If you were ever in Rome, I’d recommend you to visit Ostia Antica. This heritage site used to be the remains of an ancient Roman harbour city. So it’s nice to roam around and imagine what life was like back then.
You’d probably seen Ostia Antica in postcards, with these distinctive stone footpath. Careful though, after many years and steps, these stones are now rather smooth and slippery.
A group of friends and I went to Ostia Antica last Sunday, and here is a video blog!
Taking moving footage on Nexus 6P is quite challenging as it tends to turn out shaky. Luckily Youtube has a stabilising function … my neck did really strange things towards the end of the video though!
Cart and I did a day trip to Villalago, which is a charming small town in Abruzzo. There is the lake Scanno nearby which is huge and beautiful and just breathtaking when you look at it with the surrounding mountains.
I didn’t want to leave.
Yes, it’s a long video at 20 minutes. You could watch it while having lunch or leave it in the background while washing the dishes. I could even do a mukbang in the future 😛
This is a very backdated post, but I didn’t know what to blog about today so finally I thought that I’d end my procrastination and share some pictures of my experience in a real life carnival.
As you know, in Italy, there is an event called Martedi Grasso which is kind of like a last chance for you to enjoy yourself before the start of 40 days of lent.
So you’d see a lots of children in costumes, throwing confetti around. There would also be a carnival, and I was fortunate enough to experience one in the town of Viareggio.
Which brings us to this post, the third day, Sunday. I woke up bright and early, excited to finally watch the carnival up close.
(Not sure if I should keep having bangs)
After having our breakfast, we went back to the cittadella, where the floats were created and stored, for a few last minute interviews – one of them, a Mr Luciano Tomeni with his creation called, “Naviga il mio profilo”.
I adore the name because it’s so witty as “naviga” means surf in Italian and the phrase “surf to my profile” works in this context.
From what I remember, the creator was inspired to create this float as he remembers a time when people had to physically go to places to see artworks and masterpieces. Nowadays though, everyone has become an armchair critic with social media.
After we were done with the interviews, it was nearly noon and we heard news of how there was going to be rain, and that there was a risk that the carnival might be cancelled. The skies was already quite cloudy and I felt a little bit of a drizzle. It’ll be so sad to travel all the way here without seeing the floats!
(Here are the hosts Mas and Seri)
Fortunately the organisers gave the green light and we headed to Viali a Mare, where at that point of time, the entire area was barricaded and there were so many people there, that the seats were starting to be fully occupied.
Aren’t all these floats amazing? I thought that the floats were as all as the hangars, but I realised that once out, the creators could affix more parts to make them even taller!
I love the colourful, festive and lively atmosphere. There were many people dancing around on the streets, on the floats, and cheers everywhere.
In front of each floats will be a group of performers dressed up with the same theme as the float. These dancers for example are dressed up in Italian 18th century outfit.
This group of performers were a little bit scary, with their bells and their whips. The men in the hoods came up to the audience even and smeared some coal on our faces.
All of floats has a back story – many of them politically themed.
But I think that something that I’ll never forget is how Zul, the producer managed to get us up, on top of this float! As you remember, we interviewed the creator the day before. Such a cheerful looking float!
I tried to take some shots from up there, but it wasn’t easy trying balance on a moving vehicle and to snap pictures at the same time. So I guess I just have to wait for the final video to be processed.
(Look at the teacher!)
(Trying to get a selfie but got photobombed by the producer)
(Second try, still another photobomb :P)
At length, we managed to get all the shots needed and I had a quick respite and joined Cart who was already sitting down at the grandstand, enjoying the view.
It was an amazing, wonderful, fun day – and such a feast for the eyes. I had such beautiful memories here and I was quite sad that I had to leave this place. I’d love to come back again.
If you’re ever in Italy during the ‘Martedi Grasso’ period, I highly recommend you to visit Viareggio. It might not be as grand as the one in Venice, but I think it’s getting there!
