Wednesday, September 29, 2004

italy the last

all right, my final update on italy - stop the last: Roma. =) of all the cities we visited, frankly, i liked Rome the least, though -like Florence- it grew on me. perhaps it takes a while for larger, more disorganised (and non-english) cities to grow on me; i have a hard time finding my way, and being constantly lost is not really conducive to learning to love a place. plus it decided to rain almost continuously the entire time we were in Rome (unlike the absolutely gorgeous weather we had in Tuscany, and even in the Cinque Terre, though it did rain in La Spezia), which predisposed me to be grouchy.

also, we had public transport issues -- the first morning we were in Rome, i wanted to go to the Vatican (oh, how i looked forward to seeing the Vatican!), which necessitated taking the Metro, since walking would take too ridiculously long. so off we trekked to the metro station, only to find it was closed, and we would have to take a bus (it turned out later that the entire line was closed, and shortly after they closed the second metro line as well -one line goes north-south while the other east-west, like in Singapore) -however there were already what felt like tens of thousands of tourists who were waiting for said bus. grr! so we wound up walking all over Rome that first day -the buses didn't seem to be running too consistently either -just our luck to walk into a pseudo-strike where buses kept coming into the terminal and then not leaving again. (the drivers went into their little rest booths, had long chats with each other while smoking like chimneys, and assuring people that yes the buses were indeed running...sort of) i saw the usual sights -the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon...=) and ate the best gelato in Rome, from San Crispino near the Trevi. oooh, the grapefruit gelato! all the wonderful loveliness of the grapefruit taste without any of the messiness of getting the flesh out of the skin! and the hazelnut gelato and the chocolate gelato were beautiful too -smooth, not too sweet, rich with the essence of the distinct flavours...i was a very happy camper after having some of that gelato, let me tell you!

i didn't throw coins into the Trevi like i was supposed to, but i did take a picture:

the second day we were in Rome it was slightly more successful: we made it into the Vatican Museums before the major storm broke over our (unshielded) heads -i watched the rain thunder down on the glass ceiling of the reception area, and thanked my lucky stars we were already indoors!- and spent a great deal of time in the Sistine Chapel, where i didn't take any photos, because i am a good tourist. we also saw Raphael's The School of Athens, which was really cool. (alex bought a 1000 piece jigsaw of said painting, which we completed on Sunday afternoon at his place) but i've already posted about seeing Michelangelo's Pieta -i discovered that serendipitously i had bought a postcard of said Pieta while in Florence, so it is on my wall above a picture of a Ferrari- and the Basilica di San Pietro, so nothing more on that.

we rounded up our second afternoon by walking by the Spanish Steps, where we lounged in true tourist fashion and watched the Food Nazi policeman walk around, blow his whistle almost instantly upon discovering a pair of gelati-eating tourists attempting to settle themselves on the steps -"no food! no food! you sit elsewhere, please"- and also me pointing out random expensive stores -"missoni! and gucci! and oh! is that a bvlgari?!"- before we decided to go find the Ferrari store. and am i glad we did! because i got to have my picture taken with an ACTUAL F1 RACE CAR (one of the most beautiful machines on earth!) and bought an outrageously expensive photo of Schumi in his machine after winning, pumping his fist in the air while congratulating and being congratulated by his pit crew. (i wanted one with both Ferraris in it, but they weren't that attractive; besides, i'm really a Schumi fan. i almost bought one of him doing his little star-jump, which i adore -i think it makes him look like a really big Ribena berry.)

but the next day, it was back to London where the giant-transit-party was just beginning; we saw Amos (who had just arrived from Lyon and would return to Paris that evening) and Julian (who is enroute to Dublin, but settling his sister into London in the meantime) and Feng-Yuan (we stayed at his place). it was wonderful to see everyone again, and actually get to spend time with Feng this time, not to mention Julian. yay. but you already know the rest of the story -i am back in Chicago, yadda yadda. italy is now but a wonderful memory -and a desire to go again!

