The Italian Journals: Pisa (Part 2)

the ocd nightmare. 

Pisa 4 Pisa 3

Pisa 2

So there I was, standing behind the yellow line of the railway tracks at Stazione di Firenze Santa Maria Novella  waiting for my train to Pisa. To visit the oh so very iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa or as I call it; The OCD Nightmare.

This historical bell tower, famous for its tilt has attracted people from all over the globe. I saw and met people from countries and cities I did not know exist, recognizing them from their accents. Even meeting tourists from our neighbouring countries when we are over 10,000 kilometers away from home.

After trudging along the cobbled streets for 15 minutes, I finally  spotted the tip of this magnificent tower (although, it is a lot smaller than it looks). It started to rain as well. And I don’t mean a slight drizzle that you can just avoid with a hoodie on, I am referring to a full on downpour, singing-in-the-rain kind of shower. I have always been quite lucky in terms of the weather when I travel, but perhaps I missed the memo on the rainy season in Italy. So it was not all blue skies and sunshine, unfortunately.

Pisa 1

However, I was certain nothing was going to rain on my parade (pun intended). Braving the weather, I stood in the rain to take the #1 touristy shot I could with this tower as my backdrop. It was none other than either trying to lift the building or push it down. I was surrounded by a sea of people all doing the exact same thing. It was quite entertaining to watch people attempt at this classic shot. From using a finger to hold the tower up, trying to do a handstand or a back flip against it. There was it all. My camera stayed firmly under my coat whenever possible as I wandered through the busy crowds sneaking shots before tucking the camera away. Not wanting it to get soaked in my attempt at the classic shot.

I must add, that the building that surround this tower, the Piazza dei Miracoli has lacked the attention it so greatly deserves. This Catholic Cathedral with its fine architecture has often been shadowed upon and I insist on acknowledging it before I retreat to being the typical tourist.

The days are short in winter, I waved goodbye to this iconic landmark and by the time I returned to Florence, it  was nightfall.

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The Italian Journals: Florence (Part 1)

Veni. Vidi. Amavi.

I came. I saw. I loved.

Florence 2

The last time I set foot on Italian soil I was barely past a meter tall. Clad in pink from head to toe with all sorts of floral pattern and lace. Essentially, I could have looked like a living breathing garden and I would not have known. I visited sites and famous landmarks that many would have jumped at the opportunity to see but for my 6-year-old mind, it’d probably was just a pretty building. Completely ignoring the historical value of the cobbled street that I stood on.

14 years later, I have returned. Matured and filled with eagerness to let my mind grow with knowledge, to re-visit and visit new places and meet new people.

first stop: florence
day one.

I like Florence. the old architecture of buildings, the cobbled and narrow streets has a Tuscanian touch that has appealed to me.

My family and I arrived in Florence a little after sunset which meant that by the time we reached the apartment, everywhere was dark. This apartment was situated just by the Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria. This beautiful tower was visible from my bed with its bells ringing every hour on the hour. As I trudged along the cobbled and uneven streets, dragging along my bags that contributing to noise pollution that could essentially have waken everyone up, I finally reached the foot of my apartment and when I unlocked the heavy wooden doors, I was welcomed with a horrific sight. Flights of stairs. It definitely did not help renting the apartment right at the top.

After a good sweat out of carrying the bags up, I entered into a very old and true Italian home. This apartment was three stories high with tiny wooden doors and flooring, brick walls and stoned staircases. Initially, my senses were knocked with a touch of eerie feel as it was dark and an unfamiliar sight. However, this fear did not last long. After unpacking the usual, which I have grown to realize has become second-nature with all the practice I have acquired over the years. This apartment started to feel more cosy and grew on me. It soon became impossible not to fall in love with it.

Florence 10

Florence 9

Realizing it was dinner time, we entered a restaurant called Osteria all’ antics Vinaio which was merely a 3 minute walk from where we stayed. The food was as amazing as the staff in terms of their attentiveness to our needs. We filled our plates with pasta and cold-cuts. Which made our first dining experience in Italy all the more fabulous. After two and a half bottles of wine, a hearty conversation and a well-fed tummy, we headed back. Contented.

Florence 11

day two.

My family and I consider ourselves, walkers. Now you may ask what does that even mean, Rachel? Well, I am here to tell you that we absolutely love to walk ( a tad too much) when on vacation, Our main mode of transportation if possible would always be by foot around the city. Thus, it came as no surprise that when we knew Florence was a small old town, we decided that our feet will be our transport in bringing us all around.

We toured this historic city, visiting landmarks and sites that attracted many tourists just like ourselves. We visited the Florence Cathedral that from afar would like a paper house because of its fine and detailed carving of every wall. Accentuating these details with the dark outlining.

The afternoon beat on, and we continued to hit more sites barely stopping for even a lunch break (which you would come to realize in subsequent posts that had become a habit for us). These sites included Piazzale Michaelangelo where we saw the iconic terra-cotted-tiled dome, Palazzo Medici Riccardi,  Piazza del Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Giotto’s Campanile etc.

