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October 2015

Posts from September 2015

Scenes from the Charming Town of Sirmione on Lake Garda, Italy


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I visited Italy for the second time in September 2015 I loved it the second time as much as I did the first time.  It really just made me want to visit a third time!  My first trip was to Florence, Venice, and Cinque Terre.  This last visit was to Lake Garda.  

To get to Lake Garda I flew into Verona and then went to my hotel in Sirmione.  I loved this little medieval town. I thought it was so charming and colorful with the flowers everywhere.  This was one of very few places that I have visited on my own that I felt safe going out at night alone. 

Lake Garda is very large and the only thing I would do differently visiting again, which I might do, is to spend time in other areas around the lake.  I will say that I am very happy to have stayed in Sirmione.  Everyone was very friendly and the food was excellent as always. I am also very happy to say that I didn't see any stray cats or dogs during my stay!

I was a little worried that visiting in September might be a little chilly, but it was actually quite warm during the day it was usually in the 80's (Fahrenheit).  At night it would get cool but not until very late.  There is a ferry that runs all around the lake which stops running at some point in October.  Otherwise I think October would be a fine time to visit Lake Garda as well.  

Wherever you walked in town the castle was usually in view:

Untitled (1 of 1)-49I loved the colorful flowers and architecture:

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 I found this pink villa when I walked off the beaten path that I thought was lovely!

Untitled (1 of 1)-49There were grapes, lemons and lime growing all over as soon as you got out of the town:



 A garden I found not too far from the beach which is just a short walk from the town


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 Here is the pathway beside the beach which makes for a nice walk:

I had heard that glass washes up on the shore of Lake Garda and I didn't believe it until I saw it for myself!
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As with most areas of Italy there are gelato and pastry shops on every corner:
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There were also many beautiful churches:
Untitled (1 of 1)-67There were many fun shops and restaurants around town.  The prices were very reasonable!
Untitled (1 of 1)-67The sunsets and sunrises were nice every night I was there as it only rained for a few hours during the ten days I was there:

Sunset-959168_640Thank you so much for visiting.   Please feel free to leave any comments or questions as I value all of them.  Have a great week everyone.




The Colorful Town of Willemstad, Curacao


Untitled (1 of 1)-33One of the reasons I chose to visit Curacao over other Caribbean islands was the colorful architecture I saw in photos on the internet.  I love color and definitely was not disappointed.  Here are some photos of Willemstad which is the capital of Curacao.  I generally don't shop in general and or buy clothing when I'm traveling, but they had some really nice shops and boutiques which tempted me.  Below is a popular tourist attraction that most people want their photo taken in front of.
Untitled (1 of 1)-33Here are some typical side streets:
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You can see the Queen Juliana Bridge in this photo which is four lanes and crosses Saint Anna Bay:
Untitled (1 of 1)-33Here is a view of Willemstad from the Queen Juliana Bridge:

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Here are some cannons that I saw in the middle of town.  I decided to share them in a relatively untouched photograph and an HDR version of the same scene.
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Untitled (1 of 1)-78Here is a photo of a rather large farmer's market in the center of town
Untitled (1 of 1)-78As with any city, one will see buildings in disrepair, but they were still colorful!
Untitled (1 of 1)-78Here is an one of the many outdoor cafes in the center of Willemstad:

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Of course they have McDonald's!
Untitled (1 of 1)-73"The Round Market" is pictured below.  This is a place for locals to sell their goods and a great place for tourists to sample the local food.


Another view of the Queen Juliana Bridge:
Untitled (1 of 1)-73Lastly, is one of the many beautiful brightly colored churches.  Interestingly, many of them were yellow. 
Untitled (1 of 1)-73Thank you so much for stopping by.  I really appreciate each and every comment I receive and try to reply and answer all questions.  I hope everyone has a great week!

My Visit to a School in Curacao and Thoughts on School Uniforms


Untitled (1 of 1)-174Being a former educator I'm always interested in what the school systems are like in the counties I visit.  I've noticed that many if not most countries I've visited require students to wear uniforms.  While I was teaching this topic was debated frequently.  I personally saw students berated for not having the latest designer jeans and or sneakers, get in trouble for wearing too short skirts or shorts, and paying more attention to what their class mates were wearing than their school work.  Clothes just seemed to be a huge distraction in the educational process in my experience as a teacher. 

I learned that students are required to attend school until they are twenty one years old.  I was only inside the school area for a short period of time during recess as I didn't want to overstay my welcome.  The outside and inside of the school looked clean and well kept.  Below is a photo of the outside of the school I visited.  Most of the schools I saw on the island were painted in the typical bright colors that I saw around the island.
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Playing games at recess:

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Do you think students should be required to wear uniforms in public schools?  Please leave me your thoughts and or comments and thanks for stopping by!  Have a great week!


