Lazio Italy: It’s Hidden Gem near Rome/ Anneklien’sSoloTravels&Adventure

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Rome is so beautiful, from the structural buildings, to the fountains and piazza. As well as the spectacular cathedrals, churches to chapels. It’s my third time visit in Rome so I had already the chance to wander around this beautiful city and it’s tourist spots. Rome, it can get crowded with tourists. If you’re like me looking for unbeaten places to explore, why not go outside the city? If you have enough time to spare whilst in Rome. There are awesome places around Lazio Region, in radius of 20-40 kilometers just outside Rome. A day trip is suggested to explore these beautiful towns.

Castle Gandolfo

A day trip to this stunning place is a must. It’s a town on top of a hill, with a gorgeous view overlooking a lake called Lago Albano. It’s only 40 minutes train journey from Rome Termini, purchase 30 kilometres train ticket in any Tabacchini and you’re ready to go.

The Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo is a 17th-century papal palace in the city. This place is where the Pope spent most of his summer time, it has the papal garden. Which was recently opened to the public last March 1st 2014. Aside from the beautiful garden, it also offers a breathtaking panoramic view of lake Albano. Wander around its alleyways. Watch the stunning sunset view, while having a relaxing time by the viewing platform. Why not have a glass of wine or a meal by the nearby restaurant.

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Frascati

This historic hill town is easily reach from Termini. Its only 40 minutes train journey. We have been told by a local that this place is the land of the Royals. Evidence of the palace sat on top of the hill, overlooking the whole town. There’s this big garden to explore, adorned with sculptures and stunning fountains. If you’re a sunset fanatic like me there’s a viewing deck by the park or by the road side. Take time to take in the stunning panoramic view of the neighbouring area- it’s so beautifully lite up from afar. And last but not least the famous Frascati Wine. While wandering around the shops, why not try free tasting sample of the local Frascati Wine.

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Tivoli

This place is full of history. Roam around this unspoilt village and go and see the different villas. This village is a quick train ride from Rome. A day trip is highly recommended. Go and explore the beautiful area. A visit to villa d’Este is not to miss out. It offers a great history inside the villa. The grandeur of every room, its interior designs, the paintings on the ceilings is so amazing. Villa d’Este is the most remarkable illustration of Renaissance architecture. The fountains is a unique display of Italians 16th century garden. It offers a vast garden to explore its 500 magnificent fountains.

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Lazio Region offers variety of beautiful places. From hilltop towns to seaside town, there’s so much places to explore but not enough time. Oh Italy im coming back for more!

Skydive: Do Something Amazing/ Anneklien’sSoloTravels&Adventure

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When I was asked to do Tandem Skydive. I quickly say Yes! You may say Am I mad? Definitely No! Im doing it for Crossroads Care Coventry & Warickshire Charity, so its like hitting two birds with one stone. Im doing something amazing for sure. And helping the charity at the same time I’m doing it for adventure. And to challenge myself outside my comfort zone and hurling myself out into the unknown. Because I do believe that on those scary moments you will find your true amazing self. I have done different adventurous activities before such as kayaking, ziplining, helicopter ride and microlight flights. But definitely Skydiving activity is another level of adventure.
The activity was first scheduled on February 7th, we were 25 skydivers on that day. The weather was a bit gloomy and foggy, so we waited till the weather got better. They announced the 1st 5 skydiver participants after 30 minutes . After the 1st batch of skydivers, the weather got worse. It rained and the activity was cancelled, it was rescheduled in 2 weeks time. Most of us were disappointed, but what can we do. Its a weather dependent activity, its better safe than sorry.
The most awaited day has arrived for the skydive. I wasn’t excited on the way because the weather was gloomy, but when we were almost near to the airfield the sun started to shine. My excitement has started to build-up. As soon as we reached the parking area, I was trotting towards the reception to register. A quick briefing was given and after 25 minutes waiting at the cafe, finally my name was called. Soon I was given a suit, hat and googles.

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Then I was ready to go. I was paired with Ralph for my tandem team and Brad my video cameraman for the activity. I soon found out its only me in the group doing the tandem skydive, there were 8 other skydivers, professionals and student skydivers.

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There were no hint of nervousness or what so ever. I was so excited for the activity.

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We were lined up to got into the small plane. Soon enough we were ascending up in the air. I slowly saw the buildings and trees getting smaller and smaller.

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We were finally 13,000 feet high, when we started to edge towards the door. It was Ralph and I last jumped with Brad nearby capturing every minute of the amazing adventure.

