Monday, July 30, 2007


Today my husband got an official email announcing his promotion to a new position.
Allah maha pemurah..

tak sia-sia kita pindah ke tanah gersang ini..

I am happy, yet also a little ... afraid? cautious?

With great power comes great responsibility.
You are also open to greater risks.
I am also very cautious about becoming complacent, or perhaps too proud. Apa nama nya dalam bahasa melayu.. riak?
na'uzubillah lah kan?

May I often be reminded to be grateful and humble always, by Allah, or by those close to me. Insya-Allah.

Merdeka Makan-Makan

Merdeka Makan-Makan at 3pm on 31st August 2007, my house is still on!

Since it's tea time, we're gonna have a barbecue.. woo hooo!

So far the attendance are:

Name # adults # kids Will make/bring
Elisa (host)24marinated meat for bbq, panna cotta, drinks
Rotidua (Nina&Firhad)22?
MoshiMoshi22karipap sardin
bbd (bear&diah)21dadih
OfLionAndBear21meehoon goreng
Kejora23Merdeka cake

Please tell me if you're coming and what you plan to bring (or if u want to change what you're bringing).

I would suggest:

nasi or mee goreng or something to go with bbq, tit bits, fruits (not watermelons, unless you cut up in advance), finger food, food for kids ... you guys drink coffee/tea?

Please note that I will be leaving for Saudi the next day, so minimize leftovers! (I will also provide plastic containers for you to take leftovers home with you :) )

Email me at elisa underscore taufik at yahoo dot com if you need my address and a map to my house.

See you guys there!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

What a blogathon!

Oh Boy..
what a night (and day) did we have!

We started the blogathon at 6pm malaysian time, amidst panic coz PB was not online and depended on intysaar who had no way to communicate with us so we (a bunch of us who were on YM - aiechomeyl, nutty, lollies, futuredoc and I) did what we do best.. be kepoh lah.
We scrambled to put up a clock coz the efx2 timestamp didnt match our clocks (it was like 9 minutes late), we scrambled to put up something when we saw the time passing and no new post.
I wondered if intysaar felt like we didnt trust her or something.. heh heh.
When PB got on for awhile she suddenly realized that she got her timing all wrong and we had been blogging about 3 hours earlier (or something)!
Fortunately kind souls like lollies and nazrah and nutty and nonah and intysaar volunteered to put in extra hours so that the rest of us can just stick to our schedules. Thankyou gals!!

But the real fun was not on the blog...
Off the blog, in a small YM conference window, *that's* where all the fun was. By sunday morning, the conference swelled to a group of 7 of us:
aiechomeyl, nutty, lollies, nazrah, beelove, dory and I. Not that big, but big enough to cause a riot!
At first the conversation we had pingponged from cooking to cleaning, but then nazrah's soft-p0rn harlequin romance post came on and all hell broke loose! I couldnt stop laughing I nearly choked on my indomie goreng.
We had serious conversations of course, (career opportunities in the o&g sector and the middle-east, the benefits of swissoats) .. but most parts of it were about erm.. carnal stuff. It was all educational. Really, we swear! :D

Anyways, i always have great fun during the previous blogathons and this year was no exception.

Let's do this again!

Let's give these folks a pat in the back for their efforts:
Nutty, UglyButAdorable, Dew107, aiechomeyll, nonah, nazrah, lollies, intysaar and the big kahuna: PrimaryBasic!!

You can read all the posts at myblogathon.

Here are mine:
one, two, three, four
five, six, seven, eight

By the way, we raised USD118.05 for Raudhatus Sakinah, a continuous project by WanitaJIM that exists to help the society tackle the social problems, specifically amongst teenage girls. They need funds to continue the good and important job they're doing.

Even though the blogathon is over, you can still donate! Click here to make your pledge and directly donate to the charity Raudhatus Sakinah.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Blogathon 2007!!!!

'Some people' said that bloggers are mostly "unemployed liars", so here's your chance to prove them wrong.

It's that time of the year again, when a bunch of us get together, and blog for one whole day on Malaysian Blogathon's blog, for charity.

This year, it's on Saturday 28th July 2007, and our resident blogathon organizer, primarybasic, has chosen Raudhatus Sakinah, a protection and guidance centre for young women, as the beneficiary of our efforts.

We need people to help us with posts. You can contribute posts even if you are not an efx2 blogger. Please go to Malaysian blogathon's blog to check out the schedule and see when you can contribute. Sunday morning slots are still open!
Tell us if you're interested and we'll contact you and give you the access details.

