Thursday, 3 April 2008

Trip to Rome, Italy - Day 1

Our trip to Rome.
We took our flight to Rome and reached Fiumicino Airport.
There are trains from Fiumicino Airport to Rome City Tickets can be bought over the counter. These trains are different from the Metro Trains that run within the city.
We had our room booked in a B&B near Termini Station (Metro Station).

We bought tickets and boarded Leonardo Express which connects Fiumicino Airport and Roma Termini. You need to validate your ticket in the ticket machine before boarding the train.Ticket machines will be present in all the platforms.Make sure you do this otherwise you will end up paying huge fine. It is not enough that you buy ticket, it is more important that you validate it. This is applicable in Buses as well.There will be a ticket machine present within the bus. The driver will not ask you for ticket.You will have to go to the machine and validate on your own. Ticket checker will not accept a ticket if it is not validated.

Coming to transportation, Rome is well connected and any location within Rome can be reached by Metro Train/Bus.There are two train Lines Metro A (also called Red Line) and Metro B (also called Blue Line) which covers almost all the important sight seeing locations.

We had two days planned (not complete 2 days though) and we had the following in our Itinerary.
First Day Noon:
  1. Colosseum
  2. Arch of Constantine
  3. Palentine Hill
  4. Roman Forum

All the above can be covered by Metro Line B (Blue line)

Second Day:

  1. Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel
  2. St.Peter's Basilica

1. Trevi Fountain
2. Spanish Steps
3. Pantheon

We reached B&B around noon. After refreshing, made our way to Colosseum.
We walked towards Roma Termini station, bought a day ticket - B.I.T - Biglietto Integrato a Tempo, costs about 1 Euro.This ticket can be obtained from the automatic ticket machine (in the station) and is valid through out the day in all the buses and Metro trains.

We took Metro Line B and got down at Stop Colosseo.

Once you come out of the station...there it is..


Colosseum so called Colosseo in Italian language a giant amphitheatre. It was used for contesting gladiators and sometimes between contesting ferocious animals themselves. The entire amphitheatre could accomodate upto 50,000 people.

Source: wikipedia

Renovation was going on when we made our visit.

In order to save time we reserved tickets online. It was a good thing we did. The queue was long...not very long though.

Check out the season of your visit. If during April-June tourist would be more. There were people standing outside the colosseum offering guided tours. They came to us saying ' English English...Guide...'Since we had reservation we moved on.

Be aware that most people in Italy speak only their native language (ofcourse it is natural for anyone to speak their native language), hence take all the necessary things with you so that you will least take their help. We had a very bad experience with this. I will share it in my next post.

There were basically two queues

1.For Group

If you have online reservation you can directly by-pass both the queues and go to the Counter to get the actual ticket.

There were audio guides in various languages. Costs around 6.50 Euros. We took one each. It really helped. Without a guide you wouldn't be able to find what it is inside the colosseum. You should return the Audio guide within 3hrs time. They also provide Manual Guided tour which works out cheaper to Audio guide. But the problem with it is the time and the duration. We cannot take our own time with it. Hence we went for Audio guide. There is no perfect markings inside the Coloseum , we had to guess and play the audio guide.

We were given a map (not really a map) matching that with the actual picture we had to play the audio.

It doesn't say this is No.1 and Play No.1 in audio.It took solid 3 hours to get around the Coloseum.

Once you get into first floor you will get the view of Arena - where the contests used to take place. Just below the arena is the ruined shopping place(used to be) and rooms to hold the equipments.

More info about Colosseum here

Outside the collosseum there were lot of people dressed up as gladiators and lot of small soveneir shops.

We picked up soveneirs and moved towards Arch of Constantine.It was erected to commemorate Constantine I's victory over Maxentius Arch of Constantine

We spent some time sitting outside the Colosseum. It was so pleasant.

We captured few pictures and moved to Palentine Hill. The Colosseum ticket includes entry to Palentine Hill as well.

There is nothing great to see, but you will get the view of Colosseum, Arch of Constantine and Roman Forum from there.By the time we got onto Palentine Hill, it started raining...we were caught.We couldn't make it to Roman Forum.

View of Colosseum taken from Colosseo Station

View of Arena from First Floor

Another view of Arena - Work in progress !

