La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (part 3)

La Cruz is a nice small village. A few thousand people and a few more during the winter months. Many fishermen. The mercado is always busy in the morning. I like to look but the smell is the  what you expect in a fish market. So I never stay very long around. Sailboats and yachts for sea lovers. I prefer to stay on land and look at the sea. But if you want  you can go on excursion on catamaran or sailboat.

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The streets are not all paved. I mentioned  it in a previous post. Most of them are dirt or simply paved with some rocks. The cars cannot drive very fast. Some streets have no street lights. You can walk in the middle of the street or on the sidewalk but you always must be looking where you walk (there are holes and uneven sidewalks). I prefer to wear my running shoes when I walk in the village. It is not a place for fancy shoes.

There is a large park that is often busy with entertainment. We see a lot of signs “SE VENDE” (for sale). Some buildings are very old.  Or  they look old. There are enough stores to find what we need. Many seem to sell the same things. There are enough restaurants also. Some are more for the people who come here to spend winter  (The gringos). Sometimes,  there is just a grill installed on the side of the road. They put a table and a few chairs and they wait for customers. dsc00400

This is a bit like in Vietnam. Cooking outside, eating outside. We like TACO ON THE STREET. It is a simple restaurant with tacos. Very good. They also have flan for dessert. And it is very inexpensive.

We go for our usual walk at the marina in the morning and also we walk on the street where they have the market. Every Wednesdays, the street has vendors: kitchen stuff, clothing, toys, CD and also some fruits and vegetables. I really don’t see anything interesting. Later we will go again for our walk on the beach. My collection of sea glass is getting bigger. And every time we collect the glass, the beach is safer. I would be sorry to know someone has walk on broken glass. The glass we find is not always soft. With my collection I will try to be creative. I will keep only the best sea glass and play with it. Then I take a photo of my creation and put the sea glass back in the container. Here is an example of what I have done.

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Why do I like so much Mexico ? The sunny days allow us to spend more time outside without having to bundle. It is a vacation for our normal day life and I must assure you that it is very pleasant. I really enjoy the sky and looking at the ocean.

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Flowers are beautiful.

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I also have a chance to practice the language. I have been taking lessons before and I feel confident to speak it . For me, learning some words spoken in any country I travel is important. At least  very basic words like : Hola, adios,  por favor, gracias.  But now that I have started to learn Italian, I get a little confused but it is OK. French, Italian and Spanish have lots of similarity. So if I say per favore instead of por favor, they will understand !

On my next post, I will talk about Puerto Vallarta.

Adios y hasta la próxima!

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (part 2)

In this post you will know more about this village we stayed.  La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.

When on vacations, I barely look at the calendar but I try to know what day of the week it is. We get up when we are ready. In La Cruz, we like to go for our morning walk before breakfast and before it gets too hot too. We walk by the marina. The smell is not very nice but it is fun to see the action. Customers come early to get fresh fish.

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Men are chatting. I notice how the Mexicans never run. Why should they? The sun rises. They get up. The sun moves slowly and when it sets, they also call it a day. No need to be stressed. They do not look stress but I also know that most of them are not rich. They have a simple house, a simple life.

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Many of them have never traveled outside their country. Our morning walk last about one hour. After that, I am ready for my second shower of the day!

La Cruz is a small village a few thousand people. Many people                  (Canadians  or Americans ) come here to spend winter away from snow, cold and rain. Here at Villa Amor del Mar, I enjoy the quiet garden. When I am too hot, I refresh in the pool for a few minutes.

I like to walk in the village. There are very few cars. Many streets are just cobblestones. I think the main street is paved and most of the streets are just like the one you see here.dsc00187

People hang their clothing to dry. Why not ? It is sunny and it will dry in no time.dsc00197

I will show you a few of the birds we see.  The first one is an egret.  Probably the snowy egret. Which is a small white heron.

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You might know more than me about those birds. If you do, tell me what you think those are. Thanks.

More on La Cruz in my next post. Hasta luego!

 

 

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (part 1)

Viva Mexico!

We are in a small village of the state of Nayarit. La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.

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I wake up around 8:30 so in reality it is early ( because there are two hours difference in time with home).  I am ready to enjoy the sun. I go on our balcony to listen to the sound of the waves.  I see the vendors installing their stuff for Sunday market.

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We made the plan to go later after coffee and breakfast. I even have time to read in the morning. A real sign that I am on holiday. I never read during the day  at home. I like to look at the action in front of our place. I see a man fishing with a net. This is often the way they do it in Mexico. We take our time and only when we are ready we go to the market. We are looking for cheese, strawberries, nuts and bread. I even spot a cute little beach dress. And I buy it.

