Tuesday, February 22, 2011

#883 - 2010 Year-End Trip: Italy (Part II)

Previously on 2010 Year-End Trip: Italy : Zilko and his friends went to Italy over the Christmas break. They spent their Christmas Eve eating Japanese food for dinner with a good (free) red wine and cake.

The thing was, we had been a bit worried about our agendas on the Christmas Day itself. Well, it is true that Rome (Vatican City to be precise) is the center of Catholicism and that is why Christmas is supposedly nothing to worry about. Well, the truth was quite the contrary. Because people there did celebrate Christmas, ALL places were closed on Christmas Day! By ALL, yes, I mean ALL: including Vatican City, ALL museums in Rome, Colosseum, etc. To make things worse, that day ALL public transports were inactive for some period of hours (three hours if I am not mistaken, from around 12 or 1 PM until 3 or 4 PM) because the government decided that public service people should spend those time with their families on Christmas Day. To make the already worse things even "worser" (from visitors' point of view), December 26th is also a national holiday in Italy! So people, do really think about your trip to Rome if you plan to go on these dates!

Luckily, we were not stupid people. We still planned to get what we could get that day: the city of Rome itself. It was true that many museums in the city were closed, but it did not mean the city was "closed", right? Even though we did not get in into something, we still could enjoy the city by going around it. Another luck was on our side, we had a friend who came from Rome and that day he was back home for the Christmas break. And he was really nice to offer to walk us around the city in the afternoon.

Anyway, you might wonder why we did not attend the famous and glorious Christmas Mass Liturgy in Vatican City on Christmas. Well, we had several reasons for that: (1) We did not have the "tickets" (yeah, to attend the mass, apparently we had to have the so-called tickets. Well, the tickets were free though but to get them, there were several procedures we had to follow. Plus, the procedures should have been started like months before); (2) I am not proud of this, but I was not really a morning-type person. To attend the mass liturgy, we had to get up like really early and somehow found a transportation to get there. FYI, we stayed in a different side of the city where it took us around 30 - 40 minutes to get to Vatican City; (3) The weather in Rome the past few days had not been nice. Drizzle constantly fell from the sky; Well, not that I do not want to attend the mass liturgy, but it seemed that in this trip it was too troublesome for us. But still, I might plan another trip to Rome someday in the future with the main agenda to attend the liturgy.

::: Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II in Rome, Italy. It did look like the White House :-)

So, while waiting for our friend, we spent the morning pretty much around the Ancient Rome, a spot in Rome where the ruin of the old Rome were preserved. We did not (yet) enter the Colosseum and the Roman Forum (simply because they were closed) but we managed to get a glimpse of the old Rome (even though it was nothing compared to what we would see the day after when we entered the Roman Forum). Anyway, then we met our friend and we walked around the city. We had a nice coffee break in a cafe in front of the Pantheon (and yes, we did not enter the Pantheon this day because it was Christmas).

Having a friend who really knows the city around is always great, for many reasons: (1) There is no need to worry about getting lost. Sure; (2) He/She knows which places should be in our priority list to visit, as if you browse the information yourself, you might get confused and sometimes the information in the internet is just exaggerated (to attract people to come, of course); (3) He/She knows which restaurants we should go to, to have a nice, local, and decent meals; (4) He/She (supposedly) speaks the local language so just in case there is something involving locals, we do not have to really worry about the language barrier; and the most interesting one: (5) He/She can tell us many (interesting) stories about the city and some spots that we visit. Just like when our friend told us the following story when we passed this structure:

So once upon a time, there were two famous Roman architects: Bernini and Borromini. They were rivals and they hated each other. One day, they got jobs which employed them in Piazza Navona. Borromini's job was to build (and design) a church while Bernini's job was to build (and design) a fountain in front of it. Bernini decided to build a fountain sculptured with four gods circling it. The funny thing was that one of the god was in a position as the church would fall towards him! (you can see in the picture). It could be interpreted that Bernini did it on purpose to mock Borromini as he basically said: "I think your building is really badly-designed and it will fall apart", LOL.

We ended the day having a nice dinner in an Italian restaurant in Rome. I had a nice pasta and one of my friend had a really nice meal (I forgot the name).

The next day, many of the main interesting sites were open for public again. We dedicated this day for an Ancient Rome Tour, starting with THE Colosseum. People had been reminding us that we should get there really really early to avoid the long queing line as Colosseum was a really popular destination (no question why). But here was the thing: Travelling with someone in a wheelchair apparently had its own perks: (1) sometimes we could get an extra discount; (2) we could SKIP the queing line! The second one is my personal favorite, honestly :-) So we did not really bother about getting up that early to beat the line.

::: Just outside the Colosseum.

Anyway, when we arrived at the Colosseum, the warning was true. There was a ridiculously long queing line to the ticket booths. Then, some salesguys approached us trying to sell their guided tours to us. Of course the total price was a bit higher than if we bought tickets from the booth, BUT with this tour we got a guide who would tell us all interesting stories and history of the Colosseum (and the Roman Forum). Even, one of them said that because we were travelling with someone on a wheelchair, we could get some price reduction. Thinking that the price still made sense (we had to pay 16 euro each), we decided to join the local tour.

::: Inside the Colosseum

The tour was really fun. The guide was an Italian guy with heavy Italian accent with a really good sense of humor. And yeah, Colosseum was awesome! I do not know how to put it in words, but I felt SO happy that finally I stepped my feet in the Colosseum, a place that I had wanted to go for so so long time. Yes, finally I could check one site in my "must visited places before I die" list. The guide told us many interesting stuffs of the building, making the visit even more enjoyable as I soaked myself in the history of the structure.

