Rome, Italy – Day 2 (03.03.13)

Standard

On our second day, we walked A LOT. We (my sister and I) walked to piazzas like Piazza del Campidoglio and Piazza di Spagna. From Piazza di Spagna we went up the famous Spanish Steps. It was good exercise! At the top we were rewarded by a great view of the city. The autumn-themed colors of the buildings, the green trees and the fairly nice weather made Rome all the more charming. From there, we walked to the Borghese gardens. It’s not really hard to find your way in Rome since:

                1. city maps are free
                2. lots of people know how to speak English
                3. almost everywhere are well “signed” (just follow the signs).

Rome was quite warm and gave me a break from the cold of Hungary. People (locals and tourists) were just everywhere and lounging around the piazzas.

We had an early dinner at Recafe. The food was okay. Nothing special really. Anyway, from Recafe we walked to the hotel. We passed by this piazza thing that was sooo nice at sunset/night.

Rome is a fairly well-lit and there’s almost always some tourists or safe-looking locals so walking around at night seems safe. Haha.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ah Rome. Ti voglio bene!

GENE

Rome, Italy (03.02.13)

Standard

It has always been a dream for me to go to Italy.

The first time I watched The Godfather years and years ago and read Merchant of Venice. I was hooked. I needed to go to Italy. It didn’t help my growing interest in the country and its history that I absolutely loved eating and cooking Italian food either.

ANYWAYS…

Rome is a beautiful city. I felt as if I was in two time periods, ancient and modern. It was so very easy to visualize how the Romans lived before.

My sister and I actually booked a tour package for Rome from Insight Vacation which was the worst thing we could have possibly done. Insight Vacations has luxurious packages. I won’t really go into the story of why we availed of this service but we did get a nice hotel. We stayed at La Griffe Hotel in Nazionale street. It was supposedly a 5-star hotel in Rome and it was pretty expensive for one night. The tour package included buffet breakfast for two. The staff was really nice and the hotel was well located. You can walk to the Spanish Steps in 15 minutes and to the many little churches (the Ecstasy of St. Theresa for example was in a church very near the hotel).  The coliseum was also quite near. About 25 minutes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anyway, my hotel room was nice. Spacious enough and I love the walls. It was so smooth. Venetian Plaster!

We ate at Zeus RIstorante across the street. We wasted the day planning our itinerary because surprisingly, the tour package does not include actual touring.

Aside from Budapest, I think the real highlight of my Eurotrip was Rome. I love love it. It was just so charming and the people…I LOVE THE PEOPLE. I felt genuinely at home (or as home-like as I could feel). Italians or at least Romans seemed like a happy bunch. :)

GENE

La Vallee Village, France (03.01.13)

Standard

For our last day, we decided to go to an outlet store to look around and possibly do some shopping.

It was a quick train ride from Paris to La Vallee (I think the stop was Europa? Or at the Disneyland stop). After acting like lost lambs in the train station, a nice black dude approached us and helped us out. He was probably used to helping out asians in finding the mall and the outlet store (cause he said so himself). The mall (I forgot the name) was nice–so many shops selling so many good-looking breads and pastries. Drool. We walked and just followed the signs to La Vallee. The outlet store was quaint. Lots of designer shops with really good discounts or marked down prices since all the things they sell are from previous seasons. My sister and I didn’t buy anything cause our tendency to shop a lot probably just comes every other month or something )or at least my tendency).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anyway, after strolling around the outlet store we went back to the mall for lunch. We passed by this churros stall. For 99 cents you get a big paper cone of churros with a hot nutella dip. My sister and I bought and it was probably one of the best churros I have ever had. But let me just say this, the experience of buying the churros from that stall pissed me off. The French dude was rude and the French girl selling chestnuts across (but was in the churros stall mingling and eating) the churros stall was rude and gross. The French dude was talking with another French woman and so my sister and I decided to wait a bit, but there was no relenting their endless dialogue and so we loudly but politely ordered churros. The dude didn’t even give us ANY sort of recognition that he heard us and/or acknowledgement that we were there. He was just cooking and talking. And so my sister and I waited and waited hoping that what he was cooking was ours and that he heard us. We even kept repeating politely that we wanted one. And then the chestnut girl was so loud and kept getting from the fresh batch of churros and DOUBLE DIPPING in the hot container of nutella. I told my sister that we should just go since they didn’t seem interested at all. So my sister and I turned our backs and started to walk to the entrance beside the stall when the dude shouted at us, “Do you want it or not?! I’m cooking it and give me a minute! Blabla.” After a minute he was done and we paid and I’m thankful that the nutella dip the guy got was before the chestnut girl dipped her churros of saliva. It was the best and it was the worst. :|

