Archive for the ‘ Europe ’ Category

Top 5 Things To Do In Santorini

1. Ride a donkey
€5 per person

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It’s not everyday that you’re in the beautiful island of Santorini where riding one of the donkeys (or mule) had been done since who -knows-when-but-might-as well-do-it-coz it’s-definitely-an-experience! It’s a quintessential Santorini experience along with watching-the-sunset-wearing-gorgeous-clothes-for-those-picture-perfect-shots (we weren’t since we’ve just come from a boat tour)! I would recommend it despite the fact that while atop my ride, another mule (accidentally) spewed spit on my foot or that other mules’ tails flicked my leg or that my ride can’t make up it’s mind if it’d gallop up the staircase (I had to hold on pretty tight!) or just munch on grass while we’re on a turn hence blocking the traffic (I was trying to coerce it to get moving again to no avail). It was so entertaining I didn’t mind any of those! It was a different story while we were walking down earlier that day though. Ugh! lol

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Gregory on his donkey. :D

2. Eat – and drink!

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Daphne Taverna

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So many things had been written about Santorini and its sunset that I had no clue that they’ve got amazing foods! My bad coz it IS a Greek island and that should be reason enough, Back in the Philippines, I’d always want to eat out in a Greek/ Mediterranean restaurant. As almost always the case, the authentic ones are better – plus cheaper! Also, this 2013, the island is celebrating a year of gastronomy thus highlighting their rich culinary heritage.

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In Fira, we ate in a place called Daphne Taverna. They had really good food at affordable prices. We love their tzatziki! Greg had a plate of sea bass cooked with lemon and other herbs for €9 while I had lamb cooked to such tenderness that it was falling apart for only €6! I wanted to order more but it’s impossible to do so – we were stuffed!

In Oia, there’s a place called Lotza. Their view was amazing. Food portions were generous. Price wasn’t as cheap as those in Fira but still more affordable than most restaurants in Oia. We were walking along the alleyway when we smelled the enticing aroma coming from their kitchen. It made us curious and definitely caught our attention. What’s entertaining to see was how everybody else stopped mid-stride in front of their entrance coz of the delicious smell! Mmmm! It’s worth it. :D

3. Go on a boat tour
Caldera roundtrip tour with Pelican Travel Services – €19 per person

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Why? You’ll get to visit the volcano in the middle of the caldera that is in almost every picture that you’ll take of Santorini.  You’ll get to swim in a hot spring – or in our case, a slightly-less-cold-than-the-surrounding-area’s-water. And also, you’ll get to visit the island of Thirasia. You could also go on a sunset tour and have dinner in some island but you can only avail of it during peak season. Plus, it’s affordable!

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4. Rent a motorbike/ ATV/ car + Explore the island
We rented our motorbike -with helmets -in Tony’s at Fira for €20 per day.
We paid €5 for full insurance coverage.
A full tank on our bike costs around €8. It was more than enough for 2 full day.

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There are many rental shops in the island so just keep looking (and/or bargaining) if you want a deal to suit your budget.

I would advise against renting transportation if you haven’t had any experience in driving. Haha Well, people do attempt to rent vehicles even if they don’t know how! :p Anyways, there IS public transportation in Santorini. There are buses plying the island. It’s just that nothing beats the convenience of having a car (or in our case, a motorbike) at your disposal. Santorini has quite a number of places to visit… red beach, white beach and black beaches; monastery; archaeological sites and vineyards.

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Our trusty 125cc motorbike

Our trusty 125cc motorbike

I love how he'd pull over every time I make a remark as to how beautiful the view is so that I could appreciate it!♥

I love how he’d pull over every time I make a remark as to how beautiful the view is so that I could appreciate it!♥

Gorgeous Red Beach

Gorgeous Red Beach

5. Watch the sunset

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You could basically do it anywhere on top of the caldera. You’re spoilt for choices. There’s Fira, Imerovigli and Oia to name a few. Oia would be the most popular choice. It’s a very picturesque small town perched at the edge if a cliff. We were told though that during peak season (summer months: late June til early September), the whole island has got tons of visitors that if you’ll go to Oia for the sunset, you will be crammed with other tourists and might end up stuck in some narrow passageway for an hour! We encountered many visitors but not enough that we got some nice spots all to ourselves!

