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Showing posts from 2014

Clouds over the Valley

Had to stop and take pictures of the amazing cloud formation today. It was a sight to behold.

Image by TravelswithCharie

Saint Malo

Ramparts of Saint Malo
The stone ramparts of Saint Malo stretches 1,754 meters and wrap around the old town known as the intra-muros. A stroll along these ramparts is a walk through the history of this city which traces its origin to the arrival of Maclow, a monk from Wales, in the 6th century. Saint Malo is named after him. 
Le Grand Bé
There are exits to the beach below from the ramparts. It's possible to walk to the islands of Fort National, Le Petit Bé and Le Grand Bé when it's low tide. But high tide has a way of rushing in and leaving unsuspecting visitors stranded on the islands. It's best to check with the tourist office for the times when it's safe to walk to the islands. The waters of La Manche may rise as high as thirteen meters and pound the walls of Saint Malo. The oak tree trunks lining the seashore and which form the breakwater can attest to the might of the waves. 
Grande Plage
On a cold and intermittently wet November day, the Grande Plage was bereft of peo…

Sunrise - December 26, 2014

This is the second year I've taken a sunrise shot after Christmas day outside my door in Central California. Today, I saw these birds flying in the sky and made a lovely guest appearance on this photo.
"It's the hour when night breaks away from the day, my dove, let me go." Jean Genet, The Balcony
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Image by TravelswithCharie

Merry Christmas

Joy to the world The Lord is come!
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Image by TravelswithCharie. Yosemite National Park. 

Mont Saint Michel

"The following morning at dawn I went toward it across the sands, my eyes fastened on this gigantic jewel, as big as a mountain, cut like a cameo, and as dainty as lace. The nearer I approached, the greater my admiration grew, for nothing in the world could be more wonderful or more perfect". Guy de Maupassant, The Legend of Mont Saint Michel
Mont St. Michel from the causeway
It's hard to forget the first time I saw Mont Saint Michel from the bus window. I saw its fairytale like silhouette from a distance and I was captivated. So this time around, I waited with bated breath as the bus approached Mont Saint Michel but alas, we took a different route and I didn’t see the Mount until I had walked up the causeway from the new village that grew in recent years. Our bus from Dol dropped us in front of the tourist center where free shuttle buses ferry visitors to the foot of the Mount. I opted to walk the 2 km distance so I could see the Mont from afar and feel its magic. It was…

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Fondation Louis Vuitton
The Fondation Louis Vuitton at the Bois de Boulogne in Paris is a new gallery for modern and contemporary art.  Bernard Arnault, Chairman and Chief Executive of LVMH, envisioned architecture that would be symbolic of the 21st century and to this end, entrusted the project to renowned architect, Frank Gehry. The glass and steel building represents Gehry's idea of an evolving structure as it interacts with time and light, creating an impression of perpetual change.

The gallery was inaugurated in October of this year and the line to purchase tickets was understandably long in late November. I opted to enter the Jardin d'Acclimatation to get a close look at this colossal structure and observe the play of light on the curving glass panels as the afternoon progressed. 

Gehry's creation was inspired by glass and steel buildings of the 19th century. However, the Fondation is definitely 21st century. It appears like a ship with a recognizable bow under which th…

Galeries Lafayette Christmas Displays 2014

The inverted Christmas tree at Galeries Lafayette Haussmann is sensational! And the glass cupola reflects the changing light moods of the tree. You get a different perspective of the Christmas tree from the upper galleries and a great view of the golden legs that reach up to the cupola.

Pink monsters dance behind display windows to the delight of the children. They flocked to see the decorated Christmas themed windows as their parents excitedly took their pictures with the monsters. I couldn't get a full view because there were so many people milling around. So I had to make do with a side view. 

It's a Joyeux Noël indeed in Paris. Through January 4, 2015.
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Images by TravelswithCharie

Rue Crémieux

Rue Crémieux
It’s as if I’m going out again with my old lover. I’m discovering new things about him that I wasn’t aware of before. That’s how I feel about my love affair with Paris. Case in point: Rue Crémieux.
Rue Crémieux is a sleeping beauty with its cobblestone street, pastel painted façades, thoughtful murals, potted plants and an air of unhurried pace amidst the bustling Gare de Lyon area.  
The concerted efforts of the residents of Rue Crémieux to beautify their neighborhood is cause for applause. This is what happens when neighbors commit themselves to a worthy and far reaching goal.

I love the illusion of a tree straddling the house as if it always belonged there.

Notice the murals on this house. These well thought out personal touches define this neighborhood.
To get to Rue Crémieux, take the metro to Gare de Lyon. Walk down a few blocks along Rue de Lyon which is across from the station and Rue Crémieux will be on your left side. Please be mindful that this is a residential neigh…

Fashion Show/Défilé

The program for the Fall/Winter 2014 Collection
One of the unique experiences I had in Paris recently was attending the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann fashion show. Paris is, of course, at the forefront of haute couture so I was thrilled to have the chance to be at the défilé. The show beautifully presented the trends of the season. I was mesmerized by the variety of fun, chic and elegant outfits. The clothes and accessories worn by the models on the catwalk were available at various GL department stores. 
By the way, no photos are allowed at the fashion show but I inquired from the usher who seated me about the no photo policy and he informed me that I could take pictures without a flash. It's always good to ask first.

