Italy

2 Days in Rome – Rome, Italy

Our second (and the last) day in rome, was all devoted to the city itself. Our first stop was Trevi fountain, but when we got there this was all we could see…

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and this was our disappointed faces when we saw it

But oh well, you gotta do what you gotta do, and in Rome you do what Romans do! So we continued to Colosseum 😛

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Here, I also had pre-purchased tickets and we didn’t have to wait in line at all. A bit of pre-work gets you far in Rome, apparently!

rome colosseumcolosseum italy romerome italyrome italyrome italyThen there was the infamous Spanish steps

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and the closed doors of Pantheon… 😦rome italy

We spent very little time in Rome – less than 48 – and a few of the tourist spots were closed, but we enjoyed our time and it was time for us to come back to Madrid. But I must’ve been super exhausted from all these trips, because as soon as we got back to Madrid I got extremely sick and my boyfriend had to take care of me for the rest of his time in Madrid.

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Italy

2 Days in Rome – Vatican

After Lisbon, we had two more days to travel around before my school started again. While we were planning the trip we’ve discussed many different cities to end our travels for the break, and we decided to go to Rome. I was asking around to people who’ve already been to Rome, to see if 2 days actually was enough to see everything and I heard mixed reviews but we decided to try!

Our original plan was to see Rome on our first day and Vatican on our second=last day, but as I was getting the tickets for Vatican museum on-line I found out that Vatican was going to be closed!! So we changed the plans last minute. Also, we were so glad that we got our tickets beforehand, as people lined up to get the tickets for Vatican was RIDICULOUS. So if you are planning a trip to Rome, I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of getting the tickets BEFOREHAND!!!!! To be frank, if we didn’t get the tickets and had to wait in the line, I’m 99% sure that both me and my boyfriend would’ve just left the scene because there is no way that we would wait in a lineup for 3~4 hours. So plan out your trip, and take advantage of the world of internet.

The thing with getting into Vatican, is that if you pre-purchased the ticket you enter through a special entrance. There are so many ‘helpers’ on the streets that will ask you if you have already purchased the ticket, and they’ll tell you where to go. However, I am incredibly cautious of people when I travel, so when people come up to me to ask me something, etc., I flat out ignore them in most cases. And I honestly couldn’t tell if these ‘helpers’ were legitimate or just some kind of a scam, but turned out that they were telling us the right direction. But as I tell everyone that asks me if I’m not scared to travel alone – Be cautious at all times.

When we entered through the ‘special gate’ for pre-purchase ticket holders, we were surprised to see another set of lineup for these pre-purchase tickets to be exchanged for ‘real’ tickets. There is no clear instructions on where to go exactly, so you kind of have to guess and wander around to see what other people are doing. This was a very inefficient system I have to say, and when there are so many people inside the building it just gets too overwhelming.

After you go through this chaos successfully, then you see these:

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Then at the end of the walk through Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel, you see the famous painting of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, but taking picture is prohibited in that room.

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It was a shame that we weren’t there when Pope Francis makes his weekly appearances, but maybe I’ll be back!

p.s.: Apparently this post was my 100th post on my blog!! Time to celebrate with some chocolate 🙂

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Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal


Since we stayed in Belem for the entire week, it was a little commute to get to the city although we didn’t mind too much. There are a couple of buses and trams that travels between Lisbon city centre and Belem.

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This park was extremely long and hill-y, we were already tired after walking up half way. But the view from the top was great and to watch the sunset from the top was worth it.

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Then there is the famous Bairro Alto – It felt like a Europen version of San Francisco..

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Trams are one of the most famous attractions in Lisbon. We took one of these little wooden trams on our way back to Belem one night, and it quite literally was the ‘roughest ride’ ever!!! Our butts hurt even after when we got home from all the bumpy road, and hold on tight while you are on it because it’ll be bumpy and it’s known as one of the hot spots for pickpocketing.

