Author Archives: talkingthailand

Get Inspired About What You See

I had this title written down for ages, but it wasn’t until I went to Chiang Rai in June that I finally got round to thinking about it and it wasn’t hard to find something that inspired me.

The countryside in the north of Thailand is just beautiful and, living in Bangkok, I sometimes forget just how beautiful it really is.

Things to do in Thailand
Beautiful Chiang Rai

I was just awe struck at the nature around me in Chiang Rai. The greens and browns of the open fields…

 

Things to do in Thailand
Colours of Nature

…mountains…

Things to do in Thailand
Kok River running through the mountains

…rice paddies…

Things to do in Thailand
Rice paddies-not quite lush green

…trees proudly sporting their sweet and fleshy bananas and mangoes…

Things to do in Thailand
Fresh mangoes

Flowers- purple, yellow, white, red, all manner of gorgeous bright colours in every shape and form you could imagine.

Things to do in Thailand
Periwinkle Pinks

The blue skies with white fluffy clouds, clear and bright sunny days followed by the grey of a threatening storm before the clouds burst and the earth drowned under a barrage of rain.

Things to do in Thailand
Blue Skies
Things to do in Thailand
Grey skies and rainbows

Birds-swooping and diving looking for their next meal or chattering to one another in the branch of a nearby tree.

Things to do in Thailand
On the wing
Things to do in Thailand
A resting sparrow

It was the beginning of the season and the land around me was brown and dying because of the lack of rain, but the changing face of nature will soon transform the environment into brilliant green and lush landscapes once more.

Things to do in Thailand
Brown fields, soon to be sprouting with new rice shoots
Things to do in Thailand
Harvesting!

Green is my favourite colour and you can see it all around. Chlorophyll, responsible for all manner of greens; brilliant, emerald, forest, moss and jungle-all green, all different hues and values, in varying amounts, different forms, different shapes and sizes and all combine to form something that should be appreciated.

 

It wasn’t only the colours of nature that inspired me, the sounds of nature both inspired and impressed me. I sat outside my room in the evening and became aware of insects playing their nightly song, all in sync. Midges buzzing, singing cicadas, croaking frogs and, then, silence! A second later, their chorus of pulsating buzzes was back again. I was distracted by the local cat calling in the distance, but I chuckled to myself because it added to the free music festival I was enjoying.

Things to do in Thailand
Friendly cat who was all too vocal in the evenings!

Then, fireflies attracting mates or prey with their cool trick of bioluminescence. I sat and listened and watched. It’s not often I experience these sounds, but it was an immense pleasure to just stop what I was doing and listen along. It really was amazing.

Things to do in Thailand
Dragonfly obsession!

Nature is nothing less than wonderful, just the sheer diversity of it is mind-blowing. I was well and truly blown away. If you ever get the chance to visit the north of Thailand, I recommend Chiang Rai wholeheartedly! 🙂

Things to do in Thailand
Kok River

If you would like to share some of things that inspire you, I’d love to hear from you 🙂

The Changing Seasons-July 2018

The Changing Seasons post, inspired by the lovely Sarah at Secret Art Expedition and hosted by Su at Zimmerbitch.

I had two treats in July.

The first one was when I went to meet two very good friends, who I haven’t seen for a long, long time, 7 years to be exact!

Hailing from the Czech Republic, Lucie and Stefan are two of life’s shining stars. Always happy and always doing the things they love to do. I met Lucie when I did my TEFL course in Cambodia back in 2009. We travelled to Siem Reap together, got up at 4am to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat, and became firm friends. They came to visit me while I was living in Surin and, since then, have been on their own epic journey through life, living in Colombia, travelling to SE Asia again, and now back on home turf where they’re currently studying for their PhDs and travelling when they can. So, when they told me they were in Thailand I just had to see them. We met for lunch in Bangkok and spent a fabulous couple of hours catching up. It was like I had only seen them yesterday, and I love that! It really was such an immense pleasure to see them again.

Things to do in Bangkok
My dear friends Lucie and Stefan

The other treat was going on a day trip to Krabi!  Yes, a DAY TRIP! 😉 Chris and I have had some mad ideas, but this was probably one of the maddest. After discussing it over a few drinks, we booked it! All of 440 baht one way (£10.33). A few years ago, we went on a day trip to Saraburi to see the sunflowers in bloom. We went by train, early in the morning and didn’t get back until late in the evening, so this was our motivation for going to Krabi for the day, for lunch! That, and the several alcoholic drinks we had downed! The only difference would be that our mode of transport would be a plane rather than two trains.

