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Medellín Day 3: Museos

We made our first trip on the Medellín Metro system today. We figured out how to buy a Civica card (like a Metro SmarTrip) and load a few trips on it. $3 for 4 trips!


6 stops later we were at Parque Berīo, home to this amazing municipal building.IMG_8602

And on the other side of this building was Plaza Botero, full of 23 statues by the artist Fernando Botero. The plaza was not yet overrun with visitors yet, so with some patience you could get pictures of the sculptures without people in front of them.IMG_8605IMG_8610IMG_8632

We had been looking forward to the Museo de Antioquia, for its art and its art deco design.IMG_8634

Inside, their was work of Botero and a large number of paintings he had collected and donated to the museum. IMG_8651IMG_8644

I wondered if he had created anything to cover the Pablo Escobar period. I didn’t have to wonder long.IMG_8648IMG_8649

After leaving the museum, we found Iglesia de La Candelaria church.IMG_8658

Our 2nd museum for the day was their modern art museum, Museo De Arte Moderno. It featured some of the most modern of modern art (I didn’t take any pictures inside, I should have).IMG_8661

We waited out the expected thunderstorm, which was vicious tonight, and then Uber’d to Restaurante Hatoviejo, on the 4th floor of the mall we visited yesterday. We had a good meal, Ellen had steak and I had tuna in a berry sauce.IMG_8667

Afterwards, we went to a supermarket next door to pick up some things for dinner tomorrow. We are having a fancy lunch, so we will take advantage of the kitchen in our room and cook something up (including the doggy bag we took home tonight).

Medellín Day 2: Pablo

We wanted to see the Medellín of Pablo Escobar from a historical perspective, not to in any way glorify his activities. So we chose a tour that brought us to the significant places, without enriching his family or his former associates.

We started at the building he was in when the combination of good guys and bad guys (hard to always say who was who) surrounded him.IMG_8557

Pablo went out the back window (which is now bricked up) and was shot on the roof of the building behind it.IMG_8558

We visited the cemetery where he and his family are buried. IMG_8562

When you want your hits to go well, you take the bullets to church of course. In this case, a church where a vision of the Virgin Mary has appeared, Iglesia de Santa Ana. We got there just as a Good Friday service was finishing up.IMG_8566

Next to the church was a restaurant where they were preparing buñuelos, a fried corn and cheese ball.

There were as big as your hand!IMG_8572

The square was full of people and color.IMG_8576

Our last significant stop was at La Catedral, Escobar’s “prison” high on a mountaintop.IMG_8585IMG_8583IMG_8582

Now used by Benedictine monks, they are quick to point out that they are not making use of Pablo’s buildings.IMG_8588

Our guide from Medellín Travels was young and had learned his history well. He had answers to every question and did not in any way romanticize the believed 100,000 murders that took place during the time of Escobar. We were glad we did the tour, we came away with an understanding of the period.

We got back to our hotel in time for a late lunch. We were going to walk to get a last pizza before Passover, but the afternoon rainstorm timed itself to thwart that effort. We found a small restaurant open across from our hotel and had a not-so-great lunch.

For dinner, we had a reservation, but our Uber pulled up to a darkened restaurant. We had tried to plan for Good Friday, but our plans were only as good as the reservations taken for the night. We had the Uber take us to an area with plenty of restaurants, and we decided Greek was calling our name. So we ate at Greek Connection, complete with lamb, plate smashing and belly dancing. So a traditional Passover seder!


Philippines Day 5: Bees, but not so busy

Half the day today was the above view. And that’s Ben, Courtney & Ellen looking out the infinity pool to the sea.

Ben arranged a car for us to visit the Bohol Bee Farm, an organic farm and resort about 15 minutes away.

We had lunch art the organic restaurant there. I figured I had to have something with honey, so this is the honey glazed chicken with red rice. So beautiful and tasty!

We took the tour of the farm, which was as much an ad for the products they make as anything else. But we did get to visit with the bees they keep. No stinging involved!

Back to our resort in the late afternoon, we went back to the pool and relaxed some more.

Easy day! And rewarded with a tremendous full moon.

Spring 2018 Vacation Day 3: Outside of the Duomo, Tomorrow to Como


I had not seen pictures of the Duomo before walking up on it. DSC_0969

It is amazing in its size and intricacy. The only church that it reminds me of is Sagrada Familia. We are taking a tour inside on Tuesday, so today we just walked around it and listened to a Rick Steves walking tour of the area around the church. DSC_0979DSC_0981

You can’t think about Milan without thinking about Leonardo di Vinci. We see the Last Supper on Tuesday.DSC_0993

The shopping in Milan is truly something. Even the shopping arcades are works of art.

We lunched and then went to the Pinacoteca di Brera museum. Appropriate place to visit on Easter Sunday as there were literally hundreds of Jesus and Mary paintings from the Renaissance.

We stopped for coffee/tea and Belgian fries on the way back to a short stay at our apartment. Then we were off to dinner at a fancy restaurant, Terrazza Gallia, just across from the sketchy train station!

The meal was amazing, with lots of amuse bouche along the way. I had venison for dinner, most tender meat perhaps I’ve ever had. IMG_5211

We had a chocolate mousse for dessert. It was topped with real gold. Really!IMG_5212

It was over a two hour meal, and as much about the experience as the food. We were glad to walk home and relive a great dinner.

