Showing posts with label Honeymoon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Honeymoon. Show all posts

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Leaving on a jet plane and landing on a city of tubes

So, finally! Here’s my kwento on our London honeymoon a couple of weeks ago.


We were booked on a Cathay Pacific flight, and darlings, if you must fly, fly Cathay Pacific. Their service is good, the food is great, and you have your own personal TV! The shows and movies are well selected, too. Plus, you can check in online. Tapos, kung sabihin mo sa check-in crew na you’re on honeymoon, they’ll upgrade you to business class! Wowowee, ang bait super!


Basta, the best ang Cathay. Maganda pa yung cabin crew nila, hindi tulad ng Lufthansa—panget na, matanda at masungit pa! Funny lang kasi they kept talking to Vince in Chinese. Heehee, mukha kasing Intsik ang asawa ko.


Anyway, here I am at Hong Kong’s international airport. Ni hao! This is my first time in HK! Grabe, ang ganda ng airport nila. At ang laki! There was one time we even had to take a train inside the airport to get from one gate to another. Nakakaawa talaga ang airport natin dito sa Manila… Anyway, I liked Hong Kong so much (yes, even though I was only there for a few minutes) and since Vince loves Hong Kong, too (aside from living there for a couple of years, he and his family used to visit HK every year), we’re really excited to go back maybe in November or December!


Anyway, the real reason why you want to book a good airline is because 15 hours strapped to a chair is torture. You want to make the experience less inhuman really. By the time we landed in Heathrow (which kinda looked like NAIA but bigger), we were ready to stretch our legs forever. London was more than happy to oblige.


This city is made for walking. The famous Underground is not for the claustrophobic, the weak, the unfit, and the slow paced. I am not claustrophobic but I am definitely not fit. Too many times in the next few days, I gasped in dismay sa sobrang layo ng tunnels, sa sobrang steep ng escalators (yep, sometimes you have to run up those things), and sa sobrang bilis ng mga tao. Grabe, kung mabagal kang maglakad, itutulak ka talaga nila! So when in Rome… or in this case, London, talagang I had no choice but to sprint! Vince nga said he’s very proud of me. I’m a very slow walker kasi; I like taking in the sights, plus I’m asthmatic. But in London, asthma be damned! Mas gugustuhin mong hikain ka rather than be pushed aside by these irate and impatient Londoners.


But I loved the Underground. I adapted pretty fast, I’m proud to say. And the Underground, being underground, is warm. In cold cold London, I quickly fell in love with anything warm.


*continue reading… Contest ahead!

Museums are on top of our must-see list!

London is a very old city and it’s bursting with culture. It’s really fascinating to watch actually. You see centuries-old buildings with ultra-modern ones, elegantly dressed people with trendy/trashy ones. You see many many kinds of people from all over the world—lots of Europeans, Indians and Pakistanis, lots of beautiful black people (hindi yung mga nakakatakot na hiphop ones but these amazingly graceful and deeply black creatures!), but not very many Asians—sad.


Anyway, the British Museum was nearest our hotel so we visited it first. That museum is huge. Kulang ang isang araw para ikutin ito. It’s just filled with all these artifacts from all over the world nung sinaunang panahon. Our super favorite was the Lion Hunt stone reliefs from ancient Aramea. It was an incredibly large, incredibly detailed record of a king and his court on a lion hunt.


Then we went to visit the Greeks and Romans rooms. Sad to say but Vince and I got bored after a while. I mean, after seeing pots upon pots and statue upon statue, our eyes kinda glazed over. So our lofty conceit of us thinking we are scholars just went down the drain. Darn.


We did get a kick out of seeing Dum-Dum in all his stone glory. If you saw Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum, you’d know why we giggled excitedly, “Look, it’s Dum-Dum! He wants gum-gum!” Yeah, I know we’re inane. Seriously, though, seeing a real Easter Island monolithic statue is quite impressive. You look at him, serenely gazing off into the distance, and you begin to wonder what he’s looking at, why he was made, and all those existentialist frou-frou you don’t think about on a normal day living your inane life.