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Portugal

Belem, Lisbon Portugal

These postings are more than a month late, but to be fair I’ve been super busy with school and all the group works 😦 And since this has been the first saturday in a while where I have nothing to do, I’ll make up for it by posting this posting! (Also, if I have any readers living in Spain I have a favour to ask you- If you have been living in Spain for more than a year and you drink coffee, please complete this short survey that I’m doing for school project! We are working with one of the biggest research houses Nielsen, and I would really appreciate if you could fill this out for me! Click here to access the survey

ANYWAYS When my boyfriend was here for Christmas, we went to a couple of different cities around here, and our very first destination was Lisbon, Portugal. We stayed in Belem area, which is about 20 min away from centre of Lisbon but we both liked it as our first hotel was right around the corner from the famous Pasteis de Belem. We planned it so that we would be in Lisbon for our 1 year anniversary and the NYE.

Our first hotel that we stayed for 4 days was Jeronimos 8 (which is basically their address). It seemed like a pretty new hotel, but for some reason from our room we could hear chickens and roosters going at it all day and when I asked the concierge about it they had no idea :O But everyone there was helpful, and no password bs with their wifi, which was great. Their bar seemed very empty all the time so we were the only people in the bar most of the times.

Our second hotel that we stayed for 2 days was Altis Belem Hotel & Spa. This hotel was fantastic, super upscale with at least 3 restaurants and bar options. We got the room with an amazing view looking right towards the ocean and Tower Belem. Amenities and spa was great, cleaned our room twice a day, and they gave us free macarons for NYE as well. It certainly was one of the most expensive hotels I’ve ever stayed at, but if you are willing to spend a bit more I’d say go for it – we had a fantastic stay there.

Now onto all the tourist stuff we did while we were in Belem:

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Most importantly, this:

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During the day this place has a huge line up; the line moves quite fast as most of them are to-go orders, but since I’m just that lazy I always went there at night when there’s no one there, get 6 of egg tarts to go, then have them with some beer at the hotel. SO GOOD!! They also give you a packet of icing sugar and cinnamon powder, and it’s just amazing.

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YUMMY ❤

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Madrid Life

La Liga games in Spain

Like many other European countries, football (aka soccer in North American terms) is one of their favourite, if not the most popular sport in Spain. As an avid fan of the sport myself, I’ve been wanting to go to Real Madrid’s game since I arrived in Spain. And as my boyfriend, who also is a football fan, was visiting me during Christmas break, we took a train to Valencia to watch La Liga Real Madrid’s away game versus Valencia C.F.

The partner site to purchase these game tickets is Ticketmaster, and you can find the tickets by searching up on your club. Tickets are sold under the Home team (i.e. I had to look for Valencia C.F.’s game tickets for this away game) and prices vary from 30 euros which are extremely hard to get to hundreds of euros. We purchased 75 euros tickets, and had a great view of the game.

The vibe before the game was similar to that of Vancouverites. People gather up in front of the stadium, crashing beers and singing their supporters chants. But of course, the stadium is much bigger here hence so much bigger crowd.

The stadium was filled with Valencia fans, and even though Real Madrid lost it was a fun game. The biggest difference between North American soccer games and this one, was that it seemed like no one was drinking during the game. My experiences at Whitecap games is the polar opposite where everyone is drinking, so it was rather a culture shock for both of us. It almost felt like that the crowd really valued the sport as a sacred activity where you should be paying your full attention, not just a leisure activity. The game finished 2-1 so the home ground was very happy.

OH! And also during the game, they were playing this song by K-pop artist Big Bang at least five times. And later I found out that one of the members of Big Bang was actually there at the game, and I guess the stadium was playing their song for him.

After we came back to Madrid, there was another Real Madrid game, this time versus Atletico. So we went to a bar near my place to watch the game this time, to experience the ‘local’ game night vibe.

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We got to the bar quarter after 8, for the 9pm game. By 8:30pm all the tables were taken so we were glad we got there a bit early. It also seemed like the crowd was half Real fans and half Atletico fans. People were drinking this time (of course, we were at a bar) and the game ended 2-2. It was interesting to see a couple of guys just sitting at a table by themselves with beer to watch the game, as it usually is a whole bunch of guys going to sports bars to watch the games in Vancouver.

In North America, soccer is not the most popular sport (Vancouver probably is one of the few cities with active supporters). So I hope to see a couple more games before I go back, and maybe I’ll go watch Atletico’s game the next time!

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