Anyway we ate lunch at the Hippopotamus Cafe. The food was adequately priced and the food was okay. The burger was nothing special (they claimed it as French beef–it was just normal beef to me) but the pork ribs that my sister ordered was delicious. The meat was juicy and soft and melts in your mouth. Dessert was okay, some platter thing. We took the train back and just packed our stuff for our departure the next day and basically we lazed around in the room. We took an Air France plane to Rome and let me just say that the plane was disgusting. The chairs were itchy, the carpeted plane smelled musky and the windows were oily. And I’m sure the oil came from someone’s face. :| It was a nightmare. I felt so dirty. :(

GENE

Montmarte, Paris, France – Day 4 (2.28.13)

Standard

NOTE: Some photos in the slideshow may not be age-appropriate. So mature viewers only? (I made sure to only include the ones that aren’t so..out there–so the photos are pretty tamed…I think).

As a psychology graduate, one of my main interests is human sexuality. Why?

Cause it’s interesting. D-uh.

My sister and I didn’t include Amsterdam to our plans so… well, if there was a red light district near me, why pass up the chance? Sadly, I didn’t go to any strip bars/clubs cause I like to delude my self that I am a self-respecting lady. Hahahaha.

Anyway, we really just went to the Montmarte area to see Musee de Erotisme near the Moulin Rouge. We got a bit lost because our travel book indicated an address that was wrong. We ended up at a pizzeria instead. I asked a young Parisian man who seemed friendly enough and I showed him the page of my travel book…sad to say he was shocked and even did a gasp and he just said that he didn’t know and he surreptitiously backed away from me and did a nervous giggle and walked away while looking at me and shaking his head. TRUE STORY.

I wasn’t sure if I had my pervert face on… My face could have offended him. Or maybe he suspected that I had certain intentions and what-nots.

But since we really didn’t know where it was, we decided to ask the pizzeria man who kindly pointed the building to us while raising an eyebrow. After a quick walk, we were finally able to find it. It was in the same side as the Moulin Rouge, past the souvenir shop with the bulky French man who looked Russian really, and past a strip club brothel thing and a sex shop.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The museum was fun! Lots of penises and vaginas on display. There were several floors featuring either several artists or themes. I liked watching the really old porn cartoons. Funny. Haha. I also liked the bedazzled/bejeweled sex tableaus and the cute animals mating tableau. I actually found the sculptures of a demon demonizing some nuns quite interesting. And also the priest sculptures doing their thaaang. You know, that thing in the love shacks confession booths. Okay, devout catholics, don’t burn me or anything. I do have a reason why I find the “heretical” things interesting… That’s because I’m from a country with a history of people who were forced to convert to Catholics (“Die or be Catholic b%^&h!” was probably the mantra of the Spanish friars and soldiers 500 or so years ago, haha) and where priests spread (quite literally) their “love” (juice) everywhere with (in) the Filipino women. So seeing those sculpture were concretizing a reality that Filipino women before experienced.

ANYWAY. Some paintings though were a bit too grotesque for me (the top floor), which says a lot because I’m the kind of person who can eat while watching or talking about gross things (message me for an anectode or proof, hahaha), and also laugh during horror and gore movies… :|

I liked the museum cause there were brief but concise descriptions of most of the stuffs displayed. It was so interesting how sexuality was so tied up to the many facets of everyday living.

I think the sexual culture of a country or people is indicative (insert statistical data here) of many other things pertaining to the people’s social and personal dispositions. Plus, there’s nothing really wrong with appreciating human sexuality. There are just too many people putting malice and perversion into the whole thing that it becomes somewhat of a taboo in many countries…like in the Philippines. Geesh, I can’t even keep count of how many times people have called me a pervert or maniac just because I like discussing things like paraphilias and stuff (How can you not be interested in that? It’s so interesting). :| Anyway, this is definitely a must-see for curious people. I’m not sure if I want to go to any strip clubs although I am quite curious. But for sure, one thing I like about French people or Parisians is that they do their thing with not much pretense or the pressure to please others. In a way, there’s this genuine honesty (redundant?) behind how they are.

GENE

Versailles, France – Day 4 (2.28.13)

Standard

Well after suffering a nasty headache and a series of visual hallucinations of the infinite paintings and sculptures I looked and stared at the Louvre, my sister and I decided to not go to a museum the next day. Instead we went to Versailles and walked around the huge palace compound.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I loved walking around the compound. It was very big and spacey.

