Italy, Day 4: Amalfi Coast (Part 2)

In Amalfi, our last stop for the tour, we had a closer view of everything the sea and houses near the shore. But before going near the sea, we went first to Amalfi Cathedral, which is dedicated to St. Andrew the Apostle. His relics were said to be kept here.

APRIL 15, 2019

In AMALFI, our last stop for the tour, we had a closer view of everything the sea and houses near the shore. But before going near the sea, we went first to AMALFI CATHEDRAL, which is dedicated to St. Andrew the Apostle. His relics were said to be kept here.

Afterwards, we went to the sea shore where it was very windy. The weather was good so people were either sunbathing or taking pictures with the sea as the backdrop.

We were back in Naples before 5PM so we decided to eat early dinner at L’ANTICA PIZZERIA DA MICHELE. The place gained worldwide fame when it was featured in “Eat, Pray, Love”. We were lucky that there was no long line when we got there so we were seated inside in less than 30 minutes. We ordered 1 regular margherita pizza and 1 double mozzarella margherita pizza. The latter was the better option because it was cheesier.

That’s it for our Naples adventure!

Italy, Day 2: Rome-ing Around

We woke up very early to see Trevi Fountain without the big crowd yet… and it paid off! Couldn’t help but be in awe of this Baroque fountain – imagine how the detailed structures were done.

APRIL 13, 2019

We woke up very early to see TREVI FOUNTAIN without the big crowd yet… and it paid off! Couldn’t help but be in awe of this Baroque fountain – imagine how the detailed structures were done.

The other tourists around were nice enough to give us some space so that we can capture nice photos. My sister also told me to throw 3 coins over my shoulder – first coin means you will return to Rome, the second to achieve love, and the third for marriage.

From the fountain, we walked going to SPANISH STEPS, which connects lower Piazza di Spagna with the upper piazza Trinita dei Monti. There is also a beautiful church at the upper piazza but it was closed during the time we visited.

Next stop in our itinerary was PIAZZA VENEZIA, where the first thing we saw was Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II.

A short distance from Piazza Venezia was FORI IMPERIALI. Building the series of fori (public squares) were started by Julius Caesar and some of the places we visited were Forum of Caesar, Forum of Augustus, and Forum of Nerva.

We went to SAN GIOVANNI IN LATERANO (€2) afterwards and this was one of my favorite churches that we visited during the whole trip.

Our last stop before lunch was SANTA CROCE IN GERUSALEMME. It is considered as one of the seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome.

For lunch, we went to BOCCONCINO and ordered the following: spaghetti del cavaliere alla carbonara, ravioli dell’osteria (ravioli filled with soft ricotta cheese and meat, sautéed with pistachios and dried tomato sauce), and filetto di maiale avvolto in guanciale e cotto al forno (pork fillet rolled with ham – baked and grilled). My sister also got a tiramisu for her dessert.

Our last stop for the day was SCALA SANCTA, wherein the stairs were claimed to be the very steps that Jesus Christ climbed when he appeared before Pontius Pilate. We were very lucky that the stairs were uncovered during our visit! I read that it was uncovered for the first time after 300 years and that by July 1, 2019, all steps were covered with wood again. Pilgrims actually ascend the steps on their knees.

We went home early because I was not feeling well, and we were lucky that there was an Alice restaurant across our Airbnb. Alice specializes in pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice).

EU, Day 1: Vatican

Our first order of business for our first day in Rome was to visit Vatican. We headed straight to St. Peter’s Square followed by St. Peter’s Basilica.

After years of saving, EU trip finally came true! First country we visited was Italy, and I was really excited for this one because I would get to eat pasta all day everyday. We flew with Etihad from MNL-CDG then took another flight from CDG-FCO (Rome) via AirFrance.

APRIL 12, 2019

Our first order of business for our first day in Rome was to visit Vatican.

We walked around ST. PETER’S SQUARE and I shared with a friend that upon stepping into this place, it felt like the Lord’s blessing was closer than ever and I was humbled by His grace. It sounds weird but he assured me that that was how he felt too when he went there.

Next, we fell in line for ST. PETER’S BASILICA. Initially, I thought to myself that the line was long but when we went outside after going around the basilica, the line was 3-4x longer. The basilica was so huge that we were not sure where to start… I even took a long time to streamline which pictures to share here.

