European Adventures: Roman Ruins

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Just a few more posts left before I wrap up my family’s European Adventures. In this post, I will share some of our pictures of the ruins of The Eternal City.

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When one thinks of Rome, one of the first things that come to mind is the Colosseum, where gladiators fought to death for the entertainment of the crowd. I was looking forward to seeing the magnificent structure many months before our actual trip.

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After months of planning, I finally saw the Colosseum. Another check on my bucketlist! As expected, there were a lot of tourists so it was challenging to take pictures with a few people in the background.

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Dream come true! We also passed by other ruins on the way to the Colosseum. Rome is just beautiful!

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That’s it for now. Again, thank you our tour guides especially to Sister Pierette!

For more posts on our European adventures, click on the following links:

European Adventures: Spanish Steps & Trevi Fountain

P1050415Buongiorno! Here’s another post on the Eternal City, and this time we explore two more famous sights – the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. I was really looking forward to visiting both of these places, and I was quite disappointed that both of them were under restoration. Well, I just have to go back to Rome another time!

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The Fontana di Trevi is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and the considered by many as the most beautiful in the world. A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome (TreviFountain.net). Even though the fountain was under restoration, there was still a place where tourists could throw in their coins. Of course, I didn’t pass up the chance to throw in a coin or two into the fountain. I want to go back to Rome and see the Fontana di Trevi!

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We also visited the Spanish Steps, another must see place in Rome. It is also known as “Scalina Spagna,” and it has an irregular butterfly design consisting of 138 steps placed in a mix of curves, straight flights, vistas and terraces. They connect the lower Piazza di Spagna with the upper piazza Trinita dei Monti, with its beautiful twin tower church dominating the skyline. (Rome on a Segway)

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We were also invited by my mom’s friend to eat at their place, and we happily obliged. They prepared a delicious and hearty Italian meal for us, serving us cheese, bread, fruits, pasta, roast beef, and wine. DSC02686They also brought us to a nearby gelato place, and I think we had the best gelato here! P1050397P1050408We also stopped by Pontificio Collegio Filippino, where Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle celebrated mass, in line with the Filipino Independence Day. It was great to be with Filipinos, we had a taste of home after weeks of traveling. P1050458DSC02691IMG_2891

Thank you to Tita Narcisa and her son Longines for the delicious lunch and for the warm welcome. Much thanks to Sister Pierette for accompanying us during our stay in Rome.

To read other posts on our European adventures, click on the following links:

 

European Adventures: Papal Basilicas

DSC02773One of my previous posts was about St. Peter’s Basilica, which is considered as the world’s largest church. St. Peter’s is a papal basilica, along with St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls, and St. Mary Major. When we were in Rome, we got the chance to visit all four papal basilicas.

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We passed by St. John Lateran the most during our stay in Rome, because it was located near the place we were staying. Like the other churches we’ve visited, the facade of San Giovanni was beautiful. I also loved the statues of the apostles that lined the interior of the basilica.DSC02653

The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral church of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope. It is the oldest church of the Western World, founded in the 4th century by Constantine the Great. The basilica is dedicated to John the Baptist and John the Evangelist (Italy Magazine). DSC02658DSC02664

Officially named Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris (Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior), it is the oldest and ranks above all other churches in the Catholic Church, even above St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, and holds the title of ecumenical mother church among Catholics (About Roma).P1050342Near the basilica, you can find the Scala Sancta, or Holy Stairs: white marble steps encased in wooden ones, which, according to Catholic tradition, once led to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem on which Jesus Christ stepped on his way to trial during the events known as the Passion. (Italy Magazine)

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Getting to St. Paul Outside the Walls needed more time and effort since it was quite far from the city center. However, when we arrived at the basilica, I realized that it was definitely worth it. Aside from the magnificent structure, it was much more peaceful compared to the other basilicas since there were fewer visitors.DSC02747DSC02739

San Paolo Fuori Le Mura is is located on the Via Ostiense, near the left bank of the Tiber river, 2 kilometers outside the Aurelian Walls. It is the second largest basilica of the four, after St. Peter’s Basilica (Italy Magazine)P1050461

St. Paul Outside the Walls was founded by the Roman emperor Constantine I over the burial place of St. Paul (now under the papal altar), making it a popular pilgrimage site (Italy Magazine).P1050480P1050511

St. Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore)

P1050370Among the four papal basilicas, St. Mary Major is probably the one that we explored the least. However, we were still glad that we got the opportunity to visit it given our tight schedule.

Santa Maria Maggiore is the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary and one of the first to be built in her honor. It is the only basilica among these four to have preserved the Paleochristian structure of the 5th century, even though it underwent several makeovers and additions externally (Italy Magazine). P1050361 The seventy-five meter bell tower – the tallest in Rome – was built in 1377, shortly after the popes returned from their exile in Avignon. The pyramidal spire was added much later, in the early sixteenth century (A View on Cities).

