In Naples, I really enjoyed calzone alot. It's cripsy on the outside and has pizza toppings on the inside. I had the one with mozarella, ham and salami inside and it was fantastic.
In Venice, I really enjoyed cuttlefish with black ink sauce, whether as a fish course or with spaghetti. I've also enjoyed mussels and clams in Venice as well. Rome is a kinda mix of everything, so I can't say there is anything that left a deep impression in my memory over there.
And so I'm at the gate waiting to board my flight. I have been a little tired to blog at night lately, so I guess I'll only blog on the last few days when I get back to Singapore. Hope I can catch as much sleep as possible during my long flight back.
After lunch, I went back to the hotel to collect my luggage and headed to the airport for my long flight back to sunny/rainy Singapore!
For more photos from Paris, do check out here.
Travelling to Versailles from the city centre seems pretty straightforward. I bought the 2 way ticket to Versailles for €6.50 (no discount for buying return ticket though) and took the metro to Châtelet. From there, I transferred to the RER train and headed for Versailles. The only tricky part is to identify the right train to board since there can be 2 or more train services at the same platform. And even so, the train might change course and come at the other platform that is not scheduled due to train delays before it. After about 30-40 minutes, I reached the train station in Versailles.
I laid on the bed a while more and eventually decided to get up before my alarm. I washed up and dressed up, all ready for the early and long day in the museum. I stopped by a cafe near to the hotel and had my breakfast, ordering just croissant and a cup of expresso for €2.60. After my little breakfast, I took the metro to the museum.
I had read online that there is a TABAC store inside the museum's metro station that sells the museum tickets. Unfortunately, I didn't have much luck in finding it, so I just exited the metro station and walked towards the museum. Upon reaching the museum, I was pretty amazed at the queue already forming up before 8:40am. I wasn't sure of the other ticketing offices, so I just joined the queue and waited for opening time in the cold weather.
After washing up, I headed to a cafe nearby for a simple breakfast of croissant, a cup of expresso and a cup of orange juice. The set menu is called Petit Matin at Café Village Monge and costs €4.60.
After the simple and typical French breakfast, I headed to the metro station and bought a ticket for zone 5 to go to Fountainebleu. I bought the return ticket as well and the total costs €17.10. I took a metro to châtlet and then transferred to another metro to go to Gare de Lyon.
I wore my gloves before stepping out of the hotel and it sure is freezing cold. The forecast shown on my phone is a range of 2 to 9 degrees for the day, with the temperature of 2 to 4 (can't remember exactly) for 10am hour. Fortunately, the metro station is very near and I began loving indoors.
I took the metro to Forum Des Halles and had a late breakfast of banana cake and a cup of coffee with milk (café au lait) at MacDonald's. After my simple breakfast, I went to the Virgin Mobile store to get topup for my prepaid SIM. Unfortunately, they do not have any more recharge cards and she asked me to go to TABAC shops to get it. I couldn't get what she meant at that time, so I made use of the free WiFi service in the mall to search for the nearest Virgin Mobile Megastore.
I beared the cold weather with some wind, and walked about 20 mins before I find the Megastore along Boulevard Montmatre. Apparently, this Megastore is also an electronic + book + CD store. I found the phone section and finally managed to purchase the €20 recharge card.
It was a short 10 mins walk to the nearest self-service laundry shop. I paid €6 to use the washing machine and another €1 for the detergent. After about 30mins of washing, I transferred my laundry to the dryer and paid another €7 to use it. I was not so familiar with dryers, so I wasn't sure what setting to use. A lady suggested to me that I can set it to 80 degrees and then check periodically. For €7, the dryer will spin for 30 mins. After some struggles of checking and using the machine, I collected my clothes though some were not thoroughly dried. Headed back to the hotel and packed in the clothes before I head out again to spend the rest of the free time I have for the day.
I took a slow walk to the direction of Rialto bridge as I was thinking of getting one nice t-shirt with a picture of the Rialto bridge. The t-shirts costs €10-€15 in most places, but I remembered it costs below €10 somewhere near Rialto bridge.
I navigated my way to the Jewish neighbourhood and tried to stay in the sun as much as possible as my hands were freezing cold. After finding my way to the Jewish neighbourhood, I found Museo Ebraico after a bit of effort. Paid €3 for the entry to the small Jewish museum and walked around for only a short while.
