Ahha, I’m back to Malaysia yesterday night, arriving late at Kuala Lumpur International Airport due to flight delay for around one hour from Dubai. So, yesterday’s night is the time I’m going to settle all the stuff in my huge and heavy luggage which is now minor-damaged. Rest is the priority yesterday due to jet lag, and the huge time difference between Italy and Malaysia which is 7 hours!
Okay, today I’m back to normal (I guess), now online is my priority. Facebook first, check mail then, later browse through news, then download series, upload photos of the trip and now, start blogging on it here! This is going to take a lot of time and words, and also I’m trying to recall what I had been through for the past 9 days of this interesting trip! Actually for this trip, I have been to four countries (that’s a lot); Dubai (United Arab Emirates) for flight transfer, Lugano (Switzerland) the border between Switzerland and Italy, Rome, Pisa, Florence, Venice, Milan, Lake Como (Italy). Hence, the majority of the trip is in Italy.
2nd February 2011 (Wednesday)
Today marks the start of the long trip. Woke up very early and did last preparation for departure to Italy. Here again in KLIA, settling those check-in procedures, custom control, inspections, having breakfast before riding on bus (Rapid KL) that replaced the aerotrain (upgrade-in-process) to the terminal. We fly by Emirates Airlines to Dubai International Airport first. Then, flight transfer to our destination, Rome at Leonardo da Vinci – Fiumicino Aiport. The interesting thing of the Emirates planes are that they are equipped with forward and downward cameras for passengers to view on, which are very cool indeed. From the Dubai airport, I am so happy that I can see the world tallest man made structure, Burj Khalifa from far.
It’s almost 7 hours of flight from KL to Dubai, and it’s another 6 hours of flight from Dubai to Rome. Total: over 13 hours, the longest ever attempted. Luckily, there is quite a lot of movies and games from the electronic device of the seat for me to enjoy, and I had watched 127 Hours from there. Finally reached Italy, and it’s still CNY eve night.
3rd February 2011 (Thursday)
The first visit of the day is the world largest church, St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the world smallest country with population of only around 1000. The plaza in front of the basilica is already impressive, surrounded by tall colonnades, with center of an obelisk presented by Egypt. Entering the basilica is not from the main entrance, but is from a sideway leading to the underground where tombs of previous Popes are located. Going through a narrow spiraling staircase, and when I looked up, I am moved, with the scale and beauty of the interior of the basilica. The dome is impressive, the sculptures are beautiful, the paintings are fantastic!
In the bus, we are given chance to take a look at some of the Rome’s famous historical buildings like the Castel San Angelo, Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, Circus Maximus, etc. Then, we in a tour group by Golden Travel Tour (GTT) proceed to visit the Colosseum, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Wow, finally I can check out how incredible is this structure built almost 2000 years ago. Next visit is the nearby Roman Forum, which is the former administrative and public center of Roman Empire. There are only some ruins left in this huge area of forum, hence nothing much to see actually. The last place of visit of the day is the Trevi’s Fountain, a very grand fountain with a beautiful backdrop, famous for the coin-throwing for wishes.
4th February 2011 (Friday)
Time to leave Rome, the capital of Italy to proceed to Pisa that took around 5 hours of journey in bus. Of course, the only reason to go to Pisa is to take a visit to the Piazza del Duomo, where a cathedral, a baptistry, a monumental cemetery and a freestanding bell tower which is the most famous of all, called as the Leaning Tower of Pisa stand. Restoration work is still in progress on the top part of the tower. I managed to take a look at the interior of the cathedral which is also beautiful with large paintings.
Huh…another few hours bus journey to Florence, another beautiful city which is the birthplace of Renaissance. After a long visit in a fashion-based commercial center, we went for a dinner at a very uniquely-designed restaurant, built like a water tank lifted above the ground few stories high.
5th February 2011 (Saturday)
It is much cooler walking on the streets in Florence. Ahh, we are heading to the famous domed cathedral of the city, Santa Maria del Fiore, simply known as the Duomo too. (duomo means cathedral) It is this cathedral and a freestanding bell tower nearby highlighted the skyline of the city. Just in front of the cathedral is the baptistery, famous for its Gates of Paradise dubbed by Michelangelo.
Next, we walked through many historical streets, and even through the Golden Bridge, overlooking the river that divides the city. From there, a beautiful panoramic view is offered, and so, time for pictures! Next visit is the nearby Piazza della Signoria, where many sculptures (including the famous Sculpture of David) are the highlights of the square with a town hall called as Palazzo Vecchio (formerly a fortress palace). Before we leaved the city, we are given opportunity to walk along the waterfront of the city. Then, we off to the mainland Venice.
6th February 2011 (Sunday)
It’s time to visit the beautiful island of Venice, known as the City of Water, City of Bridges, Floating City, etc. Going there from the mainland took around 30 minutes by ferry. As soon as we reached there, we take a look at the Bridge of Sigh (where previously prisoners pass through between the palace and the jail and given chance to look at the outside world, the city of Venice and regret, and so they sighed). Then, we go to Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square), the central public square of Venice where a tall bell tower, a historical clock tower and a basilica (around 1000 years old) are located.
The main aim of the city tour is of course the gondola ride, through the narrow canals dividing over 100 islands of the region. It is comfortable sitting on the gondola on the clean water looking at bridges and old buildings. Then, here comes shopping time, checking out branded shops like Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc. I bought nothing from these shops as there is nothing interests me. There is also a short tour in the glass making factory and shop and we are thrilled by the glass making show by one of the workers there. Time to leave the city by late afternoon.