The palace was grand, the gardens were huge. But the hedges that formed those maze gardens things…they stunk like crap and some other nasty things. Bwuerch. :S

We also went into the royal apartments and it was nice that we could take photos inside for free. In my opinion though, I didn’t really like Versailles. I mean sure it was big and luxurious and the amount of embellishments and fancy stuff was really overwhelming but I wasn’t at awe. Going to Versailles, I think I found the exact reason why I didn’t connect with Paris or at least I didn’t find it as beautiful as a lot of people do. The reason being that a lot of things in both places are just extensively, unnecessarily and uselessly lavish (or something). There was too much of everything that I was figuratively and possibly literally lost as to which to look at first. Which one to appreciate more. There was really just too much of everything that I wasn’t able to grasp…let’s say, the essence of such things? The significance? The history? It was like simplicity was a foreign concept there. :|

Versailles was nice. But I wouldn’t say beautiful.

The gardens were nice but my practical self nagged me the entire time. Too much space was wasted. I mean what do you need this and that for. And et cetera et cetera. The royal apartments got me really dizzy too. Although I did love the walls of some of the rooms–the boiseries or the paneling were nicely done.

It’s not my first time exploring a really big palace compound but it was my first time feeling disappointed and not at awe in one. If you’ve been to the Forbidden Palace in Beijing, China… Wow (Even Castle Hill in Budapest was more beautiful for me than Versailles). The compound was huge. The walls were intimidating. Golden whatever everywhere. Gardens and fountains. Big structures as well. The palace there was lavish enough but there was an essence of simplicity and practicality. It was beautiful for me because walking around and seeing the things there…well, it felt like everything held meaning. Everything had a story to tell. It felt like it wasn’t built just because this snooty king or emperor wanted this other snooty king or emperor to know he was richer or has more style. Going to Versailles, it really felt like that. Like you were walking around a compound that really stood for a meaningless competition between this kingdom and that kingdom. And as far as my European history goes–this little tiffs (not so little if you consider the general public then) were common occurrences among the rich monarchs before.

Lots of people would probably disagree with me. I do tend to put a lot of sentimentality and also practicality in determining what’s beautiful or not. :|

Anyway, I still enjoyed Versailles, at least the walking part. But I think this really would be just a one time thing for me. When I go back to France (which will happen), I will definitely go to Nice, Nantes, Aix-En-Provence, Corsica and Honfleur. I’ll probably go back to Paris to do some shopping but that’s probably it. :|

GENE

Paris, France – Day 3 (2.27.13)

Standard

THE LOUVRE. Ahhhh.

Mona Lisa and the nipple tweaking girls.

Both of these famous works of art have graced all mediums of media. I’m glad that I was finally was given the chance to see them up close.

First and foremost… the Mona Lisa was so small. :| When I entered the gallery and I saw people crowding at this area, I was like, “Oh the Mona Lisa would definitely be there.” I approached the area and was “Where the hell is it?” And poof, after pushing people aside and stomping on them, I saw it. It was small and it looked weird to me because my mind kept saying that Mona Lisa was definitely Da Vinci cross dressing. I liked the nipple tweak-ers better. Haha!

The Louvre had lots of visitors but I was told that the crowd didn’t even reach 60% of the peak season crowd. My favorite were the marble sculptures. I can’t remember the names anymore, but the sculptures were definitely favorites. Especially the naked ones. Haha. And excuse my lack of art knowledge but while browsing the paintings, Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson’s works really captured my attention. There was really something about them. I also liked that painting by somebody where a cherub was stabbing some saint with an arrow.

I enjoyed looking at the collections but I’m sorry, after three hours and me still not seeing the exit, I seriously told my sister that I wanted to escape from this IKEA museum. :| After sometime, the feeling of awe and excitement faded away and desperation and panic seeped in because the Louvre reminded me of IKEA and the Duty Free mall in my country…Where you have to go around the entire building to taste freedom again. :| Also, my eyes were so tired that whenever I closed my eyes for a few seconds I see paintings. I got dizzy too. I still enjoyed the Louvre despite the after effects.

Oh yeah, it was definitely better to bring your own food rather than buy food in the Louvre.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anyway, after the Louvre we went to Notre Dame. The church was beautiful. I like gothic architecture (I don’t know much about it but I like looking at them) and the Notre Dame, I think, is probably one of the nicest products of it. I was disappointed that we couldn’t go up to see the gargoyles, but well, at least being able to enter the church was well worth-it. To highlight my day, I saw an amazingly swirled piece of shit going back to my hotel. Le Poo Poo indeed.

Gene