Saturday, August 23, 2008
have to run constantly. It'll be a while till this blog gets updated
as school begins real soon and I have no big travels anytime in the
near future, except for travels within New England, New York or
California. However, there will be a new blog dedicated to the
abstraction of things I see in life. It's still a work in progress and
in the meantime, I'll be revisiting this blog to fill in any gaps I
might have left out now that I'm beginning to upload my pictures. Till
then, I'm signing off for the weekend.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
The whole situation was so ridiculous and I stood at the cash machine till Staff Two came back and still kept telling me no, I gave them a 5 euro bill. Minutes passed and the only male staff walked in and seems to be asking what was going on. Staff Two and him were talking and somehow Staff Two took out a receipt from the customer before me, both of them looked at it and Staff Two took out a 5 euro bill and gave it to me without saying a word. And she didn't need to because clearly she wasn't paying attention and it was her fault, the other customer got more change than he needed, of course he didn't complain. I walked out saying "Gracias".
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Valencia is architecturally a stunning city, crowded with its many Beaux Arts and medieval architecture. The city center, the old city is small and most major attractions are within a 5 - 10 minutes walk. Compare to its neighbor city of Barcelona, Valencia is nothing like it, though they are both less than 3 hours away by train. Valencia is smaller and signs of its medieval part can still be appreciated by taking a stroll along its narrow streets and alleyways. In terms of the city's architecture, if Gaudi was to Barcelona in the 20th century, then Calatrava is to what Valencia is in the new millennium. The City of the Arts and Sciences is a leisure and learning complex that houses many of Calatrava amazing architecture. It is also one of the largest leisure complex currently being build in Europe and consists of a performance center (second picture above), a science museum, botanical parks, an oceanography museum and a new agora (not sure what it's going to be used for) that is under construction at the moment. The land that the buildings are build on used to be a river that runs along the northern part of the city and since the mid 20th century, the river has dried out and has since been replaced with botanical gardens and sports facilities. It is certainly one of the most environmentally interesting use of land and resources.
The heart of Valencia has never been about its beaches. However, the closest beach to the city is only a 20 minutes train ride away and it is one of the nicest beach I've seen so far. Compare to the city beaches in Barcelona, it might not have the best water sports or activities along the beach, but the fine soft powder sand is enough for me to appreciate its beauty.
I arrived at Sevilla late last night, but between Barcelona, Valencia and Sevilla, some might say that Valencia is too sterile or too clean and has lost its old charm within the old city. Even the central market seems organized, brightly lit and a pleasure to walk around. The building facades seems to have been clean or freshly painted. In either case, Valencia is still a beautiful city to spend a few days at. I enjoyed my two days at Valencia, and the reason being (apart from its architecture), there were very little or no foreign tourist. Things may change at the end of the month as the city is preparing to host the Formula One race.
As for me, my trip is coming to an end soon. From Sevilla, I'll be taking day trips to Granada and Cordoba during my time here. Next week, I'll be heading to Lisbon, Paris and ending my adventure in London.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Secondly, the day I arrive to catch my train, everyone's luggage had to go through the xray machine! What's ironic is, they don't have a metal detector. So they don't allow guns, knives, explosives, etc (the usual) but they don't have a metal detector for passengers?! I could have took out my pocket knife and put it in my trouser's pocket and would have gotten away without any problem.
Thirdly, boarding the train is a pain. Passengers can't wait in the platform and had to wait in line till the gate opens. That's actually fine but the whole process is like boarding an airplane* where there's actually an attendant who takes your train ticket, scans it and give you your ticket/pass. What's annoying is people who buy their tickets online has problems with the documents, and as a result, is holding up the line.
Why can't it be a simple process, just like any other country where one can just go on to the designated platform, hop on board to the coach and seat assigned, wait for the conductor to come up to you, ask for your ticket, checks it and stamps it, and you're on your way to you next destination.
