AdventureNotes #26: Peak District

Edensor, Peak District

Most of my AdventureNotes talk about traveling to cities (except if you consider Hull not as a city, haha!). This time, I will share my experience traveling to villages. I think around February, I got a chance to visit Peak District. It is an area categorized as one of National Parks in the UK. It is located to the north of Birmingham, just beside Sheffield. If you love the greens and nature, you will sure love it here.

It is not easy to reach this place. First of all, Peak District is big! There are various villages and green areas included in this district. Therefore, you have to be specific as in where you want to go to. As an Indonesian, we (yes, I visited the place with some of my friends) are inspired by a novel written by Andrea Hirata that is titled Edensor. Indeed, Edensor is the name of a village in Peak District. We don’t know why he chose that title for the novel, but it is legendary. We decided to visit the village as our main destination and then explore the surrounding area later on. So how did we manage to get into the village? By car. There is access by public transportation, but the service is scarce. You have to go to Sheffield first, and then take a bus to somewhere near Edensor. It is even more scarce in the weekend.

Actually, it was my first time experience renting a car to go somewhere in the UK. The process is not difficult and we can do it online. My husband just had to collect the car in the appointed place (usually airports) on the allocated time and to return the car also at the allocated time. We paid a little bit more for the insurance because it ‘safeguard’ us from further claims from the car rent company if something happen to the car. As a common policy here, we take the car with full tank of fuel and we have to return it in the same condition. So, don’t forget to calculate these costs when you are comparing the price of renting a car and of taking a public transportation. Oh! One more thing. We can use our Indonesian driving licence here as we have been living in the UK for less than a year. If you have lived in the UK for more than a year, you have to apply for the local driving licence.

The journey from Birmingham to Edensor should take around 1.5-2 hours. We took longer time because we got a bit lost. The intersections in UK is just confusing! Haha. Starting our journey from Birmingham at 7, we finally arrived at Edensor at around 10. The journey was pleasant and the surroundings and ambience was really different when we start coming into the Peak District area. It was just green and beautiful. Finding a parking space is not too difficult there. There is one big parking area near the Cathsworth House, but we chose to park just along a street in the Edensor Village. Edensor Village is a very small area that consists of maybe around 20 houses. It has only one main street, a church, and a tea house. At the end of the main road, there is a huge green area for farming. We explored the village, came inside the greenery area and enjoyed the view.

Having had enough of the village, we then walked across the road to a park. I think the name is Cathsworth Park. The view from the park onlooking the Edensor Village is even more beautiful. We seriously thought that it was the place where the inspiration for the book cover was. We endlessly took pictures there. Walking through the park, the scenery was amazing. At one end, we could see the Cathsworth House. It is the house for the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Nowadays, it is open for public, exhibiting numerous art collections. We can also visit the farm, garden, and annual Christmas event there. Unfortunately, at the time we visited the area, the house was closed for renovation. It was such a shame. I would love to see the inside of the house as the outside is so grand!

After having a picnic near the house, we just drove around the Peak District area. There are many little villages and the so-called towns. The villages are not far from each other. Again, it is all about the beauty of a country-side. We drove to a high point in Buxton. Climbing up to the hills, we can see such a beautiful scenery. Along the way, we saw many cyclists. I think it is a popular area for outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and motorbiking. What’s interesting is that with that contour (steep hills and slopes), the outdoor activities are really for everyone. I mean, we saw kids with their parents, and even senior citizens doing the same activity. Gosh! How strong are they!
Anyway, the visit ended there. It was such a refreshing escape from the hustle bustle of a city. Peak District done, but I still have a long checklist to go. Maybe next, I will visit Lake District!

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AdventureNotes #25: Liverpool

Liverpool is blue. I don’t know why but the two times I visited Liverpool, I was welcomed with great weather and the blue sky. Therefore, I associate Liverpool with blue. I don’t know a city with bluer sky than Liverpool. I just love it. In this article, I will share my experience visiting the city. It is such an interesting city so that I want to visit it again and again.

