After the Colosseum, we walked along Via dei Fori Imperiali to see the Foro Romano, Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, and Il Campidoglio. Via dei Fori Imperiali was built by Benito Mussolini to connect his office in Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum (also passing by the Roman Forum), destroying 40,000 square yards of important Roman history, as this area was heavily populated in medieval and Renaissance Rome.
The view of the general vicinity of the Roman Forum from the Colosseum’s higher levels. We didn’t enter and chose to look at it from the outside, along the via dei Fori Imperiali. It used to be a bustling area, the center of Roman public life.
If you follow the street towards Piazza Venezia (that is, away from the Colosseum), you will run into the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, which houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s also called Altare della Patria, or “Altar of the Fatherland,” honoring the first king of unified Italy, Victor Emmanuel.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded by two soldier and is watched over by an “eternal flame.”
We went to see Il Compidiglio, and there aren’t much pictures because that’s when it started to rain harder.
We took a bus to SS Quattro 24, because I read about a good pizza place called Pizzeria Li Rioni. We were lucky we got there just before their kitchen was going to close! The pizza was GOOD. I got bresaola with rocket and parmesan (of course). They serve everyone a whole pizza! But I was happy to eat all of it. HEH.
In pursuit of tiramisu that the entire internet has spoken about, we walked to Bar Gelateria Pompi at Via Albalonga. We thought we could walk it without a problem, but the scaling of the map we had was deceptive! We saw a lot of nice things along the way, though, but then it started to rain.
A vinyl store! I wish we had time to stop over, but alas.
SPQR is an initialism of the Latin phrase Senātus Populusque Rōmānus, or The Senate & People of Rome. It appears on Roman coins and documents and refers to the government of the ancient Roman Republic. I find it fascinating that this is still pretty widespread even today.
FINALLY! We found it! Bar Gelateria Pompi was bigger than I thought and served a wide array of sweets, pastries and drinks. We had the tiramisu, which was as good as people made it sound online. I mean, coffee-soaked ladyfingers with mascarpone? Yes, please! I wish I had tried the other flavors (e.g. strawberry), but I’m perfectly happy with the original. I’m glad we looked for it, even though we ended up soaked. The cafe latte we got was really more of milk, but that was okay since it went well with tiramisu anyway.
We begin every morning with a feeding of pigeons. The apartment we rented sends up breakfast everyday, fit for eight or so people. As we had been a group of five, we had a TON of extra bread. Which is great, since we cross St. Peter’s every morning to get anywhere.
We gave this bb some bread. A funny story about this bb—we ran into him again on our first afternoon in Florence. I don’t think I have a picture, but you can imagine how stunned we all were!
Pigeons like to roost on statue heads.
When in Rome! Water is completely potable, and you will find a lot of random public fountains from which you can drink. If the water is not meant for drinking, there are signs that indicate this.
One of the highlights of our Roman trip was our visit to the Colosseo, or if you’ve figured it out, The Colosseum. This was the place where all the gladiator games happened! It was very cool. All my wide shots are still in the unprocessed rolls, but trust me when I say that this place, despite being ruins, was utterly majestic.
Aside from gladiator fights, mock battles from Classical mythology were also dramatized here, as well as staged animal hunts, with exotic beasts imported from Africa and the Middle East. You can see the hypogeum on the right side of the picture, which is a labyrinthine system of tunnels that connect to the outside. They were used to bring in the animals, gladiators, and performers, all of whom (if I’m not mistaken) are to be elevated up to the main arena.
There are accounts which indicate that even sea battles were reenacted at the Colosseum (or the Flavian Ampitheatre), where the hypogeum could have replaced an earlier, somewhat waterproof space that could hold water and warships. Since Rome is known for advancements in sewage and water systems, I find this easy to believe.
Sometimes, mythological scenes are also enacted where a hero is played by a condemned man, where the hero’s death (and the condemned man’s real one) is accurately depicted, i.e. being mauled by animals or burning to a crisp.
A lot of the shows held here were sponsored by politicians vying for the favor of the public. Obviously, the Colosseum has turned into a symbol of Rome’s power and, now, permanence.
There were hordes of people. Here is a group, meditating.
There were a LOT of people who posed like this in various tourist spots, poses which they held for a long time, waiting for people to exit their frame. I’ve always wondered how people got shots with no other tourists, and now I know.
The Colosseum had the best official souvenirs. I suspect they were designed by an outsourced group whose name I have sadly forgotten.
We continued on with the rainy, drizzly day, with a walk to the Foro Romano, the Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, and Il Campidoglio, all of which were in the same vicinity. Pictures in the next post, of course.
A side note: These updates have been more tedious to do than I thought! I didn’t have great internet connection in Florence, Venice, and London, so things—as in updating on the road—didn’t go as planned. I am experiencing random twinges of sadness because life had been so different while I had been on vacation, obviously, and now everything has just punched me in the face.
Anyway, it’s been fun, reliving everything, but my blog has been feeling like a repository of old posts, rather than an updated log, I guess. I don’t know, but I feel quite displaced at the moment.