Fira sunset

Fira sunset

Oia sunset

Oia sunset

Having a memorable trip to Santorini – priceless! ;)

Any other suggestions on what would be a nice thing to do in the island of Santorini? I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Santorini in Pictures

Santorini In Pictures

The Greek island of Santorini is such a popular destination. It’s almost always included in any list of the most romantic island in the planet; or a list of the most popular. No wonder it’s a popular wedding destination! I told one of my Greek patient that I’ll visit Santorini and his first question to me was whether I plan to get married there.  -_- hehe

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Since I’m so excited to share about this trip, here are some pictures of Santorini that I took just a few days ago – I got back to London only a few hours ago! haha

The town of Fira – capital of Santorini.

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Kameni Volcano Island

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Red Beach. The island has also got a white and black beaches but I haven’t seen a red yet so that’s where we went. P1070772

Oia, the town that’s known for its beautiful sunset! I gotta say that Oia is prettier than Fira. This is the case because the earthquake that shook the island in 1956 destroyed most of Oia so it’s basically a young town (by Greek standard. hehe) . The pictures that come to mind when people speak of Santorini were most likely taken from this town.

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Few more posts about Greece coming really soon! :D

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8 Foods To Try When In London

London isn’t really popular for being a foodie’s paradise. My friends were aghast that I’m moving here – one of the most common reactions I got then was “food there is terrible!” – not! Although it’s true that it’s not as popular as Italy nor France for it’s food, UK (and specifically, London) is one not to be left behind. It is a melting pot of different culture and as such has a rich variety of food to choose from. One not to be left behind is the local British cuisine which I’m happy to say I got to taste (again) in my (first English) food tour with Eating London all the way to the East side (I’m from the other end. hehe)

Colourful and vibrant East London!

Colourful and vibrant East London!

**Doing a blog post about food is one of the few times wherein I wish I could be more poetic and flowery with my words in hopes that I might at least  be able to convey to you what it felt like for me. But alas! It’s not meant to be. So here I am trying in my simple words to share my beautiful experience. ;) **

We had around 8 stops and to prepare for it, breakfast was a foregone conclusion. hehe

1st stop: St. John Bread and Wine

Try their bacon sandwich with special ketchup. A very flavourful and hearty start of our day. I did think to myself that if this is any indicator, then it’s gonna be one awesome day!

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2nd stop: The English Restaurant

I’ve had pudding just a few times but every experience had definitely been good and the last always seem to top the one before it. The banana bread pudding here was no exception! I have a sweet tooth and the pudding per se already looked oh so tempting! Then they added that cream – with rhum in it!- and it was just delish! Typical English, drinking even in the morning. haha

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3rd stop: Androuet

Cheese! Lots and lots of them! Need I say more?

I’ve been to Spitalfields Old Market just once and this shop definitely caught my attention then. It looked so cozy and inviting! And the fact that their sign says that got well over 80 types of cheese, you just had to go in and check the place out!

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4th stop: Poppies

Fish and Chips. Some would argue that this is the country’s national dish and I kinda thought so too but that is not the case. It is one very English experience though. Munching on your white fish which is usually cod that is coated in batter and then deep fried, with chips (that’s fries for you non English speaking people) and mushy peas on the sides. Condiments may include malt vinegar, tartar sauce and some pepper.