For lunch, I stopped by a Chinese restaurant near St Mark's Square. I ordered a beancurd with vegetable soup to start my meal. For my main dish, I had chicken with bamboo shoots and mushrooms. The whole meal including rice, a can of coca cola, and 12% tax, totalled to €17.14.
Just 2 shop spaces next to my hotel, I discovered there is a souvenir shop that actually sells souvenirs at better prices than most other places in Venice.
On my way to St Mark's Square, I also bought a couple of souvenirs for gifts. I also bought a cool looking watch with brand name called TOO LATE (http://www.too2late.com). As you may have guessed, it's yellow in color and costs €29.
For lunch, I settled for a set menu in a restaurant inside St Mark's Square. For first course, I ordered spaghetti with prawns and mushrooms. For second course I had cuttlefish with black ink sauce. And to finish off the good meal, I had a nice cup of cappuccino.
After a short rest in hostel and leeching the WiFi and electricity, I made my way to the metro station with all my stuff at around 4pm. Took a short metro ride to Roma Ostiense train station and waited for the 4:48pm train ride to FCO Airport.
In the first of the 4 museums, the Baths of Diocletian is together with Museo Nazionale Romano. Inside the museum, there are exhibits and stories about the early Latin days, before Rome came about. The museum also contains several statues and a courtyard. The bath house is beside the museum and pretty small, so about 5 mins was all it took for me to walk around and take photos.
Next, I took the metro to Tiburtina and bought a train ticket to Tivoli. The ticket costs €2.60 and the duration of the train ride is about 35 minutes. I waited almost an hour to hop on to the scheduled train. As the train approaches Tivoli, the view was magnificent with mountains and clear blue sky.
After awhile of waiting, a lady tour guide came along and led us to Vatican City. Unfortunately, her English pronunciation wasn't that great and it can be easy to miss out some points she was trying to bring across. We started in the St Peter's square with an introduction to the Vatican City, popes, archbishops and Simon Peter. We also had a view of St Peter's Basilica from the square.
As I alighted and walked towards the colosseum, several tour promoters were trying to sell their guided tours with the biggest advantage of being able to skip the queues. I decided to go for the guided tour since I can skip the queues and listen to stories of the colosseum as well as the palatine hill and the roman forum.
We were greeted with a wacky senior guide who constantly asked for attention while he tells the stories. We started the tour outside the colosseum with an introduction to the Arch of Constantine. Shortly after, we entered the colosseum with more stories. After the stories about the colosseum, we were given about 1 hour to roam around in the colosseum before starting the next part of the tour. It was quite interesting to note that cock fights and bull fights in Europe originated from the colosseum because they ran out of supplies of wild animals (lions, tigers, etc) due to import issues from Africa.
At the bike rental/tour office, I was pleasantly surprised that I am the only customer for the day's tour. As such, I had full attention of the guide and it was easier to control the speed and pace of the tour.
So far, I've only managed to post notes about my daily adventures but not able to post any photos. It's not very convenient for me to post photos during my trip anyway. And another note is that there may be some spelling errors of locations and stuff. I will only be able to make the minor changes and add in photos after my trip, i.e. Next month. Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, stay with me during my 1 month adventure! :)
After a short walk and with the help of GPS as well as Google Maps, I managed to find the place. The original ticket price is €7, but I paid the discounted price of €5 as I had the artecard. It's a pretty small place and usage of photos/phone is strictly not allowed. The veiled Jesus sculpture lies in the middle of the hall and some other sculptures stand along the sides. There was also one other scuplture that has a fish net. I was pretty amazed at how good the sculptors were in the details of the fish net. After the short visit which lasted less than 15mins, I made my way to the central station.
I was pretty awed by the many exhibits in the museums, from sculptures to paintings to pottery and more. Headed towards central station again, but by walking this time round. Grabbed a quick bite of sandwich on the way to save time and money.
Made my way to the nearest metro station at Museo Archeologico Nazionale. To my surprise, the right line is actually one station away. Walked a long way to the other station and took the metro to the central station. The journey was only 1 station though. Went to the artecard office and finally managed to get help regarding my artecard purchase. Was given my artecard as well as the musem list and a map.
Proceeded to the Sony shop near Avenue des Champs-Élysées soon after. Fortunately, I could find the right battery and charger for my camera! I can continue snapping away happily without worry of the batteries going flat after all.