Again, thank you Sister Pierette for being our tour guide!

For more posts on our European adventures, click on the following links:

 

European Adventures: Capitoline Hill

DSC02619Buongiorno! Here’s another day exploring the Eternal City of Rome. This post focuses on Capitoline Hill and the nearby Piazza Venezia, considered as the central hub of the city .

According to A View on Cities, the Capitoline Hill is the smallest and most important of the seven hills of Ancient Rome. As the political and religious heart of Rome the hill became a symbol of Rome’s reign as Caput Mundi, capital of the world.

DSC02590Piazza del Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo, is bordered on three sides by buildings – Palazzo Senatorio (center, with the clock tower), Palazzo dei Conservatori (right) and Palazzo Nuovo (left).

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Palazzo Senatorio, the city hall of Rome
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Cordonata

The piazza can be reached from the foot of the hill by ascending the majestic Cordonata (Italian for ‘graded ramp’) stairs.

 

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Piazza del Campidoglio
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Il Vittoriano (left) & Santa Maria in Aracoeli (right)

Next is Il Vittoriano (Victor Emmanuel II Monument). The magnificent monument dominates the square and is dedicated to the first king of Italy. It is also called Altare della Patria, meaning altar of the fatherland.DSC02620DSC02613DSC02610P1050253

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From Il Vittoriano, Palazzo Venezia (left) and Palazzo Generali (right)

Rome is just beautiful. I want to come back!

Again, thank you to our tour guides especially to Sister Pierette.

To read other posts on our European adventures, click on the following links:

 

European Adventures: St. Peter’s Basilica

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After spending hours at the Vatican Museums, our next stop was St. Peter’s Basilica. It was a dream of mine to visit this church and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to do so.

According to Sacred Destinations:

St. Peter’s Basilica is a major basilica in Vatican City, an enclave of Rome. St. Peter’s was until recently the largest church ever built and it remains one of the holiest sites in Christendom. Contrary to what one might reasonably assume, St. Peter’s is not a cathedral – that honor in Rome goes to St. John Lateran.

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Inside the basilica, one can see Michelangelo’s great dome and Bernini’s Baldacchino directly below it. This monumental canopy shelters the papal altar and the holy relics of St. Peter. Click here to read more about the different areas found inside the basilica.

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St. Peter’s Basilica stands on the traditional site where Peter – the apostle who is considered the first pope – was crucified and buried. St. Peter’s tomb is under the main altar and many other popes are buried in the basilica as well. Originally founded by Constantine in 324, St. Peter’s Basilica was rebuilt in the 16th century by Renaissance masters including Bramante, Michelangelo and Bernini. (Sacred Destinations)

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Directly in front of the basilica is St. Peter’s Square.

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According to the Vatican City State website:

Designed and built by Bernini between 1656 and 1667, during the pontificate of Alexander VII (1655-1667), the square is made up of two different areas. The first has a trapezoid shape, marked off by two straight closed and convergent arms on each side of the church square. The second area is elliptical and is surrounded by the two hemicycles of a four-row colonnade, because, as Bernini said, “considering that Saint Peter’s is almost the matrix of all the churches, its portico had to give an open-armed, maternal welcome to all Catholics, confirming their faith; to heretics, reconciling them with the Church; and to the infidels, enlightening them about the true faith.”

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We also passed by Ponte Sant’Angelo and Castel Sant’Angelo (Hadrian’s Mausoleum).

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Again, thank you to Tita Christine, Tita Anabella, Sister Pierette and Sister Bel for touring us around Rome.

For more posts about our European adventures, click on the following:

 

 

European Adventures: Mediterranean Cruise

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Before I continue with our last destination (Civitavecchia for Rome) on this cruise, I’d like to share some of our photos aboard the ship. It was my first time to experience a cruise, and it really exceeded my expectations!

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If it weren’t for the sights awaiting at each destination, I could’ve stayed aboard the ship for a whole week and not get bored. There are multiple swimming pools, lounges, spa, sports facilities (table tennis, basketball, golf), a theater with live production shows, movie nights (with free popcorn) and other activities onboard.

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Oh, and did I mention the food? The food is divine! Aside from the reserved seats for dinner wherein we were served every night, the buffet is available all-throughout the day, there are restaurants and counters around the ship offering pizza, ice cream, burgers, hotdogs, etc, and 24-hour room service too!

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These are just some of the many plates we devoured during our week-long cruise. The food presentation is amazing!

Another amazing thing about being on a cruise was the view. Aside from the calming blue waters of the ocean, we also got the chance to see different ports and cities. We also witnessed beautiful sunsets.

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I really enjoyed my first time (and hopefully not the last!) aboard a cruise ship. It was like a dream, everything was perfect! Of course, what made the experience special and so much more memorable was the company of my family. I had so much fun bonding with them! I’d love to cruise in Glacier Bay, Alaska or North Sea, Europe next time. For now, I’ll just have to relive my memories of cruising in the Mediterranean.

