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Venice Travel guide

12th September 2017 - 7 min read

It is such a long overdue post as we went to Italy already went when Summer just started. Now, autumn is about to roll. Though, this would be the right timing to look back to remember how beautiful summer in Italy was.

Obviously Venice took part in our overall Italy backpacking trip. What are the reasons not to? Every cities in Italy has its own charm. But I have to say the experience in Venice was very distinct considering the city itself is super special. What captivated me the most was the richness of the water section, the labyrinth, and the local people.

As soon as we were reaching Venice by train from Florence, the huge open water field welcomed us in the view. Some said that Venice is touristy place and highly busy with its touristic activities in all corners, and some said that it’s relaxing to be there. This is why it’s important to travel- so that we can all have our own experience and form our own opinion about a destination. The fact is – Venice is both a busy and relaxing, because all the local people are relaxed. Damar and I spent our days walking around the island discovering various square, canals, and labyrinth stop. In total, we stayed for 3 Days 2 Nights.

        What to see

  • Santa Margherita square – It’s a very local part of town, near the university.  My Italian friend suggested to give the “Ciccheti” (typical snacks from Venice) and spritz a try. Since I do not drink alcohol, I only enjoyed the Ciccheti and a cup of coffee. Ciccheti includes tiny sandwiches, bruschetta, plates of olives, and other small servings food. In here, make friends with the local, they will have lots of stories to share. IMG_4704IMG_4707
  • San Polo – Small district with interesting sight, including the Rialto Bridge. San Polo is the smallest of the six sestieri of Venice.  It is one of the oldest parts of the city.
  • Frari – This is one of the greatest church in Venice with lots of artworks inside. Unfortunately, we did not get the chance to enter this beautiful architecture. We only admired from afar which gives another feeling of satisfaction.
  • Basilica di San Marco – I am confident to say that this cathedral is the most famous in Venice and perhaps the biggest. You cannot miss this building. It is so special that you would stop completely and give your admiration by staring closely. They said it’s one of the best examples of Byzantine Architecture.
  • St. Mark’s Square or Piazza San Marco – It is often known as just ‘La Piazza’. Just take a seat and enjoy people-watching, that is what we did. Although, the heat was quite intense that day so we could not stay right under the sun too long. The surrounding buildings are breathtaking. It’s a busy and often crowded place. To enjoy the best views, go as early as possible. Or another way to enjoy it is a stroll after dark with  music in the square etc.  IMG_4696 IMG_4820
  • Le Zattere – It’s along the water. Just walk while eating ice cream and enjoy the view. Map of Le Zattere venice IMG_4663

    What to ride

  • On foot! Literally!
  • Vaporetto – One-way tickets cost €7.50. The service is efficient and punctual, yeats boats on main lines get full fast and can be overcrowded during peak season.

        What to eat

Try traditional dishes from the Veneto – like oca in onto (goose in its own fat) or freshwater lagoon fish done in saor at Antica Adelaide, get the best polpette (meatballs) in Venice at Ca d’Oro (Alla Vedova), and a strong selection of Venetian antipasti, including raw sea food, at Vini da Gigio.

The lagoon city has a long and glorious culinary tradition based on fresh seafood. A writhing, glistening variety of sea creatures swims from the stalls of the Rialto and Chioggia markets into local kitchens. Going with the flow of la cucina veneta requires a certain spirit of openminded experimentation. Not everybody has eaten granseola (spider crab) before, or garusoli (sea snails) or canoce (mantis shrimps), but Venice is definitely the place to try these marine curios. Go to Ae Oche for pizza

When we arrived, it was quite raining and dark already. While we did not really want to go out, we were really starving. We decided to go to a very good rating Pasta take away restaurant in trip advisor – Dal Moro’s Fresh Pasta

IMG_4748Ae Oche

IMG_4650Having black squid spaghetti in Dal Moro


  • Get lost as much as you can. 

    Map is useless anyway. To be honest, I do not get the map nor how the house is numbered because it does not make sense to me. But if I was asked what to change in Venice, that is certainly not it. It makes Venice very special. As long as you find some squares, you are fine 😉

  • No gondola ride. Merely enjoy it from the surface. 

    Besides it is expensive, sometimes you get traffic jam in the water too. I personally prefer to take a picture of the view with other people riding it rather than myself 🙂

Hope it is helpful! Have fun in Venice!

Culinary Europe Italy

2 Days 1 Night in Florence

20th August 2017 - 6 min read

 Damar and I went merely for 2 days as a part of our Italy Backpacking trip which you can get the tips here. And surely 2 days are not enough if you want to take your time and enjoy its full beauty. Therefore, we went to get a quick look for the full experience. A must do if you only have short time!