Later in the afternoon, we go for our walk on the beach and I start my collection of sea glass. We find a lot a sea glass. Dark green,  light green, brown, white. I find also some interesting shells and some rocks. We walk for about one hour, slowly. We are going to do it everyday. I just love it.

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I should talk a little about the little B & B where we stay. It is called Villa Amor del Mar. Chris and Cindy Bouchard own this place. They are fantastic people.  This is the perfect spot for a wonderful relaxing vacation. After being there 3 times, I feel so at home there. And of course, we know better the village also. In the next photo, you see the pool and the beach is right there (the light in this  picture is not the best). We can use the paddle board if we want or just relax in the sun or in she shade.

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You can check it out here:  http://www.villaamordelmar.com/

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When we are at the villa , I like to get up early to see the sunrise. It is so nice. I take pictures and quickly I send them to  friends  or family. I like to share those special moments. I am sure you also  enjoy sunrises and sunsets.

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For me it is a little paradise. I can’t wait to go back  again. Does that sound a great spot for you ? Let me know what you think ! I will talk more about the village on my next post. Thanks for reading. Hasta luego.

 

 

Flying to Mexico

Hello readers !

Another adventure, another story to share with you.  Phillip Pullman said:  “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” Do you think he is right ?  I am happy to tell my stories and I certainly think someone will be happy to read it also.  If  you have time . I try to make it short  (only 377 words here)…  Here is another of my travel story. If you have been traveling to Mexico, tell me where as I still want to see more of this amazing country.

We have been many times to Mexico but I realize that I never blog about it.  To make it easy to remember I started to write a journal every day. I decided to write in present tense. I notice this way of writing while I was  reading a book and I liked this idea.  Present or past, what is better to use ?

“I wake up early. Earlier than my normal time. I almost never use my alarm clock. The night before our departure, I set up my alarm but forgot to put it on! We used to have to get up at 3 AM for a 6 or 6:30 departure from YVR. Now, we have a better flight. We leave from Abbotsford airport. Departure at 9:25 with a direct flight to Puerto Vallarta. We leave the house. It is dark and it is raining. Bye bye rain ! Good to know we are going to have many sunny days for the next 3 weeks. Yes, 3 weeks, this is great.

We fly over Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico. We are going to spend one week in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, about 25 km north of Puerto Vallarta. Then, 2 weeks in Puerto Vallarta.

I love looking at the earth. I like to take photos of what our beautiful earth looks like from above. This is what I want to share with you  now.”

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We are flying over Mexico and we can see the Pacific Ocean.

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Finally, we  are almost landing and we can see buildings and some hotels.

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I will tell you more about our time in Mexico in my next  post. If you have read my post until here , do not forget to tell me you favorite city in Mexico . Gracias.

Hasta luego!

 

 

 

Florence

Florence will be the last city we visited on this European trip. We did not have much time  to spend there.  The center of the city is very compact and can be visited by foot in a day or two if it is all what you have.  Our hotel was well located. Probably less than 700 meters from the famous Ponte Vecchio.

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Florence’s most famous bridge is lined with gold and silver shops, diamonds also . The bridge is always busy with people walking and taking pictures! Not sure if people are buying but looking is fun and free.

We walked up some stairs and reached Piazzale Michelangelo. Great view on the city from there because we had to go up.  We could see the whole center of the city and of course the Duomo.

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Every corner of the city is interesting.  Most churches now operate like museums, charging  an admission fee to see their art treasures.  The Duomo   also called Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral was free.  The Church’s noisy neo-Gothic façade from the 1870s is covered with pink, green and white Tuscan marble. The inside of the Dome  is decorated by one of the largest painting of the Renaissance, a huge Last Judgment by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari.  We spent about 30 minutes inside.

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Many piazzas,  sculptures  and  great architecture everywhere. Florence is a very touristic city. We saw many people traveling in group.  The city is safe and if you like walking you can just do it  all day long.  You cannot get bored as long as you stop to rest, have a gelato or a cappucino.  This is Italy !  If you like Renaissance paintings you go to the Uffizi Gallery.   In the Uffizi’s courtyard , many artists and statues of Florentines like Galileo, Dante, Machiavelli , Michelangelo, Vespucci and “the mangificient ” de Medici.

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dsc03922If you want to see David , you go to the Accademia but you can also see him at the  Piazzale Michelangelo and here it is free . I only show you the back here !!!

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If you’ve been to Italy, you know how great is to visit  the country, enjoy the food and the wine. The people are friendly. They speak English. The trains are not expensive and  are  easy to take . I am already thinking I want to go back!

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”                   Aldous Huxley

I hope  you enjoyed my posts on Italy. It will be the last post  on this trip. Other adventures and travel next week.

