Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Varenna and Lake Como

Like a breeze 
Or sunbeam over your domain I passed
In motion without pause
But ye have left your beauty with me
A serene accord of forms and colors
Passive yet endowed
In their submissiveness with power as sweet
And gracious, almost I dare to say 
As virtue is, or goodness; sweet as love
William Wordworth, Excerpt from The Prelude, Lake of Como

    Lake Como

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016


"Have yourself a merry little Christmas 
Let your heart be light 
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas now."
Excerpt from Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

*****

Image by travelswithcharie


Monday, December 19, 2016

Where to go (and places to avoid) in 2017

If you haven't decided yet where to go in 2017, here are suggestions from travel magazines and bestselling travel guide books for the best destinations in 2017:

Condé Nast Traveler

    Jeronimos Monastery, Portugal


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dubrovnik in the off-season

"Those who seek paradise on earth should come to Dubrovnik." George Bernard Shaw

    Adriatic Sea

The drive along the coastline from Čilipi International airport to Dubrovnik was every bit as enchanting. It was the magical hour with the sun calling it a day. I was watching the sunset from the bus window and decided to capture this welcoming introduction to the walled town, not quite sure how it would turn out. But I need not have worried, this picture speaks a thousand words. 

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Recent publications

    Baybay Beach

Two of my travel articles about Capiz were published recently. Check them out at the links provided below.

7 of the Best Things to do in Capiz
https://waytogo.cebupacificair.com/things-to-do-capiz/

10 Reasons why you should visit Capiz
http://www.sunstar.com.ph/iloilo/lifestyle/2016/11/03/10-reasons-why-you-should-visit-capiz-506932

*****

Image by Charie



Thursday, December 01, 2016

Upcoming Posts

Been traveling in Europe these last few weeks and will be posting soon about my journey to the Netherlands, Croatia and Italy. It's been cold except in Dubrovnik where the temperature hovered around 18°C. Here are some images of the places I visited.

    The Markthal in Rotterdam is the queen of all markets

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Halloween 2016


The one bright spot today was the Pumpkin Patch of Uesugi Farms in San Martin near Gilroy, California. The marigolds were so blinding that despite rain clouds, I needed sunglasses. This is the first year in business for this particular pumpkin patch and the little ones were having the time of their lives with the choo choo train and tractor rides through corn mazes. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Capiz

Sorry to disappoint you but there are no aswang in Capiz. If there were, the airlines would lose money since we could probably get promo fares more frequently on the back of an aswang. Seriously though, release your fear. Come to Capiz. Wear a garlic bracelet, if you must. But do come and experience our world. 

1. Life is simpler in flip flops

Baybay Beach and Mantalinga Island

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

When in Ivisan

"I've traveled far and wide to explore new horizons only to find that there's so much to see right here in my own backyard." TravelswithCharie

Basiao beach

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Pinto Art Museum

Walang Iwanan, Elmer Borlongan, 1999
The Pinto Art Museum has a vast collection of Philippine contemporary art and it requires more than a single visit to appreciate all that it has offer.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Markets of Seoul

Myeong-dong
If LA is a great big freeway, then Seoul is a great big market. Above ground or underground, there is no dearth of choices. The only limit is how deep your pocket is. 

Friday, August 05, 2016

This small museum packs a punch


Blast Furnaces of Vizcaya, Juan Luna, 1893
I love small museums where I don't have to rush from painting to painting so I can see everything in a few hours. I like to linger, take a photo if it's allowed, leisurely read the attribution card or the brochure and check out the works of art as meticulously as possible. The Yuchengco Museum in Makati is an ideal place to visit and learn about Philippine art in an intimate setting. It wows with its collection of paintings by the masters of Philippine art including Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo, Carlos "Botong" Francisco and a host of other artists, some of whom I've included below. During my visit in July, I was lucky to have seen the Benedicto Cabrera Tribute Exhibition, BenCab in Two Movements.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Azulejos as Decorative Art

Altarpiece of our Lady of Life. c1580
This altarpiece was partially destroyed during the 1755 earthquake. It is composed of 1,498 tiles in a multitude of hues. The top section with missing pieces is the Annunciation. The Adoration panel in the center is flanked by the images of St. Luke on the left and St. John on the right. The arrangement of this altarpiece resembles that of a retablo. It is attributed to Marçal de Matos, one of the masters of Portuguese azulejo painting.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lavish me with sweet hydrangeas

Hydrangeas

DO NOT SEND ME ROSES
Do not send me roses
Roses do not surprise
Lavish me with sweet hydrangeas
Their delicate bunches a feast for the eyes......
Rhonda Johnson-Saunders
Please read the rest of this beautiful poem in The Poetry Soup.
http://www.poetrysoup.com/poem/do_not_send_me_roses_371614

