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"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

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

Dag!

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.




Ciao!

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!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Female Solo Traveler ~ Absolutely!

As soon as I finished the exam period for the second semester, I kept thinking again and again about it. Alright, at first I didn't think too much when I booked the ticket to Italy on May. But when the time was approaching, more facts about pickpockets and gypsies burst up, I was totally insecure about myself. Can I survive in Italy without anybody and come back to Gent without missing anything? Hahaha..

Well, two days ago I just arrived in Gent after two weeks trip in Italy. Do I miss anything? Nothing! Moreover I get more experience by traveling solo instead of walking with partner. Looks weird and stupid? No!

pic from here

I know that I am not an expert (yet) in solo traveling. Meanwhile, I will share you some notes to make sure if you look forward for different experiences like I got earlier ;)

Plan Local Accommodation and Transportation before
I could say that it will be the major concerns if you travel (alone or not). Where will you stay and how do you move to other places. Tough you can find it on the spot, you will lose more time and effort to do unnecessary business. Besides, some hostels and trains give low prices if you purchase it beforehand.

Book Hostel with minimal 4 people in the same room
Being human, we still need to communicate with others directly (not indirectly with your cellphone). After day (or night)-walking around the city, you will need someone to talk to. By staying with other travelers in the same room, you could share stories about the city or the joy of traveling it self.

Talk to Stranger
Wherever you are and whenever you feel alone, just talk randomly with people besides you. Either waiting for bus or sitting in the park. Therefore you won't feel alone at all. Start it with smile, ask for help or comment on something, it will continue with longer conversations ;) One more, never use monopod for your selfie. Just asks other with good camera on hand (sign that he is experienced enough in grabbing good photos), then you can talk and get good photo as well. ;)

Couchsurfing
Totally totally worth it to get local tips and tricks about the city. Moreover, if they could accompany you during the trip (for coffee or ice cream?).

Use Moneybelt
What moneybelt? Yes moneybelt! Use it to keep your money, important documents, passport, credit card in safe place. Meanwhile, you can put daily money on your wallet and refill for another day. If someone steals your purse, you won't lose many things altogether.

Inform your current position to friend or family regularly
Dropped message via whatsapp or line, just say where are you currently. In case something happen to you, your relatives will know your last position. (just in case..)

Don't start your day too early and finish it too late
Being a woman (though you have black belt in karate), you have to consider every possibility of robbery (or rape as worst case!).

Avoid Small and Suspicious Alleys
For this case, just go with your instinct. If your feeling says that it is dangerous, don't get in. Never ignore your heart within. Be smart and stay away from it okay?

Lastly, more confidence, less worry
Everything will be fine if you think positive. If something goes wrong, just relax, smile (and laugh for it), create another plans, execute it. Voila, everything will be okay ;) And you will obtain rich experiences by solo traveling.

Ciao!