A Travellerspoint blog

Roma – Where Every Road Leads To It

semi-overcast 12 °C


Rome with all its glamour in the ancient days is filled with famous ancient ruins and relics. Rome is one of the cities in Europe that does not sleep at night. Rome airport was a very far ride as it took me 75 minutes and €15 to get from the airport to Roma Termini by bus. I arrived at Rome at night and saw the city brightly-lit up. Republicca was well illuminated at night and was vastly without much traffic at night. I took a light stroll down the long stretch of street after Republicca and stopped at a restaurant to enjoy a nice Italian meal before I head down the tunnel towards Trevi Fountain. It was indeed a magnificent sight and the water looks so clear. I was told that you can drink from any fountain or water tap in Rome unless it is stated undrinkable. Trevi fountain was filled with tourists despite the drizzling rain fall.


I only have 2 days in Rome, so I have to rush everything on my itinerary. After seeing Trevi Fountain and Republicca at night which was fantastic, Rome’s morning rush was pretty unpleasant. I have made plans to go to Vatican City in the morning. Without prior research, I did not expect Vatican Museum’s queue would be so long! It stretched around the Vatican City walls towards St. Peter’s Square. It could have easily be 500meters long! I wanted to cut the queue time by getting a private tour in English so I could cut the queue substantially. It worked but I still needed to queue behind every other private tour groups. The Vatican City tour with guide cost me €40. The normal ticket only costs €15 per entry and audio guide costs €7. I strongly recommend the in-house audio guide compared to private tour guide to get the most comprehensive details out of the sophisticated place with its elaborated floor to ceiling paintings, sculptures, ornaments, carvings and décors. The Vatican City grounds are limited in its opening to the public. The Pope only allows the public to have access to the museum, courtyard, St. Peter’s basilica & the Sistine chapel. The globe sculpture at the center of the courtyard is one of the two identical one that was set at The NY Twin Towers at ground Zero. It’s design of globe-in-globe symbolizes the Catholic church embracing the world. This gift was kept in the store and was only taken out for display at the courtyard after the 9-11’s tragedy where the other twin globe was destroyed. The Pope set the globe to commemorate the victims of the 9-11 tragedy. The globe was supposed to have a self spinning mechanism, however on the officiating day, the mechanism broke down and could not be repaired and therefore, many visitors have helped themselves to manually spinning the globe.

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The Sistine Chapel stood as an important place for the election of the Pope when the former one dies. 120 selected candidates will be flown in from all over the world to stay in the Sistine Chapel and get ready to vote to be the new Pope. Everyone must write the name of the person that they want to nominate on a piece of paper. Voting will be done twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. If there’s a 2/3 majority vote, the new Pope will be elected. If there’s no consensus of 2/3 majority, they will need to vote again. They are not allowed to leave the Sistine Chapel until a new Pope has been elected. The public will wait outside of the Chapel for a signal. If black smoke comes out of the chimney, it means there’s no consensus. If a new Pope is elected, white smoke will be released as a signal.

The stories behind the statues, sculptures and paintings were very interesting, Michelangelo did the paintings in the Sistine Chapel and the famous ceiling painting is the 7 panels of creation series. Out of the 7 panels, the first panel that he has painted has the smallest details in the painting and was hard to see every detail from the ground. It was because he hated the environment and long hours of work (he was working 18 hours a day) that he tried to paint in such a manner hoping that the Pope would fire him thereafter but instead, the Pope asked him to paint the rest of the panel but requested it to be painted bigger. The condition which he was working was also very bad, the paintings are to be infused into the ceiling to the ceiling was wet with rotten eggs mixture to prevent it drying up before it’s completed. He was working at it for 4 years in such conditions with his head raised up to look at the ceiling when he painted. It severely affected his posture afterwards. Michelangelo love to incorporate his feelings into his works. The painting in which God has His backside shown was actually Michelangelo’s revenge against the Pope for making him work. He had in fact calculated the position at which the Pope would be sitting in the Sistine Chapel and therefore placed God’s backside above it. 24 years later a new Pope loved Michelangelo’s painting and requested that he return to complete an altar piece at the Sistine Chapel. He started working on it with one condition which is a lessen work hours and free time to leave the Sistine Chapel. He took 6 years to complete the altar piece. He initially painted everyone naked which surrounds Jesus and Mary which are in the middle of the painting. This symbolizes Jesus and Mary in heaven and the rest are in hell. The Pope and his right-hand man came to inspect the painting and his right-hand man commented that this kind of painting reflect a bath house or a brothel and not suitable to be in the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo was furious and added the right-hand man’s at the bottom right painting bound by a snake. This sent off a complaint to the Pope but the Pope did not ask Michelangelo to change it and said he’s only responsible for what’s going on in the heavens. Years later, they hired another painter to clothe all the nakedness.

