Friday, March 27, 2009

the entry of roman new times

so, in the course of thirteen days, i have traversed over twenty thousand miles spanning three continents, five countries and chomped down numerous amounts of cattle-class airline meals. both my ass and i have experienced the blazing heat of tropical countries (whilst in transit at the airport of bangkok) to enduring the blistering cold of freshly-sprung spring in rome, italy.

welcome to a milieu of roman antiquities, street cafes and pizza-making culture. this is a locale where la dolce vita, i.e. the sweet life, was once highly celebrated by its people, and fashion is second-nature to most of them, if not all. an interesting observation i had when i was there though was that most italians surprisingly don't speak good english. once, i had to gesticulate to the waiter, pointing frantically at my bladder and making a t-shape with my hands alternately. when they didn't get that too, i realised italians weren't that good at charades either.

some of them aren't exactly the friendly, vivacious sort too. if you are the smiley kind wherever you went like yours truly, then you'd feel you're no different from being in a loopy, one-man wonderland surrounded by the likes of mr. and mrs. grumps. they do not like to engage in idle prattle as well, so lose the chatty side of yourself once there. despite the linguistic fiasco and sometimes uncongenial people, rome was quite the fun experience, with the usual suspects benjamin, peiru and pierre in tow. 

the reluctant porter, me, at changi airport, before departing.

on our way aboard the thai airways, ruz and me.

we arrived at fiumicino airport fifteen hours later, all jaded and lethargic. the tour bus picked us up and dropped us of at exedro hotel, one of rome's finest. we were put up in luxurious, exquisite suites with a balcony view (of nothingness), schlepped fifteen minutes around the hotel to get to our room, and even had a television set of notable brand. look it!

telly spells "loewe". how weird is that?

i surmised that you can't ask for much when you're in europe. such standards, even with the lack of basic amenities, like a water boiler or a proper (read: non-leaky) shower head, is widely considered normal by their rule of thumb. it's the company you live with that makes a difference though. and i gotta give props to ben for being a hell of a good roomie. 

spotted: cookiedough checking into a room in rome.

another unknown individual trails closely by.

just ben, my roomie for the europe leg of the tour.

nice comfy queen-size looking bed that splits right in the middle.

bathroom shot.

our interval at the hotel was short-lived though. sooner than you can say fettucine a la porcino, we were whisked off to our very first destination on the itinerary by the tour. did i forget to mention that this was a company's incentive trip? 

atop the tour bus, making our way to the colosseum.

everyone doing thumbs-up, the cookiedough way.

buying some memorabilia, or seemingly so. all an act, hah!

the arch of constantine (background) 

more ancient ruins.

touring with the group was quite a blasé, snooze affair that we decided to take matters into our own hands. visiting the colosseum was an eye-opening spectacular for sure, but after visiting a couple more ruins and the likes of it, you kinda get the drift. the tour was getting as dry as a shriveled prune.

we started wandering off, visited ice-cream parlors, and enjoyed the serenity of coffee-drinking along the streets. we even bumped into a couple of my ex-classmates here in rome. what are the odds?!

a variety of ice cream flavors, but no cookiedough here though.

making a call back home to check on family. 
no idea what ruz is doing back there.

a chance encounter with my ex-classmates.

a group photo with long-lost pals...

and a couple more. =]

the following day, fearing that the tour group's itinerary was no more interesting the the first day's, we opted to explore roma on our own and traipsed around the hotel's vicinity during the day. we dined at piazza navona in the evening, a city square that is well known for its restaurants and performance arts lining the streets. 

the thing i have to gripe about though is the service rendered in italy, especially at bistros and restaurants. it is deplorable, at best. the staff can be quite an inattentive lot: you could wave at them for the longest time and still they are, or choose to be, unaware of your presence. at one time in a restaurant, the staff couldn't even tell a stained glass apart from a clean one even when it stood right in front of their faces. 

all prepared to head out on day no. 2

painting the town red in my polize car.

ben spinning from great music for us.

chilling at a local bar after a sumptuous dinner.

day 3: itinerary on tour reads prada outlet in helvetica bold. this certainly piqued our curiousity,  and we wanted to check out the long-fabled haven for ourselves first hand. unfortunately, exorbitant grandeur and me do not go hand in hand. i fashioned myself trawling the area no less than five minutes and i was out of there.

space outlet, where fashion mogul prada is housed.

when the final day bowed, we scrambled to our feet to finish unfinished business: sightseeing. afterall, after today, we would no longer be in rome. i could almost feel a drop of tear shaping up in the corner of my eye. no more la dolce vita. no more saying grazie in almost every context. no more aromatic coffee. no more huge servings of ice cream. no more early mornings. no more unsmiling folks. no more distrait service. no more cold, unappetizing food. no more boring ruins to visit. no more roma! someone throw some confetti!

one for the road

arrving at the spanish steps, the longest and widest steps in all of europe.

