The bestest memories :’)

hello lovelies!! ^^ i’m seriously drowning under this backlog of posts haha can’t decide what to post first and everything! i’m gonna do London really really soon alright! but since i just came back and everything is still fresh in my head, i just wanna talk about my top 5 favourite cities in Europe :))) it wasn’t too difficult actually, these just totally STOOD OUT in all the places i went to, and it was in these places where i got the immeasurably happy, ‘big-soppy-grin-spreading-across-my-face-uncontrollably, blissful in-a-bubble’ feel and wishing i could just stay there FOREVER :”) ranking them though, proved impossible, and so they are in no particular order :) except london maybe haha. i’m a fan ^^ 

#1: LONDON
of course! omg i really can’t wait to blog about london but at the same time dreading it cos i know it’ll take damn long >.< actually every place in UK i visited (glasgow, york and london) were beyond amazing :') where do i even start? the fact that they speak english? oh gosh, when you're in a land where everything sounds like gibberish to you, hearing a language that you understand is like the ultimate eureka moment! ^^ once i stepped on the bus in glasgow and met such a friendly bus driver, i fell in love with this country :))) the people are soooooo nice! :') 

okay, so i guess rather than london, to be fair i should put UK as a whole haha. but i guess london was my favourite FAVOURITE because of the number of things to do ^^ quite surprised and happy that i managed to cover most of the places on my go-to list! not the food though…haha. had so many recommendations and i’m super grateful for all those who recommended these places to me! ^^ but i would still go back to london! for the same places, but perhaps a different experience? maybe more time to chill, to pick my favourites (god knows how many there are haha actually it’s still a long list in the end), catch Phantom (which i didn’t get to watch this time!), visit Bricklane market (which i also missed) and eat eat and eat ^^ hehe. this photo just totally sums up my top-of-the-world feeling while in london :D yup london i<3you :))

(from here the list is in no particular order)
#2: Rome
i LOVED rome. and this silly picture is me throwing a coin into the fountain of trevi, promising that i will be back ^^ so many things to do, so many things to see! i wished i had more time in rome, and it was probably the italian city that i spent the longest in already! should have totally done exchange here instead of (BORING) milan -.- haha. sorry i’m damn biased against milan :p but i really think there’s nothing much to do there. 

standing in front of the colosseum was one of the most awe-inspiring events e.v.e.r. waltzing down the streets in the park at Villa Borghese on a sunny Sunday was simply exhilarating :) la dolce vita really :) thanks to rome, i now know what it means :) 

florence was amazing for its pretty streets and all its SHOPPING!!!! :D who says milan is the fashion & shopping capital of italy -.- why shop in milan when you have florence?! hehe. san lorenzo leather market is the best place to go for good quality italian leather goods at really reasonable prices! and don’t even let me get started on The Mall ^^ branded goods at SUPER good prices!!!!!!! 

in Europe, i understood the meaning of pretty streets :’) i would say that a similar theme of all my favourite places would be their pretty streets. i don’t really know how to describe it, but the streets of each of these places are just so characteristic of themselves! (: 

rome & florence are probably the epitome of the italian experience, so they are MUST VISITS if you go to italy! 

#4: Prague
prague was sooooo romantic :)))) both of us agreed that this baroque feel was something that we loved ^^ ah, it’s so hard to write this post actually! haha everything is really just based on the whole FEELING you get in a place :’) even though prague was so rainy and wet while we were there, its beauty still shined through. loved the artsy feel of it, like we had stepped back in time, into the world of Mozart, Bach and Tchaikovsky. it’s almost as if you can imagine them on the streets, playing for you, welcoming you to this magical city.  