Other rooms in the Vatican Museum contain tapestry works by Bellini and other artists and maps which was hand painted and measured by traveling from village to village. The collection of 40 maps took 25 years to draw and it has been done more than 400 years ago. Even with the satellite technology that we have now, it shows an 85% accuracy.



I went to the Coliseum at the Colloseo station stop and visited the Coliseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. It’s €12 for a Combi Ticket. The Coliseum is being restored. The view inside is more spectacular than the outside. The gladiator arena platform was being restored and underneath we could see a labyrinth of walls and rooms that was used to store the props and exotic animals to fight the prisoners. The prisoners earn their freedom by winning the game. People of different class and gender used different gates to enter the coliseum the top of the column were used by middle class women. In all it’s glory, the coliseum could fit 75,000 people.


Next to the Coliseum stood the Arc of Constantine next to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. The whole area was superbly huge. I had only allowed myself a mere 3 hours there which was not enough to explore the whole area. Palatine Hill has a rich history, among stood the ruins of the vestal virgins temple. There was someone there with a group of students explaining the history and structure of the vestal virgins temple to my benefit, I eavesdropped. He was given a round of applause from the students when he finished his history narration. I wished I had more time to follow the group and just pay with my applause but time was a luxury I couldn’t afford that day.


Posted by jokermiss 06:48 Archived in Italy Tagged fountain rome Comments (0)

Amsterdam & Volendam

Backpacking Europe Tour

overcast 4 °C

I was initially overwhelmed by the size of Amsterdam airport. Finding my way around has not been easy and I went to the tourist information and bought a good city map for €2.50. The Dutch are very helpful people and they always provide directions with an estimated distance in relativity to time. I took a train from platform 3 at the airport to Amsterdam Centraal (a UNESCO heritage station), it costs me €7.80 for a return ticket. Be careful to read the train information signage as the same platform caters to different train routes. I was told that in Amsterdam everyone speaks English and it is true. As I came out of the Centraal station, the whole feeling was amazing. It’s a great city yet it also has a wonderful homely feeling to it. Bicycles were seen everywhere as well as water canals.


I walked towards the Damrak street and could see people of all ages. It also stood Amsterdam’s sex museum. I walked for 10 minutes and then reached Dam Square right at the junction stood Madame Tusaud & the palace which was under renovation. I checked into the hostel which was a few streets away from Dam Square towards Anne Frank’s house.


I headed out for dinner after checking in and Damrak Street has a few good selection of restaurants. After dinner, I headed out to the Red Light district which is across the street from Damrak Street, you will not missed the vast tourist going towards that area filled with colourful neon lights and bars. In respect to the patrons and the workers there, I did not openly take any pictures of the sexily clad girls dancing at the shop windows. I don’t see many interested customers, mostly window shoppers. It’s fairly safe to walk around the area.


Day time you may visit the Waterlooplein Jewish flea market. It’s not quite interesting for me as a Malaysian but worth a visit if you want to get some souvenirs at bargained prices. I decided to visit Madame Tusaud at 3pm onwards at a discount of €16. There’s also ice bar and the Heineken experience if you want to visit them. But I made my way towards the famous Anne Frank’s House, it’s definitely the most visited museum in Amsterdam, attracting 8 million visitors to date. It is the only place where visiting hours are extended till 9pm on Saturdays. The museum is actually the hiding place for Anne’s family of 8 during the World War II Hitler regime. You can walk into the secret Annex and experience the space and feel they had when they were in the hiding. I had to line up for 1.5 hours to get into the Museum, but it was worth it.