There are TONS of fish’n’chips stores in London alone. One of the most popular has got to be Poppies, They’ve been around for quite a while. The restaurant’s ambiance is that of an old American diner which is pretty cool. I like that they even have their own newspaper to wrap those take aways in! :D
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5th stop: Pride of Spitalfields

Before (or do I say in the olden days? hehehe), people would gather in a “public” house after work to socialize and consume alcohol and/or spirits while having a meal hence the evolution of the word, pub. If I may say so myself, I’ve been to several pubs that serve good and affordable food so you may want to try it the next time you come to UK. In this part of the city, the unassuming exterior of this pub doesn’t do justice its interior. It was just so cozy in there!  It’s a bit off the beaten track which makes it one of the locale’s open secret. :D

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6th stop: Aladin

The country’s national dish is none other than…. chicken tikka masala! *gasp* Yes! Curry is THE dish to try in this part of the globe. With the huge Indian (and South Asian in general) population in the UK, their influence could be definitely felt in the food scene. I am not one to complain coz I love this dish! Yummy!

Where to go in a country that’s popular for curry? Why not follow the lead of HRH Prince Charles and head down to Brick Lane’s Aladin! We tried several dishes of curry ranging from mild to hot and the hot I found really hot – but that’s just me, you gotta try it yourself ;)

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7th stop: Beigel Bake

Walking around, you won’t miss Beigel Bake and their open 24 hours signage. Made me wonder why there was a need for the lock in the door when it’s never closed? hehehe Aside from their signage (it’s rare to see something open 24/7 here!), what you won’t fail to miss is the long queue that’s almost always here. So of course you’ll check out what the fuss is all about because all of those people can’t be lining up, waiting for just an okay food. I love the fact that the they’re selling really affordable, freshly baked food. Their best seller is the salt beef beigel with mustard. I am not a fun of mustard (although I love honey dijon mustard!) but the rest was so tasty! Mmm!

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8th (and last) stop: Pizza East

Around this time, I was already thinking to myself that I am soooo full and that it’s gonna be impossible to take another bit of food. But then I was told we’re gonna have dessert and I’m one to never (ever) say no to sweets! lol It’s unfortunate that you can’t really take pictures of the interior in this building. It had an industrial turned rustic-that-makes-it-look-homey kind of look. We has salted caramel chocolate tart. Those bits of salt brought out the flavours more because of the contrast. Mmmmm!!!! Perfect with a hot cup of tea!

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The map of goodies!

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Our ever bubbly guide, Nicole, and the silent Carlos. What a team! :D

Now that I’ve finished writing about that amazing morning experience, I can’t wait for my day off to go to Shoreditch and try them all out again! Mica!!! Thanks for inviting me to join you. You’re the best! *hugs* Thank you Nicole for being a fantastic guide! Your stories made it all the more memorable. Two thumbs up!!!

Tempting? Do check out their site for more info! :D

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Cabo da Roca, Europe’s westernmost point!

On a recent visit to Portugal, my friend and I visited Cabo da Roca. It is mainland Europe’s westernmost point and is known as the Rock of Lisbon.

Cabo da Roca: located at the westernmost tip of mainland Europe

Cabo da Roca: located at the westernmost tip of mainland Europe

Aqui, onde a terra se acaba e o mar começa…[Here, where the land ends and the sea begins…]

– Luis de Camões, a 16th century Portuguese poet

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I’ve always loved nature’s rugged beauty!

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The light house overlooking the Atlantic Ocean

The light house overlooking the Atlantic Ocean

It was one of the most beautiful sunset I've seen!

It was one of the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen!

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Trying not to let the strong wind and cold temperature get in the way of a nice picture! ;)

Trying not to let the strong wind and cold temperature get in the way of a nice picture! ;)

Jessica, my Spanish guide in this Portuguese country. :D

Jessica, my Spanish guide in this Portuguese country. :D

To get here: From Lisbon’s centre, Rossio, take a train to Sintra. Catch bus # 403 which is just outside the train station. The ride would take around 40 minutes and costs almost 5euros for a single use. It is much cheaper to buy an all day bus + train pass for just 12euros.

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Enjoying Budapest’s Széchenyi Baths

Visiting and enjoying one of Budapest’s many baths is a must do for people visiting this lovely capital of Hungary!

I have to admit that I didn’t quite know what to see or do in this city but there’s one thing I kept hearing over and over again from friends who have been, they all agree that it is such a lovely place and that they all immensely enjoyed their holidays in Budapest. I was definitely looking forward to this trip!

Googling up on what I can do while there, the baths would always be in the top 10. Now, do realize that I’m currently living in London and it’s not exactly always bright and warm here – it feels like it’s still early spring as I’m writing this! So imagining myself bathing in warm waters got me psyched to go there! haha

Now which place did I choose to go to? It was a bit tricky but I ended up going to Széchenyi because it is the first thermal bath in Pest as well as the largest medicinal and public bath in Europe. It’s popular with the locals and I always see that as a good thing. It’s cheaper and open for longer hours too!

Alas! When we got to Budapest, the weather was averaging 30+C and bathing in warm waters seemed to me not an option. I was already planning a return trip in winter because it just seems so right to laze around in such hot waters with snow falling outside! hehe After 2 full days of walking around the beautiful city, my feet and legs were just aching and instead of having a massage, a warm bath that is said to have healing properties seem to be the best idea and I’m so glad we did it! :D

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There is more than one entrance to Széchenyi Baths. One is easily found just outside the underground exit. :)

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Locals pass the time at the bath by enjoying a game of chess

There are several indoor and outdoor pools. Check out what temperature the pool is before diving in!

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:D

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There are even saunas reaching temperature of 55C! After I was in one for less than 10miutes (my cousin wanted to head out because it was too much he said), I had a cold shower. It didn’t seem enough to wash away that really hot feeling. Best way to do so is to take a dip at the colder pools (18C and maybe lower!)!

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18C!

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Just beside the locker rooms is this area filled with driers (for you hair, clothes, etc). Very convenient! :D

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Turns out it was summer solstice when we were in Széchenyi. Cool! :D

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It was a really nice experience!


How to get there:
Take the Millenium Underground (M1) to Széchenyi fürdő.
Operating hours:
Monday – Sunday
swimming pools: 6am-10pm
thermal pools: 6am-7pm
Admission fee:
Day pass with a locker: HUF 3,400 (weekday)
HUF 3,550 (weekends)
Day pass with a cabin:  HUF 3,800 (weekday)
HUF 3,950 (weekends)

Szechenyi

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Inside: Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Square

This week, a pontiff -the head of the Catholic Church- retired from his post. A first in more than 600 years! The Holy Father is currently in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. He bid the faithfuls goodbye last February 28, 2013. It is said that it could be his last public appearance and would then lead a life of study and prayers in seclusion.

This blog post I guess is in response to such a historical event. I’m fortunate enough to have seen Pope Benedict XVI when he celebrated the canonization mass of 7 blessed person, one of which is a Filipino – Pedro Calungsod – last October 21, 2012. I flew to Rome from London just for that celebration along with thousands of Filipinos.

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The sun hasn’t even risen yet and the place is already teeming with people eager to attend the canonization mass!

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As was pointed out to me by locals in the area, the Pontiff is now awake! hehe The room with the lights on is (was) his room.

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Filipinos from all over the world came for such a joyous occasion! Some of whom we’ve talked to were living in Rome, some flew from Canada, many from the rest of Europe and of course, the Philippines!

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The cardinals

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As much as we wanted to cheer for our fellow Filipino, it was requested that everyone observe the sanctity of the celebration. Cheers were allowed after the mass.

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The square was packed! We were informed that we’d be needing a ticket to secure our seats. Oh no! I didn’t knew that! But everyone was just so kind -we were offered tickets for free, flags to wave etc!

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Pope Benedict XVI up close! :D

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It was my fourth visit to the eternal city of Roma. On my first visit, I tried to see as much of the Vatican as I could. To visit St. Peter’s Basilica is free. One only has to be mindful of one’s clothing, no bare shoulder and no shorts/ skirts above the knee. There is a (seriously) long queue for security purposes but the line is quick! Entrance to the Basilica is free.