The package of the tour we bought was including a visit to the Roman Forum. For this site, we had another guide, a Canadian lady who had lived in Rome for 9 years. Roman Forum is a site with the ruins of ancient Roman buildings. We even got access to get into the Palatino Hill, a hill which in the Roman Mythology was the place where Romulus and Remus were found by the wolf. The best place of this hill was the small garden on top of the hill overlooking the Roman Forum (and the city of Rome in the background).

::: A view from the Palatino Hill towards the Roman Forum.

This part of Rome really offered a different side of the city which was not related to the religiosity of the city. Even, in a way, some of the structures there (including the Colosseum) represented the non-religious acts the old Roman people did centuries ago. Seeing this side of the city was really interesting.

Later that day, we had some time to kill and we went around the city. We managed to get in the Pantheon, in where I think I met Margaret Mountford, one of Sir Alan's advisor in the tv-show: The Apprentice UK. I am so regretful now that I did not ask her to take a picture with me, hahaha. We also visited several spots in Rome, and the nicest one was the Trevi Fountain. This fountain is also a must-visited place in Rome, IMO.

::: The Pantheon.

::: Trevi Fountain. I did the ritual of throwing a coin to the fountain :-)

Anyway, that night we had dinner at another Italian restaurant in Rome. And I had one of the best pasta I have ever had in my life: bucatini carbonara! It was for 8 or 9 euro and I think it was meant for a share between two or three people, but I managed to finish it myself because I was soo hungry and it was soo delicious! I definitely want to eat this meal again when I come back to Rome!!

::: A very delicious Bucatini Carbonara in Rome.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

#882 - Three Thought of the Week

  1. For the last six months, I have been familiar with the power and awesomeness of one popular website in the internet, whose power and awesomeness was pretty much underestimated back in Indonesia: youtube. One day, I somehow wanted to listen to oldies songs (well, by "oldies", I mean the songs that I used to hear to when I was a kid, somewhere in the 90s). I then put the title of those songs in its "search" box, expecting nothing, really, nothing! But then, most of them showed up! Even some oldies Indonesian songs! (well, the success rate for Indonesian songs is much lower than English songs though, obviously, but its rate is not that bad either). One time I also wanted to see the opening/closing of some cartoons/animes I used to watch when I was younger, and I could also find them in youtube! See?? How amazing is that!?!?

    Well, now I fully understand the phrase "youtube procrastination" though, hahaha.

  2. One of the hottest topic in Indonesia this week was the halt of foreign films import to Indonesia. Well, many people have been whining about it (as I observe in Facebook) as now they cannot watch "high quality" films, but I do not think they should worry that much. I somehow feel that this is just like a "game" they play in this business. One side is trying to "bluff" the other side and see how they react as it might establish their position in the negotiation. In a way, it is like "bluffing" in a poker game.

    The thing is, Indonesia is a really big market for films. Indonesia is the fourth largest country in the world in term of population and there are cinemas in every major city in the country, which implies that watching movies in cinema are (easily) accessible for most Indonesians. That is why I do not think those film producers will let Indonesia go "that easy", without any means of necessary measures done.

    I predict that in the very near future, a "deal" will take place and this problem will be resolved.

  3. Sometimes, I just like to skip (or procrastinate) visiting one place because that place is so close to where I live. This was the case with the Delftse Hout, a recreational public park just in the outskirt of Delft. Today, somehow I felt like going out somewhere new and I decided to bike around. I thought this was a good chance to go to Delftse Hout as I had never been there, and it was quite far (in term of biking distance), thus it would make a good exercise, right? So, there I went today.

    And I saw something good! It was a countryside, definitely not a city nor a town, and I think this was the reason why this place is such a popular place for relaxation. Well, I definitely should think about going to this place when I need refreshment as it is just practically next door and it is good for exercising! hahaha

    And it is quite a shame that I went to this place the first time after living in Delft for six months now, lol.

Okay, I do not have many thought this week as my week was full with me preparing for the oral exam that I had last Friday, in which I did really well on it (and I am so pleased with that). Btw, I have also decided to go to Luxembourg next week. Yeaah! I can't wait!

::: A canal near Delftse Hout.

::: A tiny lake in Delftse Hout. This lake was so tiny that after some minutes biking around the lake I was like: "hey, I was here some minutes ago" :-D

::: A nice house in Delftse Hout.

::: Leaning trees in Delftse Hout.


  1. Selama enam bulan terakhir, aku sudah lumayan kenal dengan kekuatan dan kekerenan dari satu situs populer di internet, yang kekuatan dan kekerenannya agak kurang terapresiasi di Indonesia: youtube. Suatu hari, entah kenapa aku koq ingin mendengarkan beberapa lagu lama (yah, maksudnya "lama" itu adalah lagi yang biasanya aku dengar waktu masih kecil, di era 90an gitu deh). Aku kemudian iseng memasukkan judul lagunya di kotak "pencarian"-nya youtube, tanpa mengharapkan apa2. Eh, tapi kemudian beneran muncul loh! Bahkan lagu lama Indonesia juga sebagian ada! (yah, tentu tingkat kesuksesan pencarian lagu lama Indonesia lebih rendah daripada lagu Barat yah, jelas deh, tapi ya itu pun sudah lumayan lah). Satu kali juga aku tiba2 ingin nonton adegan pembukaan/penutupan beberapa kartun/animes yang biasa aku tonton dulu, dan aku juga bisa menemukannya di youtube loh! Nah, keren kan!?!?

    Yah, sekarang aku ngerti deh istilah "youtube procrastination", hahaha.