I took an excursion day’s trip out to the Windmills, Cheese Farm and Volendam (the fishing village). I went to see demonstration of the cheese making process and tasted various cheese as well as seen a demonstration on how the famous Holland Clogs are made. By hand, it takes around 7 days or more to carve a pair of clogs but nowadays the clogs are made by machines which takes only 2 minutes to shape it and then left to dry for another 2 weeks. These nicely hand-painted clogs were custom gifts to brides to be from the bridegroom.



From the clog making factory, it took about a 30 minutes ride to reach Volendam, a fishing village. I was quite a lovely village with small departmental stores leading towards the dainty colourful housing area and restaurants facing the sea. Herring is their main catch and food. It was refreshing to take a walk in this fishing village and admire every dainty house with it’s nice décor outside the window sills and the yard.

Posted by jokermiss 06:39 Archived in Netherlands Tagged amsterdam windmills light red district frank anne clogs volendam Comments (0)

Prague with Love

Backpacking in an ancient city

-2 °C


Prague was a dream destination to get to. I remember the dying wish of a friend who so dearly loved to visit Prague if he had a chance before he dies but he didn’t. With me going there, somehow triggered memories about his wish to have been able to go there and me wanting to see it for myself and possibly send him e-images in heaven but I guess heaven would be the most beautiful place for him right now.

The anticipation of travelling in a cross country coach from Mannheim, Germany to Prague was great. I tried to find a flight between Frankfurt & Prague but couldn’t, so I had resorted to take a coach. Most would travel on Euroline coaches but I took the Student Agency coach(A Hungarian company & yes non students are allowed). It was travelling so fast that it took one hour less than the expected arrival time to get to Prague. I had to endure sub zero degrees temperature waiting at the Prague main bus station at 4:30am till 6:00am to get my currency changed and to purchase a train ticket. One thing about traveling across Eastern Europe, don’t expect it to be as classy and modern as the western part of Europe. The heating element in the bus station was close to zero and I saw a couple carried a bench and move it to horde the only one heating element there at the station. But soon after, 3 policemen came and instructed them to carry the bench back to it’s original position and ordered them to stand and face the wall. I was looking everywhere to check for CCTV because the policemen came right to the spot from nowhere.

As soon as the money exchange opened, I got my money changed into their local currency in (Czech Krons, CZ). I bought a 24 hour ticket for CZ100=€4.40 which included all transport on metro, tram and bus. I made my way to Line B of the metro line and went on my way to Namesti Republiky station to get to my accommodation. It was fairly easy to find and my room overlooks a church out my window. I took a quick nap and then make my way out to the streets again when light is up.


Just a few steps away was the Powder Tower and the Municipal House of Prague. It was a nice landmark to see. Then walking further around that place took me to Parizska Street and then connects to Wenceslas Square. The stretch of road down Wenceslas Square is quite long and filled with many high end shops. Must visit is the largest BATA shop (4 storey of it) and the many design of handbags and shoes available. I was later advised by the river cruise guide not to shop in Prague because it’s the most expensive across Europe. At the end of Wenceslas Square is the famous landmark, National Museum of Prague. The metro Line A runs through there as well. After which I took the metro to nearby the Prague castle area. A kindhearted gentleman assisted me on my directions to hop on the tram and hop off right outside the Castle ground area.


Prague castle ground consists of the largest collection of castles in the world. I mean this place is huge! The castle ground contains churches, basilica, castles, palaces, galleries, streets, restaurants, etc… some Cathedrals were built even as early as in the 1300s. This place has been in existence since the 9th century. Every attraction will cost you an entrance fee of around €8. The famous landmarks there are St. Vitus Cathedral, Defense Tower, etc… I managed to catch the changing of guards at the presidential palace which is within the castle grounds as well. Do expect to spend the whole day here walking most of the time. When I could finally find my way out of the overwhelming place, I rushed towards Charles Bridge which was built with eggs as a gluing agent for the bridge 650 years ago. The bridge is a famous landmark here where you will easily find postcards with a composition of the bridge in the onset of the castle grounds at the background. The bridge is filled with statues of saints and the centre piece is of course Jesus Christ on a crucifix. I was quite tired by having to wade through a sea of people on the bridge, some explained them as crazy tourists trying to rub off the statues of the saints. It is said that rubbing at the both ends of the bridge will bring you back to Prague again.


