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6 Creative Mother's Day Gifts

April 04, 2020
For Mother's Day, we mainly think of pampering our own mother but what about the new moms? They often go under the radar, unfortunately. If your best friend, your sister or your favorite colleague is about to give birth, she will be delighted that you offer her a little attention. First, forget the gifts for the newborn. It's a safe bet that the expectant mother already received a ton of children pajamas, blankets and diapers at her baby shower. But then, what to offer her?

I give you here some winning gift ideas, which will please all new mothers. Mom's word!

creative mothers day gifts ideas

1. Ultra cozy pajamas

Even though she will be walking around the house in a dirty old t-shirt and yoga pants, she will be delighted to occasionally upgrade her look. Give her a nice, comfortable, but above all practical mom and baby matching pajamas. I like the ones on Lazy One which is a chic, cutting-edge and inspiring site that talks about women's fashion differently.

Lazy One offers the most beautiful pieces, the most beautiful brands, through an expert selection and a unique, ultra-chic visual identity, always on the lookout for trends. The Mommy & Me pajamas have a classic look and feels very soft. What makes it all the more awesome is that the pajamas for moms are machine washable and can be unbuttoned easily for many breastfeeding sessions. In short, the site will thrill the fashion enthusiast.

For babies choose pajamas with buttons or zippers on the front rather than the back. In addition, pajamas with snaps or a fork zipper will facilitate diaper changes. Also make sure that the sleeves are not too narrow. Stretch fabric is also a good option for easy dressing. Finally, avoid clothes that must be passed over the head or opt for a fairly wide neckline.

To reduce the risk of suffocation, avoid pajamas with small decorative pieces such as stones or buttons as well as ribbons or cords that tie around the neck. Also make sure that the snaps are securely attached to the pajamas and that they will not fall off.

2. Frozen homemade meals

Everything that makes everyday life easier is always a winner. Before the birth of my little cabbage, my relatives had given themselves the word to prepare me frozen simmered meals. My freezer was overflowing with spaghetti sauce, shepherd's pie, small casseroles, soups, etc. Not having to cook on the last month of my pregnancy and the first 2 months postpartum turned out to be the greatest gift ever.

3. Cooking boxes

When baby is born, it is likely that the new mom will spend most of her time in the nursery rather than in the kitchen. Help her to rekindle her love for good food with a gift card. There are so many options that will allow her to focus on her passion for cooking instead of lingering at the grocery store or leafing through cookbooks.

4. A body care package

A new mom never gets too much care. Give her some sweet moments with a set of pure luxury products that includes beauty treatments with ingredients and formulas are suitable for all skin types. Pack everything in an adorable, nicely illustrated box that she can keep to store baby memories.

5. A spa gift card

Spoil a new mom with a relaxing day at the spa. A gift certificate can be charged with any amount and can be used for massages, facials, mani/pedis, as for activities like yoga or Pilates classes, and this in several hundred locations across the country. What if she can't find a moment for her for several months? No worries, choose a card that will never expire.

6. Free cleaning

Nothing is less of a priority in the lives of new parents than cleaning the house. Give your favorite new mom the happiness of a house that sparkles with cleanliness without having to lift a finger thanks to home cleaning services on request. She will be eternally grateful to you!

Trip to Bellagio and Lake Como in Italy

September 22, 2018

I admit that I am a lover of Italy. Being a country that offers so much I opted for the north. The north is very well represented by Milan and there is a great motivation to go with the Lake Como, a beautiful natural spot. The Lake Como, also called Lake Lario, is one of the deepest lakes in Europe. Each of the three branches that form it is called by the names of Como Lake, Lecco Lake and Colico Lake. The lake is fed by the Adda river, which descends from the Valtellina.

The inverted Y-shaped lake is the result of glacial action, which offers spectacular views of the Como Alps and Bellagio. It is this mountainous landscape and calmness that has attracted visitors for centuries in search of rest, walks and navigation. All this is what made us realize one of our stages in the trip.

We decided to stop only in Varenna and Bellagio in the lake. Of course, it is an area to spend more days and visit other places that are well worth it, but we did not have more days. The first thing to be clear is that the north is expensive. And that is a business city so it has a lot of demand focused on a different public. In the flights there is not much problem since there are many companies, but we must bear in mind that hotels are expensive. And if you want them next to the cathedral they are prohibitive.

Trip to Lake Como

Day 1

We arrived at the Airport and had our flight at 9:35. We arrived at the Linate airport around 13:00. It is a very small airport so finding the bus is very easy. In 45 minutes we were already at our destination. We saw the hotel we chose as soon as we got off the bus. The rooms were fine without any noise with friendly staff.

As it was already lunch time we asked the receptionist for advice for a restaurant. She told us of one in Via Pirelli. There I ate a Risotto alla Milanese that is different from other risottos because it is made of butter with saffron. In the afternoon we decided to go to Sforza Castle and the gardens behind it.

To get there, we take the metro in Lanza station to Foro Buonaparte and we can see part of the Castle. Since we were just in time, we decided not to visit the museums. On the outside the truth is that it is worth it. The Parco Sempione behind is also very beautiful and we walk until we reach the Arco della Pace.

On the way back, we decided to walk to the Duomo, which is only about 15-20 minutes away on Via Dante. As we were a month away from the Expo, the whole street is filled with flagpoles from different countries. It is a commercial street. Finally, we reached the Duomo. It impresses a lot. It was mid-afternoon, so we went to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II where we saw the expensive shops there.

I did not enter any, because I always have the feeling that they are going to kick me out even if I went to the Ferrari store. As a faithful follower of Formula 1, I could not resist seeing Fernando Alonso's Ferrari up close.
As dinner time approached, we decided to take the metro in Duomo to go to the hotel area.

We dined at a restaurant in the station square on the corner with Via Vitruvio. I ate pizza and they were quite good. In this way, we finish the first day, ready for the excursion to Como.

Trip to Lake Como

Day 2

Finally the day comes to visit the Lake Como. We got up early and go down to breakfast as fast. The breakfast was very complete with yogurt, fruit, natural juices, cereals, different, breads. We wanted to go to Lake Como and we knew that it would take an hour to get there by train. So we checked the train schedule and chose the one that left at 9 am from the Cadorna station.

