I have so many fantasies about Vienna, or may I call it, Wien. Listening to The Blue Danube played by Vienna Philharmonic every New Year’s Eve has become a ritual. In my heart, Wien is all about the classical, classic, and classy; Wien for me is elegant, resplendent, and dignified. Wien for me is Lacrimosa’s Nachtschatten–calm, imposing, and beautiful..
Und so treffe ich Dich in Cannes
Und vielleicht auch schon in Rom
Vielleicht bin ich der Mann
Der Dich anruft wenn Du einsam bist
Im Grandhotel in Wien
I had so many expectations before coming to Wien that somehow the whole trip, in the end, felt flat. I am so sorry to say this. I wanted to love Wien so badly, but it turned out that for me, Wien was fine and nice, but hardly left on me a lasting impression.
Apart from this?
After a stressful flight from Rome to Amsterdam, I got back to my room in Utrecht at 11:30pm on 17 January 2014. I rushed to do laundry, check emails, and do some very very last minute packing for yet another adventure the next day. Yes, I have to get up at 5am to catch my 6am train for Cologne. Guys, this is seriously strenuous alright. After 1 week of non-stop sightseeing in Italy, a flight + train ride + biking back, a few hours of doing laundry and waiting for my clothes to dry, I have 3 hours of sleep before getting back to the road.
Given my fragile state on that day, it is no surprise that I did not enjoy Cologne very much.
Vatican City, or The Holy See, is a land-locked sovereign city-state enclaved by a wall within the city of Rome. Vatican City has a tiny population of 850 citizens, is the smallest state on earth, but has the 6th biggest & most visited museum in the world and is now ruled by the arguably most famous leader of recent time, Pope Francis. (I have to mention his name, personally I think that he is a very cool guy.)
Cliched title alert.
Finally, my overdue post about Rome–the third and last city I visited during my 1-week trip to Italy. I have been ridiculously busy since my last blog post about Venice. Traveling, reading, struggling with school assignments etc etc have eaten up all my time. And Rome, there is simply too much about Rome. This city is saturated in history, myths, legends, and beautiful things. If you want to know what beautied-out means, welcome to The Eternal City.
Venice, Venice. How many cities/towns out there have claimed to be a second Venice? After all, people often liken some Dutch cities like Amsterdam, Giethoorn or Delft, and Bruges in Belgium as Northern Venice. I find all those ‘watery’ places very, very charming, but really, nowhere can be comparable to the ‘Southern’ Venice. The real Venice. The Italian Venice. The most romantic, melancholic, beautiful city I have ever visited.
I have asked a few people of what they think about firstly when it comes to Barcelona. The answer is either Camp Nou or Gaudí. For a soccer dummy like me, Camp Nou is obviously off the table. And Gaudí… you just cannot avoid Gaudí in Barcelona.
Apart from the iconic Sagrada Família, Gaudí has an indelible mark on Barcelona’s architecture and style. The city itself also resembles its most famous artist’s creations, Barcelona is anything but boring and conventional.
But beyond Gaudí, the capital city of Catalonia has so much more to offer. I came to Barcelona mainly to see with my own eyes Gaudí’s legacy, yet the non-Gaudí side turned out to leave me quite impressed.
My first image of Spain was that of Sagrada Família. At home in Vietnam, we used to have a book titled something like 40 Wonders of the World, in which Sagrada Família is proudly listed as one of the best of the best. For a few years (that is, until 4 years ago), I still believed that it was in Mexico… Excuse my shallowness, but my young brain at the time of reading could not register this extremely foreign name. The church, whose exterior looks like a bizarre synthesis of a Disney castle and giant corncobs, was embedded in my head as a very Mexican thing (corn –> grilled corn –> corn tortillas –> nachos –> Mexico). There, I said it, feel free to curse me in all kinds of languages for my dim-witted, narrow, manipulated, over-simplistic, politically incorrect, culturally superficial past thinking.
But but… I mean, guys, look at this photos. I swear that those towers look like corncobs.
After Zaragoza, the bf and I again took a (long) morning train to the Mediterranean city of Tarragona. We stayed in this city for a day before heading to Barcelona–our final destination in Spain. Famous for its mediaeval alleys and impressive Roman ruins, especially the iconic Amphitheater overlooking the sea, Tarragona is a beautiful port town that deserves at least a day trip from its bigger and better-known neighbor city.
Situated by the mighty Ebro river, the great city of Zaragoza is a less visited gem in northeastern Spain but has its fair share of amazing landmarks. After two slow days at the medieval Girona, Zaragoza with its feisty atmosphere and impressive sceneries gave us a pleasant, refreshing contrast.
Catalan flags hanging from balconies, colorful houses along the Onya river, quaint narrow cobbled streets, looming cathedrals and formidable medieval walls, welcome to Girona–the fortress of Catalonia.