Going to Liverpool is quite easy. The city is accessible by train or bus. As it is a popular city, the train station is big and there are a lot of services from and to Liverpool. We can also go by bus as Megabus provides service to and from Liverpool to many cities around the UK. The last time I went to Liverpool from Birmingham and the journey takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes. It was quite a pleasant journey. I arrived in Liverpool at around 9 so I could take my time to reach my destination.

In my opinion, Liverpool is not too big. At least the city center and the location of most attractions are within the walking distance. Therefore, I chose to just walk around the city. Well, at least the last time I visited. The furthest distance was covered in around 25 minutes. Not too bad, right? The first time I visited the city, I opted for the Hop On Hop Off bus. There are many tourist bus providers in Liverpool and it is quite an efficient way to explore the city in limited time. However, these two options may not be good enough for you if you want to visit the football stadiums. Anfield is located a little bit out of town so that you have to take the city bus to visit the place.

Liverpool is home of The Beatles. This legendary band was founded in Liverpool and all of the members are Liverpool boys. It is rather difficult to separate the fame of this city from The Beatles. For those who are hardcore fans, visiting this city is a must, along with entering The Beatles Museum. To enter the museum, we have to pay around GBP 30 admission fee. It is expensive, indeed. I would not recommend it if you don’t really like The Beatles or not interested in getting to know the band. However, for the fans, it is a worth visit. You can read stories of The Beatles, soaking at the atmosphere of the band, seeing the replica of the Tavern Pub where they first had they performance, etc. I must say that the museum is not boring at all and very attractive. Ah! And don’t forget to take a picture with the life-size The Beatles statues just in front of the Pier Head.

Keep calm, Liverpool is not just for The Beatles fans. It is also a city for football fans. There are two quite famous football teams in Liverpool, which are Liverpool FC and Everton. If you are a football maniac, visiting the stadiums of those clubs can be heaven. Similar to many football stadiums in the UK, the place is open for visitors and you can take a tour for some amount of money. I didn’t visit the stadium as I was not too interested in it and my husband is not a Liverpool fans. For you who want to know the stadium but is on a limited budget, you can always take a picture outside the stadium as there are also many players pictures and statues outside.

Still not too interesting? For me, Liverpool is a city with many museums that all are very interesting. One day is not enough to visit one museum in Liverpool. However, as I only went for a day trip, I had to cram two museums into one day. The museums I visited were Liverpool Museum and Maritime Museum. There is one other museum, which is World Museum. My favorite? Liverpool Museum, off course. The museum is not themed, but it is about Liverpool. I just love how everything is explained clearly and attractively. I felt like a child, there. I played around, read stories, experimented with things, and such. There are also two movies being played daily, one about The Beatles and one about football. There is also a repeated short movie about the movie industry in Liverpool. How nice! I really didn’t want to go out of that museum. My friend who lives in Liverpool said that it took him three days to finish the museum. I guarantee that you won’t be bored here and the image of traditional museum will vanish!

I also managed to visit Liverpool Maritime Museum. It mostly tells us stories about Lusitania and Titanic although there are also stories about warships. It is quite interesting to know the history of warships and megaships. On the top floor of the museum, there is a slavery museum. I forget the exact name for this museum. For me, this is even more interesting than the Maritime Museum. Haha. It tells stories about slavery, how it was and how it is now. Indeed, there are many forms of slavery and there is still implicit slavery all over the world. It is such an inspiring exhibition.

There is also a newly opened exhibition at the basement of the Maritime Museum building, which is about customs. As its name, the exhibition is about tax and customs and how illegal goods are transported from one place to another. It also highlights the danger of imitation goods to the economy and our health and daily functions. Interestingly, there is even an exhibition of imitation goods, such as shoes, bags, and electronics. I bet many Indonesian people’s goods deserve to be there. LOL.

Those museums are located very close to each other in the areas called Pier Head and Albert Dock. There is also Tate Liverpool gallery in Albert Dock. It is such a touristy area, an interesting one. I really like the ambience in Albert Dock, such a unique and beautiful place. Nearby, just across the road from Albert Dock, there is a shopping district. There is one unique shopping place called Liverpool One. It is like an outdoor shopping center. If you like to shop, it may be a good idea to visit this place and wander around the shops.

