Planning to Retire Soon!

If you are planning to retire in the Philippines soon, I suggest you visit several excellent websites on pro's and cons of retiring in the Philippines. However if you want to retire in the provinces, where life is simple, standard of living cheaper, less traffic congestion and pollution, availability of fresh seafood and vegetables compared to the big cities, my island province is the place for you! If this is your first time in my site, welcome. Please do not forget to read the latest national and international news in the right side bar of this blog. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on the infringement of your copyrights. The photo above is the front yard of Chateau Du Mer-Our Retirement Home in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cancun and the Mayan Ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza, Mexico

The Mayan Ruins of Tulum
On September 10 to 17, 1994, Macrine and I along with Ditas spent one week in Cancun, Mexico. We stayed at the Royal Mayan Resort. The Royal Mayan and the adjoining Royal Caribbean are 5 stars resorts in the Cancun Hotel Zone. The Hotel zone is a 14 mile strip with more than 100 hotels ranging from 2 stars to 5 stars. Travel arrangement was made by Worlddex Travel via our International Interval Exchange Vacation membership. Our 7 days of relaxation and sight seeing was INDEED VERY MEMORABLE. We were almost tempted to purchase another week of vacation time-share since the cost was much cheaper than our home resort in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. However, reasons prevail since at this time we were starting to save for the construction of our retirement home in Marinduque, Philippines. The Royal Mayan Hotel has a swimming pool with a bar in the middle. In addition, there is another bar at the ocean side where the water was warmed and crystal clear and the sand powdery white just like sugar. One day we took a one hour cruise aboard the galleon ship "Columbus" in the beautiful lagoon across our hotel. Ditas participated in the canoe race at the Yatch Club just across the hotel. We eat lunch at the Captain's Cove and dinner at the Gypsy Restaurant. This was Ditas treat to us, since she was occupying the second bedroom of our suite for free. A Flamingo Guitarist and Spanish Dancers were the entertainers for the night. We also went shopping both at the open flea markets in downtown Cancun as well as in several air-conditioned malls of the city. One day we visited the Mayan Ruins Of Tulum and another day at the ruins of Chichen Itza. These two places is a must see if you love history and archaeology. We inquired on two island tours-Isla Mujeres and Cozumel, but were running out of time and decided not to take it. The following video show the highlights of Chichen Itza and Tulum.

There are several Mayan Ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula. But we visited only two.
1.Chichen Itza - Mayan ruins in Yucatan MexicoThe Chichen Itza archaeological site is the most visited Mayan site on the peninsula. Eighteen structures have been restored over the years. Pyramid Kukulcan is the tallest of them and allows a view from the top of all Chichen Itza. During the Spring and Fall equinoxes, (March 21 & Sept 21) the setting sun creates shadows down the steps of the pyramid that resemble a snake descending. This is a popular event to see and usually draws big crowds.