  2. Satu topik yang sedang hangat diperbincangkan di Indonesia saat ini adalah berhentinya impor film asing ke Indonesia. Yah, banyak orang sudah mengeluhkan tentangnya (seperti yang kuamati di Facebook) karena mereka jadi nggak bisa menonton film "berkualitas tinggi" lagi. Tapi aku rasa sih mereka seharusnya tidak perlu sekhawatir itu deh. Entah kenapa aku koq merasa kejadian ini hanyalah seperti "permainan" yang dimainkan para pelaku bisnis di dunia itu yah. Satu pihak sedang berusaha "menggertak" lawannya dan menunggu reaksinya karena ini akan menentukan posisi mereka. Yah, mirip sama "gertakan" di poker gitu lah.

    Yang jelas adalah, Indonesia adalah pasar besar bagi industri film. Indonesia adalah negara terbesar keempat di dunia dari segi populasi dan terdapat bioskop di semua kota utama di seluruh penjuru Indonesia, yang artinya nonton film adalah suatu aktivitas yang (mudah) dilakukan oleh orang Indonesia. Makanya aku rasa produsen film itu tidak akan melepaskan Indonesia semudah itu deh, tanpa segala macam upaya untuk tetap memasarkan produknya di Indonesia.

    Aku duga sih nggak lama lagi, "deal" akan tercapai dan masalah ini terselesaikan deh.

  3. Kadang, aku suka untuk melewatkan (atau menunda-nunda) kunjungan ke satu tempat karena tempat itu dekat dengan tempat tinggalku. Ini adalah kasus yang terjadi dengan Delftse Hout, sebuah taman rekreasi umum yang terletak di luaran kota Delft. Hari ini, entah kenapa aku merasa ingin pergi keluar ke tempat yang baru dan aku memutuskan untuk keliling sambil naik sepeda. Nah, aku rasa ini adalah waktu yang baik untuk pergi ke Delftse Hout karena kan aku belum pernah kesana, dan lokasinya lumayan jauh (dengan ukuran sepeda), yang artinya lokasinya cocok kan untuk olahraga? Makanya aku kesana hari ini.

    Dan aku melihat sesuatu yang bagus! Tempatnya memang terasa di luar kota, jelas nggak kerasa deh aura kotanya, dan aku rasa inilah alasan mengapa tempat ini adalah tempat populer untuk refreshing. Yah, mulai sekarang aku harus mempertimbangkan tempat ini deh kalau aku butuh refreshing karena kan tempat ini bisa dibilang berada di sebelahku, dan juga tempat ini ok buat berolahraga! hahaha

    Dan agak payah juga ya aku baru mengunjungi tempat ini untuk pertama kalinya sekarang, setelah enam bulan tinggal di Delft, lol.
Oke, memang aku nggak ada banyak hal yang terpikirkan minggu ini karena minggu ini full aku konsentrasi untuk satu ujian lisan yang diadakan Jumat lalu, dimana aku menjalani ujiannya dengan sangat baik (dan aku sangat senang karenanya). Btw, aku juga akhirnya memutuskan untuk pergi ke Luxembourg nih minggu depan. Yeaah! Udah nggak sabar!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

#881 - My First Tennis Tournament


Today is one of the historic days in my life. What happened today? Well, today I watched my first ever tennis tournament in my life! It was the Rotterdam Tournament in Rotterdam, not so far away from where I live now. Well, you might know that I am a fan of tennis and back in Indonesia, there was no easy opportunity for me to freely watch a tournament, namely a big one. This tournament in Rotterdam can be categorized as big tournament as it was part of the ATP World Tour 500, in term of level just below ATP Masters Series and Grand Slams.

Anyway, my ticket allowed me to watch both finals held today, singles and doubles. Actually, none of my favorite players made it to the final though (Andy Murray and Gilles Simon both lost in the first round of singles and the Murray brothers lost in the semifinals to Melzer/Petzschner in doubles). But still, I was so excited to finally watch my first tennis tournament!

So this morning I departed at around 10 AM from Delft and arrived there at Ahoy Stadium at almost 11 AM. As the first match would start at noon, I killed time by walking around the tennis complex. I was so excited! I mean, finally!! I got "wow"-ed. Anyway, when I reached the Centre Court (the main court), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was practising there! The second "wow" striked me.

Btw, I got a little problem in finding my seat. My seat number was a little unusual as my ticket indicated it was in G1 area. I asked the official and they said there was NO G1 area, so they suggested me to try Gi instead as the area should be indicated with "two letters" instead of one letter and one number. I went to Gi, but the seat number did not match (seat with the number indicated in my ticket was not in Gi area). So I decided to ignore the area and just found a seat with my number as I recognized that the seat-numbering continued from one area to another, so there was a good chance the area meant really nothing in the seat-numbering system. However, I was (partly) wrong (and a bit unlucky) as I got the wrong seat. A Dutch man said that that seat was his as it was in area Gc, so mine was not supposed to be that one. So, where the hell was my seat?? I went to the other part of the stadium, and finally also found a seat with that number. I did not pay attention to the area as the double match was almost started. Noone was sitting on that seat and so I just sat there, enjoying the match. During the break, I checked the area, and yes, it was G1 area, hahaha. Btw, I just realized one thing: it might not be G1 afterall, it might be Gl (Golf Lima)!! See!! Gl, typed with several fonts, looked like G1!! Well, now it just makes sense!! hahaha

Btw, that Dutch man was really kind. During the break between the two final, I met him when I was walking to the cafe to buy a drink. He approached me and asked if I found my seat! Wow!!

