Visit to the colorful La Boca [YQrtw Day 65 Jun 11]

La Boca Buenos Aires

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

This morning, I had my first taste of dulce de leche. I had been avoiding it because it came in a box that didn’t look very sanitary.

But I decided to give it a try after Macarena said a restaurant serves very good dulce de leche pasty.

Dulce de leche is a jam-like substance that is muddy brown but tastes of milky caramel. It’s quite nice as a bread spread but between you and I, kaya is much better.

After breakfast, off to Spanish school I went.

Class went well, we learned how to talk about the weather which is very useful as small talk.

La Boca

Same as yesterday, there was an after-school activity. Today’s event was a trip to La Boca.

La Boca, Buenos Aires

Our guide was still Macarena. This time, we were given a sheet of paper with explanation of different important sites in La Boca. The whole sheet was in Spanish. Gulp.

Macarena was around to help with deciphering the sheet. It’s good that I didn’t visit La Boca on my own because I wouldn’t have known the significance of important buildings.

We started at the pier. The water was muddy and didn’t smell so good. On the pavement, there were chalk-drawn games.

One of the games was this box jumping game. Back in Malaysia, we call it 跳飞机(Translation: Jumping from [or is it on] airplanes).


There was also a gigantic tic tac toe which requires people to stand in the little circles. It reminded me of Hogwart’s gigantic chess pieces.

Our tour involved walking into one small lane, being stopped by touts to go sit in their coffee shops, looking at tango shows for tourists and lots of listening.

One surprising thing was that one of the coffee place touts managed to figure out where I was from. It started out with the usual calls of “Ni hao. Annyeong hasseyo” which I ignore.

Suddenly, the guy said, “Malaysia.” I stopped in my tracks, turned to him to give him a thumbs up and a “Muy bien!”

He proceeded to explain why he said Malaysia. “No ‘ni hao’. No ‘annyeong’. No ‘konnichiwa’. Is Malaysia.”

OK. That’s a good deduction, I suppose.

Bit of history of La Boca

La Boca

I’m terrible at recounting history so if you want a proper version, Wikitravel La Boca will be great help.

La Boca used to be the living area of immigrants who found work at the shipyard. They built their houses using left over materials from the boats. The colorful walls were the result of using leftover paint from ship.

Writers and painted moved to La Boca, probably because it was rustic, and the place became a bohemian place.

From what I saw now, La Boca is mainly touristic. It’s a nice place to take photos that say, “Hey, I’ve been to Buenos Aires!”

La Boca Caminito

La Boca's colorful buildings

La Boca's colorful buildings

La Boca's colorful buildings

La Boca's colorful buildings

After La Boca, we took a bus back to the main city area.

At night, I went to a tango show. I’ll tell you more in a separate post.

Would you paint the walls of your house like how they do in La Boca?

Snowy white Cotton Castle–Pamukkale [YQrtw Day 53 May 30]

Cotton Castle--Pamukkale

Location: Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale terraces

Our bus reached Pamukkale town around 6:30am. Fortunately, our hotel had a free twin room and we were allowed to check in ahead of the official timing.

We went for breakfast–half knowing that this probably wasn’t covered in our hotel charges–and ate loads of carbs to give us energy for the day. (Later, the receptionist confronted us about the breakfast. We paid 7 lira each for it.)

Originally on our itinerary, we were supposed to have a free day today and have our tour the next day. I decided that it would be too tiring for us tomorrow to finish our tour at 4pm and hop on the bus to Selçuk 30 minutes afterwards.

So I went out to ask if we could do the tour today instead. I bumped into a person who claimed to be from the travel agency–I found out much later that he wasn’t–who said we could do the tour earlier.

The man also creepily asked me to sit in an empty shop to “chat”. I gave an excuse that I need to bring the Wi-Fi password to mom so I could not stay even for 1 minute.

Later during pick up time, we were approved by the real tour company people to go on the tour today.

I’ll just skip the first two sights that we visited, although they are quite amazing on their own.

First we saw the red hot spring source. The water had a lot of iron in it so the mineral would deposit on the sand and leave red marks. The water did taste like blood, as the tour guide said, due to the iron inside.