If you can't blog but want to sponsor us, here's what to do:
- Go to sponsor page for Raudhatus Sakinah.

- If you're logged in, you'll go right to the amounts page. Otherwise, you'll be given the option to sign up or log in.

- Choose how much you'd like to sponsor us for, and whether it's a lump sum, or an hourly amount. 100% of the sponsored amount goes to Raudhatus Sakinah.

- Decide how you'd like to appear on the site, and to your blogger (that would be primarybasic). You can be completely open, or completely anonymous. Either way, your email address is never published on the site ( See their privacy policy for details.

- Once we have successfully blogged for 24hours, you'll get an email reminding you to honor your pledge.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeazy... :D

You can also follow our progress yourself (and lend us your moral support by leaving comments, while you're at it) by going to Malaysian blogathon on July 28th, starting 6pm (Malaysian time= +8GMT).

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ihsan's glowy undies

It was after lunch, about 3 in the afternoon and we were on via vittorio emanuele II, waiting for our bus. We had taken shelter in a small alcove, which was really an entrance to an apartment building. On the wall was a brass plate with the names of the tenants of the apartments. Ihsan was playing on the sidewalk when he realized that the brass plate was reflecting the afternoon sun on the sidewalk and that if he positioned himself correctly, it'd look like his shadow had glowing undies.

We noticed too late that the reflection also looked like a transformer logo, because as soon as I told ihsan to position himself so the logo falls on his chest, we saw the bus coming.

ah well, the magic undies was cool enough :)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tips for Italy

Street artist

See my pictures of italy on flicker.

This will be my last post on the subject.

I will summarize the few tips I've picked up during the trip.

Travelling with Children

Travelling with children has its advantages and disadvantages.

The disadvantage is that they tire easily, so you have to plan a lot of breaks in between your activities. They also get bored really quick, so prepare something for them to do, like a drawing book they could doodle in. I let my kids use the camera once in a while to capture things they wanted to capture. We had numerous thumb wrestling matches while waiting for food. Last but not least, be firm when it comes to gelatos. They will ask for it every day, and at almost EUR2 per cone, you could really burn a huge hole in your wallet!

The advantage is that they have a perspective and view that are different from adults. They notice the most unusual and interesting things, like door knockers. Or how much fun it is to chase pigeons. And some of their questions could lead you to the most interesting discoveries, like how they transport animals and gladiators from the basement to the middle of the colosseum, and that on the floor of St.Peter's square, there are mosaic circles pointing to North, South, East, West, etc. and the dots are not blemishes, but the constellations. :)


Most restaurants would customize their dishes for you and even bring you items that are not on their menu, so don't be shy to ask. Remember this phrase: "Niente Maiale", which means "No Pork", and "Niente Carne", which means "No Meat", and you're set. As I mentioned before, there were two halal Kebab shops near the Santa Maria Novella Church in Florence, and a halal Lebanese restaurant near Santa Maria Groce Church. So if you're craving for meat, you know where to go.

But even without meat, you could definitely survive on seafood and vegetables. Their tomatoes were so yummy! (In fact, taufik scoffs at saudi tomatoes now that he has tasted italian ones). Most respectable restaurants serve a bread basket with EVOO and balsamic vinegar with every meal, so you can also survive by just eating that and a salad.

(By the way, the best bread we had was in Cafe Pitti in front of Palazzo Pitti, Florence. Their brown bread had sunflower seeds in them. so so yummy)


Exchange all your money before you come here because the exchange rate and the comission is a killer! Or, pay with your credit card whenever you can. Or take out cash from the ATM (the exchange rate is better).

Some roadside stalls even accept credit card payments, but not all. Save up your small change to give to the street performers.

What to bring

Your spare glasses (spectacles) and contact lenses. Izani broke Taufik's glasses a week before we left for Italy, so Taufik wore his spare glasses on our trip. Izani kicked off his glasses when he was carrying the boy on his shoulders and it broke to pieces on the pavement. Contact lenses cost EUR95 for a box of 6 pieces! (It only cost between RM75-80 on malaysia).

For your camera : spare batteries (4 AA batteries costs EUR4), memory cards and a thumbdrive just in case you need to transfer pictures. We took almost 500 pictures and used 2 memory cards.

