Verona, Italy


Ahh…Verona, the city that makes Romeo and Juliet historical figures. Here stands Juliet’s golden statue, with people touching her breast.


The main square. There’s a market there, but of course the main attractions are all The Tragedy of Romeo & Juliet related. All very close anyhow.


I went just because “why not” and to take some photos so the next time I teach Romeo & Juliet, I can show them to my pupils. Nevertheless, it was a surprisingly decent place to be. Brilliantly designed structures throughout.


Once again, a river.


Juliet’s tomb. It’s a museum and I didn’t go in as there’s a charge and I’m pretty sure Juliet never actually existed.

There’s a Shakespeare bust. And China built something outside, calling it the Chinese Romeo and Juliet.


The crown jewel of the town, a coliseum that’s well-maintained. Somehow there’s a dismantled giant abandoned outside of it.


Juliet’s balcony. Allegedly. Herds of people get into it, pasting love notes all over the place. This was taken from a shop opposite to it. Not that many people, comparatively anyway, discovered this place.


A castle thingy next to the river. Out of this world.


Verona desperately trying to be Her Majesty’s realm.


Venice, Italy


St Mark’s Square – one of the most visited sites in Europe.


Venice was absolutely beautiful. Sure, it’s got tourists everywhere and isn’t the easiest place to navigate (many dead ends); but the whole place was simply amazing.


The canals were all right.


The real Bridge of Sighs.


What a fantastic square. Too bad I couldn’t take a good photo of it.


The food was relatively cheap – you can expect around 12 Euros for a set meal, and just a bit more for a (not very good) buffet.


The church was unique. Byzantine and all that. Actually purchased a 3D puzzle.


Shylock’s Bridge. Can confirm there’s more than one Jewish person there now.


The city’s quite walkable, although it’s likewise possible to take a water taxi or a water bus.


First thing you see getting out of the train station.


Speaking of the train…Make sure you’ve got the correct Venice station! There are three.


Siena, Italy


The city wall, the sign of an ancient military might.


I didn’t even know Siena existed before my Couchsurfing host in Florence recommended it. It turned out to be my favourite of the three in the area I visited (Florence, Pisa, Siena). It’s not as packed, and I did like the buildings better.


It was literally built on a hill so visitors had to keep walking up and down. But it’s not too bad. It’s also got loads of rings to chain people to.


From Florence, it’s exceedingly easy to get there by train. The fact that it’s quite cheap was a big plus.


Whilst everywhere you go, you see something, it’s remarkably easy to navigate (with the exception of the synagogue, which was sorta a blink-and-you-miss-it type of thing). Their dear tourism office has multiple guides on offer, suggesting to you where you should go based on the time you have.


The urban area stretched beyond the old city walls, although they weren’t anything to brag about.


This was a curious spot. I rather liked this church, and I thought it looked best when I was right there with it; but this was the best place to take a photo of it.


See? Not very impressive from this angle.


There’s a sportswear shop that claims to have the best view of the city. The view was fine, but the windows weren’t that big and weren’t that clear so it wasn’t worth going…


The church, supposed to be the main tourist attraction.


It was relaxing just chilling in there.

Pisa, Italy


Question to The Queen of Pop Madonna: If “Italians do it better”, why is the tower not straight?


Obligatory photo.


The most iconic landmark in the town of Pisa – the leaning tower. There’s no evidence that Galileo was up there dropping balls.


But Pisa wasn’t just the tower. Or just the square. I took a bus (£2) straight to the square, then I walked back, passing through the entire town.


Although of course the tower was wonderful. And souvenirs were 1 Euro a piece.


There’s a river, which seems to be some sort of a staple for an Italian town.


One difficulty was taking a selfie that would show the “leaning” of the leaning tower.


The most interesting structure outside of the square. It’s basically empty inside but it’s an odd-looking church next to the river.


The Medici family liked this.


Another big square.


The whole square as you walk in.

Florence, Italy


It was 40 degrees!


Florence, a historic capital of Italy, the ancient centre of their art and culture.

It’s a pretty city, and uniquely Italian, but I didn’t find it that interesting. I guess I’m more of a landmark kinda guy and there just isn’t any apart from David in Florence.