2. Tulum - Mayan ruins in Quintana Roo MexicoTulum archaeological zone is located 131 kilometers south of Cancun, just 20 minutes south of Akumal on coastal highway 307. Facing the sea, Tulum is impressive and powerful. Known as the "Walled City", Tulum was thought to be one of the most important cities of the ancient Mayan during its time. Fresco remnants are still visible inside some of the structures. There is also a popular beach accessed by a stairway next to the El Castillo pyramid, but we forgot to bring our bathing suit!
On our way to Tulum we stopped by the underground river at X'Caret for one hour.
The other popular Mayan ruins are:
1.Becan - Mayan ruins in Campeche MexicoJust beyond the Quintana Roo-Campeche state line, 6 kilometers west of the town of Xphil, are the Mayan ruins of Becan. Visitors can walk to 20 major constructions distributed over three hectares with a number of temple pyramids and plenty of tall jungle. The site is usually deserted. Becán was the political, economical and religious capital of the province known today as Rio Bec. Becan is roughly 3.5 hours from Tulum, driving south on highway 307 then west on 186.
2.Bonampak - Mayan ruins in Chiapas MexicoThis archaeological site, deep in jungle of Chiapas, is one of the so called Usumacinta Province group which includes several Mayan ruins sites on or close by the Usumacinta river. Bonampak is particularly famous for its murals which dipict in great detail the rituals of the royal court, including human sacrifice, costumes, musical instruments, and the weapons of war. Tours to the ruins can be arranged from hotels in Palenque.
3.Calakmul - Mayan ruins in Campeche MexicoDue to Calakmul's location in the geographic center of the Maya region (the "Petén") it received cultural influences from both north and south. Calakmul along with the Maya sites of El Mirador, Nakbé, and Uaxactún, formed a coalition during the Formative period, constantly engaging in conflicts with its southern neighbors, especially Tikal. Calakmul remained a rival to Tikal from that time on.
4.Chacchoben - Mayan ruins in Quintana Roo MexicoRoughly 110 miles (177 kilometers) south of Tulum Mexico are the seldom seen Mayan ruins of Chacchoben, an excellent but distant day-trip to see a broad-leaf jungle ruin site. These majestic, mostly restored temple pyramids take on a mystical quality surrounded by towering mahogany trees, enormous cohune palms, strangler figs and the hanging tentacles of banyan trees. Chaccoben means "the Place of Red Corn", in Spanish "Lugar de Maiz Colorado".
5.Chac Mool - Mayan ruins in Quintana Roo MexicoWithin the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve, about 1.5 hours south by boat from Punta Allen, on the Santa Rosa peninsula, is the seldom seen archaeological site of Chac Mool. This is a small site requiring permission from the land owner, Casablanca Fishing Lodge, for entry. Of primary interest is Chac Mool's similarity to Chichen Itza and Tulum because of the presence of a Chac Mool shrine room and a location directly on the Caribbean sea. Also nearby are the Tupac ruins.
6.Chicanna - Mayan ruins in Campeche MexicoNear the Quintana Roo-Campeche state line, 6 kilometers west of the town of Xphil and 3 kilometers from Becan ruins, are the Mayan ruins of Chicanná. Due to its dimensions and the rich decoration of the buildings, Chicanná has been considered a small elitiest center of nearby Becán. The site is usually deserted. Chicanna is roughly 3.5 hours from Tulum, driving south on highway 307 then west on 186.
7.Coba - Mayan ruins in Quintana Roo MexicoThe Coba archaeological zone is located 42 km. west of Tulum. With many buildings still covered by jungle, Coba is over 80 sq. miles with 5 lakes. Nohoch Mul is the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula. It is 12 stories tall and has 120 steps to the top! But from the top you can view a magnificent span of jungle with the tops of other ruins reaching above the jungle canopy.
Map of Mayan Ruins in the Cancun Peninsula
8.Dzibilchaltun - Mayan ruins in Yucatan MexicoDzibilchaltun archaeological zone is located only 9 mile from the Yucatan state capital of Merida, Dzibilchaltun ruins are a must see for visitors interested in a significant Maya ruins site and excellent cultural museum full of Maya and Spanish artifacts including 16th century Spanish swords and weapons, Maya textiles, monolithic stela, temples and deep cenote freshwater well, excellent for a cool swim. Located on the road to Progreso. Taxi transport from central Merida and combis from San Juan Park.
9.Ek Balam - Mayan ruins in Yucatan MexicoEk Balam was built in the Maya Classic Period and has a grand central pyramid, two large palaces, and numerous other temples and buildings. While the archaeological zone is not as completely restored, or as large a site as Chichen Itza or Uxmal, Ek Balam is under active restoration and gives the visitor a great overview of the entire archaeological process. The effect is almost mystical with restored buildings pushing out of the huge mounds of rubble and jungle undergrowth.
10. Kohunlich, Dzibanche and Oxtankah - Mayan ruins in Quintana Roo MexicoKohunlich, Dzibanche and Oxtankah make up one of the largest concentrations of archaeological sites located in the southern part of Quintana Roo. Just a few hours south on Hwy 307 will bring you to the Lake Bacalar area. Most of the ruins in southern Quintana Roo are located south of there. Bring a new guidebook with you for specific directions. The jungle is lush and alive with exotic birds and wildlife.
11. Mayapan - Mayan ruins in Yucatan MexicoMayapan ("Banner of the Mayas") is considered the last great Maya capital, dating back to the beginning of the common Era and reaching its golden age in the Postclassic period. Mayapan's ancient grandeur is still evident in its great buildings. There is a strong influence played by Chichen Itza, as seen in its main building, a smaller replica of the Castillo of Kukulcan.
12. Muyil - Mayan ruins in Quintana Roo MexicoThe Muyil ruins are located 25 kilometers south of the Pueblo of Tulum, passed Ejido Pino Suarez. This site is rarely visited but quite spectacular. The ruins are partially excavated and the jungle surrounds them. A combination path-boardwalk leads from the ruins through a lush jungle-marsh area to wide Laguna Muyil. The Mirador observation platform gives a spectacular view of the surrounding area. Tours of the lagoons are available by the dock.
13. Palenque - Mayan ruins in Chiapas MexicoPalenque archaeological zone is located in the southern state of Chiapas near Guatemala. Palenque is one of the premiere Mayan ruins of Mesoamerica featuring the Temple of Inscriptions containing Pakal's tomb, the Palace and many other buildings, all in a mountainous jungle setting. Other nearby sites to see include Agua Azul cascades, Misol Ha falls, Usumacinta river tour to Yaxchitlan & Bonampak Maya ruins.
14. Uxmal - Mayan ruins in Yucatan MexicoThe Uxmal Mayan ruins are some of the best on the peninsula. The name Uxmal means 'thrice-built' in Mayan, referring to the construction of its highest structure, the Pyramid of the Magician. The Maya would often build a new temple over an existing one, and in this case five stages of construction have actually been found. Uxmal was one of the largest cities of the Yucatán peninsula, and at its height was home to about 25,000 Maya.
15. Xel-Ha - Mayan ruins in Quintana Roo MexicoThe Xel-Ha ruins are part of the Xel-Ha Lagoon eco-park, located between Akumal and Tulum. These are a small collection of stone buildings right on the highway opposite the entrance to Xel-Ha Lagoon. The Maya had a coastal port at Xel-Ha for maritime trade via canoes between the principal towns up and down the coast, and to Cozumel. There are a couple of interesting cenotes nearby the ruins group. Some of the structures still have painted hands and other drawings of the Maya.
16. Yaxchilan - Mayan ruins in Chiapas MexicoThe Yaxchilan archaeological site is deep in jungle of Chiapas. It is one of the so called Usumacinta Province group which includes several Mayan ruins sites on or close by the Usumacinta river. Yaxchilan is right on the Usumacinta and visitors almost exclusively come via the long boats that navigate the river. There are more than 120 structures in the central area in three complexes. Tours to the ruins can be arranged from hotels in Palenque.
Ditas in Our 2-Bedroom Apartment, Royal Mayan Resort
Enjoying the White Sand of the Royal Mayan
Bar in the Swimming Pool of Our Resort
Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza

Lunch after our Alhambra Gardens Tour in Granada
More Scenes from the Mayan Ruins of Tulum
Mayan Ruins of Tulum by the Sea

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Memories of Our Tour to the Rock of Gibraltar



Our tour started from our vacation resort( Four Seasons Country Club)in Marbella.
The minibus started along the Costa del Sol and ends at La Linea de la Conception, the border of Gibraltar. The tour included a winding minibus drive to the top of the Rock along the Europa Point and the Galleries. The view of the city and the strait from the top was fantastic. Since I had a fear of heights, I did not look down to see the view. Our visit to the St. Michael Caves and Underground Church and the Barbary Apes Reserve were the highlights of this tour. According to our guide they have concerts inside the cave and the sound is stereophonic. At the end of the tour there was plenty of time to do some duty-free shopping in the many duty-free shops.
We had a typical English lunch of Fish and Chips. The lunch for two cost us $19 ( US) dollars. Gibraltar merchants will accept either US dollars ,British pounds, or Spanish pesetas. Good buys are spirits, tobacco, perfumes, gold jewelries and Lladro sculptures.




Gibraltar is a huge rock found to the south of Spain. The region belongs to the United Kingdom. On one side there is the Bay of Algeciras, and on the other the Mediterranean Sea. Gibraltar borders the town of La Linea de la Concepción, part of the county of Cádiz. The Rock of Gibraltar is the most famous rock in the world.
Gibraltar is situated at the southern end of Europe with a land frontier to Spain on its northern front. It sits at the joining of the Atlantic Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea.