We trooped over to the Ancient Egypt rooms next and there were even more statues and stuff. And then we saw the mummies. Friends, I hate to admit this but my stomach turned over. This was my first time to see dead people. I mean, I’ve been to wakes and funerals, of course, but this is different. These were people dug up from their graves and their wrappings actually still looked moist. I know that’s impossible but I was so horrified kasi lahat ng scary movies na nakita ko talagang binalikan ako and I was scared. Sorry, no photos of the mummies. I obviously didn’t want any souvenirs of those scary things but here’s Vince enjoying the sights.



For even more dead people, we went to Westminster Abbey. Here in this photo, I am trying to decide if the Abbey was worth the GBP 12 entrance fee. Syempre, dahil dalawa kami ni Vince eh di ang equivalent nun PHP 2,000, just to see a church! But the guide book said it was definitely worth it, so in we went. At first, medyo nadismaya ako kasi parang Manila Cathedral o San Agustin Church siya. You know, high ceilings, big windows, altar, fantastic architecture and design elements, etc. I’m not putting down our churches, ha. In fact, ang San Agustin ang isa sa mga paborito kong lugar sa Maynila. What I meant was parang kung parehas lang pala ng mga simbahan natin, baket pa ako nagbayad ng mahal?!


Hay, buti na lang mali ako. My dismay went pffft once we started on the audio tour (it’s so cool—there are these portable things that look like phones and as you go around the Abbey, you get a history per section, when you’re ready. Pwede mo pa i-replay! But the best part? It’s voiced by Jeremy Irons! How frikkin’ cool is that!). Sayang nga lang kasi bawal mag-take ng pictures.


Anyway, I’m a sucker for English history so when I saw where past kings and queens were buried, that was so far out. The tombs of Queens Elizabeth I and Mary I did make me somber. Their history as sisters, rivals, and queens is so significant to the world that being at their tombs—well, it just took my breath away. Andun din yung oak coronation chair. Lahat ng monarchs ng England dun umupo. It looked really crappy already but that’s because it’s centuries old!


What really got Vince and me excited was Poet’s Corner. Here we found the tombs and memorials of great writers Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Keats, William Blake, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and more. We were so astounded! It just humbles you, ya know? Here, at our feet, lie the most celebrated minds of our time and they’ve passed on yet they remain immortal. You can’t help but take stock of your own life and what you’ve done with it.


Anyway, for those graves alone, the Westminster Abbey’s fee was worth it. Although medyo quiet and subdued kami ni Vince after the tour hehe. So wag niyo pupuntahan ito kung di niyo gusto malungkot.


While I liked the Abbey, my favorite museum was the National Gallery. Sadly, cameras aren’t allowed here either. So all we ever got was this shot of Vince squinting at me from outside the museum. In this particular museum I saw with my very own eyes paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Da Vinci, Manet, Titian, Ingres, Degas, Holbein, Velasquez, Vermeer, El Greco, Poussin, Rembrandt and more. I briefly studied Renaissance Art in college and it was one of the happiest things I’ve ever done so I’ve dabbled in the study of European art since then. Now seeing some of the art I pored over when I was young… I was just struck dumb. I even got teary-eyed. Iba pala talaga kung kaharap mo na yung mga famous paintings na ito. Nakakalula.


*continue reading… Contest ahead!

Honeymoons involve dicks, right?

Yes they do, but I was only expecting to encounter just one specimen not dozens upon dozens!


In the British Museum, I got a real kick out of this particular carving. It’s called Lovers, and it’s the oldest known sculpture of a couple making love. Very apt for my honeymoon, right? Anyway, what’s really clever with this statue is whichever way you look at it, it’s very sexual (observe below). From the side, mukha siyang penis!


Later on that day, I saw more penises. Real ones, in all shapes and sizes and colors! I saw lots of breasts, too. In Oxford Street, after a tiring afternoon shopping away, we climbed on top of a double decker bus and eto ang tumambad sa amin ni Vince!


For more than 5 minutes, nude upon nude biked and skated and rollerbladed their way past us. These are people who willingly went naked on a really cold day to raise awareness on the environment. They were asking people to stop being dependent on oil and curb car culture. Well, they got our attention!



I’m glad to report that Vince and I no longer use our car every day. We now live even closer to our work (we used to live just 10 minutes away but now the office has moved across the street!) and I’ve always been a big user of the MRT/LRT and buses. We walk to the grocery, and everywhere we need to go is very near. Because of this practice, we only used to gas up every 6 or 7 weeks. Now that we live across work, we don’t know when we’ll gas up next. Every little thing helps our planet!


