Day 7: Roamed the streets of Rome

(September 17, 2016, Saturday) My itinerary was jam-packed because today’s my first (and only) whole day in Rome, Italy.

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Hotel breakfast. And props

The hotel employee told me that it was a typical Italian breakfast.

This breakfast gave me the energy to roam the streets of the Eternal City.

 

 

Inside the Colosseum, one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Sorry I keep saying that wonders thing, but the Colosseum was really a sight to behold. It’s the second Wonder of the World that I’ve seen, the first being the Great Wall of China.

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Arch of Constantine, just outside of the Colosseum

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The Pyramid of Cestius; on the right is Porta San Paolo. This place was a bit far from the touristy areas in Rome. Thus, it wasn’t crowded. Great success! For me.

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Spanish Steps

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which site is the most crowded of them all? Trevi Fountain!

Maybe it’s because of the legend that you will definitely return to Rome if you toss a coin into the fountain with your right hand over your left shoulder. I wasn’t sure if I did it correctly – I was more concerned with taking pictures and making sure that I wouldn’t lose any of my belongings and wouldn’t literally step on someone’s toes.
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wp-1486373633006.jpgIt took lots of effort and “excuse me’s” to get close to the fountain… and to get away from it.

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wp-image-1484466332jpg.jpgI got lost while looking for a subway station. Exhausted and craving for something sweet and cold, I ate gelato.

I was wearing an immaculate white shirt at that time. Because of the gelato, the shirt was no longer spotlessly white.

So the next destination for me was my hotel room – for a “costume change.”

After resting for a while and changing my shirt, I walked from the hotel to Vatican City. Yup, it’s very near.

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Swiss Guard
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Inside St. Peter’s Basilica

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Swiss Guards. Pic is kinda grainy because I couldn’t get close to them. I wouldn’t dare.

wp-image-386832910jpg.jpgHotel just outside the Vatican. This wasn’t my hotel, but I thought its guests were quite lucky because all they had to do was get out of it to see St. Peter’s Square.

I returned to the Colosseum to take night view pictures.

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This was the highlight of my stay in Rome – eating spaghetti with meatballs just across the Colosseum. It’s 100% Italian, 100% Roman. From the point of view of a tourist like me.

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St. Peter’s Square at night.
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St. Peter’s Square at night. Sans my face.

Day 6: Flew from Paris to Rome; Saw Vatican City and Colosseum

(September 16, 2016, Friday) The journey from Paris to Rome deserves its own blog post because it was so stressful – I almost missed the flight. This was a really loooong day for me.

For purposes of brevity, therefore, this post only contains the highlights of today’s activities:

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St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City
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Colosseum in Rome, Italy – one of the 7 Wonders of the World
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Vatican Museums

Day 5: The first-timer of Notre Dame

(September 15, 2016, Thursday) We returned to Musee de L’Orangerie today because the “scarf” that my mom had bought yesterday wasn’t actually a scarf, but a pillowcase. We got the scarf in exchange for the pillowcase and the price difference between the two items.

musee-de-lorangerie-medallionI bought a medallion to remember the museum by.

Our next stop was the Notre Dame Cathedral, which I hadn’t seen the first time I was in Paris, in 2009.

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A statue of St. John Paul II can be found on the right side of the Notre Dame Cathedral (if you’re facing the Cathedral)

We didn’t do many things today because I would fly to Rome tomorrow, while my mom and my sister would fly to Stockholm. We needed to prepare our stuff.

It’s bittersweet, because I had to leave Paris’ lovely Montmartre area. But tomorrow I would see Rome and the Vatican City, something that I had wanted to do the first time I went to Europe in 2009.

I took pictures of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre for the last time. Well, the last time that Sacre Coeur would be so close.

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I also bought a Sacre Coeur medallion as a souvenir.sacre-coeur-medallion

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Where our flat is

As I prepared for tomorrow’s flight to Rome, I learned that French traffic controllers were on strike, resulting in several flight cancellations. My Ryanair flight wasn’t cancelled, but I continued to monitor the situation.

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I tried hard to take a picture of Sacre Coeur from our flat
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Sacre Coeur and my silhouette

Day 4: Braving the crowd in front of Mona Lisa; Liking “The Origin of the World”

(September 14, 2016, Wednesday) It’s been said that France takes art seriously. After spending a day visiting some of the museums in Paris, I can personally say that it’s true.

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passMy sister bought two-day museum passes here. It’s cheaper and more convenient to have it because you don’t have to buy a pass each time you enter a museum.