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THE queue.

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St. Peter

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Taking pictures is allowed as well. It’s just with the clothing that they are very particular about.

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The tomb of the late Pontiff, John Paul II

People I’ve met kept recommending that I go up the cupola as one can see the whole of the Vatican from there. Do take note that once you’ve decided to go up, there literally is no turning back as the passage goes one way and many people are heading up. The view from above is really nice though!

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Reminders!

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Looking down the Basilica from high up!

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Time to head up the cupola :D

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It was a bit of a squeeze.

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St. Peter’s Square as seen from the top of the Basilica

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Not Your Typical Romantic City: London!

When people think of romantic European cities, those in countries such as France and Italy immediately jump to mind! Even Belgium’s Brugge and Czech Republic’s Prague are popular choices too. I’ll have to say that London is IT for me! For real! :D

St. James Park

St. James Park

Being in a city as vibrant as London, you’re never at a loss for choices. From a chill date to one that would have you going from one end of the city to the other to having a romantic, activity-filled or a geeky date, I say, London can cater to it all! You just have to know what you want. :)

A wonderful day would include some of these:

Colourful Notting Hill

Colourful Notting Hill

Going to one of the city’s numerous markets, one of which is in Notting Hill’s Portobello Road. The colourful houses make for such a nice backdrop to an area teeming with stalls that sell everything from cheeses to olives to pheasants and freshly baked breads; to antiquities and oddities and clothes and loads more! I love food and starting the day with a happy tummy goes a long way to buoying up my mood. ;)

Seeing the panoramic view of London from Greenwich Observatory either at daytime or night time. They both have their own charm!

London skyline by day

London skyline by day

London skyline as seen from Greenwich

London skyline by night

Music could help set up a romantic atmosphere. Whether be it watching a musical – Mamma Mia and Wicked (The Phantom of the Opera as well as Les Mis are both amazing but not exactly the mood we’re going for after all!)- or by listening to one of the many street performers play instruments and/or sing.

Watching Mamma Mia

Watching Mamma Mia

Somehow, one thing that I truly enjoy doing in this city is walking along the River Thames at night. I’d suggest starting from St. Katherine’s docks (Tower Bridge Station) where you could have dinner with your special someone while enjoying the view of  the many  varied yachts parked there. No rush, there’s no need to hurry. When you’re ready… head towards the riverside, walk by the Tower Bridge then cross over to the South Bank of the river from here. There would be a pedestrian lane that you could follow once there plus it’s more picturesque. The walk would take you past Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern Museum which is just near it. From Tate, I would suggest to cross the Millennium Bridge back to the other side of the river, well, you do have the option to continue walking along the South Bank. I say that the view of St. Paul’s Cathedral from the end of this bridge is just amazing and at night, the fact that there are hardly any tourist so you basically have the place for yourselves make it special.

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The pedestrian only Millennium Bridge by day

Millennium Bridge at night

Millennium Bridge at night

Most European cities are built around a river. It’s where life revolved around on. That’s why you’d see the most historical buildings and district along the riverbanks. One nice way of appreciating the city is to go on a river cruise. Having a romantic dinner while aboard one of those cruising boats sounds very inviting, isn’t it? :)

Beautiful Parliament Building and Big Ben

Beautiful Parliament Building and Big Ben

If you’re with somebody special, I don’t think what you two are doing nor where you both are would be such a big deal since being in each other’s company is all there is to it to be happy and content. Then again, exploring new places, trying out new things, and having memorable experiences together would make it all the more worth it romantic. :)

This is my entry to the February 2013 Carnival of Europe hosted by Aleah Taboclaon of Solitary Wanderer with the theme “Most Romantic Places in Europe.”

Travel Wish List for 2013!