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It was sunny but abit chilly up in the air. We flew like a free eagle soaring the sky, then I felt a shuddering moved. It was the parachute opened and our position changed to standing. That was the time, I actually started to enjoy the scenery. We were like glidingin the air. Ralph was stearing to the left and to the right. The view from above is magnificently beautiful. The spectacular landscape from above is so magical. The feeling was so amazing, words can’t really described what I felt during the skydive.

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But one thing is for sure, I will definitely do this again.

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I would  like  to take  this opportunity to thank my family, friends and colleagues who supported me for the success of this endeavour I dealth with. Especially to my Tandem team buddy Ralph and to video/cameraman Brad of Skydiver Sibson at Uk Parachuting. Once again thank you very much to all of you. 

Are you an adrenaline junkie? What adventure would you like to do this year? Are you brave enough to jump high and take the plunge? Step forward and take the risk! Go further than you think you should do, than normally you would, because maybe it will end up being something really rather special that you could never have imagined. Today can be the day that everything changes. Are you ready for your adventure of a lifetime? The choice is all yours.

Magical Venetian Escapades/ Anneklien’sSoloTravels&Adventure

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Venice is regarded as the most popular romantic getaway for lovers. Im here in the hope to find the City of Romance beauty, hidding in the alleyways and its canal districts. As a solo traveller will I appreciate this romantic place? It’s my second time around here in Venice, the first time was with my friend Lourdes with a group tour. As usual we did the touristy activities, walking around tourist spots and ofcourse the gondola ride.

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But this time im armed with a travellers perspective mingling with locals, discovering the most authentic place to eat and trace the unbeaten alleyways and canals of Venice. Let’s wait and see. Oh I forgot to mention, my first agenda was to capture the famously worldwide known Carnevale di Venezia. For the most eagerly awaited celebration each year, the most colourful and extravagant festival. For it’s exhilarating, enthralling day and evening affairs. I wanted to experience! Every year the city explodes with fun and laughter. The huge festive crowds from other parts of the world gathered altogether around the Piazza San Marco and other squares scattered in the city. There are shows, period and flamboyant costume parades, concerts masquerade balls and famous parties organized during the festival on a splendid palaces along the Grand Canal but it comes with a price tag. It is internationally renowned event, celebrated by tourist and local Venetian alike.

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We made our way through the labyrinth of alleyways towards the famous landmarks of San Marco, Rialto Bridge, Grand Canal. I didn’t expect that it would be crowded like this. Most of the tourist and locals are wearing mask to celebrate the festivity. The flamboyant and very colourful costumes of men and women alike are overwhelming. I was amazed and over the moon that im at the right place at right time. Capturing this event is a dream come true. Walking around and admiring the place and clicking away my camera. Life is so sweet – Dolce Vita!

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Walking around this picturesque place is wonderful. Its Renaissance facade displays the distinctive elegance of the old Venetian palazzos.

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The fascinating palace views are stunning, particularly by night. A night photography stroll is worthwhile, capturing the place by night is magnificently beautiful.

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After a whole day spent roaming around Venice mainland. The following day I decided to go island hopping. A day out spent in Murano was a great experience. Roaming around the small village where the famous Murano Glass was originated. The chance to watch how they make artistic designs from scratched was spectacular. I can spend a whole day watching them, moulding amazing glass masterpiece.

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Another great experience was when we went to Burano. Where the infamous Burano laces are made. Watching the old woman in a shop, doing an intricate lace design was so cool. Wandering around the most colourful village I’ve ever seen. It’s so pretty and picturesque. I cant resist capturing every corner of the place. I’ve only seen it on postcard before, standing and capturing this picture perfect place is every photographers dream. Im living the dream!

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To answer the question being a solo traveller, you can still enjoy this place. Once again I’ve fallen inlove to this place the second time around. Venice is not only for romantic getaway. It’s also for solo travellers who enjoys food, architectural design, photography and history. Have you been to Venice? Have you seen the Venice Carnival?

ROME – Revisiting the Land of Romans/Anneklien’sSoloTravels&Adventure

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It was one sunny Sunday morning, eventhough its sunny the temperature is 2 degrees.  Getting up early and feeling cold is not quite my ordinary routine. Although I’m not a morning person I’m excited because I’m headed to Birmingham Airport, to catch my flight going to Rome. This is my third time visit in Rome Italy. The first time was with an organised tour group with my friend, Lourdes. We didn’t have much time there we just went to the Vatican City, entered the Sistine Chapel, roamed around to see the Trevi Fountain and throwing away coins to make our wishes. The second time was visiting my cousin Darrell John who’s currently live and work there. I had a fantastic time and the opportunity to roam around and taking in the views, the architectural building structures are so wonderful.
This time I’m incorporating a family visit and then going to Venice to attend the Carnevale di Venezia. It’s been awhile I had this fascination about the masquerade festival and the timing is pretty good. I had a week off from work, so took the chance and eagerly booked my flight. I was so excited and also applied for a press pass for the event. It is my second time visit in Venice. The first time we were a typical tourist going to the touristy places to see St. Marks square, Rialto Bridge and ofcourse we did the gondola ride.  This time I’m so ecstatic just thinking about the freedom to roam around San Marco capturing the most popular event of Venice, it is truly a photographers dream come true. I will be writing a separate blog for Venice Festival.