I took a cruise down the river Vlatava which cost CZ290 which takes me on a 50 minute ride from Kampa Island dock around Charles bridge. I managed to try the tasty Czech Beer as a free drink and light snacks that went with it. The cruise guide explained more about each building as the cruise went pass them. One fascinating things was in front of the current presidential palace, once stood Kralin’s statue which was taller than the Jesus statue in Brazil. After the communist regime ended in Czech, the statue was blown apart during 1960s. Most houses along the Vlatava river was the poorest of the community many years ago, but now is the most expensive area given the best view over the bridge and castle ground. A nice traditional Czech meal would include roast/grilled duck meat with potatoes and veggie. Lesser town would serve it at a more reasonable price.


Czech Republic was the famous author Frankz Kafka’s birthplace and the museum stood as a memorial of his life there and the collection of his original writings. It is worth a visit if you are a fan of his works.

Lesser town contains more of Jewish synagogues and other attractions however I couldn’t make my way there because it was a Sabbath and everything was closed for their rest day. I walked towards the Old Town Square from Charles Bridge, catching a glimpse of the astronomical clock to snap a few pictures before standing in front of it at the hour to watch the dance of the apostles. The clock displays 13 different time such as the Babylonian time, zodiac time, sun and moon, and so forth. The square itself have several other churches and cathedrals. Right down the road next to the square is lesser town. Do return to Charles bridge when it is all lit up at night.

Lastly, with just CZ 26, you can take the Metro A line to the last stop and catch a bus no. 119 that will take you to Ruzyne airport. I did wish it was less crowded nevertheless was just alright.

Posted by jokermiss 07:01 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged prague culture church river bridge cathedral romantic europe Comments (0)

From "Mainhattan" to Neckar River Germany

Frankfurt, Mannheim, Heidelberg & Ladenburg

4 °C



Traveling in end winter season around Europe was the obvious choice for me as a single traveler looking to save some Euro. Germany was a country that I've always hoped to visit after hearing stories of enchanting castles, arts and culture as well as the ultra high-tech German technology.

Even though Berlin is the capital of Germany, I have decided to fly to Frankfurt which is also called “Mainhattan”, mainly to visit a friend who is based at Mannheim. Frankfurt Flughafen or Frankfurt Airport is one of the biggest and busiest Airport in Europe. The signs could be rather confusing and the Airport has a few terminals and levels. I needed to catch a train to my friend’s place in Mannheim which is a 30 minutes train ride on the ICE train from the airport. Make sure you know where you are going because the Frankfurt Flughafen Station serves various train services such as Regional-Express (medium-distance semi-fast trains for regional services)Regionalbahn (basic local service, usually calling at all stations)S-Bahn (suburban rail transport offered mainly by Deutsche Bahn, sometimes by others)U-Bahn (underground). I landed in Terminal 2, to take the ICE train which is the Fernbahnhof, I needed to get to Terminal 1. Signages are all over the place and points to different directions. If you are confused, just ask around for directions. Germans are not naturally friendly or will greet you with a smile but they are exceptionally helpful. Even with their broken English, they would sometimes grab your arm to bring you along your way. I have met a nice German lady on my flight here from Malaysia, her name is Brigitta. Coincidentally she is on her way to Ulm, which will need to take a train change at Mannheim, so we went along together to catch the train.



Mannheim is the second largest city in the Baden-Württemberg, mainly it’s a commercial city. The main attractions I found there was the Summer Palace which is partly used by the University of Mannheim and partly a museum. Museum entry costs 6 Euro and includes an Audio Guide in English. You can expect magnificent Michelangelo-like ceiling paintings and interior fittings of different era of the rulers. The main symbol is the water tower of Mannheim. My friend’s place is right in front of the stop at Marktplatz which on Tuesdays and Thursdays they’ll have the fresh market selling homegrown vegetables, food stuff and fresh flowers. I needed tickets to travel on busses, trams and trains. So we went to the Rnv office at Paradeplatz to buy a ticket. It costs 9.30 Euro for a 24 hours ticket that covers a wider area and I took a 40 minute tram ride to the city of Heidelberg, the third largest city in Baden-Württemberg .