*****

Image by TravelswithCharie


Friday, June 17, 2016

Reminders of the Age of Discovery in Belém

Padrão dos Descobrimentos 
Belém, on the banks of the Tagus River, hosts a multitude of attractions, so many in fact, that it would be hard to see them all in a day. But walking along the banks of the Tagus River will give one a preview of the Age of Discovery.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Évora, a Storied City


Temple of Diana
After days of rain, I finally got a healthy dose of Vitamin D while exploring the old town of Évora. The blue sky above this Roman temple from the 2nd century can attest to that. Fourteen granite Corinthian columns of the original eighteen have withstood the ravages of time. Meanwhile, time has given archaeologists fodder to believe that this temple may have been dedicated to Emperor Augustus and not to Diana, the Goddess of the Hunt and of Fertility. Food for thought: Not everything we believed to be true yesterday may not hold water today? Hmmmm.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

8 Images from the Church of São Roque in Lisbon

Igreja de Sao Roque
The Church of São Roque has been designated as the Jubilee Church with a Holy Door of Mercy during this Jubilee of Mercy year (December 8, 2015 - November 20, 2016). Please check my post about Lisbon for more information. http://travelswithcharie.blogspot.com/2016/05/why-lisbon.html

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Why you should visit Lisbon now

This city of seven hills has long been sidestepped by travelers to Europe. And this is a good thing for those of us who are traveling to Lisbon because it means less crowds, no lines nor jostling for the best views, no distressed people in the service sector and just plain "having the place to ourselves". But interest in Lisbon and, Portugal in general, has climbed significantly since the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. As travelers search for alternative destinations in Europe, Portugal sparkles as one of the best value destinations this summer. 

 Ruins of Santa Maria do Carmo

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Disappearing Act

Now you see it
This is the Pyramid in Paris by I. M. Pei which I took on my last visit in 2014. JR, an artist best known for his works, Portraits of a Generation and Women are Heroes, has made the Pyramid disappear as only a magician can.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

What to look forward to this summer

Here are some places and experiences you might wish to include when planning your summer travel. Plus an essential guide on tipping and a word about sayonara. Happy travels!

France
Art trains in France
From Paris to Versailles (Condé Nast Traveler)
http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2016-05-18/france-decorates-trains-to-look-like-versailles

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Dublin Docklands Walk

Customs House
The current Customs House is a reconstruction of the original structure designed by James Gandon in 1781 and opened in 1791. It was burned down in 1921 by the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence. The Customs House was originally built for the purpose of collecting customs duties from ships plying the Liffey River which is across the street. It became the headquarters of local government when the port was moved downriver and is currently the home of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Coastal Village of Howth

Ireland's Eye

The coastal village of Howth is a short train ride from Dublin yet a world away. This is the getaway of choice to rejuvenate and clear the air, so to speak. 

A homeless Jesus sleeps on a bench at Christ Church Cathedral


Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral or the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is the oldest cathedral in Dublin. Founded around 1030 by the Hiberno-Norse, it has welcomed worshippers for nearly a millennium. It it is the mother church of the Church of Ireland United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough. The roof, the south nave and west walls collapsed in 1562. It was extensively rebuilt in the 1870s with Victorian Gothic features. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Why Dublin is a fun city to explore

The Emerald Isle

We arrived in Dublin in late April to overcast skies which quickly developed into rain.  But we decided to explore anyway. The rain didn't last long and by the time we got to Fleet Street from O'Connell Street, we were walking in chilly sunshine. All that rain keeps Ireland green so it can live up to its poetic nickname, The Emerald Isle.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Natural Beauty of Pilar

Puting Bato Cave
The Battle of Balisong Hills (Ang Away sa Balisong) was fought between Capiznon Revolucionarios and Spanish soldiers in Pilar in 1887. The local fighters bravely defended their town's freedom against the Spanish troops whom they routed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ronda - You fill up my senses

Ronda
"Ronda is the place to go if you are planning to travel to Spain for a honeymoon or for being with a girlfriend. The whole city and its surroundings are a romantic set." Ernest Hemingway

Ronda is the first stop along the route of the pueblos blancos in Andalusia. Framed by blue skies and the green valley below, it lives up to its title as the City of Dreams.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Four Enchanting Pueblos Blancos in Andalucia

"My soul can find no staircase to heaven unless it be through earth's loveliness." Michelangelo 

Plaza de España in Grazalema

In the valley of the Sierra del Endrinal sits a peaceful town of a few thousand residents. Grazalema was our first stop along the pueblos blancos route. We had heard of their "cabello del angel" pastry and were curious about this "angel's head". We picked up some at a bakery off the plaza. They were sweet, as sweet as little angels who lovingly keep us out of harm's way.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Puerto Rico Restaurant


Puerto Rico Restaurant

We were lucky to have found a really good restaurant in the center of Madrid. So many other people concur by the queue that forms outside the restaurant on most days.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Random Madrid

Assumption of Mary
I keep going back to Madrid. I like it so much I was there twice this year. On the second visit, I decided to check out some of the places I hadn't yet seen like the Templo de Debod and the CaixaForum. I wanted to see the statue of Julia in July but didn't have much time then so it was great to see her last November.

