Londres! Londra! London!

L-O-N-D-O-N!!!

Big Ben and the Parliament from Westminster Bridge

It’s been 10months since I got to this vibrant city and I still haven’t written anything about it?! Oh my! Have to rectify that ASAP! :))

London’s Eye :)

Relocating to one of the most popular cities in the world is definitely exciting! Since it’s very popular, many people have lots of thoughts about this city. Some feedbacks that I got from friends were very varied and funny!

St. Paul’s Cathedral and Millenium Bridge seen from Tate Modern Museum

“You’re going to London?!!! That’s so exciting!!!” <<It is!

“Why London, Cath?!!! It’s gray and gloomy!” <<When it’s sunny, it’s just wonderful!

“Just in time for the Olympics! Cool!” <<IKR?! :D

“Say hi to William and Kate for me!” <<I’ll even give them a hug IF I get close enough! hehe

“The food there is terrible!” <<No comment. haha

“You can now travel to other European countries!” <<True this! It’s very cheap to travel from London!

Spaniards and Spanish supporters celebrating their Euro Cup victory at Piccadilly Circus!

Terrible weather and food aside, nothing could dampen my excitement to get here! I’ve never been on my own and here I am in this very multicultural city and having so much fun! It’s amazing how people here are from all over. I went to this one house party once and there were around 12-15 of us and we were from at least 9 countries! I also hang out with some girls every other weekend (schedule permitting) and we’re all from different countries!

Olympics 2012 is the 3rd time that London hosted this sporting event!

I love history and this city has got to be one of the most historic in the world: from the London Bridge to the dungeon of Tower of London to the famed Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Also, it just seems that so many things are happening here: from Wimbledon (okay, I haven’t been to the tournament but  I will watch the Barclays ATP World Finals! Federer and Murray FTW!) to the Olympics and Paralympics (I got into the Olympic Stadium!) to cool concerts (Coldplay! Radiohead! Muse! Snowpatrol!) and many festivals and other celebrations (the Queen’s Diamond Jubille celebration, Nottinghill Carnival to name a few).

Coldplay!♥

Dancing on the streets of Nottinghill!

I’ve got to admit that I don’t know this city very well (yet) but I am in no hurry. There were even times when my friends and I still feel like tourists here and we’re totally fine with it. I’m taking my time (coz lately, I find myself travelling outside UK hehe) exploring and discovering what this amazing place has to offer! :D

The Queen’s residence :)

 

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Inside: Louvre Museum

One of the world’s biggest museum, Musée du Louvre (The Louvre Museum a.k.a. The Louvre) is also a historic monument. The museum is found inside the Louvre Palace which was built in the 12th century by Philip II as a fortress. It was then transformed into royal residence by the subsequent rulers of France until Henry XIV made a decision to have a palace built in Versailles. It was then converted into a museum on 1793. Currently, the Louvre contains 380,000 objects and is home to 35,000 works of art. With 15,000 visitors per day, it is considered as the most visited museum in the world.

The Louvre Palace grounds

Practical informations:

The Louvre is open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Night opening until 9:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Closed on the following holidays: January 1, May 1, December 25

Ticket Prices:

€10 – Tickets for Permanent Collection
€11 –  Tickets for Exhibitions in the Hall Napoléon
€14 – Access to the permanent collections and temporary exhibitions in both the Louvré and the Musée Eugène Delacroix
Free admission – first Sunday of each month; disabled visitors and their guest/ helper; visitors under the age of 18

Apart from the Notre Dame Cathedral, this was where I spent the most of my time while I was on a trip in Paris. Whether I was inside the galleries or just chilling by the gardens outside the museum, I enjoyed them all the same. Although I couldn’t take the time to look at every piece of art there (I might get a headache), I still loved it! :D

Here are pictures in and around the museum to satisfy those curious minds of what’s it like there! ;)

From sculptures…

“Winged Victory of Samothrace”
The Nike of Samothrace. c. 190 BC

“Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss”
Antonio Canova c. 1787

“Horse Restrained by a Groom” aka “The Horses of Marly”
Guillaume ler Coustou 1739-1745

“Venus de Milo”
Alexandros of Antioch c. 130-100 BC

To paintings…

“La Belle Ferronnière” aka “Portrait of an Unknown Woman”
Leonardo da Vinci 1490-1496

