The Route du Vin is an oenophile's dream destination. With its vineyards producing rieslings, gewurztraminers and pinot blanc among others, visitors drive through its medieval villages for a taste of Alsatian fare. Colmar sits at the southern tip of this wine road. At first glance, it looks like any other bustling city. But as you enter the center of the city, you are transported to another age. Fourteenth and 15th century half timbered houses, seemingly untouched by time, invite you to linger. At every turn of its cobblestoned streets, a picture waits to be taken.
Colmar once led the Decapole, an alliance of ten cities that banded together to protect them from taxes levied by the nobility. The Ancienne Douane (Customs House) is a 15th century building where members of the Decapole once met.
The legacy of the merchant class remains in finely detailed homes such as the Maison Pfister with its balcony and turret and the Maison des Têtes which, true to its name, is decorated with scul…
In the quattrocento, Lorenzo Ghiberti was awarded the commission to carve the gilded bronze panels decorating the north door of the Baptistery after winning the competition against the likes of Jacopo della Quercia and Filippo Brunelleschi. The outcome of this contest proved providential for Florence because Brunelleschi moved on to build the dome which crowns the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore. Not since the Pantheon in Rome was constructed between AD118-28 has a dome of this scale been built.
The red-tiled Duomo is one of the most enduring symbols of Florence. White ribs contain its sides and a lantern of white marble with windows caps the dome, directing light into the cupola. There are 463 steps leading to the dome for a 360-degree view of the Tuscan countryside. From within the cathedral, one can marvel at the restored fresco of the Last Judgment which covers the cupola.
A walk along Via del Calzaiuoli reveals tempting shop windows, fun distractions as we crisscross our way to P…
For the first time in three (or four) years, my lemon tree bore a fruit. A single, precious one. I thought I'd lost all the blooms but somehow this one survived. Now I can sing "lemon tree, very pretty". Happiness is a green lemon. Yes! * * * Image by Charie
It's back to school in the U.S. in late August and for the last couple of weeks many stores have been holding sales on school supplies. One I couldn't resist was at Office Depot recently where they had 5¢ pencil pouches, 10¢ sharpeners, and 25¢ pack of 10 pencils. I was all excited to pick up a few hundred for the grade school children in Roxas City but when I got to the store, I could only buy three of each item as there is a limit on the number you can purchase on sale items. What a letdown! So I called my Mom to buy some supplies at the Office Depot near her office and I visited another store close to my house. I figured I have enough pencils to give to 6o kids. It's not nearly enough. Last year we gave school supplies to 234 children so we have a long ways to go. This will be our fourth year giving school supplies to children in Roxas City. I have to say it's one of the most satisfying experiences I've had, ever. * * * Image by Charie