Europe, France, Travel, Western Europe

Metz

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today I’d like to share my visit to Metz, a city in the Grand Est region near the border of France, Luxembourg, and Germany.

Brief History

With its long and rich history, Metz has been submitted its name on France’s UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List (2014). You can feel its history once you arrive at Metz. Used to be a palace, the train station welcomes you with its antique and unique feature. The windows and the doors are preserved very well, thus you can see how the architect style was in the past. Metz used to be German territory and and reverted to France. The city went through this process repeatedly, and this complex history made Metz be more culturally rich.

Where to visit?

There are many places to visit in Metz such as the Metz Cathedral (Gothic Saint-Stephen Cathedral), Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains, Centre Pompidou, Opera House, etc. Also during the summer, Metz Plage is going on (which is an equivalent of Paris Plages), so you can enjoy the summer with more activities near the river. This time, I visited Pompidou center and Metz Cathedral including old city. The city seemed to have a good public transport system, but since most tourist attractions are accessible by foot, I didn’t use any transport.

Pompidou Center

Like Paris’ Pompidou center, the center has very outstanding architect. Located next to the train station, this white mushroom-like building holds many cultural events of the town. The entrance fee is based on the number of the exhibition spaces open on the day of your visit (very unique but reasonable), so I paid โ‚ฌ10 for three exhibitions.

It took me about three hours to look around the exhibitions, on average one hour per space. Depending on your speed, you can spend less or more time here. The receptionists said, it usually takes 2-3 hours to look around the center. Even if you don’t have a map, you can see the sign on the street telling you the direction to the Pompidou center and the Cathedral. Or since it’s one of the landmarks of the city, anyone in the street would know how to get there unless they’re tourists.

Metz Cathedral

The Metz Cathedral is a must visit place in Metz. Well-known for its architect, the cathedral has larger stained glass than any other cathedrals in the world. Three of them are designed by Marc Chagall, a famous painter with his genius understanding to colors. Those three are distinguished from other stained glass, so you won’t have difficulties to find them.

Metz City Pass

The city also has a city pass for โ‚ฌ13,50. With the pass, you can access to Pompidou Center, Cour d’Or Museum, and one audio tour within a day. For โ‚ฌ16, you can also unlimited access to the public transport. I didn’t have enough time in Metz, thus I didn’t purchase the pass, but it’s a good option if you’re thinking of visiting Pompidou and Cour d’Or Museum. The official website of the city pass is as following : Metz City Pass

I visited Metz because it was on the way to my trip to Luxembourg. I spent only one whole afternoon (about 7 hours) there, but I feel like I should’ve spent more time in Metz. The city has more things to do and enjoy. I loved the the peaceful atmosphere of the city with classy architects. They’re very distinct from those of Paris. I am pretty sure you would love this city. One thing I regret is that I couldn’t try local food since most of the local restaurants were closed due to the summer vacation and Assumption day. I’d like to go back and check out other places that I missed this time in the near future.

Hope you enjoy the Metz with Marimonda! See you soon ๐Ÿ™‚

Practical Info.

Pompidou Centre Metz website

Address : 1 Parvis des Droits de l’Homme, 57020 Metz

Hours : 10a.m. – 6p.m. (Mon/Wed), -7p.m. (Thu.-Sun.) , Closed on Tuesday

Metz Cathedral website

Address : Place d’Armes, 57000 Metz

Hours : 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. everyday

Italy, Travel, Western Europe

Naranzaria

Hi, it’s me Marimonda.

Today I’d like to review of a restaurant in Italy. Naranzaria is a restaurant in Venice next to the Grand Canal in the center of Venice. I feel bad to post on an Italian restaurant following another Italian restaurant in Paris (Al Caratello), but in Italy I only had the local food.. So probably I will update few more italian restaurants later.

