Wednesday 12 June 2013

Rome, Italy

Brace yourself. This is gonna be a LONG post.

[Disclaimer : Some of the pictures are taken from Google :D]

I planned the trip a while back and bought the flight tickets for 75 Euros (return) with Ryan Air. It is very cheap; plan in advance to enjoy savings ya!

Just for comparison, Luftansa and Air Berlin charged 450 and 480 Euros respectively. [see?]
Ryan Air is a low cost airline, much like Air Asia. However, they do pose strict regulations on hand luggage. 

I took the flight on Saturday, at dawn. Which means by 3 o clock I was already at the train station getting ready to go to Frankfurt Hahn Airport.

It only took around 1 1/2 hours to Rome Ciampino Airport. From there, I took a shuttle bus to Rome City Centre which was another 30 minutes. Arrived at Termini. It is the main public transportation hub in Rome. Since it was still early and I couldn't check in until 3pm , I just brought along my backpack.

Roma Termini (big building on the left)
First things first, I bought the 'Day Pass' (6 Euros) which would entitled me to unlimited ride in any of Rome's public transport for the day. You can also buy a single use ticket which cost 1.50 Euro and it would last for 100 minutes.

One tips for the budget traveler out there, do join the free tour! I came across it while researching for cheap tours on the net. Free is always better, no? :D There are a few option but the one that I chose was this. The tour is in English with licensed tour guides. Awesome kan?

To those interested, you can just show up 5 minutes earlier than the tour with no reservation. From Termini, take the Metro [Line A] to Spagna. The meeting point is near the Spanish Steps, in front of American Express.

So, I went for the Vatican Tour. [Evening tour is the Colosseum tour]

Nampak macam jauh. But it is not, actually.
It lasted for 2 hours. The tour guide was very good! The tour itself was very entertaining and enriching.
I have to say, Rome's hospitality really blew my mind! But more on that later!

During the tour, we went to these places.

Spanish Steps
Column of Markus Aurelius
The whole column is a story, strip by strip.
My jaws literally dropped seeing this massive building.
The interior. Magnificent. 
Piazza Navona
Castel San'tangelo
Thankfully, the weather that day was fine. Sunny. Too sunny, in fact my skin was burnt. Kecewa.

During the tour, a Chinese girl came to me and ask whether I'm from Malaysia. The giveaway? 
'Your tudung' katanya. Hahaha. Tudung bawal, memang Malaysia ler.
She's a Malaysian, working in Singapore. It was always nice knowing new people :D

Back to the issue of hospitality.
Let me illustrate some instances.

1. Everyone is more than willing to help you with directions. They smile with genuine warmth.
2. Hopping off the bus, an Italian guy helped me with my beg. (Small things matters)
3. I hastily bumped into an old lady. Bersalah di situ. But she was very nice, we ended up talking for a while.
4. Malik.

I think I really need to talk about him when I'm on the topic of hospitality.

Right after the tour ended, I was searching for a way back to Termini. But I got lost since Rome is so big. Then came along a guy in a business suit that helped me with the map. He ended up accompanying me the whole day! In his business suit nonetheless!

Okay, okay. I'll start from the beginning.
He showed me the way to Termini. Gave his business card. Turned out, he is a Muslim. Yayy!!
Handsome Muslim Italian guy. What more can you ask? 

Then I asked him for the direction to the Rome Mosque which is the biggest mosque in Europe and is in my to-go list. 
We went to the mosque together, by metro. It was quite a distance from the city center.

I don't usually attend to strangers. I actually knew the interchange station to the mosque. Only I don't know where actually they are. So I make a mental note to myself; once he strayed from the path to the mosque I will just leave him.

Alhamdulillah, we arrived. Safely.

It is a gift from the Saudi Arabian prince.

The mosque consist of two levels. The most beautiful is the 2nd one which is only opened on Friday during the Friday prayers. But since Malik knew the curator, he got the curator to open it just for us. Awwww!!!
We prayed Zuhr' there.

Afterwards, we went to have lunch at a Turkish restaurants. Then had some gelato and finally, he brought me to his workplace. Everyone was nice. Extremely nice, in fact.

Cerita lain, biarlah simpan dalam hati. LOL

In Rome, you can just cross the road at any zebra crossing. There is no traffic light for pedestrian. The vehicle will stop. Awesome kan! 

People always react differently when I told them that I travel alone. But hey, you will learn the most when you are alone. 

