How pictures remind us of the past

So I have this small “project” on Instagram: I’m aiming to post my travel pictures so that I can access them online in just one place. You see, my photos are scattered across various gadgets and storage devices. I’d like my Instagram account to be some sort of “one-stop shop” for the travel photos.

My officemates told me I can do that on Facebook. Well, Facebook owns Instagram so it’s the same difference.

Anyway, while looking for stuff to upload, I saw pictures of a replica of the city of Venice taken during a gathering of journalists in Macau, China. That replica is in the Venetian Hotel.

Venetian Hotel, Macau, China

A post shared by Leo Gatdula (@leogatdula) on

I wondered why I took pictures of the sky. I normally don’t do that. Then I remembered, it’s just an artificial sky, a mere sky ceiling.

Pictures are indeed not just pictures. They also serve as documentation of our past.

 

 

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To return, or not to return

Early this month, I stayed overnight at a hotel in Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. The picture below shows a view of the Marikina River from my room.

It’s located inside a residential complex that includes condominiums and commercial establishments such as restaurants, a grocery store and a bank.

Residents and hotel guests alike can use the amenities such as the gym and swimming pool for free. But what I liked the most were the basketball courts. I’ve never been to a hotel that had one.

Would I stay again at that hotel? I’m torn, because while I enjoyed practicing on its indoor and outdoor basketball courts, I found it a bit pricey. I don’t know which part of me would prevail: the basketball fan or the budget traveler.

 

Berlin’s most famous street: Unter den Linden

You can’t say you’ve been to Berlin if you haven’t been to its most famous street: Unter den Linden.

Here are some of the attractions you’ll see along the street and its immediate vicinity:

Berliner Dom or Berlin Cathedral. The picture on the left also shows the Fernsehturm or TV Tower

 

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Altes Museum

 

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It was a Sunday morning
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Humboldt University
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Berlin State Opera
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Inscription, Statue of Frederick the Great (shown below)

 

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Selfie taken in November 2009
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I don’t have one
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Russian Embassy

At the western end of Unter den Linden: the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor in German. See map)

 

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Reichstag building

Russian graffiti on German parliament walls

There’s a part of Berlin’s Reichstag building, home of Germany’s national parliament, where walls could talk. Well, almost.

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There are no graffiti on the facade of the Reichstag. They are inside the building

A bit of history. Zzzzzz. No, I personally find this interesting. You see, by early May 1945 during World War II, Red Army soldiers of the Soviet Union had captured the Reichstag.

So after seizing control of the building, they wrote graffiti on its walls, some of which are still visible.

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Yours truly

Our German guide acknowledged she didn’t know how to speak Russian. But she told us that, in a nutshell, the message written on the walls was “losers.”

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It’s quite clear which part of the wall is original
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Can you see the May 13, 1945 date? As well as the bullet holes?
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That exclamation point. I wonder what the message was
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I hope a Russian-speaking person stumbles upon this post. Please translate some of these for us. Spasibo!

Reichstag: Germany’s parliament building

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The Reichstag
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Guten Tag

Yesterday I published a post about the most famous landmark in Germany – the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. A stone’s throw away is the Reichstag building that houses the Bundestag, Germany’s national parliament.

I find the Reichstag unique because it is crowned by a glass dome and it has Soviet graffiti inside. The glass dome is visible outside the building, but the graffiti aren’t.

I posted an article about the graffiti on November 28, 2009, when I was in Berlin. It’s not very detailed, so I’ll write a better piece in the near future, probably next week.

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“To the German People”

 

 

Brandenburg Gate: Germany’s most famous landmark

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Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor)
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I was there in 2009

I was writing a post about Barcelona, Sagrada Familia and a 0 euro souvenir banknote when I realized that my blog didn’t have a post dedicated solely to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.

I searched for “Brandenburg” and there was only one result. I thought then that I really had to publish a new post about it.

So here it is – a post that features the Brandenburg Gate, the most iconic landmark in Germany.

I think I’ll publish more posts about Germany. After all, I was there for three weeks in 2009! I have lots of material – pictures, videos, and most importantly, memories.