#5: Vienna 
my dearest travel buddy! ^^ and a super nice host to us (: 

vienna was the first place i fell in love with in Europe :)) it could have been its food. it could have been its grand architecture (so old, yet so well maintained!). it could have been how well organized it was. it could be the fact that it was the first place we went to where the people knew how to speak english, and were willing to speak it, even though it wasn’t their native language. so many things made this such a wonderful place to be (: jiayee is so lucky to be staying there!! it was perfect. and i still haven’t done my post on it >.< yikes. haha. soon soon, as i've been saying :P 

so yepps! these were my top 5 favourite places in my 143 days, 8 countries and 24 cities :)

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Rome, I will be back :’) – Part III

here’s my third installment of my Rome trip! actually it’s not really about Rome haha, but i took a day tour out to Tuscany with Dark Rome tours, and i had a really great experience! so i wanna share it with all of you (: TUSCANY IS SO BEAUTIFUL. i feel so thankful that spring is here (FINALLY) because it makes everything look so much more picturesque ^^
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look look look at this!!!! :)))
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well i’m really glad that i went on this tour, because i’d initially wanted to take a day trip from Florence instead of Rome, which would have brought me to the Chianti region of Tuscany. no less beautiful, definitely, but Chianti is a wine that i’m already familiar with, whereas this tour from Rome brought me to the regions of Montepulciano and Montalcino, which i’d never heard of before, and apparently they produce the best wine in the italy!! no kidding! at least that is what they claimed. haha.
we had some time to spend touring Montepulciano, where we had a tour of the Duomo, their little streets, and even a wine cellar! that was pretty cool. we saw ginormous barrels of wine, and even had a mini wine tasting at the end (:
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the best part of our tour was definitely our lunch+wine tasting in a traditional tuscan restaurant in a midst of a vineyard in Montalcino! pretty cool huh? ;) we had the opportunity to try the prestigious Brunello di Montalcino, which is deemed the BEST wine in italy (and the world? since italy produces the best wine in the world haha). also the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, another very famous wine in Italy. all the wines we tried (there were two others) were of DOCG certification, which is the highest certification you can get for wine and means that the grapes were harvested from a particular region, in controlled quantities to ensure their quality. COOOOOOL. we tried 4 kinds of wines in total. and while initially we only had a tasting amount poured for us, we could subsequently take extra servings if we wanted to. totally had our fill of wine sloshing inside us x.x haha
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and here are pics of our 3 course lunch! (: started with a lovely platter of hams, bread and cheese. i’ve always wanted to try doing a platter like this **party inspiration!! :D
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this was followed by a pasta – very simple, typical italian where you have pasta with just the sauce and nothing else. haha this totally reminded me of lao shu fen.
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and dessert! (: haha i couldn’t resist ^^ especially with all the alcohol, it probably opened my appetite or something. i probably had 4-5 pieces of this yummy chocolate tart :D greedy pig haha.
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finished off with this biscuit thing with almonds in it, which is a specialty in the tuscany/florence region i think! you’re supposed to dip it in this REALLY alcoholic wine, which comes in a shot glass. ooh la la. the alcohol really shoots up your head haha.
this entire trip took a whole day, with half of the time spent in the bus, which you can’t really avoid because tuscany is really far away. and pretty inaccessible by other modes of transport judging by the areas we saw on the way there. so this was definitely a very convenient and comfortable way to go there (: the bus was really comfy! and the good thing is that these tours are conducted in small groups, which gives you a lot of interaction with your guide. definitely a tour i would recommend! (:

Rome, I will be back :’) – Part II

when in Rome, EAT GELATO!!!!! LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF IT. haha. this is where gelato originated from, and there are so many nice gelato places here you’ve got to check out! ^^ as well as food heh. super grateful for all the recommendations i had this time from friends and blogs etc, such that every meal was an awesome one (:
first up, this is my ranking of gelato in Rome hehe:
#1 : Giolitti (Via degli Uffici del Vicario, 40)
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this is one of the most famous places for gelato in Rome, and after you’ve tried it, you will know why ^^ IT’S DAMN AWESOME!!!! i am totally convinced that it’s the best gelato you can find in Rome hehe :D i don’t know how to explain it either. i’ve actually had so much awesome gelato, it’s really difficult to distinguish them much. but this had just a really outstanding touch, which i can’t pinpoint exactly, but it was just amazing :’) and they have lots of flavours for you to choose from!! always a plus point ;)
#2 : Old Bridge Gelato (Viale Bastioni di Michelangelo, 5)
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if you like pistachio gelato, YOU HAVE TO TRY OLD BRIDGE. it has the most richly flavoured pistachio gelato ever! it is so awesomeee. not kidding, the taste just enveloped my taste buds and spread through my mouth so beautifully. soooo delicious (: and their servings are huge, which is another plus point for me! ;)
#3 : Gelateria Valentino (Via Del Lavatore, 96)
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this is probably what you’ll call decent gelato (: it wasn’t WOW or anything, but it was pretty yummy! and i liked the flavours we had here – cookies and this extra dark chocolate that was almost black in colour!! haha it was damn awesome. super rich :D
#4 : Gelataria I Caruso (Via Collina, 13)
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1 Caruso is famous for their pistachio (yes if you’ve noticed, i had pistachio gelato at 3/4 gelato shops i went to haha. big fan here :D) and nocciola (hazelnut) flavours! they were good, but i felt that they were sorely lacking in flavour compared to my top two choices. it just seemed kinda muted. i actually prefered the gianduja (hazelnut chocolate) flavour more, because it had a fuller-bodied taste. then again, it is decent, as most gelatos in italy are! (:
*i’ve only tried ONE gelato that i felt was bad (at cinque terre), in my entire stay in italy (where i’ve definitely eaten more than 10 gelatos haha) so it’s probably quite difficult to get a bad one ;) when in doubt, check tripadvisor! if it’s listed, it’s probably decent at the very least ;)
Where to eat in Rome
so of course you don’t just want to eat gelato when you’re in Rome – there are plenty of other things to choose from. and Rome does its al dente pastas PERFECTLY. this was the first (and only) place i’ve tried real al dente pasta, and i’m surprised to say that i love it!! (: haha. i’ve been hearing a lot of people say that it’s really hard, but i actually quite like the kind of bite which this seemingly-undercooked style of pasta has! (:
if you like seafood, Rome is a good place to get your fix in italy. due to the presence of two ports in the Lazio area, Rome is blessed with ample quantities of shellfish and fish ^^ and i’ve got the PERFECT place to recommend to you for this :D
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i first read about Il Bar Sotto Il Mare on Bing’s blog, and when she said that they nearly fell off their chairs because of how good it was, i was thinking, “i’ve got to try this!!” and OMG i wholeheartedly truly agree with this haha :D it was SO SO SO yummy! and i would say that prices were really reasonable, with all pastas costing just €13! for seafood, i think this is a really good deal ;)
the saute di cozze e vongole (€12) is mussels and clams cooked in a white wine sauce, and i daresay this is the best sauteed mussels dish i’ve tried in my whole life so far. the sauce was so densely flavoured that every mouthful was a delight and we were just trying to use all sorts of ways and means to slurp up all this goodness ^^ sounds super unglam (oops) haha but we just couldn’t waste any bit of it!!
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this was my first taste of al dente pasta ;) LOVE IT. the vermicelli alla pescatora (€13) is one of the dishes that came highly recommended by the staff, and we can see why. if you love seafood, this dish has everything that you could possibly look for – clams, mussels, prawns, squid (i can’t remember what else, but it was a lot of seafood!). best of all worlds ^^
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and we loved their food so much that we ordered another pasta – vermicelli con vongole (€13) which was really yummy too! (: but my advice is – stick with the vermicelli alla pescatora and try something different! (: i actually wanted to try the nero di seppia (squid ink) pasta but they ran out :( try it and tell me how it is!!
the best part about this restaurant, which complemented the delicious food, was the impeccable service. the staff here were really friendly and nice to us! (: we have had experiences in italy where the staff are so horribly stuck up, and always give us a black face when we attempt to share food. here, because we’d initially just ordered an antipasti and a pasta, they immediately gave us extra plates so that we could share our food. and one of the staff who could speak english practically helped us translate the ENTIRE menu, because it was all in italian. so sweet of them! (: as i said, good service always goes a long way.
Il Bar il Sotto Mare
Via Tunisi, 27, 00192 Roma
Tel.: +39 06 39728413
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for some meat while you’re in Rome, check out I Butteri, which has this delicious balsamic steak (tagliata di manzo all’aceto balsamico, €19). the flavour of the balsamic vinegar isn’t very strong, but there is a hint of its aroma as you devour the steak, which is super juicy!! (: and it comes with a yummy side dish of potatoes!
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we also tried another rather interesting dish, which was a wild boar (cinghiale alla buttera, €18), which was ironically more sour than our balsamic vinegar steak haha. i think it was due to the olives in it. this was an alright dish – not super outstanding or anything, but yummy enough (:
I Butteri
Piazza Regina Margherita 28, Rome, Italy
Tel.: +39 06 4425 0904
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this last restaurant isn’t really a recommendation per se. it’s more like a place we chanced upon and they had really reasonable lunch sets which we decided to go for! :)) €15 for a two course meal (you can choose from appetizers, first and second course) and it includes bread as well. the quality of the food wasn’t outstanding – we felt that it could have been much tastier! don’t have to go specially looking for this place, but if you chance upon it, no harm trying (: or try something else next to it haha there are TONNES of restaurants in that area (:
Clemente Alla Maddelena Ristorante
Piazza della Maddelena, 4 Roma
Tel.: +39 06 6833633

Rome, I will be back :’) – Part I


i really really LOVED Rome :))))) such a beautiful city with so much to offer. there is just so much to see, and i was just totally awed by the Colosseum on my first day when i saw it. and around every corner, along every street, this city just unfolded in front of my eyes, welcoming us. i hardly know where to start because i’m so excited to tell you about my favourite italian city! ^^ hehe. *o/* before coming here, we were really wondering what was so nice about italy because having lived here, it’s really an understatement to see exactly how messed up this place is -.- *feel like singing the song ‘Home’ now, Singapore is still best!! haha* but now having come to Rome & Florence, my opinion of Italy has improved, somewhat (: at least for these two, officially my favourite cities in Europe (so far) <3

i’m really proud of my itinerary for this whole italy trip btw ^^ hehe. well-organized in terms of attractions, places to eat (including gelato breaks haha), with time for chillin’ as well ;) anyway…

Must-Sees in Rome
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first stop: the awe-inspiring colosseum :’)))))
it was a jaw-dropping moment to be standing in front of the Colosseum the moment i stepped out of the Colosseo metro station. there are some must-go places when you’re in Rome and the Colosseum is definitely one of them! (: tickets to the Colosseum cost €12 which includes entry to the Roman Forum and Palentine Hill which are just right next to it. queues for the Colosseum can be really long, so a suggestion would be to get your tickets at the Roman Forum instead. the ticket allows entry for 24hrs, so if you don’t have enough time in a day, you can always come back! you can pay an extra €5 for a guided tour, which i opted for, and i encourage it! it was pretty interesting to hear the history about the significance of the Colosseum and understand its structure better, which (i heard from my friend) you wouldn’t get with an audioguide.

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the Roman Forum (nearest metro: Colosseo) was another interesting stop for us! ^^ it was really fascinating to see the ruins of an entire Roman city! did you know that the ground level in the past was lower than what it is now? and they just kept building layers and layers of ground over each other over the years, that it’s described as “lagsane” haha.

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the Spanish Steps (nearest metro: Spagna) was one of my absolute FAVOURITE places in Rome :)))) it’s crazily touristy and hence, freaking crowded, but it’s soooo pretty! :) the perfect weather that day and the fact that it was spring and all the flowers were blooming definitely helped ^^ but it just totally gave me the feeling that i was in Rome! :) it’s the place where all movies set in Rome are filmed, and it was so so so gorgeous :) plus the fact that i saw a bride there taking wedding photos *squeals!!* haha :D

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the Fountain of Trevi (nearest metro: Spagna/Barberini) is what makes you coming back to Rome time and again ;) there is a saying that if you throw one coin in, you’ll return to Rome; two, you’ll fall in love with a Roman; and three, you’ll marry a Roman. obviously it’s not real haha but i threw one anyway ^^ so i’ll definitely be back!!!! <3

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the Pantheon (right smack in the centre with no metro nearby. walk! :p) was another impressive Roman structure. didn’t know it was meant to be a church! quite interesting architecture (: i didn’t pay for any tour for this though. it had free entry, so just walk in and take a look around!

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of course, when you’re in Rome, you can’t miss the Vatican City (nearest metro: Ottaviano). the smallest country in the world, simply enclosed by a wall in the city of Rome. it was a rather complicated event visiting this place! firstly, tickets. the Vatican is probably one of the few attractions in Rome that offer student price tickets for non-EU citizens (the rest didnt boooooo). for students, the reduced price is €8, and full price is €16. the queues to the Vatican can be really really long though, depending on your luck. some days, they say the queue is long but move relatively fast. on the day i went, apparently the queues were 3hrs long, so it was lucky that i’d pre-bought my tickets! it costs an additional €4. you can pre-buy the tickets for the Vatican museums & Sistine Chapel here.
i have to say i was kinda disappointed with the Vatican though? i didn’t manage to see much of the ‘city’ in general. it was just museums and art galleries, which had no significance to the Pope/religiousness of the place?? i guess we’d gone there expecting something different and so were disappointed. the audioguide (€7) didn’t seem to be very helpful either, as it merely explained where the paintings etc had been excavated from/who were the artists, but didn’t explain them! btw, a tip about audioguides, you can usually bring your own earphones and therefore you can just get one audioguide for two people to share (:

Tip: if you’re interested in the museums, you could probably spend more than 3 hours there, so be sure to grab a bite before you go in because i don’t think there is re-entry. DO NOT buy from those push-cart kind of stuff though. i bought a hotdog bun there and it was the most inedible thing i’ve ever tasted (tasted like pesticide and i threw it away after 2 mouthfuls :/). there is also a cafe/pizzeria inside the Vatican if you need.

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the entry to the Vatican museums & St Peter’s Basilica is really confusing. there are two snaking queues towards both entrances, but it takes awhile to figure out where the entrances are. there are plenty of people who would try to sell you tickets to both places, especially if the queues are really long. i wouldn’t really advise you to go for those though? i think they’re really expensive. but they’ll help point you in the right direction, so just stick around for that, and don’t get cheated! (i’m not trying to sound pessimistic here, but italy is really full of such people!)

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i preferred St Peter’s Basilica wayyyy more! (: imo, you don’t really have to pay to go in, especially if the queue is really long, just skip it and walk around outside. it’s beautiful enough :’) it was raining unfortunately, on the day i was there. but it was still so awesome anyway!! (:

Piazzas in Rome

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oh my, this post about Rome is really long eh? :p anyway, another thing i love about Rome is its numerous piazzas! (: there are so many of these squares around which you can just walk into and sit at the steps and relax etc. Piazza del Polpolo (nearest metro: Flaminiois one of the biggest squares in Rome.

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and my favourite piazza in Rome was Piazza Navora! :))) really near to the Pantheon, it’s this huge piazza with a beautiful fountain, cathedral, many cafes with alfresco dining looking out into the piazza (i would LOVE a cafe experience like that ^^) and lots of stalls selling gorgeous paintings in the middle of the square :)

Just a few other things

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walk further down from Piazza Navora and you’ll come to River Tiberina, which is just a really long river flowing along the city centre of Rome! (: it’s really pretty, especially in spring when the weather and trees are so nice ^^ but there are lots of stuff flying in the air into your eyes, which makes it quite irritating to walk along the river if you don’t wear sunglasses haha. the Trastevere area is located along this river, and is famous for numerous cafes and restaurants there! although i didn’t get a chance to go there (one of the places i missed out >.<), i heard that it's pretty good!

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along the river, you find Castel Sant’ Angelo, and standing there, you can see St Peter’s Basilica in the distance! :D heehee. i just stood along the river and snapped pics with the castle haha.

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one of my absolute favourite places, and best experience i had in Rome was spending a lazy sunday afternoon at Villa Borghese (nearest metro: Flaminio), or rather the park surrounding it. it was such a wonderful time spent just strolling there, amidst all the Italians who were out in full force on a Sunday in spring, all picnic-ing on the grass, frolicking in the fountains, eating gelato, cycling/rollerblading, with street musicians playing jazzy music which totally added to the atmosphere there! it was AMAZING :”) i could have spent my whole sunday there if not for the fact that we had other places to go. omggggg :) this is how sundays should be spent!!!!!

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walking from the park to Spagna metro station, you will pass this area where you have a picturesque view of Rome. gorgeoussssss (: spent some time there just admiring the view :)

How to get around Rome
The transport system here is pretty convenient, with just two major metro lines bringing you to all the important attractions (: i have indicated the nearest stations in italics above, so just mark them on the map! most places in the city are within walking distance of each other, and i highly recommend walking because that’s how you stumble upon random gems all over the place! (: rome is FULL of them – please give yourself enough time to explore the place :)) to get to areas outside the city centre, buses are a pretty good way to get around too!

How long should you spend in Rome??
Forever.
haha kidding. i wouldn’t :p never gonna live in italy for good haha. i don’t mean it in a bad way…i would love to come back for a holiday but to stay here is just too difficult, unless they get rid of their la dolce vita attitude and work a little harder, but that would completely destroy the attitude of italy wouldn’t it?
but look at how much there is to see in Rome!!!!!! i haven’t even covered everything. give AT LEAST (and that is realllllllly rushing everything) three days. i promise you can spend one week in rome and you might not even see everything if you really want to fully soak in the atmosphere here. it is simply wonderful, it just takes your breath away! :’) i spent around 4 days here? which gave me some time to see most of the attractions, as well as relax, but not quite enough. which gives me the perfect chance to return :)

Where to stay in Rome

we absolutely LOVED our accommodation in both Rome and Florence! it was a little sian because we moved house FOUR times in that whole trip because i was stupid and booked late (lesson learnt: always book accommodation early!!) but we were really lucky to get good accommodations in the end by moving house during our stay in both cities (: we stayed in Airbnb for the whole trip and OMG they had the best beds ever!!!! super huge and comfy! i could have stayed in bed all day ~



okay this picture isn’t very flattering of the bedroom, but it’s actually super cozy! (: the bed was uber comfortable and we had such a good sleep that night ^^ really important, because you’ll realise that after a day of exploring the city you just reach home completely exhausted and need a good bed to collapse on and fall asleep haha. 

the owner, Sara, was a really nice host – accommodating and willing to answer our numerous queries. she was never in the apartment, so although the listing is a ‘private room’, we pretty much had the whole space to ourselves! awesome ^^ and she even provided breakfast for us which was super sweet of her! as in it’s just biscuits and coffee/tea etc, but it was a really nice touch (: i also LOVE the neighbourhood it was located in. though pretty far from the city centre (you need to take a bus to the roma termini station or take the metro), but it was located in this area that looked SUPER like singapore!! (so nostalgic :’) esp when i had been away from singapore for months) it seemed like quite a safe neighbourhood and there were little shops selling groceries which was quite interesting! their opening hours are quite short though :/ so most of the time we got our groceries from the supermarket at roma termini which opens till later. oh yeah there is a kitchen! which was pretty spacious and convenient to cook :)) there’s also free wifi!

the ONLY gripe i would have is the bathroom. the water heater tank was super small!!!! :O which means we ran out of hot water pretty fast, and i found out the hard way on our first night there -.- freezing cold water ain’t nice to bathe in when the whole place is freezing already!! haha. so the only way is to conserve the hot water.

overall, it was a really nice apartment (: i paid €35/night for this. you can check it out here: https://www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/921416


the second apartment we stayed in was one of the NICEST airbnbs we stayed at!!!! :) i HIGHLY RECOMMEND this place, even though the location was even more ulu than the other one haha. you have to take the metro all the way to the last stop if i remember correctly. but it’s sooooo gorgeous! there is even a fireplace ^^ (not that we used it haha) 

this was supposedly a “villa”, which was kinda like a terrace in a private housing area. it was quite an atas area, as you could tell from the cars around ;) and all the houses in the area looked so pretty! the house was loft-style, and we slept in the attic! it was so pretty!!! go check out the listing below for more pictures (: it was a lovely place to stay in. we had a skylight in our room! and it’s just super duper cozy (: the best part was the kitchen!!!! O.M.G. it was like a masterchef kind of kitchen!!! i was so excited! hehe i could live here forever ;) it doesn’t look that good in pictures, but if you see it irl, it looks amazing. and any chef would immediately be inspired to whip up something good in that kitchen :) our host, Angelo, was a really nice guy who picked us up from the metro station on our first day there! and he’s a manager in a hotel i think, so he was the most hospitable person ever, and gave us lots of advice about exploring Rome :) wifi is included!

downside would be its location and also that the bathroom is downstairs which is slightly inconvenient, but not too much of a problem! 

one night here cost €45 and you can check out the listing here: https://www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/402615


have fun!! and feel free to drop me a comment or something if you wanna know anything more and i’ll try to help! and tell me about your experiences in Rome if you go there ^^