Madrid, the heart of Spain

Visited June 11-13, and 25. Madrid is located at the heart of the Iberian Peninsula.

Fuente de Neptuno (Fountain of Neptune) in the Plaza de Canovas del Castillo

Fuente de Neptuno (Fountain of Neptune) in the Plaza de Canovas del Castillo

Attraction Checklist:

  • El Estadio Santiago Bernabéu (June 11)
  • El Palacio Real (June 12)
  • La Puerta del Sol (June 12)
  • Plaza de España (June 13)
  • Avelan, Castilian bar-restaurant (June 13)
  • Temple of Debod (June 13)
  • El Museo del Prado (June 25)

Madrid, the capital of Spain, is located in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula along the Manzanares River, which is spanned by several historical bridges. Throughout Spanish history, Madrid’s identity has evolved with the influential periods of time, ranging from the Bourbon royals to the artistic vision of famous artists, such as Francisco Goya and Diego Velazquez.

We chose to visit Spain during the early summer: it was about 23-27ºC/73-81ºF, which was not so hot as in July and August. The weather was sunny and pleasant without being overbearing. Continue reading

Burgos and Santander, Mysteries in the Sun

Both places visited on June 14, 2011.

Burgos, Castile-León

Courtyard of La Catedral de Burgos

Courtyard of La Catedral de Burgos

Attraction Checklist:

  • El Catedral de Burgos
Gateway to Burgos

Gateway to Burgos

In 1034, Burgos was founded by the counts as the capital of the kingdoms of Castile, León, and Galícia. The gate of Santa Marie is the main entrance into the old part of the city. Beautiful carvings of historical people and legends decorate the gate. In the Squares of Rey San Fernando (King Saint Fernando) and Santa María, we had our first impression of El Catedral de Burgos (Cathedral of Burgos) that was built in 1221 by King Ferdinand III and Bishop Mauricio and dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Continue reading

Travels in China 2010: Overview

Bridge to Hongcun Village, Huangshan, Anhui (2010)

Bridge to Hongcun Village, Huangshan, Anhui (2010)

Private tour, except Suzhou and Hong Kong.

We chose to go on a customized, private tour hosted by Dragon Delight Tours. Below are the places we have visited during our second trip to China.

  • June 11-15, 2010: Shanghai (上海)
  • June 12, 2010: Shanghai World Expo 2010 Report
  • June 13, 2010: Suzhou, Jiangsu (江苏) province
  • June 16-18, 2010: Huangshan, Anhui (安徽) province [part I | part II]
  • June 19-20, 2010: Hangzhou, Zhejiang (浙江) province
  • June 21-22, 2010: Xi’an, Shaanxi (陕西) province
  • June 23-25, 2010: Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang (广西) province [part I | part II]
  • June 26-July 2, 2010:Hong Kong (香港), Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China
China 2010 Map courtesy of Google Maps

China 2010 Map courtesy of Google Maps

» Return to Project China

TRAVEL: Hong Kong

Visited June 25-July 2, 2010.

Panoramic View of Hong Kong City

Panoramic View of Hong Kong City

Attractions:

  • Mong Kok
  • Hong Kong City Hall, Central
  • Tsim Sha Tsui
  • Victoria Harbor
  • Hong Kong Disneyland (June 29)
  • Lei Yue Mun (July 1)

Hong Kong is a thriving metropolis that ranks as the fourth important financial center of the world after London, New York, and Tokyo. Its history as a British colony has influenced its worldwide perspective and diverse culture. Today, Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, meaning that it has autonomy on most affairs with the exception of foreign and defense affairs. Hong Kong can be viewed as an individual country, for it has its own flag, currency (Hong Kong dollar [HKD]), government, and official languages (English and Cantonese). Packed with 7 million people over several islands, the country is divided into districts: (1) Hong Kong Island (central, east, and south coasts); (2) Kowloon; (3) New Territories; (4) Lantau; and (5) Outlying Islands.

