Archive for December, 2012

My European Trip Pt.15. Avignon , Carcassone, France

Hello ! Renxkyoko Iglesias here !   I greet you all a Happy Christmas and peace and goodwill to all, no matter what your religions are.



And here’s my humble wish list…. oh, please change the ’54 Covertible to a brand new  Beemer, 2 door.




. I’m not jumping for joy this Christmas. I’m  remembering  those 20 kids who were massacred in Connecticut, and what effect their deaths  are on their families. I wonder what the parents are feeling now. I wonder what the other 6 year old  twin is feeling now   that her sibling is gone.  I wonder what the parents are thinking as they go over their dead child’s stuff… their clothes, shoes, toys,  and the change of clothes before they went to school and never came home. . I’m not a parent, but I feel the pain so much. My tears have not dried up.


.To be honest, Christmas always makes me feel nostalgic  and  long for all the happier  Christmases past.


So, anyway, this post is about my trip to Avignon and Carcassone. Avignon and  Carcassone were mere side trips, although we did stay overnight in Carcassone.

Avignon is also called ” The city of Popes” because the Popes made Avignon their residence for over 100 years. This happened during the Papacy’s schism when there were 2 rival Popes who assumed the papacy, one residing in Rome, the other in Avignon.

The population of Avignon is 100,000, and about 12,000 live within the ancient town centre that is enclosed  by medieval ramparts or defensive walls

Below is the enclosed medieval town center, courtesy of Wikepedia.


.Photos below are the only ones I have of Avignon. It was raining very hard , and we stayed for  4 hours or so. We had lunch there and I also had “lavander” gelato ( ice cream). Growing lavander flowers ( for the essential oils) is one of Avignon’s main produce.



DSCN1179DSCN1180 DSCN1181

Do you see that red hood at right hand corner? That’s yours truly, ha ha. This time , that’s the only thing you see of me, he he he… No Monaco – like stuff.

.The photo below is the panoramic view of the center, courtesy of Wikipedia.


Next is Carcassone..

Carcassone consists of 2 areas, the upper part which is heavily fortified, surrounded by 2 outer walls  ( double ramparts) of concentric design. The fortress  that time was considered impregnable. The lower part is the area outside  the fortress. There are 53 towers, one of which is called The Inquisition Tower. It was used  during the Catholic Inquisition. ( I don’t like to talk about the Catholic Inquistion. Suffice it to say that the Inquisitors did indeed use torture to break the will of those they considered heretics ) I saw one original torture equipment employed by the Catholic Church . It ain’t pretty.

Below  are photos  of the fortress , courtesy of Wikepedia.




.Above is the view from my hotel room. Super, huh.



.Above photo is a medieval bridge going to the fort.


Another old bridge…..
















.So that’s it for Avignon and Carcassone.

I was supposed to post this before Christmas but I was so busy with holiday activities.  At      work, there were so many  late  holiday shoppers. The best one was on Christmas Eve when a Hongkong businessman came in, a regular client, who bought all the clothes I showed him, mostly Runway clothes. Runway meaning, clothes that have been designed for a runway show of the designer.  I wore each design and showed it to him. So happy that he bought the designs, all sizes. I got a free Runway blouse for a job well done. I’m sure I’m going to get another silver circle.

So, here’s my new blouse. That’s a Runway blouse, okay? * happy dance*



Of course we knew the businessman was coming, so I  had to wear a 4 inch heels, put on makeup, do my hair, etc.  I got 2 more free runway dresses this december.  Almost all our big time clients are Asians ( Japanese, Chinese, Singaporean, Indonesians, Koreans )…. I’m Asian, so I;m the one who gets to wear and show off  the clothes. I have the body build of  an Asian , petite, small boned, etc. They want to see how each dress looks on an Asian girl. So, yeah, that’s part of my job. And I always get something free, right off the bat. Like that red blouse. My manager told me not to take it off anymore. It’s mine.

This is all for now. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL ! !

Ooooops ! !

Hello !

I feel a bit down that some readers didn’t take well my last post on Monaco .  I know why, and  I guess, I agree with them.  I don’t know if I will have to take out the rest of our night out photos  at Monte Carlo. Those are the only pictures I have of the place, all with me in it, cleavage and all.  Sorry. Aaaaargh .  * runs off*

maybe just the street signs….. * walks off , head hanging down*






My European Trip, Part 13, Monaco

Hello ! Renxkyoko Iglesias here.


My schedule  has been quite hectic since November . Fall semester is going to end soon, and that means, final exams, and submissions of all school projects. Also, I now work longer hours at my  two part time jobs.  I come home at 11 PM almost everyday. So, my apologies for  not visiting your blogsites . Believe it or not, I have, to date , 5,137 unread emails.


So, anyway, this is my 13th post and it’s  about my trip to Monaco.

Okay, to us, peons, Monaco is definitely out of our league.  It  is the recreation center for the rich and famous.