I’m bitten by the travel bug again! I feel so restless, there’s this need to wander!  To sort of placate myself, I’m writing a list of places I want to go to for this year. If you’d like to join me in any of the trip listed below, just send me a message or leave a comment. I’d welcome the company! :D

Morocco Marrakech

Medina alleyway. Photo by Sarah Reid

Medina alleyway. Photo by Sarah Reid

Flying here tomorrow! Woot! Booked a short trip here last year just to escape even for a few days London’s winter. And amazingly, it snowed the day before our flight! Looking forward to eating Moroccan foods, riding a camel and visiting the Sahara desert amongst others.  :D

PHILIPPINES Manila, Cavite, Boracay, Cebu, Bohol and Palawan

El Nido's lovely islands

El Nido’s lovely islands

After more than a year, I’m coming back home for a vacation and I’m soooo excited about it that I think I’ll be able to keep myself travel free until after this trip. I am saving money for this one! haha

Hong Kong & Macau

HK's skyline early in the morning

HK’s skyline early in the morning

Sunny Macau!

Sunny Macau!

I’d like to take the whole family for a trip out of the country. My dad and brother haven’t been out of the country before. So does that mean I got my wanderlust from my mom? hahaha She’d totally deny it!

Singapore

A must when in Singapore: eat out with friends!!!

A must when in Singapore: eat out with friends!!!

Enroute back to London, why not drop by this small but cool city and meet up with the many friends I have from the Philippines now living here and get together again with the locals I met here on my first solo trip out of the country! The fact that they have an amazing food culture is a plus too! :)

Malaysia

Petronas from Google

KL’s Petronas Tower

I am yet to visit this neighbouring country of Singapore so I’d like to see the Petronas towers and  visit the UNESCO Heritage Site town that is Malacca and do other sidetrips as well. :)

Germany Berlin and Munich

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

I’ve been to so many European countries last year and yet, I haven’t been here. Hmm… Maybe because I was too often in Italy? hehe From partying to trying out ice skating to visiting their Christmas markets and seeing.. ah.. uhmm.. Disney’s castle! lol Well, they say that’s the castle that Walt Disney got the inspiration from! ;)

Greece  Athens and Santorini

Santorini's white washed villas. Photo by Mr. R. Decena

Santorini’s white washed villas. Photo by Mr. R. Decena

I love history. Ergo, Athens. Do I need to give a reason as to why I even want to go to Santorini??? ;)

Slovakia Bratislava

Bratislava at night

Bratislava at night

Just because I wanna go somewhere new! I’ll know more about the place as days pass by.

Hungary Budapest

Chain Bridge

Chain Bridge

They say it’s one of, if not THE nicest city in Eastern Europe.

Poland Krakow

Krakow

Krakow

To visit my friend Ania! Woot! And it’s cooler here than Warsaw as I was told. *cough* haha

Iceland

To see an aurora borealis would be a dream come true!♥

To see an aurora borealis would be a dream come true!♥

Aurora borealis!!!!♥♥♥

The list is very much open to suggestions and can be subject to change! :D

blogcarnival

This is my entry to Pinoy Travel Blogger’s Blog Carnival for  January 2013  hosted by Roj Braga of The Adventures of AdventuRoj! with the theme “New Beginnings.”

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2012: Exploring Europe

2012 is coming to an end. Many were even saying that the world is literally going to end but December 21 had gone and passed us by with the world still intact *whew* and here’s another end-of-the-year post to celebrate the year that was!

November 2011. The most amazing gift that I’ve received was the fact that I was finally able to relocate to UK, the country where I wanted to go to since I was a little girl. And live in London at that! 3months after, I got my Schengen visa which made visiting European countries not just a dream but a reality for me! :D

Here are the list of places that I’ve been to in this small but delightful and utterly charming continent ;)

1. France
Paris, Nice and Cannes
March, November

First stop is our neighboring country, France. Everyone encouraged me to apply for a Schengen here. According to friends they are most likely to give you a multiple entry for several months. Well, I was given a 3months multiple entry for my first application and a one year multiple entry for my second! :D

I totally enjoyed it here. I got to see famous sights like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral just to name a few. I made lots of new friends! I was hosted by a CSer that I met back home. He was plain great! He hosted me for 8 days, you see. ;) I like French foods and they know how to have fun. Would love to go back again and again here!

