Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rome : Day 14 : 28 October 2008

This was our last day in Rome, and we had a full day. We did not make any plans for the day, so we ended up going for a city walk again. Starting from our hostel, we walked towards Colosseo, hoping to see this beauty for one more time. But before that, we stopped by our favorite cafe for a cup of cappuccino.

We thought of looking for the La Bocca de la Verita (Mouth of Truth). We knew the existence of this thing because we can see the clones in most of our shopping complexes. However, we did not manage to find it, though we were very very close to it. This was because we received the wrong info from our hostel guardian. Even the sign board along the Tiber river gave the wrong info. We actually walked along Tiber river for almost 20 minutes under the rain hoping to find La Bocca, but we were moving further and further away. The exact location is given below.

The next place we went to was Pantheon. It was a church having a round dome with a hole on the ceiling. We could not understand why the hole existed, knowing very well that it rains and maybe snow in Rome. Then, walking back towards Termini direction, we went past and again stopped at Fontana di Trevi for the 3rd time.

While walking back slowly, we met a fellow traveller from Singapore near the Quattro Fontane (Four Fountains). She was also spending her last day in Rome, and we saw her off at the Republica metro station. Before reaching Stazione Termini (Termini Station), we saw a street demonstration and luckily they were moving away, while we were walking towards Termini.

Stazione Termini was a huge complex that also acted as a mini shopping complex. All trains and both metro lines meet here. We purchased our one-way express train ticket from Termini to Leonardo Da Vinci airport via Leonardo Express, and it cost E22/pax. It was not easy to buy the ticket from the biglietto machine, but we succeeded after 20 minutes of trial and error. We nearly met and got conned by a "helpful" man. We guessed he was one of those described in Trip Advisor, whereby our money could be taken and he returned to us with a useless or under-valued ticket.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Selangor : Super League Champ on the way

Selangor is leading the table in this year's Super League, followed closely by Perlis. We have another 5 matches to go, and I am confident our Selangor is able to maintain their good run and become this year's champ. We already have the Charity Shields (Piala Sumbangsih) and FA Cup in our pocket.

I started to support them in 1986 and the first match I watched on TV was a Malaysia Cup final, where Selangor defeated Johor 6-1. The late Mokhtar Dahari was still playing at that time. Then, I graduated to watching live at Stadium Merdeka in 1989. Selangor moved to their current home ground, Stadium Shah Alam in mid-90s.

> Stadium Shah Alam from Google Earth

I was with my gang of kaki bola at the Stadium Shah Alam when they won the Malaysia Cup for 3 consecutive seasons from 1995~1997 beating Pahang, Sabah and Pahang. After that, it was down-and-up from Selangor, and they even spent a season in Division 2. But I kept on watching them periodically at the stadium without my kakis; driving alone to Shah Alam, paying RM2 for toll, RM2 for parking, RM2 for mineral water and RM10 for the ticket.

This season, Selangor is again the team to watch. Of course you don't compare them with English/Barclays Premier League teams. It is like we still love our pan mee even though spaghetti taste much better.

Hopefully, our Merah Kuning Red Giant team cheers us up this season. I will share with you their lagu kegemilangan when they are the confirmed champ.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rome : Day 13 : 27 October 2008

We went to Colosseo (Colosseum) on our 3rd day in Rome. The weather was good, sunny and not too hot. Colosseo was just 20 minutes or roughly 500m away from our hostel. Though it was much comfortable taking the metro costing only E1/pax, we chose to walk. At least we were doing what a backpacker should do, walk. On our way there, we found a cafe serving the best cappuccino that we had throughout the trip, and it only cost E0.90/cup. So, no regret at all.

To us, Colosseo was the best attraction in Rome. It was like going to our National Stadium at Bukit Jalil after 2,000 years later. It was difficult to describe the feeling, so better judge by looking through the pics below. The entrance fee was E12/pax and it also allowed entrance to the Palatino (Palatine Hill) and Foro Romano (Roman Forum). Palatino and Foro contained lots of ruins, and it was not easy for blur foreigners like us to identify them. Luckily, the Colosseo was still intact. Outside Colosseo, we saw an entourage of China people having their wedding photo taken. They came with at least 7 Rolls-Royce, stopping in front of Arco di Constantino with Colosseo as their romantic backdrop. This group was much larger than the one we saw in Barcelona.

Going through Palatino and Foro took us around 1 hr due to the vast area of the archaelogical site.

