Showing posts from January, 2013

A Wedding in Tuscany - Castello di Vincigliata

Being the fan of fairy tales and Disney movies that she is, my cousin, Rachel, decided to get married in an actual medieval castle. And since she is one of my closest female cousins (both in friendship and in age), I was stoked to be there!

Originally built in the 13th Century and located a few miles from Florence in the Fiesole Hill, the Castello di Vincigliata has been a family stronghold, a glass production center and a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II before finally settling down to it’s most fitting role, a wedding venue.

But it’s not just some medieval castle, it’s a haunted medieval castle!

Urban Exploration - Villefranche sur Mer

One of the pleasures of being in a foreign place is getting lost on purpose.

And while I usually get lost alone (see entries on Hong Kong, Shanghai and Jerusalem), for this trip, I was very lucky to be in the company of my two cousins and partners-in-crime, Clark and Argee. For once, there could actually be a picture of me (hell-yeah!), instead of just the scenery.

After the day-trip to Monaco, we had about four hours to kill before the cruise ship was to depart.  And while everyone else was already on board the ship (sleeping/eating/gambling/enjoying the theatrical production of Grease), Argee and I decided to explore Villefranche a bit longer.

* My partner in crime, Argee, trying his best to look like one of the locals.. with his huge camera bag, US marine hat and Back to the Future sneakers.

Glitzy Monte-Carlo in Monaco

The second stop on our cruise was the glamorous Monaco. Known as the playground of the rich and famous, Monaco is the smallest country in the world next to the Vatican.  But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in style with almost everyone wearing something branded, including the police!

Like sur Mer, this was a light, relaxed day, which really helped with my jetlag. Well that and all the cappuccinos and espresso shots that my cousins and I were taking!

The only downside to this stop was that it was raining non-stop the whole day. Ergo, I couldn’t take pictures of the beautiful parks, architecture and cars to protect my camera from the elements.  And when I say cars, I mean cars like the Bugatti Veyron which is apparently a common sight in this place and NOWHERE to be found back home in Manila.

* Casino de Monte Carlo which I mistakenly thought was the setting of my favorite James Bond movie, Casino Royale (sorry Skyfall fans!!)  Too bad it was raining pretty hard; would have been…

Royal Carribean - Mediterranean Cruise

Before I continue on the Eurotrip, I would like to write a special thank you to our cruise liner and it’s staff, Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, for taking excellent care of us on our Mediterranean Cruise.

For the whole week that we were cruisin, I was pampered, fed (A LOT) and treated very politely by everyone on board.  So Kudos to the Captain and his mates!

* The Barcelona Pier is just awesome, looking a lot like an airport terminal complete with restaurants and souvenir stores, which my dad (guy on the right) took advantage of.

Sleepy and Charming Villefranche sur Mer

After the insane shopping and sight-seeing of Barcelona, the excitement of being in Europe for the first time got bogged down by every traveller’s worst enemy, jetlag. As we started our Mediterranean Cruise, I had to fight to stay asleep.

THANK GOD, our first stop was the charming and sleepy town of Villefranche sur Mer.

With picturesque scenery (see above) and a laid-back, relaxed vibe, sur Mer was our most hassle-free and uneventful stop in the whole trip, and that’s a GOOD THING.