“Portrait de jeune homme”
Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi aka Sandro Botticelli 1475-1480

“Portrait présumé de Gabrielle d’Estrées et de sa soeur la duchesse de Villars”
École de Fontainebleau c. 16th century

“Le Sacre de Napoléon” aka “The Coronation of Napoleon”
Jacques-Louis David 1805-1807

And not to forget the most popular room in the whole palace…

“La Joconde” aka “Mona Lisa”
Leonardo da Vinci c. 1503–1519

There are some touristy stuff that one just had to do! :))

There’s just this wonderful atmosphere of creativeness and an appreciation of art that’s very palpable inside the museum. I enjoyed seeing small groups learning about art together from little kids to those who are of more advance in age. hehe

The Louvre is this beautiful place that I kept going back to in Paris. :)

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Bella Italia!

If there’s one country that was most likely the cause for my desire to travel, I would have to say that it’s Italy. I have always loved history, arts, food and beautiful places and this country has all of those in such abundance!

I finally got to visit Italy last June for a week! :D I went to 3 cities: Roma (Rome), Firenze (Florence) and Venezia (Venice). I was supposed to travel with a friend but due to unfortunate circumstances, she wasn’t able to join me. It’s a good thing that I know people there and that I’m getting used to travelling on my own so I was fine with it albeit a tad disappointed. I’m not about to let that stop me from going there though! hehe

I try not to post photos of me but more of the places that I visit and the people that I meet. Well, maybe in just this entry, I’ll give myself an exception! haha

In Rome’s Colosseum

When I think of Italy, I almost always have Rome in mind. What with it being the capital city since ancient time and with most of the country’s famous landmarks found here. Most notable of which are the Vatican, Colosseum, Pantheon and Fontana de Trevi amongst many others. While I was here, I seriously did nothing but walk around, eat pizza, walk, eat pizza, walk… you know the drill ;) hehe

At Piazza Michelango with a panoramic view of the city of Florence

I was heading north to Venice where I will fly out back to London so I decided to visit the charming city of Florence. It’s small when compared to Rome but I met an Italian in Amsterdam who told me that I HAVE TO visit Florence and skip Naples! I originally wanted to go to Napoli. Why Napoli? For pizza of course! :D I wasn’t disappointed with my change of heart since in Florence, I found something interesting at every turn. From Galileo’s tomb to where Michelangelo used to live to Boticelli’s painting of Birth of Venus which when I saw totally gave me goosebumps! A word of caution though, too much art in a day can cause headache, well, at least for me!

Posing beside Venice’s infamous gondolas! :D

Venice was my final stop in this wonderful country. I know that it’s built on water, I’ve seen pictures of it before too but I was still amazed and found this city utterly interesting and beautiful! It’s a typical Italian city (rich in history, with many monuments, etc) save for the fact that instead of solid ground for roads, theirs is water; instead of cars or buses making traffic, they have waterbuses, gondolas and water taxis too! I was amazed! hehehe

Seven days flew by quickly and the next thing I know, I’m on a plane back to London. I’m happy to say that I’ll definitely return to Italy! In fact, I’ve already booked a flight for next month! Next destination there? Sardinia! It’s time to hit the beach!!! It’s been at least 7 months now and I just can’t wait! :D

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Amalfi CoastInside: Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Square

Paris: Must See(s)

Paris has so many popular spots! Here are some places that you shouldn’t miss there, definitely must sees! :D Coz lately, I’ve been getting messages from friends who will be going to Paris and who wants to know what sights they should visit and what to do as well. They want me to share an itinerary for them but I haven’t really been able to do so since I’m away on trips. hehe

Notre Dame Cathedral

I always think of the Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which was based on a novel by Victor Hugo) when I think of this famous place. hehe They say it’s the most beautiful and popular Gothic church in the world. I found myself always walking towards the direction of the cathedral every afternoon coz I like the atmosphere here. I just love the Parisian sunset by the Seine River while eating crepes or eclairs at one of the benches lining this beautiful building.♥

The buttresses of the Cathedral

St. Joan of Arc

The beautiful ceiling of Notre Dame

Musee d’Orsay

A former train station, this museum is now home to many masterpiece of Impressionist and Post Impressionist painters the most popular of which includes Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh. Free entrance every first Sunday of the month! Otherwise, you’ll have to pay the 9euro entrance fee. I don’t think of myself as an “artsy” person but on trips, I tend to go to lots of them! :D

The museum that was formerly a train station :)

Pantheon

King Louis XV ordered the reconstruction of the ruined church of Sainte-Geneviève, patron saint of Paris, after he had recovered from an illness. The church later on became a mausoleum for notable, distinguished French citizens. Amongst the remains buried here are Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie (yes, she’s Polish but is married to a Frenchman and lived in France most of her life) and Alexandre Dumas.

