Exploring Nice – ❤️ of the Riviera

Exploring Nice

We explored the French and Italian Riviera in the summer of 2019. We based our travels from Nice, the largest city of the Riviera. It is a popular tourist destination in Southern France with a busy harbor, cruise port and international airport.

Yachts parked by the Port of Nice. This is a popular starting point for many private trips across the French Riviera.

We drove into the city from Southern France and parked by the Port. Parking is convenient and within walking distance of boat tours and bus stop near the harbor.

Supercars galore at the Parking garage by the Port of Nice! A Lamborghini parked near the Porsche and Mercedes supercars seen below.
A Porsche 918 Spyder next to a Mercedes Benz AMG GT S
The harbor is popular with sightseeing mini cruises
Glenda and Simone enjoying the harbor view

Most of the city center is easier to navigate on foot than driving through congested traffic. We had lunch by one of many affordable street side cafe and visited the museum district and some antique shops.

Lunch was Panini and fresh garden salad at a roadside cafe
Garibaldi square at the heart of old Nice
Shops and cafe across from the museum of Modern Art
At the museum of Modern Art
An underground archaeological crypt near the art museum
The girls found an antique shop near the harbor
Glenda shopping some antique posters of Dali and Picasso’s shows

We also took a guided tour by van around Nice learning about the history and landmarks. The tour then took us to the outskirts of Nice and to the beautiful Riviera coastline into Villafranche, Ezze and Monaco.

On the tour of Nice
One of several sculptures located through out Nice city center
View of the neighborhoods on the outskirts of Nice on the road to Villafranche

Check out the accompanying video clip below to learn more about our trip.

Video – Exploring Nice

Exploring Seville, Spain

A tour of historic Seville

Seville is the capital of Andalusia region in southern Spain. A historic city popular with tourists, it’s old town contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Sevilla Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.

My wife Glenda is Hawaiian-Filipino and her Filipino ancestry trace back to Seville with a migration around early 1890s during Spanish colonial era. With her recent DNA test showing her still 1/4th Iberian and her middle name (Sevilla) still bearing the heritage, a trip to Seville was an obvious choice. And when we landed she was beaming at the airports large signboard!

We arrived in Seville from Atlanta via Lisbon, Portugal. The airport is well organized and have a delicious restaurant right next to the security checkpoint!

We decided to stay at the historic old town and took a 30 min taxi ride from the airport. Some areas in historic district are only accessible on foot which was a treat exploring the historic wonders!

Musician playing Spanish guitar by the cathedral

After freshening up at the historic Murillo apartments, we started our walk toward Plaza de Colone for our bus tour around the city.

The nicely laid out historic district is an enjoyable experience including Street side Flamenco dance.

The Hop on hop off bus tour took us all around the city with an audio guide explaining notable sites.

Getting a sit at the upper level in good weather is best to enjoy sightseeing in the bus tour
The famous bull fighting arena of Seville
The blending of Muslim and Spanish design is prominent in Andulasia

The Seville harbour, located about 50 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, is the only river port in Spain. The river splits the city in two distinct regions.

The River Guadalquivir made Seville an important City during the Spanish Golden age back in 16th century
The famous Macarena church housing the priceless gold statue of Virgin Mary brought out during the annual procession
An example of modern Seville from the 1992 Expo that gave rise to the Technology district

After the bus tour and quick lunch, we headed to the Royal Alcazar for a guided tour. The palace grounds has been in existence since 10th century during Muslim Spanish rule and there are even remnants of walls from the Roman period. It was rebuilt in it’s current Andalusian Mudejar style by King Pedro I in late 14th century. More recently the palace interior and garden were filmed for the HBO hit series ‘Game of Thrones’.

Real Alcazar, palace of the Spanish monarchy for 5 centuries
Patio de las Doncellas courtyard
One of the access-gates (b. 14th century) to Salón de los Embajadores in Palace of Peter of Castile
The famous Royal gardens featured in the fictional kingdom of Dorne in HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’
The Royal bath and reflective pool
The interior facade by the pond of the Royal gardens where they still have live fish!
A photo op for the ladies next to back facade of the garden of Real Alcazar

One of the big attraction of Seville is it’s amazingly diverse and colorful cuisine. Tapas was invented in this city during the Spanish Golden age. Below are a few delicious samples!