His idea on how to conduct princely business influenced Shakespeare quite a bit.


Another thing that’s affected by enjoyment was that some street vendor hit me with a painting.

I was walking around and asked how much the paintings cost. Then I said I’d think about it and walked away. That guy kept following me, and at one point I asked him to please stop following me, then he hit me with the painting!

So I guess what I experienced in Argentina might’ve come from Italian culture. 😛


Fake David with his micropenis.


The best view of the city is on a hill on the other side of the river.


I also tried the steak. Sorry but I didn’t find it anything special…


Vienna, Austria


Vienna, the capital of a landlocked WWI-starting empire, birthplace of Mozart, resting place of the second and final Emperor of México.


It’s not a bad place to be, but honestly quite average. If you have been to Prague, Paris, and Athens, there’s no point visiting Vienna but for seeing some Vienna people.


The golden hall has absolutely nothing to do with Mozart, as I was told buying a Mozart bust from a souvenir shop opposite to it.


The streets/roads were all quite narrow so it was difficult to take good photos of buildings.


It’s easy to navigate – you just basically go from one point to another, unless you want to go somewhere farther away from the city centre.


Basically like the Radcliffe Camera, except it didn’t feel magnificent with all the buildings around it.


One good thing was that there were a handful of palaces and they were real palaces, not like the tiny ones in Peterhof or the fake ones in Mexico.


Vienna really wants you to know Mozart was born there.


This was a hall where Mozart performed when he was a child. It’s a very small hall and didn’t look old or anything, but I guess what could he expect when he was a little child?


There were some musical performances, singing, and dancing. The internet will tell you it’s a tourist trap, and in a way it is, since you may be expecting something grand. But then that’s just wrong anyway. Mozart wasn’t that famous when he was a young child.

The performances were all right. Just make sure you do bargain.


Opposite to it is this palace.


It was quite hot but there were some water fountains (huge queues).


One of the two places I thought was worth going – the imperial crypt.

There were numerous important historical figures, including this giant one for Her Imperial Majesty Empress Maria Theresa, The Holy Roman Empress, The Queen of Bohemia, The Queen of Hungary, The Queen of Croatia, The Queen of Germany, The Archduchess of Austria etc.


What I was really looking forward to was this, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, Archduke of Austria. Apparently, many Mexicans wanted an emperor. 


One of the only four with offerings. His Imperial Majesty Emperor Franz Joseph was the one who declared war on Serbia after gaining support from Germany, and thus started the First World War.


The church near where I stayed. Near here was Dr Freud’s museum, another place that’s worth visiting. I’m not a fan of Freud, but it was informative.

Long queue in the morning.


The parliament complex was wonderful, but difficult to take a good photo of.


A university building.

Delphi, Greece


Another day, another day trip.


At the peak of the oracle of Delphi. Stadium of an ancient games equal to the Olympics. Unrelated to the oracle.


The market at the entrance of the oracle. There used to be statues. 


Delphi was the centre of the world according to the Greeks. Here at the oracle, there was a female prophet who would tell visitors about their future/answer questions from them using vague language that could mean anything.

She was the most powerful woman in the classical world and was originally a role filled by virgins. But one guy tried to rape one of the oracles and so the position was from that point on occupied by older women.


The theatre. Obviously people need to cleanse their soul as a part of the process.


The treasury. The only building remained somewhat intact.


Greek Islands (Hydra, Poros, Aegina)


The tower on Poros. It’s the attraction of this very small island. A short walk from the port.


Hydra as it welcomed me.

One of Greece’s major attractions is the Aegean Sea and its islands. There are many options – some farer from the capital (some even very close to Turkey), some around them. If you want to get to a far one, such as the most famous one, you will need more than a day trip.


I climbed up one of the hills to look at Hydra. It wasn’t very big.


To get to these three islands (and they are the obvious options due to their proximity to Athens), you can either go for a “cruise” tour (pictured) or take speed boats yourself.

You should definitely go on your own. The “cruise” tours are not worth it.

