Europe-The Souvenirs

Please bear with me while I put up this last post – a picture of the Souvenirs and the Magnets we got from there-I hope I dont loose any of them!

Day 13-Day 14 – Rome-Dubai and Home to Chutkuuuuu

[The last of the travelogue post here. And I really need to be thankful to all of you to have shared this excitement with me and put up with these travelogue posts!]

The next morning we woke up late, had breakfast even before bath and leisurely did the packing-packing all the souvenirs we had bought safely. Except for the cuckoo clock and the venetian mask which were in the check-in bag among the clothes, all other small sovenirs and magents were with us in the cabin bag so they dont break. Once done with packing and getting ready we took some group pictures of everyone with the tour guide and started at 12.30pm for lunch at the same place as the previous day. We then realised that we hadnt had ‘authentic italian pizza’ having been in Italy over the past 3 days. So, we requested the tour manager who spoke to the Indian restaurant owner, who showed us how to get to some Italian restaurant. We went in search and finally found one on the main street. After enquiring and confirming that they would serve us vegetarian pizza we walked in and ate paper thin,yummy,cheesy pizza with zuccini,tomato and onions on it. There, that one wish got ticked too ūüôā I realise as I write this, it was mostly me and Savs who had these ‘must dos’ list. The men just let us do the research and decide what they were and Im glad that all of them were fulfilled (except maybe those mosiac ear rings but no regrets). We were given 1 hour time in which time we hurried the owner too (who could understand our english spoken slowly and he spoke back in broken english) ate in a hurry and rushed back right in time to get back into the bus.

We then reached Euroma-2 mall at 3.30 and were given time until 5.30 to roam around and shop and assemble back near the McD.We then split ways – hubby and me having no specific thing in mind while BIL,Savs and N wanted to buy slippers for the little girl,perfumes and cosmetics and such. The hubby and I just roamed around all the shops that had SALDI written,looked around and then bought a flowery printed shirt and shorts for Chutku from H&M. Then I found another small shop and saw dark blue flowery printed divided skirt for 10euros and I just grabbed it.There were other pretty stuff but nothing that got my attention like this skirt and I have never worn a divided skirt in my life before – its more like a loose pyjama-maybe I shouldnt call it skirt.Anyways… Then we looked for some stuff for hubby but didnt find anything within budget and by then it was already 5.15pm – so we walked back to the meeting point. Savs bought her Burberry perfume and some other lotions and stuff though they didnt get the slippers they were looking for. We then went straight to the Leonardo Da Vinci Aerodrome Rome for our departure to Dubai. After check-in, the tour manager had arranged for some packed snacks – sandwiches,apricots,chips and water which we all had-sitting down crosslegged on the floor at the baggage check-in counter! Dont think we would’ve even thought of doing something like this here. And the best part-nobody bothered to give us a second glance – there wasnt any other place to sit – no seating arrangements made and we had seen the locals and other tourists sitting like that in various places we had visited the previous days. We finished that and went towards the security check-in and final immigration.

At the security check-in, our bag of souvenirs were opened and we got worried! The lady opened all the souvenirs out of its soft cloth padding that I had given and then found what she was searching for-the Gladiator mask – it was metal and heavy. After discussion with a couple of other security personale,she thankfully gave it back to us.Whew! Once through the security and immigration, BIL and family split-they had to collect Customs (they had bought Swarovski worth more than 70 euros) and we walked along looking at the souvenir and cloth shops at duty free. At one point we had to take an electric train and I panicked-remember Paris? We left one train and when the next on came along I held on to hubby’s hand tightly and we both got in together ūüôā I know, it was probably un-necessary parnoia but it was something that was still fresh in memory and I couldnt get over it, though I had my passport and ticket and money with me this time! By this time,it was already 8.30 and we just sat there to board the flight.