Although our hotel was closer to the central station, we chose the Cadorna station to depart. After having looked at it a lot we decided to take the metro in Central to go to the Cadorna station and take the train there. The choice was because in this station the train leaves in Como Nord, which is on the right side of the Lake, and we did not want to get lost in the city.

As we left with time to spare and the subway took a very short time, at the end when we arrived at Cadorna, we were able to take the previous train, the one at 8:40. So it is better because we had seen the weather forecast of possible rains in the late morning. So the earlier we arrived, the more we could take advantage of there.

We bought the ticket directly at the ticket office, because the automatic machines did not return change. The train is a little older than the one that makes the transfer to the airport, but it was also comfortable and most importantly, very punctual.

We arrived in Como and as soon as we left the station, we saw the signs to the jetty. We had to go down a little hill and immediately we found ourselves with beautiful scenes. We took a short walk to the duomo, to spend a little time until the ship left and then we went straight to the pier, which was only 5 minutes away.

So without more, we embarked on an old converted paddle boat. The truth is that it was pretty cool. It had outside seats both forward and in the aft, and inside is a small bar, with its tables, all in very nice wood.

We wanted to go upstairs as the day went along. As we were the first there was no problem and we took the best place. We sit forward and although it was not raining at the moment, there was a lot of fog in the whole lake. As soon as the boat started, we feel cold, but we did not think to go inside, as we wanted to enjoy the views.

Soon we began to see small villages in the mountainside, all similar, with small houses of different colors, with their own piers. Occasionally we see a church tower sticking out from the rooftops. In a spectacular background, we see the green mountains dotted with trees. It is a typical alpine landscape, and the border of Switzerland is less than 30 km away from there.

There were also spectacular villas, 5 star hotels with waterfalls from the mountains that poured directly into the lake. We see different types of boats that ran up and down the lake. The boat was zigzagging across the lake from one bank to the other, making brief stops to leave or pick up passengers.

The weather was nice, but the sun began to shy away, giving color to the landscape, and highlight the multi-colored houses on the green background. And almost without realizing it, we arrive at our destination, but not before a very popular stop at Bellagio. We got off the ship to go directly to the tourist office. They gave us a map and some more information.

From there we went to see the town. Bellagio is surely the most famous town of Lake Como, especially because of its location on the lake. Walking through its streets and discovering its corners makes it very special. It has some beautiful alleys and its views of the lake are very beautiful. We started at the top of the town where the church is located. We had a beer in one of the bars on the street since in that area they were not as crowded as in the lower part.

We returned to the upper part of town to have a coffee before catching the boat to Varenna. After one more stop on the other shore in Villa Carlotta, and going back to cross the lake we arrived in Varenna. Here we and went down with the intention of visiting the town a bit and eating there. At that time of day, the sun shone, and we did not stop giving thanks for our luck, because the weather forecasts were not being fulfilled at the moment. With sun, of course everything looks much better.

The village is charming with narrow and steep streets, colorful facades, and stone arches. At that time almost all foreign tourists were already eating on the terraces of the many restaurants. So the streets were quiet and almost deserted, transmitting peace and serenity.

After a little round trip, it was time to eat, because we did not want to go in a hurry to catch the boat back. We chose the cafe since we were looking for something light and informal. The restaurant inside is tiny, but it is decorated with exquisite taste. It looks like an old fairy pastry, since in addition to simple meals, they sell sweets and ice creams.

We sat on his terrace, which is on the shore of the lake, and we enjoyed some sandwiches and a good ice cream, with the sun as a companion. At the time of returning to Como, we did not feel like sailing for another 2 hours, since it was beginning to be cloudy. So we decided to take the fast boat, which took us to our destination in 1 hour.

When we saw the ship appear we hallucinated. Well, it's a type of boat whose hull stands out from the water when it has to pick up speed, with some paddles that sustain it. We go as if we were water skiing. I had not seen a boat like that before.

This boat, as is logical, does not allow us to sit outside. So we put ourselves in the first row of the hull that had some panoramic windows. I cannot tell you much more about the trip, because I took advantage of it and had a little nap. When I opened my eyes, we were in Como.

I would have been delighted to have been able to take the funicular up to Brunate, but I had read that if the day was cloudy it was not worth much. So I settled for watching from a distance the tremendous climb that the car has to climb to reach the top. As there was still time to catch the train back to Milan, we took the opportunity to wander around Como a bit.

The truth is that the town has a lot of charm, beautiful buildings decorated with iron balconies, paintings on the facades, and stores. I saw a couple of them with vintage jewels that left me stuck to the window, since they were in the art deco style, that I love. I see medieval stone houses, and streets to get lost and all by the omnipresent Duomo.

When we were heading towards the station, the clouds that were threatening us for a while said, here I am, and they began to spill their first drops. It was not going to be the only thing, because when we were already on the train towards Milan, a hailstorm fell, which we thought would break the windows! They accumulated on the ground forming a white blanket. When we arrived in Milan it was unbelievably clear (although it would not last long).

We then headed our steps to the neighborhood of Brera, with the Italy travel guide in hand. I see a couple of streets with restaurants and art galleries, but as it was too early for dinner we did not stay. We made a stop in the Pinacoteca, to visit its patio. We went on a short walk to the Piazza della Scala.

We crossed the gallery of Victor Manuel, but without stopping too much, since we had planned to visit it the next day more calmly. It was time to think where we would have dinner. We did not have anything planned. So I consulted my guide, to see what was nearby. We ordered risotto with green asparagus and a lake fish with rice and cinnamon, and for dessert a kind of vanilla flan with caramel and we had a good dinner.

And already the day was coming to an end. We were very tired after a long and intense day, so we go to rest after drinking a good wine, as we still had one full day to discover the charms of Milan.

Practical Guide to Travel to Laos

August 25, 2018

Laos has been a very special destination. In a Laos travel blog I read about the moments of calm, the beers near and far from the Mekong, the suffocating heat, the smells, the curiosity of the children, and the charm of the people. We decided the destination without having images of Laos in our memory.

When we still had 10 months to fly there, we were already convinced of the beauty of the temples and the landscapes. What we did not know was how deep we would find a beauty greater than that of temples and landscapes: the beauty of its people.

I read a few years ago that Luang Prabang is the most beautiful city in the world. That's why, while we were returning from Malaysia, we thought it was the most natural thing in the world to start making plans to visit the most beautiful city in the world and, by the way, the country that surrounds it.


