We head down past the ruins, amazing architecture on every corner. We walk past massive buildings with massive statues, hawkers, people everywhere, Cobbled streets, Horse drawn carts. Way too much for my brain to take in in one hit. Crazy italian drivers, no such thing a pedestrian crossing in this place, you step out in front of cars, be prepared to be a speed hump. Ha ha.

We keep walking to get to this place that our friends had recommended for a lovely pizza by the slice. . We arrive at this square, there appears to have been an open market in the square a street sweeper is doing circuits, picking up rubbish on the ground and spraying water as he goes, people ducking an weaving to avoid the machine. The pizza shop that was recommended to us is this shop that has bread and pizza and cakes. You choose the pizza you want and give an indication of how much you want, they cut it weigh it, it is wrapped in paper, you pay and off you go. We sit on this fountain edge to eat it, then I want to take a photo, ahhh clumsy me drops my pizza on the ground. Sad face. But across the courtyard I see this roll of porchetta, oooohhhhhhhhh yum, pork roll with bbq sauce hmmm.

This city is a city of churches, some of the little churches are amazingly ornate inside. Mind boggling how old some of the frescos are, ornate ceilings, statues and tall ceilings, marble floors and multiple chapels within one church..

We decide to head to the Trevi Fountain to toss a coin in it. We head up past the Pantheon, huge imposing building, columns, ornate walls and floors., do the usual tourist thing with the fingers grabbing the hole in the roof.

A little gelato on the way to the Trevi. People everywhere, but we manage to make our way to the waters edge trying to take a selfy of ourselves by the fountain. A nice man comes up and offers to take a photo of us. Hmmm we should have realised someone with a polaroid around their neck should be avoided. Oh well we still managed to toss a coin in the fountain.

Time to head back to our accommodation. We walk and walk and walk until finally we decide to stop at a little trattoria to have some dinner. Ahh yumm. A belly full of vino, pasta and cheese we head back past the ruins.

Time for some well earned rest.

5/10/13

We wake up to thunder storms and rain. Not many people out this morning, we decide to go out and brave the weather. We have our croissant and coffee looking at the colosseum in the little coffee shop below the accommodation, views and food all for the same price, brilliant.

Back up to the room and Roberto is there, the people in the room next to us had their bag stolen and he was changing the locks.

We decide to catch the metro to the Vatican, via the hawkers trying to sell us umbrellas and ponchos. On the walk to the Vatican, there are people all along the roads trying to get you to sign up the their tours, where you don't have to queue. We were not going to go in anyway. Arrive Vatican Square, What a huge structure, tall columned buildings, fountain in the centre, stairs leading up to the Chapel, queues and queues of people standing in the drizzling rain being herded into the chapel. A window visible with a massive chandelier illuminated, was waiting for a glimpse of the Pope. We walk along to the exist to head up to the entrance to the Vatican where the ornately dressed guards are standing. Take some photos. Then all of a sudden hawkers are running everywhere, dropping their stuff and one even losing his shoe in the middle of the road. A Police officer in hot pursuit, A heated conversation between the police officer and a hawker on a bike ensues. Ahh a little excitement.

We head down towards the exist of Vatican square and notice police and men with ear pieces wandering around, closing entrances and directing pedestrians in other directions. We decide to stay close as we figure someone special is about to be coming by. Next thing we know, a police car comes and blocks the side street and out zips this car, blackened glass. We assumed maybe the Pope?

We head out of the square, cross to a few streets away and enter a little church on a hill. Wow what an amazing old church, but a little run down. There were a few nuns wandering around. Then one stepped up and said something over the microphone. Paul and I don't speak Italian so remained. Then one came up to me an angrily said something to me in Italian, we looked at her with eyes of I have no idea what you are saying and she said LOCK LOCK LOCK. Oh the church is shutting. Ooops.

Heading away from their I see a bridge, over a river and we wander across that bridge and see a Castel Sant Angelo, a massive castle. This city amazes me at every turn.

Time for lunch, I see a restaurant with a set menu, need a little rest so we decide to sit, Paul and I and one other person. Then people start to roll in, the place is packed. Antipasti, pasta and a drink 9 euro brilliant.

Our bellies full we decide to head towards the Spanish Steps, weaving streets, beautiful little boutique shops, lots of restaurants. We walk past a building and look in, wow, it is a massive church, but has this walled internal courtyard. so imposing but just beautiful. Wander a little further and see press vans and photographers out side a building a guard at the door. Paul decides to ask the guard what all the excitement is for, his response ohhh the trial of Berlusconi is on, he is in the building. Paul and I are on a corner trying to figure out where we are and where to go next when this lovely American girl walked up and asked Do we speak English, she is looking for something and was lost, ha ha so are we, we get out our map help her where to go and then she gives up a tip of direction to go too.