*( Riding the train in Spain is indeed like flying on board an aircraft. They have entertainment on board the train, and a crew members who passes out earphone is a little box. (Pictured above) One of the reason I take the train is because I don't have to wait in line and go through the security at the airport. Oh, and the crew member do actually kick you out of your seat when you're not sitting at your assigned seat. I actually don't care how good the service is as long as it gets me to my next destination. Life can be so much better when you don't try to complicate things. )
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I took the pleasure of taking the train up to Monterosso and started my 10km hike to the southern town of Riomaggiore. My total journey hike with stops between the towns of Vernazza, Corniglia and Manarola was 6 hours. (The stops at Monterosso and Riomaggiore are not included in the total journey) Each town has its own characteristic and are very different from each other. Monterosso seems to be the largest town (probably because of the sandy beach) and Corniglia is probably the smallest (also possibly because the beach is difficult to reach as you have to hike down). However, my favorite town between the five is probably Corniglia. It may not have the best looking architecture, but it is charming in its own little way. It is also the only town that sits on top of a hill rather than perching on a cliff like the other towns. The path from Vernazza - Corniglia path is also one of the most scenic, but it is also one of the hardest trail to tackle as the path are rocky and dangerous during wet weather.
Interestingly enough, I was lucky to experience some Mediterranean rain shower while walking along the path from Vernazza to Corniglia. The Vernazza - Corniglia path is also the longest followed by the Monterosso - Vernazza route (only about a few kilometers shorter but it takes the longest because of its high altitude hike). The shortest path is between the town of Manarola and Riomaggiore, better known as the Via dell' Amore (path of love).
The five towns are not difficult to reach (about an hour train ride from Pisa Centrale) and I highly recommend a visit as well as taking a hike between the five towns. It is also advisable to bring comfortable shoes and be cautious when hiking as some path are really narrow. It has been quite a rewarding day being able to enjoy and experience a natural and man-made wonder.
(Picture above is the town of Manarola)
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Looking into the eyes of David inside the Accademia does not even compare to the replica in the Palazzo Vecchio. Though the statue was originally made to admired in an exterior setting (like the replica made standing outside the city hall), in the Accademia, you're looking at the statue through the eyes of Michelangelo. Or maybe it was just the lighting or the interior setting that makes David unresistable to the eyes of the public
The Uffizi has a really good collection of arts but of course everyone visits it for Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus' and the 'Primavera'. Both are equally beautiful paintings but I wish they didn't have the glass panel covering the paintings. Its was too difficult and distracting to really admire and study the painting as it was intended.
Florence is a small city. The scale of the city actually reminds me of Boston as it is very walkable and most major sights are within a 15 minutes walk. Coming from Rome to Florence, I think of Rome as New York City and Florence as Boston.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
There are just too much to see in Rome. I think I've only covered 20% of the churches dedicated to Santa Maria. But as it has been said before, "a lifetime in Rome is not enough". I'm on my way to Firenze (Florence) for a week in the Tuscany region. More Santa Maria to cover and hopefully will be able to see David.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
"Everyday lost tourists keep asking me the same questions, here are the answers ...
1. Piazza di Spagna: 2 minute walk down Via Condotti.
2. Piazza di Popolo: At the end of Via del Corso.
3. Trevi Fountain: Walk 500 meters up Via del Corso and on your right you will find Piazza Colonna. Turn left off Via del Corso after you pass the column in the center of the piazza.
4. Pantheon + Piazza Navona: Same as Trevi directions but turn right off Via del Corso after you pass Piazza Colonna.
5. Colosseum: It's too difficult to explain, so go to the Pantheon instead.
6. St. Peters + Vatican: Walk down this street in front of you until you reach the river and follow it to your left, cross the bridge with the statues on it then simply follow the trail of African guys selling fake Prada handbags.
7. Nearest McDonalds: So........you travel to a new country to experience a different culture famous all over the world for its food and wine and you want to eat at McDonalds.
8. Hard Rock Cafe: It's somewhere near Piazza Barberini
9. Nearest ATM: There is one behind Fendi. "
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
Saturday, July 5, 2008
My next task is getting to Italy from Greece. There's no way any of the ferry from Santorini could connect with the ferry to Italy (the port is 4 hours away from Athens), so I'll be staying in Athens for another night when I get back. There also seems to be limited availability on that ferry (which is surprising-are there really that many people travelling to Italy? It is a huge ferry!) From the advice of the travel agent I talked too, I might have to go straight to the port and get a deck seat. So another long journey ahead.