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Oahu Redux

Ko Olina Lagoon
It's always a treat to getaway to Oahu. Much as I like to walk around Ala Moana Park as I did in the old days, I've traded this to walking at Ko Olina where the beaches are less crowded, especially on a weekday, and the scenery is enhanced by five peaceful lagoons.  It's also a good place to enjoy the sunset. 
Shaved Ice from Matsumoto
On my travel bucket list for Oahu is to try new restaurants. Honolulu Magazine annually weighs in on the Best Restaurants in Hawaii by category and I use their list as my guide. Last November we tried Assaggio Ristorante Italiano at the Ala Moana Shopping Center. I ordered their Fresh Eggplant Milanese over a bed of linguine and it was very good. The diced eggplant was soft to the bite. For local flavor, we went to Matsumoto in Haleiwa for their famous shaved ice. I chose the mango flavor and we sat on the bench outside the grocery store to enjoy this delicious flavored ice and were rewarded with a view of the picturesque Li…

Boracay

It's a three hour drive to Caticlan from Roxas City, another beach town on the island of Panay. Then a short 15 minute hop by pump boat to the white sand beaches of Boracay. We stayed at White Beach where most of the action takes place. Our hotel was right on the beach, convenient for the many walks we took during our brief stay. We arrived in Boracay just about lunch time and we found a buffet restaurant close by. For two hundred pesos, we had our fill or more. While eating our lunch at this crowded beachfront resto, I watched how the pigs were prepared and slowly roasted for that evening's dinner.


Soon the pigs were turning a golden hue with the patient manual rotation by these two men.

A couple more hours and the "lechon" will be on the buffet table. We ate dinner at another restaurant, Mesa, where we savored their specialty - tinapa rolls along with what else, tinapa rice and fried tilapia. Tinapa is a tiny smoked fish. My friends and I thought the food at Mesa …

Merry Christmas 2013

"And the Word was made flesh And dwelt among us Full of grace and truth."  John 1:14

Please help

U.S. residents may help the victims of super typhoon Haiyan (YolandaPH) by texting AID to 27722 to donate $10.00. 0r text MKHUNGER to 50555 to donate $5.00.  All proceeds go to World Food Program (WFP) which organization is on the ground now distributing relief goods in the storm ravaged areas of Eastern and Western Visayas. Or donate online https://www.wfp.org/donate/typhoon-philippines.

Philippine residents may text RED space AMOUNT to 2899 for Globe subscribers and 4143 for Smart subscribers. Donations go to the Philippine Red Cross. "No amount is too small."
Check also this list of organizations that are involved in relief and rescue operations in the Philippines:  http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/11/how-to-help-philippines-typhoon-victims/?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0
Thank you for your generosity.
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Rome Essentials

Eats 

Near Santa Maria Maggiore
Tempio di Mecenate Ristorante/Pizzeria Largo Leopardi, 14/18 (Via Merulana) www.tempiodimecenate.it This restaurant is always full of diners. There's usually a line in front of the outdoor dining room. The food is quite good and the bill for three with wine and bottled water adds up to €52. 
Panella Via Merulana This is a bakery and restaurant in one. They have a buffet table for a fixed price. Outdoor seating. Attracts a young crowd.
Cute animal shaped breads at Panella
Near the Pantheon
Capranica Enoteca and Taverna Piazza Capranica 99/100 www.enotecacapranica.it/en
Bar at Capranica
This is a beautiful taverna inside the Palazzo Capranica, a renaissance era palace.  The bar, in warm tones of brown, is the backdrop of this elegant dining room. I had their salmon with risotto and zucchini.
Across from the Colosseo 
Oppio Caffè Via delle Terme di Tito, 72 Colosseo, Roma www.oppiocaffe.it
This café not only has the best view of the Colosseo, it also has the …

The Ecstasy of St. Teresa of Ávila

The emergence of Baroque art in the 17th c (1600 – 1700) was driven in part by the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church responded to the Reformation movement by propagating Baroque art with its flamboyance and theatricality, in order to engage the faithful through religious art and architecture and bring back erring believers to the Church.

The Cornaro Chapel is inside the Church of Santa Maria della Vittora in Rome. Here is Baroque art at its finest. St. Teresa of Ávila, a nun from the 16th century, is seen with an angel who has pierced her heart. Rays of light emanate from the heavens to illuminate the scene. On the side walls of the altar are theatre boxes where spectators (modeled by the Cornaro family) are watching the scene unfolding in front of them. St. Teresa is experiencing an intense spiritual vision that leaves her “utterly consumed by the great love of God”. Here is St. Teresa’s account of her vision:
It was our Lord's will that in this vision I should see the a…

Michaelangelo in Rome

"Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the job of the sculptor to discover it." Michaelangelo Buonarotti
Moses - Church of St. Peter in Vincoli
The statue of Moses at the basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli was to have been part of a grandiose monument and tomb for Pope Julius II, a patron of Michelangelo Buonarotti. But this same pope pulled Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508-1512), a project that lasted four years. Not surprisingly, the scaled down version of the tomb was not completed until 1515. At eight feet in height, Moses is an all powerful figure, his muscles bulging from his arms and legs and transparent through the folds of his gown. He has a crown of horns symbolizing the “ray of light”, a misinterpretation of the Hebrew word karan which may also refer to horn depending on how it is read.
Pieta
The Pieta in the Basilica of St. Peter's was once the object of a madman who hammered away at Mary's nose, arm, hand and eyeli…

Random Rome

I spied this courtyard filled with antique statues on my way to Santa Susanna. It would have been lovely to take Venus or one of the busts home with me to adorn my ho-hum garden. How many interesting conversations it would have started! But I console myself that I didn't have to pay extra for excess baggage.

