Monday, October 20, 2014

Frankfurt, Germany: Dinner with Dr. Michaela Keck

 In Frankfurt, Germany, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Michaela Keck, from the Institute of English and American Studies at the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany.

Michaela and I had never met before, but we had such an easy time together and ended up talking for hours, until the cafe closed in fact.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Berlin, Germany: Book Launch "Freundschafy" on German-Filipino Friendship

l-r: Marily Orosa, Cecilia Brainard, Dr. Isagani Cruz, Medy Cruz

Cecilia Brainard with Senator Serge Osmena

My friend, Marily Orosa, launched a coffee table book (Freundshaft) in Berlin, Germany. Edited by Isagani Cruz, this beautiful book celebrates 60 years of Philippine-German friendship. Contact Marily Orosa at for more information about the book.

Here are some pictures taken at the event held at Maritim Hotel and sponsored by the Philippine Embassy in Berlin:

l-r: Marily Orosa,, Gretchen del Rosario, Ambassador Cleofe Natividad,  Dr. Isagani Cruz

 Seated l-r: Marilu Rodriguez Scheich, Sylvia Fliegenschmidt;
Standing l-r: Ambassador Cleofe Natividad, Marily Orosa, Guest

l-r: seated l-r: Guests
Standing l-r: Cecilia Brainard, Marilu Rodriguez Scheich, Marily Orosa, Sylvia Fliegenschmidt

l-r: Medy Cruz, Cecilia Brainard

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Train and Airplane Strike in Germany! - Cecilia's Update #2, #BerlinGermany

No, no,no!  This can't be happening! When I arrived Paris, there was a train strike. Now that I'm in Berlin, there's a train AND airplane strike.

I'm stunned and don't quite know what to think. We're supposed to take the train to Frankfurt and fly home in a few days.  Hmmm.....

Travel: Berlin, Germany- Cecilia's Update #1

Check Point Charlie

I'm in Berlin, Germany, dear Readers having arrived from Paris yesterday.

The place is full of history, and I have lots of pictures so I'm going do several entries about this city. Today was a nice day in Berlin -- no rain, clear sky, but the city has a certain "gray" quality. The Philippine Embassy Attache, Ms. Nelma Jose-Casas, talked of how some personnel at the Philippine Embassy get depressed in Berlin.  I thought that was interesting.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Travel: Eiffel Tower Madness! #ParisFrance

To me the Eiffel Tower is very photogenic. Every time I visit Paris, I go crazy and take many pictures of this cultural icon of France.  Here are a few pictures. 

I love how the intricate metal work gives a lace effect. I love that this structure had been new and that some had reviled it in 1889, but that the French integrated it with their old structures, saying to the effect that one day it too would get old.  They said they same thing aboaut the pyramid in the Louvre.  

Travel: Goodbye Paris for Now #ParisFrance

Dear Readers,
It was a full day today, my last day in Paris. We visited the Arc de Triomph, and afterwards, walked along Champs Elysees. From there we went to the Eiffel Tower and went up for a last view of all of Paris. It was a perfect October fall day to do so -- no rain, a bit brisk but very pleasant.

Later, I had a goodbye dinner with my cousins at A La Petite Chaise in the Saint Germaine district, which claims to be the oldest restaurant in Paris, having been founded in 1680.  The food and service were fine. The tables were very close to one another however and chairs small. I kept thinking my 6'5" husband would not be all that comfortable in those chairs. The guests were of the older and staid types. We had fun though, but my cousins and I enjoy one another's company anywhere really.

I am packing for tomorrow's trip to Berlin, dear Readers. I will be in transit tomorrow for most of day, so you may not hear from me then. But stay tuned to find out about my German adventure.

I will miss Paris but hope to return.

Read also
Paris Flea Market
October Saturday in Paris

This is all for now,

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Paris Flea Market - Marche Aux Puces Saint-Ouen

Paris was rainy and gray last Sunday, the day my cousins and I went shopping at the Marche Aux Puces Saint-Ouen. This famous Paris landmark clams to be the largest flea market in the world. Established in 1870, it consists of 2,500 stalls in various buildings over a sprawlin area east of Paris.

I have been wanting to go to this flea market, but my husband hates shopping and I never had the guts to find it by mysef. Since my cousins, Manny Gonzalez, Chickie Feraren and Celine Conejos, were going shopping there, I joined them.

I have never seen any larger and I've visited flea markets in other countries including La Lagonilla in Mexico. There were buildings filled with stalls, a whole community of antiques, books, furniture, jewelry, silverware, chanderliers and eclectic items, There were also vendors selling inexpensive shoes, clothes, things that people need daily.

We looked and shopped, and broke for lunch in a small restaurant in the midst ot the flea market, where we had delicious Iberian pork, fish and chips, European hamburger using veal, and ceasar salad.  After lunch, we shopped some more until our feet were really tired, five hours later.

We bought some items, although overall I did not think the prices were that great. However, because of the sheer size of the flea market, you can find all sorts of things.

After the flea market expedition, I caught the 6:30 p.m. Mass at the Notre Dame, a wonderful experience which ended wth the singing of Salve Regina. A perfect topping to a perfect day.

As I write this, it's Monday and I'm looking forward to seeing more of this beautiful city.

Read also

Tags: #ParisFrance, Paris, France, vacation, travel, holiday, flea market, shopping, antiques

This is all for now,

October Saturday in Paris - #ParisFrance

I had a very busy Saturday in Paris which started with a some sightseeing with Marily Orosa and Medy Cruz. After checking out the Notre Dame and surroundings, we went to Les Editeurs (4 Carrefour de L'Odeon, 75006) where we had lunch with the writer Bonnie Arcache Melvin. Les Editeurs is a favorite hangout for Paris publishers and other literary people. The restaurant has bookshelves filled with books given to the restaurant by their literary patrons.  The downstairs area feels like most other Cafes in Paris, but the second story has a cozy feeling like a study.  That's where we had our lovely lunch.

I was particularly delighted to meet Bonnie. As Filipina writers, we have known and been in touch with each other. We have been involved in books projects.  Once Bonnie had kindly arranged my reading at Paris' famous bookstore, Shakespeare and Company. We also laughed at how once in Paris party, she had ran into another writer friend of mine, Mike Genlin.

In the afternoon, we visited the Cluny Museum and Saint Chapelle. I will post those pictures some other time.

Later in the evening, we met up with my three cousins, Manny Gonzalez, Chickie Feraren, and Celine Conejos who are in Paris for a two-week holiday.  Manny, who is a foodie, chose another good restaurant right next to Shakespeare and Company, Cafe La Bucherie. After dinner (with a view of the Notre Dame), we explored the Saint Michel area, and later had excellent crepes at the Creperie Saint Germaine. We will all be eating salads in the next days to make up for he calories we had -- but oh, how often do we get together in Paris, anyway -- so we might as well enjoy!

I'll post more pictures later on, dear Readers, but there are simply too many of them. These ones focus on the people I saw this Saturday.  Thanks for visiting!

Manny Gonzalez and Chickie Feraren

Standing in front of Notre Dame are Cecilia, Marily, and Medy.
Read also

Tags: #ParisFrance, Paris, France, vacation, travel, holiday, restaurant, Reine Melvin, Marily Orosa, Filipina writers

This is all for now,

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Paris: Dinner at Les Deux Magots with Cuenco Cousins

My first cousins, Chickie Feraren, Manny Gonzalez, and Celine Conejos, happened to be vacationing in Paris, and we had a wonderful reunion. We had dinner at Les Deux Magots, famous for having been the hangout of Ernest Hemingwary, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Albert Camus and other intellectuals. 


Our mothers were sisters, daughters of Mariano and Filomena Cuenco from Cebu, Philippines. We cousins were close when we were children and even though we've gone our separate ways, feel affection for one another.

We wondered why the stars collided and made us meet in Paris. Some of us talked about how there are no accidents, that somehow such "accidental meetings" mean something. If I find out, I will let you know, but in the meantime, we did find the answers. Rather we enjoyed our dinner, walked to their posh apartment on St. Germain Blvd. had dessert in another restaurant, and wandered on to the Seine and the Saint Michel area where I'm staying. (Ten minutes away -- we think the same way, opting for good location if possible.)

About Les Deux Magots (6 Place Saint-Germain-des-Pres), while I enjoyed my food and wine, the food did not seen superior. It was the ambiance of the place that we savored. In the Saint Michel and Saint-Germain-des-Pres, there are many good restaurants, some of them tucked away in small alleyways. We are planning to find one such restaurant in the Saint Michel area tomorrow.  Celine and Manny write reviews of restaurants and hotels, and are always on the lookout for something interesting.

As you can see, dear Readers, my Paris visit is turning out to be filled with surprises. Stay tuned for more!

Top picture, l-r: Celine Conejos, Chickie Feraren, Manny Gonzalez, and me.

Read also

Tags: #ParisFrance, Paris, France, vacation, travel, holiday, restaurant, Les Deux Magots, Cuenco, Cebu

This is all for now,

Friday, October 10, 2014

Notre Dame Madness! #ParisFrance

Today's blog entry shows pictures of one of the most famous Gothic Cathedrals in the world: Notre Dame de Paris, built in the 12th century, with subsequent additions. 