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Visiting the Royal Sea Aquarium in Curacao


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When I stayed at the Royal Aquarium Resort in Curacao,  guests had free access to the aquarium right next-door.  I haven't been visiting zoos or aquariums over the past few years.  I've been very involved in animal rescue for about a decade.  My husband and I have had at least 100 foster animals in our care during those years.  We also donate food, money and transfer pets when they need to be spayed or neutered or brought to a safe shelter.                                           

So truth be told if I had not had free access to the aquarium I probably would not have visited it while on the island of Curacao.  However I saw right away that the animals seemed very well cared for and I did do some research on whether or not aquariums and zoos are all bad.  Of course there are some good ones and some bad ones and as with most issues, there are two sides to every story. 

During my first visit to the aquarium, I saw one of the trainers talking to a family who really wanted a kiss from a sea lion.  She was adamantly telling the family that, "today was not a good day for the sea lions as they were not kissing and the trainers were not going to try to make them".  The trainer seemed to care more about the animals than what the people wanted to pay money for. 

I am still sure how I feel on the whole aquarium and zoo issue(s).  I do not believe animals should be used for entertainment or kept in captivity only for that reason.   That said, at this point, I don't see myself making it a habit of visiting zoos and or aquariums in the future.

As you can see from the following links there are some good reasons to have animals in sanctuaries as some are becoming extinct and need protection.  I certainly would not want my cats roaming free they are completely indoor cats.  Perhaps they would be less bored being allowed to go outside but they would not be safe from other predators, automobiles, and diseases. I realize that comparing my domestic cats to large marine life is probably not a great example, but some large animals do need protection for various reasons.

Mystic Aquarium - Animal Rescue Program

Vet Street - How Zoos and Aquariums Help Endangered Species

I did want to share my photos and thoughts.   I am curious to hear what your thoughts are on zoos, aquariums and sanctuaries. Please leave your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

Most of these photos and other can be found on my Pixabay account.  Pixabay has hundreds of thousands of photos that can be used for free in a variety of sizes and you don't have to worry about getting in trouble as they are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0.  Here is my account:  Mariamichelle' photos

Below is a baby sea lion nursing:
Untitled (1 of 1)-32The dolphins put on an amazing fifteen minute show.  There were several mother and daughter dolphins in the show.  The younger ones were still learning their jumps and stunts.
Untitled (1 of 1)-32I did pay twenty dollars for a kiss from a dolphin.  It stuck it's tongue out at me afterward!
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Untitled (1 of 1)-32The sea lions were equally as amazing!

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Untitled (1 of 1)-98The flamingos were as pretty as ever:
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Thank you so much for stopping by and please leave your comments below have a great week.

~  Michelle

I will leave you with a video of a baby sea lion nursing:



The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort in Curacao

While in Curacao, I stayed in the area Willemstad at the Royal Sea Aquarium Resort.  This resort is in a lagoon area with many shops and restaurants,  There are beaches all around the lovely crystal water inlet where this resort is located.  There is also a nice pool and spa and every room is facing the ocean.  Guests are free to visit the Royal Sea Aquarium which is right next door for free as many times as they want. 

There are many advantages for Americans visiting Curacao.  Almost everyone speaks English and all of the stores and restaurants on the island take dollar bills so need to change your money for a fee.  Curacao is also not a really long flight for many living in the United States.  I flew from Tampa to Miami in less than an hour and then from Miami to Curacao in a little more than two hours.  I felt this Dutch island was safe, clean, and well taken care of.  You also will not need to use a power converter for your electronics as they have the same type of outlets we use in the United States.

Below is a photo of the lagoon.  The Royal Sea Aquarium and resort are right to the left in this photo.  The water is warm, but refreshing at the same time.  I visited Curacao in August which is one of the hottest months.  If I were to return, I would want to visit after October 1st when it cools off slightly.  This island does not have a history of being affected by hurricanes, but that doesn't mean your flight will not be affected by either getting there or leaving if you visit during hurricane season. 

Untitled (1 of 1)-77Here is a view of the resort's pool area from the third floor:
Untitled (1 of 1)-77Here is a view at sunset:
Untitled (1 of 1)-77Here is one of the wonderful refreshing passion fruit daiquiris I had at the resort's restaurant Augusto's
Untitled (1 of 1)-77A view of the resort from across the lagoon:
Untitled (1 of 1)-77Kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving are very popular activities in this crystal clear water.
Untitled (1 of 1)-77Just a few other photos taken at various places around the lagoon:
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Untitled (1 of 1)-89The sunsets rarely disappointed:

Untitled (1 of 1)-34Here is an area designated for bands and special events in the lagoon:
Untitled (1 of 1)-34There were just as many people out and about at night as the temperature was a little cooler in August.  The lights were really pretty and there was plenty to do:
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Untitled (1 of 1)-34Snorkeling at sunset:
Untitled (1 of 1)-34Have you ever visited Curacao?  If so, did you like it?  Thank you so much for visiting and please feel free to leave a comment as I value each one.  Have a wonderful week!