Saturday, May 25, 2013

Jose Rizal in Madrid

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As promised, I went to visit the historical places in Madrid that has to do with Jose Rizal. Before going there, I have printed this useful file that you can get from the web site of the Philippine Embassy in Madrid.

I tried to contact the historian Jaime Marco, the author of this document to know more about it. He was quite friendly and willing to meet and tour me around. Unfortunately, he's only available during the weekend, and my trip schedule fell on weekdays.

I was able to see most of the places in the list in such a short time because they were mostly located close to each other.

It's nice to have a Metro Station in Madrid named after the Philippines
First off, I went to Avenida de las Islas de Filipinas to see Jose Rizal's statue. This statue is just like the one that we have in Luneta (Rizal Park) in the Philippines, only smaller.

This metro station is found right at the beginning of the Avenida de las Islas de Filipinas

It is quietly located outside the city center, far away from the tourist sites. You will find it just at the beginning of the Avenida de Filipinas, about 500 meters away. Jose Rizal's Monument is right at the corner of Calle Santander.

The exact replica of the monument found in Rizal Park in Manila, Philippines, only smaller

Seeing it made me feel as if I was back at Luneta Park again. It is the exact copy, except that this replica is a bit smaller and there were no guards on either side of the statue. On one side of the monument, you will find his famous poem, Mi Ultimo Adios (Last Farewell) in the original Spanish version and the Filipino translation on the other side.

I was blessed with a really warm sunny weather in Madrid.

Passersby were staring at me while I took lots of pictures of the monument from every angle :D

From Avenida de las Islas de Filipinas, I took the Metro towards Sol station. I had to make two transfers, I think. Exiting the Sol Metro Station brings you to Puerta del Sol. From there, you walk towards Calle San Jeronimo, and there you will find the streets that lead to Jose Rizal's old apartment, and the places that he used to frequent with Juan Luna and all his other friends.

Hotel Ingles at C/ Echegaray

Walking the streets of Calle Echegaray leads to Hotel Ingles, where the Filipino community in Madrid celebrated their most important events, according to the Philippine Embassy's document.

Viva Madrid bar and restaurant, frequented by Rizal back in the day

I was hesitating to go inside Viva Madrid. there didn't seem to be a lot of people as it is still early evening, and it was a weekday. This area is lined with a lot of nice restaurants and bars actually. It's not so far away from where I was staying.

It looks really nice and cozy inside

I went farther down towards Calle del Prado to see Ateneo de Madrid, where Rizal studied English.

Ateneo de Madrid

Still farther down towards Calle Atocha, I went to see where used to be the publication office of La Solidaridad, the first ever Filipino newspaper.

C/ Atocha 43, used to be the La Solidaridad publication office

I found out that it is now a tapas bar undergoing reconstruction inside. Not a very pretty site, but I was still so much in awe and felt really privileged to have seen and visited the place.

Not a very pretty sight nowadays

It felt so surreal to me, walking around the areas in Madrid where Rizal had walked a century before. it made me feel like I was transported back in time. It was more than marvelous.

Have a marvelous weekend, marvelous people! :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


(please refrain from using my pictures without my permission)

even before living in France, i have always wanted to visit Rocamadour. i have first read about it in a book called, Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong. and the way the author described how wonderful a place it is made me put it in my list of must-visits.

on the way to the Tourism Office to get a map

the tourist train for the old and lazy... definitely not for us! it's quite nice on the pictures, though.

when i was still studying french, there was a tour then available to students, conducted by Alliance Francaise de Toulouse over the weekend, going to Rocamadour by bus. i couldn't go because i was four months pregnant at the time, and i knew it will be tough for me to climb and walk around the area.

religious pilgrims singing Ave Maria while marching down the street

absolutely amazing

 and so, i did not miss this other opportunity that presented itself just recently. i went with a few friends over the weekend, driving all the way from Toulouse. it was quite a short drive from here. you just have to marvel at this ancient architecture. everything was so beautiful. every corner, every turn is a marvel.

beautiful stairs, beautiful archways, beautiful sculptures, etc.

on the grand balustrade of one of the corners of the church
we were praying that it wouldn't rain. fortunately, there was only a bit of drizzle that lasted for a few short minutes. and then it was alternately sunny and cloudy all throughout the day.

Rocamadour is a lot, lot better than what pictures show you. and it has a lot of history to tell. no wonder, it is a UNESCO-inscribed World Heritage Site.

this winding path that leads to the Rempart de Rocamadour (the castle at the topmost area) reminds me of the path that leads to the cross of Mt. Samat in my home province.

this castle perched on top of the rocky village offers a spectacular birds-eye view of the surroundings

the place is a little bit touristic, making the souvenir shop and restaurant prices a bit higher than their worth. i wanted to buy this tender nougat at some candy shop that specializes in it, but it was too pricey for me for just a small bar of nougat. it was heaven, though, when you feel it melting in your mouth. sorry, forgot to take a picture.

there was a fee of 2 euros for the visit

the clock was chiming as i climbed these steps

beautiful view from high above the castle's tower... those who say "it's lonely at the top" have NEVER been to the top! ;)
but if you have this view to offer, the extra bit price is worth it. for lunch, we headed off to a charming little restaurant that offers a nice terasse with the view of the greens.

at the lovely terasse of Chez Anne Marie

the confit de canard was a bit too fatty and huge for me

after lunch, we headed to the opposite part of the village, towards the Hospitalet and the Grotto.

les beaux coqeulicots de printemps

one of the charming stone houses around the village

upon arrival at the Grotto, we found out that there is a schedule for entry and that the visit is guided, and lasts for 45 minutes. and it was strictly prohibited to take pictures and touch anything inside.  unfortunately, the guide does not speak English. we were given handouts in English, though. and during moments when she was not speaking at the rate of 186,000 words per second, i was able to understand and get the gist of what she is saying. although, i felt that we should have paid less because of the language issue.

it was prohibited to take pictures inside the Grotto

visiting this grotto made me think how lame it looked compared to Sagada in the Philippines, even though i have never been there. it made me wish Sagada was as well-protected and appreciated as this grotto.

we ended the tour at this corner where you have the best view of the village:

a wonderful view of the whole village

i had a wonderful time in a wonderful place with wonderful people. :)