The Notre Dame is very photogenic. Like the Eiffel Tower, I can never get enough pictures of it. Here are some pictures showing it in different angles. Note the details like the gargoyles, flying buttresses, spires, saints, and so on. The cathedral sits on one end of an island in the middle of the Seine. It is simply gorgeous.

Click on the picture to make it big.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Arrondissements and More About Paris - #ParisFrance

Dear Readers,
I accidentally deleted my most recent blog entry. I'll try to recreate it now.

I was talking about how in my past visits to Paris I usually took the metro which is fast, efficient, economical and easy to figure out.  My complaint about the metro is that I don't see the landmarks of Paris.  I go down, ride the metro, and surface near my destination, like a pop-up mole.

Train Strike in Paris - Day 1 in #ParisFrance

 I made it to Paris, dear Readers, and am recuperating in my hotel room. First there was a 5-plus-hour flight from LAX to Montreal, followed by a 6-hour flight from Montreal to Paris. There was a harrowing moment when the plane in Montreal was delayed docking or parking because of something or other. When the plane finally opened its doors, a whole group of connecting passengers flew out of there. It wasn't just a matter of going to another gate either because you had to go through some kind of border control, which added to the delay. Fortunately, my connecting plane waited for us.

At the Charles de Gaulle airport, I made my way to the train station, which is within the airport complex.  I bought my ticket to get to the city, but the woman at the counter didn't tell me that train workers are striking right now and the train schedules are askew.  Instead of the train going all the way to my metro stop, it stopped at Garre du Nord, which meant I had to transfer to another train. The problem was that because of the schedule changes, even the people who worked there had no idea which trains were running. Fnally I got on the right train and made it to my hotel.

This isn't the first strike I've experienced in France  Years ago, while my husband and I were doing a driving tour of France, there was a gas strike. Quite suddenly we couldn't buy gas for our rental car, and we barely had enough gasoline to get to the car rental place to return the car and transfer to a train instead.

I am not sure if this train strike will impact my stay here. Will I find myself in strange places and not find connecting trains?  Hmmm ... not a pretty thought.

The picture above was taken before I left for the airport, and the photo below was taken at the metro from the airport.

Stay tuned, dear Readers!

Read also

This is all for now,

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Coming Up: Paris, Berlin, Heidelberg, Wilhemsfeld #Travel

Dear Readers,
I'll be visiting Paris, Berlin, Heidelberg, and Wilhemsfeld, and I hope to blog about those places. If I have difficulty uploading to this blog, I'll post in my FaceBook site:

Cecilia Brainard -

In Paris, on Thursday night, October 9, I plan to be at the Open Mic reading at Culture Rapide, 103 Rue Julien Lacroix, 75020, around 8 p.m.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

With Friends like Turkey, Who Needs Enemies? #Kobani #NATO #Turkey

"Turkish Inaction on ISIS Advance Dismays the U.S." - The New York Times

"This isn't how a NATO ally acts while hell is 

 unfolding a stone's throw from their border," 

said the official...."

 Two Kurdish women who fought against ISIL in Kobani and who died bravely.

Kurdish mother Nasreen, left 2 children behind and died fighting against ISIS in Kobane.
  Arin Mirkin, a Kurdish female fighter suicide bomber attacks IS in Kobane

Read also
Battle between ISIS and Syrian Kurds for Kobani sparks unrest in Turkey

Turkish police clash with demonstrators near border with Kobani

UN Envoy on Kobani: Don't let another city fall to ISIS

Check updates by Jenan Moussa on twitter

This is all for now,

Monday, October 6, 2014

The World Supports KOBANI, Syria! #Kobani

From by Jenan Moussa Twitter #Kobane:
Kurdish activist Mustafa Bali inside tells me: Reports ISIS inside city are false. I am still in Kobane; YPG as motivated as ever.

There is worldwide support for Kobani:

 London at Trafalgar Square
New York City, Union Square

Santa Monica, California: Great Eggs Benedict at Spitfire Grill Restaurant

My husband is an eggs benedict aficionado and is constantly looking for restaurants that serve good eggs benedict.  He swears the Moonstone Grill in Cambria serves the best egg benedict.

We recently had brunch at the Spitfire Grill in Santa Monica and he enjoyed their eggs benedict, although I think he still rates Moonstone Grill on top. I had crab cake benedict, and I enjoyed it. There were two thick "crabby" cakes with eggs and rich hollandaise sauce on top.

The Spitfire Grill is located within the Santa Monica airport complex. We were there on Sunday and there were many people having brunch/lunch there.

 Read also

Tags: Spitfire Grill, restaurant, cafe, food, airport, Santa Monica, California, Southern California, Westside
This is all for now,