come away with me
in the night
come away with me
and i will write you a song
come away with me in the mist
come away where they can't tempt us
with their lies

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

those sweet words

what did you say
i know i saw you singing
but my ears won't stop ringing
long enough to hear those sweet words
what did you say

end of the day
the hour hand has spun
but before the night is done
i just have to hear those sweet words
spoken like a melody

all your love is a lost balloon
rising up through the afternoon
til it could fit on the head of a pin

come on in
did you have a hard time sleeping
cos the heavy moon was keeping me awake
and all i know is
i'm just glad to see you again

see my love like a lost balloon
rising up through the afternoon
and then you appear

what did you say
i know what you were singing
but my ears won't stop ringing
long enough to hear those sweet words
and your simple melody
i just have to hear those sweet words
spoken like a melody
i just wanna hear those sweet words

Monday, September 27, 2004

the tower leans

as promised, the obligatory Leaning-Tower-Of-Pisa tourist photo. =) enjoy. more to follow, from Roma! soon.

italy update the fourth

so technically i have to leave for class in twenty minutes, so of course i'm here uploading pictures for your viewing pleasure. -grin- avoidance begins even before school does. first up, we have a one day side trip we took to the Cinque Terre, or Five Lands, which is protected as a Unesco World Heritage site. it's really a bunch of five lovely little fishing village type places, built into the rocky hillside along the Ligurian coast, and has some absolutely breathtaking views of the coastline. it's also home to some of the most awesome pizza i had on the trip -who knew that tomatoes and tuna could taste so good? i'd like to live there -for a while; you know i'm a big-city girl myself- just because the view to wake up to every morning is so incredibly awesome. here, see for yourself -but this is just a tiny little taste of what it would be like to live in Corneglia.

of course, the rest of what it means to live in Corneglia is having to climb 300 steps up and down from the railway station to the town everytime you wanted to go somewhere else, so why not live in charming beach-resorty filled-with-old-people Monterosso instead?

after a stopover in La Spezia (where we stayed, as opposed to somewhere in the Cinque Terre, and where we watched the Monza Grand Prix, which had one of Minardis catch fire in the pit lane, and had Schumi and Barichello clawing their way back up the order to a one-two finish after a disastrous start for both of them), we headed to Pisa, and then to Rome.

Pisa is, of course, as beautiful as everyone else says it is. especially the square that holds the famed leaning tower, and the baptistry with beautiful acoustics, and the wonderful cathedral. huge. we rushed rather through there, because we were enroute to Rome. but still managed to see stuff -alex climbed the tower!- and eat some really good panini too.

more from me later, including of course the obligatory holding-up-the-tower picture, which alex obligingly took for me, and posed me for -- class calls!

easy listening

still haven't finished the italy updates, but can't bring myself to write anything long today. tomorrow, work begins, and major work avoidance along with it. until then -i enjoy my last few hours of total freedom.

the entire point of this post is to say that if i were ever to sing professionally, i would like to do music like Norah Jones. (i don't care if critics think it all sounds the same. i like it! =p)

however, since the likelihood of my singing professionally is remote, i think it's safe to say that i'll just continue to sing Norah Jones's songs in the shower and out loud on my way to school.

i've spent most of the weekend not in my apartment, for a change -hanging out at alex's place, and hanging out with amanda and shum. meanwhile, the temperature is dropping, and fall definitely Cometh. normal blogging service to resume soon. =)

Thursday, September 23, 2004

italy chapter 3

before i forget -and i forgot on the earlier post- what remains in my memory of florence includes foooooood. the first night we were there we ate at Trattoria ZaZa, where we had the most unforgettable pasta -i had tagliatelle with a truffle-flavoured cream sauce, and alex had tagliatelle with fresh porcini mushrooms. the first bite of my pasta was heaven; and alex's pasta continued to please to the very last bite. (mine was a little heavy after the halfway mark, but i feel that way about all cream sauces regardless of how wonderful they taste) on our last night in Florence we ate there again (i wanted that porcini!) and alex had steak so beautifully done it almost converted me into an eater of bloody cowmeat (i usually get mine medium-well, so there's no bloody tinge) - it was wonderful. and the night in between we had paella -enough paella to feed a small army- at a restaurant near the best gelato in town. mmm.