Tomorrow, Ellen believes the Clooneys will welcome us in Como. We’ll see.

Spring 2018 Vacation Day 2: Finishing Zurich, Off To Milan


Doesn’t the above photo look exactly what a European square should look like?

After not the greatest night sleep for either of us, we were ready to get going again anyway. Breakfast at the hotel, and then off for Ellen’s most important destination, Thomas Sabo. They have 2 shops here, and we had to hit them both!

Next was the Fraumünster Church, famous for the Chagall stained glass windows (and not allowing photography inside). Outside of church looked like this:IMG_5185

And from their website, the Chagall windows: chagall

Back across the bridge, we went into the Grossmünster Church. Plain inside, but we could check it off. Here’s a view of both churches: IMG_5188

We then returned to our hotel to check out, and then walked to the train station. We stopped at a grocery store in the train station underground and picked up some cheese and crackers for Ellen and some fruit (yes, Passover is underway) for me.

It was a 3.5 hour train ride from Zurich to Milan. Comfortable and nice views of snow and Alps along the way. At the Milan train station, we found a 3 cellular store. For €25 each, we got SIM cards with 15GB each. SO. MUCH. DATA. Milan train station:IMG_5192

We’re staying at an AirBNB. The hostess provided good instructions to get there via tram or subway. The 3 employee suggested the tram, but we had trouble figuring out where to buy tickets. The train station was slightly sketchy, so once I verified that my phone had data and that Uber was available, I decided that’s how we were going. €10 to transport us and our luggage about a mile, money well spent!!

We met our hostess and love our apartment! We made a quick trip to the grocery store to buy stuff I can eat. We then walked about 1/2 an hour to dinner at Paper Moon. I will now use this as the standard for a caprese salad: IMG_5195

The mozzarella had taste! Ellen had pasta, I had a plateful (literally) of lamb chops.IMG_5196

Tomorrow, we will take in Easter in Milan and do a bunch of walking tours. The Italy portion is off to a good start!

Chile/Argentina Day 4: Day Was A Bus

This won’t be too long a post. 10 hours on a bus will do that. 

We got up early and Uber’d to the bus station in Valparaíso. Our CATA bus left right at 8am. 

The bus went through the Andes, where we saw snow and skiers. 

It was when we got to the border with Argentina that we came to a grinding halt. We were there for around 3 hours. We got our passsports stamped but then got back on the bus and waited some more. They did a hand search of our carry-ones and x-rayed a random sample of the luggage. Finally we were off.  There was a random stop where the driver went into a local police station, we don’t know what that was about. 

We arrived in Mendoza around 7pm local time (they are an hour ahead of ET). While I waited for the luggage, Ellen found an ATM to get Argetinan pesos. We got into a cab and we’re at our B&B a few minutes later. We are at the Casa Lila, a small and delightful place I will post pictures of once it is light. 

Got into our room, got a brief introduction from the hostess and we were off to dinner. 

We had 8pm reservations at Anna Bistro, which was just 4 blocks away. Since we were in Argentina, we went for meat. 

Budapest Day 6: Home & Endnotes

We had a smooth trip home. A taxi, arranged by our Airbnb hostess, got us out to the airport in plenty of time. We had leftover Hungarian currency, so we went duty free shopping. Candy, Hungarian liqueur and some more Havana Club rum soaked up the remaining funds.

I slept from Budapest to Frankfurt. We had only a little over an hour between flights, so we only had time to hustle to our new gate. We had to undergo additional security to fly to the USA, but that was just a series of questions about where we went, what we did and our occupations.

On the longer flight from Frankfurt home, I watched Misery Loves Comedy, The Edge of Seventeen, rewatched LaLa Land and a couple of Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes. Global Entry again made Customs and Immigration a breeze, we HIGHLY recommend it if you travel abroad even occasionally.

Budapest really impressed us as being a world-class city. It had culture, great restaurants, museums and historical sites. The people were welcoming and friendly, speaking English often enough in Budapest, less so when we were outside the city. It was EXTREMELY affordable. Our dinners, with appetizers, main courses, drinks and desserts never exceeded $70 for the two of us.

Our style of travel, doing everything ourselves, booking things in advance where possible and using public transportation everywhere we could worked perfectly in Budapest. We bought the Budapest Card , which included unlimited public transportation and discounts at a lot of places. We didn’t even worry so much if it paid for itself. It was just around $38 for a 72 hour card. Because we had unlimited public transit, we would jump on the subway or trams without a thought to cost (which was only around $1.25 per ride anyway). We like walking and did a lot of it, but because this was a condensed time period and we had so much to do, time was precious and there was almost always a way to use transit to save time. And it allowed us to use the bus and subway upon arrival without worrying about changing currency and figuring out the costs when groggy upon arrival.

We picked Budapest specifically because they had a half-marathon that worked with Ellen’s spring break. After I began consulting with SOS Children’s Villages, I inquired about the village visit. So those pieces worked so well together.

Thanks for reading along for another trip. If you’ve lurked and not liked a post up until now, please like this one so I’ll know. Lots of people I didn’t even know read this will tell me they like the blog.

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