The stretch of water that separates Gibraltar from north Africa is called the Strait of Gibraltar and throughout history has played a strategic part in battles fought and won to control the western Mediterranean seaways. In ancient times Gibraltar was one of the Pillars of Hercules. It was known to the Greeks as Mons Calpe, the other pillar being Mons Abyla on the Moroccan side of the Strait. Gibraltar marked the limit to the known world.


Intrinsically linked with the sea, Gibraltar is one of the busiest ports of call in the Mediterranean. It is also a stepping stone for immigrants all over the world through Africa and finally going to Europe.

Monday, August 29, 2011

One Day in Tangier, Morocco, North Africa

Camel Rides in Morocco

From Marbella, Spain, Macrine and I joined a one day tour to Tangier, Morocco, North Africa as part of our vacation in Costa del Sol in October, 2000. With this visit we could claim that we have been to the Continent of Africa. It was a beautifully organized tour and is described below by a writer from the Spanish tourism department:

"From the most southern point of Spain (Tarifa), Morocco is only 14 kilometers away. On most days you can see the mountains at the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar very clearly, and at night you see the lights of the houses. Being so close to Spain, Morocco Tourism is very tempting. Especially because it’s not only another country, but even another continent.

There are several options to a Morocco Tourism visit, one of them is booking a daytrip from Tarifa to Tangier( this is the one we took). There are two excursions to Tangier every day, starting at 9am and 11.00am, and cost 56 euro (ferry, guide, bus and lunch included). Tickets are sold at the office of FRS or at Marruecotur, both near the Paseo de la Alameda in the centre of Tarifa. The excursion starts in the port of Tarifa. Here you cross the Spanish border and get on the boat, a fast ferry that brings you in 35 minutes to Tangier. As there is a time difference between Morocco and Spain of 2 hours (in summer), you arrive in Morocco either around 7.45am or 9.45am.

Morocco Tourism for the first time is quite impressive. Not so much because of the beauty of the landscape (the skyline of Tangier is not very special), but more for the complete different culture and language. There are two different ideas about the origins of Tangier, the Berber and the Greek. According to the Berber legend, Tangier was founded following the return of a dove from the Arch of Noah with soil in its claws, indicating that there was a new world – Tanja in Berber language. The Greek version states that Tangier derives from the name “Tingi”, daughter of the giant Anthee. For the ancient Greek authors Tangier was “the most beautiful city of the known world, a region of gods where the men are the tallest and most beautiful that one can find.” If this is (still) true, you have to decide for yourself. Because of its geographical situation Tangier has always been the door to Africa. For a long time it used to be an important international meeting point, until it became stronger attached to Morocco".



"Once you have arrived in Morocco, a bus drives you from the port to the old town. The old town is surprisingly similar to a lot of old towns in Andalucian cities. At the entrance there is an old arc, after which you find a labyrinth of small streets, small houses, ancient buildings, a castle and small typical shops. Most of the shops appear to be there for tourists only, during the tour you’ll visit some of them. The shop owners are not too shy to sell you all their merchandise on the streets, of course for “a very special price” (which drops rapidly if you don’t show any interest). Also included in the tour is a lunch in a traditional Moroccan restaurant. They serve traditional food and at the end you’ll get a traditional Moroccan tea. It´s questionable if it´s really a traditional restaurant, as it seems to run on tourists only, but at least the food is good".
Dinner in a Moroccan Restaurant and Carpet Shopping
Snake Charmer in the Streets of Tangiers
View of North Africa from Mainland Spain/The Rock

Walking the narrow cobbled stones streets of Tangiers

"After a stroll through the old town, you get a chance to have a look at the new town. This part of Tangier appears to be quite modern, with big buildings, broad streets and larger, more modern shops. A visit to the outskirts of Tangier is included as well. Big houses with big fences dominate the scene, so probably the rich are living here. You also get the opportunity to ride a camel, on payment of a few euros. The whole tour takes about 7 hours".