Anyway, so I watched the two finals. The doubles final was cool. Jürgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner defeated Michaël Llodra and Nenad Zimonjić by 6-4, 3-6, [10-5]. There were several great and entertaining points. It was a bit a shame that Zimonjic double faulted in the last two points, giving the victory to Melzer/Petzschner away. Btw, the match was led by Mohamed Kalyani. Well, this guy is really one of the most entertaining chair umpire in the world! :-)

As for the singles final, it was also a great match. Well, none of Robin Söderling and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is my favorite player, so I was kinda in the neutral side today. Well, both players demonstrated a really high quality of play today. There were so many great points produced. In the second half of the match, actually Tsonga got the momentum. At one point, he even produced four consecutive aces, giving him one game free!! However, he did choke at one game in the deciding set, and this game proved to be the key to Robin Söderling's victory over him. Robin Söderling closed the championships with an ace and won 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Well, for my first tennis tournament, I think it went really well. All matched that I watched took three sets (good, it meant longer match so I got more match to watch with the same price of ticket, lol). And all of them were really good quality! I think I am coming back next year! Btw, I am also looking for some affordable upcoming tournaments nearby. I am currently eyeing at the Brussels Ladies Open next May, it will be a Premier level tournament for the women played on red clay. But I need to see the entry list first before deciding whether I should go or not, hmmm.

::: Doubles' Final match between Michaël Llodra/Nenad Zimonjić and Jürgen Melzer/Philipp Petzschner.

::: Jürgen Melzer/Philipp Petzschner defeated Michaël Llodra/Nenad Zimonjić by 6-4, 3-6, [10-5]

::: Robin Söderling serving.

::: Closing ceremony of the 2011 ABM Amro World Tennis Tournament.

::: Robin Söderling was crowned as this year's winner, defending his title from last year.

::: Championships point for Söderling. Robin Söderling won this point, thus closing this year's tournament, with a beautiful ace.


Hari ini adalah hari bersejarah dalam hidupku. Mengapa demikian? Yah, karena hari ini aku untuk pertama kalinya seumur hidup nonton yang namanya turnamen tenis! Turnamennya adalah Turnamen Rotterdam di Rotterdam, nggak jauh dari dimana aku tinggal sekarang. Yah, mungkin pada tau lah kalau aku ini fans-nya tenis dan di Indonesia, nggak ada banyak kesempatan dimana aku bisa dengan mudah dan bebas nonton turnamen tenis, apalagi yang besar. Turnamen di Rotterdam ini bisa dikatakan besar, karena turnamen ini ada di level ATP World Tour 500, yang dari segi level hanya ada di bawahnya ATP Masters Series dan Grand Slams.

Ngomong2, tiketku memberikanku akses untuk nonton kedua final hari ini, tunggal dan ganda. Sebenarnya, pemain favoritku nggak ada yang amsuk final sih (Andy Murray dan Gilles Simon sudah kalah di babak pertama tunggal dan Murray bersaudara kalah di semifinal ganda dari Melzer/Petzschner). Tapi ya, masih aja dong aku bersemangat nonton turnamen tenis pertamaku!

Jadi, pagi ini aku berangkat jam 10 pagi dari Delft dan tiba di Stadium Ahoy sekitar jam 11 pagi. Karena pertandingan pertama baru mulai jam 12 siang, aku jalan-jalan dulu lah keliling komplkeksnya. Aku sangat bersemangat loh! Maksudku, akhirnya gitu!! Aku merasa "wow". Ngomong2, ketika aku sampai di Centre Court-nya (lapangan utama)m disana Jo-Wilfried Tsonga sedang berlatih! Yah, "wow" kedua menghampiriku.

Btw, aku mendapat masalah kecil dalam mencari kursiku. Nomer kursiku agak nggak biasanya karena tiketku menunjukkan kursiku ada di area G1. Aku bertanya ke panitianya dan katanya nggak ada tuh area G1, jadi mereka menyarankanku mencoba mencarinya di area Gi karena areanya diberi nama dengan "dua huruf" bukannya satu huruf satu angka. Aku kemudian mencarinya di Gi, tapi nggak ketemu soalnya nomer kursinya nggak ada yang cocok (nomer kursiku nggak ada di area Gi). Makanya kemudian aku memutuskan untuk mengabaikan areanya dan mencari kursi dengan nomer yang cocok denganku karena aku sadar bahwa nomer kursinya berlanjut dari satu area ke area lain, jadi ada kemungkinan sebenarnya area itu tidak berarti apa-apa dalam sistem penomoran kursi. Namun, ternyata aku (setengahnya) salah (dan agak kurang beruntung) karena aku duduk di kursi yang salah. Ada seorang Belanda yang berkata kalau kursi yang kududuki adalah kursinya karena kursi itu ada di area Gc, jadi kursiku ya bukan kursi itu. Nah, jadi dimana dong kursiku?? Aku trus jalan ke sisi lain stadionnya, dan akhirnya menemukan satu kursi dengan nomer itu. Aku nggak terlalu memperhatikan areanya karena pertandingan final ganda sudah mau dimulai. Nggak ada yang duduk disana ya udah aku duduk aja disitu, menikmati pertandingannya. Di saat istirahat, iseng aku mengecek areanya, dan bener, itu adalah area G1, hahaha. Btw, aku baru menyadari sesuatu nih: mungkin area itu bukanlah area G1 loh, mungkin aja adalah area Gl (Golf Lima)!! Lihat kan!! Gl, kalau diketik dengan beberapa fonts, kan kelihatan mirip banget sama G1!! Ah, akhirnya semua masuk akal sekarang!! hahaha

Btw, orang Belanda yang itu baik banget loh. Di sesi istirahat antara kedua final, aku bertemu dengannya lagi ketika aku lagi jalan ke kafe buat beli minum. Dia menghampiriku dan bertanya apakah aku akhirnya menemukan kursiku! Wow, ramah banget yah!!