For me? I’d rather go to other attractions, such as Liverpool Cathedral and Metropolitan Cathedral. I love to stroll on the small alleys with unique shops and cafes. What a lovely city! You can certainly visit the cafes and the independent shops. They are one of a kind. I was also determined to eat fish and chips there as cities nearest to the sea always have the best seafood. Indeed, the fish and chips is sooooo delicious! The best one I’ve ever had in the UK, I must say.

Liverpool has it all. Good place, good attractions, good people, and good food. Do visit the city and experience it by yourself.

AdventureNotes #23: Birmingham

 

It’s been a busy time for me and I missed last week’s AdventureNotes. And although this week’s article is late, I’m going to make it up to you! This week’s AdventureNotes is about Birmingham. It is the city where I live in now. I’ve lived here for more than six months now and I can find more and more interesting places to visit.

Birmingham is the second biggest city in the UK. It used to be an industrial city where car manufacturers do their production. Indeed, it becomes a quite busy city until these days. People come here for business, but less for tourism. Yes, as it is more perceived as a ‘metropolitan’ city where people trade and conduct business, it has less tourist attractions. There are more office buildings and shopping malls.

Photo: https://mamt.org.uk/TheSchool/About-Birmingham

Having lived in Birmingham for more than six months makes me realize that this city grows rapidly. There are more building developments each day, a newly opened apartment, a construction for a new office center, and a new mall. I feel almost like it’s growing to be Jakarta. Indeed, I think this city has so many shopping centers spread throughout the city. Birmingham itself is big with different areas with their own village centers and attractions. I haven’t had a chance to visit all of them, but here are some that I would recommend.

There are many ways to enter Birmingham. The most common one is of course by train. When you arrive in Birmingham, you will most likely arrive in Birmingham New Street Station. It is a newly built facility, just opened by Queen Elizabeth II a few months back. It is such a modern and iconic building just in the middle of the city center. Besides functioning as a train station, the building is also a shopping mall called Grand Central. It is almost like PIM in Indonesia as this shopping mall is connected with another shopping mall. The place is always bustling with people, even in early morning. Birmingham has two other big train stations, which are Snow Hill station that is located within Birmingham business district and Moor Street station that was once the central train station in Birmingham before it was moved to New Street Station. The architecture in Birmingham Moor Street station is unique and preserved to maintain its characteristic during the old days.

As I said, Birmingham is a city with so many shopping centers. Walking in the city center, you can see different kinds of markets, shopping mall, and shopping area. Besides the Grand Central, another bigger and more iconic shopping mall in Birmingham is called the Bullring. It has been a Birmingham icon for a long time. It is actually a regular shopping mall with unique layout. I really think that the first time people visit this place, they will be lost. Haha. I quite like the surrounding area of Bullring. There are outdoor market where people trade fruits, vegetables, etc., indoor market to sell meat and poultry, rug market where you can find just anything, literally anything, and the streets nearby where you can find individual stores. Walking along the city center is quite nice, really, just hopping from one shop to another.

Birmingham is not just about shopping spree. My favorite place in Birmingham is its Canal Side area. We can walk near the canal, looking at bars and restaurant alongside. Near the canal, there is an area called the Brindley Place where there are restaurants, gardens, and a gallery called Ikon Gallery. I like to visit Ikon Gallery because it is quite unique. It offers different independent exhibitions throughout the year. The garden there is nice and calming. The area is surrounded by tall office buildings, but I can just feel the serenity. Opposite the Brindley Place on the canal side is ICC. It’s a convention center where people see performances, exhibitions, and conferences. Walking through the ICC towards the street, we can see Centenary Square. The annual Birmingham Weekender closing performance is usually held there. Last year, the festival ended with an acrobat performance that was magical! Be sure to visit the city during the event.

In the area near Centenary Square towards the Victoria Square, we can see the Library of Birmingham that is shaped like a wedding cake, the Town Hall, and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Those are the usual places to visit. At the top of the library, there is a Shakespeare memorial room where we can see the city from above. There is also a sky garden where we can have a nice chat outside, on the 7th floor of the building. The library itself is massive! I love coming inside to just look around. The place is so comfy and sometimes there are also exhibitions held there. The library is indeed a very nice place to visit whereas in my opinion, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is kind of a so-so place. The layout is rather outdated compared to other museums in the UK.