First of all, it wasn’t really a cruise. I’ve been on many cruises, that wasn’t one. It’s got almost nothing but a boutique (that not only had a very limited selection, but only for women) and some cafeterias.

Secondly, it’s incredibly boring. The only time there was entertainment on the “cruise” was on our way back to Athens. Other times, people were just trying to sleep on the sofas. The Wi-Fi didn’t work (and they were aware of it) and there’s no substitute to that.

Thirdly, it practically included nothing. No tours were included on this – you either had to pay extra to join the excursions, or you could walk around on your own. On Aegina, that would be impossible. No drinks were included. You couldn’t even drink free tap water. No snacks or refreshments, of course.

Finally, the included lunch was crap. The buffet had an extremely limited selection with merely two main dishes to choose from – chicken, which was all right; along with extraordinarily poor fish. The kind of white fish that tasted exactly like they were stuck together with glue. Oh, and no drinks.

So the “cruise” “tour” was actually just transport with lunch. Why would you pay for it?


The main attraction was Aegean, the so-called “first capital of modern Greece”. Its claim was about as legit as claiming Kowloon, Hong Kong was a “historic capital of China” due to a Song Emperor allegedly fleeing to Kowloon.

I’m not asking you not to go, I’m just saying you should not expect anything more than the above. There’s one archaeological site, which was nice. You would have to get transport or a tour to get there.


The other main attraction was this Byzantine-style church, which was actually built relatively recently.


The one in Athens was apparently modelled after this.


Hydra was the other highlight. It was a nice island and you can walk around looking at the buildings.


And the sea.


You can’t swim there though. To swim, you need to pay extra and go on a swimming excursion.


Athens, Greece


Greece, the birthplace of European civilization. The beginning of the sciences, the arts, philosophy, and democracy.

Do you know where the idea of using an owl to represent a teacher came from? Athens. The owl was a symbol of the Goddess Athena, who represented wisdom.


First thing first, the Acropolis.

It towered over the entire city centre and so all one needed to do was to walk up the hill. You wouldn’t need to climb to one of the other hills for a photo like this (indeed that’d be a bit too far), as the best spot was actually very close to the entrance to it (halfway up the hill), with a massive group of rocks acting as a platform for the perfect picture.

This was pictured from another angle though.


This was taken from the giant pile of rocks.


Zeus’s temple from afar.


The other side was under construction.


A Greek-style theatre, one of the two near the Acropolis.


A functioning theatre – I believe this was of a more Roman style, as there was a wall blocking the view.


One of the more complete structures in the Acropolis.


On the left, it’s female statues acting as pillars.


The back of one of the most recognizable buildings in the world.


A clearer view of the girls.


There was no theatre in town (one would have to go for an afternoon trip that ends at 2am or something), so I settled for an opera. It’s not on every day so you’d have to go check. It’s possible to just go before 9pm and buy a ticket. Maybe not the best seats. Free seating based on zones.

Awfully hot.


It was a pretty terrible experience actually. I couldn’t really figure out what they were doing in the story, up there the people were very small, there’s no English subtitles (it’s all in Greek), it’s very hot, the seats were very uncomfortable, and the speakers didn’t always work…Very often the singing just got cut off.

I left after two hours during the intermission.


In Athens, you can either choose to buy the tickets separately, or you can buy a combo that includes seven sites (you can visit each of them once), all but one in the downtown within walkable distance.

This was a big marketplace back then. It now houses several things including this museum. It’s got plenty of busts.


Climbing up the hill, you see this.


After walking for around 15 minutes, you get to the supreme god’s temple.


Or rather, what’s left of it…


View from another hill.


Hadrian’s Library as you walk up to the Acropolis. This closed at 3pm.


The first stadium of modern Olympics. Skip if you don’t have the time or the will to get there.


The observatory on one of the nearby hills.




Tower of the Winds. The Radcliffe Observatory tower in Green Templeton College Oxford was modelled after this.

Not very tall or elaborated, but then it’s Roman.


If you aren’t getting the combo, it may not be worth going at all, especially when you can see the whole thing from outside the gates.


