Month: July 2016

A Taste of Tuscany, Part 5: Arezzo and Cortona

At long last, I finally found the time to write the final part of my Tuscany Road Trip. I had been quite busy lately with more recent trips and the usual mundane stuff of daily life. The last part of my Tuscany trip takes us back to Cortona. We stayed in a very nice hotel in Borgo San Pietro situated amid a huge orchard, filled with sweet-smelling fruit-bearing trees and surrounded by the lush greens of the surrounding hills. What I loved best about this hotel is that it was so quiet and peaceful and outside, you have rows and rows of my favorite fragrant flowers — lavender and roses. It was such a beautiful place and romantic place.   Just before dinner, we actually headed out to Arezzo, where Capella Bacci was located. I wanted to see this chapel because it was the site of that famous romantic scene in the movie, The English Patient, where Juliette Binoche was swinging around on a rope, holding a torch trying to get a better look at the …

The Great Wall at Jinshaling

The Great Wall of China had always been in my list of must-visit places. I can still vividly recall the first time I read about it in our high school text book. I was in complete awe reading about its history, how it was built spanning dynasties and centuries. When the opportunity to visit Beijing came along, the first thing I did was research on which part of the Great Wall is the least crowded of all. I quickly discovered this tour called China Highlights, which organizes a small group of 5 people for a three-hour trek along the wall. Although they advertise this on their web site as a trek from Simatai to Jinshaling, we actually trekked from Jinshaling to Shalingkou instead. But it was still a great walk. Jinshaling, is actually located in the town of Chengde, which is a couple of hours’ bus ride from Beijing. I chose this portion of the wall not only because it is a lot less crowded but also because these portions are authentic and unrestored, unlike the ones …