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The Road to 193 with Odette Aquitania Ricasa

Odette Aquitania Ricasa Odette Aquitania Ricasa is poised to be the first Filipino American to travel to all 193 United Nations recognized sovereign countries. She has visited 189 countries, just four countries shy of 193. These travels have been rigorously validated by NomadMania. She is also a member of the Travelers Century Club (TCC) having visited 295 of 325 countries and territories on the TCC list. Odette is the author of six books*, an accomplished painter, a motivational speaker and a pianist.  Odette Ricasa has received numerous awards including First Prize in an International Speech Contest sponsored by Toastmasters Club and several Best Speaker awards from the Los Angeles Toastmasters Speech Club and the San Clemente Toastmasters Club. Her painting, Doorway to Peace, has been featured in  The Anthropology of Colour - What colour is a culture,  an art tome which was recently published in Russia**. Odette uses her platform to re

Friday Night Writer’s Series

  Check out Christian’s Chronicles on Friday nights for some tips on writing. Charie Albar from TravelswithCharie.com will be the guest writer on Friday, January 29, 2021.  http://christiangeorgeacevedo.blogspot.com/2021/01/fridaynightwritersseries-charie-albar.html Excerpt from the interview: How did you discover that you have the passion and the talent for travel writing? There’s a quote that explains how I started writing. Ibn Battuta, a medieval Moroccan scholar and explorer once said, “Traveling leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller”.  I became a storyteller after traveling a few times to Europe. My blog, TravelswithCharie, was and still is my journal and travel guide. When my travel articles were published by Fil-Am newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was more motivated than ever to write about my travel experiences. *****

Budget Friendly Lodging Options

A Room with a View When I was in my 20s, I had the opportunity to stay at one of the dorms in the University of Paris for $15/day. That was quite an experience deserving a full narrative! I also stayed at a student dorm in Switzerland where I had my own room overlooking a garden courtyard and a refrigerator space in the kitchen. Until one morning when I went to take a shower and found a man in his briefs showing off his diminutive frame to all the guests who happened to pass by the shower rooms. So much for exhibitionists!  Over the years, I’ve found and stayed at more refined lodgings without emptying my travel wallet all too quickly. Many of these places are in Europe and run by religious orders like the Brigidine sisters. The room rates at some of these guest houses start around €35,00 depending on the period of stay and the location. The rooms are simple but have comfortable beds and usually have their own private bathroom. They are always kept clean. The only drawback for

Discovering Würzburg

One of the most intriguing suggestions I received on my recent visit to Würzburg was to see the Alte Mainbrücke (Old Main Bridge) and stroll across this pedestrian stone bridge with a glass of wine. I learned soon enough that this was sound advice. The bridge is a gathering place for friends and drinking wine from grapes grown in the surrounding hills is a fitting introduction to the capital of the Franconian wine region. The Alte Mainbrücke was rebuilt between 1473-1543. It has commanding views of Marienberg Fortress and the vineyards that surround the city. On the bridge are twelve statues of saints and emperors which were added in the 18th century. The Alte Mainbrücke connects the old town with the fishing quarter across the Main River. The tower of the Rathskeller and the steeples of Würzburger Dom figure prominently in the Alstadt (Old Town). Sunset reflections on the Main River with Marienberg Fortress on the hill above the vineyards. It’s fascinating to watch ho

Off Grid Paris 2019

No matter how often I return to Paris, I am still making new discoveries. Paris seems to have an inexhaustible number of delightful things yet to be revealed. On my recent visit, I found unique architectural gems like the McDonald's restaurant and the newly installed artwork, Bouquet of Tulips, by Jeff Koons. The Bouquet of Tulips is a monument to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015. It was recently installed near the Petit Palais and was immediately greeted with disapproval and negative criticisms including comparing the tulips with anuses. The monument was vandalized shortly after its installation. These colorful tulips are made of polychromed bronze, aluminum and stainless steel. Metro: Champs Elysees Clemenceau Lines 1 and 13, RER C Invalides, RER A Charles de Gaulle-Etoile This Neo-Baroque Italo-Spanish motifs of the right wing façade of École Massillon is enough to stop anyone and pay attention. Quai des Celestins and Rue du Petit Musc. Metr

Planta, From Ice Plant to Art Space

There's a burgeoning art scene in Roxas City. Following the successful run of the Visayas Islands Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference (Viva Excon) Biennale in November 2018 led by Black Artists Asia, the seafood capital is welcoming a new outdoor art space in the heart of the city.  Planta is just across the river from the cluster of cultural heritage structures of Roxas City. It recently hosted Primero , an arts and crafts fair which formally introduced the murals painted by the group, Vinyl on Vinyl (VOV) of Manila with the help of fourteen local artists hand picked by Lloyd Develos. This project is the gift of Atty. Blas Viterbo who owns Planta, a former power station and ice plant, to his hometown. The first mural (above) is of a hand lifting the curtain to reveal a wider perspective of what Capiz has to offer. Alternatively, it may represent how artists from neighboring towns perceive Capiz from an artistic point of view. A monitor lizard has planted itself on t

Albi on the Tarn

Having arrived by train from Toulouse in early afternoon, I was greeted by a peaceful ambiance that belied the bloody history of this river town. Albi was an active center of Catharism in southwestern France in the 13th century. The Catholic Church considered their beliefs heretical and was challenged by their existence. In 1209, Pope Innocent III launched a crusade against the Cathars led by Simon de Montfort. The Albigensian Crusade as it was called, was a ruthless 20-year war that extinguished the Catharis  until they no longer posed a threat to the Church. In the aftermath of the crusade, the King of France solidified his stronghold in the Languedoc by taking the estates of the Counts of Toulouse and the independent princes. The Catholic Church reclaimed their hold of Albi with the construction of the fortress-like Cathedral of Sainte Cécile which started in 1282. Sainte Cécile is the largest brick built cathedral in the world. The Cathedral's 78-meter (256 ft.) stee

Suite Dreams

When someone wishes you “Bon Voyage” and they really mean it. You arrive at the gate and they give you a boarding pass listing your seat assignment in first class. You are the first to board the aircraft and when you get to your suite, the flight attendant asks you if you would like champagne, mimosa or orange juice. Pretty soon it’s time for cocktails. Delta Airlines warms up the mixed nuts they serve. Can’t get enough of it. Then a four course dinner paired with the right wine from a list drawn by a connoisseur follows. After the dinner service you may close your door and enjoy a movie or two. When flying across the Pacific I indulge in Japanese movies with powerful stories about ordinary people. It’s a long flight home and you wish to lie down and stretch your tired, old body. The seat reclines to reveal a bed. You have a warm comforter and fluffy pillow. Suite dreams. The spacious first class cabin of Delta Airlines. Delta amenity kit in a Tumi bag, slippers and bottled w

The Café Culture in France

The Shades Club are out in force here in Montmartre. It’s pure delight to sit and drink a fine red Bordeaux while contemplating on this sculpture by Jaume Plensa. Bordeaux offers many outdoor cafés for watching the world go by while enjoying their famous canelé pastry. In Nîmes, the best seat for a cuppa is right beside the Roman amphitheater that was built at the end of the first century. In Nice, orange chairs and hanging laundry provide a colorful backdrop for these outdoor cafés. In the medieval hilltop village of St. Paul de Vence, there’s always time to join friends for coffee and conversation at the outdoor terrace. “And the idea of just wondering off to a café with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss.” J. K. Rowling ***** Images by TravelswithCharie