The first thing you must know about München is that it is very green. There are parks everywhere. Unfortunately, I can’t show any pictures of that yet, because I decided to take just my film cameras when we walked around on that first day. The first available footage I have on hand are pictures from our visit to the Dachau concentration camp memorial site.
We enlisted the help of a tour guide and rode the train from the city center for about half an hour, if I remember correctly. Dachau isn’t the most notorious concentration camp, but it was the first one, “on which other camps were based.” A short walk from the bus stop will lead you to the gate, which holds the motto plastered on concentration camps all over the world.
Translated, it says: “Work will set you free.” Though common knowledge (or I guess, just my own assumptions) of such camps set up in the second World War involve the sick and the dying, some camps like Dachau had prisoners subjected to forced labor and often served only as a station where prisoners are sent to other concentration camps or death camps all throughout Europe.
Currently, only two replicas of what had been 32 barracks exist on the grounds. Some areas have been turned into a museum, for people to know about and to remember the suffering that the prisoners went through. If you notice, Dachau looks very pretty. The SS took great pains to make it appear as though the prisoners were well fed and were under very good living conditions, to disguise the fact that there were atrocities being done to other human beings at the time.
A memorial featuring the motto of the Jewish Defense League, “Never Again!,” in several languages. JDL aims to protect Jews against antisemitism by whatever means necessary.
A portion of the ditch, which went around the entirety of the camp, was rebuilt when Dachau was turned into a memorial site. Immediately after the war, Dachau was turned into a refugee camp, which was when they removed the ditch. It was what separated the camp from the barbed wire fence, which was what kept the prisoners from their freedom.
The patch of grass before the ditch came to be known as the “death strip,” as it was an area that sealed the death of whoever stepped on it. Prisoners were shot if they came in contact with this patch of grass. If a guard disliked a prisoner, he could throw the prisoner’s cap (a piece of their uniform that was required to be worn during roll calls) on the grass.
It was a very sobering experience. I’ve always been interested in stories about the Holocaust, especially in the richness of Jewish heritage and religion. I’ve gravitated towards novels set, or partly set, during the second World War—Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Everything is Illuminated,” Markus Zusak’s “The Book Thief,” Aleksander Hemon’s “The Lazarus Project,” Michael Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” and so on—and I suppose, I’ve always been curious. Although I sometimes suspect a bit of racism towards myself, it has obviously never been this extreme, something that I am both grateful for and horrified in behalf of those people who have it worse.
Mikka invited Sarie and me to a tasting of Don Papa Rum last night. Sarie went to an event in Aracama already with Karen, and raved about how lovely this rum was, which piqued my interest. (Some of the pictures here were taken by Sarie.)
Don Papa Rum is a premium rum made and developed in the Philippines. Isn’t that great? It is distilled from sugar cane grown in Negros, a Philippine region known for its sugar, and aged in American oak barrels for 7 years in the foothills of Mount Kanloan. I remember buying organic coffee grown in the same region as well. This was an exciting discovery because I feel like we Filipinos are so steeped in foreign cultures and products, we often forget that our country is so rich and that we make great things, too.
It was a small get-together and we had our fill of this spinach-filled puff pastry of some sort, and I got to talk with 4/5 of the folks from Pepper. I knew Dwight from school, but it was great getting to talk to them at length.
We got to try three cocktails crafted by mixologist, Kathryn Eckstein. The first one, Liquid Butterscotch, is made with ingredients that seem to usually be found in pastries. It tastes more like a dessert than a swig of alcohol and feels like a warm blanket. You could probably close your eyes and pretend to be in the Three Broomsticks, tossing back one or two of these drinks with Harry Potter! We imagine it to be what butterbeer must taste like—smooth and sweet, spreading warmth on the inside.
This is my favorite drink, so refreshing! Called the Coco Breeze, it’s made with guava juice and nata de coco, garnished with a pretty calamansi and served in a tall glass and a handful of ice. The inspiration behind this drink are local ingredients, and it’s really the perfect companion on a hot day, which we see a lot of in this country, despite it being way past the summer season. Biting into the nata de coco is a special treat, because it soaks up all the flavors.
The last drink, Ka-pag Serious Ka, a fun take on Caprioska, is made with calamansi, ginger and honey. It’s not a favorite because neither of us like soda water, but it’s a good drink, if you’re in an actual serious mood. Be sure to drink it in a low-ball glass such as this one, for added effect.
One of the great things about Don Papa Rum is the packaging. It was made by Strange & Stranger, a design outfit based in London and NY that specializes in packaging for alcohol and spirits. Obviously inspired by old bank notes, the packaging for Don Papa Rum is a delight for the inner Where’s Waldo? obsessor in you. They allegedly used around fifty animals indigenous to the country, but I’m still stuck, marveling at the slug moustache Don Papa is sporting. It really is very intricate and interesting, and I think it adds a special Filipino flair to the product, despite being created by foreigners. The red spot UV gloss detail is also an exquisite detail.