View of Arch of Constantine from Colosseum

Close shot of Arch of Constantine pillar

View of Roman Forum from Palentine Hill

Metro Train in Rome

Colourful Tram in Rome

Yellow coloured Ticket machine in the bus. This is where you need to validate your ticket by passing your ticket through the machine.

Monitor in the bus displaying the next stop. I know this helps a lot.
After spending the whole noon in Colosseum area , we made our way back to B&B catching Metro Line B from Colosseo to Roma Termini.

The next be continued.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Italy - our trip to Italy

This post is all about our trip to one of the world's special country 'Italy'. Our trip to Italy is an interesting and a memorable one.

Going on a holiday generally means taking break and relaxing at one place (unlike us). This is what most people prefer to do.Our case was totally different.We just had 6 days and we had to plan our trip.

I was very particular in going on a trip by our own rather than through the trips organised by agents.This gives us a chance to explore the place more.Also, whatever we do, if we do it by ourselves we will never forget it.

I started exploring and e-mailed a couple of B&B's(Bed & Breakfast) and they suggested to choose one place in Italy and spend time there.But I was not very convinced with that. I am a kind of person who enjoys travelling and loves to visit more places rather than being at one place.Hence I decided to cover as many places as we can in the given 6 days.

First task was to find out the famous cities or in other words most interesting and worth seeing cities in that country.There were lot many reviews on the internet about each famous city in Italy.The list I obtained from it was Rome, Venice, Pisa, Florence, Siena, Naples, and Milan.

It is not feasible to cover these many in just 6 days and doesn't make sense too.

Now comes short listing the cities. How do we do that? How do we decide which one to go and which one to drop out?

I made a list of possible cities and the distance between each of them and the possible transportation (as well as feasible).We also had our priority list...Rome and Venice. Each of it needs a minimum of 2 days .So 4 days ruled out in 6 days. What do we plan for next 2days ? We added Pisa ( next in our priority list - Leaning tower )...then we figured that, to get to Pisa from Rome we need to go via Florence. Also, there was nothing major to cover in Pisa other than Leaning Tower of Pisa, which would not take more than 1/2 a day (this is to just see the place and not spend time over there).So 4 1/2 days. Since we need to get to Pisa via Florence, we added Florence too. The remaining 1 1/2 days in Florence.

Finally formed the Itinerary. Rome-Florence(just pass by and no stopping)-Pisa-Florence-Venice.Having confirmed the itinerary we went ahead and booked our flight tickets.

Next task was to book the rooms (as most of the B&Bs and Hotels are always fully booked - if you don't get to do it early).How do we know where to book?

Since the local language is not english and it is our first time, we need to have more information about the country.

Again started searching in the internet for more information about the city/country.The real good thing we learnt was 'Italy is highly connected by public transportation'.Also there were reviews stating that most of the cities can be best seen by foot (esp. Rome and Florence).

Now we had to figure out the main rail station or the bus station in the city (to get around the city).We learnt that Roma Termini is the main rail station (bus station very next to it) in Rome and it is very easy to get around the city from there.Also, there were direct trains from Airport to Termini station.

I decided to look for Hotels/B&Bs that is near to Termini station, so that we need not have to waste time in getting back to room every time.

Then we started searching for Hotels/B&Bs that were near to Termini.Read reviews about the hotels/B&Bs and short listed few based on the rating (also had to check if availability was there).Some hotels/B&Bs have it in their site saying -'Very near to Termini', but we will never know the actual may not be very near in terms of foot.

So I started checking the actual the Post code of the hotels, went to and starting checking one by one.Found the least distant one (that had availability too ) and had it bookmarked (finalize everything and then go ahead booking).

Did a similar search for Florence and Venice and got the list of B&Bs and booked them.

Plan overview...detailed plan will follow.
Day 1: Rome
Day 2: Rome
Day 3: Start from Rome - Florence - Pisa - Visit Leaning Tower of Pisa - Return to Florence by afternoon and visit Florence.
Day 4: Florence
Day 5: Venice
Day 6 : Venice

Now we had to find out the important places to visit within Rome, Florence and Venice.

Things we had to have in mind while making this list.
1) How important the place is ?
2) Distance between each
3) Open dates and timings - This is very very important because certain attractions are closed on weekdays. You might end up seeing a closed door.

Again did a bit of search and shortlisted the places.

