Euro Trip 2018 Highlights: Italy and The Vatican

Here’s the next stop on my Euro Trip/Greco-Roman Adventure 2018 photo blog series: Italy and the Vatican! 😀
(Click here to see the first! haha)

So why did I decide to visit the aforementioned countries? Simple: I’m a devout and practicing Roman Catholic Christian and visiting the heart of my church/faith (a.k.a. The Vatican) has always been a dream of mine! Add to that that I’m a history buff, and Italy has always been on top of my “dream destinations” all the way back when I was still in high school!

To be honest, when my sisters were planning this trip, the original plan was really just to go to Greece. But since I’m the only one among us who hasn’t been to Italy/The Vatican, I sort of begged them to add the two countries to our itinerary — hence achieving our so-called Greco-Roman adventure! So, thank you, sistahs!!! 😛

By the way, one of the reasons why my ates agreed to go to Italy again is because they wanted to finally visit San Giovanni Rotondo — the place where St. Padre Pio spent most of his life and where his body/ultimate relic rests today! As I’m writing this, talking about the Saint is really timely because his heart relic is currently being toured in my country, The Philippines. 🙂 I think I’ll have a separate blog entry on how to go to San Giovanni Rotondo because it’s four hours away from Rome, so we literally had to spend an entire day (out of our total of five days in Italy) just for that visit alone.

For now, I’ll just give you a rundown of the places you can go to in Rome and Vatican City, when like me, it’s your first time, you have limited time, but you still want to make the most out of your trip!

So, where did the “Roman” part of this adventure take me? 😉

ITALY

Rome

-where we stayed at one of the amazing suites of Domus Spagna (highly recommended!) located in Via Frattina — and just a stone’s throw away from other must-see tourist spots in Romaaa…

…such as:

Piazza di Spagna / Spanish Steps

Trevi Fountain

Pantheon

The Pantheon used to be a Roman temple but is now a Roman Catholic church

Piazza Navona

Colosseum

Arch of Constantine

P.S: Of course, a visit to Italy won’t be complete without some authentic gelato! YUM!!!

San Giovanni Rotondo

And then, off we went to St. Padre Pio‘s place — which is, like I mentioned, four hours away from Rome — but totally worth it!!!

Inside you can also find relics of St. John Paul the Great and St. Teresa of Calcutta

As I mentioned in my social media post when this shot was taken:

Today’s one for the books. I saw the body of one of the saints I always ask for prayers: St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. Yes, that’s right — I don’t pray TO them, I ask them to pray FOR me just like asking a friend to intercede or pray for me. As a devout and practicing Roman Catholic Christian, my devotion to saints has been one of the things questioned by other faiths. But I’m not posting this to argue or debate. In fact, there are many things about my own faith that I’ve still yet to discover; it’s a lifetime process, and I’m falling in love more with the Roman Catholic Church each and every time. When it comes to saints alone, the Roman Catholic Church isn’t the only church that has them. The Eastern Orthodox has ’em (I just came from Greece and have been a witness to the Greek Orthodox Church), the Anglican Church does too. But I don’t have all the answers; nobody does because only God has ’em. That’s why it’s more important to show love and respect. As another saint, St. Teresa of Calcutta, once said, “…for you see, in the end it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” ❤️

Personally, what I like about St. Padre Pio is his story on how he died to himself every day when he bore Christ‘s wounds (stigmata) when he was still alive. He helped and inspired A LOT of people, too, along the way (he still does). And the best thing about this is, he was just like you and me: a person. And if he did it, so could I. So could YOU. We are all saints in the making — we just have to accept that first and foremost.

And that’s why I love asking saints (canonized or not) to pray for me. They remind me that this world is temporary and the ultimate goal is eternal life with God in heaven. 😇

So, how’s your journey to sainthood so far? Me, I still have a looong waaay to gooo, but I thank God that His mercies are new each and every day 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

THE VATICAN

And of course, there’s Vaticano! Someday, I pray that I’ll be able to return here with my future husband and attend the Pope’s sposi novelli wherein newlyweds are allowed “to appear for the papal blessing within the first two months of marriage…” Heehee. But until then, here are the places that sufficed:

The Vatican Museums

…yes, plural! Haha!

Warning, though: The museums are jam-packed with tourists! But you’ll definitely be in awe at all their collectionsss 🙂

I was finally able to see “The School of Athens” by the renowned Renaissance artist, Raphael, up close!!!

St. Peter’s Basilica

The Pieta

Aside from where St. Peter is buried, the Basilica also serves as the burial place of most popes, just like this: the tomb of Pope John Paul II (now St. John Paul the Great)

You can confess inside, too! I DID!!! 😀

St. Peter’s Square

There was no papal audience when we visited (it was summertime, and we were informed that the audience is canceled during that season), but hey, at least I got these decent jump shots! Wahahahaha!

And that’s it! Haha! I know, bitin. Five days may sound long, but that wasn’t enough to tour Rome alone! Heck, you might need a month or more to tour entire Italy — which I plan to do in the future!!!

I’ve said before that my priorities are changing and it might take a long while before I step on European shores again, that’s why I’ll forever be grateful to God for giving me this opportunity to achieve my travel dreams in my twenties. ❤

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

Euro Trip 2018 Highlights: Greece (and Turkey)

My dream to visit my “dream” continent, Europe, was planted in my heart I think a decade ago. Since then, I’ve been there three times — in three consecutive years nonetheless! God, indeed, is faithful!!! 🙂

In 2016, I traveled to my ultimate dream destination, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (with a bonus trip to the Republic of Ireland).

In 2017, I was privileged to visit Central/parts of Eastern Europe (Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria), and I knew then that I wanted to see more of the EU!!

This year, 2018, I went on a Greco-Roman adventure — fulfilling my dream to visit the heart of my Catholic faith: The Vatican ❤

It has been a little over a month (time flies fast!) since I came back from this memorable experience. I have a feeling that my next Euro trip won’t be as soon as the previous ones (priorities are changing! *ehem, ehem*), but I’ll definitely be back! Europe is such a great continent, and one of the things I love about it is that each region offers a different experience!

And since I know it’ll take some time before I get to explore another European region (Nordic countries, anyone? Haha!), allow me to relive and savor my latest adventure through this photo blog.

For this Greco-Roman adventure, I went to Greece, a side trip to Turkey, then on to Italy and the Vatican.

So, where exactly did I go in the “Greco” part of this adventure? 😉

GREECE

Athens

-where I saw remnants of Classical Greece and then some

Parthenon

Theater of Dionysus

original modern Olympic stadium

Delphi

-where I was transported back to the time of Greece’s ancient civilization

en route the Oracle of Delphi

it was raining, but that definitely didn’t stop us from exploring this historical place!

Meteora

-where God allowed me to once again be amazed by His natural creations

at a monastery on a hill

Mykonos

-my favorite part of Greece! I want to go back here with the love of my life, hehehe 😉

with the famous windmills at the back

at the famous Little Venice

Patmos

-where I saw the cave where St. John wrote the book of Revelation (no photo, though, because it wasn’t allowed! More info here)

Crete

-where I learned about the ancient Minoans (even the Parthenon was built at least after a century since the Minoan civilization!)

Santorini

-another dream come true — totally felt like a part of the cast of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” haha 😛

one of the blue domes of the Greek Orthodox churches

“Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 3,” anyone? Haha! (Shout-out to my friends Nicole, Tanya, and Bec!)

TURKEY

Kusadasi

-where I think Aladdin got his magic carpet! CHAAAR haha

handmade carpets being sold by Mr. George Clooney look alike!

Ephesus

-where I walked on the same grounds as St. Paul when he was preaching to — you guessed it — the Ephesians!

ruins of the library of Celsus

AND THAT’S A WRAP!!!

Next stop on this photo blog series: ITALY! Ciao!

Two Words for 2017: THANK YOU!

Tell you what. I actually consider 2017 as my BEST YEAR. And for that, I am THANKFUL! 🙂

When I say “best year,” I didn’t mean an easy-going year. In fact, 2017 had been the most difficult year in my entire adult life so far. The first half of the year (which is evident in my #hugot-filled blog posts in those months! haha) was a very dark time… But it’s true that there’s always a rainbow after the rain. By God’s grace, that dark time was gradually replaced by His light, and slowly but surely, everything in my life just started to fall into place, including my healing — not just of my broken heart, but my entire brokenness as a person that I haven’t addressed in years! I’m not going to detail those anymore because at this point, I’d feel like a broken record if I still did so. I guess I’ll just repeat what I always say: that the trials I faced this year were always accompanied by blessings and lessons that helped me be the best version of myself today.

And what are those blessings and lessons? 😉

In no particular order, they are:

My travels.

In my year-ender blog post last 2016, I mentioned about my “travel year” — the time when I travel as much as I can using my own hard-earned money and making the most out of my work leaves and holidays. I said that my “travel year” happens every four years, which means if 2016 was a travel year for me, then the next should’ve been in 2020. Anyare? Hahaha! Well, obviously, God had better plans for me this 2017 (He always has!), and His provisions for my life this year was beyond what I could imagine — including my opportunity to travel again to six countries I haven’t been to before! So yes, my travels are part of God’s blessings to me this 2017. And for that, I am thankful!

my 2017 travels

My faith ministries.

My faith life has deepened and improved A LOT this 2017, and that’s thanks to the Light of Jesus Family (LOJF)’s The Feast, The Light of Christ (TLC)’s deliverance ministry and healing seminars headed by the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), and of course, the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church as a whole (I was looking for “answers,” and I stumbled upon some of them by self-studying the faith and religion I was born into, which is the Catholic Church — but that’s for another blog entry altogether!). So yes, my faith ministries are part of God’s blessings and lessons to me this 2017. And for that, I am thankful!

My family and friends.

For some unexplainable reason, God really knows when to send people my way at a time when I need them the most. Of course, my family’s already a given — I’ll forever be grateful for them. But for all the friends I met and reconnected with this 2017 (this includes the ones in my faith ministries mentioned above), THANK YOU! You are all part of God’s blessings to me this year — each and every one of yoouuu! ❤

God’s LOVE.

Ah! This one. This is probably the highlight of my 2017. Sure, I know (we all do) that God loves all of us unconditionally any time of the year, all day, every day, 24/7. But there’s something about this particular year that had made me feel God’s love for me all the more. There were times His love was manifested through the people He sent my way, but there were also times that I just literally knew it was Jesus Himself — for real! Whatever way He manifested His love to me this 2017, in the past, and in the coming years (Hello, 2018!!!), no words are enough to express how much I feel unworthy, yet still so, so, sooo GRATEFUL for God’s mercy and love! And for that, the least I can do for Him is offer my life to Him, that it may always bring honor and glory to His name, and that I may always follow His will — no matter how difficult it is to me sometimes.

You were, are, and will always be the best thing in my life, Jesus! And I wouldn’t trade anything, as in anything, for You!! For that, I surrender my entire 2018 to You and You alone, Jesus!!! Let Your will be done. In Your mighty name, AMEN.

Yes, 2017 was my best year… SO FAR. Not to worry, though. I have a feeling na hindi naman papatalo si 2018 eh! Apir!

A BLESSED AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU! 😀

Remember, be thankful always.

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
-1 Thessalonians 5:18