After a few days in the order and neatness of Singapore, the Changi airport and a stopover at the Bangkok airport, getting to Pakse is not a culture shock. We arrived in Pakse at about 4 o'clock, in a flight with about 15 people on the plane, of which only 2 were Western tourists. I do not know if all arrivals by air are like that, but ours was anthological.

We came from Bangkok airport! The Pakse airport is a tiny building in need of painting. To manage the visa, four soldiers lined up observing and passing from one to the other our passports, as if they were the first ones they had in their hands. In the end, after all the stamps, they released us in a deserted airport. No shops, no bars and,no taxi. Neither other passengers, nor anyone. They were closing the airport.

Luckily we got a taxi out of nowhere with which, of course, we did not even think of haggling. We arrived at the hotel, dropped our bags, shower, change clothes and go to the street. We wanted to locate the cafe, where the next day we would be picked up to start our cruise on the Mekong.

Soon we found a tuk-tuk, took us to the cafe and there we tried the first Laotian coffee. The coffee is good. We walk aimlessly, watching, observing everything! Pakse is a ramshackle city that, like almost all in Southeast Asia, had its grace. I guess it's that kind of chaos and controlled disorder, which makes these sites attractive to me.

After calling home we sit down to have dinner in a small restaurant. That was the first of many delicious dinners (the Laotian food has enchanted us) and it was also accompanied by the first of many cold and wonderful Beer Laos.

Laos Travel Blog


We meet the manager of the ship. On the boat we would meet only eight passengers. A luxury, since the boat is designed for almost thirty. The first thing we did when we got to Vat Phou was to take off our shoes. The cabins were small, but nice and with everything necessary, including a shower.

The air conditioning only works from 6 in the afternoon to 6 in the morning, but it was enough. During the day we are on deck, watching the Mekong pass or hiking. The food on the boat is exquisite. There I tried sticky rice and laab for the first time, my favorite Laotian dishes. In the afternoons they used to receive us with a fruit smoothie and, before dinner or during dinner, the usual cold beer Lao.

At noon, meals were made on the deck. The ship sails only by day. The first afternoon we visit the ruins of Champasak. They are the same Angkor style, although, of course, not so great. If you saw Angkor, Champasak is not worth it. They are not so spectacular, but the scenery is beautiful and the remains interesting.

Back to the ship, we went further and stopped near a couple of villages in the area and visited the remains of the Oum Muong temple. The truth is that little is preserved, but its enclave, in the middle of the jungle, makes it very mysterious. After we disembarked the luggage and, first in a small boat and then in a van, we went to the 4000 islands and the Phapheng falls.

The area of the 4000 islands is becoming fashionable and it does not surprise me. It is full of guesthouses, cabanas with balconies hanging over the Mekong. The area is very quiet. Tourists walk on foot, by boat, by bicycle.

At this point, of course, we had already let ourselves be carried away by the rhythm of the country. They say that in Asia, the Vietnamese plant the rice, the Cambodians cultivate it and the Laotians sit down to hear it grow. Well there we were, hearing the rice growing and in love with the whole country.

They took us to see the tracks of the old French railway. We ate at a restaurant on the banks of the Mekong. But the highlight was the falls. It is amazing and terrible to see how local fishermen risk their lives on the walks they have built to gather their nets. The strength of the water (and the noise) is incredible. I did not get to go down. I stayed halfway and then I saw them also from the viewpoint. Back in Pakse, they stopped us at a market. They sold absolutely everything.


At 9.30 we arrived at the small airport in the capital of Laos. We collect our bags, and change money. We took a fixed price taxi, to go to the guest house, with good reviews on the Lonely Planet. We see a couple of rooms and although they do not convince us, we are so tired that we stay in one of them.

Immediately, we go around the city, have some beer and eat our first Laotian specialties. We have larb, a kind of very spicy salad with meat and a kind of spring roll, and we decided to return to sleep for a while. After three hours of rest, we are much more fresh, and it is night when we leave the room again.

We take a long walk around the Mekong, where there are dozens of bars with huge barbecues. Cooks prepare river fish (many of them still alive), seafood and various types of meat, and where tourists and locals dine. We look in a couple of agencies how to get to Luang Prabang, our next destination.

Soon our doubts dissipate, since it takes 10 hours by bus, and 40 minutes by flight. Around 8 o'clock in the evening we dined in one of those bars near the river, a huge fish and a plate of noodles. To this we add a huge Lao beer, and a fruit plate (watermelon, mango and melon). It is great, and our first impression of Laos is more than positive.

After dinner, we walk around a small market nearby, and finish the day with some fruit smoothies at a place with a nice garden, located on a street perpendicular to the Mekong.

Laos Travel Blog


Although we planned to spend two nights in the capital in our travel itinerary, we decided to go ahead in Luang Prabang on a flight that leaves at 4.30 in the afternoon. At 6 o'clock in the morning we are already awake and after paying for the room, we set out to visit a cozy city, which is awakening. It's a little chilly, so we even need to put on a sweater.

The walk is very nice. The traffic is surprisingly less (it seems incredible that we are in an Asian capital). We walk through large tree-lined avenues, with buildings of communist aesthetics mixed with some colonial houses and many Buddhist temples many of which we visited. Walking through the pompously called Champs Elysees, we arrived at a horrendous triumphal arch, built with the American cement planned to make an airport.

Around 10 o'clock, we stop for breakfast and have some fruit shakes, and later buy tickets at the airlines office. We continue our tour, and it starts to get hot so a couple of hours later we have a few beers in the shade of a huge tree. Then we eat at the one which has some very interesting Asian-Western fusion dishes in its menu. It is almost empty (in general it shows that there are not too many tourists in the city), and we had a great dessert plus a beer.

At 2 in the afternoon we go to the guest house to collect the suitcases, and we negotiate a tuk-tuk to take us to the airport. Here there is very few people and little air traffic (I entertained counting the daily flights, and counted about 10. At the scheduled time, we take a small propeller plane, in which fifteen people would travel.

In 45 minutes it takes us to Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Lang Xang, a beautiful World Heritage city. It is surrounded by mountains and temples, located between the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, and is the spiritual and tourist center of the country.

The collection of the suitcases is very fast, and we take a prepaid taxi, not without difficulty, since the taxi driver does not know the address we give him. He takes us to the guest house. The room is great, like a three-four star hotel.