To read other posts on our European adventures, click on the following links:

European Adventures: Palermo

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Hello! This post is all about Palermo, the last day trip we have before we get off at our final destination (Civitavecchia).

Palermo is the regional capital of Sicily, located in the southern part of Italy. We only had half day to get around the city, so we weren’t able to see many sights.

For millennia at the crossroads of civilisations, Palermo delivers a heady, heavily spiced mix of Byzantine mosaics, Arabesque domes and frescoed cupolas. This is a city at the edge of Europe and at the centre of the ancient world, a place where souk-like markets rub against baroque churches, where date palms frame Gothic palaces and where the blue-eyed and fair have bronze-skinned cousins.

Here are some photos:

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Cattedrale di Monreale
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Cattedrale di Monreale

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Palermo’s cathedral presents to the visitor a diversity and mixture of architectural styles unique in the world for a church of this strikingly vast scale: Arab, Norman,Byzantine, Swabian, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque. It’s all here, in one grand, inspiring setting, complete with soaring medieval spires. This is the world’s most eclectic ecclesiastical architecture.

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The highlight of our day trip was definitely the Palermo Cathedral. It was a massive structure and needless to say, I was in awe.

Read my other posts about our European adventures:

 

European Adventures: Malta

IMG_1035Our cruise continues and our next stop is an island located at the center of the Mediterranean Sea – Malta. Malta can either refer to the country (an archipelago composed of three islands), or its largest island.

When we saw Malta on the list of stops on our Mediterranean cruise, we were initially unsure if we would go on a day of sightseeing or just spend the day on board. Upon the recommendation of the crew (predominantly Filipino), we decided to explore the island of Malta.

Here are a few photos from our day trip in Malta:

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St. Paul’s Cathedral
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Grand Master’s Palace
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Republic Square

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St. John’s Co-Cathedral
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Upper Barrakka Gardens

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Fun fact: Parts of the first season of Game of Thrones were filmed in Malta, and we were able to visit one of the shooting locations (I was unaware during the trip).

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We only had a short amount of time in Malta, but we tried to make the most out of it. It was definitely better than spending the day on board!

For more posts about our European adventures, click on the following:

 

European Adventures: Sagrada Familia

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La Sagrada Familia

Hello! Another day, another post. So this is about our second day in Barcelona. First stop of the day – the majestic Sagrada Familia!

La Sagrada Familia is one of Gaudí’s most famous works in Barcelona. It’s a giant Basilica that has been under construction since 1882 and it’s not expected to be completed for some time yet.

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Before our European adventure started, of course I already read and saw articles, forums, and pictures on “where to go” and “what to see” in each city we were to visit. For Barcelona, the #1 on the list is Sagrada Familia. Looking at the pictures beforehand, I was already amazed by the beauty of the structure. I was also fascinated about the fact that even though it is unfinished, it remains as a must-see sight.

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When I finally saw the famous church, I was in awe. Actually, my whole family was! I mean, who wouldn’t be amazed by such a beautiful structure? Sagrada Familia is definitely a masterpiece.

Look at those details!

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Of course I couldn’t say no to churros con chocolate!
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With my brothers and Era, our lovely host in Barcelona

A huge thank you to Era, who was a great host! She fetched us at our place during our whole stay and toured us around Barcelona. She even brought us a typical Barcelona breakfast!

 

That’s it for now. ‘Til the next post!

For more posts about our European adventures click on the following:

European Adventures: Barcelona (Day 1)

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After our Montserrat day trip, we had late lunch and a quick rest before touring again. What’s great about our visit in Spain (and other Mediterranean countries) is that the sun sets late, around 9 pm, which gives us more time to walk around and explore. But don’t get me wrong, Barcelona is beautiful at night as well!

On our way back to our place, we passed by the Barcelona Cathedral, so we also had a photo taken here. Such a beautiful structure!

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Barcelona Cathedral

The place we stayed in was near Palau de la Música Catalana – considered as an architectural jewel of Catalan Art Nouveau. It is the only concert venue in this style to be listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which today represents an essential landmark in the cultural and social life of Catalonia. Look at those details – amazing!

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Palau de la Musica Catalana
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Palau de la Musica Catalana

After getting a quick rest, it was time to see more of Barcelona – this time it was Montjuic!

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Castell de Montjuic

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We saw the Castell de Montjuic, which used to be a military fortress. The castle was used as a military prison until 1960 when it was given back to the city and used as an army base. Now, it offers stunning views of the city.

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Candid shot, one of my favorites!

When it was about to get late, we rushed down to catch the magic fountain light show, in front of another beautifully-built structure, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.

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The Magic Fountain, taken with a phone cam only
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In front of Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

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It was a long, tiring but very fun day exploring Barcelona! Took a few more photos before heading back to our place as more days of walking around was waiting for us. We all look so happy in our photos, I guess our happiness was caught on camera. We just loved Barcelona!

See my other posts on our European adventures: