Sunday, June 30, 2013

Stopover in Orvieto

Orvieto is a town in Umbria, in the Italian countryside. We stopped here for an early dinner before going to our farmhouse rental in Siena-Cortona.

Here is C, jetlagged from the long flight. I already told them to sleep through the first leg of the trip but Emirates' entertainment programs kept them wide awake the whole time!

They missed most of the beautiful countryside driving to Orvieto.

Meanwhile we drove around the Centro Storico looking for a place to have an early dinner.

We drove through the narrow cobbled streets for about ten minutes before parking right beside the Duomo.

Orvieto is perched high above the Umbrian countryside, and has spectacular vistas.

But the crown jewel of this town is the Duomo.

There were quite a number of tourists right in the piazza, including this group of artists, painting the church.

We grabbed a quick bite at Trattoria Etrusca, where C ordered her first rabbit, and enthusiastically ate it all saying "I love rabbit more than lamb because lamb can be so strong sometimes."  We have a little adventurous gourmet in the making.

Meanwhile, the rest of us had tagliatelle with tomato sauce, ravioli with porcini and an ever reliable bistecca. (No pictures of the food because we were ravenous)

It would've been nice to hang out longer, but we were tired and wanted to get "home" before it got dark. I've been to Orvieto with B and the folks a few years back so we didn't have to drag the kids inside "to look and see the church." (Something someone has been dreading ever since I told her that Italy is full of churches)

 Chess set in olive wood

One last look at the gorgeous view...

And now a drive to the north, towards Florence.

Our home for the next few days, with the rest of the extended family.

The kids are a bit creeped out at the antique-ness of the villa, but I reassured them that this house is probably newer than our own house. This is an old beautifully restored property, but is also bordering on "get-that-look" kitschy with ceiling frescos and shiny gilt frames. 

Looking forward to taking photos when there's daylight!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Sydney

After never paying attention to ads for Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in different places like London, San Francisco, and New York, I never thought I'd finally go into one.

But C's recent wax museum experience in school made it interesting enough for us to visit.

The wax museum in Sydney starts off with important figures in the history of Australia, so it's educational--if you bother to read all the text displayed near the figures.  I was more interested to stand beside the life-like statues and feel how imposing these famous people really are.

The figures seem accurate and true to life because many of the personalities have "sat" for the Madame Tussaud museum--at least most of the celebrities. The others, whom I can't imagine going for a "sitting", are extensively researched instead through photographs and video clips.

As expected, C enjoyed herself in the musician's area the most, posing and pretending.

Most of figures on display people are from this century and recent celebrities, so the girls recognized most of them.

There are political figures like Obama, the queen, then musicians like Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson, sports celebrities, and then movie and TV personalities. It's a good thing too that I introduced them to E.T. a few years back and made them watch the DVD.

There were some whom they didn't know at all, and neither did I--but it didn't matter because C had a grand time posing with almost all the figures whether she knew them or not.

I scrutinized Nicole Kidman and Elle McPherson. These women are fabulously tall and svelte--and they were not even photo shopped!

Angelina Jolie though is just as tall as I am (if I'm in heels like she is here).

G didn't really want her photo taken and went ahead exploring the place independently. C on the other hand wanted her photo taken with almost all the figures so she made sure I was following her like paparazzi.

In school recently, her grade had a wax museum project. She had to choose a figure from history,  research that person's life,  then make a presentation as if she were a figure in a wax museum.

Can you guess who she was?

"Let them eat cake!" (My obsession for all things French must be rubbing off on her!)

Here below are some of her classmates as Benjamin Franklin, Michael Jackson and Leonardo 
da Vinci.

Back to the non-living figures in the wax museum--I never thought Madame Tussaud was also once a real person! There's a part in the museum that chronicles the history of Madame Tussaud. There's a section that also describes how an image is created.

As a special treat, they both got an Oscar souvenir from their Tita Anna! 

It was an appropriate ending to a star-studded afternoon.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Vivid Sydney 2013

June 10 was the last day of Vivid Sydney and Lita was glad we were going to catch it.

There were so many people out that night, it felt like Hong Kong, not Sydney. Here below was my most favorite light show. The lights stayed perfectly on the building perimeter and the graphics were superb.

The facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art

Some light installations were interactive. This one below at Cadman's House allowed you to choose a facade on an i-Pad-like gadget. Families with kids were lining up to try creating their own design on the building.

You could then email your creation to your friends.

Meanwhile, my tropical kids were freezing. We weren't properly dressed because Sydney was not supposed to be this cold!

This a pop-up bar drew them in,  specially with the rubic's cube-inspired bar.

I liked this one  below most of all because of the funky color combinations.  The illuminated show would run for few minutes then loop and play over again.

Aside from illuminated buildings, there were other kinds of light installations.

There was still lots to see, but we were KJs so Lita and Nikki walked to the Opera House without us.  We waited here on this bench until they came back.

Too bad we were too tired and cold to go to Darling Harbour. There was lots more happening there and it was also the last night.

Anyway, it was nice of Sydney to welcome us with open...lights. Now if we were only we were more gracious guests...


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