During our visit, we visited relatives and focused on the areas of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. We stayed six nights in Langham Place—a five-star hotel that is conveniently connected to a shopping mall. The location is in Mong Kok, a busy commercial area that has plenty of shopping malls, markets, and restaurants; I highly recommend this hotel for the convenience. Also, prices here are more reasonable than in, for example, the Tsim Sha Tsui—the tourist-heavy area.

One night we went to Central. The area is a well-known shopping, business, and government district. We went to dinner with relatives at the Hong Kong City Hall, where there is the renowned restaurant called Maxim’s Palace. We had an excellent meal of seafood, beef, and other delectable dishes. Continue reading

TRAVEL: Hangzhou, Zhejiang

Visited June 19-20, 2010.

Six Harmonies Pagoda garden

Six Harmonies Pagoda garden

Attractions Checklist:

  • Six Harmonies Pagoda (June 19)
  • Tea Museum at Meijiawu Village (June 19)
  • West Lake (June 20)
  • Lingyin (Heart of the Soul’s Retreat) Temple (June 20)
  • Romance of Song Dynasty Show (June 20)

Our visit to Hangzhou was delayed, because our ride was not at the airport when we arrived in Shanghai from Huangshan; as a result, we hurriedly called a taxi to go to our hotel in Shanghai at 1 AM and emailed our tour organizer of the incident. The following morning a guide and driver picked us up and took us to the Hongqiao train station, where we took the train to Hangzhou. The train ride from Shanghai to Hangzhou is approximately 45 minutes to one hour. The cost is ¥64 (~ $10 USD) for a one-way trip. Continue reading

TRAVEL: Shanghai World Expo 2010

Visited June 12, 2010. The expo opened from May 1 to October 31, 2010.

Netherlands Pavilion

Netherlands Pavilion

“Better City, Better Life” is the theme of China’s World Expo that ran from May 1 to October 31,2010 in Shanghai. Located along both banks of the Huangpu River, the expo site covers 5.28 square km and is an eye-catching sight when one enters Shanghai city. The expo alone hosted pavilions for 250 participating countries and international organizations. Over 73 million visitors have explored the pavilions—the largest attendance in world expo history thus far. Continue reading

Toledo, the Fortressed City

Visited on June 13, 2011. Toledo is located in the Castile-La Mancha region.

Panoramic View of Toledo

Panoramic View of Toledo

Attractions:

  • La Puerta de Bisagra
  • Town Hall
  • Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo
  • Fundación El Greco, the location of The Burial of Count Orgaz mural
  • Santa María la Blanca
  • Bridge of San Martin (west)
  • Puente de Alcántara (east)
Streets of Toledo

Streets of Toledo

We had woken up early at 6:30AM to head to the city of Toledo—a fortressed city approximately one hour from Madrid. Located along the Tagus River, the longest river in Spain, Toledo is known world-wide for its steel making and leather working. Local hotels in Toledo are called las cigarrales, Spanish-style country houses; in the past, nobles would stay at these “stately country houses” for recreation. In the past, Toledo was the Visigoth’s capital. The city was conquered by Alfonso VI during the Reconquista of Spain.
Continue reading

TRAVEL: Shanghai

Visited June 11-15, 2010.

Financial District in Shanghai

Financial District in Shanghai

Attractions Checklist:

  • Shanghai World Expo (June 12)
  • Yu Garden (June 14)
  • Jade Buddha Temple (June 14)
  • Nanjing Road (June 14)
  • The Bund (June 14)
  • Oriental Pearl Tower (June 15)
  • Shanghai Museum (June 15)

Did you know that license plates from other provinces are distinguished by a single, unique Chinese character? In Shanghai, license plates have the Hu character (沪), which is the name of a fishing tool made by the fishermen that lived in the pre-modern era and is also the nickname for this city. Since that time, Shanghai is one of the most prosperous and highly populated cities in China with more than 20 million people bustling through its streets. Located near the eastern coast, Shanghai is a municipality with its own government, so it is not a part of the Jiangsu province. Continue reading