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A taste of Rome's fountains and piazzas

Rome 2016


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Piazza del Popolo (twin churches ???) Only half a day left before flying back home and still so much more to see and do in Rome [Rome-travel-guide-278393]. We decided to take the metro to Piazza del Popolo and walk around until it's time to get to the train station. We left our luggage in the hotel and went on our way.

Somehow it seems I have a thing for scaffolding this year, many of the castles in Denmark and Sweden as wel as the Moses statue at the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli and guess what one of the twin churches at Piazza del Popolo (!) always my luck!

From there we walk to the spanish steps, it's not a thing thats very high on my list but as it's close we might as wel take a look right? The steps have been closed for renovation this summer and are only just re-opened.large_1297706_14831083914936.jpg
It's sayd to be a meeting place always crowded with people sitting on the steps, but after the renovation the Roman police sees to it you don't go and eat your lunch on the steps, don't know why but it's not allowed and they are pretty strict on the matter. The fountain at the bottom looks like a sunken boat, I think it's quite ugly, and thats exactly what it's called too: Fontana della Barcaccia

Next we go and follow the route to Fontana Trevi which I actually liked a lot more than I thought I would, I thought the whole entourage of the fountain would be too much but it all fits just fine. I only think it should have been on a bigger square, but on the other hand thats also part of it's charm. I didn't throw a coin with my right hand over my left shoulder but I'm sure I'll be coming back to Rome one day so I didn't feel the need (and my Dutch roots prevent me from throwing money anyway)

It's still a bit early for lunch and since the Pantheon is really close now we go and visit this as well.large_1297706_14831084178457.jpg
Fontana Trevi (multiple photos cut and paste)Didn't think there would be enough time but everything is much closer than I expected. I'm really glad we did get to visit it! I think it's a great building. It started out as a Roman temple and was later transformed into a church. You would expect it to be a dark place with only a hole in the roof for lighting (the eye or oculus) but it really is not. The floors and walls are richly decorated but my main interest goes to the dome (occupational deformity)

We have lunch near the Pantheon before taking the nearest metro train to Termini station. We pick up our luggage at the hotel and go and find out how the ticket stuff works to get us to the airport. An old guy helps us out, I know it's a form of begging, but hey he helps us on our way so I leave him some change.

On our way to the airport it starts raining, we have been lucky with the weather for a change

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Posted by Stefmuts 04:44 Archived in Italy Tagged churches buildings fountain ruins city sightseeing roman city_trip Comments (0)

Vatican skip the line

Rome 2016


View Rome with Mom & Travelling the movies on Stefmuts's travel map.

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After breakfast me and my mom went to find the open hop-on hop-off buss to go with the rome Omnia card. We knew to look for a yellow bus but it took us some time to find the right bus stop as they don’t have a sign as most other hop-on hop-off companies. It turned out to be across the street from the train station (Termini) on Via Giovanni Giolitti (for those planning to use the Omnia card on their trip) To use the skip the line ticket option we had to join a group tour at a set time so we only reserved for the Vatican museum and took the gamble at St.Peters. We had some time before we had to get to the meeting point so we started exploring on our own.

At St.Peters there was a long line of people waiting to get in so we almost regret not getting the tour.large_1297706_14830227453000.jpg
But as we planned to visit the basilica after the museum we would just get in line then. Another thing on the list was Santi Michele e Magno (Kerk der Friezen) I located it on google maps but it still was a bit hard to find it in real life. There was only a small sign on the wall and stairs going up between the buildings, no real indication of there being a church. On top of the stairs a big steel gate and behind it a courtyard and indeed a building looking like a church. Sadly the gate was closed, a man sitting at the top of the stairs told us it had been open every day up until now, must be our luck.

