Venice Is Too Wet

On my last stop in Italy before returning home, I’ve become rather homesick. I’m tired of wearing several layers of clothing and still being too cold to enjoy things, tired of being herded like sheep in tour group after tour group, listening to hours of Italian history (as fascinating as it is), tired of using Google maps to go everywhere and Google translate to understand descriptions on menus at Italian restaurants. And I’m just tired of hotels.

My last stop is Venice. Which I have to say is the least exciting city in Italy that I’ve seen. Although, as I’ve said repeatedly, this maybe because I’m here in the winter and it’s been rainy and cloudy in a city that pretty much solidifies the proverb “water water all around but not a drop to drink”. Literally stepped out of the train station and saw this.


Water. Boats. No roads. No cars. Had to drag our suitcases to our hotel in the rain. Now. I adore rain. But something about the feeling of being eternally soggy in this city makes rain much less appealing.

I found that the tiny streets and alleyways smell a lot like mould. And there’s millions of these tiny streets so lots of potential to get lost with water dripping from Windows and awnings above your head. Not the best.

And I know that gondolas are the icon of Venice and are romanticized millions of times the world over, but personally, I got sick on them. They’re not as sturdy as you’d think. The person rowing the gondola (I’m sure he has a technical title, but I can’t remember what it is) is extremely talented at maneuvering this vessel through the small canals between the buildings and ducking under bridges, but the feeling of travelling through the canals and seeing the mould and barnacles on buildings is not as romantic as one would have hoped.

Gondola and Basilica

Got some nice pics though!

Nobody seems bothered by the rain, also. The tourguide kept going even though there was a considerable downpour and puddles in the old pathways we were walking on.

Eugh. The whole city gives off this grey mood.

But I have to say, the food in Venice is amazing. Every restaurant I’ve been to here has made perfect pasta and pizza. Absolutely perfect. And the little shops have pretty interesting merchandise of glass and crystals worth looking at.

Sorry if I dashed anyone’s fantasies about Venice. It’s just I don’t like things being overhyped. This is just my view though. And as I’ve said, it might be more pleasant in summer when everything is not grey and miserable.

I am counting the days till I return! One more to go!!! Then I shall be flying back home over 3 days. Yes. Unfortunately new years is a difficult time to get short transit periods on airlines. So I shall be in the air on new years! Sigh. But it’ll be okay! I’ll be coming home!

Buon Natale 

Merry Christmas to all!! And buon Natale is apparently merry Christmas in Italian! 

Yes I’m fluent in Italian now. 

No I’m kidding. I don’t even pretend to speak it. So. Sorry for my absence and lack of updates from Florence but it was an extremely tiring few days. The tuscany region including something called Cinque Terre is incredibly unexciting in winter. Nothing but nothing is open this close to Xmas. And that was immensely disappointing. Basically went on hikes where I froze to death and saw several things that looked the same repeatedly. 

Not the best time.

I am currently in Milan! Yes that’s right! The fashion capital of the world! Unfortunately, same problem. Everything closes by 7 and it’s freezing but NOT snowing.  My dreams of a white Christmas were dashed! But Milan is festive! The galleria and cathedral are lovely!

So! In order to get some white-ness into my holiday, we took a train to Zurich! It’s gotta be snowing there right?? Well…No. sadly. It was snowing in cities all the way to Zurich. But not exactly in it. That’s right. And it was Christmas eve. And it was a Sunday. Nearly everything was closed and the city was pretty dead. 

This was on the way to Zurich.

I did manage to have hot chocolate at this amazing place called Sprungli. It’s supposed to have the best hot chocolate in all of Switzerland apparently! Oh but they also had amazing chocolates in general. And the best macarons I’ve ever had in my life.

 

If you’re ever in Zurich, I definitely recommend this place! 

So it was a Merry Christmas after all!

Hope everyone else has a fabulous Natale wherever you are and whatever you do! :)) 

Findings In Rome

My last two days in Rome have been pretty great! Going on tours to all the different iconic places and learning all the stories behind them was so amazing. 

But also, there were some things I found in Rome that were particularly brilliant.

I went on a segway tour of Rome. This was without a doubt, the best way to tour anything. These gizmos are brilliant to move around a city where the traffic is ridiculous to drive in, the public transport is long and annoying And where walking is more dangerous than driving. After this segway tour, I began to question the act of walking to get places and see things. I plan to invest in one back home now. Very cool and very fun to ride.

