When in Rome...& Vatican

My heart turned upside down at the time I saw the earthquake in Italy. The ruins, the victims, the gloomy feeling made me deeply sad. I don't know when I can visit that beautiful country again yet the urge to explore it is always here, in my heart.

If I flash backed a bit, it was in early March this year, my friends and I were enjoying our Europe trip. Then we decided to spend our last days in Rome and Vatican. Rome is the capital city of Italy while Vatican is the smallest state in the world by both area and population.

As I stayed in Venice before so after leaving this romantic floating city in a water taxi, then off we went on a four-hour train heading to Termini Station, Rome.

Arrived in Rome and felt a bit dizzy with a cold wind, cloudy weather, dusty surrounding, and several beggars who kept asking money. I asked a police officer about our hotel's direction and walked along the area to find the hotel. A bit shocked to see our hotel. It's an old one. Yes, when we booked the hotel we just focus on affordable hotel nearby Termini Station but never thought that it could be this OLD. Okay, no complaint, we just need a place to sleep anyway. 

The next morning we walked to Termini Station and took train to Colloseum (iconic ancient Roman gladiatorial arena) and the adventure started there. All other tourist spots are within the area such as: Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Novena, etc. Rome history is one of the oldest occupied sites in Europe since it has been more than two and a half thousands years. Its historic centre is listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site. 

Every first week of the month Colosseum and other tourist spots nearby are free of charge. I guess it's our lucky day when we realised that 6 March is the first week of the month so we could enjoy these magnificent spots for FREE.

We ended this trip in Vatican. Enjoying a big lunch and browsing around the souvenir shops that offer a much cheaper price comparing to other European countries. To wrap up, all you need for Rome and Vatican exploration is strong legs since you'll walk A LOT...#BalurBalsem.

Another 43rd Birthday

Yes, this is the second 43rd birthday that we celebrate this year. The first one was mine in January and today is my hubby's birthday.

Happy birthday to the most awesome daddy on the planet
Wishing you an ocean of happiness that life can give you

We love you :)


A Hundred Flowers

Title: A Hundred Flowers
Author: Gail Tsukiyama
St. Martin's Press New York, 2012
288 pages

Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.
--Mao Tse-Tung, 1956

Another book from Big Bad Wolf Books, a hardcover version of A Hundred Flowers written by Gail Tsukiyama, with only IDR 60K.  Tsukiyama is an American novelist. She was born in San Francisco to a Japanese father and a Chinese mother. 

This is a novel based on China history. The setting was 1957 when Chairman Mao declared a new openness in China. Lots intellectuals fearing that it was a trap, Kai Ying's husband, Sheng, a teacher was arrested for writing a letter criticising the Communist Party. He was sent to a labor camp to be "reeducated."

A year later, seven-year-old Tao is climbing to the top of the huge kapok tea in front of their home in order to find his father but his foot slips into the air, sending him tumbling thirty feet to the courtyard below which finally makes his mother and grandpa panic. 

This is a story of Tao, his father, Sheng, his mother, Kai Ying, and his grandfather, Wei. The story was told by different characters in the 3rd person. The author paid close attention to details and descriptive language that in the end painting a vivid picture of the daily life of Kai Ying and her family.

The author's tenderness in delivering the story make it easy to become involved in the story. An intimate look of how a family suffered through a cultural revolution. 

I guess I need to find other books written by Tsukiyama. I just love her writing style. Unputdownable.

A Short Getaway: Yogyakarta

Bukit Rhema, Magelang
Just returned from a-three-day Yogyakarta trip. I went there with my three college friends. After trapped in the family and works stuff  for sometime, finally we got the opportunity to spend our leisure time together. 
Yes, we went up to the top of Bukit Rhema

Inspired by AADC 2 the movie (although two of us have not even watched the first part of AADC. Pathetic, right???) however the urge to just go somewhere with old time buddies seemed so tempting. 

We started the journey by having breakfast at Soto Kadipiro that as always having its best soto in town then off to Bukit Rhema, Magelang. People calls this place 'Gereja Ayam' although according to our rental car driver, Pak Wahid,  it's actually a house of prayer in the form of a pigeon not a chicken. We entered the place even went up to the top in order to catch its beautiful view. The place is being renovated so it's a bit dusty there. The power of AADC 2 is quite strong. After giving a very positive impacts to Belitung with Laskar Pelangi the movie, now it's Yogyakarta's turn. All places spotted in AADC 2 now become very popular even Yogya is getting crowded with its traffic jam. 
Greenhouse Boutique Hotel
Awesome hydroponic farm at Greenhost Boutique Hotel Rooftop

From Magelang, we went back to Yogyakarta to do check in at our hotel. We stayed at one of the  happening hotels in Yogya, Greenhost Boutique Hotel at Prawirotaman. This hotel was built with a special design and message. Yes, it's declared as a green hotel. It's obviously shown when we arrived at the hotel and welcomed by its green vertical garden. One other thing that amazed us is the hydroponic vegetables farm at the hotel rooftop. What is more beautiful than that? Every part of the hotel is well crafted. All spots are instagrammable. Not to forget the breakfast menu, they served a wide varieties of yummy food. 
Gumukpasir, Parangkusumo

After finished check in, we had our late lunch at RM Bu Ageng. A very popular restaurant owned by Butet Kertarajasa. Love the food here. Everything is yummy. Highly recommended.

With a happy tummy, we headed to Gumuk Pasir, Parangkusumo. This place is also beautiful. We caught a couple who took their pre-wedding pictures here. We enjoyed the sunset there.

On the way back to our hotel, we dropped by at Mount Merapi Bistro for having dinner. We ended the first day with tiring body yet happy heart.
Istana Ratu Boko

Second day, started by taking pictures at Plekung Gading then continued to Taman Sari, Padepokan Bagong Kusudiarjo and Malioboro (I know it's very mainstream but it turned out that we never get bored of Malioboro and Pasar Beringharjo). Having lunch at Lokal Resto. Resto kece with a good food. Next destination was enjoying sunset at Istana Ratu Boko.
Lokal Resto at Jl. Jembatan Merah
Delicious Nasi Ulam at Lokal Resto

Closed the second day by dropping by at Epic Coffee. This place is awesome. Love every part of the place.
Epic Coffee
Epic Coffee tagline

On our last day we were off to Kaliurang. Joining Merapi Lava Tour in a jeep, visiting Ullen Sentalu Museum and having lunch at D'Padukan, a peaceful restaurant with  a rice field view.  

All in all we enjoyed the moment. After being friends for 24 years, this trip is kind of an intimate reunion for us. Good friends are the best medicine.