Hadrian’s Library. I don’t get why it’s closed so early when everything else was 5pm or 8pm.


The hill opposite to the Acropolis.


I took an Uber from the centre to what’s left of Plato’s Academy.


It’s literally mostly just grass and honestly I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. They didn’t even have signs.


I think only one of these things might have been a part of The Academy, but I couldn’t figure out which one was it.

It’s free entry so I guess that’s OK.


Aristotle’s school was a bit better maintained. It’s included in the combo.


But this was basically it.


The Byzantine Museum, a nice building next to the above. Entry not included for this one.


Socrates’s prison. Free entry. You can just walk around the hill below the Acropolis and see things like this. There are no signs though so you’d need to know where you’re going based on the map on the main path outside.

Moscow, Russia


Raketa. Stainless steel. Made in Russia. Oldest factory in Russia, founded near Saint Petersburg by HIM Tsar Peter the Great. Worn by Soviet astronauts, Stalin, and Putin. Automatic mechanical movement. 200m water resistant.

Purchased from an official store in Red Square.


Moscow has always been a place I wanted to visit, for I’m fond of the unique Russian architecture and the stories from history.

This is the seat of power, from Red Square looking at the Kremlin. Lenin’s body, which btw looked very fake and wax-like, is in the little pyramid building. You aren’t allowed to take photos or even stay to observe it. It’s only opened 10am-1pm and there’s always a long queue. Free.


The cathedral. I actually went in for my first orthodox mass. The service was relatively short, with everyone standing facing a gated part I assumed to be an “altar”. The priests often went into the door behind that area and went out with something. Lots of people walking around kissing pictures of saints on the wall while all of these were ongoing.

Then people put their arms on their chest in a cross and one by one walked to the priest to consume the body and blood of Messiah Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, the Son of Man, the Son of God. They all shared the same gigantic cup and long spoon. No touching of any kind, and they didn’t hold the fresh with their hands.

I was very tempted to go, but I thought perhaps they’d just kick me out for being a fraud.

There were some benches just outside the main hall, so I just sat there for a bit before walking into Kremlin.


On the way to the walls of the Kremlin complex (from the cathedral), I was greeted by a giant statue of St Vladimir Putin.

But in between, there was a broad avenue and it was difficult to figure out how to get to the walled city exactly.


On the left, there was this raised magnificent building. It was from the side of the road one could get to the library and eventually the tunnel to the gardens outside of the walls.


I don’t recommend going into the walled city of Kremlin at all – one of the biggest tourist traps I’ve been to.

First of all, there are many charges. To go into anything, there’s an additional charge. There’s a general charge which you need to ask the box office about, and it doesn’t really include anything.

Secondly, it was packed with tourists. The box office was rather chaotic and it took quite a bit of time entering it because all the tour groups just gathered there and the staff prioritize them (they would just shout at you in Russian if you’re not in a group). Then there’s a security check that further slows down the flow.

Moreover, it’s not that big. The buildings weren’t that impressive (and actually some could be seen from the outside) and the interiors weren’t anything special.


You can always pretend to be in a group and walk in with other people without paying though.


Where His Excellency President Putin works. Minimal guards.


Red Square.


The other side of the Square. This one’s a museum.


One of the most beautiful structures I’ve ever seen, and definitely the most unique one. I have always wanted to see this. It’s smaller but more colourful than the copy in Saint Petersburg.


The areas beyond the Square were nice too.


One of the parks outside downtown. This one has monuments from different parts of the Soviet Union.


Even though more than half of the park was under construction (including this one, actually), I still got to see some very beautiful ones.


As well as certain interesting ones like this one.


This park was next to the museum that has a rocket monument at the top.

One of the evenings, I went on a bike tour with my Couchsurfing host and we saw different lakes and parks and one building shaped as an astronaut.


Before I left Moscow, I went back to the Square to see Lenin and buy my watch.


The mall where I bought my watch.

I ate around the area, too. Some restaurants were really cheap. In general, Russia was pretty cheap.


The back of the church. Unfortunately it was closed when I went.

Personally, I preferred Moscow over St Petersburg, because Moscow had various styles of architecture and was uniquely Russian.