Bring or buy an international adaptor - damn those weird sockets! Whoever could standardize the plugs and sockets all over the world should receive the nobel prize or something.

Sunblock sunblock sunblock!!!

Comfortable shoes.

Analgesic eardrops for that annoying ear pain on the plane.


I was warned about this before I went. So we avoided carrying a lot of cash when we were out. Just enough for expenses and food. We kept them in deep pockets. I carried them in a zipped sling pouch that I kept in front of me at all times. We also avoided taking public buses and was very cautious in crowded places. Taufik carried our backpack on his front when ever he felt there were too many people around us.

Alhamdulillah, nothing untoward happened to us.


Bottled water can be very very expensive. You could be charged between EUR1 to EUR1.50 for a small bottle at the wrong places (small stalls, restaurants and gelaterias). Buy your water at a local grocery store or supermarket. A huge 2 liter bottle only cost EUR0.80.


The public transportation is really good. I did not take a regular bus during my stay, but I saw there were many buses and their routes and schedules are prominently displayed at all bustops.

Always take the metered taxi to avoid getting overcharged.

I cannot rave enough about the hop-on-hop-off tour buses. I think they're a great way to go sightseeing. It comes with commentaries that are usually very informative and helpful, and it's really value for money.

If all fails, you could always walk! The streets are pretty safe and there are many other walkers with you. The tourist police are also very prominent and helpful around Florence and Rome.


There are a lot of acommodation choices that are available to you, to fit your style and budget. If I had had my way, I would have stayed in a rented villa in a farm or a B&B. If you plan to be walking about, I don't see the point of staying in an overly posh room. A comfortable bed anywhere would've been enough for me. Then I could've spent the extra money on other stuff.

There are a lot of information and booking engines available on-line, but I would suggest going to the proprietor's own website if they have one. They are usually more lenient in terms of cancellation fees and such.

I found online booking sites to be very useful when you want to compare prices and to read other people's review on the place and it's surroundings.

Helpful Links

Here are some the sites I went to in preparation for this trip:

Yahoo Travel - i researched on hotels, things to do and created an itinerary here. From here you can get on online hotel booking sites that would also include hotel reviews. - Lots of real information from fellow travellers. I particularly like their "Off The Beaten Path" section, where other travellers give you ideas that are out of the ordinary tourist's itinerary. - everything to do with food! - A guide to halal eating in almost every country in the world.

IBBP (International Bed and Breakfast pages) - where I looked for a bed and breakfast to stay in Tuscany, before I found out I had to stay in hotels.

last but not least,

Podere Fraggina - this is where I want to stay in next time!

Hope you find my tips useful! :D

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rome, Italy


On the bullet train

After 3 days in Tuscany, we took the EuroStar from Santa maria Novella train station to Roma Termini. The train ride took around 1 hour and 45 minutes. Buying train tickets were quite easy. You can buy tickets online in advance but they limit ticket purchases to 5 per person and since there were 10 of us, taufik had to go buy the tickets in person. Good thing the station was near our hotel in Florence, so he bought the tickets on the afternoon we arrived. The trains were on time and first class tickets cost 6 of us around EUR160 and you have assigned seats. If you've watched Oceans12, the seats are just like the ones in that movie. (Tapi unfortunately, my train tak ada George Cl00ney)

We arrived Termini station around 4pm and took a taxi to our hotel. There were some drivers who offered their services for a flatrate of EUR30 but when we found out they weren't metered taxis, we declined and got on a metered taxi. Thank God, because the metered taxi ride costs only EUR7!

I had booked rooms at Hotel Fontana Trevi online, simply because it was close to the the Trevi Fountains. I thought it'd be romantic. I assure you, it is right smack in front of the fountain! So close, you could smell the horsesh*t if you leave your windows open for too long.

At first glance you'd find the hotel a bit small and shabby. The rooms are very small compared to the huge rooms we had at Grand Hotel Baglioni, Florence, and the rates were the same. But upon closer inspection, I found the hotel to be quite quaint. Again, the furnishings are antique, with old darkwood benches (with silk cushions) and chest of drawers put along its corridors. They display fresh flowers in antique vases and there are old paintings in every available wall.

The best thing about the hotel must be its dining room. Located on the highest floor of the hotel, it overlooks the magnificent trevi fountain. We try to wake up early every morning just to rush and make sure we get the tables by the balcony. Early in the morning there are practically nobody around the fountain except guys cleaning out the fountain (vacuuming up the coins that are thrown in there), so the atmosphere is quite serene compared to the rest of the day when there are throngs and throngs of people hanging about taking pictures, throwing coins over their left shoulders, selling something or just milling about eating gelatos.