The day arrived. We met at the skytrain at 6.30am, made our way to the airport, and at 8.55 a.m took off on our way south.

Things to do in Krabi
We have arrived!

We arrived in Krabi at 10.15 a.m and got the free shuttle bus to town and went in search of the food market that Chris knew about. Bearing in mind that he hadn’t been there for a couple of years, we weren’t even sure that this particular stall would still be there, but it was, so we sat and enjoyed some delicious, and some not so delicious food. As I get older, I have become more fussy about what I eat, I know what I like and I, generally, stick to that.

Things to eat in Thailand
Second round was much more delicious

But, Chris is a foodie, through and through, and he will try almost anything. So, after the initial disappointment and thinking we had come all this way for something I didn’t really enjoy, we were then presented with some Massaman, a dish that comes from the south of Thailand. It was the best I’ve tasted and with the catfish and more Massaman, we were soon filled to the gills!

We left the market and caught a songthaew to Ao Nang beach. Sometimes, the journey is just as fun as the destination itself. The road to the beach was surrounded by high limestone cliffs and it is just so green, a welcome sight when you live in Bangkok.

Things to do in Krabi
Krabi Town
Things to do in Krabi
Krabi, Thailand

Ao Nang has a laid-back vibe filled with many restaurants and shops along its short promenade, and the most beautiful stretch of sand that I have seen for a while, flanked by more stunning cliffs, palm trees, and, oh-so blue water with views out to Koh Poda and beyond.

Things to do in Krabi
Ao Nang, Krabi
Things to do in Krabi
Ao Nang, Krabi

We walked along the beach and had a paddle in the sea, we wished we had taken our swimming shorts because the water was so inviting.

Things to do in Krabi
Ao Nang, Krabi
Things to do in Krabi
Ao Nang, Krabi

We went in search of a bar, so we could sit and enjoy the views with our afternoon drinks. It was bliss!

Things to do in Krabi
Ao Nang, Krabi
Things to do in Krabi
Ao Nang, Krabi

Time goes so quick when you’re enjoying yourself, doesn’t it? We moved to a different bar and had one for the road before heading back to town to catch the bus back to the airport.

We arrived back in Bangkok around 10.00 p.m, took a taxi to our neighbourhood and had a debrief about our day over dinner. We realised we had travelled 1,600 km and been out for 17 hours!  It was a lot of fun, but it took a few days to get over it!

If you would like to join me and the others in this challenge, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic)

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

Poetry in Motion

Things to do in Sri Lanka
Poetry in Motion

A kite, soaring on the breeze
swirling and swooping
beat back by one smaller

hovering

wings flapping to keep still
searching, searching
no luck

moving on
soaring
gliding across the air currents

try again

NO

Up, up again
swirling
spying until
something is there..

getting lower

hovering

a speedy dart back to earth
talons outstretched

a flurry of wings
as claws and fur collide

success at last!

Back at the nest, all will rest until the next day

Inspired as nature unfolded in Chiang Rai, June 2018

Last Day in Rome

I can’t believe how time flies sometimes, especially when you’re having fun, but here we were, our last day in Rome, it had come round so quickly, but we had seen a lot in the short time we had been there.

On our last day, we decided to take the metro to Circo Massimo, not just a metro station, but an ancient arena where the Romans used to congregate in their thousands to watch chariot races, athletics, and gladiator games.

Things to do in Rome
Circo Massimo as it was back then (Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Circus_Maximus_(Atlas_van_Loon).jpg)

As we walked across the, now, green expanse in the shadow of the Imperial palace on the Palatine Hill, I imagined what life would have been like back then. It would have been a thrilling experience to witness the events that took place.

We walked towards the Tiber River and across the Ponte Palatino also known as Ponte Inglese (English Bridge) with views of Isola Tiberina and the remains of Ponte Rotto (Broken Bridge) the oldest stone bridge the city.

Things to do in Rome
Isola Tiberina with the remains of the Ponte Rotto in the foreground

Isola Tiberina is a small island in the middle of the Tiber, connected by bridges on either side, and it was once the site of an ancient temple of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing.

Nowadays, the Fatebenefratelli hospital and the Basilica of St Bartholomew are located on the island.

