Monday, April 11, 2011

A Prophecy Come True

There is a myth that goes, if you toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain in Rome, you will visit the great city again one day.

I don't usually believe this kind of stuff. But today, I suppose I have to change my mind a little.

And do you know why?


This was way back in 2005 if I remember correctly. I was fifteen. They say you can make a wish as you toss a coin into the fountain. At that time, I did not have any internet connection at home. So, that was one reason to not research about the place properly.

The real myth goes like this. You are supposed to toss three coins. The first one is for you to return to Rome someday. The second one is to fall in love with a Roman. The third one is so that you can marry that Roman and live happily ever after. Pretty cool, right?

But I wished for me to get straight 'A's for my PMR instead. Yes! I was a nerd in secondary school... and nothing much has changed. You can see that yourself from the photos. Pretty lame haircut, pretty lame winter clothes, pretty lame accessories... that was me. Some say it is still me.

Okay, so this is about Rome, not about me. Sorry for the sidetrack. Next!

So, going to Rome was like basically a dream come true. The only sad part was that my parents could not follow us on the trip. I have always wished that on my second trip, if there would ever be one, I would really want them to come along.

Well, I suppose you gain some, you loose some. Maybe on my third trip perhaps, I can get them to come along!

So, back then, before there was Hannah Montana, i-Carly, Wizards of Waverly Place, Suite Life of Zack and Cody and there other teen TV shows, there was one that I have to shamefully admit was my all time favourite - Lizzie McGuire, starring the super duper hot Hillary Duff.

And when the movie version come out, which concludes the storyline of the TV series, my siblings, cousins and I were among the first in Malaysia to go watch it in the cinema. We even waited for the DVD to be released.

So in the movie, Lizzie travels to Rome. She does nothing of the three-coin-tossing thing. She simply tosses it once, and POOF! There she has her prince charming standing right before her. What was his name? Paolo, or something. Turns out he was an ass in the end (SPOILER ALERT!)

But, yeah. She does not quite get her prince charming. But her dream of living the live of fame and glamour come true! Now, I was a sensible teenager, okay? I did not secretly have dreams of suddenly going to Rome and becoming a world famous pop star or anything? But still, it was around that time Malaysian Idol was hot stuff with the super talented Jacklyn Victor winning the reality show! So, you can't blame me for having such aspirations at that age. I was just being part of the crow.

Okay! Sidetracked again. Let's move on!

Right. So the first popular place we actually visited in Rome was The Vatican. Well, technically it's not in Rome since it is an independent city-state by itself. But still, Rome kind of surround it. So, you can say it's in Rome alright. Nobody is going to arrest you!

The question I'm often asked is, if I met the Pope? You know what?

YES, WE DID!!!!!!!!!!

In our dreams of course. No, we did not meet the Pope, unfortunately. I'm sure he has better work to do then randomly come out and say hello to tourists down at the square place.

I remember going inside the building. It was a closed area of course. But with natural lighting, the place was relatively well lightened. My aunt was really amazed by this. I had no time for that. I could not stop staring at the gigantic statues all around me!

I'm not sure if you have noticed a certain pattern in these photos. But do watch closely and you will notice something weird... and quite irritating. Gosh!

Please don't laugh. But my mom made me where that pouch at the front of my tummy. She said it makes it easier for me to reach out for my inhaler in case I had an asthma attack. She also made me keep my notebook and some other stuff in there. It further enhanced my clown-look, that's for sure.

Watching the change-of-guard was pleasurable. It amazes me how one can just stand there and hardly blink. I remember bluffing my cousin that he does not even breath. And she was all amazed and was asking question after question on how he could not die, and that maybe he was guarding the Vatican, so God gave him some magical powers to stay still or something.

I don't suppose I can cheat my BFFs with whom I'm travelling with this time since they're all generally smarter than I am. That may be one let-down. Huhu...

I don't remember going for a horse ride on a carriage. But then, there is this picture to bluff people about it.

I suppose I have my cousin Shashi to thank, since he was our unofficial tour guide for the entire day. He's the gentleman in grey with his arms around the dude in the orange and the lady in purple. Trust me, it surely must have been one hell of a job as my uncle and aunt can never agree on one thing. It is always this, then that, then this again, then that again. And when we have chosen that, we go, "This was much better". Poor guy.

Oh! Beautiful! Beautiful Rome!

Yup. That's us in front of St. Angelo's Castle. Note that it's shaped like a crown, right? It is just a mere walking distance from the Vatican.