It’s impossible to miss the Water Lilies series of paintings by Claude Monet:

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statue-of-libertyI wasn’t really surprised when I saw a Statue of Liberty in this museum. After all, the Statue of Liberty (the one in New York City) was a gift of France to the United States.

But I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a painting called “The Origin of the World” by Gustave Courbet.

L'Origine du monde or The Origin of the World. This is self-explanatory
L’Origine du monde or
The Origin of the World. This is self-explanatory

Musee Rodin
There are many sculptures here, but what really caught my attention was Auguste Rodin’s Le Penseur, or The Thinker. It’s hard not to notice such an iconic sculpture.

The Thinker
The Thinker

Hôtel des Invalides
This wasn’t really part of the itinerary but we saw it on the way to the Louvre. Isn’t the dome magnificent?

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I bought a 0-euro souvenir banknote bearing the image of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose tomb is under that dome.

Napoleon's tomb
Napoleon’s tomb
Souvenir banknote
Souvenir banknote

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It was challenging to take a decent picture of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. ‘Nuff said:

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The Venus de Milo sculpture is also in the Louvre.

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Day 3: Champagne and fine dining in Reims, France

(September 13, 2016, Tuesday) A trip to France ain’t complete without Champagne and fine dining.

We did those in Reims, which is a 50-minute train ride from Paris. The map below shows the car journey because for some reason Google Maps doesn’t have the option for transit. Anyway at least the map shows how far Reims is from the French capital. Plus, the map looks good.

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Champagne

Our first activity was the G.H. Mumm tour, which included a history of making Champagne and, yes, actually drinking Champagne.

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Fine Dining
After that tour, we went straight to a restaurant to have lunch. I tried to remember all of the fine dining etiquette I had learned several years back. I was happy because I didn’t spill anything. I didn’t make a mess! Yeah I think I’m starting to grow up 🙂

Notre Dame Cathedral of Reims
Before going back to Paris we explored Reims on foot. The Notre Dame Cathedral of Reims dominates the city.

There was scaffolding on the facade of the Notre Dame Cathedral of Reims.
There was scaffolding on the facade of the Notre Dame Cathedral of Reims.
Each medallion costs 2 euros
Each medallion costs 2 euros
Both medallions above have the same design on the reverse
Both medallions above have the same design on the reverse
Going back to Paris
Going back to Paris

Here’s my Online Advertising course certificate

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The certificate above came from Open2study.com, which, fortunately, still gives free certificates to those who finish and pass its courses.

Many, if not all, courses found in other massive open online course or MOOC providers now require payment. Learners can still enrol but I think they can only receive certificates if they pay for the courses (and pass them of course).

I know the free certificates I’ve obtained won’t be considered formal education, but they do demonstrate my passion for learning.

Day 2: Iconic Paris – Eiffel Tower and Arch of Triumph

(September 12, 2016, Monday) On our first full day in Paris, we visited the Eiffel Tower and the Arch of Triumph – the two most iconic landmarks in the French capital.

The Eiffel Tower and my mom
The Eiffel Tower and my mom

One of my officemates once said that people shouldn’t take too many photos when they’re visiting a place because they should savor the moment of being there instead.

I have a personal reason: I had seen the Eiffel Tower and the Arch of Triumph before. I was much younger then 🙂

But of course I still took a few pics, especially of the Arch of Triumph because I don’t have a day view of it yet.

Arc of Triumph
Arch of Triumph
Arc of Triumph sans my face
Arch of Triumph sans my face

Day 1: My 2nd time in Paris

(September 11, 2016, Sunday) The Hong Kong to Munich flight was about 12 hours long. Then we had a layover of about 3 1/2 hours in Munich.

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Sunrise in Munich, as seen from the airport

Compared to the looooong Hong Kong to Munich flight, the journey from Munich to Paris was a breeze. Lasting only about 1 1/2 hours, the flight felt like I just flew from Manila to Hong Kong.

Upon arrival at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, I was surprised that we didn’t have to pass through immigration and customs. One thing I learned: documents would be checked at the first point of entry in the Schengen area. In our case, it was Munich.

My sister was already waiting outside the arrivals area. The three of us (the other one being my mom) rode a taxi that would take us to a flat in Paris. It would be our home until Friday.

Our flat offered an in-your-face view of Sacre Coeur. I didn’t see it the first time I was in Paris way back in 2009, despite efforts to find it. Now all I had to do was look out of the window to see it.

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View of Sacre Coeur from our flat

After sleeping for like a couple of hours, I went out of the flat together with my mom and sister to explore Sacre Coeur and its surroundings. It was easy because all we had to do was cross the street to reach the church.

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