Philippines

Our beloved planet is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. Years, decades of travel, and amazing places keep coming out. In this case the Philippines, an archipelago of over 7000 islands , with spectacular beaches and seabeds.

Map of the places I visited :

Besides Manila, I went on the island of Palawan, in particular the archipelago between Coron and El Nido, and on some islands north of Cebu.

I’ll tell you my journey with photos, but first a little bit of history of Philippines.

“Noooo the history nooo… show us the pictures!”

Ok, I put it aside, actually it came out a bit too long. So, for those few who want to read a recap of the history of the Philippines, click here.

Ignorants, none of you clicked (I have the statistics updated per second). However ok, let’s see the photos.

 

Manila wakes up, and Dekaro with her. Thanks to the time zone difference I was unusually early-rising. The view is from my room in Makati, the financial district of Manila.

 

Makati street by night.

 

Buildings. There is not much to see in Manila because the city was almost completely destroyed by USA bombing during the Japanese occupation in the second World War and never recovered since then. Also, it is difficult to move around due to an incessant traffic jam.

 

As in many big cities of the world, there is a strong contrast between rich areas and poor areas, often one next to the other. I asked the taxi driver if these areas are dangerous. He responded enthusiastically that until a couple of years ago they were, but now, since there is Duterte, no more because whoever commits a crime “a couple of days later is shot in the head by two hit men on motorbike with black helmets”. I pointed out that perhaps it is a bit exaggerated as a method, but there was no way to convince him, he was instead increasingly passionate about the determination of the new president.

 

In Puerto Princesa, in Palawan. I’m inside one of the most used vehicle for public transportation in the Philippines: the motorized tricycles.

 

A little north of Puerto Princesa, there is a natural wonder: the underground river of Sabang. A little boat goes inside a cave for almost two kilometers, between stalactites and stalagmites.

 

In Coron Bay. The town of Coron is ugly, but the tours in its bay are among the most beautiful in the world. In particular, going inside some freshwater lagoons connected to the sea. I didn’t take photos of lagoons because often I had to reach them swimming. They are amazing: overhanging rock walls enveloping green waters. Likewise spectacular is snorkeling, with corals of all shapes and colorful fish. At one point I could even see a Japanese ship sunk during the Second World War!
This photo was taken near the Kayangan lake.

 

The “Jorizelle” is ready to weigh anchor for a three day tour from Coron to El Nido. It was the most beautiful part of the trip.

 

From time to time we landed on lonely islands. The seabed under the crystal water had corals and fish of all kinds.

 

Strip of sand in the sea.

 

In the night we stopped on small islands with bungalows.

 

And after, on the big blue again.

 

“And deep beneath the rolling waves, in labyrinths of coral caves, the echo of a distant tide comes willowing across the sand. And everything is green and submarine…”

 

It was fine.

 

Beaches, beaches, beaches… so many that you almost feel nausea at one point. You would almost prefer to stay on a sofa watching a Netflix series! I’m joking, of course. You never get tired, not even in ten lives.

 

The Moon and the Bonfires.

 

And at end, after three days, we reached El Nido. Like Coron, El Nido is pretty ugly but perfect as a base for tours around the archipelago.

 

Tourists swimming or kayaking towards the Great Lagoon. Even more spectacular is the Little Lagoon, which can only be reached by passing under a low rock with a kayak. Since almost none of the tourists was very practical in driving the kayak, it seemed like a huge bumper car, with kayaks instead of cars.

 

Boats parked on a beach.

 

The typical Filipino boat.

 

In Danao, just north of Cebu, where I had to take the ferry to the Camotes islands. I’m inside a taxi-tricycle, it’s a very common there.

 

In Pacijan, in the Camotes Islands. The streets are completely surrounded by greenery, it is very pleasant to roam randomly with the scooter. The people is very friendly and, needless to say, there are beautiful beaches.

 

A road in Poro, the second largest island of the Camotes, connected by a bridge to Pacijan.

 

Fishermen in Malapascua, another beautiful island.

 

Little girl forcibly turning the head of her brother to let me take a picture.

 

Boats in the island of Bantayan, my last stop.

 

Fishermen in Bantayan.

 

Fishing boats.

 

Cebu, the second city of the Philippines and former capital. Here too the contrast between rich and poor areas is evident. On this side of the river there is the island of Mactan, also called Lapu-Lapu, from the name of the ruler of the tribe that here defeated and killed Magellano in battle.

 

After that, the long return home. 32 hours from the hotel in Cebu to my room in Malta.

Porto & Azores

Hello everyone! This time a short trip to Porto and Azores, the Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, at 1400 km from the coast. So, we left with islands in the ocean (the Little Antilles) and we meet again with islands in the ocean. Since in the meanwhile I lived in another island, Malta, it is obvious that by now I need a blue sea barrier around, to protect me from a world that doesn’t love me anymore.

Mhmm, this is a little bullshit. But I don’t understand why when these bullshits are told by idiotic singers, scribes and similar, it means they have a poetic soul and sensitivity. When the same things are told by me, they are immediately recognized as bullshits. I can’t see the logic behind. Anyway yes, I agree it’s a bullshit.

