Friday, April 13, 2012

Trip to Campillo de Ranas, Guadalajara in Spain

Last Mothers' Day in May of 2012, Mel, Ron and I spent the day in Campillo de Ranas, a municipality located in the province of Guadalajara, Castille-La Mancha, Spain.  It took us less than two hours by car from our place.

The weather was not too good this time, it was cold and windy.  We brought some food from home such as: squid in paprika, olives, wine, bread, etc, and we went to a bar for soda and fried squid to go.  We found refuge  in a nearby church  which really sheltered us from the cold winds and drizzles and it provided us a place to eat our lunch.

After lunch, we decided to take a walk in spite of the bitter cold, although there was only light rain. The town is famous for its buildings that combine to perfection stone, slate, and wood and these provide the most attractive welcoming sight in the area.

We saw an empty house under construction and we pretended that we were cleaning our house.

For a while the sun shone and gave us the chance to take pictures of the water from the rain dripping on some plants and see the creek without the rain.

We were lucky we had coincided with the rainbow after the light showers, which also produced a beautiful effect in some pictures.

The town was also almost empty as if all the neighbors conspired to be away to sleep siesta to allow us to enjoy and take funny pictures.

Ron had his camera on a stand and set up automatically for the shots.  The stand is small but it can be clutched around a branch of a tree that made it possible to take our picture of the three.  At first, I remembered the idea of our Philippine pose of a flying witch and Mel thought about Mary Poppins.   However, since we did not have a broom, they used my trekker cane.  Unfortunately, after a few shots, my cane broke into two so they used them as spades.  I did not realize that my shadow was being taken.

The sun seemed to be peeping every now and then to see what we were doing and so did an old man that lives in the town.  He probably heard our laughter and  he stood at a distance to observe us.  After all,  Ron and Mel put on quite a show...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy Meal Project, Sally Davies

Why We're Scared Of Happy Meals
By Kristian Laliberte
Art & Culture Refinery 29
New York, USA
Aug 26, 2010 4:00 PM

It's pretty much conventional wisdom that you don't head to McDonald's for a healthy treat. And, if you've seen Fast Food Nation, you'll know that the chain's offerings have got a whole lot of icky ingredients. Though we don't really like to think about that while munching on a Big Mac, NYC artist Sally Davies did, creating the Happy Meal art project that provides evidence that Mickey D's food really is the worst shiz you can put in your body. Davies took a Happy Meal sized burger and fries, put it on her living room table, and as Bravo says, decided to "watch what happens." She photographs said meal every day, and 137 days into the project (with no end in sight), the results are remarkable in the fact that they're really unremarkable. To our eyes, the burger and fries look exactly on the same on day 1 as on day 137. (As published Aug 26, 2010).

Today,  Davies  celebrates the second year anniversary of what is known as "'Happy Meal Project', by distributing in internet the daily photos that she takes of  the bread, meat and fries that she acquired 730 days ago.

Until now, the only changes observed is that the bread has become dry and broken into two in some parts, while the hamburger meat, after the first few days, became like a "stone" and had shrunk a little bit,  whereas the French fries maintained almost the same appearance.

Davies, in this way, defends that the food has experimented certain dehydration but has not initiated the process of putrefaction, indicating its poor nutritional values observing that  "the food does not rot nor decay with the passing of time".

Davies began her artistic career as a painter for more than three decades and her paintings have appeared in various tv series, like "Sex in New York", although her huge step in photography started more than 15 years ago.

Source:  El April 11, 2012.

I wonder how this will affect the burger sales from fast foods chains like McDonald's or Burger King.  We will probably hear about this topic from the nutritionists sooner than we expect.  But in the meantime, do not be hungry yet.

