Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spring at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens


Japanese inspired bamboo tea house

The Bellagio Hotel Conservatory and Botanical Gardens always presents some of the most visually appealing floral displays. I never fail to see their seasonal offerings when I'm in Vegas. This Spring's theme is the Japanese Garden. The scene is complete with a temple, a bamboo tea house, stone lanterns, a footbridge, and cherry blossom trees, the quintessential symbol of spring in Japan.


The garden is awash with tulips, the elemental spring bulb. I spotted an exuberance of daisies, hyacinths, chrysanthemums, lilies, cyclamens and other blooms I couldn't name. Above is the cherry blossom tree with 300 oversized acrylic blossoms and leaves. Overhead are painted paper parasols which may or may not provide shade from the sun but are pretty nonetheless. 


These photos were taken in the evening so the mood is markedly different. The colors are more edgy and the lighting adds a magical quality to the fountains. 

A temple

This 26-foot tall temple is wrapped in rice paper shoji screens. A golden veneer has been applied to the upper floors, an allusion to the famous Kinkafuji or Golden Temple in Kyoto. 

Crane 

Two scene stealers are the 6-foot tall crane and the tortoise topiaries  These are considered mystical creatures in Japanese culture and represent longevity.  The crane also symbolizes good fortune. 

The Bellagio floral display is open 24 hours daily and admission is free. This particular display will continue through May 11th.  The Bellagio Hotel and Casino is at 3600 South Las Vegas Boulevard. 

“And spring arose on the garden fair
Like the spirit of love felt everywhere
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of the wintry rest.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley

*****

Images by Charie


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Vegas - It's not all that it seems

Ca' d'Oro

The last time I was in Venice was nearly two years ago. It was in mid June and Venice was teeming with visitors.  We took the vaporetto which was jam-packed with passengers bound for St. Mark's Square. It was scary full. And I had no view of the beautiful palazzos that line the canals.  So nice to see a replica of the Ca' d'Oro's façade in Las Vegas. This 15th century palace is my favorite building in Venice.  It's all about the balconies, each one with its own distinct personality. 

Tour Eiffel

Disguised against the black of night, who would think that this tower is on the Strip and not in the City of Light? Were it not for the building in the background, this scene could be mistaken for Paris!

Miracle Mile Shops

Clouds dot the bluest sky inside a shopping mall. It's nice to be indoors when it's smouldering hot outside and have a glimpse of the sky, faux though it may be. 

Fortunately, I have something here that's really what it seems - sunrise in Las Vegas. This was taken from my hotel window at Planet Hollywood. In the foreground is Sunrise Mountain. How apropos!


"All that glitters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been inscroll'd:
Fare you well; your suit is cold.
Cold, indeed; and labour lost:
Then, farewell, heat, and welcome, frost!
Portia, adieu. I have too grieved a heart
To take a tedious leave: thus losers part."
Merchant of Venice, (Act II, Scene VII) William Shakespeare 

*****


Images by TravelswithCharie


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Meditation Hills



Halfway between Roxas City and Kalibo is the town of Sapian, Capiz which is the home of the lush gardens of Meditation Hills. Yes, it is a great place to meditate amidst nature's beauty and bounty.


What I like best about the Healing Chapel is its location halfway up the hill. It has a commanding view of the surrounding countryside and the hills across the road below. 


This uphill path leads to the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. I didn't venture the climb as we were there at midday and it was really too hot and the sun had sapped away my energy. All I wanted to do was take a nap. The best time to attempt this climb would be early morning or late afternoon. Bring a hat or parasol and suntan lotion. 


The grounds are well manicured and the trees seem to have grown and recovered easily after the devastation of the super typhoon, Yolanda.  Above the grotto and many more steps to hurdle is a big white cross which can be seen for miles around. That cross was damaged by Yolanda's fury. It was recently restored by the Capiz Cyclists Club to its rightful place.


This is a place of worship.  Let us respect these grounds. 