Red hot spring

Then it was Heriapolis where we saw about 2km of stone coffins, tombs and mausoleums. We also saw the ruins of the city itself, with plenty of columns around.

I was disappointed when the tour guide told me that there were no ghost stories about the necropolis that we were walking through. I want ghost stories, please!


Visiting the Cotton Castle

YQ in Pamukkale

The highlight of this tour was the Pamukkale terraces. The hot spring water that had much calcium in it would deposit the mineral and leave the side of the mountain looking like it was covered in snow

Pamukkale’s name is Turkish means Cotton Castle, which I think is a really cute name. Cotton Candy Castle will make it even sweeter.

Since we had 2 hours of free time, I took the opportunity to bath in one of the hot springs pool. Entrance fee was 32 lira, a little steep but I felt that it was worth it since I did not have to be in the sun. I hide in one of the shades of the flowers.

* If you want to swim in Pamukkale for free, do it in the terraces where the calcium deposits are.

The walk down from the hill top was treacherous. Mom and I had to take off our shoes so we don’t spoil the pristine white surfaces.

Water kept flowing and parts of the ground was slippery or filled with water that passes an adult’s knees. Luckily, we made it in the end without any major catastrophes. A minor bump during our walk down was when one of my shoes fell into the water.

Later in the evening, I went with the hotel shuttle bus to watch sunset on top of a mountain. There, I managed to slip on a little slope and hurt only some small parts of my hands.

More on the blog:

Last week, I was travelling from Athens, Greece, to Istanbul, Turkey, on an epic 15-hour bus ride.

Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia [YQrtw Day 51 May 28]

Flight of the hot air balloons

Location: Göreme, Turkey

Hot air balloon before sunrise

The rude morning call

Today was the day of our hot air ballon ride. For me, it’d probably be the highlight of the trip to Cappadocia because HOT AIR BALLOON needs no reason.

I set my alarm for 4:20 am since our itinerary said our balloon tour was from 5:00 am.

About 2 minutes after I woke up, there was rude, loud banging at our door. Someone yelled that we need to come out.

It was a little disorienting but I figured that it was the hot air balloon company person. I shouted to the closed door, “We’ll get ready and be out.”

“I’ll come back in 10 minutes. Be ready in 5 minutes,” the man shouted back.

The shuttle bus didn’t come until after about 15 minutes. Even when on the bus, the driver asked, “What time did your tour company tell you?”

“5:00 am,” I said.

“We told them 4. Next time, we’ll just leave without you,” he said and continued complaining about how we made the others wait.

What on earth was that for?

Thankfully, that was the only bad part to the morning. The rest of the trip was FANTASTIC.

Small meal before the voyage

The hot air balloon company that our travel agent signed us up for was Rainbow Balloons. (That’s Rainbow Balloons, by the way, in the color of the rainbow.)

Before the trip, we were brought to Rainbow’s HQ for a small meal. At 5:00am, there wasn’t much that I could eat but I did nibble on a cookie and drank some of the coffee.

Every one was divided into groups based on who their pilot was. Our was Arturo.

A very friendly Australian girl was at our table. Through her, I learned about the “Green Tour” in Cappadocia which brings people to an underground palace. (I later found out that mom and I will be going on a similar tour on Wednesday.)

After our meal, we were shuttled to the site where the hot air balloons. Along the way, we didn’t see much hot air balloons that were up in the air.

When we reached our spot, I was pleased to find that the balloons for Rainbow Balloons were the prettiest since they had a stripe with the colors of the rainbow spiralling up the white canvas.

Our balloon was hot and ready for us. Instead of having to wait for our pilot to get the balloon pumped up, the balloon was already in the air when we reached.

Everyone climbed into the basket which was divided into 5 sections. In the middle, there was a narrow section where the pilot and air traffic control person stood. On both sides of the narrow section, there were two baskets, each with a maximum of 5 passengers.

When everyone was in, we were ready for take off. The pilot switched on his gigantic bunsen burner and we lifted slowly.

Hot air balloon and gigantic bunsen burner
Hot air balloon and gigantic bunsen burner

It was still a little dark when we started flying. I peered at the ground and felt that it was pushing away from us.

