"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."
Audrey Hepburn

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Fiore Firenze

As I stated before, during Italian trip last summer I kept making myself busy by jotting down notes. Everything that appealed me, let’s say Italian hand gestures, current feeling, refreshing flavor of gelato, or tiring foot after long walk, I just wrote it as soon as the thought popped up.

Being in Firenze after Venezia, my intention to write was reaching its peak (i guess). Gently and gradually, Firenze showed its charm to me. It was like more and more edges passed, I found more comfort, beauty, and uniqueness.

Firenze is popular in having numerous museums with prominent collections like sculptures and paintings (Adam sculpture supposed to be the famous one). Well, you don’t have to be an art-and-culture-addict to completely enjoy the real Firenze. As for me, instead of spending time (and money) to admire “unknown-art”, I prefer to explore the other iconic spots of Firenze.

Tough she is a medium city compare to Paris the gigantic city or Cesky Krumlov as small one, she offers almost complete package of a nice city! How can I say like that? Okay, enough with blabbering introduction, time to share few of my notes which copied directly from my notebook.
Could I say that the people are too creative?
Unique signage and artistic graffiti are common things in Firenze. Lucky me, during the trip I kept founding “cute” ornament around the city instead of grudge or hardcore art (which I can’t understand).


Presenting countless of pleasant food, whatever your budget are
Before going to Firenze, one of my Couchsurfing friend said that I had to optimize my appetite in Tuscan. She said that Tuscan cooking is historically rooted of Italian cuisine, and Firenze is one of the birthplaces of Italian gastronomy. No wonder I easily enjoy the taste of simple Margherita pizza, Schiacciata (try this Tuscan focaccia bread that has salt and olive oil on the crust) with Finocchiona (my goodness, this Florentine’s salami with fennel seeds was a blast!), Cornetta con Nutella, and more and more Gelato with affordable price.

Divergence of aura in each piazza
I am big fan of piazza, or plaza, or park. It is favorite place where I can sit the bench or part of building’s stairs, staring others, enjoying the shine and daydreaming (sometimes). I was little surprised knowing that there are big number of recommended piazzas in Firenze based on lonelyplanet. Will it be like numerous piazza in Rome which focus on its particular building architectures? The answer is not :D The longer I stayed in each piazza, the more I felt different atmospheres which are proper for moody people (like me). Hehe.
Piazza San Spirito, the name perfectly represents the feel of the piazza, filled with people’s spirit. J You can find local market selling food, clothes, kitchen utensils, with loud Italian buyers in the morning. When afternoon comes, you can see running children around the piazza. And when it starts to be dark, group of youngster gossip and laugh together with small glass of wine on hand. Uhlala..
Piazza del Duomo, placed in the center of Duomo- Cathedral of Santa Maria de Fiore and dainty cafes surrounded. It offers charms of green-pink-white exterior of Cathedral. No wonder you will feel the sense of touristy around.
Piazza S.M. Novella, perfect place to relax by seeing beautiful flowers in the piazza. Don’t forget to get fresh gelato that easily found in Gelateria around. Best partner for lazy-me-time. 
Piazzale Michelangelo, which offers beautiful Firenze. I can’t say anything else. More details later.

Having three iconic spots which perfect enough for a not art-addict like me

Ponte Vecchio
The moment when I walk down from Via De Guicciardini to Via Por Santa Maria by crossing Ponte Vecchio was totally memorable. Tough it was quite loaded with flow of people; the exterior of jewelries stalls got full attention of mine indeed. The banners and rooftops were totally totally totally charming and elegant with wood nuance.

At the end of bridge, just turn right and walk along Arno River. Slow but sure, you will see unique block of buildings at the opposite of your stand and colorful and unique Ponte Vecchio at the right. I was lucky enough to get reflection of them on Arno River due to summer sunshine :)

Duomo- Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
When other churches in Europe dominantly painted with white or gothic color, it stands differently with its own color which is combination between pink, green, and white. Eye catching and beautiful like Fiore (fiore means flower). Besides, it also has the largest dome ever constructed. You can capture whole beauty of the cathedral from Piazzale Micheangelo.

Piazzale Micheangelo
Having experience in climbing Gellert Hill to see the beauty of Budapest in 15 minutes, firstly I assumed that I had to do the same thing again to enjoy Firenze from above. Ta da… with less than 10 minutes and low slope hill, I finally reached Piazzale Micheangelo. Happy and disappointed at the same time since I had prepared high spirit and energy as well. Hahaha.

Magnificent panoramic view of Firenze. By standing in one place, I can grab picture of Firenze starts from Forete Belvedere to Santa Croce, not forget to mention the iconic Ponte Vecchio, Duomo, and Palazzo Vecchio. No wonder it becomes one of the best place not only for tourists but also Fiorentine. As I stated before, here you can witness beauty of full Cathedral from Façade till Duomo part. 