*continue reading… Contest ahead!

Big Ben sure is big

And so is my forehead! Harhar!


We really liked walking around this area. About 10-15 minutes away, we got to the South Bank where our real destination, The London Eye, lords it over the River Thames. That's a cool area, by the way. There's an aquarium museum for the kids (sharks!!!), a movie museum (looked unimpressive haha), and Dali Universe. That guy is out of this world. Here are some of what his artwork looked like.

Crazeeee! But great, right?


*Continue reading... Contest ahead!

Up in the biggest ferris wheel in the world!

Vince and I fell in love while riding a ferris wheel. Yep. We were at the UP National Writers Workshop in Baguio nine years ago. We were exhausted from all the criticism the panelists threw at us so some fellow writers got it into their heads to visit a perya to just let loose. It was a cheap perya with cheap rides. Vince and I didn't really know each other and I don't think we really liked each other at that point. However, we found ourselves sharing the little squeaky dangerous-looking pod and for a few minutes we were scared for our lives. Maybe that vulnerable moment did it, or the stars in the clear mountain sky, or the chill of the Baguio breeze, or the most incredible conversation in our life--whatever it was, by the time we got down shakily from that contraption, we were inseparable.

So obviously when we visited the city with the largest, highest, biggest ferris wheel in the world, why, what else should we do??? Catch a flight on The London Eye naturally!

The London Eye from our boat when we took the river cruise.

Underneath the giant wheel

Behind and below: Westminster, Big Ben, River Thames

Behind and beyond: the sky!

Needless to say, we found it very romantic.

*Continue reading... Contest ahead!

Sights that made me sigh

I love two dead royals: Anne Boleyn, queen consort of the infamous Henry VIII, and Diana, Princess of Wales.


They lived such tragic lives but at the same time, these two women brought so much change to their country. Anne was the mother of the English Reformation and Diana modernized royalty.


So when we passed by the Tower of London, I can’t help but sigh. In this fortress, Anne was imprisoned as her husband romanced his new queen-in-waiting, Jane Seymour. Anne was quickly beheaded yet her last words still spoke of her love and respect for the king.


Then when we passed by St. Paul's Cathedral where Diana and Charles were wed, I let out another big sigh. I could still see her walking down those steps in that ridiculously pouffy wedding dress, young and glowing and looking shyly but happily at her prince. I think she still can't believe that she was now the star of every little girl's bedtime story. Well, we all know how that fairy tale ended.


Such sad wives. And on your honeymoon, that kinda jars you, ya know?


*continue reading… Contest ahead!

Alas! British food, I will not miss you (except for choco muffins!)

Our hotel was Premier Travel Inn at Kings Cross. It’s very near the busy tube station but it was quiet. I loved our hotel (sorry, no pics!) since it was near everything—the tube station, the bus station, pubs, a McDonald’s (though we didn’t eat there but it looked bright and friendly anyway), and a Tesco right at the back!


That little supermarket has really yummy food. I found these incredible chocolate muffins there. Super sarap! Grabe! I even brought home 2 bags of those muffins. Yes, here in Manila! Tinipid ko talagang kainin yung mga muffins na yun pero all good things must come to an end and after a week, I very sadly finished off the last chocolate muffin and Vince thought I was so kawawa kasi pati yung maliliit na crumbs na nahulog sa lamesa, pinulot ko. Yes, I am that pathetic. If there’s anyone out there kind enough to send me these incredibly delicious chocolate muffins, please!


The pastries and desserts in London were great but everything else… okay, like I said before, the food ain’t bad. In fact, I loved everything the first two days haha. English breakfasts are fantastic actually. The croissants and jams and jellies are superb! And the fruit juices? The freshest I've ever had.


Here’s Vince enjoying the famous English dish fish and chips. Fish fillet and potato wedges for a whopping GBP 7. I had lasagna, served also with the ubiquitous chips. And salad. They like their greens. My dish was also a whopping GBP 7. So yung total mga PHP 1,300. Masarap ba? Sabihin na lang natin na matabang yung isda at mas masarap pa ang lasagna ng Greenwich.


