My Time Capsule: October 2014


France: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims

Reims, July 2014

"I just want to get out of Paris!"

After spending 2 peaceful weeks in Iceland and Greenland I kinda had a 'shock' when I landed in Paris, the so called 'most romantic city in the world'. Yes, Paris is beautiful but it's just way too crowded and complicated for a small town girl like me. It did not impress me on my first visit 14 years ago and I thought I'd give Paris a second chance. But within a few hours wandering around the city, I felt suffocated and miserable that even those delicious French patisserie could not lift my mood. I decided to hire a chauffeur and car on the next day to take me away from Paris.

* I didn't mean to travel like a royal family but I was travelling with my Dad who's still recovering from a stroke and my Mom who can't walk too far due to spinal surgery couple years back. I love taking public transportation but it's not an option when I travel with my parents.

Notre-Dame de Reims

"Where would you like to go? Gallery Lafayette or Champs Elysees? Indonesian people love to shop there for branded stuff", asked the chauffeur enthusiastically when he picked me up at the hotel the next morning.

"Not all Indonesian would fly thousands miles away just to shop. Obviously not me." I rolled my eyes. "Also I've already been to Gallery Lafayette yesterday."

"See! You went shopping. Did you buy anything nice from that luxury department store?"

"Yes. I bought a box of expensive fried rice from Chinese restaurant on top floor. Now please just take me to some leisurely beautiful places."

some renovations in Reims Cathedrale

The chauffeur drove the car towards the highway and took me to Reims, a charming city 2 hours away from Paris. My first stop was the Cathedral of Reims which was built in 1211 to replace an older church destroyed by fire. The process continued through three centuries but rest incomplete. Spires that were initially planned for the tops of the towers were never built. The Gothic art masterpiece was one of the first monuments registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

can you spot the difference between old and new parts?

The 800 years old Cathedral is an important site in the history of France where at least 24 of its kings were crowned. Unfortunately some important parts of the building were destroyed and severely damaged during the World War I. It was not until 1919 when the restoration work began and was fully reopened in 1938. What amazed me most was the stunning details of the limestone statues and Gothic stained glass windows. Such a mind-blowing artworks!

the entrance

amazing details

the altar

interior of Reims cathedral

stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall

beautiful vaulted ceilings

the miniature

Holy Mary

I really could spend hours just sitting in silence inside the church, admiring the beauty around every corner. Beside the cathedral I also visited Abbey of Saint-Remi and had a cellar tour at Pommery Champagne house. I'll write about it on separate blog posts. Though I had no expectation at all, visiting Reims was one of my best day trips. Well, thanks to my chauffeur! It's true that sometimes the best advice comes from local people. Don't you think? :)


Italy: Searching For My Romeo In Verona

Verona, July 2014

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

Before my trip to Verona, famously known as the town of Romeo and Juliet; I was planning to stand on her balcony then I imagined myself as Juliet and saying the quote above loudly. I thought it would be fun and perhaps I would meet my Romeo....if he really exist. But then I realised that I'm not that romantic. Also the scene reminds me of my cat who meows so loudly on the roof during mating season. Romeow....Rrrromeowwww... 

Right! I really need to control my wild imaginations.

Located between Milan and Venice, Verona is rich in Roman history. The first historic site that I noticed after getting off the bus was Arena di Verona. It's a Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra built in first century and until today is still in use for large-scale opera performances. At a glance, it reminds me of the Colosseum in smaller size.

Arena di Verona

Via Mazzini, the shopping street

2000 years old Madonna Verona fountain

Juliet's house
love padlocks

I walked through the crowded shopping street, Via Mazzini and saw a signboard 'Casa di Giulietta' at the other end. Finally, I found Juliet's house. After watching the movie"Letters to Juliet", I expected to see a very peaceful courtyard with romantic aura. But Boy, I was wrong! It was so sooo crowded that it's difficult for me to even walk from the entrance to the courtyard. People jostled each other, snatched the best spot to take pictures. With my petite figure (read: short), I had to face so many sweaty armpits around me. Such a chaos under the scorching hot weather. 

the balcony 

Giulietta, taken by my sister using Iphone5

Everyone was stampeding a bronze statue of Juliet in order to rub, grope, caress her right breast in any possible way while posing for a picture. You will have a good luck in love and live happily ever after for doing it, so the legend says. Poor must have been awful for her. But earlier this year due to cracks and wear, the statue was moved to Museum Castelvecchio where it will be restored and displayed #SaveJuliet.


funny tees

Feeling gutted and disappointed, I decided to leave Juliet house and wandered around Piazza delle Erbe instead. This square is the heartbeat of Verona where there's a lot of cafes, shops and also market. So many delicious food, ice cream, and beautiful souvenirs to heal my broken heart. It didn't take long for me to forget about the romance of Romeo and Juliet. Only a fairy tale though.

street art performers

the market at Piazza delle Erbe

oh! I love thee, Calzone!

So did I find my Romeo in Verona? Nope! But I did eat some super delicious nibbles that I bought from the market.....and so it was a happy tummy ending :D


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