By the way, Florence is one of the most walking friendly city. Everything is a walking distance so we did not spend any thing for transportation. YES!

Some of these tips I received from my Italian colleague, who used to study in Florence for a few months. Thus the place surely is pocket friendly (Indonesian: ramah kantong hahah) yet has been approved by local.

We arrived in the evening, we initially wanted to make it to the Hill (Piazzale Michelangelo) for the sunset but we were too late because we also wanted to go to the famous bridge. Well I guess, one has to choose. If you have extra days, it would be perfect.

Place to eat:

  • Go to the San Lorenzo market – a food market where they sell great Italian products and there are also a couple of places where you can have lunch. Just randomly visit, it’s cheap and nice.
  •  Trattoria Mario near San Lorenzo – according to my Italian friend is also a fantastic place for lunch. You share the table with the other guests and it’s very simple but food is really really good. Apparently the Dutch queen liked it too and she had lunch there when she went to Florence. I do not think she shares table though.
  • Near S. Lorenzo (via S. Antonio) there’s another place called Bistrot la Capannina. It is a very good place for lunch, especially if you want a good pasta. We went here for dinner, I took the gnocchi which is so good. Their portion is huge. It’s a good value of money.
  • Near S. Margherita church there is a tiny place called Da’ Vinattieri. They have good wine and good food. They have only one table with stools but it’s nice to get a glass of wine and stand outside with all the locals.
  • According to my Italian friend, the best Italian gelato is from Perche’ No in via de’ Tavolini and she is true! Totally recommended! Take anything classics, it’s heaven!Florence Italy Trip Tips

Place to go:

  • Ponte Vecchio, the name sounds strange but all of you must know this one. It’s the famous bridge of Florence. It’s within walking distance with the center. You should go there during the day and before sunset as we talk about different experience. You will feel the romance of the city by the jazz/blues music played by the locals in that bridge. If you want some extra cheesiness, people sell red roses are also known in there, buy one for your loved one 😉
  • Florence Italy Trip Tips Florence Italy Trip Tips
  • Piazalle Michelangelo, you will see a perfect panoramic view of Florence from this hill. It’s quite a hike, but super worth it. During a hot day, you don’t want to forget a bottle of water, sunscreen and sunnies. It was 25 degree in April when we were there. It maybe cliche tourist stop but it never fails to catch the heart of those who walk the path to the top. Prepare your camera and best smile. Florence Italy Trip Tips
  • Go to Piazza della Signoria late at night when all the tourist are gone. It’s empty and majestic. Such an incredible place when it’s empty. This is the L-shaped main square in Florence. It’s in the city and nearby Ponte Vecchio. Florence is a distance friendly city. So don’t worry, you will not miss it..
  • Another must see according to my collegaue is the Boboli Garden if the weather is nice. Too bad we did not have enough time to make. But next time, we definitely will.
  • Duomo di Firenze, you’ll be captivated with this gothic-styled cathedral that was built in 1296. It’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • San Lorenzo Market this is where you can find leather markets from all qualities. Be careful in choosing the real good leather. I will post a tips in choosing real leather from this market. This is sort of a traditional market, yet in general Florence is the place of a good leather product. Don’t hesitate to stop to one of the stores in the center. They are usually cheaper than retail store in other countries.


Europe Italy

Italy Backpacking Trip Tips

13th August 2017 - 7 min read

Italy trip this time is quite different as we decided to go backpacking. What I mean by going backpacking is literally going around, moving from one point to another carrying a proper backpack. Damar and I wanted to have a different concept this time. Also, because we aimed to reach 5 different areas of Italy. We thought it would be much more easily-mobile with a carrier in our back.

We think, Italy is quite good and easy going for backpackers. The weather is nice (we make sure we go in the perfect timing also). With a nice weather, we do not have to carry bulky clothes around!

I really love Italy! I think every time I go there, I just easily fall in love all over again. It is such an excellent country to visit. With its great food, beautiful landscape, fabulous coffee, friendly locals.

Hope this article will help learning some tips and tricks you need when travelling to Italy as well as some cost saving.

When to visit Italy

Summer period will be considered as the highest peak in Italy, everybody wants to get away from its own country and find a large exposure of sunlight. Summer in Europe happens in between May-August yet the hottest month will be August. However, people tend to forget that Italy is generally warmer than the rest of other countries in Europe due to its geographical location. Italy is in the South of Europe so for people from West Europe (like we are), no need to wait until Summer to visit.