An area of the city that is rather less explored is the Jewelry Quarter. It is located rather outside the city center, but not too far away. The area is full of jewelry shops where people can window shop (literally through their windows), looking at different jewelry offered. There is also a museum there, but it charges an admission fee around £10 per person. I basically haven’t entered the place because of the fee, but I think it will be quite interesting because we can see the process of jewelry making as the place was once a jewelry factory before it was changed into a weapon factory during the World War II, and now it serves as a museum.

Less people know it before they arrive in Birmingham, but the city was once lived by Cadbury – yes, the founder of that Cadbury chocolate. Therefore, one of the attractions of Birmingham is the Cadbury Experience. Located in a village called Bournville, which was really founded by Cadbury himself, the attraction offers a full experience of chocolate making and its history in the world. There are fourteen different experiences offered by the place, along with its so-called biggest Cadbury shop in the world and a tea room. The admission fee to enter the place is not cheap, but will certainly worth it. However, you need to be careful because you have to book the ticket online as the place is so popular that sometimes there is no slot available for you to visit, especially during the school holiday.

One of the things that attract people to come to Birmingham is its university. Put among highly ranked universities in the world, University of Birmingham does not only offer a good quality of education, but also a place to visit. The university area is famous for its clock tower called the Old Joe. The clock is so high and big that a double decker bus can go through its clock face. The university complex is quite interesting to visit and has its own tourist attractions, such as the Barber Institute, which is the university’s art gallery, and the Winterbourne Garden that attracts people for its beauty. The Valley area, where the university accommodation is located in, is also interesting to explore. The annual bonfire night of the university is held in the Valley.

The last attraction that I would recommend to visit is called the Black Country Living Museum. Located outside the city center, particularly in Dudley, the museum is very unique. The full review of this museum can be found here: https://theadventureofizzao.com/2016/03/25/black-country-living-museum/. Be sure to visit this place when you are in Birmingham because the experience is like no other. Indeed, we can learn many things from how people manage this museum. The place is very educational, yet not boring.

For me, a very nice aspect of exploring Birmingham is the food. Yes, the food. There are lots of different food stalls offering different kinds of food. Especially for me, who is a Muslim and have to eat halal food, the city is full of halal restaurants. I can find halal Japanese restaurant, halal Chinese restaurant, and the common fast-food joint serving halal food. I love it! There are so many delicious food offered with a very reasonable price. It is not difficult at all to pamper your stomach in Birmingham.

As I said, I haven’t explored the whole city, yet. Yes, despite of my months living here, Birmingham is indeed a very big city. I will certainly have to write some more about Birmingham later on when I have visited some more places. See you next week!

AdventureNotes #21: Leeds

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Leeds is a popular city among Indonesian students. It has at least two universities with good reputation, added with its quite affordable living cost. No wonder there are so many Indonesian students in Leeds. Besides for studying, Leeds is also quite popular for its tourism because it is located (almost) between two national parks, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the North York Moors National Park. Both national parks are famous for their beauty; they are even mentioned as the must-visit places when you are in the UK.

I personally have not been to both national parks. Some of my friends have and they love it! Indeed, it is something worth to do. However, I have visited Leeds several times now. My purpose was mainly to visit a friend or to do something. Mostly, I went to Leeds to go to the airport, Leeds Bradford. Hahaha… Anyway, during my visits, several times I tried to explore the city. I cannot find a word that can represent Leeds, but just say that it is a combination of old and new.

I had enough time to explore the city (excluding its museums and galleries) during my last visit. I visited the Kirkstall Abbey, went to the Museum Quarter (without entering the museums), and explored the Corn Exchange. There is actually I place that should worth to visit but I haven’t got time to do it, which is the first Marks and Spencer outlet in Kirkgate Market. So, here’s my story…

I saw Kirkstall Abbey a few times when I had to go to the Leeds Bradford Airport. It is located a little bit out of the city center, but not that far that you have to allocate certain time to visit it. When I passed by, I didn’t know that it can be quite interesting visiting the place. Kirkstall Abbey is a complex of park, abbey ruins, a museum, and a small café. In normal days, visitors can come inside the abbey ruins and the museum. There is also some kind of farmers market held there once in a while. However, at the time I visited the abbey, I could not get into the place because it was holiday. I had to be satisfied by just exploring the park and looking at the ruins from the outside. I was happy, though, because I could take a lot of nice pictures.