At 12:00 we had to go to the meeting point. While waiting we saw other groups pass by, following the person with the flag. A boy waiting with us asked his dad why those people were following the flag, not realizing he was about to do exactly the same.large_1297706_14830228053648.jpg
Our flag was a fast walker though and I felt sorry for the lady with the walking cane who could not keep up. We skipped the line on the other side of the street. So this is what they mean by better use a skip the line ticket for the Vatican museum. The row of people waiting to get in was huge! We on the other hand could use the group entrance which was empty (!) Inside we got our tickets and could go on by ourselfs. We didn’t plan to see all the rooms so we skipped the Egypt exhibition and took the short route to the Sistine chapel, our main reason for visiting the museum.

We pass through various lavishly decorated rooms, it’s all so much you fail to see the beauty of it all. Walls, floors, ceilings everything is covered in paintings tapestries tiling everything telling a story.
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Finally we enter the Sistine chapel. Here no photo’s! Inside I’m actually a bit disapointed , it’s much the same as the rooms we already passed, too much of everything! (Critics are gonna hate me for saying this) The paintings are beautiful on their own but stashed together like this the beauty fades, and my first thought of the wall paintings was: color blue on sale or something? As for no Photo’s; I just couldn’t help myself … nearly got myself kicked out by an angry guard but he didn’t make me erase the picture so …

Back at St.Peters the huge rows had reduced to a lot less and within 5 minutes we passed the security gates. Inside it was crowded but not as much as I feared. We had to shuffle along to see Michelangelo’s Pietà and had to wait a bit at the elevator going up to the dome but nothing bad. My mom went with me up the dome which surprised me since she has a fear of heights. She did enjoy the view and actually went right up to the fencing, not looking down is the magic trick she said.

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Posted by Stefmuts 05:03 Archived in Vatican City Tagged churches buildings city sightseeing roman ancient city_trip Comments (4)

Preparing is half the fun

Rome 2016


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large_1297706_14830214115699.jpgMy mom wanted to visit Rome [Rome-travel-guide-278393] for a while now. First try was with 2 of her sisters, everything booked and planned and then she fell ill and had to cancel the trip. Her sisters did go along with the trip and had a great time. We are some years later now and one day my mom said: I still haven't been to Rome, dad doesn't want to go there. So I said: I will go to Rome with you. So we picked a time of year and started collecting information on everything to do with Rome.

I went to my local travel agent and got some books with city trip offers, asked my fellow TB-ers what must sees Rome has besides the obvious (Vatican city, Colosseum, Trevi fountain etc.) I got some nice tips, enough for even more trips to Rome.large_1297706_14830214223793.jpg I found on the internet info on the Rome and Omnia card with skip the line options. Separate tickets might be cheaper but this has all we want, entrance tickets to the Vatican and ancient Rome, hop-on hop-off bus and public transportation. My mom found an offer for flight and hotel so we booked this all together.

Next thing is to plan the trip itself, most things we both want to see so no need for concessions there. We plan a full day for the Vatican, a full day for ancient Rome and on the last day. Piazza del Popolo, Spanish steps, Trevi and some more if there is time

Our flight arrives in Rome around noon, then we have to take the train to the city center. Still way too early to check in to the hotel so we decided to walk to the Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano where we can pick up our Rome and Omnia card and stop on the way to get some lunch. I have my backpack so I can go on for days, my mom has a small suitcase on wheels which turns out to be not as convenient as it sounds. We had a pizza and a soda on a small terrace near piazza Vittorio, picked up our Rome and Omnia card and took the metro back to Termini station. Checked in our hotel and stayed there till dinner time.

We found a nice restaurant really close to our hotel we didn't feel like doing the city tour at night so we would just make sure to be rested enough for tomorrow: the Vatican

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Posted by Stefmuts 03:44 Archived in Italy Tagged churches buildings city sightseeing city_trip Comments (1)

Lost at kasbah Taourirt (Ouarzazate)

Morocco 2015


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large_1297706_14596024796306.jpgAgain a lonely breakfast in the empty hotel restaurant and then a busride to Ouarzazate. First stop a rosewater factory. I didn't find it that interesting. On the roadside someone is selling tagines and as some of us want to take a closer look our guide stops them and suggests a stop at a better tagine store.And so the next stop is in the middle of nowhere at a small stop with beautiful pottery. Our driver buys his wife a nice big tagine, don't know if she's happy with a new cooking tool, I know I wouldn't be. Several in our group buy some of the nice pottery (no tagines though) I don't buy any, not because I don't like it çous I do, but I can see myself sitting in the plane with all that stuff on my lap, scared it will break!