In Rome, there is a street that is literally 2.3km of shops and boutiques. Definitely the busiest and most festive part of town. Lovely lights lining the road! Very cool.

The pyramid of Cestius! Apparently a lot of architecture in Rome was inspired by Egypt. But in particular, one of the kings in the early days was so taken with Egyptian architecture that he spent his own money to build a pyramid as his tomb when he died. I must say it was a rather queer sight in the middle of Rome. But quite interesting.

And you haven’t lived till you’ve had gelato in Italy. Handy tip from a Roman; if it’s genuine gelato, it’ll be served from buckets. Not trays like normal ice cream. The perfect gelato needs perfect preserving. It was amazing. Creamy and bursting with flavour. I actually had something called sour black cherry flavour and vanilla. Perfecto in every sense of the word. ^^

Finally, I had a huge tour of the colosseum. It really is a fantastic structure with such an interesting history.  Since it’s such an over-photographed monument, I’ll spare you from yet another picture of it. But something I found inside the ruins was this block. And the inscription on it brought out the med/pharm geek in me. xD for those who don’t know, Losec is the name under which the antacid omeprazole is sold. I am now convinced that the Romans suffered from GORD and during the shows at the colosseum, there was a stall with this block sign, selling Losec to people. Yep. I’m sure that’s what it was.

Overall, Rome was amazing! I am now off to Florence! Ciao! 

The Vatican

On my second day in Rome, the sun was out! It was a brilliant day and I had the chance to visit the Vatican.

It was so incredibly surreal to be standing inside and outside the St. Peter’s Basilica. The architecture and artwork in every part of that building was so humbling.

I’m not a particularly religious person. But once I was in the Sistine chapel, something about the energy and ambience there really filled me with faith and gratitude. Can’t really explain that feeling. But it was amazing.

Outside St Peter’s square, there was a big huge Christmas tree! Luckily I was there after dark to catch it being lit up. Very festive 

Got everything in view so that the tree could be appreciated properly. 

Lovely place, this.

Rome: First Impressions

Greetings from Roma! 

Landed in Italy at 5:30am after the most torturous 26 hours of my life. The long haul flight was absolutely horrific despite my attempts to keep occupied. And the food was awful. 

Oh God. They should never have come up with the idea to have people airborne for 17 hours. It just makes you sick after a while.

Anyway! Once landed in Rome, it started pouring with rain. And has been doing so all day. And the traffic is horrendous. I mean, the traffic here makes my complaints about Auckland traffic sound naive, ignorant and just plain childish. 

This is the view from my room at 6:30am.

It was packed and I have noo idea why. 
And it’s been rainy all day. We had a hop on/hop off bus tour organised today and basically all we did was hop on. The weather outside was so bleak that nobody had the motivation to get off to admire anything. 

And the photo opportunities inside the bus were few and far between with the amount of water splattered on the Windows. 

But overall the city is great. The architecture just oozes culture and history. I get the feeling it’ll be a lovely place in summer. I saw some of the major monuments I will be exploring over the next couple of days. 

Again, pictures are useless, but it looked like this.

Yay the colosseum! Believe me when I tell you that a picture does not do justice to the size of this structure.

Buildings everywhere have that ancient feel. This is some famous staircase. I kind of tuned out when the lady was talking about it. But I was more interested in the structures around it. 

It probably doesn’t look like much right now, but it definitely has potential. 

Hoping very much that it stops raining and starts snowing or something tomorrow.

Long Haul Flight Entertainment Centre

I’m off to Italy today!! 

One of the downsides of living in the southernmost corner of the world is that it takes forever to get to any country.

And Italy in particular, has me travelling for 26 hours in total. First on the new long haul flight that is 17 hours long. 17 hours!!! I keep thinking that half way through I’m going to get extremely claustrophobic. Stuck in a big tube with 200 other people. Eugh.

So. I have to keep myself entertained during this time. So I’ve packed a sort of survival kit.

1. My laptop. It has a few movies and TV shows I have accumulated over the years, and unfinished writing pieces that will give me something to do. But the battery life is about 4 hours. So must use efficiently.

2. My Oxford handbook and a notebook (not shown here). Yes, for a med geek like me, every idle opportunity is a study period! But having said that, it is extremely difficult to concentrate in a pressurised cabin with dropping oxygen levels. So I don’t have high hopes of getting much study done.