Things to do in Rome
Basilica of St Bartholomew

From there, we walked back over Ponte Fabricio, the oldest bridge in Rome, that still exists in its original state, and went in search of coffee passing by more Roman ruins, this was the Portico of Octavia which dates from around 27 BC. 

Things to do in Rome
Portico of Octavia

As we sat on Via del Portico d’ Ottavia drinking coffee, even the stone walls have a story to tell.

Things to do in Rome
Via del Portico d’Ottavia
Things to do in Rome
Via del Portico d’Ottavia
Things to do in Rome
Via del Portico d’Ottavia

We continued our walk, following the map, to Campo de Fiori, another of Rome’s captivating squares. This one had a colourful market full of fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, meats, and flowers. it was buzzing with people everywhere.

We walked around it, searching for a restaurant to have lunch in, when we were, pleasantly, accosted by a guy who excitedly told us how the pizzas in his (boss’) restaurant were different to all the others, they had traditional bases rather than the thick crusts of other parts of Italy, and they were the best we’d find here!

Of course he was going to say that! We said the usual statement that comes from these situations, that we were going to look around, but we walked just five paces and decided that we would go back to his restaurant, if only for his enthusiasm for his work! But, we were glad we did! He wasn’t lying about the pizzas, the thin-crusted Margheritas, washed down with a bottle of white wine, were really delicious. In fact, we enjoyed them so much, we had a second round of both pizza and wine. Actually, one of the reasons we decided to have two rounds was because our waiter was both funny and charming, and he made us feel really welcome and glad we had chosen Campo De Fiori Ristorante. If you’re ever in the vicinity, I really recommend this place.

Things to do in Rome
Campo De Fiori Ristorante (Photo Credit http://www.campodefioriristorante.it/

After our scrummy lunch, we took our leave and walked through the cobbled streets of the city until we arrived at the Pantheon, Rome’s best preserved building from Roman times.

Things to do in Rome
Via del Teatro Valle
Things to do in Rome
Via del Portico d’Ottavia

It’s circular with a portico of eight, huge Corinthian columns at the front and two groups of four at the sides. The Pantheon’s dome has a central opening, called an oculus, and 2,000 years after it was built, it’s still the biggest, unsupported dome in the world.

Things to do in Rome
The Pantheon’s dome and oculus (Photo credit https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Internal_Pantheon_Light.JPG)

We sat on the steps of the Fontana del Pantheon, in the middle of Piazza della Rotonda, and watched the people milling around in the sunshine, in the shadow of this grand edifice.

Things to do in Rome
Fontana del Pantheon
Things to do in Rome
Piazza della Rotonda

Inscribed at the top of the portico are the letters: M-AGRIPPA-L-F-COS-TERTIVM-FECIT which translates as Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius made (this building) when consul for the third time. Fascinating stuff when you think about it, but it happens that this building was built by emperor Hadrian in 126 AD who kept the original inscription after Agrippa’s Pantheon was completely destroyed, and despite excavations it’s still uncertain who can be accredited with the building of it.

Things to do in Rome
The Pantheon

I never went inside, like with many of the places I visited while I was in Rome, that’s another reason to go back, but I was just happy to be in the company of my mum and dad.

Things to do in Rome
Mum and Dad

In fact, I want to thank them for making some very special memories with me. It was time to cherish and I’ll never, ever forget it!  Where to next mamma and papa? Grazie!!  🙂 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

 

 

The Changing Seasons-June 2018

The Changing Seasons post, inspired by the lovely Sarah at Secret Art Expedition and hosted by Su at Zimmerbitch.

In June, I spent a glorious four days in Chiang Rai, in the north of Thailand.

I got there mid-afternoon and spent the rest of the day writing and reading, surrounded by the beautiful countryside and not a soul in sight.

Things to do in freetime
Ban Lom Jen Homestay

The next day I visited Wat Rong Khun (the White Temple), a beautifully ornate building owned by Chalermchai Kositpipat. The temple is unique and the white exterior has fragments of mirrored glass which makes it dazzle in the sunlight.

I took a taxi and went into town for lunch and another temple, Wat Phra That Doi Thong, which is also the highest point of the city.

Things to do in Chiang Rai
Wat Phra That Doi Thong
Things to do in Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai Clocktower

I got back to the homestay and had an another relaxing evening, my only company were the insects who had come out for the night, it was really soothing listening to their sounds in the dark night. It made such a wonderful change, my usual night time sounds are the rush of beeping horns on the busy Bangkok roads.

