Monday, June 22, 2009

An Island So Round

(Photo courtesy of Isis Bungalows, Panglao, Bohol)

"How can an island be so round?" asked Maui, a friend in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on seeing the photo I sent around. Balicasag island looks pretty impressive and awe inspiring from the air. Unfortunately, most people do not get too appreciate the beauty of this island (including myself) except for the photographer who snapped this photo. I didn't realize this was the same island I had visited in February until after I got back home. While reviewing the website for Isis Bungalows, the place I stayed at in Panglao, (Bohol, Philippines), I noticed this photo.

On Balicasag island, a big section off the beach is a marine sanctuary, a popular destination for divers and snorkellers who come to Panglao, Bohol. The tour starts at 6:00 am when the guide/boatman takes off from Alona Beach in Panglao. The first stop is an area where the flotilla of bancas of different sizes (paraus with double outriggers) slow down for dolphin watching. After that, on to Balicasag. The bancas stop their motor just outside of the reef, roped off with bouys. The reef is just under 3 feet of water but beyond, the water drops dramatically to a few hundred feet.

Too bad Larry the guide didn't let me go on the island when I asked. His response was, with a strange look, "What do you want to do there? There's nothing to see on the island!"

Saturday, June 20, 2009

On Vienna's Ring Road

Vienna's Ring Road, as the name suggests, goes around the inner city (Innerstadt). It is a semircular road which begins and ends on the Danube Canal (Donaucanal), divided into sections with different names. It can get awfully confusing. After a few times in the city, I finally figured out that all these names, e.g. Openring, Burgring, Schottenring etc., are one and the same road.

In April 2009, I stayed at a small hotel off Lerchenfelderstrasse, near the Vokstheatre on Museumstrasse. Next block over is the Burgring. The first photo shows the shortcut I took to get to Vokstheatre metro station. It is a former monastery with huge wooden gates, that close at 9:00 pm (I discovered late one evening.) It houses a Kandinsky museum, and a couple of chi chi cafes. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to check out the museum nor the cafes.

My point of reference was the Museum Quartier (second photo), a complex of 4 museums of modern and contemporary art, including one for Gustave Klimt. The courtyard of the MQ is becoming to be Vienna's meeting place, with cafes and a fountain. At night, it's the place to chill out for young people..

From the MQ, one can just walk across the Volksgarten to the Museum of Natural History and the Hofsburg Palace. In the palace, one can visit the Spanish Riding School. One side of the MQ, leads out to Mariahilferstrasse, a popular shopping street in Vienna, with many of the same chain stores one finds in a mall.

Further on the Ring road, on Openring, is Naschmarkt (third photo), where vendors sell fresh produce and exotic foods complemented by cafes and ethnic restaurants. A few blocks away is the Opera and Karlplatz. Coming out of the Karlplatz metro station, one is greeted with a view of a church with minaret-like towers, Karlkirche. If you keep going along the ring road, you'll get to the Stadt Park. At the Vienna Konzerthaus in the Stadt Park, I had the opportunity of listening to a Strauss concert for 30 Euros.

On the opposite direction, on the Ring road are the government buildings: City Hall, the Palace of Justice and the Austrian Parliament. If I have one more time to visit Vienna, my to do list consists of two things: the Spanish Riding School to check out the Lipizzaner horses, and Mozart's Requiem concert at Karlskirche (only on Saturdays I believe.)

A map of Vienna in Trip Advisor.