Rome is home to hundreds, maybe thousands of fountains. This is one of the most beautiful ones.

This is the Pantheon. You can walk here from the Vatican if you want too as well. According to our beloved tour guide a.k.a Shashi, it used to be a temple of Zeus. Being an enthusiast of Greek mythology (ceh wah!) I know Zeus as the king of the gods. But after Rome became a Papal state, the temple was converted into a Roman Catholic church. If you look closer, you might notice the little holes on the roof. They are bullet marks left during World War II.

Speaking about the fountains, did I mention that the water that flows from them are actually drinkable? Free water!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The following day, we traveled to Tivoli. This one is situated in the more hilly area of Rome in the city's outskirts. Rome might be a metropolitan city, but it's not like New York, or London, or Toronto, or even Kuala Lumpur. Rome still maintains the ancient-ness of its city. I hardly came across any skyscrapers. Also there were many farms and orchards in these king of parts of the city.

You can only describe it in one word - magnificent! I remember seeing a painting on the ceiling of the Greek gods. I managed to impress my cousins (yet again! hehehehehe....) by knowing all their names. I don't remember making up any names because I really do know almost all Greek gods by name. It's true!

Tak percaya sudah!

After coming back to Rome after ending our tour around other countries, we visited the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.

Can you imagine how much history this place stores? I did not enter the place. I just saw it from the outside. It was simply mind-blowing to visit such an iconic place that I have only read of in books and saw in movies.

Speaking of movies, I was so amazed by the Colosseum (I still can't spell it right!) that when we went back to my uncle's apartment, we dug up a DVD of the movie Gladiator and watched it all night!

One of my all-time favourite movies. Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix and director Ridley Scott simply rock! The background score by Hans Zimmer was simply haunting... in a good way of course. Not really historically accurate, but still a decent epic movie.

Oops! Sidetracked yet again!

Back to business. Yup. Oh yes! This is a reminder for myself and anyone of you out there who are planning a trip to Rome. Now watch the photo below closely...

Now, what's so interesting about them, you might ask. They're just a bunch of guys dressed in ancient Roman costumes. This is not my photo, though. Just one I copied from the net. Back in 2005, I wanted to take pictures with them. I suppose that's what they do, right? But Shashi told me in Malay, "Woi! Satgi depa nak duit taw!"

And I was like, "Well, duh!" But, he pulled me away instead of letting me take a photo with those guys. Until recently, I was not really clear why he did that. I assumed it was because they would charge too much of money. But after reading the Facebook status of a senior of mine who just visited the place, it suddenly become clear to me that these guys can be really big a**holes. Forgive my language. They don't exactly treat people with respect. So I suppose you can take pictures of them from afar, but not WITH them. Or you can dare yourselves and give it a shot.

Oh, yes! Another word of caution. Pickpockets are common in Rome. My uncle's camera got stolen while we were traveling on the train. Thank heavens he already uploaded all the photos into the net, or else we wouldn't have these lovely pictures. Gypsies will try to distract you by all means, and while they are at it, they will grab your purse, or wallet, or handbag and run away. This happened out in the open. My aunt almost got nabbed, had my cousins and I not pull her away and ahem... ahem... make offensive gestures at them to distract them instead. They were so busy 'replying' our rude gestures that they simply let go of my aunt. Haha...


Let's just hope my mates and I don't run into them this time. So, if anyone, especially young girls who smell like ciggarattes and have heavy eye shaodw approach you and touch your skin and stuff, as if praising your beauty, note three things:

1. Hold on to your valuables, and just rush away.
2. As one or two of them are sort of praising you, keep an eye for a third, or forth one.
3. You're not THAT beautiful for someone to just came up to you and compliment you.

So from the Colosseum we walked to the Roman Forum, which used to display the hustle and bustle of the capital of the Roman Empire. Since it was somewhere in early winter or end of autumn, it got dark quick.

It was fun visiting Rome. And I can't wait to go back there. But this time, my BFFs and I will be traveling across the entire of Italy. I can hardly wait. We leave for Milan tomorrow morning. We will gradually move up to Rome from Venice, Pisa, Florence and Naples.

I'm excited but also really nervous too. I hardly travel without my family. Last time I traveled to Scotland, I had a very caring and responsible senior to look after my mates and I. This time, its just us juniors. The thought kind of scares me sometimes. But I suppose with God's blessings, all will be fine.

God bless...