Coperto (table cover fee)

In Italy, it’s a common practice to charge a coperto (table cover fee) per person in a restaurant. Usually it costs โ‚ฌ2 and it is said that it’s for serving bread and tap water. But most of the restaurants don’t offer water(especially when you’re a tourist). You should order it. In this sense, the Coperto is kinda forced tip. It will be automatically charged in your bill. Don’t be surprised if you’re charged extra few euros under the name of coperto. Even though it’s cover the bread and water(supposedly), most water is also for pay. Some mean servers brought the water and opened it without asking. You can stop them and argue about it. As a tourist, however, it’s not that easy to argue with natives. One of the things that I liked this place was at least tap water is already included and you can choose between still water and sparkling one in this restaurant.

Atmosphere

Next to the Grand Canal, Naranzaria is less than 2-3 mins away from the Rialto Bridge. However, it’s very quiet and less touristic compared the other places near the Rialto Bridge. Terrace seats are great to chill out and enjoy the view. They fill up very quickly. Seeing gondolas passing by, it is very exotic and this might be the only experience you can do in Venice.

Menu and Price

The restaurant offers various options from pasta to risotto. Considering Venice is an island, we ordered seafood plates (european bass) and octopus. We were expecting them to be fresher and cheaper than Paris. The answer is yes and no. The fish and the octopus were very fresh and delicious, but quite expensive (โ‚ฌ21 for each plate). We paid โ‚ฌ57 for two glasses of wine, two main dishes and the table cover. It was expensive for me, but the price seemed quite on average in Venice, though. If you order pasta, it’s much less expensive (โ‚ฌ5-6 less per dish). No wonder why there’s not many residents in the main island. If I live in Venice, it will be my place only for special occasions such as birthday. The rest of the meals in Venice I had take out pizzas or sandwiches. Otherwise it’s just too expensive in Venice. The food was delicious and the servers were very friendly. I would go back if I ever visit Venice again.

Recommendation

Before writing this post, I googled the restaurant to see what others think of it. Well.. I was surprised that there were so many people unsatisfied with the service and food. When I went there, everyone was friendly and the food was good. So I can’t recommend this place to you. However, the reviews are based on very personal experiences including mine. Thus, you may have a pleasant moment like me or you may not like it. What I liked the restaurant was the atmosphere and delicious food. Servers were ok and I would be happier if the price were a bit down to be honest. Overall, I liked this place.

Hope this review help you to choose a restaurant in Venice. See you soon ๐Ÿ™‚

Practical Info.

Address : Sotoportego del Bancogiro, 130, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy

Hours : 12:30 – 3:00 p.m. / 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. (Tue.-Sun.) Closed on Monday.

website It says the webpage is in English, but it seems like there’s no English website.

Europe, Italy, Travel, Western Europe

Venice Airport Marco Polo Lounge

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to share my experience in Venice Airport Marco Polo Lounge where you can access with PP card. If you’re interested in my previous review of Nice Lounge, click here.

There are two airports near Venice. One is Treviso and the other one is Marco Polo where I used this time. Treviso is on the mainland, thus it’s a bit further from Venice and it’s a hub airport for budget airlines. Marco Polo airport, on the other hand, is closer to Venice and it’s a base airport for the most major airlines. Both of them are easy to access to the Venice island using public transport ACTV.

How to get there

There are many options available depending on your place, time, and budget. I took the Alilaguna, a water transport to the airport since the station was nearby my hotel. It cost โ‚ฌ15 for one way, โ‚ฌ27 for round trip. Be careful, the ticket is somewhat tricky (you can’t take Alilaguna with your Venezia Unica card but the station is the same, thus it’s easy to be confused), and they don’t check the ticket when you board. They check your ticket in the middle on the way to the airport. On our boat, there were four people who didn’t have the proper ticket (I am not completely sure whether they knew it or not). The driver asked them to pay โ‚ฌ16 or they should take off the boat. If you have a Venezia Unica card, you can get discount or you can go to Murano island and take the Alilaguna since it’s cheaper from there to the airport. You can also take an express bus from Piazzale Roma next to Santa Lucia station ( โ‚ฌ8). Water taxi is the most expensive but the fastest way to get to the airport. It takes less than 30 mins and it costs โ‚ฌ120.