Ngomong2, jadi aku menonton kedua finalnya. Final ganda keren juga tuh. Jürgen Melzer dan Philipp Petzschner mengalahkan Michaël Llodra dan Nenad Zimonjić dengan skor 6-4, 3-6, [10-5]. Ada beberapa poin yang hebat dan sangat menghibur. Sayang aja di dua poin terakhir Zimonjic melakukan double fault dua kali, memberikan kemenangan pada Melzer/Petzschner. Btw, pertandingan final ini dipimpin oleh Mohamed Kalyani. Yah, dan memang, orang satu ini memang salah satu wasit tenis yang paling menghibur di dunia deh!! :-)

Untuk final tunggalnya, pertandingannya juga keren banget. Yah, baik Robin Söderling maupun Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bukan pemain favoritku sih, makanya aku lumayan netral tadi. Keduanya bermain dengan sangat baik hari ini. Ada banyak poin keren yang dimainkan. Di setengah kedua pertaandingan, sebenarnya Tsonga yang lebih menguasai momentumnya. Bahkan, di satu poin, ia menghasilkan empat aces berturut-turut loh, memberikannya satu game dengan mudah!! Namun, ia agak "tersedak" sedikit di satu game di set ketiga dan memang akhirnya terbukti game inilah kunci kemenangan Robin Söderling's atas dirinya. Robin Söderling menutup turnamen dengan sebuah ace dan menang 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Yah, untuk turnamen tenis pertamaku, aku rasa turnamen ini keren banget sih. Semua pertandingan yang aku tonton berlangsung tiga set (bagus, artinya makin banyak dan lama pertandingan yang kutonton dengan harga tiket ini, lol). Dan semuanya juga berkualitas bagus! Aku rasa aku akan nonton lagi deh tahun depan! Btw, aku juga sekarang lagi mencari beberapa turnamen akan datang yang harga tiketnya terjangkau nih dan lokasinya dekat2 nih. Aku sih sekarang sedang memasang mata di turnamen Brussels Ladies Open bulan Mei nanti, sebuah turnamen level Premier untuk petenis wanita yang dimainkan di tanah liat merah. Tapi aku harus melihat daftar pemainnya dulu deh sebelum memutuskan akan pergi atau tidak, hmmm.

Monday, February 07, 2011

#880 - So, This Is How Monday Will Look Like


I did write two weeks ago that two of my courses this quarter are both held on Monday, but they are held in two different cities: Utrecht and Delft. At first, I thought the first Monday I would experience this thing was last week's Monday. But apparently, the morning course at Utrecht did not start last week, but it started this week. I was not complaining last week, as it meant that I had an extra time to relax, lol.

Anyway, so, this Monday came. I was kinda excited, to be honest, as it was literally the first time ever in my life I had a regular class that would be held in different city and I had to come back to Delft in the afternoon!! I would be part of the morning rush (which turned out that it was kinda not fun)!!

So, this morning I got up pretty early (because I also had to cook my breakfast and prepare my lunch as I did not want to be starving during the course). At 8, I met my friends at the station and we left Delft catching train at 8.15 to Rotterdam (we had to transit once at Rotterdam). Being part of the morning rush was very not fun. Just for you to get a seat, you need luck, let alone you want to sit with your group of friends! Beside, my kortingkaart (discount card) is not valid during morning rush before 9 (although it does not really matter as my ticket will be reimbursed by the university).

Anyway, so we finally made it to Utrecht, sitting separately but we all got our own seat (thanks God for that!). From the station, we caught a frikkin' long bus (it looked like three buses joint together) to get to the university. As predicted, we got lost just to find the frikkin' building in which the class would be held. There was no clear sign about the location of the building. Well, I did survey it on Google Map before going, but I forgot to mark which one was north, south, etc, so it did not really help, lol. Twenty minutes getting lost, we finally found the building and subsequently, our class.

Then, I expected the class to be interesting. I read the class' description so I pretty much had an idea (supposedly) about what to expect. However, in the first class this morning, the professor talked about something completely different (from my perspective)! I mean, well, I understand that what he explained today might be, in a way (supposedly), the very very very basic of all things that we might need. I thought it was supposed to be "brief", but I just felt it was not brief at all. Even at one point in the middle of the lecture, he said that he just compressed a 5 classes (which objective was really that field he explained) material into a 90 minutes lecture. Well, for me, it was like a slap in the face! How was I supposed to absorb all those things, plus the fact that we were preparing ourselves for something else! It was like you were ordering pizza for a meal in a restaurant but what you got was a big pile of cheese. Well, hopefully the next lecture will be better though.

Anyway, after that class, we went back to Delft. This time, because it was not the rush hour anymore, it was easier to get seats. Short story even shorter, we arrived at Delft at 2.45 PM. I went back home and prepared myself for my evening class which started at 4.45 PM: Dutch class. And as written here, this class is demanding as we have exams right after EACH class.

So, that was it: my Monday this quarter: getting up early - catching early train to Utrecht - being part of the morning rush - class in Utrecht - rushing back to Delft - preparing for Dutch test - Dutch class - Dutch test. Now, when I still basically have no big assignment due in the near future, Monday already looks demanding. Well, but I know I can beat it!! :-)

::: Long bus in Utrecht. Picture was taken from here. Well, next week (if I do not forget about it) I will try to take a picture of this frikkin' long bus.

note : illustration was taken from here.