The Hotel Fontana Breakfast room and Us sitting on the side of the fountain

The first evening we arrived in Rome, we took a walk towards Piazza de Spagna where the Spanish Steps were. The kids saw a sign for McDonald's and whined and whined relentlessly even after I told them repeatedly that they couldn't eat the chicken nuggets. Taufik finally gave in and we went to the McD0nald's near the steps.

This branch of McD0nalds was apparently awarded 'The Best McDonald's in the world' because it was housed in a very old building and they kept the original architecture. I didnt have time to appreciate it coz it was very very crowded and I had to wait in line for at least 45 minutes before I could order my 5 filet-o-fish, fries and water. I was grumbling to Ilham about what a waste of time it was to wait in line at a mcD0nald's when we could be walking through town and look at historical sites. Suffice to say, nobody whined for McD anymore after that.

It was an enjoyable dinner though. After dinner we took a walk up Via Venetto which is the posh side of town, where Hard Rock Cafe Rome is located. We then dropped by a souviner stall that also sells tickets for the hop-on-hop-off tour bus we were planning to take the next morning.

The next morning we took the bus for sightseeing and our first stop was of course, at the Roman Colosseum.

While waiting to get into the colosseum to buy our tickets, we saw people dressed as the roman legions. You could pay to take pictures with them, or you could do like Ihsan and stand on the side and take a picture of them anyway.

We had to go through an x-ray machine to get into the colosseum, and after that it was a very long queue to buy tickets. After finding out that the tickets bought at the Palatine are also valid for the colosseum, Taufik ran to the Palatine and got our tickets there instead. The Palatine is about 5 minute's walk, but the queue to get back into the colosseum via the x-ray machines took almsot 15minutes. So learn from me, go to the Palatine before the colosseum and you save time in the queue. (Oh, and bring your passports, coz somehow they require that to buy tickets).

Ihsan taking pictures with the SPQR outside the colosseum , Taufik with Izani and Anis inside the colosseum

The colosseum is actually smaller than I imagined, but it was still a magnificent structure. To think that this awesome, multi story stadium was built almost 2 millenia ago just boggles the mind.

We went up to the upper floor to take pictures against the backdrop of the columns Romun Forums and visited an exhibition on Eros, the god of Love.

The kids grew tired after walking around the colosseum, so we took the bus again and stepped off at Corso Vittorio Emanuele and randomly picked a retaurant Libeccio for our lunch. It was definitely a good pick, because the price were cheaper than the restaurants in Florence and their Spaghetti Vongole (Clams) was excellent. I tried out their Tiramisu and it was Yummeh. Taufik vowed to come back for dinner.

After lunch we rode the bus again and decided to go to the Vatican City later in the afternoon when it's not so hot. So we just rode through the Vatican City and headed back to the hotel for a short nap.

We took the bus again around 5pm and went to the Vatican City.

In front of Basilica Saint Pietro

Since it was later in the afternoon, there were not that many people on the square in front of St. Peter's Basilica. The kids had fun running around chasing pigeons and we took our own sweet time to look at all the carvings, light fixtures and mosaic work around the piazza. Again, we did not get into any of the museums.

We then took a walk across the bridge Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II towards the restaurant Libeccio (again), where we had our dinner. After dinner was another liesurely stroll towards the Trevi Fountain. We came across Piazza Navona, which happens to be quite a happening place. We managed to see a guy perform an act that combined juggling, comedy and some 'magical' toys. It was very entertaining and the kids really enjoyed themselves. There were also many artists selling their paintings or offering to do caricatures of you in the piazza.

On the last day in Rome, we relaxed a bit after breakfast, then checked out of the hotel. We left our bags at the hotel while we walked around some more, to places we did not get to go to the previous day.

We went to The Vittorio Emanuele Monument (I really should find out who this vittorio guy is), which is this amazing building that houses a tomb or something, because the guards there won't let anybody sit on the floor or it's steps or anywhere.

We went to the Pantheon or the Santa Maria Basilica, which is the only church I entered throughout this whole trip. The frescoes inside this basilica dedicated to Mary, Jesus' mother, was extraordinary, and I can see why christians could feel humbled when entering the building.

