All posts filed under: Europe

Iceland – the Land of Fire and Ice

To date, I would say that Iceland is the best place I have ever visited in all my traveling life. From that moment in the plane where we were greeted with the fiercest, most fiery sunset at midnight, I knew instantly that I would be treated to some of the most magnificent, out-of-this-world landscapes that I will ever see in my life. We went from Reykjavik to Jokulsarlon in the East to Borgarnes in the West to Akureyri in the North and then finally back to Reykjavik on self-drive (without GPS). I have to admit that all the places of interest are a little bit too far away from each other. But getting to your destinations is definitely not boring because of the variety of landscapes that Iceland has to offer. We saw countless waterfalls, drove by the coast, up and around hills, hiked on mini-craters on a huge lake, soaked in a hot spring and felt very welcomed by the friendly locals. On our last full day in Reykjavik, my Icelandic friend gave us …

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 …

A Taste of Tuscany, Part 3: San Gimignano and Siena

One of the things that I totally fell in-love with in Tuscany are the gigantic sunflowers along the road. From Lucca to San Gimignano, hubby and I decided to take the more scenic road, suggested by the Lolo owner of the hotel in Lucca. And indeed, we passed by a lot of sunflower fields. We couldn’t help but stop by one of them and take some pictures. San Gimignano is a fortified city at the top of a hill. From down below, it looked so quiet and peaceful and desolate. But upon climbing the hill and getting past the walls, I was surprised to find that it was quite touristy. It was a bit of a steep climb, though. But the view from below is very picturesque. We had to stop several times on the way, to take some pictures of the surrounding hills. From outside the wall, you wouldn’t have guessed that it would be a bustling city, filled with tourists inside. In fact, there were plenty of shops selling wine, olive oil, crockery, cheese and …