Soon we were mid-air and it was amazing to see the place from the top. Cappadocia has many funny rock formations and cave houses. Our pilot gave us a guided tour while we floated along.

Even more amazing was the view of tens of hot air balloons floating around:

Flight of the hot air balloons

Flight of the hot air balloons-001

Flight of the hot air balloons-002

Flight of the hot air balloons-003

Flight of the hot air balloons-004

The best ending to a tour

Our flight was about an hour but I got restless halfway during the tour. We finally landed in a patch of grass far away from where we began.

The landing was a little difficult since mom and I had to share one rope for the Landing Position. We did manage to land safely so that was good enough, I suppose.

At the end of the tour, we celebrated our landing with a glass of champagne mixed with cherry juice. I depleted my champagne mix so fast that my refill was pure sparkling wine. Yummy!

Champagne after flight
Champagne after flight

Every tour should end with glasses of Champagne. Seriously.

PS We spent the rest of the day walking in the town for half an hour before retreating to our room for a lot of reading. This is life!

Have you been on a hot air balloon ride? Where do you think is the best place for a hot air balloon ride?

Changing of guards at Syntagma Square [YQrtw Day 42 May 19]

Marching ceremony at Athens's parliament

Locations: Athens, Greece

Ceremony on Sunday at Athen's Parliament

In front of the Parliament building, there are guards dressed up in fancy costume, guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The guards are sort of like the those at Buckingham Palace–standing straight with no expression.

At the start of each hour, they have a changing of guards thing going on. The guards march with high kicks.

But on every Sunday at 11am, there’s an even more elaborate “show” with band music and many guards marching down the street.

Since I’ve not caught any of the changing of guards, I thought I should head down today to catch the most awesome of the show.

When I reached the area, I saw that many people were already lined up at the square in front of the Parliament. I went closer and looked between other people’s shoulders to find that the guards were already doing their lining up.

I had to look between others’ shoulders for a part view of the procession.

Then something caught my eyes. It was the very good looking face of a young policeman.

Why are Greek policemen so handsome?

I've cropped this photo. I didn't actually push my camera into this gentleman's neck to get this photo.

I think I now sound very much like a creep. And based on the photo above, you’ve probably removed the bookmark you had for this blog.

But I have to ask: Why are the young Greek police people so good looking?

Since coming to Athens, I have been stunned by how good looking the younger police officers are. (The policewomen are also gorgeous but there are more policemen around to look at.)

How is it statistically possible for this place to have so many good looking police people? Do they have a “good looking meter” that recruits have to pass?Someone, tell me!

Anyway, after the marching, I didn’t linger around for more stalker shots so that’s the one and only photo of Clark Kent that you’ll see here.

Benaki Museum and lunch on the rooftop

The Benaki Museum was just around the corner. Since today was International Museum Day part 2, it was free entry to the 3-storey museum.

The collection in the museum was great. Finally I get to see art that wasn’t related to Christianity (those are great too but there is a limit of how much Marys one can handle in a week).

Since Museum Weekend was on, there were a lot of events for children as well. I wished I had those when I was a kid but then I might rather stay at home than hang out with a crowd of stranger kids.

The Benaki Museum has a nice rooftop restaurant that is shaded by umbrella. I decided to treat myself to some nice lunch since I’ve been keeping within my budget in Greece.

Lunch was moussaka–which I dub eggplant lasagna–and a pricey frappe. The creamy moussaka took a lot of effort for me to finish.

Damn you Google Maps

Next stop, I thought of going to the Byzantine Museum, to see the wonderful…Christian art. (Wait, who was it that said she cannot stomach more Marys?) I like the Byzantine Christian works because the characters are deliberately stiff.

So using my trusty Google Maps, I mapped out my route. Hmmm… A 40 minutes journey? OK, I do have a lot of time.

I waited for the longest while before bus 132 came. The bus went through a long route before I got off.

Following Google Maps’s direction, I arrived at a residential area, in front of a house that did not look like a museum.

I got out my phone and checked Foursquare. The app told me that the museum was just next to where I got on the bus, near the Benaki Museum.


