Visiting the Vatican City

We were in and out of this place very quickly. It was all very weird to watch crowds of selfie stick gangs and pilgrims line up to pay money to go into religious sites and buildings.

The long queues, cashier booths, metal detectors, trailer post office and unofficial tour guides made it hard to view this independent sovereign state as the centre of the Catholic Church. Its historical and religious significance, impact and power, as depicted in our textbooks and the media, were sadly masked by its alternative image as a tourist attraction.

I assume that depending on which time of the year you visit will result in a completely different experience.
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Brief Escape in Rome

We flew to Rome to celebrate a particular milestone last year. S deliberately planned something abroad so that we could focus on the occasion properly. I didn’t admit this at the time, but I was so grateful that he did because this brief escape gave me the opportunity to catch my breath in the midst of a very busy time at work. I felt a sense of relief similar to resting on the side of the boat after a tiring swim. I was probably free-diving deeper than I should have been, but I thought I knew what I was doing at the time and dismissed his concerns.

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Cave Houses of Guadix, Spain

Guadix was such a fascinating place to visit. There were chimneys scattered along the hillsides and ancient cave entrances still intact and visible on the mountain. I didn’t know functional cave dwellings still existed today.

Most of the cave homes were modernised with electricity and running water and some even had extensions added to the original sandstone home. We briefly toured a local’s home (Cueva Jose) and got to experience how naturally cooler the temperature was inside. The owner was such a sweet man who welcomed us into his property with a big smile. His home is located in Plaza del Padre Poveda and a must see when in the neighbourhood.

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Frigiliana, Spain

We could spot Frigiliana from afar; the village was perched on the side of a mountain and looked very white against the dark grey and green backdrop. We enjoyed lunch there at noon (surprisingly) and strolled through the streets briefly. Though most everything was closed, there were people out, mostly tourists bemoaning every step up the steep hill. The locals only started to emerge from their shelters once we were heading down to the car. I heard them before I could see them, especially the ladies’ clustered giggles as they walked past the breathless tourists.

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Málaga, Spain

Málaga’s beautiful city centre and waterfront revived our road trip in Andalusia. I would have loved to stay a day or two longer. I had such a great time shopping and browsing around the tiny streets filled with cafes, cervecerías and bakeries. It kind of reminded me of Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

Somehow the old and the new just seem to work in this city.

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