After showering we went for a walk around the nearby and huge Night Market. The products on sale disappoint us a little because, with some exceptions, they all seem to be made in China. In spite of this, we make some purchases, after the noble art of bargaining. We dine by the river in one of the many restaurants and, as a novelty, we tried the freshwater algae which we we seasoned with a spicy sauce.

They are quite tasty, although their appearance is not too attractive. It is early, but there is no one in the restaurant, so we enjoy absolute tranquility. Although the Mekong is not illuminated, we sense its powerful presence in the darkness. At the end we take a long walk to our accommodation, and at 10, we go to sleep.

Laos Travel Blog


As usual, at 6 o'clock in the morning we are awake, although this time we attribute it more to the noise of motorbikes and roosters than to jet-lag. We take a shower and prepare the backpack, to go out to breakfast to the terrace where it is quite cold. I think it was about 12-13 degrees, and we wrap ourselves with what little we have. The breakfast is superb with coffee, eggs, homemade fruit jams (tamarind, mango, papaya) and delicious bread.

At about 8.30 we went to discover the city. We visited the Royal Palace, an interesting building with objects from the daily life of the Laotian monarchs, before they were expelled. We move to the Palace. After a couple of hours in the building, we began to visit the Buddhist enclosures, called Wats, which are composed of a more or less interesting temple.

Around it are lodgings, dining rooms, schools, toilet areas, in which are swarm of monks with yellow robes. The entrance to each of them is free (except in some cases). We can wander through them with total freedom, and we conveniently ask the monks if they can be photographed in their daily tasks.

By one of these temples, I try to speak in English with a young monk, of the few that dominate this language. After visiting about ten Wats, although it is early, we decided to take a break looking for a pub-restaurant. It's a bit difficult to find, but we quickly realize that the effort was worth it. The place is spectacular, with a lush garden, oriental sculptures on all sides.

At one end, a terrace with bamboo floor, full of hammocks, cushions and low tables hang over the Nam Khan River. The view is wonderful together with the tranquility of the place (there are only 4 tourists). With the soft chill out music, it makes us spend several hours there, drinking beer, eating rolls and noodles with prawns and a couple of cocktails.

Before leaving, in a small volleyball court, I play with a couple of Englishmen to touch a small irregular ball. After negotiating a bit, we got a bike. After signing the contract, and some tests, we put on our helmets, and we begin our journey. Our destination is the Kuang Si Falls, about 35 km away.

Once we leave the city, we find roads in good condition, where there is hardly any traffic. We cross small villages, where we make some stops to visit Wats, but also to feel the life of its inhabitants, who, oblivious to our status as tourists, perform their daily tasks. The children take advantage of to play football.

The feeling of freedom is absolute, and the result is that we enjoy the tour enormously. In an hour and a half we are at the entrance to the falls. After parking the motorcycle, we secure it with a padlock (although later we will verify that it is unnecessary, because the theft is something exceptional).

We begin the climb path following the course of the river, whose water presents an extraordinary turquoise color. The tourists that surround us can be counted on the fingers of the hand. We managed to climb to the top of the waterfall, not without some slip, through a thick jungle.

When going down, although the weather is not too hot, I cannot resist taking a dip. After the impressive bath, and visit to an enclosure where a few brown bears sit, we leave the falls and eat at a nearby restaurant. We later start the return, making multiple stops to take pictures. In one of them, I try to play with some children.

When arriving to Luang, it must be rush hour because the traffic is chaotic, although, they drive quite slowly. I quickly adapt to the disorder. Before returning the bike, we have time to visit some more temples. After seeing a beautiful sunset on a terrace on the Mekong, we go to the guest house, to pack our bags and pay the bill.

After returning to our guesthouse, take a shower, before returning to the Night Market. We realize that the sellers are less aggressive than the Vietnamese, and do not get angry. In the market we dine in an open-air enclosure, with a great variety of delicacies. We head for dinner at a nice restaurant with garden, whose specialty is the varied barbecues (meat, fish or vegetarian) at a great price.

The atmosphere is very lively, and we had a lot of fun. We chose the vegetarian area, and filled the containers to the full, and tasted them along with the huge beers that have a fairly stable price everywhere. Although very few people speak English, we manage without problems. At 11 o'clock at night, we retired to our room, after crossing dark and silent streets.


At 3 o'clock in the morning I wake up. It is still night and it is cold. So we wrap ourselves up as best we can and go out into the street, where almost all the day market tendentes are already on. We are careful not to step on any chicken. We arrive at the door of a Wat where we wait for the monks to leave, which takes place at 6 o'clock.

Each of them carries a kind of basket, where they will keep food. Several people kneeling on the sidewalk give each of them a bit of sticky rice and some banana. There are many tourists with their cameras, and the procession crosses several blocks until returning half an hour later. Then we learned that in all the temples something similar is done.

After this curious spectacle, we enter the fantastic morning market. Many products are for sale from vegetables and fruits of all kinds to live fish of various species including pigs, chickens, bats, rats, frogs, crickets, grasshoppers and many varieties of rice. There is also a food stall with roast chickens, waffles, fried plantains, and assorted pastries.

We have been hungry, so we have a potent breakfast in the guest house, and when finished, the body asks me to sleep a bit. After a little more than an hour, I am as fresh as a lettuce and we are about to cross to the other side of the Mekong, to visit a couple of villages, which have three or four wats, and a cave.

After bargaining we managed to rent a boat for ourselves, although when we reached the other shore we paid half. The owner agrees to pick us up again in a couple of hours. The change with respect to the city is brutal. We observe rural life with children running around among animals.

Several children accompany us with the intention of becoming guides. They take us to a cave, that have nothing interesting to see, and in which it is necessary to use a torch. In the vicinity of a Wat, we observe how several teenagers play. When we return to the shore, our boatman is not there. So we waited 10 minutes and finally decided to take one of the boats that moves people from one side to another.

When we disembark, we have a beer, and then we go around a couple of other temples, until we stop at a street bar. There are enough people taking a spicy soup similar to the Vietnamese Pho, and that it has rice noodles accompanied by meat or vegetable. We ordered a couple of tasty dishes that have a ridiculous price.

After the frugal meal, we go to the room to rest a bit, before going to give us a massage, which I enjoy very little because the masseuse does not care about it, and it leaves me quite sore. When we finished, we tried to dine at a famous restaurant.