Other things that happened today: Got back to city center; sat at a nice cafe, reading; went to see the public cemetery of Athens but the gates were not open; saw creepy lady in cream blouse and skirt while walking away from cemetery; got back to hotel; bought club sandwich for dinner; read Jezenbel.

Sightseeing on wheels: Segway touring in Rome

segway tour

[Disclosure: I received a complimentary segway tour thanks to Italy Segway Tour but the post is all honest words by me.]

Just one week ago, I had two amazing events happen in my life on the same day.

In the morning, I saw the pope (quite far away, but we were within 1km radius of each other).

In the afternoon, I went on a segway tour with Italy Segway Tour’s tour of imperial Rome.

Posing in front of Italy Segway Tour's Rome office
Posing in front of Italy Segway Tour’s Rome office

I found the office easily and all the tour mates arrived on time too. My tour mates include 2 couples from Sweden and a couple from the USA.

Our tour leader was Roberto who was very hyper. He suited us up in our radio listening thingamajig and our helmets. We were told to lead our electrical horses (the segway, by the way) to a small square nearby.

There was plenty of training before we started the tour. I didn’t quite understand how to work the segway in the beginning but after a few turns, I found my own way of controlling my steed.

Off we go!

Here is a list of places we visited (copied from the website because I couldn’t take notes on the segway):

Circus Maximus, Arch of Constantine, Roman Forum, Colosseum, Traian Column, Capitoline Hill, Santa Maria’s Church and its Bocca della Verità wall sculpture, Marcello Theatre and a breathtaking panoramic view over Rome.

Luckily for us, one of the main roads was closed off that day and we could segway around (is that even a proper verb?) without much fear.

Since Robert was wearing the high-tech tour guide voice transfer machine (I really don’t know the name), we could hear every word he said. That is, if you are not too busy balancing yourself/ feeling awesome about being on a segway.

I just realized that I do not have the consent of my tour mates to put this up. Thank goodness no one lied to their boss that they're sick.
I just realized that I do not have the consent of my tour mates to put this up. Thank goodness no one lied to their boss that they’re sick.

Some of the sights we saw along the way include:

Road to Capitoline Hill
Road to Capitoline Hill
Part of the panoramic view of Rome
Part of the panoramic view of Rome

Circus Maximus

Mouth of truth
Mouth of truth

The first time I put my hand in a Mouth of Truth was back home in Sabah. Some company made machine copies of this and would tell your fortune.

There's a secret behind this gate's keyhole
There’s a secret behind this gate’s keyhole
Parts of the Roman Forum ruins
Parts of the Roman Forum ruins

Benefits of a segway tour

The segway’s really good for getting panoramic views of the city. We could just roll up a slope, listen to the history behind the sights, snap a few photos and head off to the next sight.

Other benefits are:

  • You see more with less time (Probably the equivalent of 3 walking tours–6 hours–crammed into one tour.)
  • You walk less (Quite priceless if you’ve been checking out too many museums.)
  • You get to use the segway (Awesome!)
  • You will be photographed by curious people (Perfect for camwhores.)
  • You will be photographed by tour leader (No need for selfies.)

More information about Rome Segway Tour

Robert, our tour leader from Italy Segway Tour
Robert, our tour leader from Italy Segway Tour

The tour I joined was with Italy Segway Tour (who also organized the Florence Food Tour). The office is really easy to find if you have Google Maps.

The price of the 3 hour tour is 90 euro per person. By the way, there are a lot of discount codes for the segway tour on its webpage so do check it out.

Besides the morning segway tour, there is also a night segway tour which I think will be super amazing.

My tour with Italy Segway Tour was great because Robert took the time to give us training (very important to not run into pedestrians or cars) and was attentive to our safety during the trip.

Have you been on a segway tour?

Greece day 4: Let’s go shopping at the Ancient Agora [YQrtw Day 41 May 18]

temple of hephateus

[I just spend a good part of the past hour reading up comments on Game of Thrones! Let’s get some work done.]

Location: Athens, Greece

Today’s my fourth day in Athens but things are still exciting.