On the way back to our hotel from the Pantheon, we discovered a shop called Bertolucci that sells wooden toys and it had a small pinocchio's workshop outside it. The kids had fun oggling at the various toys it sold, but unfortunately we didnt buy any because they were rather expensive. :(

Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, The Pantheon and Pinnochio's workshop

After early dinner and one last cone of gelato, we headed back to our hotel to pick up our bags and took a cab to the Fumiciano Airport. The taxi was supposed to cost EUR40, but the driver saw that there were 6 of us and charged us EUR50 instead. We didnt argue much because we know how expensive the price of gasoline is in europe.

And there ends our trip to Italy...

As I said before and will say again and again untill it comes true, "I wish to return!". Ihsan threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain before we left, so hopefully the myth will hold true and we will return some day.

Note to Didi:

I found Bocca della Verita, the Mouth of Truth, but I just saw it from the bus. We didnt get off to see it because the kids didnt want to. I had told them that the mouth will bite the hands of those who lie and they got scared! Their fear was compunded by the many-many posters of Gregory Peck with his 'missing' hand in front of the Mouth of Truth that they saw was sold along the streets of Rome. :laugh:

I wanted to buy you a Roman Holiday calendar, but the first night i was there I saw them sold for EUR6, but the following day I only saw ones that are sold for EUR7.50, some even at EUR8! In my persistence to look for one at the cheaper price, I ended up not buying it. *uwaaaaaaa* :(


next time next time

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Volterra, Italy

Instead of going to Venice and Pisa, we had a day trip to Volterra instead.


I didnt get to take that many pictures because we went on a highway from Florence in a very bumpy van and I was taking care of Izani. If you just click on the underlined title above, you'd get to see how beautiful this town is.

On our way there we passed through quaint farmhouses with paths lined with cypress trees (just like in Gladiator!), sunflower fields, vineyards and huge fields that looked like they've just been harvested because some of them had rolls of hay scattered on them.

The road up to Volterra is not unlike the road up to Cameron or Genting Highlands, except that there were not much trees, and because of the vast fields, you could see the beautiful view of the Tuscan hills as fas as the eyes can see.

The huge sunflowers, a famous symbol of Tuscany

Our van driver, Emanuella, brought us wives and kids to Volterra town while the husbands took care of business. We arrived Volterra around 10:30am, after a one and a half hour's drive from Florence. We were then told that we could walk around till 12:30pm, when we'd have to go back to meet our husbands for lunch. I asked Emanuella whether she would walk around with us, and she was friendly and obliged.

Volterra is a very hilly and old town. The part of town we walked was like a huge fort or castle or soemthing coz it was surrounded by a huge old-brick wall. There were many many shops and my friend who checked out some stores said clothes were cheaper in Volterra compared to Florence. We also checked out some stores selling alabaster carvings - busts, vases, boxes, eggs, hearts.. stuff of all shapes and sizes made of alabaster. Since the trip was unexpected, I didnt really read up on Volterra prior to going there, so I did not find out till later that their specialty was alabaster carvings, and therefore these items are much much cheaper there than anywhere else! oh well...

The kids in volterra town

I didnt buy anything in Volterra, but Ilham bought a marionette of pinocchio for EUR2.50, which he treasured and brought everywhere during our trip. We wasted what felt like hours eating gelatos at one of the shops, because by the time the kids finished their 'small cup' (which was 2huge scoops of ice cream!), we saw that it was already 12pm and it was time to head back to meet the men.

We had lunch at one of the restaurants further downhill from Volterra, where we had the most delicious fried calamari (almost comparable to Restoran Muhibbah, TTDI). Around the restaurant were apricot trees, something neither me nor the kids have ever seen before.

We left Volterra for Florence around 3pm.

Biarlah orang kata aku gila berhenti tepi jalan ambik gambar dengan anggur...

I really liked Volterra. It's peaceful and quiet, with not much traffic (except for a few cars filled with tourist). The town seems very laidback, and from the number of people who greeted Emanuella by name, I had the impression that they have a very close-knit community.

Hm... I wouldn't mind moving here at all. The next time I come here, I'll make sure we spend more time in volterra, just driving around. I also heard that there are quite a few Poderos (farms) that offer Agrotourismo (Farmstays) around Volterra, so it is definitely something I would consider taking up in the future!

tee hee!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Florence, Italy

The trip to italy was too short!! 5 days is definitely not enough. There were lots of things that I had wanted to do but did not get to do becuase we were pressed for time. I didnt get into any museums, not even to see Michelangelo's David. We also did not go to Venice and Pisa. We did a lot of sightseeing done, though.