We went to Italy in April, when the weather in Italy was just about right. Actually, avoid to go to Italy in the hottest period. It will not be that comfortable to carry around your backpack 🙂 And plus, plane ticket will be much cheaper 😉

Find a really good carrier

As we did also hike during our Italy trip, we chose a light backpack that covers all of our needs as well as good bone structure. I chose the smaller one, that Damar would carry in daily run (for the hike). Mine is from Fjallraven, which I am very happy about. The 32 liter size is perfect for a week trip and also for me who is just 155 cm tall. We looked for the material that is sustainable with recycled and organic garment. Damar got the North Face Terra 50. We got them in a very good deal (so lucky!).

What ever the carrier is, make sure it has the rain cover / water resistant, has a light bones yet solid. It is a good investment for your trip and your body structure, so more expense is worth it!


Backpack Trip to Italy Tips

Backpack Trip to Italy Tips

Packing light

Bring one jacket and sweater, in case for any change of weather. It’s always possible!!! Yet pack the essentials, I usually bring 2 pants, 1 dress, and several t-shirts or light tops. Andddd done!! Don’t forget your sunblock and coolest sunnies. Backpack Trip to Italy Tips

Plan and Budget your daily activity

Italy is considerably affordable and cheaper, yet it could be very expensive if you get lost in the tourist area and just pop into a random places. I don’t mind paying more for a quality and taste that I already researched, yet no no no for a random drop-in. Quick eats like pizza by the slice, paninis, and light snacks will cost between 2-7 EUR. In Italy, there’s a sit down fee that covers service and bread on the table.

How to save cost in Italy

  • Drink the tap water – Ask for tap water or you will automatically get expensive bottled water included on your bill. Later on, you can refill your bottles of water at any of the drinking fountains throughout Italy. The water is fine to drink. You’ll be no different than the locals.
  • Get a city pass – If you are going to do lots of sightseeing, these will give you discounts to the top museums, tours, and attractions. They are priced to save you money when compared to buying separate tickets.
  • Go on a free walking tour – This is a great way to learn the history behind the places you are seeing and to avoid missing any must-see stops.
  • Eat panini – Eating out every meal in the popular cities of Italy is an expensive affair. Buy paninis and pizza by the slice for just a few dollars, and save a lot of money.
  • Buy RESERVED trein ticket online in advance –  For regionale train (unreserved seats), there is no difference in the fare whether purchased in advance through the Trenitalia website or locally at the train station on the day of travel. If you will be using the RESERVED Trenitalia trains (Freccia or Intercity), there IS a difference between the advance purchase promotional fares (which you can purchase online as an electronic ticket through the Trenitalia website) and the same day fare (full fare) purchased at the train station (in the form of a traditional paper ticket). Their advantage is that you get to the station wait for your train, board and the conductor will eventually come by to scan your e-ticket. Hassle free!!!!!!!

Bring some cash with you

Usually I don’t bring any cash with me, except some coins I have in the depth of my purse. In Italy, you have to pay the tourist tax in the place you stay. And not all places have the machine to pay with your national card.

Backpack Trip to Italy Tips Backpack Trip to Italy Tips


Italy Travel Guide


Europe Italy Travel


23rd April 2017 - 12 min read

Damar and I bought a ticket to Italy long time ago and had been waiting ever since. Neither of us had never been to Cinque Terre area, hence the excitement. Cinque Terre literally means Five Lands, comprise the five small coastal villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso located in the Italian region of Liguria. They are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List (source: Wikipedia).

Image result for cinque terre map

Cinque Terre Map

Our plane landed in Milan at around 12 and as I had never been to Milan, we immediately headed off to Duomo di Milano. We just roamed around there, took picture, and people-watching. Three hours are quite enough time to get a little taste of the city of Milan. After being a full tourist, we went back to station to catch our trenitalia for our Cinque Terre ride. We booked it in advance and we recommended it as it is much cheaper!

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The train was amazingly comfortable, no WIFI though, but really nice with arranged seats. Once we entered Liguria area, we noticed that we often passed by dark tunnels. And as soon as reaching the coast area, all I saw was mesmerizing and breathtaking view. We were lucky that the sky was blue and very clear. We could totally enjoy the nature landscape through the train.

How long to stay?

Three nights we stayed in which actually you could also do less. But we did not want to hurry. For some people 1 or 2 nights are enough. Actually you can also go explore all the lands in one day if you go by train. But we planned to hike and take the high road 🙂 This way you experience the nature more. If you do everything in one day, I don’t think you would be able to explore as much.

Where to stay?

We decided to stay in Corniglia as it is the most uncommon and it is located in the middle of the five lands. We thought it would be easy to 2 lands in one day and the other 2 lands the next day. T

Damar read an article stating that hiking from Corniglia to Vernazza is better than the other way around due to the amount of ascending. That is another reason why we chose to stay at Corniglia. It is a beautiful, quite and less tourist place to stay.