While Vince enjoyed the fish and chips, he did not enjoy the strange sandwich at the British Museum (ganda ng ceiling, no!). Look at his face. That sandwich cost us GBP 3.50, so it's around PHP 314!!! Mga friends, I'm not boasting here when I quote the prices of what we ate, ha. I'm just saying that the food is soooo expensive and so we were constantly feeling just a bit hungry because we just can't bring ourselves to shell out lots of cash para sa pagkain na hindi naman masarap! Kahit nga yung mga mahal na food (we tried those eventually, we figured malamang mas masarap yun), hindi talaga natuwa ang taste buds namin. Sigh!


Yung coffee naman sa Camden (I’m drinking something hot kasi maginaw, kahit na maaraw sa picture na eto), yung isang tasa GBP 1. So okay lang kasi mga ninety pesos lang so parang parehas din dito. Well, sabihin na lang natin ulit na mas masarap pa ang instant Nescafe coffee so sobrang hindi siya sulit!


My friend Ianne said that she found the food great but maybe that’s because she ate mostly at Asian restos. Ianne, I dunno where you ate but the curry we had and the lumpiang Shanghai and the sweet and sour pork, pati yung Chinese fried rice that we hunted and eventually found, grabe. Matabang. I mean, c’mon, how can you go wrong with fried rice?! In fact, na-depress ako after a while. Umiyak nga ako nung last day namin dun. Hinahanap-hanap ko talaga ang lutong Pinoy.


Sa totoo lang, the food is good. Not out-of-your-mind-fantabulous but okay. London, after all, is not a destination known for its food (unlike Hong Kong or Thailand, for example). Ang masakit lang kasi sobrang mahal. Yung egg-and-tomato sandwich halos Php200, for example, wala pang mayo o mustard man lang. So you'll think, "Damn, for that kind of money, I could've eaten at a fine dining resto back home!" Grabe, yung isang bote ng tubig dun (see photo), mas mahal pa sa gasolina natin dito! Kaya pati tubig, tinitipid namin inumin. Hahahaha!


So Vince and I, when we got home, we ate at North Park, C2, all these yummy places here. And we kept going, "My golly gulay, we ate enough for four people and that was only, like, GBP 10!"


*continue reading… Contest ahead!

A night at the theater rocked us!

You know what’s the very best thing about London aside from the National Gallery? It’s West End.


The theater culture in London is astonishing. There must have been more than a dozen theaters in the city, each featuring a play or a musical, with performances every day, twice a day. Here in Manila, which I believe is a bigger city, how many plays do we stage in a day? Please, let’s support our theater culture!!!


So there we were on our last night in the city and Vince and I decided to spend our money on a musical. I wanted to watch Lion King, always have, always will. But the husband is not a fan of the Disney movie so he was positively sure he won’t like the musical. We both liked Les Miserables but the ticket lady said, “Look, it’s your last night in London. You’ve had fun so don’t watch something that is sad and heavy, okay? Here, watch We Will Rock You. Everybody says it is the best. I got good seats and for you, I’ll give them for only GBP 35 instead of GBP 55.” So, since Vince and I love a good bargain and since Vince has been bugging me about watching We Will Rock You, we watched that.


The ticket lady wasn’t kidding. We did indeed get very good seats (near the stage, center!) and the theater was filled to the rafters with an excited buzz. In all my theater experiences here in Manila, I have never felt the electricity of anticipation that filled a theater like that. The audience was so eager to watch the play, it was disconcerting, and their excitement really rubbed off on Vince and me. This musical must be good!


And it was!


We Will Rock You is a rock musical written by Queen and Ben Elton. Honestly, the story line was a bit thin; it felt like they just needed something to string along Queen’s songs. But since the music was really really fantastic and the actors were really really good singers, it was so worth the GBP 70! The audience sang along, we danced, we clapped, we screamed and shouted, we gave them a standing ovation.


Next time we go to London, I’m just watching the theater. It was truly magnificent!


*continue reading… Contest ahead!

Guess the book with this famous landmark…

... and two readers will win a Body Shop Sun Lustre Bronzer from Body Shop's newest makeup collection, the Sun-Kissed Makeup Line.