that was truly wonderful gelato, by the way -a small geletaria with a line coming out of it composed partly of tourists and partly of people-who-really-live-in-Florence- where i had my first taste of really good hazelnut gelato. heaven. and the lemon, and strawberry, and...can you tell i am a big fan of gelato?

back to the trip: Stop the Second-and-a-half: Siena. day trip from Florence to see a hilly little Tuscan town, which was tremendously pretty. we just walked around a lot, took a whole bunch of pictures, ate at a pretty good trattoria with the best espresso i had the entire trip, and then went to a church (of St. Catherine) which had St. Catherine's head and thumb in it. i shall never understand the fascination with relics -not an integral part of Anglicanism- and would not go near said thumb. but it was interesting nonetheless.

in the middle of town there is a square, il campo, where il palio is held - a violent horse race run around the square (well the scallop-shaped square) three or four times, where the rules say that the horse, not the jockey, wins the race -a riderless horse can win. the various communities within siena take part, and it's a colourful -and competitive- affair. we missed it, but feng was there the day it took place, and saw the parade, if not the actual race itself.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Italy continued!

Stop the Second: Firenze/Florence. after a pleasant few hours that were my first ride on the Eurostar/Trenitalia, climbing through the Tuscan hills, we pulled into Florence's Santa Maria Novella station. making hay while the sun shone -and the sun did shine!- we dumped our bags in the hotel and went for a walk. i didn't like florence much at first -ah, i get lost in cities that don't have a grid-like map- but slowly she grew on me, until i was reluctant to leave. who wouldn't love a city that has a huge fresh food market in its heart (where we ate breakfast two days running!) and sells beautiful leather goods a heartbeat away from our hotel?

a closeup of part of the beautiful Duomo's exterior. i loved all that green and pink stone, and -like the rest of italy- the sculpture is beautiful. see the Baptism of Christ below? it's lovely. and we also went to the museum that holds many of the originals of the artwork in the Duomo, and saw the face of Michelangelo on one of his sculptures; and oh! the choir (loft, not the actual people) in the Duomo has Laudate Eum inscribed on them, with descriptive pictures! look!

more from me later -Siena, the Cinque Terre, and ROME to come...


all right, everyone - i was just reminded by pstan that my photos are yet to be posted, as promised. and since i have a few minutes now -thanks to the first-attempt-at-lasagna that is bubbling in the oven, which includes sauce made from almost-scratch, thank you very much (i used canned tomatoes)- i shall attempt to post some in a review of the last two weeks.

stop one after london: Venezia/Venice. we arrived in what felt like the dead of night, but was really around eight or nine pm Venice Time. after almost missing the flight! flying in from Stansted, so we had to catch the Stansted Express from Liverpool St. however, we got on the wrong train -a later train!- and were locked in, watching the train we wanted to get on pull out of the station. so when we finally reached Stansted, we had five minutes between pulling into the station and the checkin windows closing. what ensued was a (relatively) high speed sprint through the airport (carrying, remember, all our worldly goods in two huge backpacks as well as carry on luggage) to check in, making it by a hair; then another high speed sprint to get through security (the line was ENORMOUS! alex had to ask two nice guys to let us cut in front, as we had literally twenty minutes to make our flight -boarding had ALREADY COMMENCED) and then -we had to catch a SKYTRAIN to our gate. as you can imagine, more sprinting. but we did make our flight.

as the plane banked to land at the airport, i got my first glimpse of Venice (of italy!) from the air, and i was glad we were coming in at night. Venice with all her lights glowing in the darkness, on the water, is gorgeous. and i was sitting with this little old italian lady, who, upon realising i was a tourist and had never seen Venice before, pointed out various things to me and said 'nice' over and over. -grin- i smiled, and nodded along with her.

here, my friends, is a closeup of the Bridge of Sighs (which we walked through, twice) with a bazillion tourists standing on the bridge behind. how terrifying that sight -the tourist horde, that is- was for the two of us!

that, my darlings, is Venice looking out to sea in the early afternoon. isn't she beautiful?

more to come...