These two turbaned gentlemen in orange robes sit here all day in perfect balance across from the Pantheon. One man holds the stick on which the second sits in mid air. Total concentration and control are needed to maintain this stance. Most importantly, how can they keep cool in the scorching summer heat? They must be thinking about winter!

Yes, it's a pedal car but not for a child. I wonder if all the knock off bags and scarves hanging from the rack will be packed away in the back of this motorized tricycle? A smart car indeed!


A piece of wall, a reminder of Rome's storied past, preserved in the center of the city and just down the street from Santa Maria Maggiore. I…

The Many Faces of the Colosseum

In mid afternoon, the Colosseum is tinged in chalky white.

At sunset, the Colosseum is baked in shades of sienna. 

The exposed inner rim was pockmarked by medieval robbers in search of iron clamps.  

My favorite view of the Colosseum is from the Via Sacra where ancient columns provide a linear frame to the elliptical curve of the Colosseum's walls.

Past events in this ancient amphitheater are put to bed in the dark shadows of night. If only walls could talk, what a fright they would tell!
An excerpt from Lord Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto the Fourth, (1818): A Ruin — yet what Ruin! from its mass
Walls — palaces — half-cities, have been reared;
Yet oft the enormous skeleton ye pass,
And marvel where the spoil could have appeared.
Hath it indeed been plundered, or but cleared?
Alas! developed, opens the decay,
When the colossal fabric's form is neared:
It will not bear the brightness of the day,
Which streams too much on all — years — man — have reft away.

But when the risi…

A Papal Audience with Pope Francis I

Pope Francis I - June 2013
One of our main reasons for visiting Rome was to see the new Pope. There are several ways to see the Vicar of Christ at the Vatican. Two of these are during the Sunday Angelus at noon and the Wednesday general audience at 10:30 a.m. both on St. Peter’s Square. Of the two, the best close-up view of the Pope would be at the Wednesday audience as the Pope circles the square in his popemobile before the hour-long acknowledgements and homily. On Sundays, when he is in residence, he blesses the crowd in attendance from the balcony above the entrance to the Basilica (predecessors of Pope Francis I blessed the faithful from the papal apartment window).
It is necessary to get tickets for the Wednesday audience but not for the Sunday Angelus. These tickets are free and may be requested from the Pontifical North American College or from the Church of Santa Susanna in Rome. Tickets are picked up the day before the audience or on Tuesdays from the location indicated on the…

Florence

Mercato di San Lorenzo
Thank goodness for long days of summer. We made the most of our 24-hour visit to Firenze. After a nice lunch at Trattoria Dante (which is big on ambiance), we took the bus to San Lorenzo where we browsed the outdoor stalls for decent bargains to take home as presents for family and friends. My cousin was particularly interested in finding a good leather jacket. We arrived at the market just before their fold-up time of 7 p.m. and the bargaining was intense. In the end, I bought four lacy scarves, left the leather bags alone and walked happily away. My cousin found the jacket he wanted the following day. Shopping done, we strolled to the Duomo and Baptistery of San Giovanni for art history lessons. My favorite Florentine story is about the competition for the crafting of the bronze doors of the Baptistery. Both Ghiberti and Brunelleschi submitted their quatrefoil panels of the Sacrifice of Isaac. Ghiberti won and was awarded the commission to sculpt the reliefs …

Lake Lugano

View of Lugano, Cassarate, Castagnola and Monte Bré
Lugano is definitely one of my favorite places in the world. On my first visit to this lakeside beauty many moons ago, I walked everyday along the lake from Paradiso where I was staying to Piazza della Riforma to have lunch at one of the cafés or restaurants in the city center. On the way back to my hotel, I'd stop by the Church of Santa Maria degli Angioli on Piazza Luini to marvel at the 16th century fresco of the Crucifixion by Bernardino Luini, a follower of Leonardo da Vinci. 
The Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
In the same nondescript Church of Santa Maria is a painting of the Last Supper which is also attributed to Luini. Whether you're facing the altar or the main door of the Church, you are blessed with a visual treat, one man made, the other, by a divine hand. The Church door opens to Lake Lugano.

If I were staying in Lugano for a few days, I would have stocked my hotel refrigerator with food from this d…

Padua

Basilica of St. Anthony
Prayer to St. Anthony of Padua Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints. O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and charity for His creatures made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited on your word, which you were ever ready to speak for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me (your request). The answer to my prayer may require a miracle. Even so, you are the saint of miracles. Amen.
My purpose in visiting Padua was to pray at the tomb of St. Anthony in the Basilica dell'Santo, which fortunately was across the street from our hotel. I've been planning to make this pilgrimage for a long time and while I've visited neighboring Venice a few times, I never did make it to Padua until recently. We attended mass at the Basilica on the day we arrived along with pilgrims from Rovigo, Italy who were that day's sponsor of the Eucharistic celebration. We …