I'm a big fan of this book series, which is, by the way, very very British. Being in London made me understand and appreciate the book way better--the night bus, wizarding money, kids sent off to boarding school, etc. Anyway, about this time last year, I was looking forward to and dreading the arrival of the very last book in this series. When I finally got to the last page, I felt bereft. No more adventures from this wizard I've grown to love for the past seven or so years.


So when I was booking our hotel a couple of months ago, I was so giddy when I found out that our hotel sat right beside Kings Cross station. And if you’re a fan of this book, you know that a special kind of train sits waiting there for its special kind of students!


Kings Cross is a huge train station but I dragged Vince there anyway, looking for Platform 9 and ¾. I just had to have a picture! Then I can pretend that I’m on my way to Hogwarts! Vince thought I was being silly. After two attempts and getting lost in the process, we finally found it. I really squealed like a kid when I found Platform 9 and ¾. I ran up to the wall, took hold of the luggage trolley and very excitedly (and stupidly) pushed and pushed that trolley into the wall. I mean, it was already halfway in! Alas, there must be no magic in me whatsoever because the wall refused to let my Muggle self through.


Nevertheless, Muggle or not, our London honeymoon was pure magic. We had so much fun (yep, despite the cold, the bland food and getting left behind by our plane because the train got into trouble and we were stuck underground for 2 hours and 50 minutes). Though Vince and I had known each other for 9 years, this week-long honeymoon made us discover more about ourselves and that it’s possible to fall even more in love with each other. London was wonderful because we are in love and nothing can be more magical than that!


So let me share that fun by holding my second blog contest! Just answer this unbelievably easy question:


What famous book series about a boy wizard and his adventures prominently featured Platform 9 and ¾ of Kings Cross station?


Two readers who will leave a comment on this post with the correct answer will win a Body Shop Sun Lustre Bronzer, which will add an enchanting glow to your skin that’s sure to bewitch all the men out there! I have two kinds: the Bronze Gleam (for morena) and the Radiant Blush (for maputi), each worth $25 or Php1,135. So tell me which one you want!


*How to win:
1. Winner will be randomly picked by me. Please don't contest the results. I have different qualifications depending on my mood!

2. Winner must have a Philippine address since shipping outside the country is expensive.
3. Please comment in this format: your answer, the bronzer variant you want (just one!), your first name, city where you're from, and email address.
4. Please do not put your full name and delivery address in the comment box since this blog is not secure. If you put your personal info, I will not be responsible for any identity theft and other problems that may arise from your actions.
5. I will announce the winner in a blog entry on July 15. I will also publish all entries then. So join lang nang join, mga friends! Baka manalo ka na!


*product photo from Body Shop website.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Just got back... and already we need a break!

London is a very busy city. So many things to do, so many things to see, so many things to visit, and nothing very good to eat!

(To be fair, despite its notoriety for bad food, British food wasn't really that bad; in fact, it was quite okay but since I come from a country rich in spices and dishes exploding with flavor, everything I ate there tasted bland. It made me very sad, I wept.)

So Vince and I are utterly exhausted. For one thing, though we went there in the summer, it was bitterly terribly cold. The cold seeped in and settled on our bones and muscles, making us stiff and cramped. To make matters worse, London is a walking city. We walked and walked and walked with our already sore and cold muscles. I don't think we ever walked and climbed stairs and ran to catch trains that much in our life ever! On the good side, my butt and legs now look great! On the bad side, we are so very tired.

Lost in the Underground.
Well, not really. The tube can be confusing at first but within two days,
we knew our way around!


So Vince declared, "I need a real vacation! I'll make you a beach lover yet. We'll go to Boracay and do nothing but eat and swim and lie in the sun. Now that's a vacation!"

So I'll lie low for a while. Recover from jet lag, recover from it all. And, to be honest, I need to focus on work since I was gone so long!

Though I sound whiny, we did have tons of fun. Tons! London is very very exciting. We did all the tourist stuff, oh we're so corny! Museums, parks, bus tours, monuments--we practically visited every famous spot in London. But we enjoyed them all!

I'll post my stories on the London holiday as soon as I feel like myself again. There's lots to tell!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Getting ready for the UK!