Dubai – Another 6hr flight and this time, I dozed a little with 2 blankets and coat (the AC had some problem and it was freezing cold) while hubby watched Ek Deewana Tha ūüôā Reached Dubai at 5.30am local time and while the Mumbai folk had their flight at 9.45am our flight to Blore was at 11.45am. So, we searched for the free coupon counter (Emirates have the policy of giving free food coupons if the transit is more than 4hrs) ate and freshened up by 9am and then started our Duty free chocolate shopping. We had decided to buy Lindt anyway-so 1-1/2kg of Lindt was bought, then 2 packets of Milka (Austrian chocolate) was bought for office (Which was a huge hit) and then I definitely wanted Liqueur chocolates – so we went to the liquor shop and bought 2 dabbas of Liqueur chocolates (which was the first thing to get over) and we were done. BIL and Savs did some more shopping for sovenirs to give,chocolates for little N’s bday in school and then we cme across this Dubai souvenir shop where everything was so colourful that I wanted to buy a hanging Tea light holder, alladin lamp, hookah,jewelled camels – Oh My God! The options were limitless but the money had crossed its limit. So we just consoled overselves that we will make a trip to Dubai exclusively and then keep money for shopping all that.Finally, we found chocolate coated nuts and raisins and bought 2 packets of that and decided to put a full stop to shopping.
Reaching the gates for the flight to Blore at 10.30 and sitting down, we heard people conversing in Kannada/Telugu and suddenly it home – we were going back home! Home to Chutku!! Home home home!!! But then home- to the hectic schedule,office work and 5am wake ups… Still… Homeeee…We couldnt sleep through the flight and just chatted and looked out and in no time we felt we were landing at 5.10pm Bengaluru time ūüôā We were home by 7.30pm and the joy of a jumping child in my arms was enough to put aside all thoughts of the trip and resolve that no more trips without him….

And I realise now, while uploading the photos-I hardly have any pictures of the Mall or at the Dubai airport-obviously because we were window shopping so much that we even forgot to take out the camera! ūüôā

Day 12 – Rome and Vatican City

[Note: This one post, I found it very hard to restrict the number of photos-I think this would be more of a Visual Post than textual ūüôā Enjoy!¬†

Also, I’ve tried to put in the details as I understood it or as I remember it today. I could’ve taken the help of Google Baba but then it would’nt have completely been my version-so Apologies in Advance if something is in-correct-please let me know and I shall correct it]

An early start to the day and a 3 hr journey later, we reached the city of Rome and welcomed by loads of traffic.Thankfully we had an italian driver (The previous driver who got us to Rome had to be let-off as he had been driving for 10days at a streatch and he had to take a break!) who knew his way around Rome and so we reached the place on time with absolutely no stops in between. As we got off near Colloseum, we were desperate for a restroom and there

werent any.The tour manager pointed us to a deli and asked us to buy something so we could¬†use the toilets there. While Hubby and BIL bought some juice to drink (the bottle looked¬†like a hookah!) we stood in queue to finish the important job and joined the tour manager.By¬†then the tour guide had joined us-a balding man with spectacles who explained everything¬†superbly, and he was handing out the ear-phones for us to be able to listen to him talk.He¬†took us around Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, we bought a colosseum replica and a gladiator¬†mask, and then since we were all hungry by then we went to Ristorante’ Indiana for lunch ūüôā¬†of Pizza and Pasta included along with the regular indian fare. We then went around the city¬†of Rome in the bus towards Vatican City seeing the Circo Massimo – old circus square,the
ruins of the Pompeye Theatre and then across the Tiber river to Vatican City.We were dropped¬†off at the wall of Vatican City and we walked along the wall to the Vatican Museum. After¬†security checks (we were inside another country after all!) and buying tickets the Tour¬†Guide took us around the Vatican Museum. We were told that it would not be a circutous tour¬†but we would be ending the tour in St.Peter’s square and if at any point in time anyone was¬†lost-we were to meet near the huge Obelisk at the center of St. Peter’s Square.

Once inside the Vatican Museum-I was totally transported to another world. I just wanted to¬†take in as much as I could and I kept feeling that my senses were inadequate to grab and¬†capture everything there in such a short time. I was soooo happy and excited. Seeing all¬†those relics, the explanation of the Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel, the
sculptures depicting various greek mythology (much more than what is in Rome), the ceilings of the museum, the tapestry on the walls-apparently these tapestry designs were made in Rome and sent to countries like Brussels to weave them. They were used as wall hangings or foot mats to keep the cold away in the winter months and they are so detailed and so colourful -like they say-2 eyes are not enough! We were told not to use flash inside and I lost count of how many pictures I took. I didnt even know if I should be clicking pictures or seeing them with my eyes Рso many of them and so much of sensory overload! And the tour guide too was excellent.He explained everything in detail and gave so much information.I kept rushing here and there,wanting to listen to him and be able to see what he was explaining too.Once
is not enough to visit that place especially not a hurried 2 hours ūüė¶ We then entered the¬†Sistine Chapel and saw the famous painting of Michelangelo on the ceiling and the painting¬†of the Last Judgement and we could understand something because of the explanation that the¬†guide gave us. We were asked to remove the hats and not take pictures inside the¬†Sistine¬†chapel and to maintain silence (We were told previous day itself that shorts/clothes above
knees and sleeveless were not allowed in the church) And guess what-despite the huge crowd¬†where there was no place to even stand, the place was quiet! Amazing! And we spoke in hushed¬†tones with the guide asking him where the chimney from where the selection of Pope was¬†announced and other such silly questions, we asked. 5 mins inside was just not enough again,¬†but then we had to get out and see the St.Peter’s Basilica.

