Part 8: Roaming through the wonders of ancient Rome + Vatican

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Day 21 (Tuesday) / Rome

During the trip, I was mentioning to my friend how lucky we were that everything had gone according to plan and nothing has screwed up.. and.. then there was an earthquake somewhere in the middle of Italy and.. well, we were scheduled to take the 941am train from florence and reach rome at 1045am, but almost all the trains going down south were delayed!

We ended up sitting and stoning at the train station for almost 2 hours! Also, we couldn’t find any free toilet in the train station (and we couldn’t wonder too far off in case our train arrive), and i ended up paying 1 euro for the toilet. ouch. it was painful =/ Then again, I can’t complain much for all the “free” rides I have taken thus far =/

Well, we couldn’t complain much because.. the train that came was a eurostar train!! this euro star train was the best train that i ever set! the seats were so modern and there was even a headrest! haha we were “WOW-ed” by the train. It was our one and only eurostar train the whole trip and i remember it was red in colour. ^_^ every dark cloud has its silver lining.

Couldn’t remember what time we reached Rome Termini station but I remember that I was starving =/

Contrary to the “dangerous Rome”, what greeted me was a Termini station (or at least the exit that I was at), with police officers on duty? Then again, you shouldn’t risk anything at any cost. Just be very alert and of course, do not flash any of your valuables.

Once again, my brilliant pre-planning and map directed us safely to our accommodation 2-3 streets away, approximately 5 mins walk. With the dragging of our heavy luggage, maybe we took 10 mins.

We stayed at A Casa di Penelope. 30 euros each for a 3 room w/ attached toilet. Since we booked through an online agent, hostelsclub, we were not entitled to the breakfast vouchers.

This guesthouse is actually within a private apartment, which I believe that locals live in the other units. There’s a lift too (do not worry about you heavy luggage)

The service was so-so and the rooms had simple finishing which makes it look rather clean! Came with a TV too. and the best part of it, it has RAIN SHOWER. hahaha. However, the wi-fi signal was a little weak on the 3rd floor (modem was on the 2nd floor) and there were times we couldn’t get any connection at all!

After throwing the luggage into our rooms, we roamed around the area until we settled for a restaurant which offered 5.50 euros set lunch. i had potato with fish and it was kind of awkwardly acceptable =/ “what you pay is what you get”

Potato with fish dish for 5.50 euros. The quality of the food agrees with its price =/ photo 411577_10151038397781209_929595165_o.jpg

After lunch, we went to the bus station and took a bus to the attractions area. As usual, we bought a one-way bus ticket for 1.50 euros and this was the only ticket we bought in Rome.

I can’t remember which bus we took but we kind of alighted at the wrong stop but after using the GPS from my phone and the Guide Pal iPhone app, we manage to locate ourselves.

First up, Piazza Venezia — houses the tomb of the unknown soldier. Commemorating those who died in WW1 and that the bodies were not found.

 Piazza Venezia -- houses the tomb of the unknown soldier. Commemorating those who died in WW1 and that the bodies were not found. photo 483322_10151099474581209_2046263071_n.jpg
Random sightings along the way. this is the trouble when you travel without a guide. This is probably just some remains from the ancient Rome empire.
I have yet to find out what this is about. Probably some remains of ancient Rome.. photo 581943_10151099475066209_1803550721_n.jpg
Elephant and Obelisk — The Elephant and Obelisk is a sculpture designed by the Italian artist Gianlorenzo Bernini. (Rome is full of Bernini sculptures)
 Elephant and Obelisk.The Elephant and Obelisk is a sculpture designed by the Italian artist Gianlorenzo Bernini. (Rome is full of Bernini sculptures) photo 483079_10151099475286209_1473176756_n.jpg
Outside the Pantheon
Outside the Pantheon. photo 541366_10151099475566209_552449771_n.jpg
Pantheon – Built more than 1800 years ago, the magnificent Pantheon building still stands as a reminder of the great Roman empire.
 Pantheon - Built more than 1800 years ago, the magnificent Pantheon building still stands as a reminder of the great Roman empire. photo 582591_10151099475796209_412379400_n.jpg
Inside the Pantheon:
The Dome is the widest masonry dome in Europe. 43.3m wide.
It’s amazing how this hole lights up the whole interior.. so you must be thinking what happens when it rains. (There is indeed a puddle of water right in the middle)
It's amazing how this hole lights up the whole interior.. so you must be thinking what happens when it rains. That area just gets wet. LOL. photo 409687_10151099476621209_493717159_n.jpg
Inside the Pantheon, it houses the tomb of the famous Raphael (yes the name of the ninja turtle).
If I didn’t recall wrongly,  no one knows what is this structure really used for.. hmm.
Piazza Navona
The only thing you have to take note in this busy square is the lovely central Fountain of Four Rivers which was painstakingly designed by Bernini.
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This is part of ‘The Four Rivers’ fountain, a Baroque art.The fountain features four figures, each representing a river from a different continent – the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio della Plata.The central fountain, Fountain of the Rivers or Fontana Dei Fiumi, represents Water on the Path of the Illumination in the story. (Angels & Demons by Dan Brown)
This is part of 'The Four Rivers' fountain, a Baroque art. The fountain features four figures, each representing a river from a different continent - the Nile, Ganges, Danube and Rio della Plata.The central fountain, Fountain of the Rivers or Fon photo 528332_10151099479346209_1829830083_n.jpg photo 283655_10151099479546209_252617461_n.jpg
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Finally, The legendary Trevi Fountain which has been featured in countless movies and films and..