“Perfect prayer does not consist in many words, silent remembering and pure intention raises the heart to that supreme Power.”  Amit Ray, Om Chanting and Meditation

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Images by TravelswithCharie



Monday, March 09, 2015

Sweet Pandan

Exploring our island has led to many wonderful discoveries. On this day trip to Pandan, Antique, we drove from Roxas City to the coastal town of Buruanga in Malay then continued on paved roads to this rustic beach town. We realized soon enough that we should stay longer as there was quite a bit to see and do but we'll have to save that for another day. We'll come back to this laid back and friendly niche, that's thankfully off the grid, soon enough.

Eat, beach, relax, repeat

This is the first thing that greeted us when we entered the resort. Two hammocks beckoning us to rest from the midday sun. How easy it is to surrender to the whisper of the sea, swaying palm fronds and clear blue skies!

Not a wave in sight 

It was the calmest sea. And though my room was just across from the beach, it was blissfully quiet except for the whir of the ceiling fan.

Glorious sunset

I started my walk on the beach at 4:30 p.m. The sun was still high on the horizon but it was slightly cooler. Fisherfolks were cleaning their nets while an X Factor wannabe was singing karaoke in the distance. There's are signs of a thriving village life here - colorful laundry hanging from clotheslines and palay (grain of rice) left to dry on a large mat on the sand.

Silhouettes

The children came out to frolic on the shore as the sun slid down the expanse of sky.  It was a joyful time with kids returning from school and playtime for the little ones.

A magical evening 

And when the sun graciously gave the moon some breathing space, the resort was lit up in the most romantic way. It was magical! Then I heard a knock on my door. Dinner was ready. Light dinner for me after a day of eating local delicacies.

24 hours was all the "real" vacation I had within my hectic vacation. So glad I came his way.

Pandan Beach Resort
Pandan, Antique
Panay Island, Philippines
pandanbeachresort.org

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Images by travelswithcharie 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

January

Yosemite in Winter

January by John Updike

The days are short
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark

Fat snowy footsteps
Track the floor
Milk bottles burst
Outside the door

The river is
A frozen place
Held still beneath
The trees of lace

The sky is low
The wind is gray
The radiator
Purrs all day.

*   *   *

Image by TravelswithCharie


Saturday, January 10, 2015

We Mourn the Loss of Lives


We mourn the loss of lives in the recent terror attack at Charlie Hebdo and the taking of hostages at a kosher supermarket, both incidents in Paris.  We pray for the victims and their families and for peace and tolerance in our increasingly fragile world.  

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Image by TravelswithCharie

Top Travel Destinations in 2015

Milan Cathedral, Milan 

New York Times 52 Places to Go in 2015
Milan, Cuba, Philadelphia, Yellowstone National Park, Elqui Valley in Chile, Singapore, Bolivia, Faroe Islands, Macedonia
For more of the 52 Places to Go in 2015 check this link: 

Lonely Planet Top 10 Countries

El Nido, Philippines

Singapore, Namibia, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Republic of Congo, Serbia, Ireland, Philippines, St. Lucia, Morocco

For more on these countries and other top travel lists from Lonely Planet click here:

National Geographic Best Trips 2015

Mont St. Michel, France

Corsica
Medellin, Colombia
Koyasan, Japan
Maramures, Romania
Haida Gwaii off the coast of British Columbia 
Oklahoma City
Tunis, Tunisia
Choquequirao, Peru
Sark, Channel Islands
Hyderabad, India
Port San Antonio
Taiwan
Zermatt, Switzerland
Presidio, San Francisco
Merqui Archipelago, Myanmar
Sea Islands, South Carolina
Mont Saint Michel, France
National Mall, Washington DC
Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Esters del Iberá, Argentina

For detailed information about these destinations go to this link: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/best-trips-2015/

There are many top travel destinations lists for 2015 available on the net but one worth reviewing is the Afar Magazine list. Read it here: http://www.afar.com/wheretogo2015

Where will you go in 2015?  Happy travels.

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Images by TravelswithCharie