Again, visiting cities during holiday can be tricky. I went to the Museum Quarter but I could not get into the museums because of it. Therefore, again, I had to be satisfied by just strolling on the streets of Leeds. I heard people recommend Leeds City Museum and the Royal Armories Museum as places to visit. However, it was quite interesting to see how the old buildings and the new developments are blending in the city. The shopping center, which is not too far for the Museum Quarter, is also a blend of old and new. There are many shopping arcades with interesting interior designs.

Near the end of the day, I ran out of ideas of where to go to. Then, my friend suggested me to see the Corn Exchange. Basically, it is a shopping center – or a vintage shopping center if I can say. The building was quite old and has been used as a shopping center for a long time. It is interesting to see the inside of this building because although it is old, the building is preserved well. It is simply gorgeous. I also like to see how the shops still maintain the ‘vintage look’, blending themselves to the surrounding architecture. My husband was especially happy there because there is a camera shop selling second-hand cameras. I was surprised that the shop still sells the analogue camera there!

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Anyway, that is my review about Leeds. It has not been much. However, if I visit the city another time, I would love to use it as the gate to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the North York Moors National Park.

AdventureNotes #14: Artsy London

As promised, this one, and the upcoming AdventureNotes will be about London. I think, London is a city in which art is a major part. Therefore, this first exploration about London will be on art. Artsy London. If you are an art person, London is heaven. The city offers many choices of activities for you, whether you are into visual arts, crafts, music, or theatre. For me, the best part of London is its theatres. I love it so much, especially the musical plays. I am not so much into visual arts, but I quite like seeing crafts and street music. Here’s my experience being an ‘artsy’ person in London.

Visual art is closely linked to art galleries. I may not be the best person to give you suggestion on this, but I should say that art galleries in London are fabulous. There are many art galleries in London, from those displaying more conventional type of paintings to those displaying more contemporary forms of visual art. Say, National Gallery, Tate Britain, and Tate Modern. Those are just the famous names. I can think that every corner of London (well, at least in zone 1) has a dedicated art display. Anyway, I haven’t been to Tate Britain and Tate Modern, but I’ve been to National Gallery. My first impression: the place is huge! You surely have to spare one day alone to explore the paintings inside. If you like looking at paintings from hundreds of years ago, maybe you can go to this place. When I visited the place, I also saw a group of children having a tour specifically made for them. They were given drawing tools and they can try to copy their chosen paintings. That is kind of interesting because art galleries can be boring for children. This way, they can learn to love the art and explore the art gallery without judging that it is such a boring place to go to.

I kind of like crafts – just to look at. Don’t bother to ask me to make one, I will run away. Exploring markets in London can make you stumble upon unique crafts. I especially like to go to Portobello Market because there are lots of small shops and street stalls selling unique crafts. You can find rugs, bags, jewelry, and household stuffs there. Not that I’ve bought anything there, but the stuffs there are quite interesting! I don’t know if there is any place offering some kind of workshop there, but surely it is a good place to explore crafts in London.

Music! This is what I love about strolling on London streets because I can see street musicians performing. I love it! I think the best places to go to if you like street performers are Piccadilly Garden and Southbank area, near the London Eye. I once saw this group of female street musicians who are just wonderful! I can stay and stay and stay until they finish their performance. Well, that’s enough for me who don’t want to spend too much money on concerts. However, there are many music events held in London each year. You can look at Royal Albert Hall websites, the O2 arena, and other places regularly held musical performance. Sometimes, there are also music festivals in Hyde Park. If this is your interest, I think you should at least once feel the experience of coming to a concert in London. Where else can you see famous musicians with relatively not too expensive tickets?