Definitely I’ll be looking forward to watch Ole Ole Temasya when it comes out in a couple of months 🙂
The NL-1331 van arrived in Rome yesterday for their first European tour. If you happen to be in the same area as one, you could get some free swag (normally a card with codes for your Ingress inventory) and you could also purchase the Van badge and kits if you wanted.
These are the swag we got
I would have liked the Van badge, unfortunately it was all sold out two days before the event. Oh well.
The event was held in Eur, near the ‘Square Colosseum’.
Cart and I reached there slightly earlier than the stipulated time but there were already so many people there – both the Resistance and the Enlightened.
I was nice to catch up with some friends, some of which I haven’t met for a long time, like Aldo and Smyx who both transferred out of Rome for work.
Eventually the van drove up. It was so easy to spot out – being all black with large white and silver decals around it. It was smaller than what I thought it would be though.
As I knew that there were going to be loads of people, I took a bit more effort to look nice as I expected that there would be a lot of photo taking.
And I had all the intention to take a lot of photos and selfies with friends – you know how some people take an effort to catch Pokemon? I wanted to try to catch as many agents as I could on my phone.
Unfortunately with a cross faction event, and with the density of the portals here, as soon as I opened my scanner, I was in ‘face deploy’ mode – putting in resonators when the portals are blue or shooting it when green. Boy, do I have a problem! :p
After everything has calmed down a little, was when I noticed that there was a new portal that didn’t exist before :
I’m not sure how long this portal will last but I don’t believe that it will be a permanent one. It took a bit of hacking but at length, I managed to get a key as a souvenir. But looking at the first picture made me glad that I did.
I am very amused.
Obstacle races has always interested me, but I never got about to it because they are extremely challenging and I never felt like I was ready for it. Also the fact that it costs so much to participate was a deterrent.
Nevertheless, when I found that the price for the Goruck was discounted for the Aegis Nova anomaly in Padua, I decided to grab the opportunity and sign up for it. I still didn’t know if I was strong enough for it but the requirements on the sign up page says ‘Moderate to Low’ on the website, so it should be fine … right?
DeusExMachina, who participated in the Urban Ops for Vienna kindly lent me his backpack and I felt blissfully unaware. It was only on the day itself when I started packing, I realised that my luggage was extremely heavy! What on earth did I got myself into? And I’d have to carry it for at least 4 hours!
Among the required things to carry for the Urban Ops challenge was :
- 9 kg of weights (I used my hand weights)
- 2 litres of water (I used 4 1/2 litre bottles)
Which will easily make my backpack over 10 kg. Oh my.
On Friday afternoon, we took a quick look at the Vegan Festival in Eur and had a delicious lunch there and then we took the train to Padua.
It took us about 4 hours to reach there. We managed to snag a promotion from Italo and paid only 50 euro for the both of us travelling first class.
Our BnB happened to be a few minutes away from Piazza Capitaniato, where we picked up our supporter kits in the evening.
I happened to see the Stealth Ops participants doing their warm ups and met and said hello to Maurizio who was already perspiring after he’s finished with his warm up. I marvelled in the fact that he’d be doing 12 hours of challenges. I don’t know if I’d be able to do it myself.
Saturday morning, I started getting ready and here is the outfit of the day!
- Blue t shirt from Decathlon (5 euro)
- Blue buff found in Decathlon (5 euro)
- Sports bra from Only Play (10 euro)
- 3/4 sports pants from Only Play (10 euro)
- Resistance Cap by Doriscreations (Priceless)
- Aegis Nova bracelet (Which is my favourite design so far)
- Newton Fate Running shoes
I stuffed the backpack with the weights, the bottles of water, a piece of towel and some bananas to snack on. So heavy! I had to walk really slowly with the backpack on – I felt like an elephant. Seriously, what have I gotten myself into?
After having breakfast, my entourage and I walked over to the meetup point before the anomaly. There were so many people there and you’ll meet people from all across Italy and the world. Every anomaly always feels so festive and it was such a beautiful day.