We arrive in Ouarzazate just before noon and have lunch across the street from the kasbah (Taourirt) It looks very nice.large_1297706_14596024988014.jpg Most of the group would like a guided tour through the kasbah so I tag along and our guide arranges a tour guide for 10 DH per person. Thats 60 DH total since some of our group stayed at the restaurant. Our guide stays outside and we follow the kasbah guide inside. There the price changes from 60 to 100. But hey, don't mess with us! We don't agree on that so he leaves growling. Our guide tries to solve the issue but that doesn't help much, he finally offers to guide us through the kasbah though he doesn't know much about the history.

The inside is a bit like a maze and as I tend to stay behind to take pictures I lost the group. I could have sworn I heard them up the stairs and down the next stairs and maybe behind the next corner. I didn't find them and had no idea wich way to go to get to the courtyard again.large_1297706_14596054188393.jpgBeer, finallyI tried a view stairs and corners and finally dropped my pride and asked some other tourists wich way is the way out.

As I enter the courtyard form one doorway the rest of the group comes through another doorway. I join them and this time I made sure not to lose them again! Outside the kasbah our guide tries to get the other guide to apologize to us, he doesn't want to and we don't care so we tell our guide to let it be.

At the hotel I get yet another faulty room, toilet not working and no shower hose so I have to change rooms again. It's getting boring!

As the hotel is not in the city centre we have to take the bus to go to the centre for dinner. Before dinner we have some free time to take a look at the local market. At the restaurant we finally can order a beer with our diner.

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Posted by Stefmuts 06:39 Archived in Morocco Tagged buildings culture sightseeing Comments (0)

City tour Marrakech

Morocco 2015


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large_1297706_14457017589243.jpgMost of the group already had contact through WhatsApp so it was almost like meeting old friends at the airport and before landing in Marrakech [Marrakech-travel-guide-1082075] the missing ones were located as well. We met our guide at the airport in Marrakech and next morning we were ready to see some Morocco! First thing on the program: the city tour Marrakech.

Our guide led us to the starting point of the tour where we had to wait for another guide to show us around. The city tour is a walking tour since most of the city center is car-free. We walked past the Koutoubia mosque, just the outside area and the gardens. Some of us took pictures with the traditional water carriers, for money of course. We visited the Saadian tombs, this is really beautiful! As is Bahia Palace where we took a short look around to rush off again to visit the many different souks. This part of the tour could have been a bit less rushed, we didn't have any time to look around in the shops, just had to run after our guide to the next section, and the next, and the next.large_1297706_14457017372886.jpg At the end of the day we did have some free time to go shopping in the souks but by then we didn't feel like walking too far off the square. jemaa el fna square is the main square of Marrakech, here you can find the snake charmers during the day and lots of eateries during the evening. It looks like a whole different Square in day or night time. But as for lots of places in Morocco be careful when taking pictures, some people will ask money, like the snake charmers ( 'pay money or delete picture' they will shout if you try to sneak off ) and some just don't like their picture taken. There's lots going on at the square, things to see, things to buy, eat, drink. I was advised to only drink the fruit juice that was freshly pressed because some would try to sell you juice mixed with water, so I did and it tasted great!

I went shopping with two other group members and after that we took a taxi back to the hotel, we bargained for the prize before getting in but at the hotel he wanted more money so we just got out and left the driver being angry for not getting enough money.large_1297706_14457017412594.jpg We later checked with our guide if we didn't really underpay the poor guy but he assured us we paid a fair prize.

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Posted by Stefmuts 03:03 Archived in Morocco Tagged buildings city sightseeing Comments (0)

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