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With Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower :D

Versailles' vast garden!

Versailles’ vast garden!

2. Belgium
Namur, Brussels and Antwerp
March

Whilst in France, I was invited by my friend to visit him and his wife in Belgium. I accepted his invitation coz it’s always nice to meet/ catch up with friends! It was nonstop waffles, chocolates and beer (well, not much beers for me hehe). Mmm! It was interesting how the southern part speaks just French and that the more north we go, they speak more Dutch (and thankfully, English too).

Belgian beers. ;)

Belgian beers. ;)

3. Netherlands
Amsterdam
April

Browsing around the CS London thread, somebody mentioned that Megabus has a £1 one-way offer to Amsterdam and that it was going to be their Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) weekend. I was kinda in a party mood then and I thought it’d be great to go to Amsterdam so even though I knew no one there, I booked the tickets and had a wonderful time with other travellers! I never really liked the colour orange but seeing the whole city awashed in it was pretty cool!

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The city of Amsterdam bathed in orange! :D

The city of Amsterdam bathed in orange! :D

4. Sweden
Gavle and Stockholm
June

Scandinavian countries aren’t high on the list of my places to go to for two reasons the cold climate and the high expenses. But for a friend, maybe I’ll give it a try. Well, she did say she’ll host and take care of me there. No complaints on that one! ;) haha I went there during their midsummer festival. The fact that it was around 21 hours of daytime was a nice experience.

Setting up the maypole flag for the midsummer celebration!

Setting up the maypole flag for the midsummer celebration!

Traditional Swedish foods :)

Traditional Swedish foods :)

5. Spain
Madrid, Salamanca, Montserrat and Barcelona
July, November

The first time I went to Spain was to join a travel buddy of mine in touring Madrid and to be hosted by him in Salamanca where he was studying Spanish. It was crazy the day I got to Madrid. Some austerity measures had just been passed into law. On my way back to the hostel in the middle of the city, was a riot in protest of the austerity package. I almost got caught in the middle where it not for the kind waiter who pulled me inside their restaurant before barring their doors. Salamanca on the other hand is a big party place. It has many Spanish schools and people from all over go there to study the language. Clubs everywhere, they do not ask for IDs, no entrance fees and shots cost a euro! That’s the reason why the Spanish phrase I was thought there was “estoy borracho.” lol

Second time was for my birthday celebration. To sum up how varied my interests could be: on the morning of my special day, we went up to the mountains of Montserrat to visit a monastery and a sacred site then an aquarium early in the evening and partied after dinner! :D

Panoramic view of Montserrat

Panoramic view of Montserrat

Madrid's Palacio de Cristal

Madrid’s Palacio de Cristal

Happy 27th from Barcelona! :D

Happy 27th from Barcelona! :D

6. Austria
Vienna
September

Mozart. Classical music. Schnitzel. Sachertorte. Some of my favourite things in this charming city! It’s true that I didn’t expect much but I was very happy to be proven otherwise. I had such a wonderful time in Vienna with my good friend and host, Diana, that I would come back for sure! :D

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Schönbrunn Palace

Must do: attend a concert!

Must do: attend a concert!

7. Czech Republic
Prague
September

A question that  was a bit confusing for our host in Prague is when he’d ask me and my friend where we’re from and how we met, why we’re travelling together. Our answer?
My friend: I’m from Romania but I’m Austrian. I live in Vienna.
Me: I live in London but I’m originally form Manila, Philippines.
Us: We met in Bangkok. When Cat was still living in the Philippines. She visited me in Vienna from London. Then I joined her on this trip to Prague.
Everyone I know had been telling me that Prague is their absolute favourite European city so that kinda built up the expectation that unfortunately wasn’t met. I can’t say if it was because of the rainy weather. I was cold because I was (more) prepared for a warm climate since I was headed straight to sunny Italy. Oh well. I’ll give it another chance for sure! :)

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8. Monaco
Monte Carlo
October

A quick sidetrip to Monaco was in order when a friend and I went to Nice. The one place that we went to here is the casino since I was too sick to actually explore around. This place is a billionaire’s playground. You’ll see it in the expensive cars being driven as well as the high end stores everywhere!