As it is closed, so we went to another we had seen on the way with good looks and a nice garden. There we took a very interesting menu with beers included. It's cold on the terrace. So we take not too long to go to sleep.


As soon as I wake up, I head to the market to buy fruit. A long trip by the river awaits us to arrive at Nong Khiaw. It is a small town where we will spend the night, as a previous step to reach Muang Noi, our final destination, and which can only be reached by boat. We had reserved the ticket the day before, and after breakfast, we went to the pier where they accommodate us in a small boat, with about 10 more tourists.

The route, initially by the Mekong, and then by one of its tributaries, is spectacular, with an incredible landscape. The river meanders between great mountains, covered with lush vegetation typical of the tropical jungle. We go up the current, crossing strong rapids that balance the unstable boat, and observe the life of the inhabitants of the small villages nestled on its shores.

The seat is not too comfortable (wooden chair, with lifeguards on top of it as a cushion). So when we get to Nong Khiaw at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, we are quite tired, although we quickly forget to observe the postal environment, in which the town is located. Almost all the guest houses swirl around the river, with various types of bungalows.

After visiting several of them, we decided on the bamboo bungalow with a bathroom with hot water, as well as a mosquito net, and a terrace overlooking the river. The first thing we do is buy a beer and a bag of chips (they are more expensive than a plate of noodles) and we enjoyed watching the sunset.

When we finish showering, it is night, and there is very little light in the town, so we go to the only place where we can connect to the Internet. At about 7.30 we go to dinner. After comparing several restaurants, we decided on an Indian-Laotian with a quality cuisine. The beers are the cheapest we have taken to date, and an hour later we return to our privileged terrace, where we make time before going to sleep.

In the distance we hear music like a disco, which we assume erroneously that it will end soon. Protected by our mosquito net (which overwhelms me more than anything else), we cannot sleep until 2 in the morning, till the party stopped. The fact is that between the music, the mosquito net, and the one that at 5 o'clock in the morning, dozens of roosters agreed to sing at the same time, I hardly slept all night.


There is no point in staying in bed, so we got up, and decided to take a walk around, while a crowd of children walked to school. After the brief, but demanding walk, we had breakfast at a nearby restaurant. I go to the pier to confirm that the boat to Muang Noi, does not leave until 11 in the morning, as we were told yesterday, and buy the tickets. I go back to take the backpack and cross the bridge that connects the two sides of the town.

At the jetty we sit some time, until we leave at the scheduled time, along with a mixture of tourists of different nationalities, and some locals. We see a small boat half as big as yesterday, in which there are not even seats, but we do not care, because the landscape is becoming more beautiful.

In less than an hour we reached our destination, and again the ritual of looking for accommodation begins. We choose in this case a guest house, with a terrace on the Nam Ou River, where we are told that there is hot water. We left the dirty clothes to be washed, and we bought some fried plantains and a pancake, in a stand located in the main street, and almost unique, of the town.

After lunch, we went on an interesting route, which will take us to several caves used in the Indochina War, as a hiding place for people. Although we carry a flashlight, we are afraid for fear of getting lost. We continue walking in the direction of Ba Ha, a village located 5 km away through rice fields surrounded by rugged mountains, where farmers work with hand tools. We have to go through unstable bridges and small streams, and we meet many people.

At 4 o'clock in the afternoon we still have not reached our destination. So, fearing that it will be night, we return where we came to get to see the sunset from the Guest House. Immediately, the generators that provide light to the town are lit from 6 to 10 at night. At the same time I take the opportunity to ask about a trip we have seen announced in several agencies.

It consist of fishing, visiting a couple of riverside villages, going down tubing down the river (which is to let yourself be carried away by the current, on a truck tire), to finish eating the fish, grilled over a fire. The price is quite expensive, although the manager tells us that if we find more people, it will be cheaper.

We have dinner at the town's best looking restaurant, and then take a walk to discover the surprisingly lonely garden pub. We hear Western pop music, with a trunk burning outside, as a heating, though the temperature is excellent. There, we started a conversation, with one of the waiters, who turns out to be a guide.

We asked for the excursion, who offer to do it with us for about half the price that the owner of the guest house had offered us. We accept, pay a part and book him for the next morning.


At last we have slept 9 hours at a stretch, without annoying noises. At 7 o'clock in the morning we prepare the backpack for the excursion and arrange the luggage a little. After breakfast we go to a bar that has the kitchen, literally on the street, with a bonfire and a couple of pans, with which they prepare fried plantains, and pancakes. There are already many people wandering around the village, and we relax taking a pancake with banana and a great assorted fruit plate.

At 9, we met with our guide, who tells us that he can only accompany us initially, because he has to go to his village, upstream, to see his son, but to replace him has brought his brother. We are about to embark, and they tell us that there is one more traveler, a young German. So they reduce the price of the trip, which we appreciate. Immediately we left in a small boat, with the guide, the boatman and the three tourists, with the tires for the tubing, on the stern.

The landscape is amazing, and the river has a green color, so even though we are quite uncomfortable, we enjoyed the trip. Half an hour later we stopped at a small village of artisans. We climb back to the canoe and shortly after we stop in the town where the children receive us with the cry of falang, falang (foreigner, foreigner). There live families dedicated to fishing, growing rice, and collecting fruits (almost as 10,000 years ago, with the Neolithic revolution).

I began to slide on the tire. The water is not too hot, but as it is sunny, it is very good in the river. The current takes us slowly and I enjoy like a dwarf of solitude in the middle of the river, with the song of the birds in the background, and the lush green of the mountains, whose pointed peaks seem to reach the sky.

The sun hits me in the face, and causes golden reflections on the water, and I think I fall asleep, in such a relaxing moment, that I will remember all my life. From time to time the noise of some boat, disturbs that peace a little. I notice how our passengers look at us, a little surprised that at this time, (it seems that in the summer, it is very normal), there is tourists doing tubing.

An hour later, the clouds begin to cover the sky, and it is not so good. Fortunately, we soon reached the small beach where the others are waiting for us, roasting a dozen small fish that others have managed to fish. I tell the guide to let me try, and with the net, I can catch one more. So the menu is made up of fish for each one, glutinous rice with hot curry, and some leaves that have been picked from a nearby tree, and which serve as a salad.

After lunch we go back to Muang Noi, where we pay what we owe in the guest house. After taking a shower with warm water, we have a beer on the terrace, looking at the river. At about 5 we went to school, where yesterday we saw that there were children practicing football, with the intention of playing. I'm on time, because a match is going to start.