Arc de Triomphe

To celebrate his military victories, Napoleon commissioned the building of this popular French monument. However, it was completed 30years after it was begun and the Emperor Napoleon was already ousted. It honours the soldiers who fought and died for France during the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars. Beneath it, lit by an eternal flame, lies the remain of The Unknown Soldier who came to symbolize the rest of the people who died and were never identified in World War I & II.

Avenue des Champs-Elysees

Probably one of the most famous street all over the world, this street is lined with luxurious shop, cafes and other stores. I wasn’t really into this place as I’m not into shopping. Anyways, due to its proximity to popular landmarks, most notably the Arc de Triomphe, parades were usually held along its streets.

The Arc de Triomphe as viewed from the famous avenue :)

Louvre Museum

One of the largest mueseum in the world, this along with the Notre Dame are my two favorite place in Paris! This is a fortress turned palace until Louis XIV vacated it for Versailles. The musueum is so huge and contains around 35,000 pieces that they say 3 whole days are not enough to give it justice. I think it’s too much so I just enjoyed myself at the Italian paintings section and some and skipped the others and passed by the rest. That way, I wasn’t overwhelmed. ;) Since I love to read, I can’t help but remember Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code while I was there. Imagining where the scenes took place. It’s not just me though coz as the book (and later, the movie) gained popularity, walking tours of the Da Vinci Code became popular! :D

Inside the musee looking out :)

The Louvre with its Pyramid

La Tour Eiffel

The iconic landmark that came to symbolize both Paris and France was once described as useless and monstrous when it was being built for the 1889 World Fair that was held in Paris. It was named after Gustave Eiffel, the engineer whose company designed and built the tower. When I first saw it, I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of it! Every few steps, stop, take a picture. If I was in a different angle, I’ll stop again and take still another picture! But it feels like I couldn’t get enough! :)) Of course I wanted to get to the top pf the tower but then you’ll either have to fall in line for quite a while (maybe at LEAST an hour) OR you can buy your tickets online. You can choose to go up via lift or by stairs (ack!), Obviously I chose the former. However, the topmost part could only be accessed with a lift. What I found awesome was that I was able to make friends with random people at the top of the tower and I am planning to visit them in Stockholm and Barcelona! :D On the way down, we (my Paris travel buddy and I)decided to (ah.. uhmm..) walk the rest of the way down (waah!) just to say we’ve done it! My knees were shaking afterwards coz we were in a hurry to get down! lol

One cloudy day in Paris. hehe

View from the top :)

La Tour Eiffel on a sunny day! :D

There are definitely more places to go and buildings/monuments to see there but these are those that I think you should definitely visit (amongst others) in your Parisian trip!

Have fun! :D

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Best of Travel Photos: My 7 Super Shots

Aleah of Solitary Wanderer a.k.a. the infamous writer of “Date A Girl Who Travels” kindly included me in this online tagging that’s been going on that was started by HostelBookers 7 Super Shots. You’re supposed to choose seven pictures from the ones you’ve already taken that you think best corresponds to the theme that they’re looking for. Then choose 5 more bloggers to continue the cycle.

When she asked me if I’d like to participate, I told her that my photos can’t compare to theirs coz I looked at what they have and I was just blown away! She encouraged me to do it and I’m happy I did! It was very nice looking back at some (I have tons of photos that it’d be impossible to do so ;)) of my travel pictures. Definitely brought back wonderful memories with friends and loved ones from the crazy adventures to those chill out moments.

Takes  My Breath Away

Iligan’s Tinago Falls

Iligan is known as the city of majestic waterfalls and they’re totally right! I cajoled my buddies into going there so that we could see this waterfall and the long trip was definitely worth it. Tinago (meaning hidden in English) Falls is appropriately named coz it took us a flight to Cagayan de Oro from Manila, an almost 3 hours bus ride to Iligan, a multicab and a motorbike ride afterwards to get there plus not to forget the almost 400+ steps that would lead you down to it!

