Monday, 11 August 2014

Italy, Venice

It was quite a long ride to Venice from Tirano. We had to ride to Milan first and then get on to another train to reach our destination.

This was my first glimpse of Venice when we walked out of the train station. I was totally charmed by the scenery before me; each monuments, piazzas, narrow lanes and canals seemed to tell its own history that no one had ever recorded. Venice was indeed a priceless treasure and it was amazing how it had remained intact like it was hundreds of years ago. 

Photo credit to:

It was already four when we eventually settled down, so we could not explore far. We bought the vaporetti (water-taxi) and museum passes, and booked the Doge Palace Secret Itinerary tour. Food in Venice was costly but we highly recommended the gelato at Quanto Basta because we ate its gelato on all 3 days while we were there.

I managed to capture these beautiful Venetian masks along the street. In the past, these masks were worn by the Venetians whenever carnivals were held. The masks help them hide their identity and social status so that they could socialise freely in the carnivals. The masks also help Venetian women to engage in romantic encounters without revealing their identity. However, this tradition sadly came to a stop when Venice was seized by Austria. 

I would say that Venice is one of the most unique city I've ever been to because it is a city of small islands built on a lagoon. Hence, to get from one island to another island, you need to cross a bridge or take a water-taxi. 

Our walk in Cannaregio eventually brought us to the Jewish settlement, known as Campo de Ghetto Nuvo. In the past, this island was designated to the Jews by the Doge (leader of Venice) so that the Jews who were escaping from Nazi persecution could find refuge. Later, more and more Jews settled here due to anti-semitism in other parts of the world.

Once we were here, we wanted to visit Museo Ebraico (Jewish Museum), but it was closed for the day so we walked on.

We noticed that most of the buildings in the Jewish settlement were higher than the rest of Venice. Later, I read that when the Jewish population grew, the Doge did not grant them more land to build new housings. Hence, to accommodate the new settlers, the Jews built new apartments on top of the existing buildings.

The Jewish community grew further and so Ghetto Vechio was then designated to become part of the settlement. Unlike the earlier ghetto, the residents of Ghetto Vechio were formed by the wealthier Jewish community. 

As the night closed in, we had to walk back to our accommodation as we were not familiar with our surroundings yet. For more info on Venice, tune in to my next post. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Switzerland, St Moritz

We reached St Moritz around noon and we only had four hours to spare before we had to hop back on the last train. In that short time frame, the most rewarding activity in St Moritz is to take a stroll along its beautiful lake.

Like a painting, the scenery was a stunning blend of snow, lake, forest and mountain. Look at that yellow building that sat perched atop a small hill, I wish I could rent a room there some day to enjoy the view from its window.

Most parts of the lake was frozen but the water was very clear. We wanted to visit the Berry Museum nearby, but it was closed. It's such a pity because there were a lot of good reviews about the museum.

These were some photos of the houses I took along the streets. I thought the architecture was nice and there was a nice garage on the ground level. Looking at this photo again, I am somewhat envious of its owner for owning such a handsome house.

This was another house I took before we bought some souvenirs. By then, we were quite hungry so we parked ourselves for lunch in a restaurant. We opted for vegetarian and wondered whether the food here was any different from Italian.

Jas was feeling adventurous so she ordered the spinach gnocchi while I still wanted to have something familiar. I ordered the grilled aubergines sandwich instead. Well, the spinach gnocchi came and it looked like it was totally gooey and soaked in rich cream. It must be an amazing course to others but I'm glad I chose to stick to my grilled aubergines sandwich, with extra cheese and tomatoes. Yum Yum.

We snapped several photos in front of the exclusive Badrutt's Palace Hotel, before deciding to walk to the lake again to admire the natural surrounding.

See this banner? It's the banner for the Alpine Ski World Cup! We
 didn't know that the World Cup is held here. This was really a day of discovery for me, a day where my senses were overloaded with beautiful sights, feel, smell, taste and sound.

Friday, 8 August 2014

The Bernina Express

We thought of spending a day or two in Switzerland but finding cheap lodgings was difficult. Eventually, we made plans to visit St Moritz during the day and then return to Tirano in the evening. Taking the UNESCO World Heritage route via Bernina Express, we were glad that our exploration includes a rail adventure up the mountains.

The train climbed from 429 m to 1775 m, which is the highest adhesion railway in the Alps and one of the steepest adhesion railway in the world.

I was excited back then because this was my first time seeing snow-capped mountains with my own eyes. Not only the mountains, I also get to see wild gorges, icy glaciers, soaring bridges and loop tunnels throughout the entire journey. 

And the view from the window...

Spectacular and speechless!!

I have never seen natural snow in my life because it's a tropical climate all year round in Singapore so I took quite a number of snowy landscapes. I wanted to capture them in my memory and because of this, both of us cannot sit still while on the train. We were truly glad that we were the only passengers in that carriage.

Here's a picture of the snow melting under the morning sun.

We passed by many small towns on the Alps. Somehow, this town perks my interests because it reminds me of something. Something which I usually see in Christmas movies.

Seriously, I thought it looked like a town where you would want to celebrate Christmas. Well, in reality, Christmas was really two weeks away so it was no wonder why I thought of Christmas.

Finally, we reached St Moritz. The whole journey took us about 2.5 hours. My next post will be on St Moritz.