The field has grass, but it is full of potholes and cow poop. People cross in the middle, and if we add the difficulty to know who is on which side, makes it difficult to give a good pass. The course of the game is a true reflection of the Laotian daily life, with continuous interruptions, without knowing very well why, and with a referee, who whistles all the time. Anyway, I spend a fun hour, and yes, I take all the balls up, because I'm the tallest of them all.

When it's over, it's already dark. So I take another shower, and we go to the bar, where our guide on the river is baking bread in a traditional oven. It's a starry night, and the music is in the background, that makes us order another beer and another slice of bread.

At 8 we go to dinner, fearing that they can close the restaurants. We took alone a bamboo soup, duck skewers and noodles. At the end we take a little walk in the dark, and observe inside the houses, that despite the cold, are completely open, as families watch television. In the street there are people chatting around a bonfire, some tourists scattered by the few bars and little else, so we go to sleep.


Another night we have slept well as the fatigue is accumulating. After preparing the suitcases, we go to breakfast. I have some fried eggs and a cheese sandwich. We bought the tickets for the boat to Nong Khiaw, and in half an hour we sail downstream, to get to the pier quite quickly. The landscape is almost prettier than on the outward journey, because the clouds seem to want to play with the mountains, and offer some amazing photographs.

Once with the bags in our possession, we walk to the nearby bus station, consisting of a booth and two vans at the door. We get the tickets for Oudomxay, city where we have to change to Luang Namtha. Quickly we went up to a minivan, quite decent, next to two French couples and a Laotian. The road is a real hell, and potholes make us bounce like balls.

So it took us 3 hours to get to Oudomxay. There we have an hour until the bus leaves for Luang Namtha. So after buying the tickets we take advantage of an open-air bar to have a grilled fish, soup and a beer. Fifteen minutes before the start, we see that almost everyone is already seated, so we went running and take the last free seat.

The trip is amazing, with continuous stops, where people go up and down. When we arrive at Luang Nam Tha it is night, and there are several tuc-tucs, waiting. We go to the guesthouse recommended in various guides. After dinner we go to the restaurant. After dinner we go to a cyber to connect to the Internet, and after reading the emails, we go to sleep, since we are tired after 8 hours of boat and bus.


We thought that we were no longer affected by the sound of the cocks at dawn, but it is not like that, and again these animals wake us up. We moved the luggage to our new guest house. We had breakfast in the restaurant. Although the day is cold and very foggy, we rented a motorcycle for an amazing price, to see the surroundings.

So, after equipping ourselves with several layers of clothes, and loading the fuel, we began to visit temples and markets, crossing unstable bamboo bridges. At this time the sun warms up strongly, and we take advantage of the opportunity to remove clothes, while they prepare a great pineapple bought from a roadside stand.

Around one o'clock in the afternoon, we stop for a few beers and a little fish, before wandering aimlessly, penetrating into villages where the children look at us with curiosity. After 2 hours, we arrive at Muang Sing a village located very close to China of which they speak quite well in the Lonely Planet guide.

We arrive is a lazy hamlet, where there is hardly anything to see, because even the market, which can be the most interesting, is almost empty. For that reason we approach the checkpoint of the border with China, although it does not have anything special either. When we got back we had a beer in the garden of a guest house, where a few tourists snoozed, and we bought a huge pineapple, which we eat under a tree.

It's early, but we decided to go back to Luang, and make stops along the way. In one of them, we diverted to visit some very cool waterfalls, badly indicated. After leaving the motorcycle we walked, a path surrounded by thick vegetation, which makes us feel like Indiana Jones, although the sight of a pair of spiders of considerable size, makes us no longer enjoy so much. Upon returning, two countrymen who live in a cabin, on the edge of the road, charge us for the entry.

Before nightfall, we return to the city, and leave the motorcycle (we tell the manager, that tomorrow we want to change it because it has the speedometer broken). After taking a shower, we take a walk, although there is not much to see, and we opted for an Indian dinner, which a British couple had recommended.

It really has a great dinner, and I especially love the green chicken curry. When we left, we decided to go somewhere other than tourists, and we got into a pub full of Laotians. Upon entering, some young boys and a girl invite us to come to their table. The most fun was that the waiter handed us a letter written only in Laotian. We try to have a conversation with them.

Travel to Liguria and Genoa in Italy

August 15, 2018

Today it was time to say goodbye to La Spezia to go to the Ligurian capital of Genoa in Italy. As a curiosity, apart from the rich history that Genova had, the invention of cowboys is attributed to it. Apparently the word jeans to indicate the famous fabric, originated here around the year 1500.

With the name Blue De Genes and the distortion to English blue jeans, indicated a type of blue fabric very resistant to the weather. It was perfect for the sailors of Liguria, and was used for candles and to cover merchandise. It was manufactured in the French city Nimes, from which originates the word denim.

Travel to Liguria and Genoa in Italy

Day 1

About 9:30 am we we gave the keys to the apartment to the landlady. We had breakfast for the last time in the cafe and we headed to the train station. We had taken the ticket online with what we saved something in the rate with respect to take it out at the time.

A lady announced by public address that the train from Roma Termini to Genoa will arrive 20 minutes late. So we have to wait more on the platform, where we entertain ourselves watching the movement of passengers. There are enough tourists equipped to visit, probably, the cinque terre. We see a group of pigeons that flutter on the tracks trapping small pieces of biscuit that a man has purposely crumbled for them.

We ride on the float, as the Italians call the wagon, and we settle on the left side to go to the sea. The journey lasted an hour crossing the villages that we already knew in addition to Sestri Levante, or Deiva Marina among others. Through the window we could see the calm sea, with people bathing and the sunny day.

We got off at the Brignole station and, in 10 minutes we arrived at the hotel. Thanks to a rewards promotion we got a good price for this hotel in Genoa that was in a quiet place and at the same time close to the center. It is on the Via Corsica, in a residential neighborhood, located on a street that looked more like a Parisian boulevard. It is very different from the characteristic Genoa caruggi or alleyways.

After check-in they gave us a genoa map and, after leaving the luggage in the room, we went out to wander around. We found the layout of the streets marked on the map with black arrows indicating the different heights that exist. Genoa is built on levels. It has been growing around its great port in a disorderly way and adapting to the irregular orography that surrounds it, towards the hills.