3. My kindle. This will be my saviour I believe. The device with the best battery life and a bunch of books that should keep me occupied for a considerable amount of the flight time. Gotta love the kindle.

4. My phone (with which I have taken this picture, and is symbolised by my headphones). It has songs. And videos and games that will keep me occupied also. Not for very long because I don’t like playing games on my phone anymore. But yeah to a certain extent.

5. A deck of cards. I’m travelling with my family. So the deck of cards is symbolic of interacting with them and playing games and such. Don’t know how good it will be as our seats aren’t exactly together. But we should be able to manage.

And last of all, sleep! Which is hard to do in economy, but if I force myself to, I should be able to succeed in killing a couple of hours by knocking out. Here’s hoping.

I sincerely hope the 17 hours will go by quickly. I hate plane food and the yucky air and the bathrooms etc. But the prospect of being in Italy soon should make this whole affair bearable.  Hopefully…
Oh well! I shall return soon with pics of my trip! 

Hope everyone has an awesome next few days! 

The Feeling Of I Am Enough

So this post will be a recount of some of the things I have experienced over the last couple of years.

I don’t know how to explain it and it’s taken me a while to write this post. But basically I want to talk about something I think is quite important. 
Now I understand that this may not apply to everyone and I don’t want this to be a preachy, over-emotional post. Because I’ve complained several times about posts like that and I wouldn’t want to do that to you guys. But this is more for me. It’s so I can have a reminder of the things I learnt from some experiences I’ve had so that next time I face something similar, I’ll be able to follow my train of thought on here and hopefully cope with it. And in that way, I hope it benefits a few people out there.

I want to talk about a few themes. But they’re connected in a way. So I apologise if I’m jumping topics here and there.

Basically, I want to talk about people, and vulnerability. 

I’ve had a completely horrific last couple of years. And I think I’ve alluded to some of these things in previous posts. Basically, I’ve had some hard things happen to me emotionally. And this was because of events and people that are significant to me. But it’s not even about that. It’s about what happened afterwards.

See, when I was going through this, I found it hard to cope with multiple things happening at once. And one thing I kept hearing over and over from all sources was this: talk to someone about it. Or, seek help. 

This wasn’t from people I had approached. Basically, my closest friends and family can pick up on when I’m upset, etc. So when they try to strike up a conversation about it, I’d say I’m just having a hard time, and this would always be followed by that golden party line. 

As time went on though, these became more than suggestions. I was being pressured into talking to someone. Talk to friends, talk to family, talk to a counsellor. Just do it! You need help!! 

This was anything but helpful to be honest. For me personally, I have wonderful people around me. But I always feel like I can’t explain things to them in a way that makes them understand exactly what I’m feeling. To put it bluntly, I don’t believe anyone really understands me. I know that sounds melodramatic, but I’ve never lost sleep over it. It’s something I’m aware of and accept. Surely you can’t expect people to understand you completely. So you can imagine why I was having trouble with this talking thing. It was more than that though, I felt that I had the strength and insight to deal with my own problems.

But of course, things were getting worse for me. So over time I started to believe what everyone else was saying. That I needed help. I got to this place where I felt I wasn’t strong enough to deal with these issues and other people knew something that I didn’t. So I was talked into talking to others.

It was hard. It was really difficult. Went to counsellors, who to me, were saying pretty standard things about how I shouldn’t worry about what others think and I should let go and focus on good things, etc. Stuff I already know. Which made me more frustrated.

Then I was talked into talking to friends- people I didn’t really trust, actually. Not that there was anything particularly wrong with them, it was more that I wasn’t comfortable talking to them about certain issues. But I forced myself to, anyway. Because I believed I needed help. And it really did Not help.

The thing is, people can have the best intentions. But often when you show people you are vulnerable, they want to fix you. This somehow makes them feel they have the authority to make decisions for you. And they interfere. Which is the last thing you need, sometimes. And it’s what happened to me. Things got much worse. Only now, I was reduced to feeling like others don’t understand, but also, that I was wasting their time with problems that they could care less about.

Awful feeling, that. The need to want someone else to listen, for them to understand, comfort you, but also put up with feeling like you’re taking up their life with your petty issues. 

They’re probably not petty, but you’ll definitely feel like they are, sometimes. 

