Wrapping Up 2014!

31 12 2014

I am at the airport in Manila, the Philippines, waiting for my flight back to Tokyo.  Been busy or had little internet connection so days have gone by although I wanted to write daily about my trip.  But since it’s December 31, I’m going to do a wrap of the year 2014.

When I finished writing the above, it was time to board.  So I am back in my apartment in Tokyo before I leave for my parents’ for the new years.

January:  It became the final January to be attending the industry convention in Cannes, France I have been going to for the last 22 years although I did not know that at the time.  From 2015, it will be held in June when it’s supposed to be warm and sunny.  It also was the last time my best friend and I would rent an apartment together in Cannes, though we did not know that at the time either, as my friend got transferred to another group company in August.

February:  The Cannes trip lasted into the first week of February after which time I took advantage of my location to visit Monte Carlo, Monaco for the first time.  It rained throughout my short stay.

March:  At the end of March, I decided to visit another region with casinos, Macau, though it was just by coincidence.  Again, heavy rain at times but I was pleasantly surprised by the interesting mix of Portuguese and Chinese influences as I had been told otherwise – that Macau is small and it’s good only if you like gambling – not true.

April and May:  From the end of April and the first week of May, paid a visit to Boston, Massachusetts, US of A, upon request by my aging parents, where we used to live in the ’70s.  Met new and old friends, went to where we lived, places we used to visit, a perfect trip down the memory lane.

June:  Since I got rid of my cable TV subscription I started going to movie theaters again and probably during the month of June was when I went to see the most number of films.  This is the list.

July:  Almost every month my two good friends and I get together to eat different cuisines of the world and we always try to go to a new region except that in November we do French because of “Beaujolais nouveau” and in December we do “Christmas”.  This year we ate around the world by going to Sri Lanka, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, Chile, India, and Myanmar.  In July it was Chile at Mr. Eduardo’s.  His empanada which he made in front of us from scratch, as well as everything else, was beautiful.

August:  For my summer vacation I chose Poland as the place to visit and when I mentioned this to my German friend living in Berlin, she insisted I come and visit her as well.  So I did.  Warsaw, Krakow, and Berlin in ten days.

September:  A major change in my bathroom which I had been reluctant to do because I liked the design of the old one but it was getting too dangerous to not change.  Now completely updated, typically Japanese toilet installed and because of that, I was once again able to have guests at my place for the first time in a long time.

October:  My birthday month and celebration was to be had.

November:  My two most favorite musical groups, the Manhattan Transfer and New York Voices, were in town at the same time which interestingly enough gave me an opportunity to visit the Tsukiji Market for the first time.  Feeling very blessed.

December:  Finally a trip to the Philippines, Manila and Vigan, after offices closed for the new year holidays.  Things unexpected happened which I shall write about in the new year as I sort out my photos.

Hope more good things to come in 2015.  Happy and peaceful new year to all.





23 Hours in Monaco: the Final Moments

18 02 2014

So it was a short and very wet trip but I was glad I chose to stop by the sovereign state of Monaco if only to satisfy my curiosity and to cross it out from my list of unvisited places around the world.

Orange trees were everywhere.

Orange trees were everywhere.

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That would be the bar/lounge/pool area of where I was staying.

The bar/lounge/pool area of where I was staying.

It was still raining at 5 pm when I headed out to Nice Airport for an onward journey to Paris.





23 Hours in Monaco: the Rock

17 02 2014

So I didn’t really have it figured out that the huge cliff on which the Palace stood was called “The Rock” or “Le Rocher” and that it was the “Old Town” of Monaco which really proves I had not done any homework whatsoever upon visiting the region.

In any event, I went up to the Palace…

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23 Hours in Monaco: Walking in the Rain

16 02 2014

The rain got worse as the afternoon progressed on my one-day visit to Monaco.  I was, however, undeterred and kept going in the rain.  The way Monte Carlo is structured kind of helps even in bad weather.  The train station, for example, though would appear rather complicated for a first-time visitor, is built on a cliff and is split into many levels connecting streets at the top, middle, and the bottom of the cliff with platforms, passages, elevators, and escalators.

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Entrance at the top of the cliff.

The view across from the entrance.

You have to know on which platform to walk in order to get to the right exit at the other end.

You have to know on which platform to walk in order to get to the right exit at the other end.

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After I left the station, I went to the palace ground to have lunch and walk around the old town of Monaco.  By the time I came down from Le Rocher/The Rock on which the neighborhood stands, my feet were soaking wet I just had to change into something else.

My life-saver.

My life-saver.

Heavily reduced prices, too.

Heavily reduced prices, too.

New boots and tights.  Warm!

New boots and tights. Warm!

Back inside the station on my return trip to the hotel.

Back inside the station on my return trip to the hotel.

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23 Hours in Monaco: the Lunch

14 02 2014

I only had one chance to eat well in Monaco as I did not feel like going out the night I arrived and decided to stay in my hotel room.  The lunch on the following day was it.  I wished to try something local but wondered if there was anything local about Monaco being the small state it is.

Well, there is and it is referred to as “Monégasque Cuisine” and they served it at this restaurant right next to the Prince’s Palace of Monaco.

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What looks like pastries below is a local specialty called “barbajuan” and it tasted exactly like our “gyoza” with extra “nira” or garlic chives though with a different texture because of what it is wrapped in.  This kind of seemed hilarious as gyoza is far, very, very far, from being fancy partly due to the use of nira and often much garlic which give a strong garlicky flavor/smell to the dish.

These were fantastic.

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I have read that barbajuan stuffing is made from pumpkin and rice as well.

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