Wednesday, I hired a bicycle and explored the gorgeous countryside of Chiang Rai. What surprised me was the lack of people, there was hardly anyone around, even the people who live there seemed to be missing. So, I had no problems cycling on the roads, I wouldn’t dare in Bangkok!

Things to do in Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai countryside- gorgeous green fields surrounded by mountains

First stop was Wat Huai Pla Kung and an enormous statue on the hill, which is so large, I could see the top of its head from my accommodation, some 2 kilometres away. It’s not a Buddha statue, which is what I thought, but a depiction of the goddess of Mercy.

Walk up the stairs, flanked by white dragons, and you’ll be treated to views of the green and mountainous countryside. It’s rather impressive.

Things to do in Chiang Rai
Wat Huai Pla Kung

From there I cycled to Wat Rong Sear Tean or the Blue Temple, a gorgeous, blue building with ornately carved gold decoration. It is quite simply, stunning, and I have never seen anything like it in Thailand before. I kind of preferred it to the White Temple, if only for the lack of tourists!

Onward on my trusty steed, I spotted a small golden chedi and a gateway with lions standing on stone plinths on either side, so I went to investigate.

Things to do in Chiang Rai
Wat Tham Tu Pu

This was Wat Tham Tu Pu. It was quite eerie in the cave, so I didn’t hang around very long.

The last port of call was Wat Tham Phra (Buddha Images Cave) with a number of Buddhist statues and altars. The people there were preparing for some kind of celebration, so I had a quick look inside and then left to go back to the homestay where I drank a cold beer or two and relished in the quiet surround sound!

Things to do in Chiang Rai
Wat Tham Pra (Buddha images cave)
Things to do in Chiang Rai
Wat Tham Pra (Buddha images cave)

I left the following afternoon to go back to the concrete jungle, that is Bangkok, but I was so glad I went to Chiang Rai, it had been a while since I ventured anywhere in Thailand and, living in a big city, I sometimes forget just how beautiful it is.

If you would like to join me and the others in this challenge, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic)

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

The Changing Seasons-May 2018

The Changing Seasons post, inspired by the lovely Sarah at Secret Art Expedition and hosted by Su at Zimmerbitch.

Gosh, I am a little behind with this, seeing as it is almost August!  And while I’m on the subject, August? How on earth did that happen, it only seems five minutes since we were welcoming in the new year!  Time goes by so quickly, it is positively scary. Still, we can but try to enjoy the time that we have!

Back to May. So what did I get up to?

I found out that another of my photos was placed in the top 50% most voted in ViewBug’s Image of the Month contest. I always makes me happy when I get news like this. It’s nice that your work gets acknowledged in some, small, way.

Things to do in Sri Lanka
Surfing in Hikkaduwa

Having just been to Italy, and loving everything Italian, there was an exhibition on at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre, called ” Opera Omnia.” It displayed 40 masterpieces by Caravaggio, only they were HD reproductions of the incredibly detailed originals, which are currently housed in museums across the globe. It was really fascinating to see how the painter’s style makes his subjects seem so life-like.

I started reading Amitav Ghosh’s River of Smoke, the second in the Ibis trilogy, (The Sea of Poppies is the first), and the continuance of the story of the opium trade between India and China and the characters that are involved with that. I’m really enjoying it and Ghosh is one of my favourite authors because his writing really makes you feel like you are in the middle of things.

Things to do in free time
River of Smoke, Amitav Ghosh

I had two fixes of art in May, later in the month I went to another art gallery to see an exhibition called “Abandonia.” The photographs were all of derelict places around Thailand that have just been abandoned, hence the name. I’m always inspired when I see other photographer’s work because, sometimes, the simplest of subjects can tell a story and, on a personal level, it’s a great way to continue learning.

My friend and I ended the month at a restaurant called Eats Prayo, for Khao Soi, a dish originating from Northern Thailand, with a mix of deep-fried crispy egg noodles, shallots, lime, chilies and chicken or seafood in a deliciously creamy coconut sauce. It has quickly become my favourite Thai dish.

Things to Eat in Bangkok
Khao Soi with seafood Photo Credit: Chris Wotton

Afterwards, we had a few sun-downers (and after sun-downers) at a new bar called Cactus, a roof top bar on the leafy-laned Yenakat Road in a less hectic part of Bangkok. We enjoyed the evening so much, we went back for round two a couple of days later!