At one point though, something had to give. I was talking to one of my friends when he straight up said something to the effect of “I can’t help you. You’re not accepting of any thing right now and I have some other serious problems to deal with”. 

It was a huge shift for me. Someone had just confirmed that they couldn’t help and that they had more important things to do in their life. It wasn’t a half-assed attempt to make me feel better but not really understanding anything. It was the truth. 

That gave me resolve. I completely rejected the hypothesis that you need to talk to others to feel better or work through your problems. Because everyone is a separate person with their own battles. To expect someone to understand, let alone fix your problems is a bit unfair in my opinion. 

It’s also unfair to you. I feel like I underestimated myself quite a bit. 

I am enough.

The leading evidence-based treatment for depression is actually “self-help”. As in, you are enough to sort your own issues out. You have all the things you need. 

No you don’t need a counsellor. No you don’t need pills and therapy. What you need is to trust yourself. I know that sounds so fluffy and cliche. But hear me out.

I made a resolve. Never to talk about my problems to my friends again. I still talked to all of them everyday. But I made it a point to only talk about positive things. I projected myself as a happy, content person. And this made me deliberately look for positive things in my life. I spent a lot of time on my own. Not ruminating, but going to new places and doing different things until I absolutely enjoyed my own company. I focused on helping other people with their issues (Not by interfering, but by being there). I went out of my way to help others. I guess I felt better by putting myself in a position where I am able to assist someone else.  It was like a defense mechanism. It helped me focus less on my issues and allowed me to put more energy into others. It really helped.

I also continued blogging. I can’t explain the positive effect blogging has had on my life. But even on here, I try to keep my posts about the positive, interesting things that happen and the most I can learn from them and the people I interact with.

If it’s one thing that I want to conclude from my experiences and this post, it’s that whatever ridiculous things happen to you, you have all the strength and tools you need to deal with them on your own.

Now this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t seek help or talk to people or become a loner. Because if you have people that do understand you and help you feel Better, then for God’s sake talk to them. Because that’s rare. And it can make all the difference. Even counsellors are helpful. Maybe not in my case, but they do help lots of people out there. 

But if you’re like me, and  you don’t want to talk about your problems, don’t feel like an oddball. You’re capable of dealing with it on your own. Believe that.

But most importantly, don’t make any bad decisions. I had made several that I regret. And I’m not one of those people who thank their horrible experiences for the person they are today. I’d rather acknowledge that they were bad experiences and I had made bad decisions, but the person that got past all those things has always been inside me. It just took a while to be released. 

I know this is a rather bleak topic and may be irrelevant to many people out there. But if this applies to even a single person out there, I’m grateful. 

I learnt a lot about myself.  That was important over the last two years. And I hope that should I face similar things again, I will apply the same principles you get through them. 

The Time A Chef Cared

Life is sometimes hard when you’re a vegetarian. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m iron-compromised a lot. But also, I get discriminated against a lot. 

Especially when you’re the only vegetarian among your friends. 

It’s not fun when you want to catch up with some friends for lunch/dinner or a birthday, and when the question arises about where we should go eat, they give each other the side-eye and say “we have to go somewhere with vegetarian options”… blech. Or they invite you somewhere, saying there are vegetarian options, and you arrive only to find that the “options” are 3 different types of salads. Or something with tofu. 

Like excuse me I am Not a rabbit. And I hate tofu. 

Now I’m not ferociously vegetarian. I don’t tell people they’re going to burn in hell for eating meat or they’re murderers for eating a cheese burger. Everyone has their beliefs, and I have mine. I actually enjoy watching cooking shows and like appreciating how well the chef prepares a filet mignon. And sometimes, I just wish I were non-vegetarian. Just so I wouldn’t have to put up with the discrimination from the carnivores. 

I call the people who are ferociously non-vegetarian ‘carnivores’ because they are the people that cannot contemplate my lifestyle. And make a point of telling me so. The people that go “omggg you have NEVER tried chicken?? Omg you poor thing” “ahh you’ll never live life properly” “you wouldn’t understand about this… It’s so good though. You’re missing out on life” …Like for real? Get over yourselves. It’s just food. No need to be so dramatic. But oh well. I’m used to it. I’m just glad I’m not an overbearing vegetarian.

But anyway, today I had a different experience. Some friends wanted to meet up in a Café for brunch and I went along. This cafe had hardly any vegetarian options to choose from. 

