Sunday, September 03, 2017

Nara, the Ancient Capital of Japan

As I sleep
Facing the city,
My Buddhas
Stand even in my dreams
On an autumn night.
Aizu Yaichi, Poet, historian, calligrapher 1891-1956

Daibutsu
Nara is chock-full of historical temples, shrines and ruins, a legacy from its early influence as the capital of Japan in the 8th century. Todai-ji is the most visited of these temples. It is the home of the seated Daibutsu (Great Buddha), one of the largest bronze statues in Japan. It measures an impressive 15 meters in height and and fills the Great Hall (Daibutsuden) with its presence. 

Bodhisattva
Two Bosatsu (Bodhisattva) sit on either side of Buddha. 

Todai-ji Temple
The Daibutsuden is the biggest wooden building in the world under one roof though it is much smaller than the original structure which was razed by fire in 1180 during the Genpei Civil War. 

Model of Todai-ji
One of several interesting displays in the Daibutsuden is the model of Todai-ji as it was in the 8th century.

Nio Deity in the Daibutsuden
The Nio deities are the traditional guardians of Buddha. They protect the temple from evil spirits and demons.

Oh deer!
It is a pleasant stroll to Todai-ji through Nara Park where deer roam freely and approach visitors with expectant eyes. They are used to being fed with shika senbei (deer crackers) which can be bought at food stalls nearby. The deer can be aggressive when they smell food so don't eat in front of them.

Nandaimon Gate
The Nandaimon Gate (Great South Gate) marks the entrance to temple grounds. This wooden gate dates to the 12th century and features intricate wooden brackets which support the two-tiered roof. Within the gate is a pair of fierce looking Nio guardians.

Kintetsu Nara Station Mall
The best way to get to Nara from Osaka Namba Station is to take the Kintetsu train because the Kintetsu Nara Station is closest to Nara Park and Todai-ji. The fare is 560 yen each way and the trip takes approximately 40 minutes. There’s also a convenient shopping mall at the station with restaurants, a grocery store and souvenir shops. 

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie


Monday, August 28, 2017

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Hozu/Oi River
Arashiyama has the distinction as being both a Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty. It shares its name with the mountain that creates a lovely setting to this popular destination. Sakura or cherry blossoms in the spring, the red and golden colors of autumn leaves and snow on the slopes of Arashiyama in winter enhance the beauty of the landscape through the changing seasons. 

Munich was luminous

Munich was luminous. A radiant, blue-silk sky stretched out over the festive squares and white-columned temples, the neoclassical monuments and Baroque churches, the spurting fountains, the palaces and gardens of the residence, and the latter’s broad and shining perspectives, carefully calculated and surrounded by green, basked in the sunny haze of a first and lovely June day. Thomas Mann, Gladius Dei, 1902

Neue Rathaus and Marienplatz

At Gamla Staden in Malmö

Stortorget

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mirabell Gardens

Small Parterre
The Mirabell Gardens were laid out in 1687 during the reign of Prince-Archibishop Johann Ernst von Thun. It was designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach within the Mirabell palace grounds and redesigned a few times over the years. One of the characteristics of a Baroque garden is how it incorporates vistas outside the garden into its design. This feature is evident from Rosehill, on the south side of the Palace. Our eyes are drawn from the Small Parterre to the Fountain of Pegasus and beyond to the dome and steeples of the Cathedral of Salzburg and Hohensalzburg Fortress. 

Monday, August 07, 2017

Osaka, City of Kuidaore

Unlike its neighbors, Kyoto and Nara, Osaka has few historical landmarks to show. This third largest city in Japan makes up for the shortfall with its thriving entertainment and food scene. 

Dotonbori Street

Saturday, July 08, 2017

See Sicogon Now

    Buaya Beach

It was summer in the Philippines and we really wanted to go to the Gigantes group of islands. But we had no desire to join the throng of beach pilgrims who wanted to take the iconic selfie from the hill above the white sand beach of Cabugao Gamay. So here we were on Buaya (crocodile) beach in Sicogon, waiting for our lunch to be served, enjoying a cool drink under the shade of this old Talisay tree and looking at the Gigantes islands from our comfortable roost.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Salzburg

"Framed by mountains, crowned by the Hohensalzburg Fortress and divided by the turquoise Salzach River, the Salzburg landscape is pure drama.” Frommers
This view

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

It's a beautiful evening

It's a beauteous evening, calm and free
The holy time is quiet as a nun
Breathless with adoration, the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquility
The gentleness of heaven broods o'er sea
Excerpt from It's a beauteous evening by William Wordsworth

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Let's go to Mantalinga Island

Mantalinga Island or Good Luck Island beckons from across the sea. Just under 20 minutes from Baybay beach in Roxas City, it's rocky shores, tidal pools and sweeping view of Baybay are enough reasons to make the short crossing. 

   Mantalinga Island

Friday, March 31, 2017

A strong U.S. dollar can stretch your travel budget

Pack your bags and travel now while the U. S. dollar is soaring in value against foreign currencies. This Frommers' article discusses the strength of the USD vs. the euro, the English pound, the Japanese yen, the Mexican peso and the Chinese yuan.