My most favorite part of the artsy London is theatre! God, I love watching musicals! And London is the center of it! Every single time I went to London, I always find time to visit the West End. The area covering Victoria up to Covent Garden is the heart of theatres. Each theatre allocates itself for one type of performance. Say, you want to watch Lion King the musicals, then you have to go to Lyceum theatre. There are tens of performance shown each night and believe me, it is mostly fully booked. If you are into this kind of thing, I would suggest you to buy the theatre tickets way in advance to get the best deal. They sell theatre tickets online and there are lots of websites claiming that they offer the best price. One website that I would recommend is: http://www.tkts.co.uk/. If you are in a hurry and cannot book the ticket online, the cheapest way to see a theatre performance is by going to the ticket office last minutes as sometimes they still have some seats left or as some people may return their tickets for that night. If it is not cheap enough, you can always wait in front of the theatre until the performance begin, and they will sell the tickets in way cheaper price – although you may miss the beginning part of the show. I’ve seen two musicals so far, Wicked and Matilda. Both are great! I wouldn’t mind if someone asks me to watch those again, really. However, I would really love to see Lion King. Indeed, the ticket price never goes down! Poor me. I’d have to save my money before I can watch that show. Fingers crossed, I want to watch the show before I left the UK this year!

Of course, art is not limited to the parts that I discussed. Those are just the big parts. There are many ways to explore London in artsy ways. Look at unique places, festivals, and local art groups to know about it deeper. Next on: Budget London! Stay tuned!

Feb 05, 2016

AdventureNotes #12: Milan

Fashion, festive, fun! Those are the words people use to describe this city. Milan! Milan is not only popular because of its status as the capital of fashion design, it is also popular because of football as the city has 2 famous football clubs, AC Milan and Inter Milan.

Honestly, Milan is hardly missed if you are traveling to Europe. Its strategic location makes it a transportation hub between the southern Italy and western Europe. In my first Europe solo travel, I landed in Milan and departed from Milan. My main reason? Cheaper flights!

I had a chance to explore Milan in one day. If you’re not that into fashion nor excited about football, like I am, I think a day is enough to stroll around the city – noting that you’re not going into museums or other attractions. That was what I did.

The same as traveling to other cities, we need to be aware of when we are traveling. I visited Milan during my Easter break. Unfortunately, it was the exact Easter day that I visited the city. Such a shame! Everything was closed! Well, not literally everything, but most places were. Adapting to the situation, what I did was sightseeing.

First, I went to see Sforzesco Castle. Obviously, I couldn’t get in. Fortunately, the view was quite interesting. It is basically a beautiful castle. I also walked around a park called Parco Sempione. There is a landmark at the end of the park called Arco della Pace.

In the park, I had a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I saw a wedding! With the bride and the groom, and the bridesmaids and the family. Wow! I know that I won’t or have a very little chance of seeing such thing. A wedding in the park. Cute!

Then, I went to see Milan Cathedral or the Duomo. I have to admit that it is so grand and so beautiful. Located in the middle of an open space, it was just mesmerising. Anyway, I saw another wedding outside the Duomo. Two weddings in a day, it must be a sign, right?

Near the Duomo, there is this shopping arcade called Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II. The place was quiet that day, but I figure that it is very chic and trendy on normal days, with its cool restaurants and cafes and high-end stores.

After struggling to find a place to have lunch – believe me it’s not easy, especially wit the Easter day, my friend and I had some kind of Turkish food for lunch. Then, my friend suggested us to go to Navigli. Navigli is an area near a canal. There are many cafes, restaurants, and indie shops there. I like the environment.

So those are the main places I visited in Milan. However, as I walked or took public transportation to explore the city, I got to pass some other attractions, such as Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting is located and Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore. I couldn’t get into those places due to the celebration.

I didn’t visit any stadium in Milan, but if you are planning to, do consider about the weather, the location, and the cost. Doing a stadium tour can be expensive and can take a lot of time. Most stadiums are also located quite far from the city center so you have to allocate time to visit them.

I’d really like to visit Milan again some other time. I’d like to see the city when everything is business as usual. I want to see the fashionable Milan!

Jan 22, 2016

AdventureNotes #11: Verona

Padlocks? Really? Padlocks are quite popular in many tourist attractions nowadays, right? Well, this one is different because the picture was taken in the Juliet House, Verona.