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9. Italy
Rome, Florence, Venice, Sardinia, Naples, Procida Island, Pompeii, and Amalfi Coast
June, August, September, October

Italy is my definite favourite country that I’ve been to here in Europe and the one that I kept going back to and would definitely visit again! I’ve dreamt of going there since I was young. I love pizzas and pastas, renaissance, architecture and history and they have it all and much more in overflowing abundance! The first time I was there, I did the typical route of Rome-Florence-Venice, I didn’t make it to Milan coz I had no time.
The second was when I went to the island of Sardinia. It was a week’s worth of beach hopping! The water was amazing but I’d have to say that it doesn’t come close to the beaches that we have in the Philippines and this is me trying to be objective. ;)
The third time around, I headed south. Rome-Naples-Amalfi Coast was the route that made me fall in love with this country more! Pizza in Napoli is just mmmmm! When I got back to Rome, the pizza there that I liked a lot before became just alright for me. haha And Amalfi Coast? It is truly deserving of its UNESCO world heritage site title, I would have to say that it’s the most beautiful place I’ve been to so far in this continent!♥
My last trip was a quick one to Rome. I went to attend the canonization of the Philippines’ second saint, Pedro Calungsod and heard the mass that was presided over by Pope Benedict XVI. :)

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Breath taking view of Positano ♥

Breath taking view of Positano ♥

San Pedro Calungsod's canonization at the Vatican

San Pedro Calungsod’s canonization at the Vatican

It was a pretty busy year full of wonderful sights and amazing experiences. I’ve been to 9 countries and even returned to some of them several times! I’m definitely lucky! I was corrected by a friend once and was told that… we’re not lucky, we’re blessed. I couldn’t agree more!

Happy travels everyone!!!

Happy travels everyone!!!

Cheers 2012! You’ve been way awesome and nice to me. Looking forward to 2013! :D

blogcarnival

This is my entry for Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for the month of December with the theme ‘2012: This Year in Travel’ hosted by Gay Mitra-Emami of Pinay Travel Junkie and Regine Camille Garcia of Between Coordinates.

Le French Riviera

Somehow, thinking of the French Riviera brings to (my) mind luxury chalets and villas, famous celebrities  and a glamorous lifestyle. Well, it is that but it is also possible to go there and not burn a hole in your wallet. :)

Nice – Monacco – Cannes

That was where my friend and I spent our quick getaway trip to this popular French Coast. It was just unfortunate that I was sick during the trip. At least that gives me another reason to go back, right? ;)

Here are some pictures from this trip. Enjoy!

NICE:

Nice International Airport

Bright and sunny Nice International Airport :D

At the train station

At the train station

Pictures taken in MONACO:

Luxury cars abound!

High end stores are everywhere too!

High end stores are everywhere too!

Yes. It is really a Billionaire's lounge!

Yes. It is really a billionaire’s lounge! But ladies, they’re mostly married. This last bit coming from a  millionaire we talked with. haha

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Monaco’s famous casino. Entrance fee is 20euros.

Few pictures from CANNES:

Walking along Cannes' promenade :)

Walking along Cannes’ promenade :)

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Amongst the 3 places we’ve been to, Cannes has the nicest sands. Time to hit the beach! :D

Enjoying a sunny day! :D

Enjoying a sunny day! :D

Related Posts:

DIY: Schengen Visa Application
Getting around in Europe
Practical Tips for Paris
Paris: Must See(s)
Inside: Louvre Museum