Back in September-October 2012, I went for a 3-week trip in Europe, visited several countries, experienced interesting cultures, and returned home with a bag of unforgettable memories.
It was quite ambitious to squeeze in these many cities in one go, specially when we stayed in Rome for a third of the trip, but hey, we eventually made it through our first European trip via Rome, Vatican City, Florence, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Venice, Innsbruck, Mittenwald, Munich, Zurich, Amsterdam, Bruges, Luxembourg, Paris.
Some of my favourite places and moments during the trip…
We stayed in the old part of Rome, near the Tiber river/isle. This place felt very much like home, I enjoyed walking around the neighbourhood in the morning and evening, strolling through Via di San Teodoro and Via dei Cerchi. This building was right next to San Giorgio in Velabro, a small basilica where we had our wedding (I married Latte Girl btw).
This was right on Ponte Vecchio in Florence. We were walking around one night and noticed a large crowd listening to a group of street musicians, one of them had a great great voice. The night was warm, everyone was so relaxed, all around happiness.
The picturesque view from up the hills of Riomaggiore, the first village in Cinque Terre. We had a delightful lunch there before walking north to Manarola. Too bad it was only a day trip, I would love to return and stay in Riomaggiore for several days, and explore the rest of Cinque Terre region.
There was a huge storm in the evening before we left Venice, you can see the water rose almost up to the street level. The best part of Venice was exploring the labyrinth alleyways in the less touristy areas, we got lost several times. Breakfast at the small coffee shops at the less popular piazzas was a truly relaxing experience.
Innsbruck town centre from Staddturm. It was extremely windy up there, almost dropped the camera several times. Innsbruck’s vibe was very much like Melbourne, only with more European architecture, and more pastel buildings, lots more.
I took this picture from the train on the way from Innsbruck to Zurich. Check out the snow at the top of the mountain, the foggy area, the woods, and the farm field. The view along the way was magnificent, lakes, mountains, hills, cows, barns, rivers, you name it.
I was sick for the 4 days we were in Amsterdam, I pretty much slept through the first 3 days at the dodgy basement hotel to rest and recover. On the last day, I walked out for a short bit and found a small cafe / cookie shop. The picture above was the view from the cafe’s window seat.
The owner of this cafe in Bruges was a perfectionist, he carefully positioned the plates and utensils, the furnitures, everything was properly aligned. The food was top notch, easily the best soup I’ve ever tasted, and quality tea too. There was a comic book shop nearby with a large poster of Herge, one of my life heroes!
Saint Marcel!!! We stayed at a small rooftop apartment while we were in Paris, and this was the view from its tiny balcony. Paris was awesome, I really enjoyed the bookshops, the antique shops, the architecture. And to those who think that Parisians are rude, the secret is to start with Bonjour Madame/Monsieur along with a smile, it will all be ok.
Following the previous dance hit Crank That in Beijing, I present you… Gangnam Style in Paris, and Pisa.
These photos didn’t do justice to my
street dance cred effort. I wish I had an iPhone camera app with burst mode back then.
On the way to Arc de Triomphe from Louvre.
In front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
I went to Indonesia in March this year, mostly to visit my relatives and also Latte Girl’s in Jakarta, Medan, and Bandung, following a short stop in Singapore.
There were two things I learned about my family during this trip, stuffs I thought I should’ve probably known a long while ago.
The first one: I learned that my grandfather was somewhat a painter (among his other gazillion talents). I saw for the first time awesome portraits of Gandhi, Einstein, and several other world luminaries that he painted. He also received a letter from F.D. Roosevelt’s wife after sending a painting of the then president of U-S-A, pretty cool.
And the second one: my parents had boxes of mineral water bottles in their house, lots of them, it turned out that my dad had been winning those games at the family entertainment centers, and exchanged the prize tickets for boxes of mineral water. One day we were at a shopping mall and about to go home, we passed one center and my dad was checking the score on the machines. There was this one game where you have to press a button at the right micro second to drop a ball to a set of rotating pipes, one of those pipes is the jackpot pipe. If you failed, then the amount of score (jackpot tickets) is increased.
The score was 1000+, my dad sat down, inserted a coin, waited patiently… then he suddenly hit the button, jackpot! 1000+ tickets! my jaw dropped. I asked my mom why didn’t she look surprised, and she said she’s used to it, apparently he had done it many times before, hence the boxes at home. I was like, when did this start happening?! why did no one ever tell me about this?? I used to play the basketball shooting game at the center when I was a teenager, and I could only win 60 tickets at most after breaking the high score on the machine, and there it was, my dad easily won 1000 tickets. Talking about pwnage!
He repeated the feat several days later, and I also learned that he would only play the game if the score was high enough to maximise the profit, and that there were two other people who were as good as him at hustling those prize tickets. I guess we really learn something new every day.
Note: A trip to Jakarta always involves a visit to Bakmi GM for the glorious nasi goreng and pangsit goreng. Bakmi GM, I’m still waiting for your first Melbourne franchisee.
About a month ago I went to Bairnsdale, East Gippsland. Did a trail walk at Mitchell River Loop, enjoyed a nice dinner at The Bistro, and experienced the friendliness of a laid back country town Victoria.
It’s nice to take a break from daily Melbourne life every now and then. It’s now my mission to visit all farthest country towns VLine trains can take me.
This is one my fashionably late blog posts, as usual.
I went to to Japan in March last year, and it turned out to be the most unforgettable trip so far in my life. Why? As a start, I arrived in Narita less than 24 hours after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. I then had to take the train to Kyoto via Tokyo only hours after they restored public transport at reduced capacity, and experienced a lower magnitude earthquake while in Kyoto.
The greatest concern of them all was the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. I was in constant contact with family and friends via email and Twitter, trying my best to convince them that the situation wasn’t as apocalyptic as how the media portrayed it. The incidents at Sendai and Fukushima were beyond devastating by any scale, but at the same time, other parts of Japan lived on with their daily life and did their best to help via donations and lots of other means. To witness the great Japanese spirit and sense of community in person was a humbling experience.
I ended up visiting Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Kanazawa, Miyajima, Hiroshima, Okayama, Himeji, Tokyo, and Ise. My favourites were Okayama for its chillaxing vibe, and Kanazawa for its snow-covered town. Here are some pictures from the last three days of the trip, I lost the rest of them because my laptop was stolen during transit in Kuala Lumpur (here’s the person who now has my stolen MacBook).
Best food? Ramen at Kyoto Station, extra eggs, a must.
I also loved this Yamazaki Pan chocolate bread I bought every day at Lawson.
Definitely going back there!