From Via Corsica we went to the Dante square. After going down some stairs we found an enclosure full of motorcycles. There are many throughout the city. In the background stand out the two towers of Walls of Genoa that was once the main gateway to Genoa. It is one of the medieval works that are preserved, very close to the central Piazza De Ferrari. Just next door is the house museum of Christopher Columbus, whom the Genoese consider their countryman. Although his origin is not very clear, as it is disputed between Spaniards, Portuguese and Italians.

The house can be visited but we only see it from the outside and we stop at the remains of the Cloister of Saint Andrea. Here only part of the arches of the cloister remains. These were absorbed, like the towers of the door, by the subsequent development of homes in the area.

From there we go to Piazza De Ferrari, where we find an open space with a huge fountain in the center which is a meeting place for young people. At the beginning of the nineties the area was rehabilitated and paved for the celebration of the V centenary of the discovery of America.

At one end we find the Ducal Palace, one of the main historical buildings. Inside, we can find different exhibitions and activities used as a cultural center. The lunch hour was approaching and we headed to the Vico Superiore del Ferro, where I had located a restaurant that was not far from the square. We moved between the alleys and soon found a kind of tavern where they serve typical dishes and others. The place is decorated and they have used the chopping boards of the butchers in the tables.

We take a dish of the day to choose among several, water or glass of wine and a coffee. With caffeine in the body we go uphill to the Spianata Castelletto, after climbing a lot of stairs. It is a panoramic point, an esplanade from where we get a view over the roofs of the city, with the port, the sea and the lantern or lighthouse in the background. We sat for a while in the shade while we observed the houses crowded with manifest disorder that, in surface, formed a labyrinth of narrow alleys.

We resume the march in search of the D'Albertis Castle that hosts the museum of the cultures of the world. It was built on a fortification of the sixteenth century by Captain Enrico D'Albertis. He donated it himself to the city along with all the ethnographic, nautical and archaeological material he had collected during his travels around the world. Access to the gardens is free so we decided to go and see them.

After resting for a while in the area we went down to the center making a stop at the botanical garden near the university. Here they have some greenhouses and plants with their names on posters.
We continue with the descent until we find ourselves side by side with the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata del Vastato. We found it quite ugly on its side facade.

We entered to see it. Its interior completely erased the first impression after discovering the artistic splendor of the Genoese baroque. The church dominates in an imposing way on the Piazza della Nunziata. The ambitious project that entailed its expansion and maintenance was partly financed thanks to the families of Genoese noblemen. We sat for a while looking at the paintings on the ceiling, the solomonic columns and the ornate decoration of his style.

On leaving, we headed for the Via Balbi, which comprises the junction of the square where we were with the Piazza Acquaverde. Here the other great Genoese railway station is located, that of Principe.

Via Balbi was built in the early six hundred by a member of the Balbi family, rich Genoese bankers. Here we find a good number of prestigious palaces, many of them inscribed in the Genoese rolli and declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. The street is the seat of the university specializing in Law, Political Science and Philosophy. The university library is also present, a building of the six hundred that belonged to the Jesuits.

We went first to the Palazzo Reale, from which we saw only the gardens with free access. At the entrance there is an exposed carriage and, on the other side, the sculpture of a huge foot. In the background a garden opens with a fountain where a child, accompanied by his grandfather, spills coca-cola in the pond because he says that the fish like soda.

The university is not very busy but what we do see is a large number of announcements in a bulletin board regarding the search and offer of accommodation during the course. We left via Balbi, after having seen its palaces with decorated facades we went down the alleys to the port. There we ran into the Chiesa e Commenda di San Giovanni di Pre.

It is a monastic complex consisting of two Romanesque churches and a three-story building, the commenda. It has undergone numerous restorations and is located in Via Pre, one of the oldest streets in Genoa. In this area we can breathe the atmosphere of what port cities were in the past. There are people from different parts of the world, small workshops, typical buildings with painted facades and narrow alleys.

We soon go to the promenade located in the Old Port, which for several years has been converted into a cultural, tourist and service center. It was renovated on the occasion of the 500th centenary celebration of the discovery of America in 1992. We first see the Galata Museo del Mare.

It is the largest maritime museum in the Mediterranean where boats, armory of the dock, atlases and fishing objects among others are conserved. There is also a room dedicated to emigration.
Very close we came across the boat that Roman Polanski used to shoot his movie Piratas and it is a museum that can be visited. Around we met a lot of people selling handbags on the sidewalk that mimic the most exclusive brands and models.

We leave the ship behind and see the entrance to the Genoa Aquarium, the second largest in Europe after Valencia. As we knew this one and in March we visited several in the Emirates, we did not enter to see it either.

Another of the main buildings of the old port, is the Bigo, a panoramic elevator that turns on itself. It was built for the cargo cranes that were in charge of lowering the merchandise that arrived at the port. The structure rises allowing to see a view of the city and the rest of the port.

We continue with the walk along the pier and we find the Bolla, a kind of glass and steel sphere inside which live exotic plants, reptiles, insects and some birds. We approach to see the interior and we can only distinguish between the plants an orange bird.

Both the sphere and Il Bigo were designed by Renzo Piano, well-known Italian architect, in charge of remodeling this area of ​​the port. After resting for a while in the port, watching the people on a sunny afternoon, we approach a market where they sold all kinds of food under the painted facades that once had to look splendid.

Strolling we arrive at the San Lorenzo Cathedral, in the square of the same name. It is a medieval church on which later additions were made. The initial project included two towers but, as it happens in other places, only the right was finished housing the only bell tower of the temple.

The decoration with black and white strips of the facade was a symbol of nobility typically used in Genoa. As a symbol of the struggle of Christ against evil, two lions appear on the sides, with a curious sad expression on their faces.

We took the opportunity to take a refreshing gelato sitting on the steps of the cathedral watching the incessant movement of people from one side of the square to the other. Nearby is the Chiesa del Gesu e dei Santi Ambrogio e Andrea. We went to see the interior, where we discovered a lot of paintings.

Upon leaving, we decided to end the day by going to the hotel. We take advantage of the fact that it has a small wellness area with spa, which is comforting after the intense day in Genoa. We dined at the hotel restaurant because they offered us with a voucher to use in bars and restaurants. We took advantage of it, although there are numerous options outside. We have an aperitif and dinner with the pinchos and a rich pizza.

