(Or: How every Korean Guidebook leads to Rome)
22/09/2012 - 01/10/2012
Meeting my girlfriend for the first time in six months was definitely strange...I had booked a room at the beautiful Double Tree Hotel in Milan and when I finally arrived at the desk after hours of sitting in trains, planes and taxis worrying about what our meeting would be like, I was told someone was already in my room..
My heart pounded as I opened the door and found...a stranger..
A person I hadn't seen in such a long time, that I only knew from pictures and webcam conversations, now sitting in front of me. We were incredibly awkward, not at all like how I had imagined it in my head a dozen times before I even set foot in the hotel.
But as the hours went by and we talked more and more, once again she became more familiar to me, and by the time night fell it was as if we'd been apart no longer than a few weeks.
Considering the condensed nature of our trip, I doubt I'll find time to be able to do more than upload a few pictures every now and then, but I hope you'll enjoy those just the same. [Note: I wrote these entries down in my notepad during the trip. As you might've noticed, we've been so busy I didn't have time to even upload one picture, which I will now make up to you, don't worry!]
Milan has an amazing Duomo (like...'main church', I guess?) but other than that, there's not that much to see there. We were lucky that Milano Fashion Week was going on right as we were there, which was pretty neat, but we couldn't go to any of the shows because they all took place in the evening and our hotel wasn't very close to the center. At the same time, Milano Film Festival was also going on. I know, crazy, right? But we only found out on our second day and the only movie that was still playing was some crappy French one about nature or something. Bummer.
[My little stranger having breakfast...probably this picture was taken around noon at the earliest]
[The Duomo of Milan in all its awesomeness. Not only is it a very pretty building, it's also a great meeting point for when you get lost!]
[Some people still believe famous churches are actually churches where you can speak to God. Haha!]
[I love ancient architecture, and although Eastern Europe easily takes the nerdgasm cake, Milan wasn't half bad]
[Some confetti thrown around the entrance to the Fashion Week tent made me want to take out my camera]
[The pizzas we had for dinner were so huge, we had to take half of them back home, riding this super cute wooden tram]
The second stop on the program was Venice, a city I only knew from television and the anime Aria. Turns out those two things aren't necessarily the best source of information about a place, since it certainly didn't look as calm and serene as Neo-Venezia did, courtesy of the droves of tourists. However, Venezia was beautiful in a way that can't be captured in video, and I much enjoyed my time there. There were small, narrow streets and hidden plazas everywhere, the smell of the sea felt fresh and invigorating and there was always a magnificent vista to behold.
On the first day, we met up with some of GaHui's friends (from her volunteer project near Milan) and on the second we set out on our own. Traveling the islands through boat routes was lots of fun, and it was easy to waste hours just walking around aimlessly, taking in the sights. Some islands were less busy than others, the tourists seemed to be concentrated on Murano and the main island. This made the walking all the more enjoyable, since the streets were mostly filled with locals doing...local...things. It felt more like visiting a place than like visiting a theme park, which is something I really enjoy even though I also love doing the touristy things.
[GaHui and her friends from Korea and Germany. They were all looking at something in the water so intrigued so I decided to snap a picture, but GaHui alerted everyone so I ended up with this]
[It's not true that the only way to get around Venice is by gondola, but it is true that you're gonna need a boat if you want to hop from one island to the next]
[And yeah, if the gondolas didn't cost €175 for 45 minutes maybe we would've taken one of those, too]
[Nothing much to say about this picture I guess, but I should put something here, so actually when I looked at the sign there it reminded me of how terrible Italians are to tourists. They're just as bad, if not worse, as the French, always assuming you want to learn their language and actually making you order in Italian instead of English because dohoho who'd want to be polite to the people who pay your wage, right?]
[The famous Bridge of Sighs. When my dad asked if we had crossed under it in a gondola, I said that you don't need that bridge to make you sigh when you see the gondola prices. HOHOHO]
[An example of the many beautiful little canals piercing the entire city]
[One morning we woke up to see the sky outside was orangy/red, with a pretty little rainbow finishing the picture. Bob Ross probably would've caught it better than my camera did though]
['You'll never use that tripod' she said...LOOK MOM, NO HANDS!]
[We were lucky enough that the 7 bed dorm was completely empty during our stay, so we basically had a private room for like a fourth of the money, aww yeah!]
[GaHui's survival instinct really came out when we were caught in dire circumstances such as having fruit but not having a place to wash it]
[Yeah..so? I can't take a black and white shot?]
[Or one with only one color? Come on, it's on the camera, I don't want to waste it]
[So many pictures from Venice, right? I'm sorry, but the place is just so beautiful]
[D'awww, who's the cutest couple? You are, you are~]
[Meanwhile GaHui was hunting cats. If you want the pictures, please contact her]
[While I was taking these tripod pictures I was constantly worrying if someone was going to steal my camera. Luckily after 2 months NOTHING was stolen!]