The central figure of the fountain, in front of a large niche, is Neptune, god of the sea. He is riding a chariot in the shape of a shell, pulled by two sea horses. Each sea horse is guided by a Triton. One of the horses is calm and obedient, the other one restive. They symbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea.On the left hand side of Neptune is a statue representing Abundance, the statue on the right represents Salubrity. Above the sculptures are bas-reliefs, one of them shows Agrippa, the general who built the aqueduct that carries water to the fountain.
The legendary Trevi Fountain which has been featured in countless movies and films and.. The central figure of the fountain, in front of a large niche, is Neptune, god of the sea. He is riding a chariot in the shape of a shell, pulled by two sea ho photo 315482_10151099484026209_660385089_n.jpg
When you are here, PLEASE BE REALLY CAREFUL! There’s a couple of scam going around of people asking you if you need help to take a photograph, after which, they will take out their giant polaroid camera and offering to help you take a second photo. Then, they will demand money from you, 20 euros D:
We saw quite a few people who got stuck in the situation but I’m not sure if they eventually paid the amount.
The legend, the first toss will mean that you will return to Rome. The second coin leads to a new romance and the third coin leads to marriage (with an italian?) hahahaha. i stopped at one. HA.
It was only a tuesday afternoon,
you see the people. the crowd of people which doesn't seem to move the whole day =/ photo 306990_10151099484411209_1632194837_n.jpg
This Photo will scare you away =p
I repeat, it was a tuesday.
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Then, we proceeded to hunt for the famous gelato shop – San Crispino.
Facing the fountain, it’s somewhere towards the right side, walking 1-2 lanes down or something. conclusion, use a GPS or as a local. Yes – It is worth it =p
It’s so awesome that we actually went back here to get another cup on our last day!
Rated the second best gelato place. It was so nice that dear friend of mine went back on the last day in Rome to get a second cup, at the largest size =p photo 534955_10151099485431209_1044336806_n.jpg
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Another humble decor~
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Yes it is that small.. for the medium size T_T
San crispino ice cream: apple/banana flavored. Declared as the best ice cream in Rome. photo 467731_10151038400326209_740648459_o.jpg
The streets of Rome:
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Then~ we proceeded to the Spanish Steps. (OMG the crowd =/)
@ the spanish steps. OMG YOU SEE THE CROWD. photo 548668_10151099486096209_406446273_n.jpg
Finally, we located the bus stop and took a “free” bus ride back to Rome Termini Station.
Dinner was this for only 5 euros from the train station =p awesome.
Pasta in a box + becks for 5 euros! photo 477145_10151038402046209_1873317372_o.jpg
Day 22/ Vatican City + Sistine Chapel
It was a Wednesday which means that the Pope was making an appearance! You see the person in white in the screen below? That’s the Pope!! He comes out every Wednesday and Sunday (waving from a window)Visiting the Vatican City. You see a screen in the background? that is the pope on the screen. The pope makes an appearance every Wednesday and Sunday. photo 206156_10151099486321209_1699511055_n.jpg
Anyway, it wasn’t as pretty due to the restoration work going on at that time. Well, we ended up joining a tour so that we can get explanations and of course skip the queues HOWEVER, do take note that if you join a tour, it will be VERY RUSHED. we barely get to see anything inside the vatican museum =( However, our guide explained to us the things and details we would not have otherwise noticed..  it’s really a give and take. If I had the luxury of time, I would love to re-enter the vatican museum again!!!
Anyway, after some random negotiation and blah blah blah, we manage to pay a discounted rate of 33.33 euros for the 1-2 hour tour of the museum + sistine chapel. she did not bring us into st peter’s, but just gave us a brief explanation outside.