Eventually, I said goodbye to Cart as he went off with his team and I started to search for mine … I headed towards Piazza Dei Signori and that’s where I met Marco (Errequadropi) and I found out that we were the only two Resistance players for Urban Ops. Oh my. But that’s okay.
There was Cadre Mickey whose role was sort of like a guide and judge of the competition. Our first task was to choose the leader for the team. Marco quickly arrowed me as the Team Leader and Roberto (HeartTremor) was TL for the Enlightenend.
Together we walked to our first location, Piazzale Porta San Giovanni with our backpacks. It wasn’t necessary for us to have our Ingress scanners open, but I wanted to do some unique visits along the way. Not easy while juggling all that weight behind you though!
When we reached our point, our first challenge was to choose someone to hold their backpack over their head while the rest of the team do lunges or elephant walks around him.
It was quite amusing to see the elephant walk but it looked easier than it was, especially with the weights, every step was precarious and I had to step hard to make sure that I didn’t topple over.
Both of our teams tried to last for as long as possible but we lost this challenge but according to Daniele who was holding up his backpack in the picture above, it was a very close match.
Then we walked to our second location – Via San Pio X. Here, the Team Leaders had to start a distance from their team. The cadre will say out a name of a glyph and Team Leaders will run to their team and write the glyph together on a piece of paper and then run back to the cadre. The first team which gets 5 glyphs correct will be the winner.
This challenge was interesting as some of the glyphs, I’ve never heard of before. I just winged whichever I could and hope for the best and you know what, Resistance won this challenge!
Cadre Mickey took me aside and gave me a code which contains pertinent information to help my faction during the anomaly. I quickly forwarded it to my dispatchers on Hangout and updated them on Zello.
After the challenge, we walked to Prato Della Valle. It was such a lovely day for a picnic here. There were loads of people sitting on the grass and just relaxing themselves. But I’m not sure if it was the heat or the fatigue from carrying all those weights but I was already starting to feel a little dizzy by this point.
For our third challenge, we had to take everything out of our backpacks and lay them on the ground next to it. All of us had to walk a distance away, and get ready in a line. When the cadre yells start, we run to our respective backpacks, put our things in and hold it over our head and yell Resistance or Enlightened.
I thought for sure we would lose this one as my zip didn’t close smoothly but to my surprise we both seemed to have finished first.
Another win for us! I breathlessly and quickly updated our dispatchers. We took a quick break and I lied down to ease my dizzy feeling.
For our final challenge, we walked to Piazza Eremitani. By this time, while I tried my best to catch up, I find myself constantly being the back of the pack. Each step was so heavy …
Nevertheless, it was such a beautiful park inside and felt so peaceful with all the flowers and greenery.
For our final challenge, while it sounds simple, trust me, it’s not. Everyone in the team will have to plank and the last man (or woman) standing will win for their faction.
I could only hold to the position for about 10 minutes. After that my arms were all wobbly and I could only crawl like a baby to move towards one of the agents who was showing me his scanner.
It was such a close match between Marco and Daniele. My goodness. They planked for close to 30 minutes. How on earth did they do that?
It seemed to go on forever. Unfortunately the Enlightened team couldn’t hold out longer possibly because he was tired from participating from the 12 hours Stealth Ops challenge earlier on. So we got this round and another code for us!
We headed back to Piazza dei Signori where each of us received our hard earned patches.
After a shower and a brief rest, back at the apartment (so nice to finally plunk away the backpack!) I headed back to join Cart and the rest of my faction members to celebrate our anomaly win. It was heartening to see so many people coming up to me curious about my experience and congratulating me.
Like Matteo and Gimmy from Stealth Ops and Matteo, Luisa and Aalyah my former team members from Vienna.
My shoulders hurt and my thighs were sore and my feet were complaining (doing the mission day on Sunday was a miserable day for me) but all in all, it has been a very interesting experience for me, and dare I say it, actually fun?
Thank you so much Roberto and the rest of the Enlightened members for being so friendly and a very sporting team and thank you Marco for being a wonderful team member and thank you Cadre Mickey!