I could see interesting design of houses along the way and enjoyed the ride. I hopped off at Bizmarkplatz after getting some help from a local youngster who struggled to answer my question on how many more stations to my stop, it is not because he doesn’t know where it is, but he was trying to figure out the words to explain to me in English. I arrived at Bizmarkplatz and walk towards the old town it was a pretty long but scenic walk around 1.5km with lots of interesting shops, museum, churches along the way. Watch out for Kurpfalzisches Museum which contains many historical paintings and sculptures. The details are really amazing and the eyes looked as though they could talk. The entrance fee is only 3 Euro. Along the old town stood the University of Heidelberg as well as other old landmarks. Also as I continued towards smaller roads, I’ve found the Friedrich Ebert Museum (Free of charge) along the back lane near Heidelberg Marktplatz, it comes with a free audio guide too! My intended destination in Heidelberg was the Schloss castle upon the hill. At the foot hill is the Kornmarkt train station. With a Combi ticket at 5 Euro, you get a train ride and covers for the entrance fee to the castle. However, I have paid additional 4 Euro for the audio guide to make my tour more meaningful. It will tell you about the history of the castle, the kings and queens, designers, architects, sculptures and statues, etc. This castle was burnt when lightning struck and was never used again. Take a walk after the castle all the way to the garden to have a spectacular view point of the city & Neckar River or you could hop on the same train again uphill to have a higher viewing point of the city. I chose to descend to old town and walked towards Carl-Theodore Bridge. Do try to fit your head into the famous bridge monkey’s head for a nice photo shot. It is said that if you rub on the monkey, you will surely return to Heidelberg again, touch the mirror he holds for wealth.



As you walk across the bridge, you’ll notice huge colourful mansions opposite and those belong to the rich owners whom will have the best view in Heidelberg. This city speaks of romance & medieval times which made me feel in love with it. I definitely would like to return to it some day.


The next small town closer to Mannheim is Ladenburg. It is a lesser known suburb which is off the tourist grid on the map. I took a train from Mannheim to Friedrichfeld and then switch train to Ladenburg. It is a small town filled with colourful houses, parks, Mercedes Benz Museum (only opens on Saturdays), churches, marketplace and cemetery. People are very friendly too. It’s worth a visit away from the hustle and bustle of big cities if you have time to spare.



I headed out to Frankfurt City for a day trip from Frankfurt Am Main Haupbahnhof to Romerberg/Romer, the central square of Frankfurt Am Main which was also the municipality of the city. There are numerous attractions nearby such as St. Nicholaus Church, St. Bartholomew Church and so forth. It’s nice to walk along the Main River. It’s a nice walk and many nice restaurants and shops to look at. Take a look at the railings of Eiserner Steg Bridge in Frankfurt, look out for love padlocks with couple’s names on it. Make sure you don’t miss the pork knuckles, pork legs and other wurst specialty in Germany. Kick in with a jug of German beer while you are at it too.
My next destination from Germany is taking an overnight bus ride from Mannheim to Prague. But that’s another adventure to tell in the next blog.




Posted by jokermiss 01:43 Archived in Germany Tagged bridges culture river museum castle europe Comments (0)

Bandung, Indonesia

sunny 23 °C

Bandung is the cooler part of the Indonesia Java island as it's situated at the altitude of 768m with the surroundings of lush and beautiful mountains, tea plantations that makes the climate mild and pleasant. Bandung is most famous with the locals as the city where many universities are situated and many people from Jakarta takes a quick shopping holiday in Bandung because it's only a mere 2 hours drive away.

There are many good hotels for you to choose from. The city is famous for it's interesting architecture (old and new) and being a clothing production city, it offers a wide variety of fashion and apparels at a very reasonable price. We spent the first day shopping around Jalan Riau, Jalan Dago, JalanSukajadi & Jalan Setiabudi. The streets are filled with road side stalls and street stalls as well as factory outlets and local Distros. If you prefer a more familliar branding items, you may want to hit a mall. Chi-Walk mall at Jalan Chihampelas is a good spot to hangout. Rumah Mode is a must go shopping house!

