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A Rainy Afternoon in Geneva

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…

Paris in Autumn 2018

Remember the song, I love Paris? 
“I love Paris in the springtime
I love Paris in the fall I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles I love Paris every moment Every moment of the year.”

Found myself in Paris in early November with someone who has never been to Paris. How wonderful it is to see Paris from fresh eyes. I had so much to show her but since she only had 36 hours in town, it was a short and sweet visit. She wanted to see the Tour Eiffel, first and foremost, so we went up to La Terrasse at Galeries Lafayette Haussman for her first glimpse of the tower.
And lucky for us, the much awaited Christmas tree at Galeries Lafayette was up. This year the tree is right side up. Last year's tree was candy themed and was upside down. At the Lafayette Café on the sixth floor, a window seat affords views of the Tour Eiffel and the back of the Opera Garnier. This is a good spot for scanning the Parisian skyline while indulging on a piece of cake.
Guest…

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…

The Art of Carlos Botong Francisco - Progress of Medicine in the Philippines

Pag-unlad ng Panggagamot sa Pilipinas (The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines) is a group of four large-scale paintings depicting healing practices in the Philippines from pre-colonial times to the modern period. Carlos Botong Francisco was commissioned in 1953 by Dr. Agerico Sison who was then the director of Philippine General Hospital (PGH) together withDr. Eduardo Quisumbing of the National Museum, Dr. Florentino Herrera, Jr. and Dr. Constantino Manahan. These oil on canvas paintings measure 2.92 meters in height and 2.76 meters in width (9.71 ft x 8.92 ft) and were displayed at the main entrance hall of PGH for over five decades. Owing to its location, the artworks were in a state of "severe deterioration" at the beginning of the 21st century from exposure to heat, humidity, dirt, dust, smoke, insect stains, grime, termites and an oxidized synthetic resin used in an earlier restoration. These canvases were restored three times, the last was in 2006 which restoratio…

Sweet Summer Days in Amsterdam

When summer descends upon Amsterdam, the whole city is transformed. The trees are green with foliage, flower boxes are brimming with colorful perennials, the canals are abuzz with boats and partying passengers and terrace umbrellas line the sidewalks for the best of people watching.

This houseboat is cooling off under the shade of its own green plants. There are no limits to growing a garden. All you need are a green thumb and good weather.

One of the important things to remember while walking around Amsterdam is to look down at the sidewalk to check if you are on a bicycle lane. Stay away from these lanes or risk being scolded by angry bikers (Motorcyclists also use this lane.) The other reason to look down at the cobblestone streets is sometimes there are surprises to behold. Like this bronze breast on the Oudekerksplein, outside the Oude Kerk (Old Church). A nod to the ladies of the night? Maybe. It's in the red light district.

There are many options for sightseeing in Amsterdam. …

When to go to Malumpati Cold Spring

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…