Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower

Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower
The view from Amsterdam Tower

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Buongiorno Portofino!

Ngak sabar nunggu cerita keindahan Italia dan ketampanan para lelakinya*

*That’s a comment from my friend saying that she is not patient waiting for my stories on Italy and the good looking Italian men… -J -J

When I was at high school, when cable TV was not popular yet, the most attractive entertainment was the World Cup.  I could stay awake until early morning watching the soccer match.   As it was normally held in June during school holiday, I did not worry waking up late the next morning. The favorite teams were of course the German and Italian teams.  Some of my friends were crazy about Argentinian and Brazilian teams too.

When our team lost, we were broken hearted and sad looking at the miserable faces of our good looking heroes.  1998 World Cup is still fresh to my memory.  The Azzuri lost to Les Bleus in the quarter final by 3-4 in the shootout.  It was so hurtful realizing they did not even go to semi-final!  Anyway, since that World Cup, I found another soccer hero, Zizou…  He led French Les Bleus to win the World Cup that year.

Some of my girlfriends are still crazy about Italian soccer players until now….  It is because of their Italian look-J; tall, dark hair, dark eyes, their beautiful names, and of course their talents. 

High school mindset was still stuck deeply in my subconscious mind on the day I arrived in Italy.  My grown up wish is very simple; to enjoy the original Italian food and Italian coffee in Italy…

Genoa, the pirates boat is across the street in front of our hotel
Buongiurno Genoa!  Thanks for the warm welcome…
Transportation in Italy
It was warm to hot when I was there early summer, the sun, the breeze…  The must have things on my travel list: sun block, face plus hair masks, sunglasses, hat and head scarf!

While driving along the highway between France and Italy, I acted like an observer-J   It was a new experience for an Asian girl to be in European highway across the border…

Road is in good condition, some parts were under maintenance however it was still smooth traffic in overall.  The rest area is available in every 20-30 kilometers. There are many tunnels and bridges!  The more important thing: many snack corners and coffee places!  Cappuccino is my best friend in Italy!  Italy is all about food and coffee…  In my case, let’s blame it on the jetlag too.

Thanks to Ms. GPS, her directions led us to Genoa.  She screwed up when we were looking for hotel address.  We came to small road, and smaller one, and to pedestrian road…  Aarrghhh…

In over an hour drive or 35 km from Genoa, we arrived at a fishing village called Portofino.  The big highway led us to narrow streets heading to such a beautiful village.  My jetlag disappeared!
The things-to-do in the tranquil village is to do nothing!


The small town is to relax, walk around, have lunch at the café with harbor view, look at the harbor and the entire area….  Please note that this can be done the whole day, it is such a gorgeous view…

Then walk again, window shopping and sit again for afternoon coffee/tea or ice cream, day dream and wait for the sunset.


We sat at one of the café for afternoon ice cream.  The young waiters are friendly.  If my girlfriends were there, they might go crazy admiring those two young Italian guys; they are tall, blonde hair, good body, knee shorts at hips -J  Other cute view is the canoeing team at the harbor who was about to practice...

At the other café, there was a group of men sitting in one table, smoking, enjoying wine and chatting loudly in Italian…  What a life…


I am sorry for that lady, her order does not seem to be right.  She has to call the waiter a few times, just to get the right tea and milk”, I said.

Mr. Right responded “That is the way to get attention from the cute waiter, dear”.  Hahaha… he noticed my silly observation!

Souvenir Shop

By the way, there are two things in my observation about Portofino and Italy in general:

1-clean public toilet as they are managed by private individual with 1€ fee.

2-parking fee in the official parking lot is expensive.   There may be some spaces by the street, but we may not do it or be fined by the police.

Portofino, this lovely fishing village has inspired people to expand creativity.  Tokyo DisneySea in Chiba - Japan has a re-creation of the sea side town around their harbor.  Also, there is a full scale replication in authentic detail at the Portofino Bay at Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando - USA.

As it is in my World Cup imagination in the old days, Portofino is a proof that Italy (and Italian) is bloody damn too beautiful and handsome.

Thanks for dragging me to visit this lovely town (in my jetlag)...

Lanjut…? Next…?

Torre pendente di Pisa (Italian)
The Leaning Tower of Pisa (English)
Menara Miring Pisa (Bahasa Indonesia)

….and a glance of Florence or Firenze in Italian.

Friday, September 21, 2012

South of France - and - Monaco

Everyone has different interpretation on anything.  “France = French language = Romantic” to my interpretation.

There is a friend of a friend of a friend who dreams going to France only if she meets the one.  The one has to be Mr. Right with whom she wants to spend the rest of her life with.  She had dated a couple of Mr. Rights, but she has not visited France.  One day, I heard she went to Paris…  #wink #wink – He could be Mr. Right and could not be Mr. Left, huh?

South of France is identic to La Côte d'Azur (French Riviera) to me.   I do not recall any exciting places mentioned in my French text books.  Only this summer, “my” Mr. Right knocked on my head and showed other interesting place there.  

Beautiful Eze


The village of Èze is famous worldwide for the view of the sea from its hill top.  Above the hill, the Mediterranean sea looks magnificent.  Èze definitely falls under “féminin” category according to me.  She is calm and romantic.  She has “masculin” part due to her position in a high cliff 1,400 above sea level.  Let’s talk about this “masculin part” later…

As an Asian girl, I was astonished by the blue-ish of the sea.  Again as default parameter, Bali beach is not that blue.  Mr. Right explained briefly about the brightness of the sky and Mediterranean sea, bla bla bla

The hotel we stayed in Èze is located by the cliff with gorgeous view to the Mediterranean sea and lower area of the village.  It is about 10 minute by car from the village.  The area is an ideal place to relax as it is tranquil and therefore it is romantic. 