The ensemble shown above is categorized as PopTimisme. PopTimisme is defined by rhythm, color, and energy. It evokes New York City's street style.

Young fashionistas will be both comfortable and hip in this plaid shirt with cool black and white plaid scarf and black …

Rue Thermopyles

Rue Thermopyles
Rue Thermopyles takes its name from Thermopylae, that narrow pass in Greece where a great battle was fought in 480 BC between a handful of Greek warriors under the command of Leonidas and the 150,000 strong Persian army under Xerxes. But that's the end of the similarity - a narrow street. Rue Thermopyles is a tranquil neighborhood with trees climbing up the walls of its houses and covering some of them in rich foliage. The cobblestone street is lined with potted plants.

If you continue walking to the end of the street and make a right, you will find these two charming homes one of which is nearly hidden from view by trees and shrubs. In front of these homes is the Alberto Giacometti Park, a small square which is a nice extension to Rue Thermopyles.

Paris is a big city with staggering urban growth that comes accompanied by the cacophony of modern day living. It's refreshing to find a haven such as Rue Thermopyles, a little piece of "country" in this …

La Coulée Verte

Viaduc des Arts
La Coulée Verte or the Promenade Plantée is a 4.5 kilometer trail on what was once an elevated railway track that was decommissioned in 1969. The trail begins at Bastille and continues on to Bois de Vincennes. The Promenade has been planted with trees, shrubs and flowers. Every section has a landscaping theme such as the bamboo grove or the fountains. There are vine covered trellises and enough benches for those who wish to read their newspapers or chat with friends or just hang out.  
Of the flowers on the trail, I saw white roses and dark pink double impatiens. There were many shrubs with tiny flowers - one which I noticed looks similar to jasmine but minus the scent. And I was delighted to see holly, so perfect for this season. It's amazing to find many blooming plants this late in the fall. 
 Bamboo grove
I met several joggers along the trail which promises to be a good, long run all the way to Vincennes and back. But walking has its rewards. The path is flank…

Love, Love Locks and Paris

L'amour is alive and well but it's beginning to take a toll on the Pont des Arts in Paris. The growing tradition of hanging love locks on bridges around the world has destroyed sections of this footbridge. The city of Paris has previously removed and replaced certain sections of the railing as the locks weighed them down and caused the grates to separate from the railing. The Pont des Arts is checked regularly as damaged railings pose safety issues as well.

Some of the locks are fancy and well thought out, some are engraved with the couple's names but most locks are plain and heavy and the names hastily scribbled with a marker. Many locks are now rusty and the names have faded into oblivion.

If you arrive in Paris and want to hang your love lock at the Pont des Arts but you didn't bring a lock, worry not. There are lock sellers around the bridge who will gladly sell you one along with postcards and other souvenir items. These resourceful street peddlers will even sell…

Perigee Moons of 2014

July 12, 2014
What a year it has been for skywatchers. The night sky was ablaze with three perigee moons and two blood moons. It was a challenge to get a photo of la pleine lune with my simple IPhone camera. I wanted to record a "bigger than life" moon (that's why they're called supermoon) but the zoom feature couldn't really do the job. (I need a DSLR camera.) Here are some impressions from my IPhone and IPad cameras anyway.

August 10, 2014, early evening

August 10, 2014, against the black of night

September 9, 2014
I missed the blood moon and the lunar eclipse on October 8th. Below is a photo I took from the park during my late afternoon walk on the 7th.
October 7, 2014 
Obviously I was over the moon to have witnessed these natural phenomena.
"Tell me the story About how the sun loved the moon so much That she died every night Just to let him breathe." Hanako Ishii

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Images by TravelswithCharie


One fine September day, my friends and I decided to drive around Panay Island starting from Roxas City. We planned our itinerary to include lunch in Kalibo then drive through Nabas to Pandan in Antique and down the coast to Iloilo City. It was a short drive from Nabas to the border of Antique but it was a long drive down the coast to Iloilo.  And it rained buckets in late afternoon. This didn't dampen our road trip though. Antique is relatively free of traffic and the main road is well paved. There are many old bridges to cross along the way, most of the time within sight of the beautiful coastline marked by some rocky beaches.

We stopped in the town of Tibiao to see the falls and try bathing in a "kawa". (The kawa is an oversized wok-shaped cauldron formerly used to cook muscovado sugar.) Alas the road up the hill was under construction and the entrance to the falls was closed. We got as far as the zipline where there's a marvelous view of the mountains covered in th…

Advocacy: Balay ni Charie

Lacaron Elementary School
Continuing with our school distribution program, we went to Lacaron Elementary School in Dao, Capiz last July and reached out to approximately 240 children. The last time we were in Lacaron was in December 2011. It was really nice to be able to revisit Lacaron this year. 

Typical of July weather, it was a hot and humid day and we stayed outdoors under the UNICEF donated tent classroom. With the school principal, Milagros Jore Derayo, we gave each of the children notebooks, pens and pencils. Some kids took home prizes like crayons, toys, pencil cases, coloring books and more school supplies for giving the correct answer to our math, spelling and history questions. Here are the young students raising their hands to answer a particular question we posed to them.

The little ones are sometimes shy but generally eager to answer our questions. They are always excited to receive a prize. Everyone gets involved including teachers and parents who prod their children along…