The whole tour thing was slightly irritating because we started with a small and comfortable group of like 8 people and then the people kept increasing and increasing and increasing until 20+? and every time when someone new joins the group, she will have to repeat some parts again..
On the way to the Vatican Museum:
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We had to walk a long long long walk around the Vatican. The woman in the picture is our guide.
Walking into the Vatican Museum via the exterior. photo 486410_10151099486546209_101613515_n.jpg
BY THE WAY, if you are a student, do remember to bring a STUDENT CARD which has your BIRTHDATE on it AT ALL TIMES. My friend almost couldn’t get the student price but the tour guide successfully convinced the ticketing officer with a whole string of italian explaining to them that we look so young and that it’s impossible that we were over 26. LOL.
Inside the museum and I can’t remember much of the explanation now that it has been 2 months ago and sometimes her voice can sound really muffled =/
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Headless Statue D: photo 531290_10151099486786209_859092092_n.jpg
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Apollo Belvedere – considered to be a model of physical beauty.
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Laocoön (below) – This was the statue with the “perfect body” as mentioned by Michelangelo
Laoco?nThis was the statue with the "perfect body" as mentioned by Michelangelo photo 252778_10151099487221209_42991991_n.jpg
Even though it is broken, it has a story to tell..
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Return of the Fig Leaves!
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I’m totally impressed by this artwork. It is mosaic tiles ON THE FLOOR!
This is actually a tiled-mosaic on the floor! I'm so impressed. photo 577423_10151099487466209_913057342_n.jpg
Mysterious bowl/saucer/bath tub. No one knows the use of it.
Nobody knows what this large saucer/basin/plate is actually used for. photo 553321_10151099487571209_1580393747_n.jpg
Some familiarity with.. the Pantheon?
Doesn't this look familiar? photo 389168_10151099487756209_1972619797_n.jpg
This statue is very mind-boggling.
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This blue is actually quite expensive. photo 560998_10151099488026209_165560993_n.jpg
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Anyway, after the super rush tour of the museum, we entered the holy and quiet sistine chapel and view and appreciate the precious paintings by Michelangelo. The tour guide gave us a comprehensive explanation on how his art work evolved over the years and what each portion of the painting represented and how we to understand the art. It’s really a beauty but no photography was allowed.
Through these paintings and sculptures, I understood more about the Bible and its stories and what it meant to the people. The different interpretations to the same story. It’s really amazing.
After that, we were left on our own to explore St. Peter’s Basilica!
Inside St Peter's Basilicca photo 382555_10151099488431209_1294683107_n.jpg
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This masterpiece was carved by Michelangelo in 1499. He was only 25. There’s actually a glass protecting this because attacked it with a hammer and injured the virgin’s nose and fingers =/
This masterpiece was carved by Michelangelo in 1499. He was only 25. There's actually a glass protecting this because attacked it with a hammer and injured the virgin's nose and fingers =/ photo 394736_10151099488721209_1498785097_n.jpg
Although I am a free thinker, I enjoyed the visit to Vatican City greatly, especially the Sistine Chapel and the St Peter’s Basilica. Well, I kind of watched the movies of Dan Brown which is why there’s some images going through my head despite the scenes being filmed in the studio..
Well, this is definitely a place you HAVE to go when you are there and don’t forget to make a purchase and get the euro coins with the Pope’s face! You can also send postcards from the vatican post office.