Behaved well at the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel

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Entrance ticket

(September 16, 2016) I prefer exploring places on my own, but I do recognize there are times when I will need the assistance of a tour guide. The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican are among those places. Not only are they large – they are also religious sites. I want to make sure that someone will be there to tell me what I can and can’t do, and where to go and what to look at. Because of that, I had booked a guided tour long before I came to Europe for a two-week trip.

The tour cost me 32 euros. It includes the full ticket price of 16 euros and the payment of 10.50 euros for the tour guide.

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The Belvedere Apollo
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Laocoon and His Sons
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The Belvedere Torso

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Jesus never takes His eyes off you, the tour guide told us

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The last part of the roughly two-hour tour was the visit to the Sistine Chapel, where picture-taking is strictly prohibited. I didn’t take any; I wanted to be in my best behavior in the house of God. But of course, that prohibition didn’t prevent a few tourists from secretly taking pictures of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, particularly the iconic The Creation of Adam fresco painted by Michelangelo.

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Rome day 1: From the Vatican to the Colosseum

This was September 16, 2016 – the most hectic day in my two-week trip to Europe. I know each day is equal to roughly 24 hours, but that specific day felt longer than that. I couldn’t include all of my activities in just one blog post because I did so many things that day.

Anyway, enough of the talk. I began the Rome tour by visiting St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.

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Castel Sant’Angelo:

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Piazza Navona:

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Not yet a professional selfie stick user

The Pantheon:
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Victor Emmanuel Monument:

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Trajan’s Markets:

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Roman Forum:

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And finally, the Colosseum – one of the Seven Wonders of the World:

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DSC_0712I just walked from the hotel to the Vatican all the way to the Colosseum, so I got a bit hungry. Besides it was dinner time already, and my body needed some fuel for the tour of the Vatican Museums later:

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More on this tomorrow. See, it was a really long day for me.

How I got to Rome from Paris via Beauvais Airport

The long lines at the airport check-in counter as well as at immigration on May 14, 2017 for my Manila-Taipei flight reminded me of the stressful and nerve-wracking journey from Paris to Rome on Sept. 16, 2016.

It all started when I waited for like an hour for a taxi to arrive at the taxi stand near Sacre Coeur in Paris. Because of that, I missed the very first Beauvais-bound train.

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I got to Gare du Nord just in time for the second train, which was scheduled to depart at 6:35 AM. I was so thankful to the taxi driver that I paid him 20 euros – double the approximately 10 euros shown in the meter. Besides I was also in a hurry.

As it was still early, there were no staff yet manning the ticketing counters. There were ticketing kiosks though, so I used those. One rejected my cash. So I had no other choice but to use a credit card. The “un peu Francais” that I knew came in handy as the instructions were in French.

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I reached Beauvais after more than an hour. But it was just the train station, not the airport yet. So I had to take a cab. There was one waiting outside the station, but when I got in, there were two other passengers already. I paid six euros for that taxi ride.

ryanair paris to romeFortunately there was no long line at the check-in counter at Beauvais Airport when I arrived, and I had no baggage to check in. But it was a different story at immigration.

The line there was too long that I just resigned myself to the thought of actually missing the flight. A strike of French air traffic controllers had just ended, and I thought that the situation wasn’t fully normal yet.

I thought of taking a train to Luxembourg, since I would be alone in Paris. My mom and my sister were scheduled to fly to Stockholm, Sweden that same day.

Thankfully a guy approached the crowd and asked “Rome? Rome?” I raised my hand, and I was allowed to go to the front of the line immediately.

It was already boarding time when I got to the boarding area.

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Waiting for the plane to take off and take me to Rome, Italy

After roughly two hours, the plane landed in Rome’s Ciampino Airport. But the journey ain’t over yet. I had to take a bus to the Ciampino train station and ride a train that would take me to the Termini station in Rome.

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Train ticket
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Departures board at Ciampino train station

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I was so relieved and happy to see the welcome sign at Termini:

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To summarize what I’d been through:

  1. Taxi from taxi stand near Sacre Coeur to Gare du Nord, Paris
  2. Train from Gare du Nord to Beauvais train station
  3. Taxi from Beauvais train station to Beauvais Airport
  4. Ryanair flight from Beauvais Airport  to Rome’s Ciampino Aiport
  5. Bus from Ciampino Airport to Ciampino train station
  6. Train from Ciampino train station to Rome’s Termini station