Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts with the label travelswithcharie

Waiting for the bus in Ostuni

Ostuni is a whitewashed hill town in Puglia in Southern Italy. It is referred to as La Citta Bianca or the White Town. It has narrow, often steep alleys that challenge both legs and knees. But the rewards are pure delight for the resolute traveler. Imagine door frames that seem to have time traveled to the 21st century, mesmerizing views of the sea and olive groves which produce some of the finest olive oil in Italy!
The Aragonese defensive walls in the photo above are remnants from the reign  of Isabella of Aragon, the Duchess of Bari and her daughter, Bona Maria Sforza (Queen Consort of Poland) who succeeded her. 

Getting to Ostuni was as simple as taking the train from Bari, the capital of Puglia, for the two-hour ride that provided glimpses of the Adriatic Sea. I found no taxis nor buses outside the station when I arrived in Ostuni. I asked an elderly gentleman standing around if a bus would be passing by and he kindly informed me that there would be one shortly and that it would go…

Finding the relics of St. Nick in Bari

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…

Kiss my Turku

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

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 …

Mirabell Gardens

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. 

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. 

Surprising Nuremberg

"Nuremberg shines throughout Germany like a sun among the moon and stars." MartinLuther

Salzburg's Chic Store Signs

Wieber

Hallstatt - A Village with a Clone

A picture paints a thousand words. So without further ado, here's Hallstatt.

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

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

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 an…

San Lorenzo de El Escorial

It's been ages since my first visit to the monastery of El Escorial. What impressed me most then were the long corridors and one particular door with a low clearing so you would have to stoop so low to pass through. Or else.....
I was delighted to discover that I could go to San Lorenzo de El Escorial by taking one of the suburban trains from Chamartin. And the trip took less than an hour and costs 8.10€ roundtrip. So I took off one sunny afternoon to rediscover this old town. What struck me as we approached El Escorial were the spectacular mountains which dominated the landscape. Little did I realize that when I opted to walk to the monastery that I would be climbing up a thousand meters to the foot of Mount Abantos in the Sierra de Guadarrama. So I panted uphill all the while thinking, will I ever get there? I found out later on that I took the roundabout way along Avenida de Los Reyes Catolicos but what the heck. It was a good exercise which I badly needed after the overindulg…