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The Rocky Wall of Lauterbrunnen

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Staubbach Falls Surrounded by towering rock faces and snow capped mountain peaks, Lauterbrunnen has one of the most dramatic settings in the Bernese Oberland. Free falling Staubbach Waterfall rushes down nearly 300 meters off the face of the cliff to the valley below. It seems to disappear behind a group of chalets on main street leaving a trail of wet spray. Staubbach is only one of 72 other waterfalls in Lauterbrunnen.  

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe traveled to Lauterbrunnen in 1779 and was impressed by what he saw, enough to write a poem ¨Spirit Song over the Waters¨. Here´s an excerpt from the poem:
“Down from the lofty
Rocky wall
Streams the bright flood,
Then spreadeth gently
In cloudy billows
O'er the smooth rock...”  

Lauterbrunnen Valley To get a good view of the valley, take the train to Wengen, an alpine village above Lauterbrunnen with an elevation of 1,274 meters (4,180 ft.).
Some visitors to Lauterbrunnen have expressed their disappointment with the low volume of water flowing do…

Iseltwald -Brigadoon by the Sea

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The village of Iseltwald is a quick 15-minute bus ride from bustling Interlaken. But those few minutes through a winding, one lane highway that manages to squeeze two vehicles going in opposite directions, make all the difference in the world. I felt like I arrived in Brigadoon as fog hovered over green hills that roll down to the lake. Yes, the setting of the musical, Brigadoon, is the Scottish Highlands. And I´m in equally magical Switzerland.

Lake Brienz is like a mirror reflecting the surrounding mountains and valleys that is home to a few hundred residents.

The streets were so quiet as I walked around the village in early afternoon. Were the locals taking a siesta? But this is not Spain! The only noise I heard was from my camera as I clicked away, trying to capture this sleeping beauty that will awake in winter when skiers descend upon the village. How lucky I was to observe the smoke curling out of the chimney of this wooden church without the selfie crowd!

Chalets line the water´s…

Boracay Rejuvenated

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White Beach Two days prior to the scheduled reopening of Boracay, we had the chance to take a day trip to what was hailed as the best island in the world for 2016 by Condé Nast's Readers Choice Awards. And we found this beautiful stretch of powdery white sand with nary a sunbather.
The island had been closed to tourists since April 2018 after the President of the Philippines remarked that it had become a “cesspool”. Unchecked growth and the 1.7 million visitors annually had left environmental damage to the tiny island. Nearly 6 months after the closure, Boracay was getting ready to receive visitors again.
We took an electric tricycle from the jetty through dusty backroads to get to a drop off point close to White Beach. These e-trikes are a welcome addition to island transportation.     
White Beach It was nice to see White Beach free of stalls and vendors. We weren't allowed to eat nor drink on the beach. So we sat under the shade of these palm trees and stared out to sea, took oc…

A Rainy Afternoon in Geneva

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Chapel of the Maccabees How much independent sightseeing could one pack into an afternoon in Geneva? Factor in the rain and the early sunset and the answer is, not much. But it has been decades since I first visited Geneva and got lost in the city on the way to meet a friend who had our rental car. That was a nightmare! Yes, we did find each other eventually and drove on to complete our grand tour of Europe.

I really wanted to see Geneva again and I had two things to check off on my itinerary. The first one was to go up to the old town and the other, to walk along Lake Leman. Trying to do more would have been a challenge with my bad knee. I didn't realize though that the Cathedral of Saint Pierre was up on a hill so I had to work my legs a little harder but thankfully, it wasn't as steep as the other hills I climbed in Annecy.

The highlight of the Cathedral is the colorful Chapel of the Maccabees which was the tomb of a cardinal when Saint Pierre was a Catholic Church. It is in…

Finding the relics of St. Nick in Bari

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While searching for the best base for travels in Puglia, I came across Bari, a major city bordering the Adriatic Sea with convenient train connections to Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, Ostuni and Matera in Basilicata. I was pleasantly surprised when I got there to learn that Bari is a destination on its own, with its fortified old town, a Norman castle, a promenade by the sea, a bustling shopping and business district and a variety of restaurants. Bari has also been a pilgrimage destination since the 11th century when the relics of St. Nicholas were brought to Bari from Myra, an ancient Greek town in Lycia (now Antalya Province of Turkey). St. Nick was known for his generosity and gift giving. Sinterklaas or St. Nicholas evolved into Santa Claus. His feast day is celebrated on December 6th. 

Cobble stone passages with religious shrines on every corner greet visitors to the old town.


The narrow alleys of the old historic center are for motorbikes and walking to better appreciate the wrou…

When to go to Malumpati Cold Spring

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There are so many exceptional beaches and swimming holes in and around Panay Island but I had never been to Malumpati Cold Spring in Antique. After checking out the attractions of Jawili in Aklan, we drove to Pandan which is a short distance from the border of Aklan province.
Everyone had the same idea as we did. Malumpati was insanely crowded. Summer break was well on its way and families were in the know where to cool down. Who can resist turquoise waters on a sweltering day?
I was naive to expect tranquil surroundings. I did find a little piece of heaven on the other side of the bridge that is enveloped by overgrown trees with hints of caves and my mind's idea of an idyllic day by the water. But it is not accessible to the public. Summer is not the best time to visit Malumpati nor weekends. I'll go back another day. Make that a weekday.

There's a minimal entrance fee to Malumpati Cold Spring. We paid 50 pesos for parking. There are people at the parking lot who say they…

Kiss my Turku

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Nothing can truly describe the wonder of seeing the Art Chapel for the first time. I was at once drawn to the blinding light at the end of the proverbial tunnel as soon as I entered the chapel. But rather than walk up to the altar, I opted to sit awhile on one of the plain pine pews to slowly take it all in and savor the peace and beauty of my surroundings. I enjoyed precious few minutes of blissful contemplation (as I was the only visitor then) until a couple arrived and the missus asked me to remove my handbag from the bench so she could take a perfect photo of the Chapel. :( 

The architect, Matti Sanaksenaho, wanted to incorporate three symbols in his design. One of them is light, in this case, the idea of "the path from darkness to light". The visitor emerges from the shadows at the entrance and is led toward the light at the altar under exquisitely arched Finnish timber.

The model for the design of the Art Chapel was a block of wood inspired by a fish which the architect…

The Hidden Charms of Aklan

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Aklan has many attractions that tourists miss when they head straightaway to Boracay from the Kalibo International Airport. Lambingan Beach is just a few minutes down the road from the airport and the perfect spot to celebrate the blue hour. Or meet locals frolicking on the beach.

Tinago Lake in Batan is aptly named. Tinago means hidden and this lake is well hidden except to those who seek off the grid paths. We met two other visitors when we were in Tinago. It was easy to appreciate the expanse of lake and sky and harness the #bluemind in tranquil surroundings.

I enjoy shopping for pottery in this village because the prices are reasonable and the stall owners are open to bargaining and will even give an extra planter or two if you purchase a lot of pottery. Bayangan means "potter's wheel" and Lezo is the pottery capital of Aklan.

St. Isidore the Farmer Church is right next to the pottery market. It has served the parish community since 1910.

The cool plunge pools at Jawili …