My Personal Note: Walking on the narrow cobblestone streets of the Medina (Old Town) in Tangier was not easy. Street peddlers hustle you all day. They sell all kinds of trinkets that will challenge even an experienced bargain hunter like me. However, I had my good buy of the day on this tour. I saw a mineral stone ( similar to the one you see in the Smithsonian museum in Washington, DC) that aroused my attention. The asking price was 3000 pesetas. I bargained 500 pesetas. As expected I received a groaning response from the peddler( a man in his late 20's) that I am too cheap and should be ashamed for bargaining too low. I just smile and ignored him. The peddler keep up on following me until lunch time when the price went down to 2000 pesetas. I said no and stuck to my original bargain. I totally forgot about this haggling episode, when out of no where the peddler accosted me again and lowered the price to 1000 pesetas. I said no deal until the price went down to 700 pesetas. Three hours later as I was stepping on the bus on our way home, the peddler gave up. He gave the mineral stone to me as I handed him the 500 pesetas from the window of the bus. I certainly had a grand time in this haggling process.
We did visit a carpet shop, but I was not in the mode of bargaining. In addition if we buy a carpet, it will be bulky to carry around, although they can shipped your purchase to the US with a ridiculously high fees.

Macrine on the other hand is not a bargain hunter or haggler. Her best purchase was what they called the "Moroccan Gold". It is the most expensive spice in the world.
It is SAFFRON. The powder looks light reddish brown, but when you add water it turns yellow, just like the color of TUMERIC, another spice. You need only a very small amount for cooking paella and other Spanish or Filipino dishes like the ginat-an na manok sa gata (chicken in coconut milk) of Marinduque-one of my favorite Filipino dish. Saffron is very expensive, so most cooks used a cheaper substitute, the TUMERIC or "dilaw" in Marinduque.


A snake Charmer in Action

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Memories of Our Visit to Malaga, Marbella and Granada, Spain

Marbella Sea Side

Macrine and I visited the Costa del Sol area of Southern Spain, Marbella, Malaga and vicinity in 2000. We spent one week( October 5 to 13) in this coastal area of Spain. This was again through our International Interval Exchange Vacation Package. This is a time sharing experience that beats them all! Not even Cancun, Mexico or San Juan, Puerto Rico could equal the sights, sounds, the history and grandeur of the Costa del Sol area of Southern Spain. Our one week stay at the Four Seasons Resort and Country Club, in Marbella was not enough. We were joined midweek by our daughter Ditas and niece, Ella Lazarte from US. The highlights of our one week stay were the three one day tours that we took as follows:

On our way to Granada

1. Granada City Tour with Lunch with a visit to the Alhambra Castles and Gardens



Lunch on our way back to our Hotel after the Tour of the Alhambra

This tour included a short driving tour of Malaga and passed by the bull ring stadium. On the way to Granada, we enjoyed the sights of almond and citrus trees and olive plantation. It also included a lunch for two. At that time it cost us 8500 pesetas ( exchange rate at that time was 170 pesetas equals $1). To me this is a bargain, since I do not have to drive or rent a car ($70 per day for car rental). In addition, the tour guide knowledge of the area help you appreciate the tour more. We met another American couple during this tour. Most of the tourists are English or Germans with a few Americans.

2. One Day Tour of Gibraltar, including a winding ride to the Top of the Rock with the Barbary Apes and St. Michael Cave and some free duty shopping

3. One Day Tour of Tangiers, Morocco, highlighted by shopping and a Moroccan lunch and a ride on a German Hydrofoil yatch across the Gibraltar Strait.

The Spaniards were very friendly, and very willing to help and answer questions of tourists. With my knowledge of Spanish, I felt home right away. My maternal ancestry and roots in Spain made me want to return and perhaps stay a little while longer. One week is indeed not enough to really savour the delights of Southern Spain.

The food specially sea foods( paella), wines and pastries were delicious and served promptly with gusto. The resort personnel were very helpful in arranging taxi service, tour planning, tickets confirmation, wake-up calls and other services. Someday, I like to go back to Spain and perhaps visit Seville, Cordoba and Barcelona. Here's a short video about Malaga.