Speaking of Don Papa, he’s an actual Filipino revolutionary that fought during the occupation of Spain and the United States. Called the “Lion of Kanloan,” Dionisio Sigobela or Papa Isio, led an eight-year-long uprising to protect his countrymen. As a farmer in Negros, he was said to have slain his cruel Spanish haciendero, fleeing to the mountains of Kanloan and establishing his own religion. Popular among the babaylanes, he believed in animism (which maybe explains all the animals on the bottle label), as well as anting-antings or amulets as protection from bullets.
Papa Isio led several uprisings and pledged his allegiance only to the Philippines, displaying a fervent and intense nationalism rarely seen these days. He sought to instigate agrarian reform and had political ideas that were perhaps too radical for the country at the time. Most people don’t know whether or not to regard him as a hero, because of his ideas (he called himself the “pope” at some point), but it is his unwavering spirit that Don Papa Rum wants to honor with this, um, spirit. His story, in detail, can be found here.
For a closer look at the packaging, here is its feature on The Dieline. There are wonderful close-ups of the label.
I haven’t tried it by itself, on the rocks, but Bleeding Heart Rum Co. claims that Don Papa Rum is “a rum that’s good enough to drink neat.” Currently, it is in the process of distribution. Since it’s a “Small Batch Rum”, it will only be available in selected bars, restaurants and liquor stores in Manila including Aracama Manila Cuisine, Draft, Beso, Distillery and Ralphs Wines and Spirits, once it has officially launched later this month.
After we drank and ate our fill, we walked around the area in search of cake! I tried Starbucks’ Green Tea and Berry Cheesecake, and I didn’t taste much of the green tea. Good if you aren’t fond of green tea, because the cheesecake itself is creamy and not fluffed up with gelatin. However, I am a green tea fiend, so I was not very pleased. Still good cheesecake, though.
We made several videos lamenting the concrete jungle that the Fort is shaping up to be. We also saw a truck of live chickens on the way home.
On February 27, Winston kindly invited me and Sarie to a soft opening of The Mind Museum in Taguig. It was a great experience, but I don’t know if I’m willing to shell out Php 750 for it. I think it’s probably more worthwhile to check it out if you have children, or if you can avail of the student’s and/or teacher’s discounts, which is a dramatic decrease from the price.
I’m in love with the design and the structure itself, but there’s a lot of improvements they can still make (i.e. displays, readability/copy, screen presentations, etc) for it to be truly “world-class.” It was still pretty fun to see all the displays, though. I wish I paid more attention in science when I still had school.
The Mind Museum opens on the 16th of March. Book tickets here now: http://www.themindmuseum.org/
We were greeted by this robot-type thing named Aedi. I don’t actually know if she functions via a motion sensor because she was already talking when we got there and then she kind of stopped mid-sentence.
After an informative (but pretty text-heavy) display on The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments, there’s a “fork in the road.” To your left is a Filipino-centric area where you can learn more about native animals and the state of the environment in the Philippines. It’s more concentrated on biodiversity and ecology. It’s kind of sad to see how it doesn’t seem like the right people are focused on the conservation of our natural environment. We have so many beautiful animals that I’d never even heard of and I probably won’t be able to see them either, since they’re habitats are continuously destroyed.
No, it’s true. This is a post concerning a history lesson, in which I present three embedded videos of John Green breezing through the French Revolution in 6-minute-sized pieces, including fun facts and context! But before I demonstrate my super-advanced technological ways, i.e. inserting YouTube videos I did not make in a poor excuse for a post, let me share with you a little factoid about myself that not a lot of people know about.
Before I entered college, I wanted to be a history major. Actually, a tiny part of myself still pines away for that lost dream. When I was filling out college applications, I wanted to put HISTORY as my first choice for every single school I was applying to. Alas, my parents didn’t see that in my future and highly discouraged me from taking the major. “What are you going to be?” they said. “A historian?”
In some ways, I am thankful that I did not take history. It is something I am deeply interested in, and I’ve always been engrossed in history lessons, strangely enough, but my memory would probably not hold all the details and the different histories would intersect and intertwine and I would just end up making a mess out of world history. I think, if I took that major, I would have flunked out of college a long time ago. I still find history fascinating, and on occasion, I’d leaf through history books I’d buy when I was feeling particularly resentful that I never got a chance to be a historian, or attend cool lectures about the Civil War. I think, as a student, I’d have enjoyed this direction immensely, but as a viable career option and possible step into my then-future? I would not have fared very well.
In any case, here’s a rundown of what went down during the French Revolution, which is one of my favorite Important Happenings In The World Ever. Understandably, as it was very much crazycakes. Each bit is about six minutes long, and it discusses most of the important points, which is amazing but also pretty terrifying. Enjoy!
P.S. John Green talks pretty fast, so brace yourself.
Interesting post was brought to you by my uncharacteristically busy schedule (no, for real, I did not know what to do with myself) and John Green, who is one of my Favorite People Of All Time, and who has unknowingly saved this blog from attracting flies, and gathering dust, and stuff.
I promise pretty interesting postage once I get back on my feet. In the (alleged) words of Marie Antoinette, “Let them eat cake!”
… Just kidding, that doesn’t make sense. What I mean is that I hope you have fun, enjoy your weekend, enjoy this brief history lesson, etc. No kidding, though. Those are great videos. Go back and watch them if you haven’t.