[As you may or may not know, I really love beer, so I had as many traditional beers as I could in every country we visited, but when I saw this shop selling Duff beer from The Simpsons, I just had to try it. It wasn't bad, really, better than Italian beer at least]
[This picture was taken in a very Mission: Impossible style. I saw this statue in the hall of a church we visited, and I was like "Damn, that'd be awesome to high-five" (this was after drinking the Duff beer) but at that point mass had just begun, and two old ladies were loitering around the hall and people were walking in and out, so when the old people finally sat down in the church and there was a short time with no people coming in, we quickly took this]
[GaHui, of course, had the bad luck that she had to look for cards and souvenirs everywhere we went. I know, I know, I'm sure some of you would've also liked something, but let me tell you it was really great not to have to worry about that stuff]
[Venice was beautiful by night, and walking along the water was a true pleasure]
Florence was a bit of a bummer compared to the beauty of Venice. Not only was the city itself kinda dirty, there also wasn't that much to do and the Gods decided it was time to show us that there is such a thing as autumn in Italy too, so it rained a lot. Also we got stung by giant mutant mosquitoes!
Aside from that though, Florence wasn't all bad. There was a lot of beautiful leather stuff to buy ("This city is tough as leather" - Lee Gahui, 2012) and the Duomo was quite nice. We even decided to pay to walk to the top for the magnificent view. I bought a new wallet (my first 'adult' one, be proud of me dad!) and GaHui got some souvenirs.
Oh, and on the first night in our hostel here (we were staying in both hotels and hostels during our trip, depending on the costs) I had one of my infamous night terrors...we shared a room with three other asian girls, and I woke up at 4AM screaming FUCK FUCK FUCK!! at the top of my lungs. Meanwhile GaHui couldn't stop laughing until I stopped shouting. Later she told me that the girl next to her was trembling with fear in her bed. Feels pretty bad man!
The next stop is Rome, after which we'll be heading back to the Netherlands.
[Apparently Italians don't like my girlfriend much...]
[Anonymous is legion, lulz. You wouldn't believe the amount of 9fag crap that was being sold in the big cities in Italy, seriously]
[The Florence Duomo, famous from some sort of book, when you go up with your lover, you will always be together. Well, for €8 to climb some stairs, I sure hope so]
[Although I guess the view was also sorta worth it]
[I'd love to write more about what GaHui would say about these pictures and stuff, but I'm afraid I haven't been clued in, so I'll just say that I really enjoy looking at pictures of her so I hope you do too!]
[Personally I thought this was the nicest place in Florence]
[So we decided to take lots of pictures!]
The last place we visited was Rome, the cultural capital of Europe. I had fond memories of Rome from when I went there on a school trip over 6 years ago. Many things had changed in those years. This time, I wasn't a kid running around freely, I was an adult who had to plan for himself, manage his own money and find his own way. I felt the lack of a guide was a huge miss here, as I couldn't remember enough about my favorite historical period to enlighten GaHui. Thus, even though we saw many beautiful sights and had a great time, I still feel like I let her down a little.
Nevertheless, ancient Rome was as beautiful and wonderful as it was when I was just a kid, and I'm glad I could share it with my love.
Highlights for me were the many happy couples we saw taking wedding pictures in the evenings near the Colosseum and the terrible walk I had one night where I decided 'Oh, I'll just circle this excavation, I'm sure it'll be fine' and ended up walking, climbing and exhausting for about 2 hours. Man that wasn't really much of a highlight...I should've written more stuff down!
[We were in a hotel quite far outside of the center because it costs a fortune to have a private room in Rome, but the connection was very good]
[Obligatory perfect-girl-with-Colosseum-in-background picture]
[We discussed about going in and getting a guide for literally two days on and off, and in the end we didn't even go inside...that was sort of an omen for other things to come]
[I'm kinda not sure where this was, but it sure is pretty!]
[Praying while wearing a FLORENCE - VICE CITY shirt...you think God would just ignore me?]
[Lots of beautiful places to take pictures in Rome, and because we went there during Fall, it wasn't very busy at all]
[Obligatory but still pretty nice Colosseum-by-night picture]
[Seriously there were like 50 people with tripods taking pictures on the other side]
[We walked around the Forum Romanum for about 4 hours because I remembered it as being awesome....turns out it's only awesome when someone else is telling you about what you're looking at and when it isn't raining..]
[However in between the bouts of rain it kinda looks like it was really sunny so we can just go home and pretend the weather was perfe...]
[Okay look it was kinda crappy for a while in Rome okay but most of the time it was really great!]
[I like these night shots that I took when I went out on my own for a few hours]
So, that's it for now guys.
Next week, we're in the Netherlands, and I might just slap together all of our Holland time into one post.
Will I really?
I dunno, stay tuned!