We arrive at the Spanish steps, must be at least 300 people here all sitting and taking photos of the people sitting. Ok maybe we need to get to the top, walk around the corner near the metro and there is a lift up to the top, brilliant!! Arrive at the top, just like in the movies, painting on easles and painters insitu. Climb the stairs to Trinita dei Monti. Simple and stunning church interior. People being told to be quiet, why do they need to be told to be quiet in a church, it is church as place of worship and tranquility not flash bulbs and stupid loud conversations, have some respect people Out onto the front Portico and views out of over the Roman Skyline at Sunset.

I have been having heaps of issues with ankle swelling and aching feet so we decide we need to head back to the room for a little while for some rest and me to put my feet up.

Ok off to search for our restaurant for dinner at a little trattoria our friends recommended, delicious meats, pasta, salad and potato. Then off to bed ready for our train ride in the morning and our week in Tuscany.

Rome I will be back with more time to explore.

Posted by Saussi67 23.10.2013 15:24 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Bologna

Amazing Architecture, food and fun

sunny 18 °C
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1/10/13 Hmm Airfrance, Paris to Bologna. The less said the better, expensive mistake on my part for the luggage check in.

Arrive Bologna late afternoon, follow Paolos instructions on how to get to Pietros Apartment. We meet up with Paolo to get the keys to the apartment. What a genuinely lovely man, gave us directions and recommendations on places to eat, places to buy groceries, things to see and do.

Cute little apartment made for little people, looking onto a private courtyard, in a secure building, a main entrance door, a sliding locked gate and onto our door, which is a big wooden wonderful door. The bathroom door is tiny and Paul can fill it width and height.

We decide to go for a walk and try out the pizza place Paolo had recommended. What a cavern of a place, taken out to a small courtyard with charm. An old fountain full of old corks. We ordered appetizers and pizza, big mistake. Family size pizzas for both of us. Wow, we rolled home. The food was delicious and simple.

On the way back we went to the grocery store to get provisions for the morning and our stay. Wowwww, if you are in Italy go to their grocery stores and look around. A whole new delicious world awaits you. We get to the counter and the lady says, you want sacks? Paul looks at her like she is mad. She means plastic bags, second mistake was we didn't weigh and label the vegetables ourselves. Oops!! All good, back to the apartment and bed.

2/10/13 Breakfast then off to wander the streets of Bologna.

Bologna is a university town, so it is full of young people, hanging out drinking, eating, walking. The porticos are amazing, everywhere you walk is a portico. Squares with statues and fountains, medieval churches. Two towers of Bologna interesting sight to behold.

Little entrances to internal courtyards, some simple some ornately decorated little oasis the middle of a teaming city.

We spotted heaps of people out the front of this little shop, pizza by the slice, but huge pieces, for 1.50 euro amazingly fresh and cheap. We sat on a step near the two towers and ate our fantastic find.

Next onto the Piazza Maggiore, a plaza built in in the 15th Century, mind boggling. Large, imposing ornate buildings, teaming with people. Italian police at the entrance with riot protected vehicles. Interesting.

We wandered into a building and came upon this marvellous little garden, secreted between four walls, an old well that had been filled, raised platforms for sitting. trees for shade, ahhh how could we resist a little sit and a rest.

Next we wandered to the markets, woowwwww, very touristy but fish mongers, fruit and vege stalls, delicious little vine rippened tomatoes that you just wanted to pick up and eat like an apple. Cheeses, cured hams, breads, gelato you name it a gastronomic delight for all. Ladies with lots of enhancements which weren't only the jewels and clothes they wore. Cute little dogs being led along.

Italy Wow!!

Head back a different way past a little garden again, with a fountain and people having a rest in the shade, chatting, kissing, holding hands. Then bathroom called down these stairs to the bathroom, abruptly greeted in 1 euro. Up the stairs I go to Paul ask for money head back down, thinking going to savour this pee for 1euro, the place better be spotless. Yes it was, much cleaner than the one in Paris. urrgggghh.

Late afternoon hours and hours of walking we decided to return to our little abode to relax and eat some dinner. A short stop at the supermarket for evening supplies. Dinner then off to bed.

3/10/13

A lazy morning, nice to not have to be anywhere any time soon. Late breakfast, then off to explore again.