Monaco is officially called The Principality of Monaco.  It is a sovereign city -state and is located on the French Riviera. It’s just 16 km. from Italy and 13 km. from Nice, France. We stayed overnight at Nice, by the way. I assume the tour company couldn’t afford the hotels in Monaco. One thing, parking there is like , 125 Euro /hour.( $165 ).  Yep.


.Monaco has an area of just 1.98  sq. km. ( .76 sq. m. ), with a population of a little over 36,000, making it one of the  smallest countries in the world, second only to The Vatican , and  the most densely populated place in the world. It’s a constitutional monarchy, headed by Prince Albert II , the son of Prince Rainier, and Princess Grace ( American actress Grace Kelly ), both deceased.  The House of Grimaldi have ruled Monaco since 1297.


.Above is the Mediterranean Sea.


.Do you know why the rich come to Monaco and take up residence there? It has no income tax, and  has very low business taxes. In other words, a tax haven.


.Monaco’s official language is French, and official religion is Roman Catholicism.  I guess there’s no separation of church and state in their Constitution.  Although it is independent and has  full voting rights at the U.N. , France is responsible for Monaco’s defence.


Look at all those yatchs  that are  docked  at Port of Hercules. Do you have any idea how much it costs to park a yatch  at the port? Our tour manager gave a figure but I couldn’t believe it. I won’t tell. You wouldn’t believe it, either.


.Monaco’s only natural resource is fishing. There’s no  agriculture whatsoever. Most of the state’s income comes from tourism,  services , banking, and yes, the Casinos at Monte Carlo.  Monaco is subdivided into 3 municipalities ;  Monte  Carlo,  La Condamine, and Monaco-Ville.


.We arrived in Nice,  at our hotel,, dressed up for our Monaco tour that included a $ 75 a person optional dinner , and  drinks and some gambling  at  Le  Cafe de Paris.  We took  a walking tour of Monte Carlo.


.Monaco has the world’s  highest GDP nominal per capita at $ 154,000, with unemployment rate at 0% ( yes, zero ! ),  and check out those residential buildings above…….. the real estate market as of 2011 is $66,000 per square meter., the world’s highest. And do you notice how clean the streets are? I swear I can eat food off that street. The place is just too clinical.


.Monaco also has the lowest poverty rate in the world, and has the most number of millionaires and billionaires per capita.



.I really find that statue of a baby a bit odd, considering that it’s in front of the Oceanographic Museum.



Above is the cathedral where Prince Rainier and Princess Grace got married.



.Sorry  but I  feel I have relegated myself to posting some old royal wedding picture stuck on one random street post. Monaco is a place fo the rich and famous, but not for me who gets excited to see ancient ruins and piles of rock the ancients had used at one time.




Above is where we had dinner.



Our  $75 .00 dinner.


.Tuna, anchovies, olives, greens, half boiled egg, cucumber, and tomatoes.  I liked the salad… and to be honest, the anchovies made it really delicious.


.Chicken didn’t taste good….. the tomato sauce tasted like rust, fries were very limp, the beans were overcooked.


.Egg custard dessert……. I make a better custard than that. I call it leche flan. I could tell they included the egg whites to save on the cost, I guess. The texture of the custard is different if it’s pure yolk.  I expected  we’d get at least a spoonful of caviar.

Next photos were our night out at Monte Carlo Grand Casino. No, we didn’t go inside. hahaha….. We went to the  side casino, the one on the left,…. that was the one  for  common folks.








.These next 2 photos are the only ones I have of Nice, France.  We didn’t  have time to walk around and take pictures.DSCN1176.DSCN1122

.So, that’s it for Monaco.  To be honest, I’m not into Monaco. Yes, it’s a beautiful place. It’s very clean,  everything ‘s spic and span, nothing is out of place. It’s like a fairy tale land.  But I think it’s too clinical. There’s nothing spontaneous about the place.  It’s like coming from an amusement center, and then stepping into a hospital.  Ah, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me.  I should have got down on my knees  and  licked  a street .  That would a nice tale to tell my future kids, ahaha.

OMgosh, it’s almost  here.  Christmas, my most favorite holiday.

To Christians, Happy Christmas .

To Jews, Happy Hannuka ! ( Hanukka? )

To all the rest, Happy Holidays and Peace to you all ! !

Avignon, Carcassone and maybe Barcelona is next.  PEACE !

My European Tour Pt. 12 Florence, Italy

Come, Ren , say Hi !



My 12th post is about my visit to the city of Florence , the capital city  of  the region of Tuscany.  Florence is a city that sparked The Renaissance and  is also the birthplace of Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Boticelli,  Dante , Machiavelli, Florence Nightingale, the powerhouse Medici family, and  * cough * Gucci, and Ferragamo.  It  was a rich medieval city , the centre of trade and finance during the Middle Ages,  the centre of music ( Florence was where Opera started ) and  was considered the wealthiest city at that time, and today, has been ranked as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  The Italian language used to be just a Florentine dialect,  but was adopted as the language of choice for the whole of “united ” Italy.

