August 30, 2018

THE WALK ALONG THE WARTIME TUNNELS OF LAGAZUOI

During the First World War, there was bitter fighting here in this rugged, rocky mountains between the Austrians and Italians. Soon after war was declared, the more inferior Austro-Hungarian troop retreated into this part of the Dolomiti mountains to wage a high-altitude war at almost 3,000 meters. It soon turned into a tunnel war as both sides dug, in abandoning frontal assaults which was useless in the mountains. So the aim was to blast off the enemy from the peaks with the one occupying the higher elevation having the advantage. It must’ve been hellish for the soldiers of both sides who fought not only the enemy but also the cold,…

August 18, 2018

ONBOARD THE BERNINA EXPRESS

There are two great train journeys in Switzerland. One is the Glacier Express that runs between Zermatt and St. Moritz and the other one is the Bernina Express that runs from Chur/St. Moritz to the southern Italian city of Tirano. Like they say, from the glistening glaciers to the swaying palms since it starts from the Alps and winds its way far down below to the Italian border.   We boarded the Bernina Express in the dead of winter and were greeted with an all-white landscape throughout the journey as the train slowly picked its way through thick snowdrifts that mostly covered the railway tracks while negotiating 55 tunnels and…

July 25, 2018

EL CAMINO DE SANTIAGO: A PILGRIMAGE TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

Today, July 25, is the Feast of St. James, Christ’s Apostle whose remains are believed to be buried in the northern Spanish town of Santiago de Compostela which has become a pilgrimage site for Christians since the Medieval times. I biked the pilgrimage route back in 2014 and this is what I went through…..   Finally, after years of procrastinating, I found myself on the way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, biking the whole 750km. route from Pamplona close to the French border. With a backpack filled with some clothes, a camera, some Granola bars and a bottle of water, I pedaled away on a bright morning along the…

June 28, 2018

COUNTING SHEEP IN PASSO GIAO

During our exploration of the Italian Dolomites, we stopped for the night in Passo Giao and stayed in one rustic hotel which was located right by the side of the two-lane winding road. The Giao Pass is a high mountain pass with a rocky peak called Nuvolau (2,574 m) which has quite a large pastureland at its foot. Next morning, while having coffee on the balcony admiring the view of the mountain range, I saw this big herd of sheep – a thousand or so – heading up the hill. So I got the camera and rushed outside to catch them feeding on the grass on the slopes. It was…

June 21, 2018

LITTLE LIECHTENSTEIN

On the 6-hour drive from Fussen, Germany to Zermatt, Switzerland, we passed thru this small Principality that’s the 4th smallest country in Europe (after the Vatican, Monaco and San Marino). It is only 160 sq. km. with a population of 37,000 people and has an alpine topography with rocky peaks and forested valleys. We crossed the Rhine at the German border and found ourselves inside Liechtenstein and in a few minutes, in Vaduz, the capital whose city center was made up of a main street with some shops and building offices. Further down were a couple of Museums and the cathedral. We had a brief pitstop to load gas and…

June 16, 2018

PAGUDPUD ON MY MIND

561 kilometersa north of Manila lies this picturesque town right at the tip of Luzon where the waves of the West Philippine Sea crash with wild abandon on its beaches. It was an overnight trip by bus that we took which arrived quite late in the morning that’s why when we got to our hotel, we immediately hired a tricycle to take us to the famous Bangui windmills. For two days we went around visiting other famous tourist sights which were all amazing and Instagrammable! The roads were very well paved and there was greenery everywhere with so many ricefields as far as the eye could see. Our driver, who…

June 16, 2018

HIKING AROUND HOOKER VALLEY

This is one of the numerous hiking trails that meander around Aoraki/Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand located in the South Island. It is quite easy to follow beginning from the Visitor’s Center going thru open grassland that later on becomes rocky terrain with large boulders dotting the 5 km. route. It crosses Hooker River via a long steel bridge whose waters come from the melting Mueller glacier. The sides of the mountains get closer and you can see moraine walls – rocks and sediment deposited by glaciers during their retreat across the land. We crossed two more foot bridges before the wind started to pick up making…

June 16, 2018

BELLAGIO: THE CROWN JEWEL OF LAKE COMO

Jutting out of a promontory into Lake Como, this place is considered by many to be the most beautiful town in Italy. You will soon agree once you see the quaint scenery around you – the ubiquitous cobblestone streets, the narrow alleys full of surprises and picturesque houses as well as the grand villas around. You have to walk uphill immediately behind the narrow waterfront in order get to the top of the town center where most of the action is. Quite tiring but you will be rewarded with beautiful views of the lake. Besides, you can always stop for a cone of gelato or a cup of espresso and…

June 15, 2018

ZION NATIONAL PARK SCENIC DRIVE

This 86-km. scenic drive takes a long time to traverse because the views are stupendous that you want to stop more often to admire each scene and take pictures. Every curve and every dip in the road is Instagram-worthy! It took us almost 3 hours to drive from end-to-end starting from the entrance at the intersection of Highway 9 and Interstate 15, where you pay a toll, all the way to Mt. Carmel junction. From the Visitor Center and Museum, it winds its way past many Zion landmarks such as rocky mesas, geographical rock formations and soaring sheer cliffs. There is a mile-long tunnel that you will pass thru and…

June 15, 2018

WATERLOO

18 June 1815. On that momentous day that changed the course of history, Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by the Duke of Wellington who led a British force allied with several countries. It happened on the undulating plains of this town just a few kilometers outside of Brussels. The battle was fought fiercely under rainy conditions that churned the ground in the fields into a muddy quagmire making it extremely difficult for the two sides to use their cannons and cavalry. By employing a brilliant defensive strategy making use of the prevailing topography and backed up by the Prussians whom Napoleon thought was a spent force, the Brits routed the French…