But, you can't expect everything to be perfect, so let's focus on things that we did get to do. First, let me tell you about Florence.


The morning view from our room

We arrived in Florence on mid-morning of July 8th. The view from the sky was breath-taking, with squares of different colored fields sprawled across undulating hills. The hotel sent us a mini bus to pick the 10 of us up from the airport and we got a first glimpse of the suburbs of florence from the bus. Very green and very quaint apartments with narrow alleys and verandas filled with flowers.

We were staying at the Grand Hotel Baglioni, right smack in the middle of town. On its doorstep was Piazza Unita Italiana, and across the strees is the Church of Santa Maria Novella and the train station of the same name. All the buses stop there so it is a very convenient place to start your sight seeing of Florence. There are many shops surrounding the hotel, including small cafes, gelaterias and lingerie shops. We found 2 halal kebab shops, one right beside Piazza Santa Maria Novella and one just a block away from our hotel, closer to the florence central market.

The decor of the hotel was beautiful. It had antique furniture and the ceilings of the lobby and all the rooms were this square wood corniches. The floors of our rooms were wood as well and it squeaked a bit, but it was okay. Our rooms were huge and one room could have comfortably acommodated our family of 2 adults, 3 children and one toddler, but somehow the regulations (?) does not allow that, so we still had to take 2 rooms (which turned out to be better actually, coz then the parents get some private time *wink*).

The hotel is famous for Terrazza Brunelleschi Retaurant on its rooftop. We tried to get dinner reservations on the first evening, but only managed to secure one for our third night there. When we got up there for a peek, we could see why it could be fully booked. From your table you could see a panoramic view of florence and the terrace is decorated with blooming flowers of all sorts, including a few hibiscus plants. Izani just loved touching all the different textures of leaves and petals.

The Baglioni breakfast room, and the rooftop restaurant

We had our first lunch in Florence at the Buca Mario, as recommended by the hotel's concierge. We walked and got lost for a bit at first, but with the help of a very helpful Photo gallery person, we finally found the restaurant. The service was very nice. We explained that we could not eat any of their pork, chicken or beef or any its extract and the waiter was considerate enough to ask if fish was okay, if cheese was okay and if balsamic vinegar was okay and made recommendations. They were also very accomodating when we asked them to make dishes that were not on their menu (spaghetti pomodoro/alfredo for the kids). My porchini mushroom and rugola salad was delicious, but Taufik wasnt really happy with his grilled sea bass. The restaurant was a tad expensive in my opinion and I was also pissed to find out later that they opened fresh bottles of evoo and balsamic vinegar and had not told us that they would charged us for it. If I had known, I would've taken the bottles home with me!

Boboli Gardens and the hills of Fiesole

We spent one day on a hop-on-hop-off tour bus (EUR20 per adult, EUR10 per child above 5). The tour bus was a really good way to get to know the town because you get to listen to the commentary and learn about its history. I think it was a real value for money. It brought us to the other side of the Arno river, up the hills to see the big mansions where machiavelli and aristocratic medici families used to live in, Piazzale Michelangelo (where a bronze copy of David stands and you get a very good view of Florence) and the huge Boboli gardens and Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace). The bus also brought us up to Fiesole, which was so beautiful and I had wanted to explore more but the other family i was with were too tired.. :( My kids were also tired, actually, which made Taufik and I think that the next time we come here, we'd leave the kids at home. tee hee.

When we're not on the bus, we walked. I loved the fact that you could walk almost anywhere and everywhere in Florence. So you will notice that most of the pictures will have me pushing a stroller, with or without Izani in it.

Walking in Florence is a lot of fun! Izani loved it when we're on the cobblestoned streets, because he could go "aaaaaaaaaaah" and listen to his voice vibrate. The north side of the Arno river (where my hotel was) was pretty flat, so it wasnt that tiring even for the kids.

Most of the piazzas (squares) where most of the monuments are were only about one or two blocks apart and even in between there were plenty of beautiful buildings to gawk at. The kids loved looking at the different door knockers (and the size of them) they had on the big old wooden doors of the big old buildings. I loved looking down alleys and up to people's verandas ;). I took a lot of pictures of buildings but I will post them on my flicker site instead of here. will give you that link later.