In this article from Mashable, it seems the U.S. dollar is the preferred currency even in the afterlife.
http://mashable.com/2017/03/30/usd-hellnotes-malaysia/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-main-link#km0F8n1Nmaqf


Monday, March 27, 2017

Mararison Island Getaway

There has been a lot of buzz lately about Mararison Island. For good reasons. How can one not rave about the crystal clear waters around the island and the long stretch of beach with nary a soul? Or the opportunity to take a hike up the hills for a panoramic view of the "land where the mountains meet the sea"? 

We docked by the pile of ginormous jackstones which serve as breakwater for the island. Someday these will be properly redistributed so the beach will be well protected and halt the sea's reclamation of the beachfront. 



















The sea was calm in February when we visited Mararison. It didn't rain though the sky was heavy. And as it was low tide, the curving sandbar, Kawit, was visible from our open cottage on the beach. The hut rental was P300.

After leaving our things in our cottage, we went in search for grub. We found fish and vegetables for sale just a short distance from the beach. And we were pointed to a woman who cooked our meal for us. She grilled the fishes and made some fish soup and rice for five people, all for P350. She also provided the utensils. Our meal was ready when we returned from our circle island tour. We bought our drinks from the mini convenience store nearby. (As an option, we could have bought fish at the public market in Culasi which is conveniently located behind the municipal hall.)

Colorful outriggers dot the shoreline. I found this pink lady trapped between the blue sea and sky.

Culasi, Antique is an easy drive from Roxas City on a paved highway. We left early in the morning and stopped for breakfast in Kalibo before continuing our journey to Culasi. Prior to embarking on our trip to Mararison, we paid the environmental fee of P20 and terminal fee of P10 at the Tourism Office behind the municipal hall. Senior citizens are exempt from paying these fees. 

There are a number of motorized outriggers waiting at the jetty outside the Office. We hired one for the 20-minute crossing to Mararison. The cost of a roundtrip is P750.00 for a maximum of five passengers. This included a circle island tour. It was all fast and simple to set up. We left our car at the parking lot in front of the Office. Our pumpboat waited for us until we were ready to return to Culasi. If you are traveling alone, you may join a group and share the cost. 

Frequent bus services from Iloilo, Kalibo and Caticlan stop in Culasi. The bus from Iloilo leaves from the Molo Terminal and it takes approximately three hours to reach Culasi. The Caticlan and Kalibo buses bound for Iloilo also stop in Culasi. See the schedule here: http://kalibo.org/bus-schedule-ceres/.

Homestays provide basic accommodations and there are also a couple of resorts on the island. Overnight stays can easily be arranged through the Culasi Tourism Office or you can shop around for a room when you arrive in Mararison but not during the summer season when the island welcomes a flood of visitors. If you plan to see more towns in Antique, I would suggest staying at Pandan Beach Resort in Pandan (30 minutes north of Culasi) which is on the beach and close to Bugang River (a popular destination for river rafting) and the town of Sebaste with its waterfalls. Check this link for more information about Pandan Beach Resort, 

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie


Friday, March 24, 2017

Pictures from Verona

"Pleasant Verona! With its beautiful old palaces, and charming country in the distance, seen from terrace walks, and stately, balustraded galleries. With its Roman gates, still spanning the fair street, and casting, on the sunlight of to-day, the shade of fifteen hundred years ago. With its marble-fitted churches, lofty towers, rich architecture, and quaint old quiet thoroughfares, where shouts of Montagues and Capulets once resounded....." Pictures from Italy, Charles Dickens, Chapter 8
The walls of Verona

Saturday, March 04, 2017

European Parliament votes to end visa-free travel for U.S. citizens

The European Parliament has voted to end visa-free travel for U.S. citizens after the U.S. failed to agree to allow visa-free entry to five members of the European Union namely, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Poland and Romania under a visa-free reciprocity agreement. "The vote urges the revocation of the visa-free scheme within two months."

The European Commission has been given two months to take legal steps to require visas for U.S. citizens entering the EU. The Commission, for its part, advocates "continued engagement and patient diplomatic contacts". 

How would this affect travel plans to Europe if the visa requirement is imposed? It will certainly add an extra inconvenience, acquiring a visa. How easy would it be to get one? How much will it cost? What is the duration of the visa? So many questions yet to be answered. If you're planning on traveling this summer to EU countries, you might want to hold off getting your ticket until the visa issue has been resolved. 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/europe-visa-free-travel-americans-european-parliament-vote-a7609406.html


Monday, February 27, 2017

5 Fun Things to Do in Pan-ay, Capiz

1. Visit Santa Monica Parish Church, a National Historical Landmark.
2. Try "puso", a specialty of Holy Grounds Coffee Shop located in front of the Church.
3. Go to Buntod Beach which has a commanding view of Olotayan Island.
4. Visit a heritage house, Balay ni Nanay Lording, and try their choriwich with thick hot chocolate.
5. Order pica-pica at Dante's Taberna on Friday and Saturday nights then dance the night away.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year 2017


Thank you 2016 for a rip-roaring year. Welcome 2017 and wishing all of you memorable travels in the new year.

******

Image by TravelswithCharie