After exiting Foro Romano, we reached the Monumento a Vittorio Emmanuele II, a huge white building. It was actually a memorial, and we managed to squeeze in before it was closed. They didn't allow visitors in 20 minutes after we went in. I read beforehand that the guards do not allow visitors to sit on the steps, either for photo taking or resting as an act of respect for the dead soldiers that were buried underneath. This building was located in front of the busy intersection, Piazza Venezia.

Here, I applied another useful knowledge from the internet. Be forewarned, when you are walking and intend to cross the road in Rome, you just walk across and look straight in front. Don't apply the Malaysian principle of "Pandang kanan, pandang kiri, dan pandang kanan sekali".
They said that if you look towards the cars coming to you, it will be your responsibility to look after yourself because you know that danger is coming. If you did not look at them, the responsibility will become theirs because in Rome, pedestrian is King.

We visited Fontana di Trevi for the second time, when we were on our way to the nearest metro, Spagna near the Spanish Steps. The coin throwing theory was so true.

Met Michael Jackson : 2006

This could be a valuable piece. I met Michael in 2006, and our meeting was captured in black and white TV below.

p/s: Venue : Madame Tussaud, HK

Haha... Just kidding.

Click on Nuffnang Ad : Nescafe

There is another ad by Nuffnang from Nescafe. It is a writing contest, suitable for those people like me. Click on it if you are those who has excess creativity juice in your brain and does frequent finger exercise.

There are few themes to write about like comedy, action, etc.. and you can write them in 6 scenes with each scene only allows you to put in 100 words. But your story need to include the Nescafe "team" such as Latte, Mocha, Original and Black Roast in the stories as they are the main characters.

Let's write. Kakite kudasai!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Click on Nuffnang Ad : Digi

Check out the Nuffnang ad that they run for Digi at the right column .

It's a charity effort. You only need to click onto the ad and it will bring you to Digi's "About LovetoSave" page. You choose the charity body to donate to, and Digi will donate it on your behalf by paying RM5 per click. Only 6 days left and they are currently RM50,000 short of their target of RM150,000.

This fits my slogan; Maximize the opportunity, Minimize the cost. So, I supported them and donated to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rome : Day 12 : Part 2

There was a post office near the exit of the museum, and we bought the smallest stamp value of E0.01 (RM0.05) as souvenir. There were many visitors posting their post card here, likely because it was glamorous to announce to family members or close frens that they sent the card from the world's smallest country, the Vatican City.

We spent only 1.5 hrs in the museum complex, though we had earlier queued up for more than 2 hrs. We only gave it a 3/10, maybe because we did not have prior knowledge of the things to see. Then, we headed for lunch at a nearby family-type restaurant. Being a Malaysian, we obviously went for rice and in this case it was risotto, and also the original Roman Spaghetti Bolognese.

> Risotto Marinara

Our 2nd half of the day continued with a visit to Piazza San Pietro (San Peter's Square), and we were shocked to see there was another long queue. This time the people were queuing to enter San Peter's Basilica. We decided to give it a miss, since we had enough of standing and moving at 0.3 mph. So, we just sat down at the Piazza watching the crowd. We spotted the center point of the Piazza, and posed for photos at the marker. Then, a small crowd of 10 person gathered around us and waited for their turn to take pictures, not knowing for sure if that very spot was really the center spot.

> Piazza San Pietro

> Center marker (Don't know my guess was true or not, but did conned few other people to stand on the same spot)

Moving on from there, we decided to walk around the city. Luckily this time we had the map, unlike the bad experience of walking blurly in Venice. We dropped by briefly at the Castel San Angelo, Piazza Navona, and Largo Argentina.

Then, we reached the highlight of the day; Fontana di Trevi. You will be surprised to see a fountain suddenly appearing behind some buildings, hidden from the main road, and a big crowd of around 200 people squeezing for the best spot to take pictures. Legend said that if you throw a coin with your back facing the fountain, you will go back there again some other time. I can confidently declare that this was very true and tested. We threw a 20 sen coin by following the exact technique, and we ended up going there 3 times in 3 days.

> Count the number of locks at the church opposite of Fontana di Trevi

From Fontana di Trevi, the Spanish Steps was just 30 minutes away. On the way there, we walked past the glamorous shopping street in Rome, Via Condotti. Of course this was at a much smaller scale compared to Paris' Champs Elysees. We saw a Malaysian brand there. Guess what? Refer to the below picture.

Just a note to the lazy walkers. If you are in Rome, don't expect to see metro stations at every of their tourist attractions, much like our KL. You will be disappointed because only a few such as Vatican City, Spanish Steps and Colosseum have a metro station nearby them.