Marco Polo Lounge

I could access to the lounge with my PP card. Without the PP card, you can pay and enter the lounge and it costs โ‚ฌ40. You can stay for two hours. The lounge is very big and quiet. It is divided into many sections such as a business section, shower, TV, comfortable couch, etc.

Food Station

At the food station, hot and cold foods are available like lasagna, bread, or fruits. Cocktails are also available upon request. I tried lasagna and fruits accompanied with aperol to chill out. Then I had a cup of espresso as a dessert. I usually don’t drink coffee before the flight in order to get good sleep. However, after seeing the server making a fresh coffee upon request I couldn’t resist. I couldn’t miss my last opportunity to drink coffee in Italy, and it was amazing like other coffees I tried in Italy.

Overall, it was a pleasant experience at the lounge. It made my trip to Italy complete. But I wouldn’t go there if I didn’t have my PP card. The price is quite expensive, I would spend that money to have a substantial meal instead of snacking. Don’t get me wrong, the bread and drinks offered in the lounge filled me up enough. The place opens early in the morning and late at night.

Hope you enjoyed the review of Marco Polo Lounge by Marimonda ๐Ÿ™‚ See you soon!

Practical Info.

Address : Venice Airport, Viale Galileo Galilei, 30/1, 30173 Venezia VE, Italy

Hours : 5 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Website

Italy, Travel, Western Europe

Siena

Hi, it’s me Marimonda! Today, I’d like to share my visit to Siena, the capital of the province of Siena.

Brief History

It is said that Siena was founded two sons of Remus who was a twin brother of Romulus (founder of Rome). When they ran away from Rome, they brought the statue of the she-wolf which became the symbol of the town since then (wikipedia). The town wasn’t center of the development in the beginning, but later it became the center of the trade and the path of pilgrims in the middle ages. After the The center of the Siena is Unesco World Heritage Site. After losing at the war against Florence, the development of Siena was declined. Ironically, that helped Siena preserve its characteristics in medieval times. Now Siena is one of the most visited city in Italy.

Siena Cathedral

One of the most important places in Siena would be its cathedral. The cathedral itself is an impressive feature, the bronze middle door. Siena is a small city but the cathedral seems very big compared to the size of the city. That’s because the Sienese wanted to build the biggest cathedral in the world. This big dream couldn’t come true due to the Black Death which caused the death of the two-thirds of populations and properties. Still, this Romanesque Gothic style cathedral has been loved and possess a lot of important art pieces.

Piazza del Campo

Piazza del Campo is a plaza in front of the city hall. Located in the center of the city, it was also the center of the city in the past. This site is famous for its unique seashell shape divided into nine sections to commemorate nine governors in the middle ages. Piazza del Campo is a historical medieval plaza and it’s one of the biggest plazas in Europe. It was a marketplace where people could gather together and a place to celebrate political and civic holidays and events. At the end of the plaza, you can see Fonte Gaia (The Fountain of the World). This space is also known for twice-a-year horse-race, Palio di Siena, which is one of the famous traditions in Siena. There is also Mangia Tower where you can see the view of the town.

Local Products

Like other Italian cities, Siena is known for its extra-virgin olive oil and truffles products. It’s a good place to shop compared other small cities I’ve been to because it’s not super crowded with tourists, but you can find many stores with wide arranges of products. There are some leather shops, too.

I only had one afternoon in Siena due to my busy schedule. I really liked the city and I want to come back someday. I participated in the group walking city tour. It took about one hour and finished inside the cathedral. If you’re in short of time, it’s good to join those programs to see the city’s highlight.

Hope you enjoyed the visit to Siena with Marimonda ๐Ÿ™‚ See you soon!

