Author: escapecapades

Old Town and Around Praha

So many people have been telling me how beautiful Prague is, and how it is a must-visit place when you are in Europe. As for me, I have always been interested to visit the place because of its historical connection to Jose Rizal, my country’s beloved national hero. But of course, Praha has so much more to offer. True enough, it was really a fascinating place with interesting culture and history. But like most beautiful places, it was a bit too touristy. To go to Charles Bridge and have a nice picture without being stampeded on by the crowd, I had to wake up at 6AM. Good thing our hotel was conveniently a 5-minute walk from there. Prague is a city that is good for walking. I guess this is why they have a lot of interesting walking tours that you can avail of. We walked around the Prague Castle at sunset with a guy doing small group tours. They call themselves The Naked Tour Guide. It was interesting to know about the history of …

Jose Rizal Travels: Litoměřice

For those who do not know, Jose Rizal is one of the most important historical figures in the country where I was born (The Philippines). I have started to become a great fan of his life back in my university days when we had this subject, Rizal’s Life and Works. He led a very interesting and illustrious life during the latter part of the Spanish Occupation (1565 – 1898). He was a medical doctor, an artist (he made sculptures), a writer (his works ignited the revolution against Spain), spoke several languages (Filipino, Spanish, French, German, probably even Czech) and was an indefatigable traveller. When I was living in France back in 2011, I started a project and decided to visit all the places that Jose Rizal visited. I have been to Madrid, Paris and Biarritz. To continue this tradition this year, I decided to visit the small town of Litoměřice, an hours’ drive outside of Prague. This is where Jose Rizal lived in the 1880’s.   Litoměřice is a very small town. Most of the sites …

Pays Basque, France

I am currently in Europe right now for our family’s annual three-week summer holiday. On our first week here in France, we visited the Basque Region on the French side — St. Jean de Luz and Biarritz for some good promenade by the sea, food and shopping. It was a perfect sunny, beachy weather. It was my second time in St. Jean de Luz. The first time I was here was during my first trip to France in 2010. I was having one of my tantrums the first time I visited this place. All I remember was having a terrible paella and forgetting to take pictures. Fortunately, our second visit was the complete opposite. We even had a chance to dine at a one-Michelin starred restaurant called, Kaiku. It was a very good meal and a very pleasant experience dining in this restaurant. And also very reasonably priced for the quality. I  most especially loved the paella-inspired main dish. After lunching and doing some shopping in St. Jean de Luz, we decided to visit Biarritz. …

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 …

The Beijing Experience

My first impression of Beijing was unexpectedly nice. I was a bit wary to visit this city because of what people tell me — that it is very polluted, smoggy and that the people are rude. I was lucky to get there without so much smog and pollution, though. And I found most of the people quite nice and not rude at all, except maybe for the scamming cab drivers. I was impressed at how huge their airport is. You’d have to take a train after the immigration check to get your baggage. The immigration queue was considerably long but it took a very short time to get past it. I booked myself transportation in advance to take me to the hotel (since hubby was going straight to work) as I arrived very early in the morning and didn’t really want the hassle of haggling with the non-English speaking cab drivers. There was very thick traffic jams along the way. It took 45 minutes to get to the hotel. But I was impressed by the fact …