Next, we headed for our scheduled meet-up place for Skip-the-Line ticket to VATICAN MUSEUMS (bought here).

The guide accompanied us until the entrance inside Vatican Museums and she said goodbye to us once we got our STL tickets from her. Good decision because the regular line was insanely long outside. However, the crowd inside was also big that my next thought was to go outside already. Haha!

I honestly cannot remember the names of each room or section that we went to and it took us about 2 hours to finish seeing everything. Sharing my favorites from the museum visit:

We had our late lunch in PANIFICIO BONCI, a small but famous bakery in the area. Once inside the store, we got a queue number. We were nervous what to order because there were no labels or descriptions… we also did not know how to say that we just need a small portion because all the other customers were speaking in Italian. When it was our turn, it was a relief that the staff was able to get our orders exactly the way we want them.

Dessert was, of course, gelato! We dropped by OLD BRIDGE GELATERIA, a famous gelateria near the Vatican. They had more than 10 flavors displayed and I got the option of having 2 flavors in 1 cone.

Siem Reap, Day 5: Shopping + More Food Trip

r. Kim fetched us before lunch so that we could eat (again) in IL FORNO.

When we got there, we decided to eat in the same spot where we dined 3 days ago. One of the servers and Marzio, the owner, recognized us and smiled at us. Was it too obvious that we love their food?

FEBRUARY 23, 2016

Our last day in Siem Reap was just spent shopping and eating. We woke up quite late since we did not have anything important in our itinerary then Mr. Kim fetched us before lunch so that we could eat (again) in IL FORNO.

When we got there, we decided to eat in the same spot where we dined 3 days ago. One of the servers and Marzio, the owner, recognized us and smiled at us. Was it too obvious that we love their food? 🙂

We ordered pesto (for pasta), cheese platter, and pizza al funghi. I am semi lactose intolerant so I don’t know why I initiated ordering the cheese platter. Everything in our plate (taleggio, spicy primo sale, gorgonzola, mozzarella, honey, nuts, pears) tasted good, although I ended up regretting a little bit why I ate too much of them.

The home-made tagliolini al pesto was excellent! Not too oily and you could really taste that fresh herbs were used for this. Serving was just good for one (hungry) person though so good thing we still ordered a pizza.

We were supposed to order one main dish but the waiter (who was familiar to us) told us that we would not be able to finish our food if we ordered a main dish. At first we were skeptical but turned out that he was right.

It was good that they were consistent with how they made their pizza — a tiny hint of burnt crust, thin and chewy, and generous with the toppings. We enjoyed our pizza al funghi and even if we already finished the cheese platter and pasta, we were able to eat all pizza slices. *oink?*

Homemade tagliolini al pesto

Cheese platter (gorgonzola, taleggio, spicy primo sale, fior de latte mozzarella, olives, honey, nuts, pears)

While eating, we were trying to plan having an early dinner before we go to the airport. But when we finished our lunch at past 2PM, we were too full already and we could feel that we would not yet be hungry by 5:30PM.

We walked around the area and did some last minute shopping after lunch. After that, we walked to BLOSSOM CAFE AND TRAINING CENTRE for desserts.

The place is best known for cupcakes that are “too beautiful to eat, too delicious to resist”, as their tagline says. Indeed, their cupcakes looked really pretty! Plus they offer a lot of flavors so if you have a sweet tooth, it will be difficult to choose which one to eat. But, what is more interesting about Blossom Cafe is that this is also run by an NGO that provides assistance to Cambodian women through vocational training. Similar to Marum Restaurant. 🙂

We stayed there until 5PM, and Mr. Kim fetched us so that we could pack the items we bought that afternoon. Before we bid goodbye, we had an obligatory picture taking. Yay! Let me give you a quick rundown why we deem Mr. Kim (of Kim Cambodia Driver) as one of the best tuktuk drivers in Siem Reap:

  • Responds promptly in e-mails
  • Can negotiate rates, even volunteers discount — case in point, his rates do not include sunrise & sunset viewing in Angkor Park but he gave these for free for our 2 days in the main Angkor Park complex (i.e. those days not in Banteay Srei/Kbal Spean)
  • Unlimited COLD water! Very much appreciated especially during our temple run days. He had a small cooler in his tuktuk and even during the afternoon, water bottles were still cold.
  • Very flexible in terms of pick-up/drop-off arrangements — initially we only booked him for Angkor Park trips but we ended up getting him as our tuktuk driver for the WHOLE TRIP, including non-temple run days; there were also a few occasions when we changed our mind on pick-up/drop-off time and he was okay with the changes
  • Punctual, already waiting in front of the house even before call time
  • Recommends activities in case you have free time and no itinerary yet. I remember he showed us brochure for Flight of the Gibbon and Phare, the Cambodian Circus. We did not avail any of the activities since we felt that our itinerary was already enough, but in case interested, he can buy the tickets since he knows locals working there.
  • Very caring as he bought us free unripe mangoes and a local snack (sticky rice inside a bamboo shoot)
  • Cheerful guy, he likes to laugh and smile during conversations

After having our photos with him, we also had one taken with our Airbnb host, Bunthai. As I mentioned in my first post for Siem Reap travel series, you won’t regret booking with her. I provided a review for her listing as well (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5140353).

At around 6PM, Mr. Somnang fetched us and drove us to the airport. Ride was about 20 minutes and we got there, we found out that check-in would still be 8:30 or 9PM. There was only one restaurant outside the airport — not in the mood for the food they offer, no Wi-Fi so Kim and I kept on regretting out loud how we were not able to eat in Il Forno for dinner…

aThen, Kim had a bright idea — call Mr. Kim to pick us up at the airport and bring us to Il Forno. And so we did. Good thing Mr. Kim was available at that time so after about 30 minutes of waiting, he arrived at the airport and we rode his tuktuk again. Hooray to spontaneity?!

When we reached Il Forno, the place was jam-packed! Good thing there were 2 seats left and it was amazing because it was “our” spot, the table where we ate for the past 2 occasions. Marzio approached us and we told him that we wanted gnocchi and a main dish. Unfortunately, he told us that we would have to wait for 40 minutes because the orders ahead of us were for big groups. I think we were unable to hold back our sad + disappointed looks since he suddenly said that if he could give us pizza quickly, especially because we had a flight to catch. We were already happy with that since we absolutely loved the pizza  at this place so we ordered Pizza Ricca.

It usually takes 10-15 minutes for the pizza to arrive so we kept ourselves busy with chatting. We were surprised though that 5 minutes after ordering, the pizza was already served to us. We looked if they brought the wrong order but it was Pizza Ricca. We were deeply moved by their concern and service for us, which made the pizza taste even better. The pizza was still cooked perfectly, not undercooked, so we kind of thought if this was an order for another table and they just gave it to us since we were in a hurry. Now that kind of concern and service is something that you won’t be able to experience in all dining places. Before we left, we just had to give our biggest thanks to Marzio for the impeccable service they provided us.

Pizza Ricca

After our wonderful dinner at Il Forno, Mr. Kim drove us back to the airport and this time, for real, we bid farewell to each other. Flight back to Manila was not delayed, thankfully. Kim had an awesome foreigner seatmate who is working here in MNL. We exchanged some stories of our Siem Reap trip and he gave me advice for my BKK trip for March. Even until the end, we still got to talk to a fellow traveler which was really cool for me. 🙂

Despite the intense heat, Siem Reap will be a majestic place for me and the kindness of the people is something that I will never forget. Til the next time we see each other again, Siem Reap!

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Before I end this post, a big shout out to my best friend, Kim, who made this trip very memorable! Even if we are total opposites when it comes to traveling — I’m a planner, she is more spontaneous — we really had good chemistry. No bickering, no negative feelings, just pure fun and kulitan. Cheers to our first awesome travel… and cheers to more travels together in the future! ❤

 

LINKS TO OTHER SIEM REAP 2016 POSTS:

Siem Reap, Day 0-1: Angkor Archaeological Park – 8 Park Stops in 1 Day

Siem Reap, Day 2: Il Forno, Quad Adventure Cambodia, Miss Wong, Pub Street

Siem Reap, Day 3: 10 Park Stops in 1 Day, Touich Restaurant

Siem Reap, Day 4: Outskirts of Angkor Park, Bugs Cafe, Lemongrass Garden Massage