Read more... Why McDonald's Happy Meal hamburgers won't decompose - the real story behind the story.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Unique Flowers in Thailand

Every year during the first weekend in February, Thailand celebrates itss the Chiangmai Flower Festival. This is Thailand's greatest flower show, featuring a parade of floats made with colorful flowers, beautiful Thai and hill tribe girls in traditional dress, a Miss Chiangmai Flower Festival beauty contest and loads of exotic plants and flowers on display.The city is awash with vibrant colors ranging from the electric orange and lilac colors of the bougainvillea to the velvety blossoms of petunias in all shades of pink, white and purple. The strident red of the poinsettias, bought by many at Christmas and New Years, is echoed by beds of scarlet salvias. Homes and shop owners alike line the city streets with colorful flower boxes. The sheer profusion of color that the flower festival and carnival brings to Chiangmai aptly gives the city its name “Rose of the North”.
On all three days of the festival, prize blooms are on display at Suan Buak Haad near the city center. Every type of flower, miniature tree and orchid is put on display for the judges to choose the best of the species. Landscape specialists put on an elaborate display, which includes patios and waterfalls with exotic decorative plants and flowers.
Source:  All Thailand Experiences

Some of their native flowers are:

1) Bat flower white and Bat flower black: A very unusual species with black bat shaped flowers up to 12" across, and long 'whiskers' that can grow up to 28". Tacca chantrieri grow wild in the tropical forest  where they can get as tall as 36". These beautiful flowers grow best in well-drained soil and high humidity.  Source:  Van Bourgondiens' website.

2)  The Plumeria Tree-  The plumeria, or frangipani, is a flowering shrub or small tree which grows in tropical climates. The plant produces white, yellow, pink or red flowers that range from two to four inches across. The flower is fragrant and waxy with five petals, each tucked under one of its neighboring petals and layered above the other. The leaves are large and leathery, growing up to 20 inches long and 3 inches wide. The plant needs a frost free environment to survive.FloriData: Plumeria spp. Common Species: Plumeria rubra; Plumeria obtusa; Plumeria pudica      

The Plumeria Metallica Thai

3) Parrot Flower, "Impatiens psittacina". Known to the people of Thailand as "Dork Nok Khaew". Impatiens psittacina Facts: Size: Plant grows to app. 6 feet (1.8) meters Leaf : Broad, sharply pointed, to 2 1/2 inches (6 cm) Flower size: App. 2 inches (5cm) Stem thickness: To 1/2 inch (1.5cm) Bloom season: October/November in Thailand Growing conditions: Tropical, humid, and moist. Source:  The Exotic Rain Forest.

Added to the wonderful collection of their orchids, Thailand, I would say is a beautiful country of flowers.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Trip to Alcala de Henares, Madrid

Last March 17 of 2012, Ron, Mel and I went to Alcala de Henares, a nearby town where the house of Cervantes is located.   Alcala de Henares meaning Citadel on the river Henares, is a Spanish city whose historical center is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.  The city stands out for its archaelogy.  Source:  Wikipedia

We visited the house of Cervantes in front of which is the most pictured spot of the statues of Sancho Panza and Don Quijote.  The house is actually a museum that was inaugurated in 1956.  It is a reconstruction of his rooms and depict his way of life while he was in Alcala.

Aside from the house of  Cervantes,  another one of the outstanding points of interest is the Cervantes' Square, where a lot of people gather around on a sunny day.

Alcalá is well known for its population of white storks. Their large nests can be observed atop many of the churches and historic buildings in the city, and are themselves a significant tourist attraction. Situated in the lowlands of the Henares river, the city is an attractive home for the migratory storks due to the wide availability of food and nesting material in the area. For over twenty years Alcalá's storks have been counted and studied, and the active protection and maintenance of their nests is by official policy. Although once in danger of disappearing, with only eleven pairs counted between 1986 and 1987, the population has grown to around 90 resident pairs today, many of which have shortened the distance and duration of their typical migrations to remain in the city nearly all year. Source of Information:  Wikipedia

Source of Image:  Turismito
The streets of Alcala are always busy.

There are several historic buildings in Alcala such as the University and the Cathedral.  The center of the city with its main street called Calle Mayor preserves its medieval air with many winding cobbled streets.  There are several nice places to have tapas and elegant stores to shop around.

Alcala de Henares also has an interesting palace, the Laredo Palace.  Source of Image:  Wikipedia
Built at the end of the XIX century, it is a precious private house now possible to visit for a small fee. Now it is a bibliographic center for University of Alcalá.  Source of information:  Trip Advisor

Source of Image:  Wikimedia Commons

Source of Image: MsMxM
Then we visited the nearby Parador for its wonderful spas and its modern structure which was originally an  old church.  Mel's photo was taken from the garden located at the top of the building.  Observe the wooden flooring on the exterior.

Since then, we have been to Alcala de Henares oftentimes because of their tapas and pleasant atmosphere.