Dua minggu yang lalu aku menulis bahwa dua kelasku kuarter ini diadakan di hari Senin, tetapi mereka diadakan di dua kota yang berbeda: Utrecht dan Delft. Awalnya sih, aku kira hari Senin pertamaku dengan jadwal seperti ini adalah Senin minggu lalu. Tapi ternyata, kelas pagi di Utrecht baru dimulainya minggu ini, bukan minggu lalu. Minggu lalu sih aku nggak protes soalnya jadi ada sedikit waktu ekstra untuk santai-santai, lol.

Ngomong2, akhirnya, hari Senin ini tiba juga. Aku lumayan bersemangat dalam menghadapi hari ini, jujur, karena ini adalah hari pertama dalam seumur hidupku aku ada kelas reguler yang akan diadakan di kota lain dan aku harus balik lagi ke kota asalku (Delft) di siang harinya!! Aku juga akan menjadi bagian dari morning rush (jam sibuk di pagi hari) (yang ternyata tidak menyenangkan loh)!!

Jadi, pagi ini aku bangun lumayan pagi (kan aku harus masak sarapan dan menyiapkan bekal makan siang soalnya aku nggak mau dong kelaparan di tengah-tengah kelas). Jam 8, aku bertemu teman2ku di stasiun dan kami meninggalkan Delft naik kereta jam 8.15 pagi tujuan Rotterdam (ya, kami harus transit sekali di Rotterdam). Menjadi bagian morning rush ternyata sangat nggak menyenangkan. Untuk dapet kursi aja membutuhkan keberuntungan loh, apalagi kalau mau duduk bareng sama sekelompok teman! Disamping itu, kortingkaart-ku (kartu korting) nggak berlaku ketika morning rush sebelum pukul 9 (yang ini sebenarnya nggak masalah sih soalnya ongkos transportnya bakal diganti sama universitas).

Ngomong2, akhirnya kami tiba di Utrecht, duduk terpisah di kereta tapi setidaknya semuanya dapat kursi (untung banget deh!). Dari stasiun, kami naik bus yang panjang banget (penampakannya kaya tiga bus digandeng) untuk pergi ke kampusnya. Seperti yang sudah diduga sebelumnya, kami kesasar dalam upaya pencarian gedung tempat kuliah diadakan. Nggak ada petunjuk yang jelas sih. Memang sih sebelumnya aku sudah survey peta di Google Map dulu, tapi aku malah lupa ngecek mana arah utara, selatan, dll, makanya nggak terlalu membantu deh, lol. Dua puluh menit kemudian, akhirnya kami menemukan gedungnya dan tentu saja, kelasnya.

Trus, aku berharap kelasnya menarik. Aku membaca deskripsi kelasnya jadi aku memiliki bayangan lah (seharusnya) akan apa yang bisa diharapkan. Namun, di kelas pertama tadi pagi, profesornya malah membahas hal yang sangat berbeda (dari sudut pandangku)! Maksudku, ngerti sih kalau materinya tadi itu, mungkin di satu sisi, akan menjadi hal yang sangat amat dasar sekali dari apa yang akan kita bahas nantinya. Cuma saja, aku rasa seharusnya cukup "singkat" saja lah, dan aku sih nggak merasa yang tadi itu singkat. Malahan aja di satu waktu profesornya bilang dia baru saja memadatkan materi 5 pertemuan di kelas yang memang membahas materi itu, menjadi penjelasan selama 90 menit. Yah, untuk aku sih, rasanya seakan-akan kaya baru ditonjok, gitu aja! Bagaimana deh kita harus memahami semua materi itu, disamping fakta bahwa bukan materi itu yang kita persiapkan! Bisa diibaratkan kita memesan pizza untuk makan di restoran tapi yang keluar adalah keju sepanci. Yah, mudah2an kuliah selanjutnya akan lebih ok deh.

Kemudian, setelah kelas itu, kami kembali ke Delft. Kali ini, karena bukan jam sibuk, lebih gampang deh dapet kursinya. Memendekkan cerita yang udah pendek, akhirnya kami tiba di Delft jam 2.45 sore. Aku balik ke apartemen dan langsung mempersiapkan diriku untuk kelas sore hari yang mulai jam 4.45 sore: kelas Bahasa Belanda. Dan seperti yang kutulis disini, kelas ini tuh lumayan menuntut karena kami ada tes di akhir SETIAP kelas.

Nah, jadi ini deh: hari Seninku kuarter ini: bangun pagi - naik kereta pagi ke Utrecht - menjadi bagian morning rush - kelas di Utrecht - langsung balik menuju Delft - mempersiapkan tes bahasa Belanda - kelas bahasa Belanda - tes bahasa Belanda. Sekarang dimana aku masih belum ada tugas besar untuk dikumpulkan dalam waktu dekat aja sudah kerasa nih tuntutannya. Yah, tapi aku pasti bisa melalui semua ini! :-)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

#879 - 2010 Year-End Trip: Italy (Part I)

note: due to its length, this entry will only be written in English.

Well, it has been a month now, and I have not written anything yet about my last year-end trip to Italy (well, except for this one) because of my hectic January. Anyway, let me get started.

As you should have found out through that link above, our first destination was actually Pisa, but because we already booked return-ticket to and from Milan, it meant that on the first day we had to travel a lot. Well, I did not mind traveling around a lot actually. However, it turned out that the first day of traveling to be a very unforgettable day with everything went wrong (details in that link).