The past six months has been amazing for me so far. With Ingress, I got to do a lot of things, I got to try at being a Team Radio in Milan, then a Team Leader in Vienna and now participated in a Goruck in Padova. Wow.
Now I GoRest.
P.s. For those of you thinking of participating for Goruck Urban Ops, while the fitness requirement is low – moderate, my advice to you is to train in some circuit training anyway. Carry a towel so that it will soften the barrier between your back and the weights and just enjoy the experience the best you can.
Continuing from our first day in Viareggio, on Saturday morning we woke up bright and early and got ready to take some shots around the around the neighbourhood. It’s an interesting experience going around in a group with so much heavy equipments.
We then headed towards the port :
It’s so pretty here, with the place reminding me a bit like when we visited Lake Como in Milan.
By the way, according to our driver, this is the Torre Matilde – the oldest building in Viareggio dating back to 1500s.
We then drove to the Citadella.
This place is so colourful!
The cittadella del carnevale (Carnival Citatel) is a place where the floats are built and stored. There are 16 hangars altogether and the area comprises of a museum and a restaurant.
And the place is impressively huge! I estimate that each hangar is at least a 4 storey high building. Just compare the size of the floats to a regular person.
I was then given a microphone to use for the first time – this device was to be slipped under the shirt and taped towards the collar. There is a part which looks like a paper clip is supposed to be left free.
We met up with Andrea, one of the staff working at the citadella and before I knew it, the camera was rolling. The hosts Mas and Seri started talking excitedly in Malay and I was listening in and the continued talking … and then out of the blue they asked me, “So Marina, can you ask him how the festival started” and I blanked out. The hosts continued smiling and gently prodded me to say something … anything… but I was so confused and flustered.
It was challenging for me to switch back and fourth in English-Italian and now I had to switch from Malay to Italian! You can imagine how jumbled up I must have felt. But after a few tries, I understood the mechanics and got used to it. I just hope that it goes well in the clip later!
We talked about when the carnival started in Viareggio, and how the floats (or carri in Italian) are unique here as they are the biggest ones in the world made out of papier mache.
For me, one of the things that was very memorable of, and which I feel very fortunate of is when we interviewed one of the float makers.
This talented man below is Alessandro Avanzzini who is in charge of his float called, “Moby Duck”.
His inspiration of his float is based on an event in 1992 where a freight ship which was carrying over twenty thousand plastic ducks was shipwrecked. Some of the ducks are still floating around and poses danger to the ecosystem.
According to him, most of his material was recycled from various sources and that it takes about 4 – 6 months for a team to build each float.
From what I remember, it costs about 100 thousand euro, but the prize money would be 1/10th that but each builder is proud to showcase their work that it’s not about the prize but pride of their craftsmanship.
I really like how colourful and cheerful looking the float is! There is also a bubble machine that made it all the more festive. This will last for the two hour carnival.
We then headed to the museum and met up with the director, Marco Antonio Francesconi where he explained to us the history as well as gave us a demonstration of how the floats move.
I found out that floats don’t rely to much on electricity and instead uses pulleys instead to move various parts such as eyes, mouth and head. Each float could have around 10 people – each with their own station.
Lunch break! And a quick picture with the beautiful Seri and Mas. We had an awesome pasta arrabbiata here and took a quick breather. Half a day has passed by, and I already felt like we did so many things already!
After our sumptuous lunch, we went to the area where the smaller displays were housed.
We met up with Daniele Chicca who created this piece called “The American Dream”.
It’s not yet finished in the picture, but there will be eight heads that can be turned around – each one a famous American character. He’ll be carrying his piece at the carnival too, but has to keep it as light as possible as he’ll be carrying it by himself.
Daniele showed us how the papier mache was done. Did you know that the paste is made of just water and flour? Then you tear the newspaper as straight as possible and layer it on the mold, then use a brush to spread the paste and continue till the mold is covered and left to try. That is layer one. There should be at least 5 or 6 layers in total.
Can you imagine how long it takes to make this?