We did the city tour on foot. We were happy  we had a   Florentine tour guide  that had a sense of humour v and was  most passionate about the city.  ( Well, he always compared Florence to Rome, Venice, etc.,  )  He was very effusive, lively, and  very demonstrative of his feelings .   Perhaps he was  just being very  Italian.

On the way to Florence…. Behold ! Tuscan countryside !


City of Florence under the Tuscan sun.


.Below was our tour guide. Look at his right hand… he was really emoting, and almost singing his description of the beauty of his city.


.Just to let you know I was at Via Torta…. Hmmm, torta is what I have for breakfast  almost everyday.



.The buildings  look shabby and run-down, but actually , they are just gloriously old..  They are well-preserved 600 year old medieval buildings. DSCN0982

.Above is my group…. Huh ?  My back looks fat ! ! =_=”   ( That’s me in white hat and striped shirt )

Below is the Piazza della Signoria.  On the left side is Michaelangelo’s statue of David, in front of Palazzo Vecchio.


Palazzo Vecchio



455. Michaelangelo’s David. That’s a copy. The real thing is in the museum, which is where it should be.




Behind me is the Fountain of  Neptune. This statue was made in 1565, commissioned for the wedding  of one of the  Medici sons. The fountain itself was the terminal of an ancient Roman aqueduct ( like The Trevi Fountain in Rome ) and is still functioning  today.  The  Medici family were the most prominent in Florence. Two Popes came from their clan, but the more famous son, Lorenzo de Medici, was a great patron of the arts. He was an accomplished musician himself, and commissioned works by Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticceli, all Florentines by birth.  Then and to this day, he was known as Lorenzo, the Magnificent.  The most famous political  writing of Niccolo Machiavelli, ” The Prince“, was dedicated to Lorenzo.


I assume we all know of Machiavelli?  His name has become synonymous with opportunism, scheming, deceit, cunning, etc. . In his book, The Prince, Machiavelli emphasized the use of deceit, brute force, elimination of rivals,  etc. to achieve political stability and power . The end justifies the means  neatly sums up the theme of his book.   




430.Above is the Basilica di Santa Croce ( Basilica of the Holy Cross ), built in 1294..  It is a Franciscan Church, and  is the burial place of  Michaelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Rossini, and other notable Italians. On the left, you can see the statue of Dante. The designer of the church’s facade was Jewish. Take note The Star of David  at the top.  He also wanted to be buried there, but since he wasn’t Catholic, he was buried under the porch, and not within the walls of the church.


.The dormitory of the Franciscan friars is now a Leather School. We toured the place and watched how they crafted the purses, bags, etc. We also bought purses. I bought 2 bags. Florence is also known for their leather crafts.


Having lunch. Do you see that small bowl on the table ? That was a bowl of pasta  ( with just white sauce) and it cost $15. The small pizza was $14.  Very expensive.  Below was the open air restaurant where we had lunch.  Oh, by the way, do you see the lady taking a picture?  She kind of looks like a zombie.



.Do you see the yellow middle building? That was Michaelangelo’s workshop.


.Above is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, also called the Duomo, was built in 1296, and completed in 1436. The design was Gothic. The cathedral complex  , just like in Pisa, includes the the Cathedral, the Campanille ( freestanding belltower) and the Baptistery. ( where people are baptized). Below is the picture of the facade, courtesy of Wikipedia.



DSCN0990.The Belltower ( Campanille)





.I’ve said before that the beauty of Europe is man-made, haven’t I ? This is why I want to show intricate details of  these amazings buildings. They are  so breathtakingly beautiful.  Can you imagine if these structures were destroyed by numerous wars , or  by  natural elements ?


.The cathedral ‘s exterior walls are made of white, green and red marbles.


That dome is made of bricks and is the first  octagonal dome that was built with no external buttresses to keep the structure from spreading and  falling.  Lifting over 4 million bricks was an engineering feat by the engineer who built the dome,  Brunelleschi.  He invented the machines to hoist the bricks up to the top.


Above is the statue of  Brunelleschi  outside a palace, just across from the cathedral,  looking up towards  his achievement, which is still the largest masonry dome in the world.


.I  managed to take a picture of an open doorway of a private residence.   That’s a beautiful indoor courtyard.



Above is another church. On a walking tour, we passed by several more churches like the one above. It’s amazing. These churches are a mere walking distance from each other.  One Aussie guy in our group called it ABC.  Another Bloody Church.  Oy ! o_O”

Walking from 8 to 5 was really tiring. But it didn’t  stop us from taking another walk –  around  at the hotel.


.And relaxing , while waiting for dinner .


The view from our hotel room.


This is it for now. Monaco, Avignon, and Carcassone are next.

Good day to all, and PEACE !  Oh, and it’s December now . Wow !  Happy Holidays to all ! ( I hope I’m first to greet my dear readers )