Verona is a city famous because of its Romeo and Juliet setting. Well, despite its fictional nature, people still come here to see what’s life in Romeo and Juliet story. What’s in it? Hmmm… let’s see…

Despite of its rather confusing attractions, the made-up attractions to match up the setting in Romeo and Juliet story, Verona is a quite nice place to visit. Actually, I decided to visit this city by accident. I originally wanted to go to Florence or Venice, but the train ticket for both places were costly at that moment – I traveled during the Easter break, anyway. Then, my friend suggested to go to Verona instead.

We can take a train from Milan to Verona. The journey is around 2.5 hours. As I arrived in the train station in Verona, I took a bus to the city center. Unfortunately, I took the correct bus, but to the wrong direction! Haha My trip to Italy was full of this kind of experience. As my friend and I realized that we went on the wrong direction, we hoped off the bus and caught the correct one. Thankfully, I got to the city center. Oh, a little tips for you traveling to Italy, almost all transportation offer day ticket so it might be a good bargain. Anyway, the problem was that it was pouring rain that day! Such not a good day to travel.

Despite the weather, my friend and I decided to still explore the city. It’s Europe, people! When can we expect to not be surprised by the weather anyway? So, we walked pass this building, similar to but smaller than Colloseum. I figure that this kind of building was popular in Italy back on those days. The building is called Arena di Verona.

Under the pouring rain, we walked along the small streets of Verona. We passed this very crowded place, Cassa di Giuletta – Juliet’s House. Well, the story of Romeo and Juliet is fictional and so is the house. I think people just made it up for the tourists. There is also Romeo’s House but I think it is located quite far from the city center. Interestingly, there are loads of people who are even willing to pay to go inside the house. Well, I didn’t. The ticket is too pricey.

I just saw the house from its garden where there are many “love” padlocks attached to the wall. What’s so gross is that there are also some bubble gums attached there. Euwh.

After taking some pictures, we decided to go to Piazza delle Erbe. The piazza is located in the middle of the city. At that time, there was an outdoor market held. We bought calzones for our lunch and they were delicious!

Another interesting tourist attraction worth to enter in Verona is Castelvecchio. Basically, it was a castle, which now is used as a museum. Again, entering the museum is quite expensive so we explored the castle from the outside. The scenery from the top of the castle’s wall is beautiful.

As we walked back to the train station, we passed some churches. It is typical Italy that churches are everywhere and are considered to be tourist attractions. Some churches worth to visit are Basilica di San Lorenzo and Verona Cathedral.

To conclude, Verona may be an alternative city to visit while traveling to Italy. It is small, so day trip should be enough to explore the city. It may be useful to read Romeo and Juliet before visiting this city so that we can absorb the spirit of this city.

Juliets, find your Romeo here!

Jan 15, 2016

AdventureNotes #9: Como

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Como? Where is it? Coming from an Asian country, I’m not familiar with the non mainstream tourist attractions in Europe. Como is one of them. It is actually a small city located near Lake Como, where it got its name, in Italy. The city borders the country and Switzerland.

Why did I go to Como? I actually went there to visit a friend. I needed a place to star near Milan, too. My friend was a student there and she lived in a student accommodation, just enough for two people to sleep. Her accommodation was not too far from the city center.

To get to Como, people can use trains. There are many trains passing this city. As it is a quite ‘famous’ place for people to come to spend their day off, it is not too difficult to get there. I think it is around an hour train ride from Milan.

Como is such a small city, anyway. The city is beautiful with its lakeside scenery. There are lots of hotels and cafes because people come to enjoy the city. Like other Italian cities, there is also a famous Gelato shop there. Despite the cold weather, I bought and ate Gelato when I was there.

There are not too many tourist attractions in Como, but people can certainly enjoy Lake Como by hiring a boat. Besides that, the hilly contour of the city makes people able to hike to the hill to enjoy the scenery. I think a memorial of Volta was built up there because of his relation to the city.

I quite like the atmosphere there because it was not too crowded and it has its own charm with its little shops, outdoor market, and gardens.  I think it is an appropriate place when someone seeks serenity.

I will be happily recommend this place if you need sanctuary for your holiday. It is also close to Milan, and considering the condition, maybe this city is a better place to stay.