Travel to Liguria and Genoa in Italy

Day 2

Our second day in Genoa dawned clear, with splendid sunshine and pleasant temperature. After breakfast at the hotel we stopped at the first kiosk that we saw to buy tickets for the urban bus. As we had planned to make several trips, we opted for a one day ticket and allows unlimited use of the bus for 24 hours.

We went to the Via XX Settembre. In front of the eastern market, we took bus to Prato. Our goal was to visit one of the most outstanding cemeteries in Europe. It is famous for hosting an important collection of funeral sculpture and having outstanding figures such as the wife of Oscar Wilde or Giuseppe Mazzini.
Although cemetery tourism may sound a little strange, it is well worth a visit, because it is an authentic open-air museum. The extension is considerable and we spent three hours traveling it and they flew by us.

The monumental cemetery of Staglieno is for the Genoese people a place of remembrance and commemoration. It also represents a fascinating artistic and historical testimony of the city of Genoa. The municipal administration, aware of the cultural importance has, has undertaken initiatives aimed at the restoration and enhancement of the numerous works that have made this cemetery famous. In one of the main doors is the statue of the Faith, a work in white marble of 9 meters high, made by the sculptor Santo Varni.

We got off next to the flower stalls and, at the entrance, a man came to offer us a plan of the whole. Later another one appeared offering its services like guide but we decided to make the visit by free.
We started with the less monumental part, and already here the decoration of the tombs seemed surprising to us. We move between sculptures and niches and soon we cross an aqueduct leading to the part of the English cemetery. Two sculptures of a perfectly dressed couple draw our attention in the middle of a forest of trees.

A little further up were the tombs of the Orthodox. This cemetery welcomes people from different confessions, reflecting the cosmopolitan character that Genoa has always had. The Lutheran tombs looked more austere and those of the Jews wore their symbols such as the Star of David and the 7-branched candelabrum, along with the name of the deceased written in Hebrew and Italian.

We had climbed stairs and, from the top we saw the central temple. We accessed without ceasing to surprise us with all the sculptures that are there. Here the dust has accumulated over the years and where silence reigned, only disturbed by the curious steps of some visitors. In the interior of this pantheon the remains of illustrious citizens are conserved.

Along the perimeter walls extend the galleries, authentic chests of sculptural works. There are several thematic itineraries such as the Risorgimento, the Angels, the Charity and Charity and the Emotions. We began to walk the galleries to the west and up, below and at the top. The themes of charity are represented by female figures.

As for the emotions, in Staglieno art and nature merge, creating an alliance of exclusive beauty in a context of thick vegetation. In the Ammirato tomb the dramatization is exalted, which prevails over the melancholy, evidenced by the singular pose of the young woman, with her head tilted, letting her hair fall.

Empress Sissi, visiting the Staglieno Cemetery in March 1893, stopped for a long time before the monument to Giacomo Carpaneto. It is a notable work of Scanzi. This tomb was commissioned by Francesco Oneto, a wealthy merchant and president of Banca Generale. The angel who holds the trumpet of universal judgment with his right hand, offers no gesture of consolation, for he seems distant and imperturbable.

The sensuality of this statue profoundly shocked the contemporaries, but it enjoyed great success as it was repeated countless times, both by Giulio Monteverde himself, the author of the work, and by the imitators of the artist. It can be found in several versions in many cemeteries in Italy, France, Germany or England.

In the Erba edition of the Genoese sculptor Saint Saccomanno, the female figure sitting on the tomb with her eyes closed and holding the poppy seeds in her hands, the pagan symbol of eternal oblivion, also shocked her contemporaries, partly because the sensuality that emanates from the naked shoulder of the woman.

From 1860 Realism had a rapid diffusion in Staglieno that can be seen in the representation of human figures and their surroundings, treated with great precision and attention to detail. The expressions of pain are recreated, the gestures of the hands, the dresses and the hair seem tremendously real. In the Pignone tomb, by sculptor Giuseppe Benetti, a representation of death appears on its own. The young wife discovers the veil, a symbol of long illness, which covers her late husband, rich businessman, owner of a large shipping company.

In the tomb of Rivara, by Giovanni Battista Villa, the brother, the sister-in-law and the nephew are represented. The sculptor captured his clothes with maximum detail, as can be seen in the boy's shoes or corduroy trousers. It also represents on their faces their state of mind and the wedge of the stylistic precepts of bourgeois realism.

The tomb of Caterina Campodonico, the walnut seller, may be the best known monument in the cemetery. This woman saved all her life to make a sculpture in Staglieno and is represented with the necklace of nuts in his hands and a thread of bread. Caterina managed to get Lorenzo Orengo, a sculptor of the Genoese bourgeoisie, to make this sculpture for her.

At times, the sculptures take on a more macabre tint and we cross corridors with a ghostly atmosphere, with the cobwebs hanging from the ceiling, the walls with humidity and a sepulchral silence, perfect props for a horror movie.

After the long walk through the cemetery and, overwhelmed by the amount of sculptures we have seen and those that have yet to be discovered, we take the bus to the center of Genoa. We eat again in Taggiou and after resting for a while we go to Via Garibaldi, very close to there. In this street there are several mansions and manor houses.

Formerly known as Strada Nuova, Via Garibaldi is one of the most visited places in the city, as it contains that representative set of the commercial society of the sixteenth century. The numerous works of Renaissance architecture are surprising, with sculpted facades, stuccoed and medallions.

Along the street are lined buildings with atriums, steps, patios, rooms with frescoes and hanging gardens. Here we find outstanding art galleries such as the Red Palace, the White Palace and the Spinola Palace.

We leave via Garibaldi walking through the Caruggi, the narrow alleys that lead to the port. We cross the Via de la Maddalena, a curious street that the Genoese do not frequent at night or during the day.

We arrived to the cathedral and took the opportunity to visit the interior, since the previous day we found it closed. In the Dante square, right next to the house of Columbus, we took the bus to Boccadasse, the fishermen's neighborhood a short distance from the center. In 25 minutes we got out and saw the silhouetted silhouette of the coast with a group of houses near the sea.

From the church we go to a pretty busy square. There are people walking, fishing, taking a gelato in front of the sea or enjoying the afternoon in this quiet place. Boccadasse is a small neighborhood that opens around a small port and a pebble beach. There are people lying down and others bathing, because of the temperature.

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