Blissed out and proud that my legs were able to bring me to so many places, I was completely knackered and famished by the time the evening rolled around. Without even realizing, my first proper full day in Florence had come to an end.

Florence 1

Florence Cathedral

Florence 7

Beautiful detailed dome of the Florence Cathedral

Florence 8

Crucifix

Florence 3

View from Piazzale Michaelangelo

Florence 5

Michaelangelo

Blown away by the beauty and historical value of this place, it left me fueled up and ready to take on the rest of my Italian Adventures. 

la vita e bella.

life is beautiful.

London Calling

londonphile; a person who loves the english capital city. 

London 2

It’s about my fourth or fifth time to London and I grown to love it more and more each time. My stay in London has been short having planned to visit other places around Europe, but I made it a mission to revisit all my favorite spots in the following 24 hours upon my arrival.

Parading from Marble Arche to Oxford Street. From Knightsbridge to Covent Garden. The tube had become my best friend as a means of transportation around this city.

My first stop was to have dinner at On The Bab at Covent Garden. It is a little cafe that sells Street Korean Food. Having been introduced to this place last June, I made it a point to return when I was back in town. This time, I ordered On the Bibimbap, On the Buns and On the Roll. They were a variation of dishes that ranged from a mixed rice to a “burger” and something similar to sushi, respectively. Each dish with their own acquired taste but scrumptious all the same.

OTB 4OTB 2

Soon came the hunt for all the items I have kept a list of since my last visit. Braving the crowd, I strutted down the hustling and bustling Oxford Street. Entering shops like Nike, Urban Outfitters, Zara, Topshop that were all around Oxford Circus, the heart of London’s shopping street itself. After which, I took a walk towards the as voted World’s Best departmental Store, Selfridges. I completely understood why it was given such a title because I found a wide variety of brands in there.

London 5

Shopping should definitely be a sport on its own. After all the walking between stores and floors within the mall. I worked myself up an appetite. Thus, I made my way to Ponti’s which was just opposite from Selfridge. It is an Italian Restaurant and sold quality food. Though it was a slight mistake on my part having not considered the fact I would be in Italy the following week. Allowing me to have Pizza and Pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nonetheless, I ordered a light meal of a Bruchetta and Pasta to share. Wanting to leave an appetite for Burger & Lobster, later on.

Bruchetta

Bruchetta

Pasta

Seafood Pasta

Next, I headed to Piccadilly Circus to buy myself some Nespresso Coffee before leaving the last stop to be Harrods. How could any trip to London be complete without heading there?

London 4

Ending off the night with London’s classic Burger and Lobster at Harvey Nichols.

Lobster

Lobster

Lobster Roll

Lobster Roll

London will always be at the top of the list of cities that I love to visit.  From the architecture to the smallest detail of coffee art demands to be instagrammed or tweeted about. The accent of the people here never fails to makes me melt, making them all the more attractive than they already are. Most of all, the familiarity that I have built through my numerous visit has made me feel very comfortable and safe in this amazing city. Something that takes awhile to cultivate within me, having been a anxious traveller. Often weary of my surroundings.

Please continue to be this wonderful, London. I look forward to more visits in the future.

Let’s Go On An Adventure

Travel 2

With access to the web being limited, I write this post from a little apartment in Florence, Italy. It is 38 minutes past one in the morning and I am sat comfortably on the bed in one of the most amazing apartments I have ever stayed in. It is situated in the middle of the main square and is in right in the heart of this old romantic city. From where I am snuggled up, I can hear the drops of rain pitter-patter outside on the cobbled streets. The cold winter air is flowing into the room from the windows I have left slightly ajar and I am feeling very happy.

This is it. Finally, after three long years of waiting. It has arrived. I am officially (apart from the ceremony itself) a Diploma Graduate. I cannot emphasize how liberating it feels to have the weight lifted off my shoulders.

Thus, the first order of business to reward myself after years of hell is to do the one thing I love above all else; travel.

Travelling is of those things in life that I can never get enough of. The world has so much to offer that it would be a shame if I did not go out there and explore and uncover the beauty it beholds . Immersing myself into different cultures through the language, delicacies, traditions and soaking in all that the country has to offer through their beautifully sculptured buildings and amazing architecture.

I left the little Red Dot I call home on the 9th of February 2016 and my first stop was to my favorite city, London. I packed my essentials with me including a few good reads that I can indulge in during my journey between cities and countries. And with that, I jetted-off in my hunt for the adventures that await me.

Travel 1

Having been to London one too many times before, this 14 hours flight did not feel as long as it would normally have. This was all due to the best flight experience I have had, courtesy of my parents. The on-flight stewardess and stewards were nothing short of polite, attentive and very warm. Every few minutes, smiling and checking I’m okay. I slept like a baby and watched many movies including Magic Mike, Pixels (Thoroughly loved this one) and a couple of others, having dozed off in-between. As such, time flew by without me even noticing.

Travel 4

I will be sure to fill in on my London shenanigans and I cannot wait to share more of my experiences as I continue to live out of a suitcase for the next few months xx