Fast forward, we arrived at Pisa at around 2 AM and of course we were so exhausted. We finally got to the hostel and because we picked a hostel which was literally just like 100 meter away from the tower, of course we SAW the tower getting there. The thing was, I had always wanted to visit the Pisa Tower. And that night, finally seeing it for the first time with my own eyes, I felt overwhelmed!! I remember feeling fired-up and excited, like all the exhaustion just disappeared (well, of course this was only because of some hormones or other things my body secreted due to this excitement that tricked my body to "forget" the exhaustion while it was actually still there). Anyway, I was so excited that after putting my stuffs down in the room, I just fleed to the Pisa Tower to enjoy it, at THREE AM in the morning!! Btw, I walked there with one friend and there was noone else there. Well, the last sentence was not really true, let me rephrase it: there was no "other tourist" there. We took some photos and decided to get a bit closer to the tower where a policeman somehow popped out from nowhere in the dark shooing us away. The exhaustion started to take the control of my body over from the adrenaline, and I decided to get back to the hostel.

::: The Leaning Tower of Pisa. The grand building in front of it was the Baptistry.

The next day, we got up a bit later in the day. Our agenda that day was to get around the Pisa Tower (and its complex) and then left the city, heading to Rome. Well, because we had a really late start in Italy, our schedule for this day was also a bit affected. We started getting around the tower at around 1 PM (our original schedule was at about 9 or 10 AM). Btw, I still remember that that day started awesomely for us: it was HOT!! Well, do not interpret the "hot" as in Indonesian standard for "hot" day. It was probably somewhere in the 10 degree. I even did not feel the urge to wear my winter jacket and I eventually just wore my short sleeved polo shirt. But then, the weather played around with us. At about 3 PM, it started raining! Dammit! hahaha...

Anyway, that day, tourists flocked the complex (of course). Well, nothing much I could write here as it was what it was: awesome!! Finally seeing THE Leaning Tower of Pisa with my own eyes: WOW!! (btw, looking at it with your own eyes: you will really feel its awesomeness, that the structure is really leaning and it looks like it is going to crumble!)


At about 4 PM, we arrived at Pisa Station to continue our journey to Roma. We bought tickets for train departing at around 6.15 PM and it was scheduled to arrive at 9.30 PM or so in Roma Termini Station. Our main goal that day was to finally get to our hostel.

Then, one small incident happened. We got in a "cab", which was not really a cab. For a 10 minutes ride, he charged us like 40 euro (he did not run the meter as there was NO meter in the cab). Well, I know that it was our mistake that we got in that "cab" in the first place, but it was the driver who played a good "trick" by standing in front of the real cabs just outside the station's exit door and approached us and acted like a real cab driver! After two long days and trips we had, of course we were kinda tired and it was easy to assume that he was a real cab driver.

Anyway, so of course we did not want to pay frickin' 40 euro. We were okay with just 15 euro max. He got mad. We were practically already in the doorstep of our hostel where he asked us to get back into his cab and he would drive us back to the station, and we would not have to pay anything. But come on. Please, who wanted to do that?? We knew that he was doing this thing to us because he knew we were tourists. So, we got an idea. We called the hostel guy and asked him to go down to the door to talk to this "cab" driver in Italian. The guy then came and the problem was solved and we paid only 15 euro, hahaha. Btw, the hostel guy was apparently Dutch :-)

The next day, we explored the city of Roma. Our main destination that day was the Vatican City. There was also a small funny incident that happened that morning. We asked an old guy on the street where the bus stop was. He explained to us, with heavy Italian accent. We then followed the direction he showed us but on the way, to make sure, we asked another guy. Apparently, the old guy was watching us and he got kinda mad that we asked another guy the same thing! Lol, it was kinda funny.

Anyway, so we finally arrived at THE Vatican City. It was drizzling that day, definitely not the best day to get around. We were a bit disappointed that the Vatican Museum was closed earlier that day (as it was the 24th of December) and of course we could not make it. We then made a plan to get back to Vatican City one more time before we left Roma. So, we took what we could get that day: St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica.

::: One of many works of art in St. Peter's Basilica.

::: St. Peter's Basilica

Well, St. Peter's Basilica REALLY resembled and represented the center of Catholicism. It was SO AMAZINGLY GRANDEUR!! I was really amazed with this building and all the art-works in it. I had never seen a church that beautiful and magnificent. In fact, maybe St. Peter's Basicila is the most majestic church in the world. I also (finally) saw the original Pieta with my own eyes. Visiting this place is also even more magical for those who have read or watched "Angels and Demons". In fact, I got the opportunity to visit the underground chamber where the graves of late popes were buried. Well, reading the novel, I imagined the chamber to be dark, cold, and kinda spooky. In reality, it was not. It was so bright, warm, but yet, solemn. The grave of Pope John Paul II was also there, and I prayed there. We were apparently the last few visitors allowed to get in to that underground chamber as the Vatican was getting ready for the Christmas. One of the guard even asked us to hurry up, saying: "Hurry up! The pope is coming here!". LOL.

::: St. Peter's Square

::: The underground chamber at St. Peter's Basilica. It was far from the spooky and cold atmosphere.

It was still drizzling when we got out, and it turned out that this bad weather would continue for the whole day. After having a quick lunch at 3 PM, we decided to walk to Castel Sant'Angelo which was pretty close to Vatican City. We got lucky that somehow, we walked at the Via della Conciliazione as it provided a majestic view of St. Peter's Basicila, as depicted in this picture:

::: A majestic view of St. Peter's Basilica from Via della Conciliazione (it is the wide street connecting St. Peter's Square and Castel Sant'Angelo).

