Worlds away

Roma

The Pantheon Studded by jewels that time forgot lies Rome. Amongst the hustle of apartments and restaurants (and every second one seems to be,) some of the greatest and oldest monuments are, at least to the casual eye, unaffected by the passage of time.

Rome is our favourite of the holiday stops. Everything from the friendliness of the people to the amusingly hazardous cobblestone. Piazza Navona does indeed have very tantalising food on offer, benchmarked (I believe) by Café Bernini (somewhat more expensive than others, but the food was wonderful.)

Walk a little east. There’s a little Pizzeria—of which the name we don’t even know—sandwiched between the entrance and exit of a ‘Supermercato.’ Yummy pizzas, and try the Arancini—at 1 euro each, these are definitely more than worth it.

Keep going and the alleyway (vicolo) opens up to a piazza where the Pantheon resides. Beautiful by day, beautiful by night—what more could you ask for? It is here where we found our favourite ristorante.

Zio Ciro overlooks the Pantheon. Every dish we tried here was fantastic. I’ll touch more on it later, so for now keep this in your mind: oh-my-god hot chocolate.

The Colosseum Other soundbites of greatness:

  • Capitol Hill provides a beautiful view of the old Roman Forum.
  • The Colosseum is an amazingly huge sight.
  • Vatican City, in particular the Sistine Chapel, is so mind-boggling it can hardly be described.

The Trevi Fountain, with the coin-throwing wish-making magnificence, ensures our return. We definitely want to.

Napoli and Pompeii

On one of our day-trip tours out of Rome, we took the three hour coach ride out to Napoli. Half regrettably, most of the tour was dedicated to Pompeii, so what little time we did spend in Napoli was mostly a bit of explanation with a slow lap coach ride. The one thing I did notice though, was that the city looks pretty dilapidated. Our guide told us the city was heavy-hit by the bombs in World War II.

Plaster casts of the ash-coated victims Pompeii, in one word, is sad. Mount Vesuvius (stratovolcano extraordinaire) erupted in 79AD, extinguishing this city with ash fallout. The original placements of the ash-preserved skeletons no longer feature, though there are plastercasts of them (they were made by pouring plaster into the hollow shells of man) on display. The last three still have the original skeletons within.

Oh-my-god hot chocolate

It was on the home trip from this tour that we had a break at a truckstop, halfway between Napoli and Rome. Half expecting disappointing food—we had encountered it on the way towards Napoli at a different truckstop in the morning—we ordered two hot chocolates and a ham, mozzarella and lettuce panini.

Oh-my-god hot chocolate.

It felt like sludge. It was slightly creamy, this almost lava-like (lavaic?) crawl towards your tastebuds. I guessed it was made of just melted chocolate and a bit of cream or milk. Not like the watered-down hot chocolates of home.

This truckstop in the middle of nowhere would mark our quest… to search for the finest hot chocolates in Italy.

Zio Ciro makes one amazing hot chocolate (closest we found to the ‘original’ truckstop.) Pair it with its wonderful food, view, and ambience of al fresco dining—why wouldn’t it be our favourite?

Venice

Venezia was cold. Very cold. Farther north than Rome, something we didn’t even think about—until the very nice lady at that Pizzeria (along the alleyway towards the Pantheon) told us it would be cold. Very cold.

She was right. She told us we would need warmer than the light scarves we had.

Did we buy thicker scarves? We bought more Arancini. Yum.

… Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. In a way, I was glad we were here at this colder time rather than during the warmer days: you could still smell a faint whiff of the less-than-fresh canal water.

Gondola rides, while severely pricey, are one of those tourist things you just have to do (and get photo evidence as proof!)

The glass-blowing artist island of Murano keeps their secrets close to the heart, rarely letting outsiders apprentice. It takes 25 years to become a master glass blower, but when we saw one sculpt (is that the right term?) a horse statue in under a minute, with nothing but the molten glass on a pole and a pair of tweezers, it’s with little wonder why they’d be protective of their skillset.

After the glass-blowing demonstration, viewing their gallery for sale reminds you that you shouldn’t bring children here. There are far too many very, very expensive things that are made of glass. We bought two statues to bring home, fearing every step of the way that they would break in transit.

Very sadly, this marked the end of our trip to Italy. As with all holidays, there “wasn’t enough time.”

It was lucky we weren’t done yet.

Malaysia

Huge statue by the Batu Caves … is like a second home, really. I’ve been back so many times, though always staying in my dad’s slightly distanced hometown of Seremban (distanced from Kuala Lumpur, that is.)

What can I say about Malaysia… I’ll make it short since this is running long:

  • Cheap food
  • Cheap shopping (I bought my digital SLR camera here, a Canon EOS 400D)
  • It was fun seeing the old family again (not to mention being chauffeured around by my cousin Susan and her more silent, more reliable, less lost, Kane :D)

Unfortunately, we’re now back home

We didn’t want to come back—it always feels like that, doesn’t it?—but oh well, we can now plan for the next holiday :P

We were in Italy from the 25th of November to the 4th of December, and Malaysia until the 13th of December.

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4 responses to Worlds away

  1. Nieves says:

    That short story was awesome, I really really liked it. Your trip sounded fun!

  2. setek says:

    Heheh I’m glad there’s one you think is awesome :)

    Yeah the trip was amazing, we’re really, really, really missing being back there…

    :(

  3. susan1398 says:

    haha…i'm so good for being transleted for only 5 sen.

  4. setek says:

    *laughs* Yes, thanks for that Ah-san :)

    You have to come over some time… or we’ll head back over as a stop-off to somewhere else again :P

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