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This site is solely dedicated to my travelling experiences both locally and abroad. When I say locally, it refers to my escapade in my home country, the Philippines; while abroad covers my travels in Asia, Europe and UK, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, as well as my future trips to Africa, China and Arabic countries.

Some of these travel journals photos are previously posted in my Friendster blog ( My Simple Life - unfortunately the blog is already dormant now); Travel Blog account, Travellerpoints account; but majority of them are shared in my e-Travel Guide account in TRIVAGO. I also write stories about these locations in my JPGMagazine account. Good luck and have fun reading my TRAVELdiary...

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"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." (Lao Tzu)

Pic-a-boo: Sojourn In Motion

Monday, 18 August 2008

Summer Break in Italy: Day 1 - Arrival

After a final check of the important things to be brought during my 6-day trip, I was relaxed and not harassed thinking that I might forget something valuable which jeopardise my trip. Having 16 kg check-in bag and one hand carry for my laptop, I was ready to go and looking forward to meeting the Pope in Vatican and David in Florence! My friend was accommodating enough to drive me to the airport, almost 45 minutes drive from the university. My Aer Lingus flight was on time (1530 departure time) and after 2.5 hours on air, the plane finally landed at the Da Vinci Airport. It was not a busy Friday night (past 7pm, 2 hours advance from UK time)) and the waiting time in the immigration area was tolerable. Not impressed with the existing condition of the airport, especially the dim effect of the lighting to the old floorings.

The airport security was helpful enough to give me the direction to the train station. It took me 5-7 minutes to reach the Leonardo Express service – one hour trip to the city centre of Rome via Roma Termini for 11 Euros (almost £10) per trip. The ticket express expires 90 minutes after validation. I did buy my return ticket as well just to save time from queuing in the central rail station.

In few minutes time, the train arrived and I managed to settle inside the carriage after a 28 degrees C exposure and the feeling of disorientation from being a non-Italian speaking tourist. The train is quite long and have enough space for the luggage with average air conditioning system. The seats were fine and comfortable for the short journey to the city comparable to local journeys in Northern Ireland or going to Dublin from Belfast. The landscape along the railway is a typical European setting with open green fields and few structures. It is noticeable however that there are high rise residential buildings along the railway and not to ignore the interesting graffitis on the concrete barrier walls.

The train finally reached its destination, the main central bus/train/metro station, Roma Termini. It is a huge station which also accommodates regional travels in the major European cities, including the city's mass transport, Metro which occupies the lowest floor of the station. The station looks like a shopping centre with major retail shops and restaurants accessible for locals and tourists.

As soon I stepped out from the train, my left hand was busy clicking my Sony digital camera for souvenir shots of the station. It was almost past 9pm but it was still bright to find my way out for Hostel Beautiful 2.

Honestly, I was not impressed with the surroundings. Not much of running cars, but there is a significant number of scooters/bicycles and cars everywhere – both sides of the narrow streets. The air is clean (as I could not find black particles settled inside my nose) but frankly, I could compare the Rome's atmosphere to some parts of the Philippine cities, except for the architecture of the buildings and its overall urban form – its historical significance to early civilisation. I felt at home really considering that the road orientation is similar to the Philippines, left hand driving. I was disoriented for a little while in crossing the streets adjusting from Northern Ireland/UK's right-handed driving.

I have all the printed materials for the hostel direction, but it took me more than 30 minutes of walking to find the hostel location. I am an Urban/city Planner and love maps but I hate to think that I am not expert in navigation and maybe I have to carry a GPS gadget or the popular "tomtom"unit used in driving in my future trips (hehehe). I might be a good idea in my next Europe trip!

I did ask directions for several people along the way and it was strange to imagine that the local people were not good navigators too which added to my frustrations. The other reasons why it was difficult to find the hostel was that, it does not have a big billboard or street sign of its own, aside from the odd-even street number arrangement. The hostel is located within the row of residential-shop buildings. In other words, the hostel is an ordinary tenant sharing a the main entrance door (including intercom) with other occupiers of the building.

Anyway, I found it after a tiring walk. The staff on-duty was happy enough to get my personal details which will be reported to the Italian police for security/safety reason. He also talked about the facilities available in the hostel, including possible siteseeing directions using the metro and bus. Frankly, the hostel is strategically located in the city – accessible for all types of transport, shopping and dining. After the documentation, I finally settled to my room, ready for my second day in Rome!

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