We decided to head to the Stazione to see how far it was to catch our train to Rome the next day. Leaving the walled part of the city and entering "Real Bologna" was a world all of its own. A little markets selling bric a brac, bargaining to be had in Italian, such a fantastic sound to hear.

Then for a walk through a park with huge white steps and a massive statue guarding the entrance. We come upon a fountain, that had ornate statues of mermaids and lions, that are enclosed with mesh. Hmmm kinda detracts from the whole feel and look. It appears the park is where the kids go that either are jobless or skipping school. Feeling a little apprehensive about getting out of the park without being attacked. Finally come upon the big bus hug, lots of people everywhere. We wander on in bewilderment as this is a whole other side of Bologna life. Out through some doors and see a man in a high vis vest and try to ask for directions to the Train station, ahhh get out my trusty italian language book, " you want Stazione, over there".

We make it to the station and decide we need to leave a bit of time to get there and also catching buses was not an option.

As we were heading out of the station area we came upon a Barilla stand, I know they make pasta, but they also make biscuits. We entered the little building to be spoken to in Italian, no Italiano, the girl goes, oh ok, well I can speak english, you have to complete three activiities and you get a gift. Sweet, so we sat and watched a man make biscuits, in Italian. Very entertaining, we then got to sample some, mmmm delicious, hot out of the oven. Onto the next activity a mind game of remember with cards, one more activity and we get our free gift of some cake thing and a juice. A little bit of a an excuse to sit and rest our legs.

We leave there and see some other ornate stairs leading up to another entrance to a hotel. Wowser, what a place. A bustling hub of shops and people on our meander back to our apartment.

We stumble upon a little cafe, that had delicious cakes and biscuits in it's display cabinet, we bravely ordered milky coffee which is frowned upon after mornings in Europe. But we were accommodated happily, three coffees (Paul had two as the coffee was great) a cake each and some biscuits, 7 Euro. Wowww.

Made our way back to our apartment, dinner and bed. Ready for our train to Rome.

Posted by Saussi67 22.10.2013 20:57 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Paris

Love, food and sights

rain 23 °C
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29/9/13 Easyjet London - Paris, We arrived way too early at the terminal discovering we had a lot of time to kill. After watching the tv show about the Easyjet disasters I was a little worried about what would happen. Everything was easy, fast and efficient.

Boarding our flight I had a little bit of excitement building. Arrived Charles De Gaulle Airport, then bus to Paris via Roissybus. When we arrived it was absolutely bucketing down, we went to get on the wrong bus and a very rude french man told me to looookkk looook loook at the bus destination.
Arrived at Paris Opera metro stop, and needed to catch the metro out to our little studette. Bit scarey and filthy this station. We boarded our train to Temple Metro stop.

Luckily I had walked around here on Google Earth to get the feel of the and land and note significant landmarks. We got to our little door in the wall which was the entrance to the apartment complex. There was a man who let us in the gate and we were greeted by Mrs Graca, such a lovely lady, we were both giggling as she didn't speak much english and we didn't speak french or spanish. We were shown to our room, up three flights of lovely wooden staircase.

We were let into the room, quite small and just as it was shown in the pictures. Looking out onto a internal courtyard, we could hear French all around us, families preparing and eating dinner. Wow we are in France, sooooo excited.

Look around the apartment, then off for a little bit of sight seeing and a spot of dinner.

We decided to walk down towards Notre Dame, via the Pompidou Museum. Hotel De Ville. Meandered the streets, we came across a little Lebanese cafe, the food was ok, fairly cheap. But alas we have been spoilt by our beloved Jasmin Restaurant in Bankstown.

After our dinner we walked down to Notre Dame, across the River Seine, we had some gelato for dessert. Pinching myself again that I was in Paris with my love.

We wandered back up to the apartment and off to bed.

30/9/13 We awoke fairly early, we were meant to do a walking tour of Paris today but we were pretty tired and decided to be lazy and just wander on our own. We headed out and chose a direction to travel in, stopped at this cafe that looked like a pub and had a breakfast of croissant, panine, cake, coffee and juice.

We decide to wander to Champs Elysee, still amazed at the architecture, via fountains, statues. We were walking along then everything went nuts, there were bikes screaming to a halt, cars stopping randomly and people jumping out, people running and out popped this beautiful young lady, no idea who it was, but the paps went mad. She disappeared into a hotel and they all went back to their lives.

Stopped at a little vendor on the Champs Elysee and had a crepe and Paul had a panine. Both were delicious, sat in a park and ate them.

