Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Best of Tuscany Part 2: Pisa and Lucca

From Firenze, we headed off to Pisa, to of course, see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Since everybody's been telling us that there's not much to see and do there except see the tower, we decided to spent half the day there and then head off to Lucca. Read the full story on

The very famous leaning tower


Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Best of Tuscany Part I: Florence

The first stop of our Dream Tuscan Road trip was, of course, Florence. Read all about it on

View from the tower of Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

I really love Italy for the food, the sights and the beautiful weather... and also I like how people call me Signorina (Miss)... it makes me feel so young and pretty. :)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tuscany Road Trip

You might think that I have already abandoned this blog since I haven't been updating for the longest time ever. The truth is June and July have just been very busy for me -- entertaining visitors, planning our three-week European holiday, and arranging things for my return to work after a three-year sabbatical!

But I won't be overwhelming you with too much information on this blog entry. For now I just want to write about my recent trip to Tuscany, one of the best regions of Italy.

Le road trip de rêve -- we followed the advice of our Lonely Planet guidebook, except we've replaced Volterra with Arezzo and Cortona
We have planned on going for a road trip all over Tuscany. our trip consisted of eight days and eight nights coming from Bordeaux, France to Florence to Pisa to Lucca to San Giminiano to Siena and Chianti Arezzo to Cortona and finally back to Florence again.

it was quite a tiring trip but definitely worth it! the place is as magical as how you imagine it and a lot lot better than pictures!

i have seen places that were the setting of some of my well-loved movies: The English Patient and La Vita e Bella, to name a few. you would think that visiting a single place in Tuscany would be sufficient because if you've seen one, you've seen them all... NOT true at all. each time we progress to the next destination in our trip, we get completely awed by how beautifully different one place is compared to the last one we've visited.

right now, i am still a bit jet-lagged to post pictures and provide more details of the trips. more next time! ciao! :)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Jose Rizal in Madrid

Please do not use my photos without permission (even the watermarked ones). If you wish to avail of my non-watermarked images, you may contact me for a copy. See my Contact page for details.

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! :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Jose Rizal in Paris

Please do not use my photos without permission (even the watermarked ones). If you wish to avail of my non-watermarked images, you may contact me for a copy. See my Contact page for details.

Following this blog post, I have made a promise to retrace Jose Rizal's footsteps here in France. And just last week, I have had the most delightful occasion to visit Paris with my husband. Luckily enough, the apartment of our friend, who accommodated us was just a few blocks away from Jose Rizal's traces.

For those who are not familiar with Jose Rizal, he is a Philippine National Hero. He was a great influence in the history of Philippine Independence from 333 years of Spanish rule. I am not quite sure what a National Hero (as proclaimed by the Americans during their occupation of the Philippines) really means, but I mostly like him because he is quite an intriguing and fascinating person.

Jose Rizal was a doctor, a writer, an artist, and above all, for me, an indefatigable traveler. During his time, which was in the late 19th century, he traveled to Europe for his medical studies. He was particulary in Paris for a few months from 1885-86 for his apprenticeship in opthalmology under Louis de Weckert, and then again later on, to witness the World Exposition of 1889. It was during this year that the Eiffel Tower was completed. What a wonderful and romantic time to live in.

image source: wikipedia

Anyway, back to the present... on our way to our friend's apartment in the 10th arrondissement, we passed by Place Jose Rizal in the 9th arrondissement. I was quite disappointed to find that it was just a small island in the middle of the street with a couple of seats in it. But I was quite happy to be there and take pictures.

A small island in the middle of the road, announcing itself as "Place Jose Rizal"

We also visited the Hotel de Paris where Jose Rizal stayed while he was in Paris. This was just a few meters'  walk from Place Jose Rizal.

The small entrance door to the Hotel de Paris

this is right on the entrance of Hotel de Paris, it says "Jose Rizal, Philippine national hero, writer, doctor, stayed here in 1883"
 I was expecting to see Jose Rizal's bust inside the hotel, as I have read about its existence somewhere on the internet. But I didn't see any. And when we inquired about it at the hotel's reception, the receptionist did not know anything about it. He was kind enough, though, to give us their phone number to call later, or to come back to make inquiries with his boss who will be arriving at the hotel in the evening. Unfortunately, we were pressed for time, and we didn't bother calling and/or coming back. I was happy enough to be there and take some pictures just the same.

Jose Rizal (in-between two guys), fencing with Juan Luna (left) at the Luna residence in Paris; image taken from

My husband was telling me about how the area was not the nicest area in Paris. I told him that even then, during Rizal's time, this area was where all the students and struggling artists lived. At least according to what I have read on some web sites.

Wandering around in the non-touristic areas, it is quite interesting to note how one small street can look ghetto-ish, and then at the next turn, you find yourself staring at beautiful apartments in a seemingly posh environment. But I can only wonder how it was during the time of Jose Rizal.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Au Marché de Noël

If you visit the Place du Capitole de Toulouse during this time of the year, you will find yourself surrounded by various delicacies and produce of Southern France and also from the rest of the world.

You have the famous nougats and candied fruit stands

These candied fruits are oozing with sugary sweetness... gives me toothache just by looking at them

Nougats are extra-soft and chewy here in France, but also extra-expensive

Some tea to go with the sweets

You wouldn't believe how crazy they are about tea in these parts... good for me!

Various spices from abroad

Spices, mostly of African origin

Some Himalayan and pink rock salts

Some well-loved local snacks

Aligot and Tartiflette stand -- these snacks are made from potatoes and cheese -- both of which are staple food here in France

And hot wine to beat the cold.