Took the metro and transferred to the RER service, heading my way to Disneyland. At the entrance, I was already awed by the beautiful and magical sight. Headed fo the Disneyland Park first and started the visit with a stage show by the famous Disney characters. The compere was speaking in English while Mickey and Minnie were speaking in French. It's also part Halloween celebration as Halloween is just around the corner.
Started the day by buying the visite pass and taking the metro to Les Invalides. Got a discount for the entrance fee because of the visite pass. Headed inside and was pretty awed with the exhibits in the armour museum, uniform museum, display of some machines used in war (and mock ups), and also the tomb of Napolean. The whole visit took me almost 3 hours and I took tons of photos inside. After the visit, I had a simple meal of toast and orange drink before I headed for my next destinations.
I was trying to search for a restaurant called Jardin d'en Face or the other one called Le Buffet near the hostel. Apparently, I think the first one is closed for good and I couldn't find the other one. Both were rated good in tripadvisor. Too bad then. I ended up walking a big round in Montmatre district and ended up in the same metro station I came from to go to the hostel. Along the way, I saw Eglise Saint-Jean-Evangeliste (eglise means church) and took some photos. Along the way, I bought Orange prepaid card and €10 worth of topup. Unfortunately, it's at a convenience store and the guy was too busy to help me (or there is not much he can help).
Tried using the ticketing machines to buy my train ticket to the city, but found out that it only accepts coins and it doesn't accept SG credit cards. After I asked for help to get to the city at the train station, I was told that the train station was closed for servicing over in terminal 2. The guides in the airport guided me to take the shuttle service to terminal 3. At terminal 3, I noted the station is closed as well. Asked for help again and was told to take a replacement bus service to go to the next nearest RER station to take the train.
During the train ride, a basker hopped on board and was playing some musical instrument. What a nice way to start my holiday! He asked for tips after playing and I dropped all the coins I had, which was only EUR 0.7. About 30mins (maybe less) after the train ride, I ended up in Gare du Nord station and struggled my way to find the right metro line to transfer to. It was quite a walk to switch line and this station is a gigantic interchange with so many metro & RER lines stopping here. Took M2 and alighted at Blanche.
The first thing I saw when I exited Blanche station is Moulin Rouge. Ya, this is the red light district area. Since I don't have prepaid card, I had to rely on the cached maps in Google Maps on my tablet and navigate my way to the hostel. Alas, I managed to find Plug-Inn hostel. Phew!
Reached the airport super early (about 8:45pm) though the flight is scheduled at 11:35pm. Hanged around awhile since the monitors weren't showing any checkin counter for my flight. But....even at 9:35pm, it still wasn't showing any checkin counter. Decided to walk over to the Finnair row and alas, it's already open for checkin. But the summary screen monitors were still not showing anything for my flight. Whatever.
And I found my EIGHT year old textbook! I think that's when I started dreaming about visiting Paris one day. Et c'est maintenant!
I started packing last sunday and bought quite a number of carry cases from Daiso to keep things neat...
Decided to get another bag (smaller size) which is lockable for daily use and here's my packing status now. =)
Airline: Cebu Pacific Air (personally, it's a disaster)
Accomodation: Somerset Olympia (Makati City)
Places visited: Intramuros (Fort Santiago, San Agustín Church, Manila Cathedral), Resorts World Manila, Manila Ocean Park, Binondo (Chinatown)
Unfortunately, Manila was a boring place for me personally. It falls short on sightseeing destinations and food variety/quality (one of the rare asian cities that does not have their own distinctive "national" food). Accomodation was sub-standard and flight experience was quite horrible for me.
Full blog entry can be found here.
Airline: SIA and Vietnam Airlines
Hotels: Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon, Wooshu Hotel, Parkroyal Saigon, Hanoi Daewoo Hotel
Places visited: Saigon Square Mall, Bến Thành Market, Hội Trường Thống Nhất (Reunification Palace), War Remnants Museum (Bảo Tàng Chứng Tích Chiến Tranh), Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Saigon Central Post Office, Saigon City Hall, Ho Chi Minh statue, Chợ Bình Tây (Binh Tay Market in Chinatown, HCMC), Nhà thờ Cha Tam, Hoàn Kiếm Lake
Full blog entries over here:
Vietnam Trip 2012 - Part 1
Vietnam Trip 2012 - Part 2