And one more, on the way down you could find a small park with petite bench and nice view. I was sitting there when the church’s bell rang coincidentally. I have no suitable word to express my feeling at that time. :”)

You don’t need daily or three days transport travel pass to roll around the city

No need to open your purse to pay for bus or tram to hop the touristic spots. Just prepare proper shoes and full energy. Most of the spots can be reached by walking, since they are quite concentrated in one big area. Moreover, you will enjoy most of your time during walking because the city itself is too beautiful (the building’s exterior, piazza, sculpture, and so on). Ah, be careful with the carved window, I was stumbled once because of too excited with the sky. Clumsy me -_-

After spending some days in Venezia without urban transportation at all, I felt stressful somehow due to high density of scooters, cars, tourist bus, and small pedestrian. All in one in centrum area. Kind of like being in commuter line to Jakarta in peak hour. Haha.

By now, you should be interested to come to Firenze, the best medium city that I ever visited till now. Seriously! If not, kindly read my too-random-thought below and try to check and find the answer there. Until the next post, ciciciciaooo!


Peep tip:
I found that purchasing coffee during morning will cost you less than during afternoon in some coffee shop here. You could see it from separate prices mentioned in the board.

Author of Pinocchio, Carlo Lorenzini, lived in Firenze for quite long time. That’s why you will find many Pinocchio woody-puppets as souvenir.

Too-random thought:
It was very common to see old vehicle, bicycle or car, around the city. I was wondering whether they have no money to get the new one or they appreciate it too much. Well, I love the way locals, both old and youngster, cherish their old vehicle.

Why do people build wall connection between two houses in the second floor? What is the main function? Or is it just an unimportant home decoration? I found it in many houses there.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

15 Top Things I Enjoy About Gent

Celebrating my one year in Ghent (maybe less than 10 months, if I consider sweet getaway on Christmas break, Easter break, and another breaks), I’ll be very happy to share some ultimate lovely things that I did or I felt during my stay in Gent.

1. Hearing ringing bell per hour and seeing current time from Sint Pietersabdij church in front of my study desk. Living in the fourth floor of Home Groningen, I am totally grateful to get this rare opportunity.

2. Jogging around Koning Albertpark, when I am bored with treadmill in Escape Fitness. This park located less than 300 m from my place, has well-maintained track for running and pasture for stretching and relaxing. I am also a fan of fresh fountain there.

3. Munching frieten and kebab in Overpoortstraat. Gouden sate for frieten and red-painted store for kebab.

pic from here

4. Cycling or walking on fall season in the park between Gustaaf Callierlaan and Zuidparklaan. Long straight line with two-sided trees between. You will feel romantic and relaxing when the brown leaves dropped down.

5. Browsing around lovely Dille and Kimelle in Hornstraat. Heaven for cooking and kitchen hardcore fans with limited budget. Not forget to mention CASA in Veldstraat for its cute seasonal eating utensils and interior decorations.

photo from here 

6. Getting cheap with good quality Belgian chocolate and fresh fruit and vegetable in Vridagmarkt.

7. Sitting and enjoying rare sunshine with kriek Lindemans in hand in Graslei.

8. Having big stuk of grilled chicken from slagerij next to DelHaize in Rabot. Combine with giant Turkish bread from bakkerij nearby. Self-reward after passing daily long-class.

9. Joining the crowd of massive 10 days Gentsefeesten around the city in September. Small street acts or big stage events pleased me so well. 

10. Enjoying fresh Chocoladebrood from Bakkerij Himschoot. European typical bread at the outside but still has fluffiness like Asian in the inside.

11. Sipping yummy hot Belgian chocolate with books in cozy Huize Colette. When coffee addiction coming, I visit little Mokabon café for its cappuccino met crème J. Small tips, use some Dutch for better service.

photo from here

12. Watching walking people from Hema café. Cheap Dutch dish (and some Indonesian) with wonderful view of Korenmarkt from above.

13. Walking around small medieval  Patershol quarter. Beautiful neighborhood with old row homes with cobblestone alleys. Uber romantic at night. (You can find good Indonesian restaurant as well)

photo from here 

12. Admiring beauty of posh Bloemenmarkt every Sunday in Kouter.

15. Lastly, as a student, I force myself to study in Boekentoren, UGent central library. Quite good ambience and sometimes with nice “view” of cute students. Hehehe.

photo from here

I still have 10 months to go. Perhaps I will add more to this list later.

If you come to Gent, don’t forget to try some of my favorite things here. J


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Bella Venezia ~ truly beauty

When one said that summer is the worst season to visit Venezia, I don't have other choice. "diesel and garbage smell from the canals", "billion of tourist anywhere you are", "rocketing price for everything" and more awful opinions from my friends that had visited the city. Yet, being student with limited holiday schedule, I can't avoid this condition. Instead of grumbling, I tend to forget those thoughts and focus more on the beauty of Bella Venezia itself. At last, what I got during holiday in Venezia were way more than I was expecting before.