I should try this

There was also entertainment for the kids.

Stage show for kids

And for the not-so-young ones.

You can throw pie on this guy's face for a Euro

This year, we went during the day, but last year we went during the evening, and it looked like this:

Le Marché de noël 2011 par nuit

Bonne fête et joyeux noël, tout le monde!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The French Countryside

Since we were having a long weekend because of the Monday holiday, my family and I decided to go to Aveyron, my hubby's home region, to meet with his friends for the village fiesta.

Lechon de leche, french style
They were cooking this for nine hours!
We managed to eat it at eleven in the evening!

Hubby playing pétanque, a summer sport, with buddies

The météo forecast was a cloudy, perhaps even rainy weather during the weekend, but it turned out to be all sunny since Friday up until now.  All the lovely flowers of spring are in full bloom by the roadside.

Spring blossoms basking in the sun

Orange flowers at our friend's garden
Dandelions scattering seeds up in the air everywhere

I have always been fascinated with the beauty of the South of France, especially the countryside. The people are always very warm and welcoming, even to foreigners like myself. My husband's friends are no exception. One of his friends offered his place for us to stay the night. It was a charming old stone house with a huge garden, filled with flowering plants and fruit-bearing trees. There was even a swimming pool for cooling down during the summer.

Our friend's charming stone house in the tiny ancient village of Cougousse, where we stayed the night. It was very lovely both inside and out. From our room, we have a lovely view of the vast garden and the surrounding hills. Makes me feel like I'm in Fairytale Land.

The huge garden with the swimming pool farther up in the frame
The house was situated in the tiny village of Cougousse, filled with charming stone houses, surrounded by the rolling hills. There was even a small river that cuts across the village, adding more charm to the scenery.  But I'm too lazy to post more pics.  :p

The day after the fiesta, we had some time to go around the town center of Marcillac for more photo-ops and to marvel at medieval French architecture.

Old house with medieval architecture, showing the beams jutting out,
with an obvious slant, almost giving in to gravity's pull with old age

Tiny chapel built with the characteristic reddish brown stone of the region

And of course, we wouldn't by any chance, neglect to sample the local offerings.

Gateau à la broche, Aveyron specialty

Bought some rosé wine from the region

It was a great refreshing mini-holiday break.  Not at all bad for my little baby's first out-of-town visit.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Day With Señor Dali

(Un Jour Avec Dali)

Since Friday was a National Holiday here in France (for commemorating the end of the 1st World War), my husband and I, together with a couple of my classmates at AF, decided to have a day getting to know Salvador Dali.  It's very convenient to visit his rest house in Portlligat, Cadaques and his Theater-Museum in Figueres (both in Spain), since the places are easily accessible by car from Toulouse.

Puisque vendredi dernier était une Fête nationale (pour commémorer la fin de la prémiere guerre), mon mari et moi, et deux de mes camarades de classe à l'Alliance française, ont decidé de partir à l'Espagne pour visiter le musée et la maison de Salvador Dali.  C'est très pratique car ces endroits ne sont pas trop loin de Toulouse en voiture.

I have fallen in-love with Salvador Dali, the first time I have seen a replica of his famous statue at Boat Quay in Singapore, Homage To Newton. 

Je me suis tombée amoureuse de Dali dès que j'ai vu pour la premiere fois une replica de sa sculpture trés connue, qui se trouve à Boat Quay à Singapour.  elle s'appelle, «Homage to newton»

Chez Dali à Portlligat, Espagne
Since we have arrived quite late at Portlligat, we decided not to visit his house anymore.  So we just looked around the area of his house, since it was quite an interesting area.  The house is facing the sea, with a lot of fishing boats.  And all around, there are these hills with thousands of old olive trees. It was really amazing for me because I have never seen such landscapes in my life.

Puisque on est arrivé trop tard à Portlligat, on a décidé de ne visitera plus chez Dali.  Donc, on a juste décidé de se promener autor de la maison, qui était vraiment sympa.  La maison se trouve au bord de la mer, avec plein de bateaux carrément en face.  Autour de la maison, il y avait des collines avec des millieres d'arbres d'olives. C'etait vraiment magnifique pour moi, parce que je n'ai jamais vu des paysage comme ca.

We arrived in Figuerès to visit his famous museum, where he is also buried.  So far, it is one of the most interesting museums I have ever seen.

On est arrivée au musée à Figuerès, où il était aussi enterrés.  Il était l'un des musées les plus intéressants que j'ai déjà vu.

Beside his museum, there is also a theater, and a museum of jewelries created by Dali himself.  I will never forget this diamond-studded heart with a smaller heart within it, glittering with red stones, and which was pulsating.  It was very pretty.

the tell-tale heart... the bloody-looking center was actually beating!

A côté de musée, il y a le théatre aussi, et le musée de bijoux créée par Dali lui-même.  Je n'oublierai jamais un bijoux qui ressemble à un coeur, entourée des diamantes. Dedans, il y a encore un autre tout petit coeur avec les pierres rouges. Ca m'a etonné un peu, parce qu'il palpitait.  C'était très joli.

Of course, the replica of the jewelries, were too expensive for me to even think of buying.  And I guess, my pictures are more than enough souvenirs for me.

Bien sûr, les replicas des bijoux ont été trop cher pour moi pour achêter.  Et je pense que je ne les ai pas besoin. Mes photos sont assez de souvenirs pour moi.