In the morning, I decided to see the Central Market and maybe try out some tripe soup recommended on TripAdvisor.

Athens Central Market

I never saw the tripe soup stall but I did enter the market’s meat, fish and vegetable zone.

There were so much seafood on display. My heart longed for the huge squids lying on their bed of ice. Sadly, I do not have a kitchen I can cook the squids.

Next on my To-Do list was the Temple of Zeus. However, I wandered to the wrong place and visited an ancient public bath.

Scene from a Greek public bath

The public bath was housed in a small house. The inside of the place was cool, a great escape from the heat outside.

There wasn’t any water around but they showed some marble washbasins and benches.

I was disappointed to see that the women’s section was much smaller than the men’s.

Shopping at the Agora

Just down the road from the bath is the Ancient Agora. My tickets to the Acropolis covered this sight as well so I dropped by.

Turns out I didn’t need my ticket. It was International Museum Day and it was free entry to the sight.

At the Ancient Agora, I followed Rick Steve’s brilliant walking tour.

Halfway during my tour, an older American couple followed my route with their audio tour on speaker. It was so annoying having their audio tour on so I waited until they left.

The Ancient Agora was where the ancient people met for town meetings, theaters and so on. Most of the buildings were turned to rubble so having the audio tour helped make more sense of the place.

Temple in Agora

I tried to look for the Temple of Aphrodite Urania but couldn’t find it.

It was past lunch time when I finished seeing the Ancient Agora. I head back to the Central Market area where I had spotted souvlaki shops.

For lunch, I had a delicious meal of kebab in pita with a cold Coca Cola for only 3.30 euro. The pita bread was still piping hot when it came to me but I wolfed it down rather quickly.

Greek kebab pita

The afternoon sun was too punishing so I head back to the hotel for a quick shower. Despite having coke for lunch, I finished a tin of carbonated lemon to cool down. I think it was worth the calories.

In search of a bus station

When it was past 5pm, I headed out again. This time, I needed to find the bus station where my Istanbul-bound bus will leave next week.

The directions given by the travel agency where I bought my bus ticket was fuzzy. Even with the help of the Internet, I couldn’t figure out exactly where it was.

I followed the advice of the travel agent and took bus A15. Luckily, Google Maps helped me narrow down the area and I spotted the bus station.

Since I had nothing planned, I continued my bus ride until its last stop. The bus stopped at a residential neighborhood on a very steep hill.

Posh steep neighborhood in Athens

I tried walking up but gave up before the last staircase. Even standing on the pavement made me feel imbalanced.

While I walked down back to the bus stop, I passed by a family of a grandfather, a father and two twin toddlers. They were playing baby football (the ball is kicked gently to the kids). The boys followed the father’s cheer “GOAL” when the ball reached their feet. It was so adorable.

The bus back to town was uneventful. We passed many shops that were closed. Maybe it’s a Saturday so everyone’s out.

The bus eventually ended near where I boarded. Luckily for me, that’s very near my hotel.

At Carrefour, I did a little shopping for feta cheese (Greek cheese is so yummy!), milk (equally yummy), body lotion (I hadn’t tasted it yet) and a big bottle of lemon soda.

The rest of the evening was spent on the internet. Good night!

Greece day 3: New Acropolis Museum and Rick Steve’s walking tour [YQrtw Day 40 May 17]

I was planning to laze around and visit the New Acropolis Museum later in the afternoon. But when I checked my notes, I found out that the museum closes at 15:00.

I guess that means lazing around will have to come later. [I just looked at my notes again and realized that I confused National Archaeological Museum with Acropolis Museum’s time.]

I first knew of the New Acropolis Museum when D e-mailed me on June 15, 2009, an article about the museum’s opening. I was in my 9th month at work and my reply to the e-mail was:

I’ve actually forgotten that I want to go to Greece one day.

Then D reminded me that we shouldn’t become work drones. So I put the Acropolis Museum into my mental list of Places To-Go and thought about Greece again.

The Acropolis Museum

When I got to the museum, I thought to myself: I AM FINALLY HERE! (Oh wait, I think I did that at the Parthenon yesterday.)