Other things we did was,

  • Booked the local journey online, as we did not want to waste time in buying tickets/ searching for counters etc
    Online booking was not available for Florence-Pisa-Florence as the distance between them was very less. But frequent trains were available.
  • Purchased entrance tickets to whichever applicable and possible. Few places like Vatican City does not allow pre-booking.
    This we did to avoid queues.

Everything ready, all done ...what next? Our experience in Italy...wait for the next post :)

Friday, 20 July 2007


I am going to share some of the featured places in London. This will run for next 3-4 posts (or more :-P) and it is not going to stop with that...wait and watch.
Hey Londoners ! and Guys & Gals who have already Visited London...excuse me Please.
London is such a beautiful and historical city one must visit. This post is all about my favourite spot -- 'London Eye'.

Information from Wikipedia and other sources (including my own experience hehe ;D)
London Eye is the world's tallest observation wheel at 135m high.It is considered one of London's 21st century landmark .
The London Eye, also known as the Millennium Wheel, is an observation wheel that completed construction in 1999 and opened to the public in March,2000. As of June 2007, it is the largest observation wheel in the world. It is located on the banks of the River Thames.
Within this 7 years period, London Eye has become the most popular paid for UK visitor attraction, visited by over 3.5 million people a year i.e., on an average of 10,000 visitors a day.

The wheel carries 32 sealed and air-conditioned passenger capsules (look at the picture of a capsule above) attached to its external circumference. Each capsule holds approximately 25 people. Look at the view of London Eye during night taken from the pathway to Waterloo Tube Station.
What do you see here ??? Yes it is the BigBen. View of BigBen from the Capsule.Do you see the Ferry in Thames River.
How is my photography huh ?!!! Okay..okay..let me come to the picture. This is the footpath just below the LondonEye. A series of people dressed up and presenting themselves as a statue. Have a look at each one in the picture above. Interesting isn't it? Road shows are more entertaining.
LondonEye gives you a 360 degree view of the city. It is an amazing experience. It takes around 30 minutes for one revolution. But standing in the Queue to get in takes hours and hours.
Each capsule is marked with directions - North, South , East & West. Just before landing a photo light flashes near the entrance (Announcement will be made before the flash, but people tend to miss it). You can collect your photograph after landing (if your image is captured) in Magnet, Keychain forms...Of course you need to pay for it.
During my first visit to London, I was so thrilled about LondonEye as I was thinking it as a Fast revolving Giant Wheel (as fast rides in Fair) :) .
Though you have online booking and other stuffs, the queue always runs till the end of the Street. BA is the sponsor and it is called as BA Flight...for your surprise you will have all security checks (as done in airport) before entering into the Capsule. Once you are into it you will not feel that it is revolving.
The combined offer with Madame Tussauds ticket works out to be cheaper. BigBen and Houses of Parliament are located just opposite to LondonEye. Westminster Bridge connects LondonEye and BigBen.
Don't miss it !
Nearest Tube Station : Waterloo.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Sri Murugan Temple - Eastham

London Sri Murugan Temple located is in Eastham, London.
A gorgeous Temple !!!

We grabbed the temple timings from their website

The temple is open from 8.00am to 12.30 pm in the morning and 5.00 PM - 8.00 PM in the evening.
We planned to make it during forenoon.
We took our own time and made it by 1.30 PM. I wasn't ready to see a door-locked-temple.

Surprise was on my way ! The temple was open and we made a good dharshan.

Later we heard that most of the temples in London are open throughout the day. The timings generally denote the pooja timings.

External View - Isn't it amazing !


One more shot

Murugar, Vinayagar , Ayyappan, Chandiran, Sooriyan, Durga Devi, Bhairavar, Natarajar, Shivalingam, Dhakshinamoorthy, Navagraham, Anjaneyar, Perumal, Lakshmi and what not !

We had a peaceful time in the temple. We were offered with sweet pongal as prasadam.

Temple is Very neat and clean.

From Eastham tube station take Bus 147 towards Ilford and disembark at Church Road stop (around 5th stop).
The temple is just infront of the Bus stop.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum has everything in it...

Visions of Earth, Fossils, Minerals, Crawlies, Birds, Mammals, Plant Power , Dinosaurs, Marine, Fishes, Ambhibians, Reptiles, Darwin Centre and lot more...

Exterior view - Natural History Museum

Museum Central Hall

Just few minutes walk from South Kensington Tube Station.
Visit :