If you would like to join me and the others in this challenge, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic)

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

From Piazza to Piazza

Today we’re taking the metro to Flaminio and starting off our day at Piazza del Popolo, a circular square with three fountains. On the north side is a gate called the Porto del Popolo, once the beginning of Via Flaminia, an important ancient Roman road which led to the north of Italy. Piazza del Popolo would be the first thing that visitors, travelling from the north, would lay eyes on.

Things to do in Rome
Porto del Popolo
Things to do in Rome
Piazza del Popolo

Just looking at the piazza now, I reckon it would have been a grand sight, even back then, and one that would excite people into seeing more of the city. The piazza was used for public executions up until 1826, but, thankfully, these days it’s a much more happy and relaxed place and completely pedestrianised where people can come together to engage in more fun activities.

Depending on the story you choose to believe, Piazza del Popolo’s name is due the many poplar trees dotted around or it may have been named after the church of Santa Maria del Popolo which is adjacent to the main gate. The piazza is located at the top of three main streets, Via del Corso, Via del Babuino, and Via di Ripetta. Once called the Tridente, these three routes would have led to Rome’s main basilicas. The beginning of the tridente is marked by two churches, Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto.

Things to do in Rome
Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto
Things to do in Rome
One of the streets that make up the Tridente

The three fountains in the piazza were all built by Giovanni Ceccarini in the 19th century. On opposite sides, are the Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) and Fontana della Dea Roma (Fountain of the Goddess Rome) which depicts Dea Roma armed with her weapons with the she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, in front. In the middle of the piazza is the Fontana dell’ Obelisco (Fountain of the Obelisk) which is actually four mini fountains with a lion on each plinth and the fountain, as a whole, surrounds the obelisk of pharaoh, Seti I which is one of the tallest obelisks in Rome.

 

Things to do in Rome
Fontana dell’ Obelisco (Fountain of the Obelisk)
Things to do in Rome
Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune)
Things to do in Rome
Fontana della Dea Roma (Fountain of the Goddess Rome)

We walked through Porto del Popolo, onto the piazza, and stood watching a group of kids playing Sunday morning football. There were loads of people around, but there was no jostling to get a spot to see anything because there was plenty of room to take photographs and take a leisurely walk around the piazza.

Things to do in Rome
Sunday morning footie!

We left Piazza del Popolo and wondered up the steps to Pincio Gardens. We didn’t go into the gardens, but took a stroll along Viale della Trinita dei Monti towards the Trinita dei Monti church and the Spanish steps. The views across the rooftop of Rome were fabulous.

We arrived at the Spanish Steps, so named, not because they were built by a Spanish architect, but because the Spanish embassy is located at the bottom.

Things to do in Rome
Trinita dei Monti church

There are 135 steps leading down to Piazza di Spagna which were designed by architects Francisco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi and are adorned with planters of beautiful flowers all the way down.

Things to do in Rome
Piazza di Spagna

There were hundreds of people in the piazza and before we headed down into the throng of things, it was nice to stand at the top and look down on all the activity below.

Things to do in Rome
The Spanish Steps

At the bottom, is Fontana Della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Longboat) which is Baroque in design and created by Bernini’s father.

Things to do in Rome
Fountain of the Longboat

From there, we wandered through the piazza and found a cafe to sit and relax for a while over a coffee (wine!!!) before heading to the metro to go to the other side of the city and Piazza Vittorio Emanuele.

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele is home to Giardini Nicola Calipari, a small garden which really comprises the whole piazza. Although there is a fountain and some ruins there, it isn’t as attractive as other gardens in Rome because it was a little run down and the grass was overgrown in parts.

However, there was a lively Hindu festival in full swing and the colours of the women’s saris together with the music added a touch of excitement in an otherwise drab space.

From the piazza we walked towards Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore and the grand domed basilica of the same name. We by-passed the impressive building and found a little restaurant tucked in a little cobbled alleyway. The weather wasn’t what you’d call warm, but it wasn’t cold enough that we had to sit inside, so still wrapped in scarves, we found a table and sat and watched the world go by as we enjoyed our lunch.

Things to do in Rome
Santa Maria Maggiore

We realized we weren’t that far from our hotel, so we took a slow walk back to Via Nazionale and stopped off for an afternoon tipple before we headed back to our hotel to get ready for our second to last night out in Rome.

Next time: Isola Tiberina

 

Back in Rome

We arrived back in Rome and decided we would go out for dinner in the city. Usually, we just ate near the hotel, but this evening we decided we were going to take the metro and find a restaurant near the Trevi Fountain.