See?? WOW!!! Anyway, Castel Sant'Angelo was also beautiful. There was a room which was wholly painted with Rennaissance-taste pictures. Well, at this point, I had not visited Sistine Chapel yet (don't worry, I will get there later), so I found this room was SO beautiful! And there was a narrow stairs which led us to a balcony on top of the castle, which would offer a spectacular view of the city, given that it was NOT raining.

::: A majestic view of Roma with its Tiber River and St. Peter's Basilica, as seen from the balcony of Castel Sant'Angelo.

::: The statue of Archangel Michael on top of Castel Sant'Angelo.

After Castel Sant'Angelo, we decided to get back to our hostel. We got a surprise from the hostel: we got a bottle of wine and a cake for free because it was Christmas Eve!! God bless our hostel!! It was awesome!! For dinner, we decided to look for an Italian restaurant nearby. The thing was, it was Christmas Eve!! And to make things worse, our hostel was located in a residential area of the city. What did these things mean? Well, these two factors combined together resulted in: "all restaurants were closed during Christmas Eve" but one restaurant: Sushi Tei. Yeah, Sushi Tei for God's Sake!! Finding no other option, we decided to take some meals away from this restaurant. For myself, I picked a gyoudon. And there we were, eating Japanese food for dinner in Italy during Christmas Eve. Interesting... .


Thursday, February 03, 2011

#878 - February It Is!!


Well, time really flies, one full month has passed since the year 2011 rang its bell for the first time. Well, I barely felt January though because I had a really hectic month with assignments and exams (you can tell, I am sure). And now, here we are, in the beginning of a whole brand new month: February.

Things have been going pretty okay for my in the new month. One result of my exam was published yesterday, and the result is: *drumroll playing* I PASS it! I am really happy that I PASS the exam and I am really grateful for that! But somehow I am not really satisfied with my grade. I think I could have done better and honestly, I am really considering about taking a resit (reexam) now. I mean, practically, there is nothing to lose for me because I already have that "pass" badge in my bag. If I do worse in the resit exam, I already have the "pass" badge and I am still safe. The only "loss" (if I want to see it that way) is that I will have to invest some time, energy, and effort to restudy all the materials again. So what do you think?

Anyway, finally I have been exam-free and assignment-free for almost one week now. Well, this statement is not really true though. I am taking a Dutch Course for Beginners now and it is kinda really demanding. We have to start working hard from day zero (we even have to pass a preliminary test before qualifying to join the class, and by passing, it is getting 80%). And the hard-working continues from day one (which was last Monday) and on as we have tests every time the class ends and we have to pass them. If we fail them, then we will have to retake them the next class, which also has its own set of tests. So, if we keep failing, the tests will start to pail up. Well, but for now I am kinda enjoying it though. Hopefully I can keep this spirit up the whole course. :-)

Well, to close this entry, apparently today is the Chinese New Year!! Gong Xi Fa Chai everyone!!

note : pictures were taken from here and here.


Wah, waktu berlalu begitu cepat yah, nggak kerasa satu bulan penuh sudah berlalu semenjak bunyi bel tahun 2011 pertama kali dikumandangkan. Yah, aku sih nggak terlalu merasakan sebulan Januari lalu karena aku memiliki bulan yang sangat padat dan sibuk dengan semua tugas dan ujiannya (pasti pada sadar deh ya, aku yakin). Dan sekarang, disinilah kita, di awal bulan yang baru: Februari.

Hal-hal di sekitarku berlangsung dengan baik nih di awal bulan ini. Satu hasil ujian sudah diumumkan kemarin, dan hasilnya adalah: *genderang berdendang* Aku LULUS loh! Aku sangat bahagia aku LULUS ujian itu dan aku sangat bersyukur karenanya! Tapi kenapa ya koq aku nggak terlalu puas sama nilainya. Rasanya aku bisa mendapat nilai yang lebih baik deh dan jujur nih, aku sedang mempertimbangkan ambil ujian ulang sekarang. Maksudku, pada dasarnya, posisiku saat ini nothing to lose kan. Aku kan sudah memiliki tanda "lulus" nih. Jadi, kalau ujian ulangku lebih buruk, kan aku sudah "lulus" dan aman deh. Satu-satunya kerugiannya adalah (kalau mau dilihat sebagai kerugian) aku harus inves waktu, tenaga, dan usaha untuk mempelajari lagi semua materinya. Bagaimana nih pendapat kalian?

Ngomong2, akhirnya seminggu terakhir ini aku nggak ada ujian dan tugas untuk dipikirkan nih. Yah, kalimat sebelumnya itu nggak sepenuhnya benar sih. Kuarter ini aku mengambil kelas bahasa Belanda bagi pemula dan beban dari kelasnya lumayan juga. Kami harus bekerja keras mulai dari hari nol (kami bahkan harus lulus ujian awal dulu hanya supaya bisa ikut kelasnya, dan dengan lulus, maksudnya dapat nilai 80%). Dan kerja kerasnya berlanjut di kelas semenjak hari pertama dan seterusnya karena kami ada tes di setiap akhir kelas dan kami harus lulus tes-tes itu. Andaikata nggak lulus, tes harus diulang di pertemuan selanjutnya yang juga sudah ada agenda tes tersendiri. Dengan kata lain, kalau gagal terus, ya artinya tes-tes itu bakal selalu menumpuk deh. Yah, aku sih sekarang bisa menikmatinya koq. Mudah2an aja aku bisa tetap menjaga semangat ini sepanjang kursus :-)

Yah, untuk menutup posting ini, ternyata hari ini adalah Tahun Baru Ilmek!! Gong Xi Fa Chai semuanya!!