French Retreat (Manila Bulletin)

Sunset at Vieux Port (“Old Harbor”), one of La Rochelle’s main tourist destinations, falls at about 9 PM in the European summer. (Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita)
Sunset at Vieux Port (“Old Harbor”), one of La Rochelle’s main tourist destinations, falls at about 9 PM in the European summer. (Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita)

It was seven o’clock in the evening, and the sun was still shining as brightly as if it were three o’ clock back home. I was in a second-class coach on a train from Paris, but, luckily, I had the aisle all to myself and could stretch and take photos and contort as I pleased. In front of me, beyond the glass that reflected the blurred faces of a cute French guy reading a book and an old man with a white beard, were wide open spaces as far as my eyes could see. We had passed what seemed like endless fields of golden wheat, followed by sunflower fields, grass… and more grass under an infinite expanse of blue. It was so blue, in fact, that my eyes hurt just looking at it. There were long stretches where not a cloud could be seen in the sky.

Yet it was seven in the evening, and my day was just about to begin.

I left Paris at around five in the afternoon on a TGV train bound for La Rochelle, to visit one of my dearest girlfriends, Michelle Tandoc-Pichereau, and her husband, who prefers to be called just B. Before Paris, I had come from a grueling one-week journalism scholarship program in Prague, and then made an equally tiring 24-hour pit stop in the City of Lights to pay a courtesy call to the royalty of French landmarks. But my real destination, the real jewel of this European adventure, was La Rochelle, where I felt that I could finally hop, skip, jump, stretch, sleep, and just…breathe.

This is an excerpt only. To read the full article, visit the Manila Bulletin website HERE.

Author: Niña Terol

Niña Terol describes herself as a "communicator, connector, idea curator, and changemaker." A writer at heart whose 16-year career has spanned the public and private sectors, including roles in marketing, non-profit consulting, creative enterprise, publishing and media, politics, and corporate communications, she now heads corporate affairs for the Manila office of one of the world's largest and most trusted names in integrated marketing communications. Niña has written for a long list of magazines, dailies, and websites, including CNN Travel, Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia,, and She has also written and edited a number of books published by such institutions as the World Bank-Manila Office, the Asian Development Bank, the National Youth Commission, and a few others. Also a public speaker and trainer at heart, Niña has spoken at prestigious events such as TEDxManila (2010), Pecha Kucha Manila (2010), Ignite Manila (2010), the Social Good Summjit (2012), and the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP) Summit (2013). She has also taught live lectures and webinars, and been a panelist and thesis adviser, under the Certified Digital Marketer (CDM) program of the International Institute for Digital Marketing (IIDM). Niña graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications degree, minor in Hispanic Studies, from the Ateneo de Manila University, and obtained certificates in Internet Marketing and Professional Blogging (under scholarship) at the Asian Institute of Management and the European Journalism Institute (under scholarship) from Charles University, Prague, the Czech Republic and The Fund for American Studies, Washington D.C. When she's not working, writing, or speaking, Niña is running, practicing yoga, promoting sustainability and mindful living, trying out all sorts of dark chocolate, and planning her next plane ride. She blogs at and Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @ninaterol.

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