Makes Me Dream

The Peak view at night

The view from the peak is one of Hong Kong’s major touristic attraction. At anytime, the view is amazing. However, you would be squeezing yourself against the hundreds and hundreds of tourists who go there for it. On one of my trips to HK, I met this guy and we went to the Peak quite late at night and we had the place to ourself! We were enjoying this wonderful view that we weren’t sharing with anyone else (alright, with maybe a handul but they’re nowhere near us hehehe) while having some drinks. It’s such a bustling city but it looks calm from up here. Makes me dream of the many possibilities ahead of us. =)

Makes Me Think

The garden of Versailles

On my first trip to mainland Europe, France was my destination. Two French friends accompanied me for a daytrip to Versailles to stroll in its gardens and to check out the palace. I’ve heard that both are big and wonderful so I was sort of expecting it. But when I got there and saw the garden.. Oh dear! It was just HUGE! Basically, as far as I can see, THAT is the garden! It is just too much grandeur and splendour for a few people.  I know they were for the royalties, built just for then even, but still! How could… Why would… Ah.. Uhmm.. Too much! Hehe I was overwhelmed!

Makes Me Smile

Early morning in Camiguin’s White Island

When I went on a trip with 2 of my travel buddies to Mindanao, my first on this very beautiful part of the Philippines, we went to the island of Camiguin. One really early morning, we hired a boat to take us to White Island. It’s such a beautiful place right smack in the middle of the sea and we were there all sleepy waiting for the sun to rise. We were all so tired coz it was the 4th day of our trip and it was our fourth province, it was too much in too little time! The beauty there just gave us back our energy and made the trip worth it. Thinking back about that place and this trip still brings a smile to my face. :)

Makes My Mouth Water

Currently, I’m living in London. What I miss most from home aside from my loved ones are its food and (fantastic) beaches! If there’s one thing I crave the most for, it has got to be Philippines’ ripe yellow mangoes. The more fragrant, the sweeter it will be! Mmmm! And mangoes made into shakes are, for me, the perfect accompaniment to every meal! I’d always tell my mom when we’re talking, “Mommy, make sure you have mangoes when you’ll fetch me at the airport!” :D

Tells A Story

Sunset in Boracay

Boracay Island is a famous party beach place. Amidst all that partying though, people also do go there to have a nice quiet time. One sunset as I was by the beachfront with a friend, I saw them all cozy up. This just goes to show that Boracay’s beauty is for everyone.

I’m Most Proud Of: My Worthy of National Geographic Shot

Karst splendour in Guilin :)

I don’t really know what constitutes a NatGeo shot. I do know that it’s something really cool! This is where I found it most hard to choose coz this category may mean differently for each person. For my first trip to mainland China, a good friend and I went to Guilin province because of its natural beauty. We stayed at a hostel owned by a Japanese and Chinese couple. The owner’splace is just beside a karst mountain and he spent many laborious hours buidling steps to reach the top and had a pavilion built there named, Friendship Pavilion. The view from the top is simply amazing and from there you can view the small town of Xingping and surrounding places. This may be one of the reasons as to why I’m partial to karst mountains! ;)

Hope you guys liked those photos!

Now I’m going to tag Chichi of We Are Sole Sisters; Renz of The Traveling Nomad; Ron of Flip Travels; Mica of Senyorita and Marky of Nomadic Experiences. Happy choosing guys! :D

Koninginnedag in Amsterdam

Netherland’s most popular holiday is Queen’s Day locally known as Koninginnedag. And what better time (or not if you hate crowds) to visit Amsterdam for the first time! Street parties, everyone in a chill party mood and orange all around! Crazy fun that’s for sure! :D

Admittedly, I had no idea what the celebration was for. I just booked a ticket on impulse coz somebody brought to my attention the insanely cheap ticket price going there and I wanted to do some partying! ;)

The country’s monarchy before was unpopular to the public but they loved their princess, Wilhelmina. To gain national unity, it was decided that they’ll celebrate the princess’ birthday. It was then called Prinsessedag and fell on the last day of school making it popular with children. When she ascended the throne, it was renamed Koninginnedag.