The museum’s entrance had a surprise waiting. Parts of the floor was clear (with white polka dots), allowing visitors to see the excavation site underneath. There was also an excavated site that was open air and silly people tossed coins into it.

Before the Acropolis Museum's entrance
Before the Acropolis Museum’s entrance

The entrance to the museum was only 6 euro. It was so much cheaper than the other places I’ve been in Italy. I love Greece very much just for this.

Photo taking wasn’t allowed in the museum. I didn’t do any sketches like I did with David but I did sneak photos of the non-exhibits.

Athena guides children in the museum.
Athena guides children in the museum.

There were several of these signs saying “A Day at the Acropolis Museum with the Goddess Athena”. It was the cutest thing I’ve seen in a museum.

The description was in kid-language and was more fun to read than the adult-language sign.

Clear floor of the Acropolis Museum
Clear floor of the Acropolis Museum

The nightshift staff at my hotel, Hellen, warned me about the museum’s see-through floors so I wore pants to the place.

At one section, you can see the museum people cleaning up some of the statues. On the same level, the laser cleaning is covered up with a curtain.

View of Parthenon from the Acropolis Museum
View of Parthenon from the Acropolis Museum

On the third floor of the Acropolis Museum is a segment dedicated to the Parthenon. That floor is specially designed to face the same direction as the Parthenon is facing. It also has steel columns in between the carvings to show how the items look like in the temple.

I felt that the museum was a little small since it didn’t take me much time to finish all the items on display.

Still, it was a good museum because of all the Parthenon carvings and Athena statues.

Lunch at Smile Cafe Restaurant

I didn't eat the dog. Honestly.
I didn’t eat the dog. Honestly.

I had lunch at a tourist restaurant. Why is it touristy? Because it prints out maps of the Acropolis area and invites tourists to eat there.

The food was good for a tourist restaurant. I ordered from the Crisis Menu, a set lunch for only 7.50 euro.

I finally had tasty bread (which I never had in Italy). The cheese in the Greek salad was nice. I ate the tomatos and some cucumbers of the salad, thankful that it wasn’t the regular raw vegetable.

The gyros with pork was lovely, although I thought that I should stop eating Middle Eastern cuisine and be more adventurous.

It began raining while I was eating. Thank goodness I have my umbrella with me. I dropped by a coffee place for a 1 euro cafe latte before setting off to find the travel agency that sells bus tickets to Istanbul.

Silver Star Travel was easy to find, thanks to Google Maps. The 14-hour bus ride from Athens to Istanbul cost 60 euro (or 56 euro after -ahem- student discount). The price is half of flying to Istanbul and the time spent is half of taking connecting ferries.

Since my missions for the day was accomplished, I had to find something to do.

As usual, I hopped on a random bus that took me to a random place. And I took a not-so-random bus back to the city center.

Rick Steve’s audio tour

Rick Steve has an audio tour for Athens city so I decided to spend the afternoon walking around with my headphones in my ear.

His audio tours are really awesome. I went into different nooks and crannies of Athens. Climbed steep hills. Passed pretty Mediterranean houses. And learned more about the city than I would wandering aimlessly.

Overexposed Model in Greece
Overexposed Model in Greece

When the tour ended, so did my day. I bought 1kg each of cherries and strawberries (what was I thinking!) before heading back to the hotel to rest and write.

Until tomorrow!

Greece day 2: Athen’s National Archaeological Museum + Acropolis [YQrtw Day 39 May 16]

Corridor of Athena statues at National Archaeology Museum

Location: Athens, Greece

King Agamemnon's mask
King Agamemnon’s mask (not really his though)

Since I am staying 7 nights in Athens, I have 6-full days for sightseeing in the city. I had planned to slow down my pace and visit only one museum/ site a day.

Today’s plan was to see the National Archaeological Museum which is near by hotel and roam around the city in the afternoon.

When I went out a little before 8:30am, the sky was grey and cloudy and the temperature was cool. It felt like my kind of day.

Using directions by Google Maps, I took bus B12.

The signs for buses here in Athens is all Greek so I don’t think the government recommends tourists to take the bus.