So I had to do my regular walk of shame to the counter and ask if one of the dishes could be made without the meat. It was this ‘Mexican omelette’ thing that had bacon and chorizo etc. So without those things it was essentially a spinach and mushroom omelette. Which was fine. Better than nothing. And definitely better than salad or tofu.

But when the dish came, the chef came up to me and placed a very colourful omelette in front of me. I looked up at him and he smiled and said “I added some extra vegetables just so it’s a little more interesting. Hope you like It.” 

I could have burst into tears in the middle of that place just then. It was such a thoughtful thing to do and it tasted amazing. I thanked the chef repeatedly. 

He didn’t need to do that. He could’ve just put in less effort and made the bland spinach thing. After all, I was paying the same amount as a full Mexican omelette. And I’m someone who will probably visit this cafe very rarely. I’m not a regular. He didn’t have to care. But he did. He realised I was vegetarian and made the effort to make sure I didn’t feel like the annoying customer I usually do. 

That gesture completely made my day. It’s not that hard to be considerate. He showed me that. I am extremely grateful to him.  

December Happenings

Heyyyy it’s December!! How do I know this? Because it’s officially summer in Auckland! Well not really because the actual equinox is not until 21st of December, but let’s not focus on that.

How else do I know it’s December? Everyone has their Christmas tree up! I guess I’m late! Malls have had their trees up since November of course. So they  don’t count. But anyway! Time to get my Xmas tree up and get into that good ol’ Xmas cheer!

I had a great time decorating my tree. It’s always good fun. Especially when more people are involved. My mum turned on some Christmas carols, and when Jingle Bell Rock came on (which is my favourite carol), I actually started dancing around in the middle of my living room as I decorated my tree. Embarrassing as heck. But good fun!

et Voila! My tree!

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(I love taking macro shots of my tree decorations)

This tree is 6ft tall and is kind of sparse. So it was very important to make sure I filled it up with as much decoration as possible! Previously I had multi-coloured fairy lights but this year I decided they looked tacky beyond reason and went instead, with the more sophisticated, monochrome, gold icicle lights. They match, and give the whole tree a nice glow, I think! And yes, the decorations are all red and gold. I’ve had these decorations for a few years now. HD commented that they are so….bland. So…normal. Christmas = red and gold…. how original…

Which I agree with. But in my defense, as I have mentioned before, I am BIG on observing Christmas in a very traditional way. And at the time I bought these decorations, I wanted the perfect postcard-type Christmas tree. So that is definitely red and gold. Truth be told, however, I am getting a bit tired of this dull, bi-chrome decoration thing. Hence I vow, next year I shall have new, more multi-coloured baubles and other Christmas-y things on my tree!

(by the way, a big thing happened for HD the other day, so mini celebration of his awesomeness!)

You may ask, why not go get new decorations this year? I mean, there’s still a good 20 days before Christmas! Well in fact, I am not going to be home for Christmas!

Yep! As part of this being my last ever holidays, my family decided to organise a trip away over Christmas! We’re going to Italy!

This means a few things, but the most important thing is that for the first time in my 22 year life, I will be experiencing a white Christmas!! I mean, I love the summery Xmas in New Zealand and the awesomeness of going to the beach and having ice cream, but for someone who is big on traditional Christmas, snowy whiteness is a big big excitement!

I cannot wait!

Plus, it’s Italy so there shall be Italian food, things to see, and places to shop at. Which is why I am not springing for new decorations this year.

But I still had to put a tree up. I just had to. It’s a must in December. Even if I’m not going to be home on Xmas day.

Hope everyone has their tree up and are doing fabulous Christmas-type things! ^^

The Best Policy

Honesty?? Pshhhh who needs that? All honesty does is screw people over. 

It’s messy 

It’s unnecessary

Honesty doesn’t make things better. It hurts feelings, invites too many unwanted questions, and just slows people down. 

Why do we even have it?

It’s so much easier to tell people what they want to hear. What they need to hear. Honesty doesn’t need to get in the way of that!!

Honesty is great!…… for poems and fairytales maybe. 

Not for real life.

Don’t feel bad. If you say something enough times, it becomes the truth. That’s how it works. Don’t fret.

And if, God forbid, honesty rears its ugly head, just keep your head down. Brush it away. It doesn’t matter. It never does.

Don’t waste your time. Nobody else is. Things work better when things run smoothly.

Blah blah blah blah blah.