undecided, we called for a meeting where to hit next.

a couple of my ex-classmates decided to join us too.

fontana di trevi, better known as trevi fountain, of baroque influence.

the pantheon, apparently a temple for all ancient gods of rome. 
i remember it fondly in dan brown's angels and demons.

all eyes on me, in the centre of a ring, just like a ______ (read above for clue).

we trekked all the way to the vatican, which by then, we almost keeled over.

swiss guards, employed by the pope at the vatican, guarding their posts.

amidst the hundreds of photos we ferociously snapped of ourselves, therein were a couple interesting subjects in the background that i managed to bring to focus. enjoy:

walking the with dog one leg up, or just doing yoga?

erm... a little too much junk in the trunk?

this woman should be arrested for appearing in that get-up in broad daylight.

all the way from china, and we could tell.


charlatan said...

very long, but interesting entry. nice clothes too. =]

fufu said...

lmao the last picture!!! but well, i walked all the way to vatican city from.... oh i forgot!! will write the travelogues after my CSP8 =)

russ said... was damn funny looking back @ all e photos we took..and all the jokes inside vatican city.

anw update part 2 of ur trip soon!

Anonymous said...

fyi, loewe (electronics) and loewe (purveyor to the spanish crown) have no relation other than a coincidental namesake..

jnkl said...

Hey..It's always nice reading you blog..It's so interesting especially with the pictures you took..Damn, it's much be a great experience travelling to the other side of the world!

Anonymous said...

wah, colors and more colors, interesting entry with lots of different funny things. good job!

Jonathan Heng said...

OooO i envy ur life =D!! Rome is nice and it's so cool to be at the Vatican!! how was the feeling there ??


763092 said...

You're back! And with so many photos and memories... Do remember to sleep well now after adjusting to jet lag.

I heart the places you've been and some clothes you all wore. Ben's lime green jeans is so nice!

iruffcookiedough said...

(charlatan) it is already as concise as possible, considering that there were many things that i wanted to write actually. thanks on the word up.

(fufu) we walked all the way from the spanish steps to vatican, and it was about 4 painstaking hours. we cabbed back in the end.

(russ) will do. i remembered every detail vividly. missing it already!!

iruffcookiedough said...

(anon) thanks for the enlightenment, i just wanted to be tongue-in-cheek that's all. i didn't think they had any co-relation at all, but just wanted to show you guys. =]

(jnkl) hehe, actually i think it's the company you're with that makes the difference. you could go somewhere nearby with some close friends, and still it'd be fun. ><

(anon2) thanks, and appreciate your nice words!

iruffcookiedough said...

(jonheng) it was spiritual, and we were quite in awe when we were at the catacombs where they laid the late pope to rest.

(763092) yup i am back! the thing about rome was that i could really sleep, without any sleeping aids, and sleep soundly. perhaps i am on europe time all the whilst, without knowing it.

763092 said...

Haha... Maybe you feel more relax over there than in Singapore.

iruffcookiedough said...

(763092) definitely, and even when the hours of sleep are little, i still feel energized the following day.

tyc said...

wow, i am so jealous of you cookiedough. another holiday overseas?

huiying said...

Welcome back! nice trip nice photos. =D

chaos said...

Hey u are back!!! Nice place, feel like going as well...
hope u be able to sleep as soundly as in Rome now that u r back here...

Lek said...

u look cute :P and yeah, with that signature thumbs up pose.

iruffcookiedough said...

(tyc) it was a company's incentive. i don't have the moolah to fork out for a rome trip. >.<

(huiying) i wanna see your u.s. photos too. where can i see them?

(chaos) i slept like a log. i think it's because stress life is nilch over there in rome, that's why.

iruffcookiedough said...

(lek) yes lek, you see right through me already. i am going to think of other poses from now onwards.
no more thumbs up.! =]

fufu said...

when u wanna go to malacca? you go with your friends?

Popthemusicdrug said...

nice outfits!! me likey!!

all sorts of nice and CHIC

wheres my pressie!!!

holiday soon!!!!! with ur new camera!!!!!! *wink*


huiying said...

FB. =)

iruffcookiedough said...

(ptmd) i am afraid you might not like your present, since it has nothing to do with clothes. maybe i should keep your present for myself?

(huiying) what's fb?

iruffcookiedough said...

(huiying) oooh.... facebook!

huiying said...

yupyup. haha. i can add u if u wan to because my profile/album can only be view among my frens. =)

BLADES said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
iruffcookiedough said...

(huiying) you could add me on facebook. =] then i could view your pics and see what i've missed out.

(blades) i was using my nikon digital slr cam, so i could work on the apertures and shutter speeds and lightings. =] i admit i do a little work on my pictures, i will crop them or re-angle so they don't look slanted. =]

huiying said...

added. look at the photos u have i think u been to more places than me. haha. =)