Málaga (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmalaɣa]) is a city and a municipality in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain. With a population of 568,305 in 2009, it is the second most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth largest in the country. This is the southernmost large city in Europe. It lies on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) of the Mediterranean Sea, about 100 km (62.14 mi) east of the Strait of Gibraltar and about 130 km (80.78 mi) north of Africa.
Málaga enjoys a subtropical climate. Here are the warmest winters in Europe, with average temperatures above 17.2 °C (63.0 °F) during the day in the period December to February. The summer's season lasts about 8 months, from April to November, although also in December and March sometimes there are temperature above 20 °C (68.0 °F). Málaga, together with adjacent towns and municipalities such as Rincon de la Victoria, Torremolinos, Benalmadena, Fuengirola, Alhaurin de la Torre, Mijas and Marbella, forms the Málaga metropolitan area, with a population of 1,046,279 according to 2009 data.

Marbella
Downtown Marbella

Marbella is a city in Andalusia, Spain, by the Mediterranean, situated in the province of Málaga, beneath La Concha mountain. In 2000 the city had 98,823 inhabitants, in 2004, 116,234, in 2010 circa 135,000.

Marbella and the nearby Puerto Banús are important beach resorts of the Costa del Sol. Marbella is a popular destination for tourists from Northern Europe, including the UK, Ireland and Germany as well as the US.

The area around Marbella is particularly popular with those who like golf. Marbella also hosts a WTA tennis tournament on red clay, the Andalucia Tennis Experience

Would you believe that Marbella and the whole Costa del Sol area is littered with Chinese restaurants? Across the bridge from the Four Seasons are two Chinese restaurants. Ditas and Ella were dying to have chinese food after their two weeks sojourn in the interior of Morocco (Fez). One day, while we were in downtown Marbella, I talked to a Chinese lady. She said there is a labor organization in Spain that imports Chinese waitresses and cooks to serve in 6-months rotation at restaurants in several cities of Spain and Italy. It sounds like the Philippines OFW ( Overseas Filipino Workers) program. The following are some photos of our trip.

The Beach Area and Restaurant by the Sea in Our Resort

My souvenir of the Spanish coins and the Peseta

Macrine and I enjoying the swimming pool area of the resort

Ditas, Ella and Macrine Inside our 2-bedroom Apartment

Our International Interval Resort in Malaga-Four Seasons Country Club

Note: I had read that roots of the Balleza and Nieva clans are in Malaga.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Memories of Our Trip to London and Bath, England

London Tower Bridge
Macrine and I went to London on a whim, that is no previous planning. I saw an ad in the Washington Times dated July 21, 1992 to see a football game between the Redskins and the SF 49'ers in Wembly Stadium, London for August 16, 1992. I immediately called Macrine at work and ask her if she could take a week of from work.
The package consists of 5 days and 4 nights at the Scandic Crown Hotel in the London Docklands, two tickets to the football game, continental breakfast daily, full day tour of London and a mini cruise of the Thames River, welcome dinner hosted by Ricky Erwins (no.32) of the Redskins, and a round trip non-stop airfare from Dulles to Heathrow including ground transfer and tour guide via a luxury motor coach for only $1,099 per person. The package was offered by Trafalgar Tours, Bethesda, Maryland.
Other tours around London are available for an additional fee. Macrine and I took the one day tour to Bath, England with a reasonable additional fee of less than $50 per person which included lunch and a round trip train fare from London to Bath.
We had a grand time in Bath, seeing the Roman Baths museum and enjoying a lunch of Fish and Chips.

On this vacation, we saw the outskirts of the Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Big Ben, rode the London underground railway system called The TUBE, shopped at Harrod's and saw Miss Saigon at the Drury Lane Royal Theatre.

The highlight of our tour was not the Redskins and 49er's game, in spite of the fact that the Niners beat the Redskin 17-15, three seconds before the end of the game with a field goal, but the show, Miss Saigon. Our group of 40 tourists were all Redskin fans except for Macrine and I, so we were outnumbered and received a lot of taunting and boos when we cheered for the Niners.