So, like I said, Vince and I will be flying off to the United Kingdom (I won't say where exactly because I have an ongoing contest) in two weeks. We just bought luggage. Thank goodness Robinsons Galleria has a Bag and Shoe Fair this whole month of May because we were able to buy beautiful luggage from Echolac. Actually, I was content to buy a cheap local brand but Vince said, "If we must buy something, let's check out the expensive brands first then we'll work our way down." He's right; we may actually be able to afford it! And we did!

Echolac is a Japanese brand and from the moment we heard that line, "This is from Japan..." we were sold. So we're super duper happy because we now have lovely respectable luggage that we're sure won't get mangled at the baggage area.

I've booked the hotel, too. For six nights! I really like the Trip Advisor site because customer reviews are honest and brutal so you know which hotels to avoid. Their tag line is "Get the truth. Then go." And so that's where I got the bulk of my research. While I booked a hotel that was GBP 20 over budget (multiply that with six nights and that's P8,000 I didn't want to spend), I'm confident I made the right choice. I was looking for a hotel that had a GBP 100/night rate but Travel Advisor reviews on those hotels were really bad so I'm going with Premier Travel Inn. Not the most cheap for what is supposed to be a budget hotel line but certainly good. Look at how clean it is. I stayed in a Premier Travel Inn in 2006, and I liked it there. Simple, no fuss, convenient. And the breakfast buffet (at a painful GBP 7++) was amazing!

I'm giddy with anticipation. I've just bought a Lonely Planet guide book and it's pretty good since the book tells us what sights are really good to see and what tourist traps we should avoid. I'm also studying travel insurance options. Right now, I'm seriously considering World Nomads. The coverage is USD 300,000 each for Vince and me, and it's quite comprehensive. The sweetest thing about it is I pay just USD 30 for both of us!

Yes, everything's ready for Vince and me! We're super duper excited!

All I worry about now is the rabbits.

*image from Premier Travel Inn website.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Guess where we're going...

... and the first correct answer gets a special prize!*

Vince and I are finally going on our honeymoon! After one year just setting up our new and beautiful home (yep, all our money went to the darn furniture), we've decided to be proper newlyweds and have sex in another land.

Now, we've always wanted to go to this place because...
1. the locals speak English so we don't need to learn another language
2. Vince spent his formative years there so it has a special place in his heart
3. I've always been fascinated with (and thoroughly studied) their history, especially their royals
4. I don't like beaches and wildlife. I'm a very urban girl. So we decided to visit a city.
5. Many of our most beloved authors, historical figures, and actors come from this land.

Well, we finally got our visas (that's another story for another day) and we bought our plane tickets yesterday and we're booking our hotel this weekend. I've been looking at many tourist sites till my eyes bleed, just planning the itinerary. We're both so so very very excited! A honeymoon!!! At last!!!

Here are the clues to where we're going:
  • This city is one of the oldest in the world and boasts of impressive centuries-old palaces, cathedrals and other magnificent architectural wonders.
Buckingham Palace
St. Paul's Cathedral
the bullet-shaped St. Mary Axe Tower
  • Many museums and parks figure prominently in this great urban center. It is also known for its theaters, street markets, pubs and pigeons! Oh, and did I mention the fabulous shopping???
St. James Park
pigeons at Trafalgar Square
Harrods and Harvey Nichols at Knightbridge
  • Some of the world's most iconic landmarks can be found here--from an imposing clock tower, a huge ferris wheel, and a bridge that kids sing is "falling down" to the Tube, red double-decker buses and charming phone booths painted in red.
Tower Bridge
double-decker red bus
the ever-efficient Underground Tube system

Those clues should be enough! So tell me...

Where will Vince and I spend our honeymoon?


The correct answer gets a bottle of Burberry's latest fragrance, Burberry The Beat (again, that's another clue since Burberry is an iconic brand from this city!).

*How to win:
1. Winner will be the first commenter to correctly guess where we're going.
2. Winner must have a Manila address since courier services don't ship perfume bottles. They explode in flight. So the winner will be the first commenter from Manila who guesses right!
3. Please comment in this format: your answer, your first name, city where you're from, and email address.
4. Please do not put your full name and delivery address in the comment box since this blog is not secure. If you put your personal info, I will not be responsible for any identity theft and other problems that may arise from your actions.
5. I will announce the winner in a blog entry on June 5.

All city images from FreeFoto; Burberry image from Amazon