If you are tired and need some rest for food and drinks, do try their very own bottle of Teh Botol (sweet local tea drink in a bottle), my very favourite is their avocado juice and markisar juice. The juices are thick and smooth which no water or ice added. Nothing beats a cool avocado with chocolate/oreo drink after a long hard day of shopping. Never miss trying out or take home a Brownie Kukus (Steamed brownie) from Bandung. It's really an all time favourite at only USD4 a box!

Taxis are easily available, however some taxis will not go by meter. The best taxi company is Blue Bird. You can recognise them by the blue colour bird logo on their taxis. You can also call them to reserve a taxi by calling (62)(22) 7561234. If you decide to go outskirts of Bandung for a more scenic adventure, you may want to call a transport rental company to rent a car with the driver. They usually have service for rent including the driver for 12 or 18 hours a day charge inclusive of petrol and driver's fee. The company to call for this service is Cipaganti (62)(22) 2034376. Usualy rates for all inclusive 12 hour rental could range between USD 60-70. Just get your itinerary ready for the driver the next day when he appears at your hotel lobby.

A trip to Bandung would not be complete without a nice plan to visit Mount Tangkupan Perahu, just outskirts of Bandung town. I suggest you plan your itinerary as such: early in the morning, get your driver to drive to Mount tangkupan perahu, but as you pass by Lembang, just look out for a place that sells fresh cow's milk (flavoured are available too) and get him to stop you at the place to try some milk. Then proceed to Mount tangkupan perahu or Tangkuban Parahu in local sundanese dialect, is an active volcano 30 km north of the city of Bandung, the provincial capital of West Java, Indonesia. It is a popular tourist attraction where tourists can hike or ride to the edge of the crater to view the hot water springs upclose, and buy eggs cooked on its hot surface. This stratovolcano is on the island of Java and last erupted in 1983. Scary as it sounds, it's actually quite a fun adventure and educational trip. You can smell the sulphur from the top and a guide will take you around the top and explain about the place. Charges apply for the tour guide but it's necessary for a first timer to pay as he will be guiding you down to the crater. Please remember that charges apply by the hour. Entrance fee is Rp50,000 for foreigners but it's worth while if you like hiking downhill. Your driver will be waiting for you at the foothill of the hike to pick you up again. You might want to wear hiking shoes for this as the volcanic steam comes up quite frequently when you are at the crater. After the hike, we proceeded to Seri Ater, which is a hot spring area and by paying a small fee, you cna spend some time soaking yourselves in the hot spring water and have a splash there. After that, you may proceed to Sindang Reret for some Sundanese food. You may want to try eating gold fish if you are adventurous enough, but not for me.

As you are driving along the tea plantations, take time to ask your driver to stop along some small stalls that overlooks the tea plantation. They serve some nice mouth watering desserts like Pisang keju (Banana with cheese) and Jagung Keju (Corn with cheese). You can eat them while enjoying a nice green scenary overlooking the tea plantations for awhile in the late afternoon. By 5pm, you may want to ask the driver to take you to The Peak where it's the best place to view a good sunset before the sun goes down. Although the modern restaurant looks tempting for you to dine there, I strongly suggest another more interesting spot which is called Kampung Daun for a more outdoor, balinese feel, fusion food dinning restaurant which is rather romantic as well. As we walk in, we sould hear waterfalls and nice jungle sound with lanterns litted around the place and we were placed in a nice gazebo enjoying the outdoor nature. Just take your sweet time spending 2-3 hours there or even take a short nap to recuperate from the day's trip. After that, you may proceed back to Bandung city at around 10-11pm to The Valley Restaurant at Jalan Lembah Pakar Timur off Jalan Dago (end of it) to have a nice dessert and enjoy the night scene of Bandung city from the top of the restaurant. you day is complete :)

Mount Tangkupan Perahu

Tea Plantation

Ciater Hotspring

Kampung Daun's Ambience

Teh botol

Posted by jokermiss 00:58 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bandung Comments (0)

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