Stopped at McDonalds, yes I know, but their McCafe menu was woowwwww, we had to have a slice of their delicious cake. Mmmmmm I love Paris.

Then onto the Arc De Triomphe, chaotic traffic, people everywhere, noise, accents, love and happiness, a few photos. Then onto the metro back to Temple.

Ride the Metro Anvers, meander the streets of Montmatre, past vibrant shops selling souvenirs, a little detour via a chocolate shop ( a girl needs sustance to climb those steep hills :)) then up the travellator to visit to Basilica Sacre Coeur, just before sunset, Hang around watching the sunset over Paris, twinkling lights start to illuminate the late afternoon sky. Ahh Paris by night, quite beautiful.

A little stroll down the hill towards Mouin Rouge, past sex shops and strip bars, a very different type of Paris. Then finally in front of famous Windmill for a few photos.

We had dinner in our room, some bread, salad and a cooked chicken from the grocer. Ohh I wish we had a food passion like they do in Europe. The vegetables, bread and salads are so delicious looking, stands piled high with vibrant fruit and vegetables, little delicatessans with alluring smells and foods. There was even a stand that had a huge variety of mushrooms displayed. Wowww.

1/10/13 Check out time, down to Ms Gracas to leave our bag and a wander to find some breakfast, we walked past a patisserie that looked amazing, our choice was made. A short stroll back to the apartment and then off to the airport. The trip back to airport was so much easier going back than coming in, Marvellous what a difference it is when you are aware of the lay of the land.

Posted by Saussi67 21.10.2013 18:49 Archived in France Comments (0)

Dubai - London

Kensington and beyond

overcast 15 °C
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26/9/13 We arrived in London, jet lagged, a little confused about what next.

After meandering our way through UK border control we came out into arrivals. I was looking at the faces waiting at the gate and all of a sudden I registered a curly haired red head waving her arms at me!! It was my dear friend Lisa such a nice surprise!! After being whisked off to a cafe and being given sustenance we embarked on our journey on the tube to our hotel. Lisa walked us through the Oyster card purchase. Then travelled part of the way with us to our destination. Such a wonderful thing in our jet lagged States!!

We arrived at the Glouster Road tube stop, walked up to the Marriott Hotel.

Warm greeting, whisked up to our room, lovely room, except it looked at a brick wall.

Off to the tube again to take Paul to his surprise lunch. Jamie Olivers Covent Garden restaurant. Jamie never ceases to amaze, great price, atmosphere and wonderful food. Foods together that you wouldn't think of.

We walked back along the road to Piccadilly Circus and then decided just too tired to see straight, off to the hotel for a short sleep.

When we awoke, we ate the food Paul had bought from Sainsburys. We decided to stay in and have an early night.

27/9/13

Today is our walking tour of London free from Sandemans Tours, (highly recommended). We met at Hyde Park, Wellingtons Monument, lots of tours, spanish or English. Our tour guide was a young amateur actress. Very informative, we walked down through Hyde Park, stopping for tales of Wellington and his "walks through the garden" . To the front of Buckingham Palace, to watch the changing of the guard. Along to Charles and Camilas residence to see more soldiers march past. Around to Trafalgar Square to see the Blue Cock, which is a thumb up at the French. Around Westminster and the houses of Parliament. Finishing with a pub lunch.

From there we caught the tube back to the V & A Museum, we only got through three rooms as we ran out of time to meet up with Lisa for High Tea at the Ritz.

Amazing High Tea at the Ritz. Breath takingling beautiful surroundings. Silver service, chandeliers, morning dress waiters, little sandwiches, delectable cakes and scones with jam and clotted cream. Once in a lifetime.

Then on to a pub to catch up with one of Lisas friends for drinks for his birthday. A black cab ride to Lisas Apartment, more wine to be drunk then back to the hotel.

28/9/13 Jet lag is a wonderful thing for being up early. Today we head off to Portebello Road, Notting Hills to the markets.

Arrived at Portebello Road after wandering the streets down to the markets, not many people around as it was still early, stalls setting up. Massive pans of paella, cake stands, handbags, antiques, silver jewellery. We stopped for an English Breakfast in a little cafe at the end of the markets. By the time we decided to head back up the road, the place was teaming with people. All the stalls were open, delectable smells, lots of different accents. We passed a stall that had buckets of olives of all descriptions and cheese, that was it, Paul was in heaven. We got some cheese, and olives. Bread from a nearby vendor, which sold the most amazing smelling and looking bread. Onto my favourite, this stall that was bursting a the seams with cakes and tarts and cupcakes. Yuuummmmm.