Some tips for solo travelers. Muslim girls especially.

Terpaling penting.
Think positive.

Please. Tolong. As soon as you step on foreign soil, leave all your gedik'ness and manja'ness behind. Mind set, mind set. Don't be scared. Soak all the culture. Accept what you can't change. 

Walk with your head held high.
Bukan nak membangga diri. Show some confidence so that you won't be the target of pick pockets ke apa ke. People staring? That is usual for hijab-clad girls. Don't take it personally.

On my second day, I got to know a fellow Muslim solo traveler. She was having a bad time. 
1. She kept saying that Italians are stupid, can not talk English properly. It came as a shock to me as I was having a great time. Everyone is so accommodating. Again, mind set people.
2. She hate the fact that everyone is staring. Islamophobia katanya. Don't think too much, my friend. I caught some women staring at me the other day, so I just flashed a smile. They were startled, but smiled anyways. That was better, kan?
3. She wouldn't even eat at a Halal restaurant because she was paranoid. For me, as long as the premise show the Halal certificate it is good enough kan?

I know, sometimes the urge to ogle at strangers is mounting high. Terutamanya, kalau lelaki yang duk tenung atas bawah ye dak? Memang la rasa nak jeling terpaling maut. But, restrain. You never knew what other people are capable of. Mana tahu dia mafia ke apa ke. Jangan main gila. Lagipun, when we smile we will feel better. :D

Expect the unexpected
Tragedies. Victims often said 'I never thought that would happen to me'. Well, start to expect the unexpected and take precautions. The last time I was in Amsterdam, my wallet was stolen :D Alhamdulillah, sentiasa tenang dan dipermudahkan segala urusan. [when bad things happen, don't give up. Instead, bounce back better and learnt from it]. So this time around I didn't bring any bag. I just used a money pouch, tucked inside my cardigan. Also, always keep your money in several places. Most importantly, emergency money stash in your socks. Haha!

The second day was the exploring day.
Tasting all the great food.

My first journey was to find the best tiramisu in Italy, dubbed as the 'Best Tiramisu in The World'.
According to numerous reviews, it is the Bar Pompi's.

I tried to google the ingredients but I couldn't find any. So, my only hope was to go there and ask. To go to Bar Pompi, take the Metro (Line A) to Re Di Roma. It is a two minute walk from there. Ask anyone, most people will know. 

3.50 Euros
They offered a variety of flavors; classic, pistachio, berries and a few more.
I asked whether there is any liquor or animal fat in the ingredients and he said no.
Yayy!! Alhamdulillah. 
While I was there a saw a Turkish family indulging the cakes, too. 
Hands down, it is the best tiramisu. 
That is big, coming from a coffee-hater like me  :D

Then, I head to the oldest Gelateria in Italy

Giovanni Fassi Gelato
Among the flavors
Kedai makanan halal agak banyak. Mostly kebab though. But you can find authentic Italian dish at Luna Capresse.

Nah peta.
Because I'm awesome like that! LOL
I had meatball spaghetti and pizza here. Nice!! 
It is also very near to the Trevi Fountain.

Sambung perjalanan.

Trevi Fountain
Sangat ramai orang di Trevi Fountain. Legend says that if you tossed a coin here, you'll be coming back to Rome in the future. Haruslah terlibat sama. Haha
On a daily basis, the authority collected around 3,000 Euros from the fountain which are donated to the needy and charity. 

No filter.
Can you see how nice the sky is?
*Fall in love*

Love, love, love this picture.
Oh, before I end this post I should share about the hostel.
It is a good idea for those on tight budget and eager to know new people.

So I stayed at the Four Seasons Hostel.
Kerlasss Four Seasons! Hihihi
I highly recommend this place.
It is a hotel at a price of a hostel.
With air conditioner, free wi-fi, lockers, hair dryers, nice decoration. Very comfy!!

Plus it is a mere 5-minute away from the Termini. 
More info here.

All in all, the best vacation so far!!

*Ciao is 'hi' not 'bye' as I originally thought. LOL


  1. I seriously enjoy baca your writing sebab macam diri sendiri tengah melancong. Best. Hehe And you’re so lucky to get travel by yourself. I hope one day boleh dapat merasa travel sorang2 jugak. Mesti best kan… haha

  2. Thanks for reading! :D Yup, the experience are priceless!

  3. Hi,

    i'll be going to Rome this coming Oct all by myself..and the most scariest part is I never travel alone before..ur info is priceless..thanks


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