But let’s go back to the trip. I visited Porto with an Abruzzese friend living in Malta, Giammangiato, to meet another friend who moved there from Malta few months ago, Riccardo. After, Giammangiato returned to Malta and I went with Riccardo to the islands of Sao Miguel and Terceira in the Azores.

I had already been in Portugal about fifteen years ago, but that time I had visited the south and Lisbon.

Let’s see the photos…

-”Dekaro, this is not Porto! It’s Valencia!”

Well done! And that is why I’m so proud of having you as my blog readers, cultured and attentive. It is in fact the Opera in the City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia, where, on the way, I stopped for one day and a half.

 

Another glimpse of the scenic City of Arts and Sciences.

 

Valencia, Spain’s third city after Madrid and Barcelona, was founded by the Romans in 138 BC. as a colony for war veterans. Between the 6th and 11th centuries it grew under Muslims until it reached its maximum splendor in the 15th century as the financial and economic capital of the Kingdom of Aragon. His decline started with the expulsion of the Moors in the seventeenth century. In the Civil War, as capital of the Republican, it was among the last to fall. In recent years, there is strong growth and economic recovery.

 

A round square, Plaza Redonda.

 

And here we are in Porto! To be precise, Port is the one on the right of the river. To the left is Vila Nova de Gaia, where most of the wine cellars that produce Port wine are located.

 

My Abruzzese friend, but now as me Maltese, Giammangiato, that in Italian means something like “Already eaten”.

 

Boats with wine barrels. In the background, Porto.

 

Inside a wine Port cellar.

For a series of climatic, environmental and geographical occurrences, the Douro region’s grapes are particularly sweet. To stop its fermentation is added aguardiente. So, it comes out a fortified wine particularly sweet and strong.
It is particularly loved by the British who have long been the main producers and importers.

 

Port barrels.

 

Port and Vila Nova de Gaia are connected by 6 bridges. This bridge, Dom Luis I, was designed by a student and colleague of Eiffel, Seyrig. The project for the bridge won against a project by Eiffel, but the influence of his master is evident.

 

Guys dive from Dom Luis Bridge.

 

The old Lello Bookstore, considered one of the most beautiful bookstore in the world.

 

Sao Bento railway station, covered with Azulejo, the painted ceramic tiles, typical of Portuguese and Spanish architecture.

 

And finally in the Azores. On the island of Sao Miguel, the largest. It is about 63 km long and 15 km wide.

The Azores are an archipelago of 9 islands of volcanic origin. We do not know exactly when they were first reached by Europeans. The islands are visible in some maps of the middle of the fourteenth century, although aligned in an almost horizontal position.

In 1432 Portugal claimed possession of the islands and began a faint colonization. There were no indigenous peoples.

The lonely islands in the middle of the Atlantic ocean have always been an useful stop-over for the intercontinental navigators (already Christopher Columbus stopped there returning from its first voyage from America). They have also an important strategic position and in the Second World War the US gained permission from Portugal to set up their own military base on Terceira Island. Needless to say, it is still there.

Statistical Pill: The United States has 800 military bases outside its own territories. But of course this is not because it’s the most monstrous imperialist machine of history, let’s not follow these old communist conspiracy theories. Those bases are there for us. To protect us. Protect us from whom? it is natural to wonder. But it’s obvious: by ourselves!

But let’s not wander off now. Let’s go back to the photos.

 

Riccardo, in the car, asks information in a Sao Miguel street.

 

In the interior of Sao Miguel there are many beautiful lakes.

 

The lakes shine in the colors of the rich vegetation around.

 

A typical Azores church. Azores people are very religious.

 

Cat resting.

 

Cliff of black Volcanic rocks by the sea. Some people use a natural swimming pool to take a bath.

 

Geyser.

 

Ducks on a lake.

 

A lonely duck.

 

Another duck. Yes, I’m specializing in photos of ducks. It’s time also for me to find a specialization.

 

Another amazing cliff.

 

Here we are in the other visited island, Terceira. Less spectacular than Sao Miguel but with a very beautiful town, Angra do Heroísmo, the historical capital of the Azores and the first to be founded in 1534.

 

Donkey.

-”Dekà, but put some photos of exotic animals. We can see cats ducks and donkeys also here!”

No, don’t start now with your usual boring criticisms. There are not exotic animals, there are those brought by colonists and are the same we have.

 

Finally, I visited another town north of Portugal, but I don’t tell you the name, you have to find out by yourself. As Valencia, it was founded by the Romans, went under Islamic domination and reached its maximum splendor in the centuries following the “reconquista”, becoming an important religious center.

Yes, that is! Good.

 

In the meantime, I have reached the age of forty-six! Ehhhh. 46 years and 96 nations visited. Not bad. So if I continue like that at 100 years I will have visited all the nations of the world! Actually no, I will do this: I will reach the 99th and I stop. Because at the end it was too much easy for me to reach one hundred. Yes, I know, I’m a little snob.