I was made aware of the crypt of the Almudena Cathedral by local friends. The entrance to the crypt is on Calle Mayor, at the back of the cathedral. A chapel runs the length of the crypt and it is flanked by side altars separated from the apse by a row of columns supporting a vaulted ceiling.  At the back of the crypt and across the central nave from the main altar is this beautiful painting of Mary, Queen of Heaven. There were many people inside the crypt on the feast of the Almudena and the tombs were decorated with beautiful flowers, just like on All Soul's Day. A choir was singing the Almudena hymn which has a beautiful refrain: 
Santa Maria de la Almudena
Reina del cielo
Madre de amor

Metro: Opera (this is a long walk to the Cathedral)


Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Feast of Our Lady of the Almudena


Offerings
The statue of Our Lady of the Almudena was brought to Spain by St. James, the apostle. It was hidden for centuries to keep it from being desecrated and destroyed by the arrival of the Moors in Spain in the 8th century. The search for the statue commenced after Spain was reconquered from the Moors in the 11th century.  It was miraculously found on November 9, 1085 during a novena and procession held for the purpose of finding her image. Since then Madrid has celebrated annually the feast of Our Lady of the Almudena, the patron saint of the city, on November 9.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Why you should enter the Mezquita with your eyes closed

"To Cordoba belong all the beauty and ornaments that delight the eye or dazzle the sight. Her long line of Sultans form her crown of glory; her necklace is strung with the pearls which her poets have gathered from the ocean of language; her dress is of the banners of learning, well-knit together by her men of science; and the masters of every art and industry are the hem of her garments." Stanley Lane Poole, The Moors in Spain: Introduction 

Mezquita
One of the most amazing places I've visited in the world is the Mezquita. The Mosque Cathedral of Córdoba was built on the site of the Church of San Vicente from the Visigothic occupation of Córdoba in the 6th century. It has changed ownership a few times since then. Muslims ruled Córdoba from the 8th century through 1236 when Córdoba fell to Christian Spain. The Mesquita which was completed in 976 was left intact until King Ferdinand III converted the mosque to a cathedral within a mosque in the 13th century.

When you enter the Mezquita, do so with your eyes closed. Open them only when you are inside the great hall to feel the full impact of 856 columns topped by two tiers of red and white arches stretched across what was once the Great Mosque. There's something transcendent in this hallowed hall that tugs at my being. It's a sacred place.

Calleja de las Flores
Córdoba is also famous for its Festival of the Patios which happens annually in May when flowers are in full bloom. We visited in late October and cooler temperatures had permeated the air but there were still traces of the colorful floral displays in the streets and courtyards of the old city. It's so much fun peering through wrought iron gates to catch a glimpse of the beautiful patios. 

The tower of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption is framed by the narrow alley called Calleja de las Flores. The alley is frequently mobbed by tourists and trying to take a photo could be quite a challenge. It's a lot more quiet in late afternoon.

Garden of the Alcázar 
The garden of the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos is a welcome escape from the Andalusian sun with its fountains, citrus trees, colorful flowers and inviting benches. 

Cypress trees line the path which leads to the statues of Columbus and the royal couple. This grand garden was once fed by the waters from the Guadalquiver River nearby using a waterwheel which is still in existence. The large ponds are 19th century additions.

Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts in Córdoba is also the birthplace of Cordoban painter, Julio Romero de Torres. He is best known for his portraits of women with expressive eyes. The museum was founded by Rafael Romero Barros, the father of the painter. It's located on Plaza del Potro and has one of the most beautiful patios in Córdoba. 

Patio of the Museum of Fine Arts
How to get there:
Take the Ave train from Madrid for the two hour journey to Córdoba.

Where to stay:
Eurostars Maimónides Hotel 
Torrijos 4, Córdoba (Across from the Mesquita)
The Maimónides is a very good hotel and reasonably priced. Our room was spacious and included wifi. The hotel is a stone's throw from the Mesquita and is conveniently situated close to many "must see" sites in Córdoba. 

Where to eat:
Ordoñez Taberna y Vinoteca,
Calle Medina y Corella 1
I loved the honey eggplant!

I liked the area of the Plaza Agrupacíon de los Cofradias which is a small square and has less tourist traffic. Found the food at the corner restaurant quite good and the service was fast and efficient. It was relaxing to eat lunch al fresco in this plaza. The restaurant had several kinds of fish dishes on the menu and I ordered the salmon.  I wanted to return that evening for the espada (swordfish) but we decided to stay at the hotel after a long day of walking and sightseeing.

*****

Images by travelswithcharie