I stayed at Cristiana’s place, in which you can check the airbnb here. It was only the small bedroom available, thus we got that one and it’s more than sufficiently equipped. It is included breakfast and it is SO GOOOOOD! Try the chocolate croissant if you go there. The view is everywhere beautiful too.


Colazione (breakfast): You should try the pasticceria (pastry) of Italian. The creme, chocolate and apricot are the typical taste of croissant that makes it different than others. I love the creme or more like fla, Damar loves the melting chocolate. However, after tasting melting chocolate from Cristiana’s place, we had a new standar of delicious chocolate croissant. We tried so many times but we could not find anything better. Besides pastry, you should have coffee, no matter if it is espresso or capuccino. It is a perfect combination with the sweetness from the pastry. Be careful when you order “latte”, as they will give you milk. You should say it caffe latte instead.

Pranzo (lunch): Many places are closed during lunch time as it is considered as the most important meal of the day. Like in Spain, Italian people also have ‘siesta’ (an afternoon nap) after having lunch. Some schools allow the students to go home for lunch. However, nowadays they can also just go to closest Trattoria (an Italian place where simple food is served) or Pizzeria (Pizza place).

Panini is one of a good choice to have lunch, however me as an asian, bread is not enough as a meal. I always prefer pasta and my favorite is Gnocchi (potato pasta)! Cinque Terre is the best place that serves seafood. Thus, while there make sure you treat yourself with a very fresh, good-taste seafood. I must say the squid and muscles are the best! We love fried fish and seafood street way too!

A typical Italian though, they tend to really have a big meal. With first course (pasta or rice), second course (meat or fish), side dish (vegetable or salad) and dessert (fruits or sweets).

Cena (dinner): Italian dinner is quite light (soup, broth, salad or cold meat), but we cannot go light! We always end up with either seafood pasta or big pan of seafood pizza!

Check out my videos for some food footage 🙂

What to pack?

I will suggest to go there around Spring time as it is not that hot that you can actually enjoy the weather although sometimes it is quite unstable as it’s a transition period. Thus this will revolve around Spring’s needs. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Bring hiking or running shoes for the hike! And also some socks obviously!
  • Make sure to always bring sweater or warm stuff in case cloudy weather, it gets chiller and chiller, especially at night
  • Beach towels OR make sure your stay provides beach towels. Mine does 😉
  • Swimsuit or bikinis!
  • Sunblock! it can be really hot during hike especially when the sun is above your head
  • Leather jacket and umbrella
  • Bottles, to refill with mineral water
  • CASH! they prefer cash than card, and it is just easier. I always prefer cash when travelling, easier to give ourself budget
  • Books, podcast download, earphone – for the train ride and beach



Activities Price/ person Calculation Total 
Easy Jet flight ticket return 50 eur 50 eur
Train ride airport to Station 12 eur 12 eur
Train ride from Milan to Corniglia 15.4 eur 15.4 eur
Airbnb 46 eur 46 eur x 3 days 138 eur
Hiking entrance ticket Corniglia – Monterosso including train ticket to return to Corniglia 16 eur 16 eur
Return train ticket from Corniglia – Riomaggiore 8 eur 8 eur
Food 10 eur 10 eur x 6 lunch dinner 60 eur
Mineral water 2 liter 1,5 eur 1,5 x 3 days 4,5 eur
Total 284 eur

Five Villages, from West to East

Monterosso (midday)

It is the only land in Cinque Terre that has a proper beach. We arrived and decided to sit by the beach and take a nap. We thought that was the only beach there. After taking enough nap, we continued walking and voila there was another bigger beach nearby the station!! So we spread our beach towel and continued enjoying the water and sun. Buy some fried fish that was served in a cone, also the anchovies is the best in this area!! Monterosso is the most accessible by car.


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Vernazza (midday)

It is the fishing village of the area. There is a famous church called the Santa Margherita d’Antiochia which was built in 1318. It’s built on a rock right in front of the sea. You can just simply enjoy the view and have some snacks by the water.



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Corniglia (morning or midday)

Its very tranquil and it is best place to stay in my opinion. There is a sea-facing terrace in the corner and nice small alleys that you should visit!



Manarola (late afternoon)

The hiking trail from Corniglia was closed unfortunately, thus we took train. Make sure that you go there before sunset. The sunset view is killer! And to experience before sunset is even better, you would see the slow movement of the sunset. There is a cemetery uphill to visit and you can also wait for the sunset over there. There are also cafes in the below layer hill, and you can enjoy the sunset while listening to music and sip some drinks.


