Everything you need to know about exploring Vatican City

Vatican City, one of the most sacred place to visit for Roman Catholics. Actually, religious or not, it surely is worth the visit when you find yourself in Rome due to its beautiful architecture, museum, and history. It also inscribed as a UNESCO site in 1984 and the only one that consist of an entire state.

So, what do you get to see when you visit Vatican City?

First on the list is the St. Peter’s Square or Piazza San Pietro (in Italian). You can’t miss this as it’s what will be welcoming you once you enter the gates of Vatican City. This large plaza located directly in front of the St. Peter’s Basilica. This is one of the picturistique places in Vatican where most tourists take their #instagrammable photos.

You wouldn’t want to miss seeing what’s inside your backdrop when you took that photo at St. Peter’s Square don’t you?! St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the holiest holiest sites of Christianity and Catholic Tradition. Traditionally, it is the burual site of its titular, St. Peter, the head of the twelve Apostles of Jesus. Aside from St. Peter, the Basilica is also where 91 popes are buried.

Ceilings of St. Peter’s Basilica

It is also the world’s largest church where you’ll be amazed to see impressive works of art and gigantic dome, pillars, and statues. Even my 8-year old was impressed and whispered to me while we’re wandering inside, “Mommy, this is the most beautiful church we’ve ever been”. A big contrary to what she said when we’re in Athens and visited the Acropolis where she said, “We came here to see rocks?!” Kids clearly don’t know how to filter their words yet.🤪

Oh! And did I mention, going in the St. Peter’s Basilica is for FREE. There’s a fee though if you’d like to climb up the dome on foot (that’s 551 steps up) or you have an option to ride the lift. You just need to queue and have your bags check. Don’t be intimidated by the long queue you see as the lines move really fast. Once you’re cleared from the initial checks, you can enter either the St. Peter’s Basilica or the Vatican Museum.

Which leads us to the next place you can see inside Vatican City, the Vatican Museum. We didn’t get a chance to visit the museum as we started our day very late and the queue to the museum was quite long that time. That’s also the reason why we chose to just go inside the basilica instead.

behind us is the St. Peter’s Square

The Vatican Museum holds an immense collection of the of art amassed by the Roman Catholic and papacy throughout the centuries.The museums contain roughly 70,000 works of art though only 20,000 of them are on display. These artworks are the most renowned Roman sculptures and the most important masterpieces of the Renaissance art in the world.

That being said, it’s no wonder one of the most visited museums in the world (garner about 1 million people annually) and with 24 galleries with the Sistine Chapel, notably being the last room visited within the Museum, you’ll surely need a whole day to splurge looking into these artworks beauty. I’d surely want to visit this the next time we go to Rome and would make sure to plan our day early so we can make our money worth of those tickets. haha..

Lastly is the Sistine Chapel. Aside from the fact that this is the official residence of the Pope, this room is a truly special one. Why? Because not only one, but two of one of the most notable artists in the Renaissance have their artworks inside this room. I’m talking about Michelangelo who painted the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel between 1508 and 1512 and covered the wall altar of his world known, “The Last Judgement” artwork.

Here’s how to get there:

TRAVEL BY METRO: The quickest way is to take the Metro. Rome is quite easy to navigate especially if you’re going to start your journey from their main terminal, Roma Termini. You’ll need to buy a ticket on their Metro and ride the orange line to Ottaviano on line A. Note that finding this platform can be a bit tricky (despite all the signs) so if it’s your first time here, it’s better you ask one of their kind and helpful train staff to avoid riding the wrong train.

photo from web and edited myself

It’s a short walk from the Metro to the walls of Vatican City (about 5 mins walk). You can just follow fellow tourists as you can’t miss to see the walls of Vatican where you just need to walk around to the entrance.

TRAVEL BY BUS: Alternatively, you can take bus #64 (takes around 20 minutes), from Termini train station where you need to get out at the last stop of the route – Piazza Stazione S. Pietro. From there, you’ll need to walk 15-20 minutes to reach the Vatican City.

What to wear:

Remember that Vatican City may be considered as a tourist destination but its still a Holy place so avoid wearing revealing clothes, like short skirts, dresses, and shorts. However, if you happen to visit during summer and the weather seems too hot, it is advisable to bring a scarf to cover-up. As for the footwear, wearing sandals is okay, but please try to skip those flip flops. And like any Holy place, hats should be removed upon entering the buildings in the Vatican. Lastly, food (you can as long as you don’t eat it inside) and metal tools ( scissors and knives) are not allowed.