Apparently the story is that, Jesus, once he realised was going to be crucified soon, gave 2 keys to St. Peter Рone to open the gates of heaven and one to close it to those who are not eligible (I might not be right-so if someone can explain this better, I would be very happy) and so we see that the symbol of the church has 2 keys-the power of the church. Also,
when it was time for St.Peter to be crucified, he chose not to be crucified in the same way¬†as Jesus-so we have on the door of the Church a depiction of st.Peter being crucified with¬†his head down. Once inside the Church,again, I was surprised by the silence – it brings such¬†calm and peace and wants you to pray. No matter how hot,how crowded and how noisy the world¬†is just outside those doors… Speaking of Doors- there is another door as an entrance to¬†the church which apparently is opened only once in 25years for 1 whole year by the Pope. Its¬†said that who ever passes through that door will be washed away off all his sins and he has¬†a chance to go to heaven. Something similar to our ‘Vaikuntha Swara’?

This basilica holds the relics of some of the important Popes. Also, this place hosts the famous sculpture of Michelangelo that got him the commission for the sistine chapel Рthe Pieta Рwhich shows Mother Mary holding the body of Jesus. We walked around this church but unfortunately there was no place to pray at the main altar-it was barricaded for the choir
at 6pm.And so i just stood and prayed for a minute before rushing out behind the crowd of¬†our people.A couple more pictures of the balcony from where the Pope gives his blessings and¬†of the St.Peter’s square and we were ready to walk out to the Obelisk. Oh! What I forgot to mention, somewhere between the Sistine Chapel and the St.Peter’s¬†Church, we lost one uncle. Apparently he was also a little short of hearing and we spent¬†about 15mins searching for his everywhere. Then the guide told us that the best thing to do¬†was for us to wait out at the Obelisk at St.Peter’s square while a very worried Tour Manager¬†stayed back and started frantically searching for him. While we all waited and some¬†searched, thankfully we found the uncle walking towards the Obelisk! Ah! Blessing¬†really,because the guide was telling a story about 4 people who got lost in Rome and couldnt¬†take the flight back home! a month or so before…

From there, we were all rushed back to the bus,back across the Tiber river into Rome to¬†visit the Trevi fountain. By the time we reached Trevi fountain it was 4.30pm and we were¬†asked to see the fountain/take pictures/have free ice cream at the Trevi Cafe’ (courtesy¬†Tour Operator) and assemble at that corner by 5.45pm for the bus back to the hotel. The
Trevi fountain was so crowded that it was hard to get a single photo without people around¬†us ūüė¶ We then sat at the cafe and had double scoop ice creams – vanilla and chocolate¬†(Little N and I) and some combination of berrys (BIL and Hubby) while Savs insisted that she¬†*needed* a coffee and opted for that. We assembled at the spot and while walking on the¬†small pathway, realised that there were so many souvenir shops where stuff was real cheap¬†that we felt a small twinge of sadness that we could’ve bought something there without¬†actually taxing the pocket ūüė¶ Getting into the bus we asked the tour manager if he would¬†get us to that place again the next day but he refused saying that everyone couldnt walk –
so he would be taking us to a huge mall near the airport to while away time until flight.There, that ended the matter.

We reached the final and last night of our trip and the last hotel Рwhich was like a resort with independent rooms surrounding a huge courtyard.And since it was still 7.30pm we freshened up, walked around, bought a juice and generally had a relaxed time. Post dinner, we were given gifts for winning the housie Рpeople got gifts and little N being the entertainer she was (singing kannada songs and leading us all in dance) and being the youngest, was given boxes of chocolates :-). We also decided to gift something to the Tour manager who had been very informative and very understanding and a thorough professional through out. Not wanting to go to bed and prolong the last evening,
everyone just sat in the couryard talking to each other. One couple also got us coffee after¬†dinner and we sat talking until 11.30pm until little N dropped off to sleep on her chair ūüôā

Sigh! we realised that this was the end of the dream trip, a trip that I had been dreaming¬†about ever since I saw DDJL, a dream that I co-erced the hubby to dream with me ever since¬†we got married, a dream for which we were planning and saving for-for years…