Before the museum, there was a little cafe and the price of its bread was very reasonable. I had a pastry with cheese filling and a cappuccino.

While eating, a little tanned girl with messy hair came into the cafe to ask for money. It was rather awkward for me and I focused on my bread.

I didn’t want to encourage begging and thought that it was better than her going out and pickpocket. Actually,  begging is not any better than stealing.

National Archaeological Museum’s goodies

The museum was large but not overly gigantic like the Vatican Museum.

My Rick Steve’s audio guide for the museum worked perfectly, telling me highlights of the museum and the history behind them.

In fact, I had been enjoying Rick Steve’s audio tours for all the places I’ve been. I highly recommend you to download them if you are heading to Europe. He has mobile apps as well as podcasts and they area all free.

While the museum had lots of great Greecian works (like the gold mask above), my favorite section was the little corridor with statues of Athena.

Corridor filled with Athenas
Corridor filled with Athenas

At the end of the corridor was a small statues of Athena, her helmet decorated with winged beings, her Peter Pan collar decorated with snakes (!) and her shield also decorated with a snake. This was a miniature copy of the gigantic Athena statues that stood in the Parthenon in the ancient time (a replica in Nashville shows the size of Athena).

After the museum, I was thinking of where next to go. The sky was still grey and cloudy so I thought it would be perfect to go to the Acropolis and enjoy a not sweaty climb.

Off I went to the metro, buying a frappe to drink along the way. This time, the frappe had a less sour endnote. I’m getting to like this more and more.


It was about 12 noon when I reached. Based on my experience at the Vatican Museum, this was the best time to visit any famous sites as the tour groups have headed for lunch.

I got my tickets at the Theater of Dionysus so there wasn’t a queue. Even with the ticket, I had to exchange for an electronic ticket at the main entrance so it kind of annoyed me.

Rick Steve’s Acropolis audio tour kept me company the whole way. This is way cheaper than hiring a tour guide and less taxing!

Pathenon being refurbished
Pathenon being refurbished

The path to the Parthenon wasn’t a smooth walkway and I was thankful that my sandals didn’t sprain my feet.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the sun decided to come ot and play when I bought the ticket. The sky was cloudy but the ray of the sun pierced through and made it a little too warm.

Prettier side of the Parthenon
Prettier side of the Parthenon

It got so hot that I had to hide in the shade, thinking if I should wait for sunset and leave at 8pm (it was 2pm then). I didn’t leave that late but I did hang around in the shade, writing postcards.

Postage in Greece is cheaper than in Italy. I had to pay 2 euro to mail a postcard from the Vatican City but here in Greece, it was only 78 cents each.

Postcards from Athens
Postcards from Athens

Oh, I also started eating a chocolate pastry I bought. I was told by someone working at the Acropolis that only water is allowed. Oops.

After my long wait, I finally finished my audio tour and descended from the holy hill.

My phone’s battery was dangerously low then so I decided to head back to the hotel. Before that, I stopped at Carrefour (!!!) for some dairy product to prevent my stomach from having severe gastric.

Carrefour in Athens near Larissis Station
Carrefour in Athens near Larissis Station

I did plan to head out later but my lazy bones decided to stay in with my computer. Let’s hope tomorrow’s more productive!

Italy day 10: Seeing the Capuchin crypt [YQrtw Day 36 May 13]

yq in rome

Location: Rome, Italy

I had quite enough of museums and art galleries after my three full museum days in Florence so I decided to focus only on one museum in Rome–the Vatican Museum.

I read somewhere online that if you want to skip the queue at the Vatican Museum, it’s best to go after lunch time when the tour groups are out to eat.

I decided to follow that advice so my morning was pretty free.

While I was on the underground heading to nowhere in Rome,  I spotted a rather interesting attraction on my mobile travel guide app.

The Capuchin Crypt has skeletons and skulls used as decoration and the whole thing fascinated me.

Luckily, my train was just nearby the train station so got off  I made the stop at Bernini.

Looking at the facade of the church, you can’t tell that inside it hides a hauntingly beautiful corridor of bones.

There was an entrance fee of 7 euro to the museum and the crypt.