Practical Info

Siena Cathedral website prices and times are vary. (adult, individual โ‚ฌ8)

Mangia Tower โ‚ฌ10 (adult, individual)

Europe, Italy, Travel, Western Europe

San Gimignano ์‚ฐ ์ง€๋ฏธ๋ƒ๋…ธ

Hello Everyone, itโ€™s me #Marimonda!

Today, Iโ€™d like to share my visit to San Gimignano, a city of tower. Fourteen towers are remained until today. Located in a hill in Tuscany area, it’s a popular day trip destination from Siena or Florence. The center of the town is one of the Unesco World Heritage Sites. Sitting down next to the wall in the center of the town and try the best gelato will be a nice pause.

The Center of San Gimignano, Unesco World Heritage Site
Marimonda World

Brief history

San Gimignano
Marimonda World

San Gimignano is well known for its medieval style buildings and towers. From the distance, you could recognize the town by its impressive skylines with fine towers. It had its heyday in the Middle Ages before the outbreak of the black death, which caused the death about half of population. With reduced the number of residents, the development of the village slowed down. Now it’s one of the popular holiday destinations in Tuscany. The city is twinned with Cesky Krumlov in Czech Republic where I also went this July.

Gelateria Dondoli

Gelateria Dondoli
Marimonda World

As you know Italian Gelato is famous in the world. In the hot and humid weather in Italy, you can’t pass the Gelato shop without trying it. Believe it or not, in San Gimignano, you can find the best gelato in the world. At the center of the town, you would see a long queue of people waiting for their turn. The ice cream from Gelateria Dondoli is very creamy and unforgettable. At the gelateria, some regional special flavors are available such as Crema di Santa (saffron flavor) and Champelmo (vernaccia sparkling wine flavor). I do recommend try the specialties since they are unique flavors in this town. The price is also reasonable about โ‚ฌ2.5 + @ considering the fact that it’s a world champion place.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano

Winery nearby San Gimignano
Marimonda World

Vernaccia is a white wine from wineries near San Gimignano. Guided winery tours including tasting and lunch are also available, and it’s a good experience to do it. The winery where I went served food with wine pairing; entrรฉe, main, and dessert wine. Like other winery visit, you can buy at the store next to it. You can try red and white wine. Since this area is known for white wines, they can be good souvenirs. I bought three bottles of wines (two whites and one red), and when I tried it at home it reminded the moment at San Gimignano. The price depends on the label, but you can get one bottle of ok wine for about โ‚ฌ10~15. Other local products like saffron and hams can be good souvenirs from the town.

The town is quite small and centralized. Half day will be enough to look around the important places.

Hope you enjoy the visit to San Gimignano with Marimonda ๐Ÿ™‚ See you soon!

Italy, Travel

Burano

Hi, it’s me Marimonda.

Today I’d like to introduce you Burano island near Venice.

Click here to read my previous post on venice!

Burano
Marimonda World

Burano Island

Burano island is known for its colorful houses and lace. In this island, most of men used to work in a fishery industry and the women make lace products. Those vivid picturesque houses help fishermen to find their home in dark. These Days, tourism is the most important business for the residents. There are about 3,000 populations in this island and probably much more people visit the island annually.

How to get there?

You can go to Burano island by Vaporetto (line 12) from Venice and it takes about 40 mins. There are some organized group tours visiting Murano, Burano, Torcello for 4-5 hours for about โ‚ฌ 20. I went there by myself because I read many reviews of the tour but many people commented that they could not have enough time to look around each island since the tour was too short. It’s not that difficult to visit those islands above by yourself (actually it’s better since you can manage your time as you wish!) , just wait for the Vaporetto and take it. Most of the passengers will be also tourists like you. Thus, you can hop off when the others do if you’re worried. A day pass of Vaporetto costs โ‚ฌ 20 (adult). When you arrive at the island, take your eyes off from the google map and let your heart lead you. This is a small island, you don’t have to worry about get lost, and every single corner you will face tourists.