I was flying with Monarch Airline the check-in was so stressful, my luggage was 2 kilograms over. So I went away to sort out my bag then when I got back to the other counter I was offered for a free checked-in luggage- Wow, that was a bonus! Soon enough I was going through the passport control. My amazing journey started with a glass of Kirk Royal champagne cocktail. Enjoyingly sipping the bubbly while waiting for boarding.

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After an hour I was headed towards my boarding gate. The 2 hour flight swiftly passedby, we smoothly landed in Fiumicino Airport. I collected my luggage, then purchased my train ticket for Leonardo Express-a fast train to Termini ( Rome Terminal). It was a quick 30 minutes train journey.  My cousin Darrell John met me up at the Termini.

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Its feels so good to be back again in Rome. I was eager to explore the following day, with no concrete itinerary. It was a wonderful day exploring the place on foot and used the Metro train.  My first stopped was in Piazza del Popolo, the famous plaza with twin church and beautiful oblique in the middle adorned with sculptured tiger fountains.

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I then headed off towards the Spanish Steps. Admiring the intricate designed of a boat shaped fountain in the piazza. After fighting my way around with the gazillion tourist to capture beautiful photos. I continued my stroll along the cobbled alleyways and did my usual church visits along the way. And then stumbled upon the famous landmarks The Vatican City, Colosseum, Constantine Arch, St. Angelo Castle.

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On the following day the weather was lovely and sunny. Its a good time to go outside and enjoy the beautiful Rome. The thought of yesterday about mass tourism around the city, made me cringe. So when my cousin suggested a day out, I immediately grabbed the opportunity. My cousin Darrell John and I headed to Castel Gandolfo. A beautiful countryside setting atop of a hill. Offering a splendid view of the landscape and with a magnificent scenic view of a lake, the Lago Albano.
It is regarded as the Pope’s Summer residence, only 40 minutes away from Rome. It’s  a small and charming cobbled village, a quick getaway place when you want to explore the unbeaten path. The place is so peaceful and only a few tourist wandering around. It was utterly a good day out!

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After our exploration we decided to hopped on the train and headed to Frascati.  Another village on top of a hill. We arrived in Frascati about 5pm. We’ve been told that this is residential place of the Royalty, an evidence of the grandeur of a palace, sat on the highest point of the hill overlooking the city. The view was breathtakingly magnificent! It was a right time to watch the sun setting in the background, it’s perfect!
While strolling around the shop don’t forget to try the Frascati Wine. There are shops offers free wine tasting too!

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Four days in Rome wasn’t enough to explore the place. I will come back again but for now im headed to Venice to capture the flamboyant festival. Come and tag along with me on my next journey.

Rome Italy: The City of Fountains and Piazza

Let me take you to the wonderful fountains and piazza around Rome, through my photographic stroll.

Rome wasnt built in just one day! I can honestly say I agree with that. The Roman empire and its city was planned so perfectly. Up to this moment the city is hidding a hundred years of history. The archaeological artefacts says it all. One thing that I’am fascinated every time I visit Rome. The beautiful and grandeur of fountains in every piazza. In every hundred steps there’s fountain. The water coming from the fountain is drinkable. There’s no reason to be dehydrated when exploring the area!

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Continue your stroll in shadows of the ancient, winding cobbled streets. As it welcomes you suddenly to its breathtakingly magnificence of every Piazza. The architectural masterpieces in perfect harmony with the old buildings in the heart of the Eternal City.

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Italy has the most diverse architectural buildings designs from Romanesque, Byzantine style, Rocco Baroque style, Renaissance and Neoclassical styles. I considered its the most picture perfect destination of photographer enthusiasts like me. I wouldn’t ever get tired wandering around and capturing every corner of this place.

Have you ever been to Rome or any part of Italy? Did you like it? Leave your comments and experience below.

Wintry Walk in the Forest

It has been suggested by a local that there’s a nice walking trail around Forest of Dean. With eagerness and full of excitement I decided to go for a drive and for a long walk in the Forest. The weather forecast on that day was intermittent rain and sunshine, but it didn’t stopped me for my wanderings.