7th February 2011 (Monday)
Today we are going to Verona. The only purpose of visiting this city is to take a look at the Romeo and Juliet’s balcony. The story by William Shakespeare is the greatest love story of all time, and the setting of this masterpiece is at Verona. However, it’s really nothing much to see except a normal balcony, a sculpture of Juliet in the courtyard and walls of thousands of love signs by couples. A short walk around the area with streets of shops before leaving the city to Brescia for a night stay.
Before going to Brescia, we dropped by Fidenza Village, an outdoor shopping street built like we are in Disneyland. However, we are given too much time in there just to visit a short street of shops. Very boring in there, mainly because I bought nothing from there too. Haha…finally, off to dinner before a night stay in Brescia after a tiring day mainly in bus. Anyway, we got a bit of entertainment after watching The Sniper and The Poker King (both Cantonese movies) in the bus.
8th February 2011 (Tuesday)
Time to proceed to the City of Fashion, Milan of Italy. There is nothing much of historical buildings to check out in this city which is mainly rebuilt after World War II. The city will also hosts the World Expo 2015. First trip of the city is to the Castello Sforzesco, a castle built not on hill, not along river, but on the center of the city. It is nothing much to check out in the castle, which is mainly of thick brick walls. Next, we proceed to the Piazza del Duomo, the public central square of the city surrounded by famous stuctures like the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (the world first shopping mall), Milan’s Cathedral and Royal Palace of Milan. We also get to look at the Milan Opera House.
Of course, the most striking feature is the cathedral, which is the world largest Gothic cathedral, with many spires striking up to the sky. This time, I am able to went into the church to have a look at the interior with those striking barrel vaults and colourful large windows. In Milan, shopping is the priority, not in the famous mall mentioned earlier, but along the streets nearby. Actually, mainly all the shops along the streets anywhere in the city are also fashion-based. I am fascinated by not the clothes, but the interior design of many shops there, some even themed-based. The owners are very willing to spend a lot on interior designs, unlike in Malaysia where all shops look alike. Huh…very tired after a day of long walk in the Milan’s city centre, full of those wires hanging everywhere in the city for street lighting and the trolley busses.
9th February 2011 (Wednesday)
Today we went to Lugano, Switzerland, near the border of Italy to have a look at the beautiful surrounding of the city. The lake is very beautiful with backdrop of hills of the Alps Mountains. Spectacular scenery from there, even more beautiful with those houses on the hills. Actually, there is nothing much to do there except looking at the picturesque surrounding. There is also a visit to Rolex shop there, as Switzerland is the world largest producer of watches.
Then, we are back to Italy as we went to the Lake Como at the border of Italy. It is very similar to Lugano just now. Time for walk along the waterfront, and enjoying the beautiful view of the city and the lake. Then, we proceed to Milano Malpensa Airport for our flight back home. The exterior of the airport is cool, but the interior is like you are in a huge factory. We are having problems queuing for checking-in due to the bad behaviour of many people cutting the line. Luckily, we got our own counter opened for us to do the check-in procedures. We also need to settle on those tax refund procedures of the branded bags and wallets we bought (none of them are mine).
10th February 2011 (Thursday)
We landed on Dubai International Airport. Now only I discovered that all the three terminals of the airport are connected and it is very long. I think it is the world longest airport. Need to walk very long just to reach our gate of departure to KL, and I even walked further to spend the excessive time in the airport before the next flight to KL. We are given free breakfast in the airport because we are passengers waiting for flight transfer for many hours. This time, the sky is more blurry and I can’t take a last look at the Burj Khalifa. Nevermind, I’m already satisfied with what I have seen last time eventhough I wished to see more.
Landed safely at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at night despite an hour long delay at Dubai International Airport. It’s the 8th day of Chinese New Year and that night marked the celebration of Bai Tien Kung for the Hokkien community. So, in our way home, we are welcomed home with a lot of bangs of fireworks all around KL. It’s a nice atmosphere out there. Finally, reached home and settled my own stuff before going to bed for a full rest. It’s the end of the trip.
This is the trip that I have been anticipating the most before it arrived. Now, the trip ended and finished, it’s over. I’m happy that I’m finally back home after the tiring trip, but I’m a bit sad that I can’t enjoy such days anymore of being a tourist, taking pictures, enjoying nights in hotels, walking around, shopping, etc as the trip ended. Anyway, it’s a fun and exciting trip, a very interesting one for me, a great opportunity for me to have a better look at the architecture, history and culture of Italy.
From the trip, I am able to tried on Italian espresso, spaghetti, pasta, pizza, bread, cooked turkey, and wine. I am also able to buy something for myself; a jacket, a key chain, a string of pinocchio, a gondola model, replica models of Colosseum, Leaning Tower of Pisa, St. Peter’s Basilica, Burj al Arab (world only seven-star hotel) and Burj Khalifa. It’s my interest of keeping these models of famous buildings around the world. Now, my collection is increased. Ahha…now I started thinking of where should we go for next year, CNY 2012 trip.
For full photos of my trip, kindly go to my Facebook photo albums, there are three albums in total for the trip with around 600 pictures to share with you all.
Part 3 – Final
Thanks for reading this long post about my trip. All photos from this post are mine and not to be reproduced or copied without permission from the author.