Souvenirs

Since the island is famous for its lace, I wanted to buy some souvenir. In the end, I didn’t buy because clothes I liked were way beyond my budget. According to your budget, many souvenirs are available but in order to get a decent clothing you need more than โ‚ฌ 100 at least. They can be much more expensive outside of island, but I wasn’t sure that I could handle those sophisticated fabric well. Thus, I just bought some glass art products. They are cheaper than the main island for sure. Compare two, three stores before your purchase since many shops sell similar things in negotiable price.

Burano lace store
Marimonda World

Taking Pictures

Anyone can be photogenic here. Following the narrow streets alongside the canal, you would see many tourists taking pictures. Many houses in front of the vaporetto station or at the end of the canal are the popular spots to take pictures. Having colorful houses as your background, you may get your lifetime picture there.

Burano
Marimonda World

I really enjoyed my afternoon in Burano. It was worth to visit and I prefer here to the main island and Murano island. Unlike Venice, everything seemed quite slow and peaceful (I also loved Venice, it’s just different). Taking a stroll around the town was a short pause that relaxed me from the busy Venice.

Hope you enjoyed the visit to Burano island with Marimonda ๐Ÿ™‚ See you soon!

Italy, Travel

Hotel Centauro

Hi, it’s me Marimonda.

Today, I’d like to review Hotel Centauro in Venice.

How to get there?

Located in the center of Venice, the hotel is close to Rialto Bridge and the grand canal. When I made a reservation, I didn’t know there are two hotel centauro in Venice. I stayed at the one in Campo Manin. Though it is located in a relatively touristic neighborhood, it’s extremely hard to find because it’s inside of small ally and the sign on the wall is not that noticeable.

I arrived at Santa Lucia train station and took a vaporetto to go to Rialto Bridge. According to the google map, I should’ve arrived at the hotel in 6-7 mins from the bridge. But with hot weather and endless maze-like small allies took me much longer than is. But once you find it, you would see the location of the hotel is good.

Room

Served as a palace, hotel centauro is a three-star Venetian-style hotel built in the 17th centuries. You would feel the history with its facilities. I received an upgrade to the superior room with private terrace. The view wasn’t that good, you might bump into the guests next to your room. But if you’re a smoker, it would be a nice place to smoke.

The room was not big but enough for two people. The wall paper and the bedding remind me of Venetian mask carnival. Though the bathroom was quite small and a bit outdated, it was okay but not the best. There’s a living room in the common area where you can sit down and relax, but I didn’t use it. (No time to use..)

There’s no elevator in the hotel. Thus you may ask in advance for a lower floor room if you don’t want to go up floors with your luggages. My room was on the third floor. Keep that mind there is no bell boy to help.

Breakfast

The hotel offers breakfast for free. It wasn’t superbe but average like other places. Bread, eggs, coffee, juice, ham… etc. The service begins at 8:00 a.m. thus some people had to leave without having breakfast.

Service & Price

The receptionists are not that friendly. The hotel offers 24h reception service, there’s always someone to answer your questions, but they looked inactive and bored. I chose this hotel because it was in a good location with reasonable price compared to others. A hotel in Venice can’t be cheap and this place is not an exception. It’s not incredibly expensive nor cheap (you may expect the price โ‚ฌ100 + @ per room for two people). Since it’s a boutique hotel, you may get more advantage if you book via its official website (a bottle of sparkling wine is offered if you stay more than 2 nights, etc).

Overall, it’s a well-maintained antique hotel. Accomodation in Venice is too expensive and no wonder why there are so many tourist visiting just one day and leave without staying in the city.

Hope you enjoyed the hotel Centauro review with Marimonda ๐Ÿ™‚ See you soon!

Practical Info.

Address : San Marco, Campo Manin 4297/a, 30124, Venice (Italy)