We paid scalped prices for the two tickets to Miss Saigon, but it was worth it. Tears rolling from our eyes moved by the story and music of the modern Madame Butterfly musical will never be erased in our memory. The leading lady was not Lea Salonga, but another Filipina singer. The leading man, Junix Inocian, who inherited Jonathan Pyrce role, is also a Filipino and did a good job singing the "American Dream" song.
The Royal Crescent in Bath
We took a one day tour to Bath, Avon about 75 minutes train ride from Paddington Station in London. Paddington Station reminds me of Union Station in Washington, DC. However, you have to pay to use the WC(rest rooms) or CR (Comfort Rooms in the Philippines)
One of Bath's principal industries is tourism, with more than one million staying visitors and 3.8 million day visitors to the city on an annual basis. The visits mainly fall into the categories of heritage tourism and cultural tourism. This is aided by the city's selection in 1987 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognising its international cultural significance. All significant stages of the history of England are represented within the city, from the Roman Baths (including their significant Celtic presence), to Bath Abbey and the Royal Crescent, to Thermae Bath Spa in the 2000s.
The Roman Bath
The size of the tourist industry in Bath is reflected in the almost 300 places of accommodation – including over 80 hotels, and over 180 bed and breakfasts – many of which are located in Georgian buildings. The history of the city is displayed at the Building of Bath Collection which is housed in a building which was built in 1765 as the Trinity Presbyterian Church. It was also known as the Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel, as she lived in the attached house from 1707 to 1791. Two of the hotels have 'five-star' ratings. There are also two campsites located on the western edge of the city. The city also contains about 100 restaurants, and a similar number of public houses and bars. Several companies offer open-top bus tours around the city, as well as tours on foot and on the river. Since 2006, with the opening of Thermae Bath Spa, the city has attempted to recapture its historical position as the only town in the United Kingdom offering visitors the opportunity to bathe in naturally heated spring waters. The following ten photos of this trip were taken from my album.

Washinton Times Announcement of Package Tour
Arrival at Scandia Hotel
Tour members group Picture with Ricky Ervins and Family
Waiting for the Tour of the Tower of London

In front of the Drury Lane Theatre and Ticket
Highlights of Our Tour in England
Macrine in one of the Roman Baths
Macrine cheering for the 49's and the rest for the Washington Redskins

Friday, August 26, 2011

Memories of Our Trip to Rome, Assisi, Italy and the Vatican

St Peter Square, The Vatican

On December 10 to 16, 1990, Macrine and I joined the Diocese of Oakland Choir during their pilgrimage tour to Rome, the Vatican and surrounding area( Assisi), Italy. We were not members of the Choir, but our parish priest, Fr. Paddy Bishop of St Joseph Church of Pinole was the Chaperon of the Choir and he invited us to join the group. Lidia Carlos Reynes was the choir director. The choir gave one concert( liturgical music) and sang during a mass with the Pope (John Paul II) as celebrant in St Peter's Basilica. For 5 days we enjoyed the sights and sounds of Rome, the Vatican and Assisi, Italy.

One day we went to St Francis de Assisi Church in Assisi, Italy about one hour bus drive from Rome. Assisi is one of the most beautiful town in Italy. Around Rome, we saw the Coliseum, several the historic basilicas and fountains, the Catacombs and a whole day tour the Vatican( Sistine Chapel etc..)City and the Museum.
Assisi, Italy

This is one vacation/tour that Macrine and I will never forget. The package tour was arranged by Courtial International, Vatican Travel Office and Choir Pilgrimage Services in Rome, Italy.
St Peter Square, the Vatican

The following paragraph in the concert program summarized the reason for this concert tour. ( there was a translation in Latin, German and French)

"Concerts of Liturgical Music in a Holy Place are not only authentic manifestations of Art and Faith, but they also represent a wonderful opportunity for the spirit to join the Source of every beauty".

I like the Spanish version better as follows:

"Los Conciertos de Musica Sagrada en Lugar Sagrado, ademas de ser autenticas manifestaciones de Arte y de Fe, constituyen una ocasion inmejorable para elevar al espiritu hacia la Fuente de la misma belleza."



The following are some souvenir photos from our trip. I looked so young in 1990.

Macrine and I enjoying dinner with the choir.

Audience with His Blessed Pope John Paul II

Macrine enjoying the Gardens of Rome

A little shopping and sightseeing in Rome

Macrine and I comparing our Faces with the Statues in the Vatican Museum

Macrine with the Swiss Guards at the Vatican

Pointing the Poster for the Choir Performance

Inside and Outside our hotel with Fr. Paddy Bishop and sister-in-law of Pinole,CA

Me and Macrine enjoying the sights and sound of Rome and Vicinity


Program Souvenir, Oakland Choir, California

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...