One lonely cat in the island.
They kept telling me that if I would want to be introduced to Europe, the best place to go for the first time- to make it memorable - is Italy. I was hoping for a view of the Alps, but, luck wasn't that good for that part of the world. Italy became a familiar topic starting January 2006, even if I didn't have a Schengen visa yet.
The favorite word for the trip - "Passport". Thanks to the movie Milan, every Pinoy on that plane (Amsterdam to Malpensa) were asked to line-up along the corridor past the plane's tube.
Do they expect people like us to jump and scoot away? That was our first not so nice experience in Italy. The polizia just held on our passports and escorted us to the luggage area. Anyways... the trip was tiring thus, we just slept right after we got to the hotel.
A house isolated from it all.
First leg of the trip was Stresa that place along Lago Maggiore, where there were three islands collectively called Isla Borromeo (comprised of, Isole Bella, Isole Pescatori, and Isole Madre). I could've enjoyed Milan however, Chiara, the tour guide wanted to exercise her memory of Castello Sforzesco (and Alfa Romeo) and the Duomo.
The most adventurous part of the trip was that leg of Milano-Roma. We rode a train (well documented, complete with pictures), and was at the Termini of Roma at nightfall.
AND, since the 4 of us have no idea what to expect in Roma (all naive first timers in Italia) things got pretty interesting after we started walking. There were a lot of people walking in that mall-like Termini, well, including 2 gypsies (the well endorsed persona of Italia). We bought maps (3!) with my map being the biggest - hoping for more information - which however didn't contribute much to everyone's ignorance... the place we had to stay was not in the map of the city of Rome, it is southwest of the perimeter of the map (visualize that!!!). And thus, we ventured more, hoping that things wouldn't be that bad. As we stepped out on the streets, I thought I was in native Pier where people could be dark and interested with naives like us. There were barkers and ‘contractors’ for taxi rides in Italia… amusing and amazing. And, they are not nice really not nice. And our unanimous word for the day? ‘STOP!’, uttered by the rude cab driver.
Twas raining alright...
The hotel wasn’t 4-stars, it was 2-stars. And the location of the hotel is not somewhat outskirts; it WAS definitely outskirts (probably in Clark with reference point of Manila). Good thing that their pasta is tastier than the rest of the pastas we ate for the last couple of days.
The next day was the first day for the Vatican sojourn. And as a continuation of the getting to know Italia, we learned that moving around Italia, one needs a ‘biglietto integrato’, which could be bought at a convenient store. And thus, after going to-and-fro the bus stop (and a little beyond), we were able to ride a bus... and not to forget that red bus bearing the number ‘20’. The bus was just our way to go to their subway train leading to the city. There were 24 stops…