On our way up the hill we found Jamies Diner, we were meant to be eating our little booty of food we had purchased but Jamie beckoned we stopped and had some lunch overlooking the hordes of people heading to the markets.

Back on the Tube a wander through central London to see Selfridges as we have been watching the series. A little retail therapy for myself.

Back to the hotel to change for Lisas 40th Birthday party. Many hours later, many glasses of wine for Paul we caught a cab back to the hotel.

Posted by Saussi67 20.10.2013 16:48 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london Comments (0)

Sydney - Dubai

sunny 41 °C

We had dinner with Vic and Pam before heading out for our early morning flight.

The alarm beeped at 2.30 to signal time to get our act together for our flight.

We were met at the Formule 1 by our 71 year old taxi driver. Arrived Emirates ready to fly.
Got to our seats and were happy with our seats. Flight went well bit of a punish physically.

Arrived Dubai met at the airport by our driver to be transported to our hotel Savoy Central. 41 degrees wow a shock to the system!!

Savoy Central in the poorer end of town. We went to the supermarket in our jet lagged state and wandered the store. Lebanese bread, meatballs baba ganush and houmus in hand we wandered back to the hotel. New sights, sounds, smells and language!

Around 4.40 a call to prayer went up from the local mosque.

We were just too tired so went to bed at 6.30!!

25/9/13

We awoke at 4.30 bright eyed and bushy tailed. Shortly after waking we were called to prayer by the neighbouring mosque, 15 minutes later prayers started. Yes we are in Dubai!!

Carpe Diem we decided. Had read in the Lonely Planet guide to visit a Pakistani Restaurant called Ravi, we headed there. Quite an experience, being the only female, white and a western in the restaurant was a novelty for me and the other patrons.

We were given this spiced cereal. Yumm, followed by a Dahl and hot bread, tea. Great start to the day.

Our bodies and minds tingling with new experiences and whilst the sun was still low we started our quest to view Dubai. We walked and walked watching the city come to life. Vehicles being driven on the wrong side of the road very fast.

The cities sky line changing as the sun rose higher in the sky and the temperature gauge creeping to unbearable.

We decided to use the transport system. We walked to the nearest metro station and after starring at the map for a considerable time and bickering over the place to travel, we swallowed our pride and gave up our independent Status and asked the information desk for directions. That sorted, electronic ticket in hand we went up to the station. First pho par was me entering a packed train with my husband being greeted by hostile looks and a reluctance to let us in the carriage. After alighting we saw in the next carriage we had joined a men only carriage!! Oops!!

We were on our way to the Dubai Mall. What a place!! Muslim women and men in robes dining in this coffee shop. Such an amazing and surreal sight! Passing a camel milk cafe offering real camel milk and camel hotdogs we decided we would pass!!

An amazing huge place with high end stores and high end prices. Window shopping was the plan for our meagre budgets. Ice skating rinks, aquariums, Souks and three storey waterfalls.

We decided to head back to near our hotel. This time a little more experienced riding the metro system.

A quick dip in the pool. Then onto the Old Dubai Soul and docks.

We we're late in the day, so a lot of the shops were closed but a few of the die hards were still there. One shop keeper beckoned us in to his shop. We were showed the ancient art of baking enamel onto brass plates and then hand painting and curing to create the most amazingly intricate plates and bowls. The art of hand painting on cotton to make beautiful table clothes. Next door the spice soul, an array of smells and unusual things.

Then back for a stroll along the dock, a cool breeze. Amazing old wooden boats ferrying workers from one side of the river to the other.

Walking past a palacial building which was the ruler of Dubai's domain, complete with two heliports. Shortly before sunset the mosque closest to us started it's call to prayer, what an amazing sound as the calls were echoed across the city from different mosques.

We wandered up into the textile market to be greated by want to buy a pashmina every step of the way. A street vendor making pakora and other spicey parcels of yum. 6 pieces of deliciousness in hand in a paper bag to share we headed into glitter gulch.

Wow this city comes alive at night! Wall to wall people, bright lights, traffic jams. Shops with overflowing displays of chocolates and sweets of every shape, colour and variety enticing us to buy.

Bathroom stop called ventured into KFC the bathroom looked as though a kids party had been attended with water bombs. Hoses had been used, I will let you fill in the blanks.

Back to the hotel for a dreadful dinner then off to bed.

Posted by Saussi67 07:57 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

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