Grazie e ciao !  Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Lucca and Pisa

We left Cinque Terre and again we traveled by train. We were lucky that Trainitalia was not on strike anymore  as it had been the previous day. We had booked a  B & B to spend  3 nights in Lucca.

The first afternoon, we  went to explore the fortified city  surrounded by well-preserved ramparts.  The 2.5 miles path is ideal for an overview of the city by foot ( or bike).  Lucca’s wall effectively keeps out both traffic and it seems the stress of modern world. Locals are very protective of their wall, which they enjoy like a community garden. This city is simply a uniquely human and undamaged, never-bombed city. Romanesque churches seem to be around every corner as do fun-loving and shady piazzas.

We bought the combo ticket that allowed us to see the Museum of the Cathedral, the Cathedral, the campanile (bell tower) and also  see San Giovanni  Church.

The construction of  San Martino Cathedral  started in the 11th century. It is a mix of architectural and artistic styles. Its elaborate Pisan-Romanesque façade- featuring Christian teaching scenes, animals, and candy-cane-stripped columns- dominate the piazza. The façade’s central figure is St.Martin. This façade is asymmetrical. The inside was beautiful.

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After visiting the Cathedral, we went up the bell tower. I asked the young man how many steps we had to climb. The answer was 217.  The view on the city was good.  Mountains, red roofs,  clock tower,  Guinigi Tower with its garden on top (to the right on the photo below).

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In its heyday, Lucca packed 160 towers-one on nearly every corner- and 70 churches within its wall. No wonder I am always amazed to see so many churches when I travel to Europe. Each tower was the home of a wealthy merchant family.

In San Giovanni Church  is where there is concert with Puccini  music every night. He was born in Lucca. We climbed the bell tower of that church.  From above, we could see the Cathedral, the bell tower of the Cathedral and the piazza San Martino.

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Lots of bicycles in Lucca. Many are leaning on a wall waiting for a ride.  On nice days (even in the rain) people ride their bikes. It is a great city to walk and  enjoy the architecture.

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The next day we took a bus to visit Pisa. Piazza del Duomo was nicknamed the “Campo dei Miracoli” or Field of Miracles for the grandness of the undertaking . There were lots of tourists. dsc03200

Pisa’s bell tower is nearly 200 feet tall and 55 feet wide. The first stones were laid in 1173. It started to lean almost immediately after construction began. The heavy Tower-resting on a very shallow 13-foot foundation- was obviously sinking on the south side into the marshy, multilayered unstable soil.  The tower was built over two centuries by at least three different architects.  In 1990, the Tower was closed for repairs and $30 million (US) was spent trying to stabilize it.  It was reopened to the public in December 2001. Every 30 minutes, 30 people can go up the 294 tilting stairs to the top. We did not go  up.

We visiting the Cathedral.  The 320 foot-nave was the longest in Christendom when it was built. The stripped marble and arches-on-columns give it an exotic, almost mosque–like feel.  There was so much to admire again. The large paintings, the 15 foot tall octagonal pulpit sculpted by Giovanni Pisano, the dome, the stain glass, the ceiling, the floor .

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Then, we walked away for  Campo dei Miracoli to have a feel of the city. It was interesting as not many people go  to other areas of the town. More than 45,000 students keep this city alive. The weather was excellent. It was a good day to  explore. We found a good gelateria. We indulged (again)!

Back in Lucca  for the rest of the day and one night before going to Florence by train.

It will be the story of my next post.

 

 

 

Cinque Terre ( part 4)

That day, we took the train to Manarola to start  the  hike. We were going with Philippe and Mireille to Riomaggiore.  It was not a very long hike.

Riomaggiore (meaning river major) is built into a river gorge. It has a tiny harbor protected by large slabs of alabaster and marble which serve as tanning beds for sunbathers. The town is a fascinating tangle of pastel homes leaning on each other like drunken sailors.

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After a snack and a drink, we said good bye to our friends. We had time to do more walking.   We went up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Montenegro. We could not go inside  the sanctuary  but we enjoyed  the hike and the view on the Ligurian Sea ( an arm of the Mediterranean Sea).

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We took the train back to Vernazza .  We  watched the sunset from our deck.

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The next day was our last day in Cinque Terre. We stayed in the village. I took more photos.

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By chance, I met our friends Barbara and Michel from Paris. They were also visiting Cinque Terre with some friends. It was  great to see them. We had spent time with them last year in Paris.

I went back to the beach before dinner.

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I must say this time in Vernazza was very special. The hikes were good and the ambiance of this  small village  was  great. By the end of the day, it was quiet. We could have a drink by the harbor,  find a restaurant for dinner and enjoy the quietness of our room way above the village ( 100 steps to go up and down the main street).

A little sad to leave Vernazza  but our trip is not over  yet. Thanks for reading.