When Juliana, Wilhelmina’s daughter, became the queen, they moved the date of celebration to her birthdate, April 30. Juliana’s daughter, Beatrix, married Claus (a German who served the German army during the war) causing anti-German riots during the holiday. In a bid to disrupt these riots, officials decided to open the city of Amsterdam to flea markets that are normally held outside the city so there won’t be space for the protesters, starting a new custom.

When Beatrix succeeded the throne, she retained the celebration on the 30th of April as a tribute to her mother and also because her birthday is on January, too cold for a celebration. The queen makes it a point to visit a different town each year and to honour notable citizens of Netherlands.

Some pictures taken during Koninginnedag 2012:

Amsterdam’s canals and bicycles!

Flea markets abound!

The city turns into one big market where you can buy anything from books to (Rembrandt) paintings!

There are lots of good finds. :)

Sellers are anyone from little tykes to these classy ladies ;)

Aside from turning into one big market, the city is bathed in orange! Netherland’s colours :)

People from all over come to celebrate with the locals :D

There just might be as many boats as there are bikes! Haha

Joining the fun with newly made friends! :D

Cheers from Amsterdam! x

This is my entry for Carnival of Europe hosted by DJ Yabis at Dream Euro Trip. :)

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Practical Tips for Paris

I found the people in Paris to be kind and helpful. Though when I got back to London and told friends about my positive experience, some replied back to me, “Are you sure you went to France?!” lol Maybe it helps to look friendly and to actually make an effort to say some words in French eventhough you’re no good at it. I know I’m terrible T_T Locals still appreciated it!

Champs-Elysses Boulevard

For starters, a few French words:

Bonjour= good day
Bon soir= good afternoon/evening
Bonne nuit= good night
Au revoir = good bye
Merci= thanks
Oui = yes
Non = no
Sortie = exit (the most common sign you’ll see)
Poulet=chicken
Jambon=ham (gotta have something food related! :D)

Playing with Le Tour Eiffel ;)

The cheapest key chains, 3pieces for 1euro, can be bought from the guys selling them at the metro station when you get off at ‘Tour Eiffel.’

For a taste of good French food! :D

=)

A nice place to dine at is Bergamote. I told a friend I wanted to eat good French food within a reasonable budget so he searched for one and came up with this. It’s off the main road and the place is packed during meal times. A meal (starter+main OR main+dessert) costs around 15euros. The first time I dined there, I ordered some chicken and it was soooo good! The second time, I ordered beef. I guess for a change, mine was medium rare. When it came back to me, it was cooked on the outside but raw on the inside (as I should have expected) but I found out then that I’m really not a fan of raw foods! lol So we asked them if it’s possible to recook it (well done this time around) to which they agreed. hehe Whew!

When at St. Michel, try not to eat at the ‘main street’ where there are rows upon rows of Greek food/ cafes/ etc. according to friends, food there sucks. Disclaimer: I was just repeating what I was told by several French friends! haha

10 days passed by with me not eating any rice, amazing! I was munching on these French breads! :D

For bread (croissants, pan au chocolat, eclairs etc) buy in a boulangerie (bakery) coz that’s what they’re best at, delicious and cheap! Buy cheese in a fromagerie and meat in a boucherie.

With my Paris travel buddy, Kris :)

For travels within the city, it’s mostly done either by taking the bus or the train.  It’s cheaper to buy the 10ticket pass than to get an all day pass nor when buying them one at a time. 1train tix=1.7 euro; 10tix=12+ish. Unfortunately, they don’t have a pamphlet of their train system but signs abound so just check every now and then. Also, there is a downloadable mobile app of the map but I found that I could only use it if I have wifi/3G which wasn’t often as data roaming is expensive for me. :(

Probably what I wasn’t expecting was that since in London, it’s normal to let passengers out of the train before going inside, I found it disappointing that you’re on way out and people would push you back in in their hurry to get in. -_- Also, some trains won’t automatically open their doors. There is a knob there that you have to push upward so that the doors would open up.

Inside the Louvre one busy, sunny morning :)

Entrance to Musee de Louvre is free every first Sunday of the month! Same goes for the Palace of Versailles (November-March)! Entrance to its garden is always free though opening hours may vary according to the season. :)

Have fun!!!!

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