From Cheltenham it was 30- minute drive through scenic route passing the narrow countryside lane. The green fields, and rolling hills complete the beautiful landscapes. Soon I was heading towards the forest I continued my drive untill I saw a lake. Then I immediately saw a parking area just across the road which was handy. I put my rain coat on and with camera at hand. I was ready and eager for my nature photography stroll. As I walked through the muddy footpaths trail, there were puddles everywhere. It’s good I was geared up with my wellington boots, That reminded me of my childhood days running under the pouring rain. The only difference was on that trail I walked slowly avoiding to be ending up swimming on the muddy puddles. Not that I don’t like mud, I love facial mud therapy but that’s different story.

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Right, let’s get back to the nature. I continued my walk till I reached the lake. The weather was gloomy and dark, the beautiful view of the lake made it up. There were ducks and swans afloat around the water. Its so picturesque that I cant help to capture the cute creatures.

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I continued my wandering till I stumble upon a nice wooden arch bridge. Under the bridge there were two ledges resembling mini waterfalls. On the other side of the bridge leads to a picnic area. A good place to spend time with friends and families during Summer time.

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After an hour walk I decided to go back to my car and drove to the nearest village. The weather was cold. It was raining that I ended up the Ostrich Pub in Newland Village is nice place to hang around. It seemed that it was the only one pub standing in the village. The charming old interiors , the exposed beams and the big wooden fireplace added to the coziness of the place. A cottagee feel and very homely.

I craved and ordered hot chocote which unfortunately, run out. Instead I had green tea and also ordered homemade wild mushroom soup. The soup was lovely and well seasoned. After the mouth watering soup, the dessert menu choices were tempting so when the waiter asked me if I wanted dessert I quickly ordered sticky toffee pudding with custard. The sponge was soft with calorie-filled sticky caramel sauce, but well earned after a  long walk. Oh well thats my excuse anyway.

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The quirkiness of the place and friendly staff completes the whole dining experienced.  A good spent wintry day out, I must say. Next in line is to have my Spingtime photo walk.

London’s Quirky Market Place

If you want to see the different quirky side of London away from the usual tourist destination like the long queu for the London Eye or the Tower Bridge why not head off to the different market districts scattered around the city. If you want a cheap day out and want bargain souvenirs, vintage clothing and if your an antique collectors, I got a few places to recommend.

Firstly secure yourself a day travel ticket which you can used it on the Bus, Tubes/metro and overground trains, or if you’re staying in London for couple of days purchase an Oyster card. Now you’re good to go.

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Spitalfields Market is a 2 minute walked from Liverpool St. Tube/metro station. This indoor market offers new clothes, vintage designed and some locally produced accessories from rings to earing and necklaces, there are also clothes and shoe boutique in the premises. After your wander there are nice restaurant in the building as well as a nearby cafés, pub and restaurant what ever you fancy. Opens Saturday to Wednesday at 10 am.

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Portobello Market Place
I have been told that this place is beautiful. I didn’t waste anytime to dragged my friend Ching to come along with me, she was abit hesitant about going there because it was gloomy and raining. With some charms and persuasions we headed to the Market. Armed with umbrella and a little bit of enthusiasm to see the quirky place.  I was abit disappointed to be honest there are lots of stalls scattered but the prices are at the high end it seems like your buying product from designers boutiques. We didn’t stay there long instead we went to looked for a restaurant to grab something to eat. But if you’re a vintage chic Fashionista this place is for you. Fur coat anyone? Opens from 8am to 6:30 pm.

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Covent Garden
Is famous for its indoor market that offers different varieties from fruits to clothes as well as some entertainment. It was evening when we got there and some of the stall vendors are already packing their stuff, but we still wandered around and when we reach the South Hall area there’s a local group playing violin from Bethoveen masterpiece and other classical piece, we enjoyed the performance while sipping a cup of tea and swaying along to the music. Opens daily from 9:30 am to 6 pm.

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Last but the not least my favourite market from them all. I have written up a separate blog before about Camden Town,up to now there’s no market has surpassed and meet my expectation.

Camden Market Attracts millions of tourist and locals alike. The variety of exquisite products, food and entertainment it offers, you can easily spend your whole day wandering around the market and sampling the cheap and delicious food there or just head off to the bar and enjoy the river view with a cocktail or beer in hand, or if your feeling romantic with your date why not go on a boat and be serenaded while cruising down the river Thames. Camden Lock and Stables Market open daily from 10am to 6pm.

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So what are you waiting for? Why not book yourself a day or two in the smoke city to enjoy and experience the different market place. Have you been to any of the market mentioned? Did you enjoy your visit? Let me know and leave your comments below.