Jan 08, 2016

AdventureNotes #8: Lost in Rome

This article is way long overdue. So sorry! but since I’m an active traveler again now, it seems that I have to continue this AdventureNotes series.

Anyway, for this session, I’ll write about Rome! Who doesn’t know and doesn’t want to visit this city? It has its own unique charm and to be honest, you’d want to visit this city again and again, strolling at its small alleys. So, I’ve been in Rome twice now. The first one was when I did my solo Euro trip and the second was when I did a Euro tour with my family. This article will be based on the recollection of my memory from both trips.

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People coming to Rome by plane will most probably arrive in Leonardo Da Vinci Airport. I took a train from the airport to get to the city center, Roma Termini Station. The journey was short and pleasant. However, when I stepped my foot on Roma Termini, it was very crowded; lots of travelers, lots of beggars, lots of officers, and lots of sellers. I was shocked and therefore tried to find a quiet place to think. I needed to adapt before finding my way around.

I had a quite interesting experience in Rome because I was lost for a while! It was kind of funny actually because I tried to find my hotel at that time. The hotel was supposedly not too far from the station. I walked around and around, asked people but still couldn’t manage to find it. It was difficult to find it because there was not too many people who can speak English in that area. After a long 2-hours search, finally I could enter my room! The owner responded to my email and came get me. It turns out that there was no sign of the hotel and actually I walked pass that hotel several times without noticing.

The first time around, I tried to use the Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) bus to get around Rome. I purchased the ticket online for a 24 hour pass. During my time there, I found out that the HOHO bus was not that available. One time I had to wait for 30 minutes until the bus arrive. Additionally, the traffic in Rome was just not good. I thought that it might be faster to walk! Seriously.

I think the better option to get around Rome is by public transportation. Almost all of the attractions in Rome are reachable by many different means of public transportation, such as bus and metro. It was much quicker and cheaper. On my second visit to Rome, I bought a one-day travel card that I can use to get on all public transportation in Rome. It costed like a quarter of what I paid for the HOHO bus and I managed to see more Rome tourist attractions!

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From both visits to Rome, I managed to enter some places, such as Colloseum, Roman Forum, and St. Peter’s Basilica. I had to buy tickets for the Colloseum and Roman Forum, but the entrance was free for the St. Peter’s Basilica. Rome is such a popular tourist destination so that to enter the attractions, we would be most likely have to queue, sometimes for a long time. Therefore, actually during the online ticket purchase, there is an exact time allocation for us to visit. However, it seems that the system did not work because I could enter Colloseum and the Roman Forum one day later than the appointed schedule on my ticket. All attractions mentioned above were worth to visit, besides they are legendary!

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Besides those attractions, Rome is also famous for its outdoor attractions, such as Piazza and the Trevi Fountain. I went to Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, and Piazza Venezia on both of my trips. I love the environment in those neighborhoods. Some of those places are quite close to each other so that I could just walk. It was really nice actually comparing to taking a bus or metro because I could explore the small and charming alleys near those places. I even passed the Pantheon on my way from the Trevi Fountain to Piazza Navona.

There are still many attractions in Rome that I haven’t visited. I wished I could visit the city again, longer the next time around. Surely one or two days are not enough to explore this city.

Now, for the tips of visiting Rome!

1. Be ready with your Google Maps to find your way around because not too many people can speak English.

2. Buy the daily or weekly travel tickets. The attractions are easily reachable by public transportation. It is safe, even if you travel alone.

3. Beware of the weather. Rome can get very hot during the summer. The weather gap between this city and other cities in Europe during spring is also noticeable. Get hydrated!

4. Stay alert, especially in crowded place because there are quite a lot of beggars and strangers who may try to steal. Moreover, the city is packed during the summer months, it can get super crowded.

5. Try the gelatto and icy drinks! They are good. Regarding the foods, for Muslims who have to eat halal food, there is this restaurant really near to the Roma Termini station that sells halal and very yummy and delicious foods.

6. Purchase your tickets online. Sometimes they offer discounted price tickets or Rome pass that could get you into many different attractions in cheaper cost.

Let’s go and travel to Rome!

Jan 01, 2016