The museum is small but had interesting information on the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. Actually, I was most excited to learn that the Capuchin friars live like a hermit (and also hel people along the way) since The Hermit is one of the cards in tarot.

The museum section is small and at the end is the crypt with its decorative skeletons and skulls.

Unlike the Paris catacombs, the crypt was small. It’s more like a 20-meter long corridor where one side is a wall and the other side with small rooms that do not have a wall.

Even though the photos of the crypt make it seem like a huge place, the rooms are rather small, each about 2 meters wide and 3 meters long.

in the small “rooms”, the bones are decorated in themes. The themes are:

  1. Crypt of the Three Skeletons
  2. Crypt of the Leg Bones and Thigh Bones
  3. Crypt of the Pelves
  4. Crypt of the Skulls
  5. Mass Chapel (no bones here)
  6. Crypt of the Resurrection.

Almost every empty space on the ceiling was decorated with bones. One had a skull framed by pelvis bones on its two sides, making it look like a rather scary butterfly.

Walking pass bones and skeletons

At first, it was a little scary walking into the corridor with skulls grinning at me. Then I asked myself, “What is it that is scary?”

I concluded that these were just brown bones of humans so there is nothing to be afraid of. It was then that I started to admire the arrangements as art.

Aptly, in the first room, there was a sign in multiple languages. I copied the English version here:


Yes, one day we will become bones, or ashes if you are cremated. Until then, we’ll need to live life to as best as we can.

Halfway during the walk, I realized that I was face to face with another Tarot card: Death. Later in the day I would meet “Judgement” in the form of Michelangelo’s Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel.

Italy day 8: From Florence to Rome [YQrtw Day 34 May 11]

Colosseum in the sunset

Location: Florence, Italy
Location: Rome, Italy

Colosseum in the sunset
Colosseum in the sunset

After five nights, I have finally left Florence. I still feel like I do not know the city very well.

Even on the last morning, I got lost among the cobbled street and couldn’t decipher my map. I didn’t manage to visit the central market to have a bowl of Florentine soup.

I did get a small baguette with smoked ham. The friendly Taiwanese couple shared their spaghetti carbonara as well as a tub of panna cotta with me. Yums.

I arrived that the train station 20 minutes before my scheduled departure.

Florence train station
Florence train station

To my horror, my platform number wasn’t available. I panicked a little and imagined that my train was cancelled and I would be stuck in Florence with no backup plan.

Of course, my reasonable side told me to shut up and wait for the train. The platform did show up in the end, 10 minutes before the departure.

My second-class premium seat had leathery seats and a free drink for the passenger. The overhead area for luggage was slightly bigger than the standard space so that was a nice touch.

Once in Rome, I followed the directions written by my AirBnb host and took the underground. I then used Google Maps to find my way to the house. Unfortunately, Maps brought me to the wrong side of the road and I treked past about 50 houses before I reached my destination.

3 nights in the attic

My accommodation in Rome–slightly outside of Rome is probably a more accurate description–is with an AirBnB host family. I am staying in the attic. I don’t have any good photos of the room yet but I’ll put them up when I have them tomorrow.

It’s a really cute room with two beds, two sofas, a small table, fridge (!), kettle with tea bags and rather weak lighting (or “romantic lighting”).

I remembered that I once wished to live in an attic and now I really am so that’s one thing off my to-do list.

IKEA Italy’s little surprise

IKEA Italy's cafe
IKEA Italy’s cafe

Since IKEA was nearby, I stopped there for a look before heading back to Rome for sightseeing.

To my delight, the IKEA here has 2 cafes! It’s so Italian to have cafe even though there is the regular section for cafeteria-like food.

I had a cappuccino and a biscuit for 1.70 euro. The coffee tasted fine (this is not the cafe for regular IKEA coffee) and the biscuit was the same as any Marks & Spenser biscuit.

Next stop was Rome proper. I only managed to see the Colosseum because the name of the station is the same as the site. It wasn’t as gigantic as I was led to believe but I sat down a while to stare at it and found that it was quite large.

Dinner was pizza from a pizzeria near where I’m staying. The pizza was charged based on weight. The whole thing was so yummy I should have bought more.