By the way, the funny looking Swiss Guards.. Their costumes were designed by Michelangelo!

Is there anything he can’t do?
The funny looking Swiss Guards. The costume, was designed by Michelangelo! Is there anything he can't do? photo 603379_10151099488936209_1802389913_n.jpg
The most expensive stamp in Europe. 1.60 euros. I sent it to myself =p
The most expensive stamp in Europe. 1.60 euros D: photo 574769_10151099489101209_1391697442_n.jpg
Exterior:
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Chairs for the morning event with the Pope.
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I never understood what this means photo 406115_10151099489986209_1397878630_n.jpg
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Then, we had to go back to the Museum entrance to collect my back pack which had been locked up as it was too big and bulky. After which, we proceeded for lunch in a safe place – Subway!
Subway in Rome~ everything else is simply too expensive. photo 460677_10151038403651209_1242518341_o.jpg
Castel Sant Angelo”The angels brought me here” but they did not bring me the money to purchase the entrance tickets.
Castel Sant Angelo "The angels brought me here" photo 307045_10151099490391209_1441937750_n.jpg
OMG WE SAW HIM AGAIN!! He trailed us from paris all the way here D:
OMG WE SAW HIM AGAIN!! He trailed us from paris all the way here D: photo 548243_10151099490616209_483051070_n.jpg
He’s alive!!
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A secret passageway, the Passetto, connects it to the Vatican. In the movie this is a secret ancient Illuminati spot used toward the end of the story.
A secret passageway, the Passetto, connects it to the Vatican. In the movie this is a secret ancient Illuminati spot used toward the end of the story. photo 486598_10151099490886209_673972043_n.jpg
Had dinner at the train station (again)
Well, it isn’t good to wonder off too far when you are in Rome..
Steak for dinner which was just so-so only =[ photo 622000_10151038405566209_723080760_o.jpg
Day 23/ Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palentine Hill. 
Grabbed pizza before we set off on our Gladiators tour. Pizza by the weight could be really affordable if you have a small appetite! Everything was less than 6 euros!
Pizza by the weight! It's less den 6 euros here. photo 459223_10151038407671209_1231162965_o.jpg
The Colosseum is probably the most impressive building of the Roman empire. Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, it was the largest building of the era.The elliptical building is immense, measuring 188m by 156m and reaching a height of more than 48 meter (159 ft). The Colosseum could accommodate some 55,000 spectators who could enter the building through no less than 80 entrances.
Above the ground are four storeys, the upper storey contained seating for lower classes and women. The lowest storey was preserved for prominent citizens. Below the ground were rooms with mechanical devices and cages containing wild animals. The cages could be hoisted, enabling the animals to appear in the middle of the arena.
The Colosseum is probably the most impressive building of the Roman empire. Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, it was the largest building of the era.The elliptical building is immense, measuring 188m by 156m and reaching a height of mo photo 282327_10151099490961209_609965721_n.jpg
Once again, we joined a tour and this time the guide was an american who stayed in Italy for a lot of years. However, this time, the group was really huge? 30-40 people D: His accent was a little easier to understand somehow and we paid 25 euros for this tour (which included palentine hill and roman forum)
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Arch of Constantine
Arch of Constantine photo 564127_10151099493071209_1545973310_n.jpg
View from the hill:
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Rocket! The vegetable used in salad. is actually a wild grass in rome. and omg we pay so much for it here in SG.
Rocket! The vegetable used in salad. is actually a wild grass in rome. and omg we pay so much for it here in SG. photo 394685_10151099493651209_1981699601_n.jpg
The Roman Forum.The Forum Romanum was the center of life in imperial Rome, evidenced by the many remains of triumphal arches, temples and basilicas.
The Roman Forum. The Forum Romanum was the center of life in imperial Rome, evidenced by the many remains of triumphal arches, temples and basilicas. photo 425516_10151099493976209_1204814780_n.jpg
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The sun was my enemy that day T_T
After that, we decided to go hunt for Giolitti Gelato. I’m not sure if it was the flavours that I chose (Pomelo, Mango and Champagne) which tasted weird. It was more of sobert than ice cream =/ Nevertheless, it was cheap! Only 3.50 euros for these humongous scoops and I did have trouble finishing it. True to its popularity, it has a snaking and disorganized queue. But, I wouldn’t recommend it. San Crispino trashes Giolitti hands down.
Long queue for giolitti ice cream! Fruit glaciers: pomelo, mango and champagne. The serving was insane. photo 456791_10151038411931209_844262837_o.jpg
We just roamed and shopped around the area, bought alcohol and dinner from the super market and packed dinner from a restaurant near our guesthouse and dined in. We tried to stay really safe throughout our travel in Rome which means not hanging out late at night =p and this was the last night I had in Rome & Italy.
Day 24/ 1st June, Friday – Rome, Flight to Barcelona 
Last day in Rome.. calls for a treat. HA. we rewarded ourselves with a nice Japanese meal in a Michelin restaurant =p It was only 16.50 euros for the set lunch special. and OMG sashimi after so many days.. it was totally awesome =p
If I’m not wrong, the restaurant is Hamasei and it is situated somewhat near the Spanish steps.
Flew to Japan to eat this before going to Spain. Just kidding. But itwas really great. photo 475008_10151038415041209_1579799606_o.jpg
This time we climbed up the Spanish Steps!
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The next time I’m ever travelling, I would get my portrait done.
The next time I'm there, I'll get my portrait done. photo 425439_10151099495351209_1829542982_n.jpg
Of course, not forgetting our second serving of San Crispino. T_T it was really the last gelato/ice cream in my entire Europe trip.. triple tears.
The last gelato in Rome by San crispino. So awesome that we had to eat it twice. This is champagne flavored and something. photo 461940_10151047203581209_769275822_o.jpg
Went back to the guesthouse, settled our debts and dashed to the train station to take our terravision bus to the airport. It was only 4 euros!
Ate the last pizza in Italy and off we went, to the land of Torres =D
Last pizza in Romeo's airport. photo 477611_10151047206661209_535688984_o.jpg
Flight by Vueling – the airline with very very very pretty (Spanish) air stewardess
Day 25: Flying off to the last (and most dangerous) country. Crossing fingers that nothing negative would happen. photo 416621_10151038363291209_1998052708_o.jpg
=D Torres Torres Torres =D
* I regretted not taking that 13 hours bus ride down south to watch the international friendly of spain vs china, before the european cup. TORRES played during that match!! *
Then, I would have regretted the 26 hours of not doing anything else in Spain.. There were simply too many things to see.

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