In the late afternoon, we headed back to the canal for dinner. We spied upon this street sign and we were joking at how much it looked like the papier mache brush.
The roads were closed to vehicles, and there were already music and vendors by the street. The atmosphere was so festive.
Even though Fat Tuesday was still several days to come, you could see many people in costumes walking around, celebrating.
This guy is not a real policeman
I saw an angel, some ghouls, I even saw a huge used sanitary pad walking around. I didn’t take a picture of that. No.
All these costumes made us feel inspired so we stopped by a stand and got for ourselves a quick deco. I chose this blue wig as it’s a crazy colour. Maybe I can also wear this for the next anomaly in Vienna 😛
There were a lot of food stalls opened and it was crowded busy. Most of these stalls serve items ranging from pasta to risotto to deep fried food, mostly seafood.
This was what the rest of the crew had. This was the risotto di calamari.
This was the insalata di polpo
I don’t know how it tastes like as I was already on my plant based diet by now. Cart and I had a nice plate of pasta al pomodoro instead.
Here’s Robin, the camera man taking a shot of his dinner.
Here’s Cart posing with my blue wig
And here is Dzul, the director of Ole Ole Temasya posing with bunny ears. He looks so adorable. And we chatted about how he started the series. It was interesting.
So dinner, we headed back to the villa. I was already beat and ready to go to bed. It will be a big day tomorrow with the parade going on. Impressively, when we reached back the crew still had another shot to do and they weren’t done till 11 pm! They have an incredible amount of stamina.
Anyway this is the end of the post for today, watch out for part three soon!
When guests come over to Rome, one of the things that I’d recommend that they get as a souvenir is a moka pot. It’s something that I think that is symbolic of Italy – since coffee is such a way of life here. And using a moka pot lets you enjoy espresso quality coffee at home.
Here’s a video I did about 6 years ago on how to use a moka pot. My command of Italian is rather awkward in this video, and I can spot out a lot of mistakes now but oh well 😛
Probably the most famous brand here is Bialetti. You can easily recognize it by the cute logo that it has in front.
The caricature of the man is actually Renato Bialetti. While he didn’t invent it, this was the man who made Moka pots famous around the world.
We have 5 moka pots ourselves in our household – 3 of them Bialetti. And when we travel, Cart would make sure that we at least have good coffee packed in the luggage.
Which was why, at first glance at this picture, I thought that it was kind of cool to see this priest with a big coffee maker in front of him. I was imagining that he’d be sharing some coffee after his sermon, maybe.
It was only later when I found out that it was actually an URN! Containing the ashes of Renato Bialetti who died about a week ago.
As dark as it is, I think that it’s a stylish way to go.
In Italy, there is an event called Martedi Grasso which basically means “Fat Tuesday”. This is kind of like a last chance for you to enjoy yourself before the start of 40 days of lent.
During the days leading towards Martedi Grasso, you’d see a lot of children in costumes, throwing confetti around. There would also be a carnival. Probably the most famous and biggest one in Italy would be the Carnevale di Venezia – something that I’d love to see for myself in the future.
Anyway, last weekend, I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance of experiencing a carnival. While it wasn’t the one in Venice, the one in Viareggio is extremely impressive by itself.
A little back story. A couple of months earlier, I got a message from a production company who was looking for someone who was living in Italy to be a co-host for a documentary show in Singapore. I don’t know anything about hosting and I’ve never hosted before – youtube-ing is a whole different animal altogether but I was so intrigued about the Viareggio Papier Mache Carnival, I said yes! What’s the worst that could happen? In the end, it will be a very interesting experience.
Viareggio is a town in Tuscany. It takes about 4 hours to travel from Rome to Viareggio by train. This time round, we took Frecciarossa – which was interesting, as it has a fold-able table for when you want to do your work, a charger below, and wifi!
But trying to log on to Frecciarossa’s wifi for the first time is quite challenging though as I don’t think that the website was coded to suit smartphones. It took at least 15 minutes for me to try to remain calm enough to type my information in.