We came out of the metro station onto Piazza Barberini, with its 17th century Baroque fountain, and down Via del Tritone, a less-touristy area of the city, with shops and restaurants, office buildings, and people going about their daily business. ,

Things to do in Rome
Piazza Barberini
Things to do in Rome
Fontana del Tritone (Triton Fountain)

We turned into a side street and found ourselves on a narrow, cobbled street with tall buildings on either side, much more atmospheric with plenty of restaurants to choose from, some with al fresco dining, and tourists making a bee-line for one of Rome’s most famous attractions. It was buzzing with activity. Sorry folks, no photographs! 🙁

As we walked along, we were approached by friendly staff, trying to attract customers into their restaurants, which all looked inviting with smells of delicious Italian food wafting into the street. It was difficult to choose, but we decided on one called Ristorante Taberna Patrizi e Plebei.

Things to do in Rome
Ristorante Taberna Patrizi e Plebei

We by-passed diners who were happily enjoying their evening meals. The atmosphere was electric with their lively chatter and the clinking of glasses or cutlery on plates. We descended stairs into the cellar which was decorated with paintings of historical figures on the walls and ceilings, columns with carved capitals at the top, plush seating and circular tables down the middle and on either side. It was a good choice because the salad, to start, followed by pizza, breaded chicken breast and roast veal was scrummy, the wine was full-bodied, the staff, friendly, and the decor, beautiful. The only thing we didn’t like was the bill at the end! 😉 But, what the hell, we were on holiday, so the expense was justified.

Things to do in Rome
Ristorante Taberna Patrizi e Plebei
Things to do in Rome
Ristorante Taberna Patrizi e Plebei

After we’d finished, we walked further along Via del Lavatore to Piazza di Trevi and on the left is Chiesa Rettoria Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio a Trevi, a lovely Baroque church which pales in comparison to the Trevi fountain. But, I still found it worthy of a photograph.

Things to do in Rome
Chiesa Rettoria Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio a or Saints Vincent and Anastasius at Trevi

It sure is a sight to behold when you come to the end of the street, not only is the Trevi fountain huge, incredibly detailed and very striking, it’s also built onto a palace!!  As you do! 😉 Most definitely in Rome you do! 😉

Palazzo Poli is the backdrop for this majestic fountain with Corinthian columns and triumphal arch built onto the facade.

Things to do in Rome
The Trevi Fountain

The theme is the “Taming of the Waters” which tells the story of Oceanus taming a herd of sea horses. The use of strategically placed lighting creates a wonderful vision of light and shadows on the rock and in the crystal clear water.

Things to do in Rome
The Trevi Fountain

It’s the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous across the world. As with the Colosseum, the Trevi fountain is one thing that visitor’s to Rome have on their list of things to see, us included, but, boy, I didn’t expect to see so many people! On the first day, after we’d been to the Vatican, we walked to see this impressive work of art and there were so many people there then, it was difficult to get photographs and just sit and enjoy the view. And this evening was no different, I think the best time to see it would be really early in the morning, or, failing that, rent a room right on Piazza di Trevi! I think that would be a tad expensive, but imagine the view from your balcony while you’re having breakfast! Next time, maybe! Despite the hordes of people, we managed to get a spot close to the fountain, so we could throw a coin in, which is supposed to guarantee your return to Rome. 😉

Apparently, over €3,000 is thrown in each day and, during 2016, €1.4 m was collected and it’s used to help the poorer people of Rome. Unfortunately, people have been known to steal the money before it’s been collected which is, of course, illegal. I don’t really know how anyone could even begin to attempt it, there are security guards all over the place!

Things to do in Rome
The Trevi Fountain

These photos aren’t the best quality, my phone is rubbish when it comes to taking photos at night, but I think you can still see the magnificence of this opulent fountain. I know it’s cheating a bit, but I bought a postcard because I wanted an image without hundreds of people. And what a picture, don’t you agree?!

Things to do in Rome
The Trevi Fountain postcard!!

Next Time: Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Spagna and Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II

 

 

 

 

Florence

We left Rome on the Friday morning, after buying train tickets from the most unhelpful, unfriendly person. I really think she is in the wrong job to be serving customers. A smile is all it takes! Undeterred, we had a while to wait, so we had coffee and watched people hurrying through the station from where we sat, upstairs in the cafe.