Stunning Sunset
Even though it was 30 degree Celsius during the day, it was cool in the evening because of the breeze.  Haiyah, pashmina is required.

Undoubtedly, le Jardin exotique d'Èze or it is also called le Jardin botanique d'Èze must be visited!!  It is situated at 'Rue du Château' in the village of Èze. 

The walk to this garden itself is a unique experience.  There was a sign for shuttle but there was no indication where it is exactly.

Now let’s recall the “masculin part” of Èze that I mentioned earlier?  Voilà!  Walking i.e. climbing up to the top of the garden….  Naik-naik ke puncak gunung, tinggi-tinggi sekaleee…

While climbing up, I could see the exotic plants in the garden such as cactus collections.
The garden was part of the 12th century château which was destroyed in 17th century.  King Louis XIV ordered the destruction of the château on the recommendations of the Minister of War, because of the strategic location of the château, between Villefranche and Monaco.
Ruin of the Chateau
The sweat pays off…  Once I reached the top of the garden, I felt like an Empress conquering a new territory…
The ruin of the château, overlooking the Mediterranean sea, is fascinating... Breathtaking panoramic view of the coast…
Three Goddess at the background
Goddess is looking at the Goddess
At the edge of this ruin, I could see something looks like a small medieval castle in the lower terrain... “That’s Château Eza” Mr. Right said.

Chateau Eza from le Jardin d'Eze
That’s where he took me for drinks before the sunset.  Speechless…  The view is more than words can describe -J I blinked my eyes, the same gorgeous view was still there …  Thank you, I was not dreaming…

Drinks before Sunset
See the Goddess from far...
Pic was taken from Chateau Eza
The sun was still high in summer….  When the dinner time approaching, we thought of having easy dinner nearby le Jardin exotique d'Èze where there are restaurants.  Passing two casual coffee places, we continued walking and found one restaurant full booked on Saturday night -L  The other nearest restaurant is Chateau Eza!

Blessing in disguise, the last table for two was still available.

Fish as the main course
Can't run away from the desserts

Expect the unexpected.  The unplanned Saturday night easy dinner turned out to be fancy, Michelin-starred cuisine; a mix of traditional French and modern dishes.


Most Indonesian knows Monaco by heart.  Both countries have the same colors of national flag!  The red and white flag – but they are different in ratio.  The red stands for courage and the white stands for purity.  Merah berani dan putih suci.  That is the meaning of Indonesian flag.  However, these countries are definitely different in terms of welfare.

Oceanographic Museum @ Monaco
Big baby statue in front of Oceanographic Museum
Tourist train in front of Oceanographic Museum
Cute yello submarine - Oceanographic Museum

Second thing I remember about Monaco is the Late Princess Grace. One day in September, two decades ago, she had a car accident while driving her car in the French side of the border to Monaco. She died the day after.

Church in Monaco
Candles, Church in Monaco

Church in Monaco

Third thing is the casino. Is it what makes this country so damn rich? Other than that factor, this monarchy is very well known as being tax haven.  

Building, Monaco
Last one is the Formula One that is held in Monaco streets. I wish to compare the street condition with streets in my home country, LoL.

Monaco from far away

Having those reasons, I begged Mr. Right to drive me to Monaco which is only 30 minute drive from Èze.

By default, I said to Mr. Right; “So, we’re going to peep at Prince Rainier’s palace?”…. “No, we’re going to see Prince Albert’s palace…” #gubrakkk

I was expecting to see an old palace like old castles I have seen in European movies. However, this Prince’ Palace of Monaco looks newer. Later on, I learned that the original palace was built in 11th century. It underwent many reparations and the last one was when Prince Rainier was in charge.

Guard Palace

The Palace Guard dressed up in white uniform in summer, stand up straight with a gun and sunglasses. I was lucky being able to see this big body tall guard marching around the square in front of the Palace-J

Guard Palace, Prince Palace @ Monaco

Part of the Palace is open for public as Museum. Walk toward the right side of the museum, at the edge of the hill where the cannons are.

The view overlooking the edge is gorgeous, from a distant we can see harbor with many yachts and buildings in the surrounding area.

Yachts, Monaco

Is it helipad? People comes to Monaco by chopper
Beautiful blue ocean & happy eagle flying around the rich country
Indonesia is one of the countries with biggest population in the world, no wonder if I heard my national language a few times in Monaco. A family walking around Monaco streets, some others want to take pics in front of building with similar flag to Indonesia!

Building in Monaco with national flag
National flag of Monaco & an Indonesian

The Old Town Monaco is lovely. One of the restaurants here has Indonesian dish on the menu.

One of the restaurants...

Hello birdie! Do you like living in Monaco?

I told the waiter: "Je suis Indonésienne". He responded: "Vous êtes Indonésienne, Madame? Nous avons des plats indonésiens au menu mais je ne pense pas que vous êtes ici pour mander de la cuisine indonésienne? Non?"

Mango salad and shrimps for appetizer and fish for main course… What’s more important is where we sat… Sitting comfortably under the shade outdoor, facing the small fountain in front of us and looking at the tourists walking around… That’s Europe...

Main course: fish
It is nice to see a glance of Monaco in a day to satisfy my curiosity about this petit pays but very rich.

But, let’s get back to reality, no more peeping to the glamorous life of Monaco.

Lanjut…?  Next?  

Let’s drive on the highway from south of France to neighboring country.