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Riomaggiore (morning or midday)

It is the largest and apparently the ‘capital’ of Cinque Terre. The buildings lined down very steeply and in a very vivid color (the brightest compared to others). It’s best to enjoy during the day when the sun is above your head. I do think there are more rocks by the water than other lands. You can buy panini nearby,  we do not remember the name but it is pretty obvious as people always line up. Bring the panini and eat it on the rocks. You can go to the cafes and enjoy a sip of coffee and people watching. The center is just a walking distance from the small ‘beach’. You should wear colorful dress to look good in a picture 😉



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Europe Italy

Naples, Italy Trip Suggestions

28th December 2016 - 6 min read


As my parents were in town, Damar and I had made some plans to take them somewhere Europe. But as I could not take that many days off, we were looking for options that allow us to explore for 1 week and enough. And the choice fell to Naples, an old city in the Southern part of Italy. This was going to be my second trip to Italy, but certainly my first trip to Italy with Damar and more over my parents. My dad always has a special interest in history especially Islamic, after last year visiting the Andalusia to walk on the history trail, this time should be a somewhat a good resume to the last trip. And for me, I was so excited to eat the PIZZA NAPOLITANA in its birth place!

Find the suggestions below:

  1. FLIGHT TICKET: We purchased the ticket from a low fare airline (EASY JET) for 92 euro/person. We decided not to buy extra baggage because everything is considered cheaper in Italy (compared to the Netherlands) and we could just do our groceries over there (SUPER IMPORTANT! especially with mama coming along, she demands some home food cooking that herself will cook :p). It also allow us to feel a little bit more blended to the real Neapolitan. Plus it was super summer time thus all of our clothes were thin and light. Our ticket got us directly to International Airport Napoli Capodichino, we arrived at around 8 pm. Once landed, we took ALIBUS and head to the central railway station for 3 Euros (one way ticket)
  2. PHONE, WIFI, INTERNET: For those who want to keep WIFI, you can purchase the EU-bundle which is 5 euro/day. Or just turn the roaming on when you need  it the most. The city WIFI does exist but unreliable.
  3. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION/RENT CAR: We have decided to walk everywhere and a little bit of metro when needed. At first I was a little worried for my mother, but she made to all of the places so well. I think one of the privileges to be in Europe is that everything is easily accessible and pedestrian friendly. I wanted to enjoy the street life and the building that we might miss by taking the subway. Also some places we wanted to target in the city is really walking distance, so I was not being mean to my mom, but because I know it is reasonable for them. The traffic is quite crazy in the city due to the lack of discipline (similar with Indonesia) and the massiveness of motorcycle. It is just not the most convenient place to drive. I understand that Damar prefers to be stress free by not bearing the responsibility to protect the car and us, plus looking for parking lot.
  4. FOOD: Italian food is all bellissimo!! However, be careful to buy in the touristic center because the price can be so different and with average taste (taste like an instant pasta sauce, which is still delicious for me but it could have been much better with the price). The must try is L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele and order the PIZZA! all is good and made in the stoned oven. It is so simple yet super delicious! The portion is HUGE so you can share with 2 people. Depends on how big your appetite and your stomach capacity is. HAHA. I could eat one by myself but mom and dad shared. There were only 2 choices there, which were NAPOLETANA (tomato and garlic) AND MARINARA (tomato, garlic, and herbs). Both are good! I don’t prefer either one. The seafood of south of Italy is fresh and tasty. I bought fishes and octopus in the local market to be processed at our airbnb, it was just amazing. Simply pressed lemon on top of it and some veggies or rucola. You should try octopus salad (insalata di polpo) if you go to a restaurant. Sooo good and fresh!!! no fishy taste at all. Things that you have to try as well is the dessert, Sfogliatella. Sfogliatella means “small, thin leaf/layer”, as the pastry’s texture resembles stacked leaves and it is filled with cream filled.
  5. ACCOMMODATION: We stayed at airbnb with the owner named Carlo, he is an old italian man who does not really speak english. The house works perfectly and the woods there are from hundreds of century ago. I feel like seeing an art gallery as there are old elements in the house interior in every corner.
  6. MUST PLACE TO VISIT: Mount Vesuvius, Pompei, Capri Island (Blue Grotto, Capri and Anacapri – a day), Amalfi Coast, Naples National Archaeological Museum, and Toledo Metro Station.

And below are the videos I made that sum up our holiday.

DAY 1-2 (Mount Vesuvius and Pompei)

Day 3 (Naples National Archaeological Museum, and Toledo Metro Station plus the street around it)

Day 4 (CAPRI Island)