The weather was also very conducive for walking about. It was only around 24degress celcius during the day, but at noon it could get slightly hotter when you're out in the open and is not in the shade.

Since it's summer, the day is also longer. Daybreak is at 5am (almost like in Saudi), but get this - sunset is at 9:30pm! So we had a lot of daylight time for our walks. Unfortunately though, most shops that are not trattorias (eateries) close by 7pm, even some of the street sellers. So we had very little time to shop. Perhaps it's better, because the exchange rate really kills my mood to buy anything. I found myself multiplying everything by 5 before I buy anything, and I always end up not buying anything at all. :(

The bridge Ponte Vecchio and Street sellers outside 'Central market'

We visited Piazza del Mercato Centrale or the 'Central Market', which looks like a really huge greenhouse with green and red beams and glass walls. The lower piano (floor) has sellers selling groceries like fruits, vegetables, olive oil, wine, vinegar and dried mushrooms and spices. Unfortunately it also houses the fresh meat section, which had aromas that were too overpowering for us. :p bau babi, macam nak muntah...

Outside the Central Market were small shops selling leather goods, like jackets on sale for EUR99 (which is still expensive for a cheapo like me). On the streets around them were small stalls selling souviners from miniature duomos and davids, the ubiquitous t-shirts, silk scarves that look like they came from india coz they were the same ones sold in S@udi only they had a 'Made in Italy' tag glued on it and murano glass jewellery and prayer beads.

Fruits in the Central market and the family in Piazza Unita Italiana with S.Maria Novella Church in the background

In one of the other piazzas, Ihsan managed to convince a street seller to part with a bobbly-head turtle for a lesser price. He first asked the price, and the seller said EUR3. He asked whether he could buy it for EUR1, and the seller said no. He then asked whether he could buy it for EUR2 and the seller said "Okay, because you are so cute and you asked so nicely". Ihsan was simply estatic and proud of himself! :laugh:

We had to leave Florence after 3 days we spent there, and I left with a heavy heart because, as I said, there were so many things that I still wanted to see in Florence. I am praying that I will come back, so that I could finally get my fill of the wonderful city.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Izani is 15 months

Updated Izani's blog with pictures of him in Italy.

enjoy. :D

Gonna take a while before I post pictures and stories here coz I've got 5 loads of laundry to fold and I still need to resize the pics before uploading them.

patience ya?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I am back!

Got back this morning.

My flight was at 11:50pm from Rome. Reached Doha at around 6:30am, then caught another flight at 8:35am for Bahrain. Reached Bahrain at 9:45am, bought some burgers ar DairyQueen, took a cab to Khobar, reached home 11:30am. Ate breakfast/lunch, loaded the washing machine, then slept slept slept. This whole day is a blurr.

Still have to go through the pictures.

Still have 5 loads of washing.

Now I'm hungry for MEAT!!! carne carne carne!

Update later, kay?

What are you doing On Merdeka Day?

If you're not going anywhere on the 31st of August 2007, come over to my place for tea!

(Nina&Firhad: no excuse for you!)

I wanted to make it for lunch (coz mosh wanted fish head curry), but it's friday and leceh lah, nak sembahyang jumaat lagi.. so tea time (3pm gitu) is better (so no fish head curry lah mosh).

It's potluck ya, coz I can't possibly cook for so many people.

I'm thinking of making mee kari or something. Maybe you have a request?

If my dad can make it, then we can celebrate his birthday!

So who's coming and what will you bring?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

what's better

... than a man kissing your shoulder?

a baby kissing your shoulder.

and making raspberries while he's at it.

and squealing.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Before I leave ...

Well, the 'friend' got all of his visas after all.

So we'll be travelling with him, his wife and 3 kids. Okay lah.. at least my kids will make new friends. And hopefully I will make a new friend too, a S@udi to boot, since I have not had the opportunity to get to know a real S@udi before. Everything has a hikmah (silver lining), right? :)

I went through the kids' clothes yesterday. I still have to iron and pack my clothes. Taufik still need to pick out his clothes. :eek:

I don't think I'll have time to blog tomorrow or the rest of the week. So this will probably be my only post till July 15th, when I come back from the trip.

You guys take care. Have fun at the gathering! :D

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

tata tony?

tony brookes,

I am really sorry for what you're going through, but I understand. You must've thought long and hard before making your decision. Sometimes when a part of you is poisoning you or eating away at your life, you have no choice but to amputate it, in order to continue living.