Monday, September 20, 2004

in memory

with a nod to TT over at About Last Night:

"'Sorrow comes in great waves -no one can know that better than you- but it rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us it leaves us on the spot, and we know that if it is strong we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes and we remain. It wears us, uses us, but we wear it and use it in return; and it is blind, whereas we after a manner see.'

Henry James, letter to Grace Norton, July 28, 1883 "

Thursday, September 16, 2004

posting from the middle of rome

heyhey boys and girls:

last day in Rome, have just seen the Vatican Museums and the Basilica di San Pietro after being rained on, and am updating a little earlier than anticipated, because we have some extra credit in the Easy Internet in Rome.

the trip's been pretty fun thus far, only slightly marred by some recurring issues with my back and gastric attacks, but for the most part i've enjoyed myself. particularly in Florence, though i'd say Venice would give it a good run for my money. (i certainly spent more in Florence though, on a new red leather jacket!) Rome isn't really my kind of city, though it is growing on me. for one thing, it surrounds one of the most beautiful places i've ever seen - St. Peter's Basilica, which contains Michelangelo's Pieta, possibly the most beautiful sculpture the world has ever seen. hey, if you ask me, that's the title i would give it. but it's surrounded by other beautiful pieces. and let's not forget the Sistine Chapel, peeps. that is gorgeous, if a little neckstrain-inducing. and it's always amusing to watch the guards herding tourists like sheep, and hushing people with loud SHHHHHHHs when they think it's getting too loud for the inside of a holy place. (which is approximately once every twenty seconds, it felt like.)

more from me later, once the pictures are uploaded. don't expect anything exciting from the inside of the Chapel, since i was good and kept quiet and kept my camera in my bag, but there should be some pretty cool shots of other bits of italy. stay tuned --

Monday, September 06, 2004

bye for now

as mentioned in the LJ, blogsilence will be pretty much maintained over the next two weeks. will be travelling with alex in Italy, and will be back in chicago round about the 18th of Sept, barring accidents. therefore, expect nothing much til then, though perhaps the occasional update on the road may happen. email will be checked more often, i think. but not with any certainty. =)

all my bags are (almost) packed
i'm ready to go...
i'm leaving on a jetplane
don't know when i'll be home again...

the camera is warmed up, the computer put to bed. time to finish packing. =)

ciao, everyone!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Happy Teacher's Day

seeing as today is the first of September (hint: when Lim Ah Pin Road is not crowded with Beemers and Mercedes-Benzes hogging both lanes dropping off their precious little brat..i mean children right in front of the damn gate twenty feet from the junction with Upper Serangoon Road and holding up traffic where the light is extremely long and not in our favour; and when the national warning system plays the churchy-bell chimey thing that used to have RGS girls turning to each other and greeting each other with a hug at noon, it's not only the first of the month, it's the first of September), a shout-out to the teachers in our midst:

Happy Teacher's Day!

enjoy your break and your prezzies. =)

have not been up to much, and shall have to start packing for leaving Singapore soon. emergency meeting-up sessions are still possible for much of the next three or four days, but i shall be off monday night. (also, if anyone wants anything from Italy -within reason!- send me an sms/email/leave a comment and i'll see what i can do. and send me your snail mail addys if you want a postcard!) until then, there will be mostly radio silence from me, i think. packing and shopping and the like, you know. however, there will probably be a post on saturday evening extolling the virtues of a new hair style/colour, or complaining that i now look like a dishrag. let's hope it'll be the former rather than the latter. 'til then --