Best time to visit:

It’s best to allot a whole day to be able to let yourself immerse on the beauty of each part of the Vatican City. As per our experience, we arrived around 12nn and all were able to do is take photos at St. Peter’s Square and go inside St. Peter’s Basilica. Our original plan includes the Sistine Chapel but it was too late already when we reached there (it closes at 4pm) so it is really recommended to plan your time wisely if you want to make the most from your trip.

Budget:

Here’s what you’ll get for FREE: entrance to the Vatican City, St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’ Basilica, Tombs of Popes (under St. Peter’s Basilica)

What you need to buy a ticket: Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel (located inside the Vatican Museum, guided tours, St. Peter’s Cupola (dome) or if you have that extra $$$ and would want to have the privilege to skip the line, all of those you can buy from here.

So there you have it! I hope you find the information on this blog post valuable. We’ve visited Greece(Athens), the Netherlands(Papendrecht, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam), travelled via EuRail to France (Paris), then took the EuRail again to Italy(Rome). Let me know in the comments below which one do want me to make a blog post next.

If you have kids and feel daunted by the thought of travelling with them while they are young, I hope you get to read my other article about the Reasons why you should travel with your kids.

Top 5 to reasons why travelling with young children is the best

If you have told me last March that we would be having a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower soon, I’d probably laugh at you. Unlike most families we get to watch on YouTube who go travel the world for a living (oh well, maybe if you support our YouTube Channel😁), our family of four does what most families do (have normal jobs), live in Singapore, and relying on a single income, I’m a SAHM. So the chances of us doing this is quite slim given the high cost of living here. Yet, life is truly full of surprises and incredibly unpredictable, you just have to hold your breathe at times, be grateful, and to pinch yourself into reality!

Us having a picnic with this beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower

I grew up with my parents working abroad. They made sure though to make up with quality time every school vacation. So you can imagine our anticipation whenever March comes nearer (school year in the Philippines starts June and ends in March) so we can go fly to Japan to visit our parents. Let’s just say, I got that love for travel because of my parents. Riding our mini-van, we would do convoy trips with my aunts and uncle who are on their own mini-vans as well with our cousins around the mountains of Japan. Those memories are really memorable ones that I wouldn’t forget and a topic we could talk about the whole day laughing without fail.

Being a parent myself now, I for sure would love to have those kind of memories with our children as well. So equipped with a grateful heart for any opportunity that may came our way, hard work from the hubs, and a watchful eye on our finances, we didn’t have any second thoughts when the chance for our family to go on a Europe trip arise.

Taking one hiccup at a time that came our way, we managed to pull off the most epic trip our family have gone to to-date! I guess I’ll make another blog post on all the hiccups we’ve managed to find a solution with. For now, here’s the details of our Europe travel:

  1. Flew from Singapore to Greece via Scoot Airline
  2. Flew from Greece to Netherlands via Aegean Airline
  3. Travelled by train from Netherlands to France passing through Belgium via Eurail
  4. Travelled by train from France to Italy passing through Switzerlands via Eurail
  5. Flew from Italy to Singapore passing through Finland via FinnAir
Eurail route we’ve travelled

All in all, that’s a staggering 30hrs 90mins on air(on a plane) and 1 day 17hrs on a train in a total of 18 days. Isn’t that amazing!!! That may be a long time but since did stayed most of those days in Greece and Netherlands and only started our train travel on the last 8 days our trip, I must say, we’re all happy to be back home in Singapore to have a good rest by the end of our trip. haha…

Data from our Eurail app on how far and long we’ve travelled

So why would I still encourage parents to go on an epic adventure travelling with their kids? Here’s the reasons why:

  1. You want it. If you love travelling like me, that love for travelling isn’t removed from your identity no matter how many kids you have nor no matter what age your children may be at the time being. If you have the means (time and money) to do so, do it!
  2. You need it. Being a parent comes with tons of responsibilities. We are all humans and needed a break once in a while. A change in scenery, gaining new experiences, and adding up some family memories can’t be exchanged with any material thing.
  3. You get to save. Being both from the field of Finance, we can’t deny how much conscious we are when it comes to our expenses when we travel. That’s why, one thing we love about travelling with our kids is we get to save from fare. From either travelling for FREE or HALF-PRICE on airfare to totally FREE on trains such as SHINKANSEN (when we travelled in Japan back in 2019) or EURAIL (when we travelled now in 2022).
  4. You’ll remember it. One phrase parents always get from others when they travel with their young is this, “Travel when your kids are older so they’ll remember it too“. Well, I’ve got only 3 things to say to them, “I’ll surely remember the trip and would document it with tons of photos so my kids would get to see it when they’re older” , We’ll go back again when they are older if it’s worth visiting again, and lastly, “Appreciate your opinion but we think we’re doing great with out parenting, thank you, you can go ahead and mind your own business.” haha…okay, that last ones can be pretty harsh and personally I haven’t used that but given in our society today where everyone seems to know too well of everything on everything, you have my blessing to use it if the need arises.😉
  5. You only get to do it now. Life is short. Yesterday has already gone and we can’t be sure of tomorrow. Our only guarantee is today, so always make the most of it. Once your kids have gone bigger, you might not have the time or resources (money) to go on a trip, or your kids may rather go on trips on their own. Now is the time you get to spend with them, so go ahead and do it!

Okay, I know this blog post can be too optimistic and blindsided by the cons of travelling with kids, so let me do another blog post on that just so you can get to prepare from all of them as well. One thing’s for sure though, it may be difficult, hard, and tiring but with a few tips and tricks on how your trip can be made easier for you and your child, I guarantee you, IT WOULD BE ALL WORTH IT!

Are you going on a family trip soon? I’d love to hear where you’re heading or where you’ve been to!Let’s share ideas, tips, places to travel, etc. and do what moms do best at…SUPPORTING EACH OTHER!

Cheers to EPIC FAMILY TRIPS!

Weekend trips with kids tips

As you all know, we’ve been into nature trips this past few months. Our main objective going on these trips has been mainly for us to be able to have a breather and at least go out of our house once a week but still being cautious enough and staying away from the crowd.

How hard could it be? Go and be-friend the nature instead!

Truly, the past trips has thought this momma how important it is to pack light (I’m still trying) but yet still have all the things your family needs when they need it (is that even possible? it is!)

You might think that our kids may be grown-ups already but at 6 and 7 years old, they’re still children + the hubs!haha.. We may only be hopping on a bus/train and be out for a day but if you’re in the middle of the woods and need a band-aid…well, you better be sure to have one! (This is me trying to justify why this blog post is important.haha)

Anyways, I’d like to share with your how I prepare for these Nature trips. Like most moms, it starts the night before.

First, make sure that GoPro batteries, power-bank and hand phones are all charged.

Second is the bag. What’s in my bag?

  • a towel
  • a fan
  • my wallet
  • small first-aid kit
  • eyeglasses & shades
  • GoPro and batteries
  • a pen – my mom used to tell me to have one at all times in my bag to be used for writing(of course!) and a weapon in case of emergency
  • tissue
  • 2 sanitizers (1 inside and 1 hanging out)
  • phone
  • 2 pcs. of plastic (comes in handy for the kiddos when it suddenly rains)
  • snacks
  • house keys

I pack the girls their bags depending on where we’re going. If I know they’ll need a change of clothes after, then I do pack for them (or at times, I let them do it themselves—but make sure to check it after to make sure they don’t bring unnecessary stuff) My youngest tried to bring a crossword book to one of our trips!! ugh!

Here are the items in the girls backpack:

  • water bottle
  • extra shirt
  • towel
  • snacks
  • phone
  • 2 small toys

If they’re not bringing one, their water bottle simply hangs on their necks.

The hubs has his own bag that hangs on his neck which I make sure to put a towel on and his wallet.

Third, prepare everyone’s outfit for the next day. You don’t want to be stressed the next day just because that pink shirt your daughter wants to wear is in the laundry and haven’t been washed.

Fourth, do a briefing with everyone. For us, this means me confirming with the hubs what time we’ll be leaving. This gives me the luxury to plan my time wisely and make sure everyone and everything goes into plan. Once I’ve planned my wake-up time, what brekky (if we’ll be eating before leaving), it’s time to talk to my troopers. Yes, I make sure our daughters are mentally prepared as well. This eliminates morning mood swings and instead just need to whisper to their ear and they’ll wake-up easily. How convenient!

Last but not the least, I make sure I fix myself first before waking up anyone else. This may mean waking up an hour before but rushing and being stressed and ruin my mood because I wasn’t feeling myself would only ruin everyone’s day. So this small sacrifice is very much needed.