Simone checking out the tasty treats at a Spanish bakery
Anadlusian Breakfast at a cafe
Tapas!!
Eggplant and red bell pepper dish
Dinner in the historic district next to our Murillo apartments

Exploring Seville was a memorable experience for us. The charm of it’s old town cobblestone streets, historic architecture and delicious food makes it a must see in any Spanish trip.

Courtyard of the historic Murillo apartments
Historic old town Seville at night
Stage and lobby at a historic 17th century Flamenco apparel factory, now a hotel
Shops line up the streets connecting old town to Plaza de Colone

We also took day trip to nearby Andulusian white villages of Zahara and Grazalema and historic Ronda.

White village of Zahara Della Sierra
White village of Grazalema
Historic Ronda

Finally, check out the below video clip for a live experience of our tour in Seville. Enjoy!

Exploring Seville – A Video Blog

Crystal River, Florida – Manatee Haven

Florida wildlife trip

Florida is a state full of wildlife wonders and a choice destination for us on family trips. We live in metro Atlanta in the neighboring state of Georgia and visit Florida almost every year. So when some of my in-laws visited us in the December of 2012, we planned a group trip to Crystal Rivers area in the lesser known West Florida region.

Our group consisted of my wife Glenda, her cousins Kimberly, Jasmine and Christian; my mother in law, my Dad and our kids Saif, Joshua, Simone and Zak. While entering Florida we took the customary group picture at the rest area by the border!

After a good night rest near Crystal River, we headed to the wildlife State park famous for Manatees.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is located near Homosassa Springs, Florida, a short drive from Crystal River. The park is one of the best places in the state to view manatees. Visitors can get close to the animals on a floating observatory. Black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, American alligators, and river otters can also been seen in the park. There is a guided boat tour through the lake surrounding the park every few hours. The park is also home to the hippopotamus Lu, famously known for his performances in many movies for the past 40 years.

One of the fascinating attraction at the entrance to the boat tour is the fossil of a Megalodon jaw. This was an extinct species of shark that lived approximately 23 to 3.6 million years ago. Megalodon was the last of a lineage of giant sharks and possibly the most powerful due to its massive jaw. It had an average length of 34 ft but known to grow up to 59 feet! The picture below gives an idea of how massive this shark used to be!

The American Alligators are a big attraction at the park. After the boat tour we visited some Alligators up close.

The floating observatory connects a long network of wooden walkways, creating a nature trail offering great view of the wildlife in the park at their natural environment.


Lu is the oldest hippopotamus in North America, and the only animal in the park not native to Florida. Lu was born at the San Diego Zoo in 1960. He appeared in the TV shows Daktari and Cowboy in Africa. He has lived in the park since 1964.

The Manatee pool, the nearby indoor aquarium and indoor exhibits were a favorite for Zak, our 4 year old bundle of energy!

After our visit at the park, we stopped by a beach next to nearby Nuclear power plant! Watching the sunset at the Gulf of Mexico was a treat!

You can enjoy the highlights of our trip in the below video clip!

Blue Ridge Mountains – Pisgah National Forest

A trip through Pisgah National Forest on Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road noted for its scenic beauty. The parkway is America’s longest linear park.

It runs for 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, linking Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It runs mostly along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountain, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains range.

In this video blog we travel through the scenic Pisgah National Forest in some of the highest points of the Parkway.

Smoky Mountains Tour – Chatuge Lake, Nantahala Forest & Blood Mountain

A video blog of scenic Western North Carolina Mountains

The smokey Mountain range is one of the most popular national park in North America, located in North Carolina and part of the Appalachian range. There are several access ways to the Smokey Mountain park from North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

One such scenic route is through the town of Hayesville, North Carolina at the Georgia-North Carolina border. Together with Hiawasee on the Georgia side, the towns enclose the beautiful Chatuge lake, dotted with lakeside villas and picturesque mountains of the Nantahala Forrest.

Enjoy the scenic tour of this magical place in the video blog below!

Paris – First Look

A video blog of our first look at Paris, France

The first introduction to Paris, its historic and gorgeous city center and landmarks, is a special treat. In this video clip below we get our first look at Paris in the summer of 2018, as we head to our hotel from the Gare de Lyon train station. Enjoy the ride!