Honestly, I don't say that Venezia is the best city for traveling (based on my terms). Nevertheless, I have some highlights to enjoy the city to the max :)

This beauty is called Venezia, and for sure, she is very beautiful

I don't need months or years. One hour is enough to say that Venezia is real bella of Italy. She is the beauty. And I fall in love very easily. It was started when the bus brought me across Via Liberta from Mestre to the main island of Venezia. I felt butterfly in my stomach! And as soon as I arrived in Campo Saint Andrea, I was amazed with the beauty of Ponte della Constituzione (the modern bridge), view of huge Canal Grande, glimpse of San Simeon Piccolo's dome, group of tourists (with their camera) enjoying the view from waterbus, plus warmth of sunset. What a nice first impression you gave to me, bella!

Thousands of bridge (just like Amsterdam in more beautiful terms), that's how people said about this city. Some of them are big bridges like Ponte Rialto and Ponte Del'Accademia. But one that quite impressive for me are small bridges that connects two area between Rio (small river). I could say that the combination between various and unique design of balcony and window, colorful flower with its vases that hanging there, creates lovely and admirable views. You will not tired and bore to see this views at the middle of that small bridges, because every bridges presents diverse looks. It's breathtaking.

For me, the beauty of the city is far way more enjoyable compare to high rating touristic spots based on TripAdvisor. Walking around the city, enjoying the beauty of bridge, canal, boats, houses, and people.

Never leave Venezia without exploring Cannaregio and Castello districts

Always, everytime I travel, I always prepare extra time for get lost in local path. I'll do it as soon as I finish the touristy haunts. I can't ignore that touristic path gives certain way to move to another place (no way that you will be lost, since you could join the tourists flow or follow the direction board on the wall) plus magnificent panoramas (that you see previously in traveling article or postcards).  However, you only could grab the chance to see unique local home, hear crying baby or traditional music, smell home-made food, by walking around unusual track.

In Venezia,  most of touristic spots are centralized in Santa Croce, San Polo, and San Marco Sestieri. Piazza San Marco, Ponte Rialto, Ponte del Accademia, and lots of souvenir shop and restaurants, you name it. When I explored Cannaregio and Castello districts, I found almost no tourists at all. Moreover, I experienced more. It's funny if I remember when I help grandma pulling shopping trolley to cross the bridge and play with local dog and laugh with its owner with his broken English. I also could drink Italian coffee without paying service charge for sitting, and see luxurious housing area and hanging laundry altogether in Bella Venezia. Believe me, you have to drop your map, get lost, and explore the backstreet in this areas! You won't regret it at all.

They say beauty is not cheap, so does Venezia. So, get prepared ;)

As usual, as soon as I arrive in one city, I will look for Tourist Information Center to grab the free map. But, Venezia was different.  "What? You are asking for free map? Nothing is free in Venice dear", said the officer. Geeze! Honestly, I wasn't willing to lose 3 Eu for full color and glossy map for 3 days only in Venice. The cheapest map which almost equaled to Panini for my lunch! Hahaha.. 

Knowing that you have to pay for (supposed to be a free) map, can you imagine the other cost that will break your purse while you are in Venezia? In general, for medium class hotel, you have to pay 1.5-2 times more than regular price in another touristic city. If you are lazy enough around the city and prefer to move by waterbus ACTV, you have to pay Eu 7 for one way trip (-_-).

Go slow, if you want to be part of local.

That's what I heard from one Venetian girl when I was sitting at park around Campo S. Margarita. Totally true. When I looked around, I saw both elderly people and youngsters tend to walk slowly, sit and gossip in front of bar or park. No rush feeling at all. Enjoy the life, every single seconds. 

Spend your money on good quality of Venetian Carnival Masks, not Food or Gondola! 

Its normal when people are eager to try local food in their trip. However, since no special food comes from Venezia, I spend big amount of my money on Venetian Carnival Masks. This mask usually worn between Santo Stefano festival and start of Shrove Tuesday. However, almost all souvenir store sell it either for beautiful piece art for your home or as complement for masquerade event. There are various designs with different material for the mask. Since there are lots of Chinese product on this mask, just make sure that you purchase one that handmade from Venezia ;) The authentic Venetian handcrafted masks have more well-painted design.

Note: Gondola is one of the touristic trap. Massive tourism industry! No local uses gondola to move around the city (they use foot indeed)! So, instead of spending 80 eu to sit on gondola and take selfie pictures on it, you'd better save it for buying nice Italian wine or fresh seafood in local market.

No best time to visit Venezia, everyday is holiday.

If you plan to go to Venezia on winter to avoid tons of tourists, sorry dear it won't be happened. One of local people said that there is no day without tourists. Summer or winter, it will be almost the same. Therefore, there is no use of rumbling because of seeing bunch of tourists altogether. Just enjoy the merry! It's your choice being local or tourist, or both of them at once.


PS: I found a cute man selling fresh vegetable on his boat (and grab a candid pic of him). If you find him on your visit, drop me message :D

PSS: Be careful with the pigeons at San Marco Piazza. They were the most brutal pigeons in Europe!