Motherhood is a testament it doesn’t require a plane ticket for one to have the need to be well organised for an adventure. It simply means making sure to being ready every time you and your family step foot out of your house, and having what you need when needed.

Hope this you find this helpful. Any tips you’d like to add? Feel free to comment below!↓↓↓

Why is teaching your child to bike important

Learning to ride a bike may be a common thing to some family. To other parents though, it something too dangerous for their child to do and eventually turn to something their child grow up not learning to do.

Here’s some reasons why teaching your child how to bike can be more than just learning how to balance but also teach them some life skills without you knowing it.

Learning to have patience with themselves and with things in their surroundings

It took my daughters a year to be confident enough to remove the training wheels and be able to balance themselves with just two wheels. It’s not a hidden truth that in the era we are in, almost everything comes in fast-paced. With that, our children gets used to this kind of living where everything seems to be automatic and instant with just a touch of a button.

We parents know also that real life doesn’t go that way. Even in this era, you still need time to learn how things work. It would still take time for someone to master something they want to be good at. Imagine having a doctor operate you but only studied about how to do it by reading a book. Would there be anyone confident enough to lie-down on that operating table? Do you thing those billionaires become one overnight?

It doesn’t matter what era we may be in. To be successful in life, one still need to go through the grit and grind of waiting for their dreams to turn into reality by being wise and applying hard work.

Having determination is integral in order succeed.

I got to see in their eyes how much they wanted to learn how to ride a bike on some days. There’s also days where it just seemed not to be their day and all they do is stumble and fall every ride they do.

Much like in real life, everyday is different. There’s days you win, there’s days that you don’t. That’s why having the right mindset and reason for doing something is important. It would be the fuel you need when you’re feeling down. You’ll need it whenever you stumble and fall.

As much times I repeated this quote during that one year I’ve been teaching my daughters how to bike, I’ll still go ahead and repeat it over and over again. That quote is…

Focus on is your progress, not perfection.

Lastly is to believe in themselves

The beauty with riding a bike is there’s not much another person can help you to learn how to do it right. At the end of the day, it’s just you and your bike and you got to sum up the courage to overcome that fear and believe in yourself that you can do it.

Here’s one conversation I’d like to repeat over and over whenever I feel my kids are in that brink of giving up.

Me: Can you do it?

My daughter: Yes

Me: Why?

My daughter: Because I’m Audrey / I’m Ysabelle!

And just with this four exchanges in conversation, I’d see their face lit up and get again in the game. And as a parent, that’s all I need to know that I’m doing my job as a parent well.

Shouldn’t miss exciting side trip to Hindhede Nature Park

How about hitting two birds in one stone sounds like?

Located next to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, it’s wise only to swing by this park whenever you go visit the Bukit Timah Summit. Not only does this park makes the perfect place for you to relax after that exhausting climb, its playground is a perfect place for your kids to play around to use up their extra energy left.

Not known by many but in the 19th century, it was quarrying that has played a significant part of Singapore’s history and had fuelled its development. It was granite that was mined from these quarries and was used for the construction of early public housing and roads in the 1970s. In 1991 though, the industry came to a halt but theses quarries have stood the test of time and now form part of the city’s natural landscape. It remains coexisting alongside shopping malls and towering skyscrapers.

The quarry was named after a Danish businessman and tea farmer Jens Hindhede. He was the elder son of famous physician Mikkel Hindhede. The younger Hindhede operated the granite quarry until it ceased operations. 

Hindhede quarry was one of those and opened in 2001. It has been specially designed for families with children.It’s short trails leads into the park from the visitor centre and looping to the scenic Hindhede Quarry. It’s an excellent place for bird watching but in our case, what we saw was a monitor lizard instead. Not only did we saw it walking in a canal but we even followed it as it made its way out to the quarry.

Leave in the comments below if you have any suggestion on where else our feet can bring us!

If you’re looking for some inspiration for future adventures within Singapore, check out our previous trip to  Singapore’s highest natural point, Bukit Timah Summit! This amazing how much greenery this “Little Red Dot” can have. Truly there’s much more to explore than just stroll in the malls every weekend.

Read more: Weekend Family Trip Tips

Can’t get enough of this trip? Watch how we document our adventure on the video below!

Stay safe everyone!

Till our next adventure!