Twin Happiness

Just got this good news from 2 close frens. It has been a while since I last heard from them, and this time when I do hear from them again, it was a twin happiness. Congratulations!

Took a quick check on and confirmed that it is an "ong" day.
There is another good news coming in Dec 2009, and I believe more and more good news will be coming soon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rome : Day 12 : 26 October 2008

Today was the final Sun of the month, and entrance to Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museum) was free. We started the day quite late, almost 10am on our watch. When we reached metro Ottaviano (red line), surprisingly the clock showed 9am. It happened that daylight saving just occurred early in the morning at 1am. This was the 2nd time I got to experience 25 hours a day. We had the advantage of spending an hour extra, very much like when we, Malaysians go to Thailand.

Not realizing that my motto; Cheap things come second, Free things come first was so true all this while, we didn't expect there were so many people wanting to go into the museum. Maybe they timed their holiday to coincide with this day. Starting the queue at the back of the line, we didn't know how long the queue was and we need to queue for how long.

> 9:00am

> 9:45am

> 10:30am

> 11:15am

After more than 2 hours, we finally reached the main entrance. Then only we knew why the queue was so long and needed such a long time. It was all because of the bag scanning station, much like what we were going through at the airport. For those who wanted to visit Musei Vaticani next time, consider these and choose the option that suits you best.

1) Wake up early and start queuing at 6~7am so that you are in front -> end up losing a few hours of sleep
2) Have a good breakfast and queue at normal hours -> end up standing and marching slowly with the crowd for 2 hours
3) Go on other days -> Less queuing, but end up paying E14/pax (RM90)

Also, be forewarned that on this particular day, the museum closed at 2pm, instead of 6pm. And if you are still with the crowd by 12.30pm, you have to return another day or the next month and queue again because they close the entrance at that time.

Once we were in, we just followed the crowd. Due to the fact that we didn't plan or try to understand the history of the place beforehand, we didn't have a target unlike Museu du Louvre. This was a little unfortunate because we might have missed many of the must-see things, but expected because there were just too many things to learn.

The few of the highlights of Musei Vaticani and Sistina Chapel:

> "Creation of Adam" by Michaelangelo on the frescoes at Sistina Chapel

> "Last Supper"

> "Pieta" by Bernini

> Laocoon & His Sons

> Melaka map at Musei Vaticani -> Bangganya!

Blog Store : Hello Kitty 2GB MP3 Player

The next item in my listing is a Hello Kitty 2GB MP3 player. It is very cute, toy-like and nicely done in pink. The size is roughly 2 inches in height and it can be worn over the neck.

Get one for your girlfriend, and you won't be blamed for pampering her too much. You can also get a matching one for yourself in light blue.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rome : Day 11 : 25 October 2008

We had quite a short time in Venice, having only spent 46 hours. But we felt it was enough, as we had been walking around all this while. We took the same ATVO bus from the main bus station, and discovered something while buying the ticket. The ticket office gave out free maps! I still took it, though of no use at all.

The journey to the Treviso Airport was around 1.5 hours, going towards the northern side of Venice mainland. It was a low-cost terminal catering mainly for Ryanair flights. The size was fairly small, maybe comparable to our Sibu Airport. You can view the landing and takeoff clearly from the waiting area. The turnaround time was very quick, possibly in 30 minutes time. If you don't see your plane there half an hour before takeoff, then it's confirmed there will be a delayed flight.

> Treviso Airport

Ryanair was one of the famous low-cost airline, the other being easyjet. The plane seat configuration was the same as Airasia of 3 seats at both sides. But there were 2 interesting things that we noticed; 1) the seats doesn't have a pouch in front and the safety instructions were pasted on the back portion of the seat in front. 2) one of the stewardess was barely 5 ft. The Ryanair stewardess seemed to be the happiest lot with their happy-go-lucky attitude compared to those from Qatar Airways, easyjet or Vueling.

We reached Rome at night, and landed at the low-cost terminal Ciampino Airport that was located nearer to city centre. Since there were no metro or train from Ciampino to city centre, the most economical way was by bus. The pre-booked ticket was cheaper at E6/pax, but you can also buy from the driver at E8/pax. The bus stopped at Termini station, the main transport hub for the Romans.

Going to our hostel, E&S Rooms, we only need to take the metro south-bound to the next station, Vittorio Emmanuel. The hostel was located at the top floor of a 4-storey apartment building and the owner renovated it tastefully with colourful elements and Ikea in mind. You will be surprised to see both their bathrooms. The room price per night was E52.50, and it can fit 2 person comfortably.