After a while, I just gave up and enjoyed the scenery I saw outside of my window.
Around two hours passed by and we stopped at Firenze to do and interchange with a regional train for the rest of the journey.
Something that I think will probably be a little TMI is how Cart explained to me how the toilets in train works. He claims that you should only go when the train is moving as you’d make a pile when the train is still.
Really? It makes sense but I don’t believe him. I’m pretty sure that there is a containment below.
Four hours later, we finally reached the Viareggio train station. It was cloudy and drizzling slightly, but I was so excited just to be there.
We walked to our bed and breakfast called the Villino Lola, which was just a few minutes walk from the station. It’s so beautiful! If you ever travel here in a group, this is a great place to stay – and when the cost is divided by 8 people, it’s not at all expensive.
You enter through the hall into the main house which has a reception room, a bathroom and big kitchen.
Look! There’s a classic vespa!
In the kitchen, you have all the usual cooking needs like olive oil and condiments, table ware, cooking ware …
For some reason, there are a lot of bottled water in the fridge. There were at least 4 in this kitchen alone. We were told that the water in the taps in Viareggio are potable nevertheless.
This place is huge! When you walk upstairs, there are 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms.
I find each bedroom so charmingly country. There is a particular bathroom which was so luxurious. On hindsight, I think I should have taken a short video of the place. Pictures doesn’t do it justice.
When you go back down to the kitchen, you could open the door that to the the garden, leading to guest house.
And here was where Cart and I stayed for the next 3 nights. Our own little tiny house! I loved how self sufficient it is – a place to sleep, a place to cook, a place to shower. I’d be happy live here if there was wifi connection here too. 😛
Above the guest house was a terrace where I imagine people could have a nice open air dinner when the weather is better.
After exploring our bed and breakfast, Cart and I went to have a look see outside. The street where we walked in, there were so many houses which was decorated with masks and banners, in the spirit of the carnival.
We walked and walked and walked and eventually we found ourselves close to the sea. It’s very lively here – there are a lot of shops and food places along the path and there are plentiful of people walking around.
Don’t walk next to the sea during winter when it’s very windy. Personal experience.
When you are in Viareggio, you’ll see this a lot :
This is called the Burlamacco. This red and white clown like figure is the mascot for Viareggio. I think he’s cute.
It was starting to be dinner time, so Cart and I headed back and met the crew at this very lovely sandwich place called Paninoteca Adone.
I love this place. The people here are so friendly and the sandwiches here are the bomb! The list of sandwiches are very comprehensive and can be daunting for the first timer, but you’ll be sure that there is something for everyone. And here are some of the pictures of the sandwiches that I managed to snap.
This is the 4 formaggi sandwich – gorgonzola, mozzarella, groviera, fontina. Check out how cheesy it is!
This is the Rosa – Smoked salmon, butter, lemon
This was my Verde – Artichokes, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, tabasco sauce and lettuce.
It was so delicious that I’m still thinking about it now. I think I’ll try to make it myself. It shouldn’t be too hard, I hope. The only thing is that, it’s a little bit oily, and it trickled down my hands while I was eating it, which made it a little bit awkward.
Anyway, let me introduce you to part of the team! Next to me is Remi, the producer and there is Dzul who is the director and the two ladies are Seri and Mas who are the hosts, who by the way, are very popular in Singapore.
I’m covering myself with a flower because I look really bad in this picture. Yikes! Next time, I’ll remember to turn my head or cover my neck with a sandwich like what Mas is doing here. Ahaha!
When I first met them, I wasn’t sure how to react. What should I do? Should I talk all formal? How? What? Huh? But when we started talking, they were so friendly and so nice and so chatty that I felt so comfortable around them.
One of the things I remember was when they told me about their trip to Jokkmokk, Sweden and how the temperature there was very cold! Minus 25 degrees even. I don’t think that I’d be able to cope in such cold weather. Nevertheless, they enjoyed seeing the reindeer and the scenery there.
After our dinner, we had an early night. Tomorrow will be a big day!