Driving Around Iceland

To the uninitiated, Iceland frightfully sounds a lot like some piece of land filled with a lot of ice. Well, it’s not true at all. There are actually more ice in Greenland (its neighbor country, a bit higher in latitude) than in Iceland. Although, it is true that I specifically went there to see the ice, I went during the summer so I only had the chance to see them on mountaintops and cliffs, and melting on glacial lagoons, thankfully. Yes, glacial lagoon, you read that right!

You can see our crazy itinerary on the left side, and our driving path in blue on the map. We have actually spent almost 18 hours on the road, according to Google maps. It didn’t feel like that at all because we had plenty of stopovers at gorgeous sights along the way! 🙂

But it was not such a bad trip at all. Contrarily, I would say it was my best trip of all, to date. Iceland is just Amazing with a capital A. It has landscapes that boggle the mind and make you feel like you are in another planet. I mentioned this to my Icelandic friend, whom I visited while I was there, and she said in fact that the landscapes are more amazing in the highlands. Regretfully, we only visited the coastal areas, which have paved roads. We didn’t get a proper vehicle for rough roads and the highlands, unfortunately. She said the landscapes there are quite like the ones on the moon that there are actually astronauts training up there to get a feel of what it would be like on the moon. Is that Amazing or not?!

Read more about my trip to Iceland on escapecapades.com.

La Ferme aux Grives

December for me is all about reminiscing about the best experiences of the year that is almost about to come to an end. and so this December, i’m starting a blogpost about the best experiences i’ve had this year. and what better way to begin this than by talking about food.

the best restaurant experience i had was of course back in France during our family visit in the summer. my in-laws took us to this nice restaurant called La Ferme aux Grives in a small ville called Eugenie-les-Bains, in the South of France, not far from where my in-laws live.

the restaurant was set in the middle of a lovely garden, at the edge of a huge farm, and is owned by a two-Michelin starred chef, Michel Guerard.

the ancient stone house that makes up the restaurant of La Ferme Aux Grives
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Saint Vincent de Paul

one of the fondest memories of my university life was taking the mass every Sunday at Saint Vincent de Paul’s chapel.

i was already not a religious person at the time, but i have always enjoyed good singing. the SVP chapel had a really good choir. and i really liked Saint Vincent de Paul’s birthday because it means school holiday. 🙂

last time i was in France, i took the chance to finally visit his ville-natale.

A small church at the center o the small ville
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Tuscany Road Trip

You might think that I have already abandoned this blog since I haven’t been updating for the longest time ever. The truth is June and July have just been very busy for me — entertaining visitors, planning our three-week European holiday, and arranging things for my return to work after a three-year sabbatical!

But I won’t be overwhelming you with too much information on this blog entry. For now I just want to write about my recent trip to Tuscany, one of the best regions of Italy.

Le road trip de rêve — we followed the advice of our Lonely Planet guidebook, except we’ve replaced Volterra with Arezzo and Cortona

We have planned on going for a road trip all over Tuscany. our trip consisted of eight days and eight nights coming from Bordeaux, France to Florence to Pisa to Lucca to San Giminiano to Siena and Chianti Arezzo to Cortona and finally back to Florence again.

it was quite a tiring trip but definitely worth it! the place is as magical as how you imagine it and a lot lot better than pictures!

i have seen places that were the setting of some of my well-loved movies: The English Patient and La Vita e Bella, to name a few. you would think that visiting a single place in Tuscany would be sufficient because if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all… NOT true at all. each time we progress to the next destination in our trip, we get completely awed by how beautifully different one place is compared to the last one we’ve visited.

more on escapecapades.com.

Jose Rizal in Madrid

Please do not use my photos without permission (even the watermarked ones). If you wish to avail of my non-watermarked images, you may contact me for a copy. See my Contact page for details.

As promised, I went to visit the historical places in Madrid that has to do with Jose Rizal. Before going there, I have printed this useful file that you can get from the web site of the Philippine Embassy in Madrid.

I tried to contact the historian Jaime Marco, the author of this document to know more about it. He was quite friendly and willing to meet and tour me around. Unfortunately, he’s only available during the weekend, and my trip schedule fell on weekdays.

I was able to see most of the places in the list in such a short time because they were mostly located close to each other.

It’s nice to have a Metro Station in Madrid named after the Philippines
First off, I went to Avenida de las Islas de Filipinas to see Jose Rizal’s statue. This statue is just like the one that we have in Luneta (Rizal Park) in the Philippines, only smaller.
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Jose Rizal in Paris

Please do not use my photos without permission (even the watermarked ones). If you wish to avail of my non-watermarked images, you may contact me for a copy. See my Contact page for details.

Following this blog post, I have made a promise to retrace Jose Rizal‘s footsteps here in France. And just last week, I have had the most delightful occasion to visit Paris with my husband. Luckily enough, the apartment of our friend, who accommodated us was just a few blocks away from Jose Rizal’s traces.

For those who are not familiar with Jose Rizal, he is a Philippine National Hero. He was a great influence in the history of Philippine Independence from 333 years of Spanish rule. I am not quite sure what a National Hero (as proclaimed by the Americans during their occupation of the Philippines) really means, but I mostly like him because he is quite an intriguing and fascinating person.

Jose Rizal was a doctor, a writer, an artist, and above all, for me, an indefatigable traveler. During his time, which was in the late 19th century, he traveled to Europe for his medical studies. He was particulary in Paris for a few months from 1885-86 for his apprenticeship in opthalmology under Louis de Weckert, and then again later on, to witness the World Exposition of 1889. It was during this year that the Eiffel Tower was completed. What a wonderful and romantic time to live in.

image source: wikipedia

Anyway, back to the present… on our way to our friend’s apartment in the 10th arrondissement, we passed by Place Jose Rizal in the 9th arrondissement. I was quite disappointed to find that it was just a small island in the middle of the street with a couple of seats in it. But I was quite happy to be there and take pictures.

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Au Marché de Noël

If you visit the Place du Capitole de Toulouse during this time of the year, you will find yourself surrounded by various delicacies and produce of Southern France and also from the rest of the world.

You have the famous nougats and candied fruit stands

These candied fruits are oozing with sugary sweetness… gives me toothache just by looking at them
Nougats are extra-soft and chewy here in France, but also extra-expensive
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