The train ride was lovely, travelling through the Italian countryside into the rolling green pastures and hills of Tuscany, which we never saw much of, as we all dozed off, all this sightseeing is tiring! Before long we arrived in Florence, the capital city of the Tuscan region and brimming with Renaissance art, grand buildings and monuments, and some wonderful streets that are just fantastic to explore.

We’d booked a hotel at Hotel Anna’s and, after a short walk to the hotel, we arrived to find that there was no reception and a flight of stairs leading up to the 4th floor and the hotel. I started to climb the stairs with my mum following, already in despair because of the pain in her hip. Luckily, a man from another hotel in the same building had spotted us, and seeing my mum was struggling, called us back and told us there was a room available on the ground floor. We couldn’t thank him enough and we checked in to our triple room, which was full of character, large and airy with antique furniture, a huge bathroom with sunken bath, and the walls painted a bright blue.

Things to do in Rome
Brightly-coloured kitchen at Hotel Azzi
Things to do in Rome
Views of the historic centre from Hotel Azzi’s rooftop terrace

We dumped our bags, and went out to explore our new surroundings. Florence is a city with narrow streets, many of which are limited traffic zones, so it’s a great place for walking around safely. The city is also said to be one of the most beautiful in the world and it’s not hard to understand why.

There are so many side streets that you can explore and the historic part of the city isn’t big enough to get lost. We walked along Via Faenza and at the end, around the corner, was the most amazing sight I think I might have ever seen.

Things to do in Rome
Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo)

Santa Maria del Fiore or the Duomo. A striking domed cathedral whose marble pastel-coloured panels glimmer in the sunshine. The cathedral can be seen from miles away. You’ve also got the Campanile and the Baptistry to admire and they are just as stunning.

Things to do in Rome
The Duomo with the Baptistry and Campanile on either side

The facade of the cathedral is ornately decorated with carvings and mosaics and high above, in between the spectacular rose windows, are twelve statues of the Apostles.

Not only that, almost reaching the skies, is the largest dome in the world which, if you’re brave enough to go up there, boasts views that will take your breath away. Views aside, the cathedral alone will make you gasp in astonishment! I guarantee it 🙂

Things to do in Rome
Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo)

We sat in the shadows the Duomo and ate lunch and, afterwards, we continued on our exploration to Piazza della Signoria, a huge square dominated by the Romanesque-style Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi with its arches under which statues depicting scenes from mythology are displayed.

Things to do in Rome
Piazza della Signoria
Things to do in Rome
Palazzo Vecchio
Things to do in Rome
Loggia dei Lanzi

You’ll also see the statues of David by Michelangelo and Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli.

Things to do in Rome
David by Michelangelo
Things to do in Rome
Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli

If you walk passed Palazzo Vecchio, you’ll see the entrance to the Uffizi Gallery, in the corner. We didn’t venture into the gallery, the courtyard was doing a fine job of being an outdoor gallery in its own right. A rectangular-shaped space with columns and arches and other architecturally pleasing elements, as well as statues of famous painters, architects and other historical figures.  Florence was turning out to be no less amazing than Rome and we’d only been there for two hours.

Things to do in Rome
Uffizi Gallery courtyard
Things to do in Rome
Galileo Galilei and Pier Antonio Micheli

We found ourselves at the River Arno and gazing out over the water to Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge). This Medieval stone bridge doesn’t have statues, it has a variety of jewellers, art and souvenir shops on either side, once a common sight on the bridges of Italy.

We left the river and walked slowly back towards the city, stopped for coffee (wine!) and went back to the hotel for a rest before going out for dinner at Cornelius Trattoria Pizzeria, a cute restaurant that we’d spotted earlier in the day, with fabulous Impressionist-style paintings on the walls. I don’t think we had a bad meal all throughout our trip and this place didn’t disappoint either. We left there and had our obligatory “one-for-the-road” drink before heading back to the hotel for the night.

Things to do in Rome
Lungarno degli Archibusieri

The following morning, after breakfast, we went for a last wander around the market to buy souvenirs and ate lunch on the street, always a winner in my book, there’s something about al fresco dining, I just love it.

Things to do in Rome
Mercato di San Lorenzo
Things to do in Rome
Al fresco dining

We were only in Florence for one night, so our time was limited, but what we did see was fantastic, it was much more relaxed and it made a pleasant change from the tumult of Rome.

Next up: We’re back in Rome and exploring the city some more 🙂