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    My beloved Cusco

    Mi amado Cusco. I already miss you so much now that I’m back in Australia.

    Here’s the story on how Cusco became my beloved.

    After a whirlwind stay in Lima, it was time for us to move to Cusco. We had the option of traveling to Cusco via bus which would take approximately 21 hours. I was getting ready for that bus ride when my friend manage to find cheap tickets going to Cusco. We saved a lot of time with the plane ride but some may struggle with the altitude upon arrival in the city. It was not the case for me, coca leaves did the trick and kept me healthy throughout my stay there.

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    A glimpse of the vibrant city of Lima

    Strangely, I felt at home in Lima. The capital reminded me a lot of Manila. It mirrored the same chaotic public transport system, traffic and also the weather but amidst of these, I found it really interesting walking around the city.  Alongside modern buildings stood churches and monuments which serve as remnants of its colonial past.
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    Primer día en Perú: The Ghosts of Fortaleza del Real Felipe

    After a long flight, I have finally arrived in Lima. Just as I step outside the plane, I felt a pang of heat from the humid Peruvian summer. After going through immigration and customs, I look for my friend, Ana in the waiting area. When we found each other, we hugged and screamed in joy. I met her during my trip to Japan, I remembered our animated conversations about Peru. Finally, I was there in her hometown.

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    Sentimental reverie on a two-continent trip

    Travel. Wanderlust or so. Each person has his/her concept of travel. For some it is a way of life, a part of one’s yearly or monthly itinerary already marked in the calendar. To others, it is a way to reward oneself, to compensate for hard work or extraordinary achievement. Lastly, it could be a dream waiting to become a reality.

    For me, I’ve always thought it was not possible until I reach my 30s or 40s.  As I grow up, I believed that it will happen but only after many years, I was contented with documentaries or travel shows. Back then, travel was merely a concept to daydream about.

    I came from a simple family. I along with my siblings, was raised in a country wherein bills and daily expenses could easily overtake or exhaust one’s income. My parents were both government employees who earned just enough to provide for our basic needs. With barely enough to pay for bills and expenses, it was a struggle to save.  In a nutshell, travel was just a distant thought, something to look forward in the future. We cannot even travel around our own country, what more into international destinations?

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    Gaudi’s Masterpiece: La Sagrada Familia

    A basilica like no other and an architectural icon that can stun any first timer in Barcelona, the Basilica and Expiatory Church of La Sagrada Familia is one not to be missed while you are in Barcelona. Gaudi’s most celebrated work is now approaching its 133rd year in construction with the anticipated completion set after 11 or 10 years from now.

    Antoni Gaudi once said that his client, God, is in no hurry. He knew someone else would finish his ambitious work so he left a series of drawings and instructions for guidance. His original design shows a total of eighteen spires, representing the Twelve Apostles, Virgin Mary, and four Evangelists. The tallest of all spires will be dedicated to Jesus Christ. Eight spires have been built as of 2010: four apostles at the Nativity façade and four apostles at the Passion façade.

    Sagrada Família is set to be the tallest church building in the world upon its completion.

    I first learned about Sagrada Familia in a newspaper when I was young. It was an accidental discovery while I was cleaning my room. What interested me about it was the length of its construction. I actually thought the structure was very odd looking and likened it to a large termite nest. Years later, I went to Barcelona and decided to visit it. At first, I was actually planning to skip it because I thought it was an over-hyped “tourist trap”.  When I arrived there, I could not be more wrong. I was not only mesmerized by it, I was blown away.

    Imagine a tourist with that awestruck look and a gaping mouth. Yes, that was me when I saw Sagrada Familia.

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    Gaudi and a Whimsical Barcelona: Casa Batlló

    “Color in certain places has the great value of making the outlines and structural planes seem more energetic,” said Antoni Gaudi.

    One of the products from Gaudi’s imaginative mind, Casa Batlló, can easily be distinguished as you walk along Passeig de Gracia. Yes, there is a queue and groups of tourists taking photograph of the magnificent building but it is the spectacular design of structure that will stop you to your tracks.

    The house was bought by textile industrialist Josep Batlló despite its rundown form.  Batlló commissioned Gaudi to recreate this building and turn it to a unique house that does not resemble any houses of the Batlló family. He originally wanted to destroy the building and create a new one but Gaudi convinced him that he could refurbished the existing building. The architect was able to remodel the roof, façade and interior.

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    Gaudi beyond Sagrada: Park Güell

    “There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners,” Antoni Gaudi once remarked.

    As I walked through the streets of Barcelona, I wonder if I would get lost while looking for Gaudi’s creations. The sight of his creation is not one to be missed when you are in Barcelona. When I got to my first destination, Casa Batllo, it was easy to recognize it. It was not because of the queue of tourists nor signs pointing to its direction but the distinctive style of the building that stands out amidst other structures.

    Gaudi and his creations are prominent cultural fixtures in Barcelona. Most people would probably remember Gaudi in association with Sagrada Familia but this great icon is just one of his several works around the city.

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