All posts filed under: Europe

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 …

A Taste of Tuscany, Part 2: Pisa and Lucca

The road from Firenze to Pisa was surprisingly not very scenic. We have taken the highway, which didn’t really look much of a highway. The roads were too narrow and we encountered quite a few jams along the way. Just like in Firenze, the parking areas are a bit far away from the city center and the places of interest. It was a very long and hot walk all the way from the parking area to the Leaning Tower, but I totally enjoyed it. I was distracted and entertained by some troubadour playing one of my favorite tunes from Bach (that one from Hannah and Her Sisters), as we approached an area with a small old church. What a lovely and fitting background music for such a lovely place. At the back of this tiny old church was a mural by Keith Haring entitled, Tutto Mondo. It was his last public mural before he died. There was a nice little café conveniently facing this interesting wall. There, we decided to take a small break and have some …

A Taste of Tuscany Part 1 – Firenze

Ever since the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, all the women I know dream of visiting this gorgeous Italian region, at least once their lives. I was not an exception. You can imagine how thrilled I was when an opportunity to visit this place presented itself a couple of summers ago. Hubby and I followed the suggestion of this french guidebook that was provided by the french travel agency that organized our trip: We just changed it a little bit, opting to go to Arezzo and Cortona instead of Volterra. The first leg of our trip was France – Firenze, since we were coming from my parents-in-law’s place in the South of France. We took a flight via Volotea, a low-cost Spanish airline. Upon arrival at the airport in Firenze, I was surprised to find how small it is. It seemed more like a domestic airport than an international one. The ceiling was very low, the luggage took forever to arrive at the baggage carousel, and it was very much lacking in souvenir and food shops. Immediately, we headed out to take our …