I just wish you all the best for the future. Know that you have friends here, albeit virtually.

(sorry for having to put this here. It's just that he's disabled his blog account)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Meme not for me, but for charity

I was tagged by Gee for this charity tag initiated by Idham. (Read more there)

By doing this meme I am helping to contribute rm127 to the Darul Izzah Orphanage.

1. A person is only as good as ... his deeds.

2. Friendship is always ... better when shared.

3. To love is to... Feed - the mind, the soul and of course, the stomach!

4. Money makes me... want to save up for something really nice. (i have a list!)

5. I miss ... Malaysian food! Rambai, Mangosteens, Rojak Ayam, Lau Wan Char Kuey Teow, Laksam, Keropok lekor, Sata, Temosa, Bronok, Nasi kerabu, Roti Canai with kuah dhal, Mee Mamak, Maggi goreng ayam, Mee Kari FAM, Nasi Kandaq ..*drool*. (I have a list for this too)

6. My way of saying I care is by ... cooking something special.

7. I try to spread love and happiness by... putting at least one smile on someone's face every single day.

8. Pick the flowers when... they're in bloom, not before, not after.

9. To love someone is to... believe in the goodness in them

10. Beauty is... visible in every single thing, if we look hard enough.

11. When I was thirteen, what I remember the most was... having a dream about my husband 7 years before I even met him, and having the best roomates ever!

12. When I was twenty one, I remember... being married to the man I dreamt about 8 years earlier :)

13. I am most happy when ... I have my family around me.

14. Nothing makes me happier than ... someone appreciating what I made for them.

15. If I can change one thing, I will change... this tiny little part of my childhood. (but then I won't be the person I am today ... so ... hm... )

16. If smiles were... a cent a piece... then I... would be rich rich rich!

17. Wouldn't it be nice if we could... enjoy the differences in each other without being judgemental?

18. If you want to ... eat, then you have to ... cook ! (Unfortunately)

19. Money is not everything but... it can make you think it is.

20. The most touching moment I have experienced is... when my husband held my hand while I delivered my daughter.

21. I smile when... ever I can. (always!!)

22. When I am happy, I... sing :p (You don't want to be listening)

23. If only I don't have to ...wash dishes, then... I would entertain more often. (solution: plastic plates!)

24. The best thing I did yesterday was... make pear crumble pie with citrus-vanilla whipped cream. Yummeh!

25. If I ever write a book, I will give it this title, if it's a cook book: "Easy Peasy Lemon Squeazy - A cooking guide for the lazy wife", if it's an autobiography: "The Silver Lining"

26. One thing I must do before I die is... tell everyone I love that I really do love them in spite of what I said or did.

27. Doing this meme, I feel like ... I may have not done much, but I have done my bit :D

Idham has probably reached his target for 100 tags, so I am going to tag anyone who feels like doing this.

(Don't forget to tell Idham if you did)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Trip Revealed

Remember the trip that I was afraid was going to get jinxed?

Well, as expected, the other guy's visa got rejected, but he's reapplying. We won't know whether he'll get it the second time around. There is a high chance that he won't, since it got rejected one time already.


heh heh.. there's a but.

Taufik's big big big boss came over for a little chat today (more on that chat in another post), and Taufik told him about the trip, how we've paid for plane tickets and hotel rooms already. And the plane tickets are non-refundable. And some hotels have a minimum cancellation fee.

So Taufik asked, sheepishly, if we could go on the trip anyway (without the friend) if the friend couldn't get the visa.

Guess what the big big big boss said?



a big tee hee!!

okay, so i think it's safe to reveal our destination now.






I am so excited!!

We are going this Saturday!!

For 6 days!! Florence, Pisa, maybe Venice, and Rome!

woo hoooo!!

and if the friend can't make it, then I'd be happier coz it means that we won't have to cater to his whims and fancies and can do whatever we want and go driving around instead of shopping!!

I can pretend I'm what's her name? Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun walking on the cobble-stoned streets of quaint small villages in Tuscany. We can drive through vineyards and pretend we're in A Walk In The Clouds (which was not filmed in italy, by the way, but it does have that italian feeling, you know what I mean).

can you sense my excitement????

teee heeee!!!! :D

I'm gonna look for a peasant top and a frilly skirt now!

Baba's Fish head Curry

You know that recipe they have at the back of Baba's Fish Curry Powder packet?

It's good.

Really really good.