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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Travel Keepsakes and Souvenirs

What kind of souvenirs do you buy when you travel? Are you the type who buy those I love -insert name of locale here- shirts? What about key chains? Shot glass? Fridge magnet? Local foods?

When I was in the Philippines, whenever I got back from a trip and have some minutes to kill while waiting for my dad to pick me up, I kinda got in the habit of guessing where people flew in from. It was pretty easy if you’ll check out the foods they have with them. A box of lechon? That’s the queen city of the south, Cebu. A box of lanzones? Must have gotten back from a trip to Camiguin. Several box of pastel bread? Then they must have also dropped by Cagayan de Oro. If they have sweets like piaya or napoleones, then I’m pretty certain they went to Bacolod. If those are peanut kisses, then it’s the beautiful island of Bohol! hehehe I should know, those were the foods I brought back for family and friends whenever I travel. ;)

Then, I developed a love for photography and started taking notice of postcards. To friends who I know are not able to travel or go to certain places, they are the ones I love sending these postcards to because I want them to have that desire to see what a beautiful world we have. I also enjoy writing postcards because written letters beat electronic ones any time of the day. To arrive home from work with a beautiful postcard with a personal message from a friend never fail to brighten up my day!

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Want a postcard from me the next time I hit the road? Send me your address and I’ll happily write you one! Next destination: Lisbon, Portugal and Valencia, Spain! :D

There are people who don’t like buying knick knacks as they tend to be dust gatherers. I can’t help but buy one though to remind me that I’ve been to certain places. My current collection are travel plates. But somehow, they didn’t work out while I was going around the Philippines. Couldn’t really find any that’s why I was buying keychains then. After I started travelling outside the country more, then it was easier to get access to these lovely plates.

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Mix of keychains and magnets I received from friends and bought myself.

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Plates from Morocco, Sweden and Italy!

I’m not the kind of person who tend to shop much. I don’t like a cramped space – although I love a homey feel. If you’d walk into my room, you know you’re in the place of somebody who’s passionate about travelling: a world map, postcards from every corner of the world, plates and paintings. Things I buy are things that remind me of what I love to do most and that is to see the world!

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My lovely world map <3

This is my entry to Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for July 2013. With the theme “Memorable Travel Souvenirs, Objects and Mementoes,” hosted by Jun Baris of GalangPusa. To read previous blog carnival, click on this link.

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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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Asia. 5 Weeks. 4 Countries.

5 weeks. 4 countries. 10 cities.

I wasn’t really being crazy. I just got so excited with the idea of going back to Asia. I missed the beaches -the ones in Europe are IMO not as good as those back home -so for almost 3 weeks, I was beach hopping! I wanted to see so many things – visit old faves and try something new so that’s what happened! I figured, I’ll be dead tired by the end of 5 weeks but I’ll have so much time to recuperate once I get back. hehe
Here’s a sneak preview in pictures of what went on for this trip. I hope I could go into more details soon.

Boracay

With friends who flew to the island to meet up with me! <3

Back for the nth time in this beautiful beach island. This time around, with friends who flew there to meet up with me as their excuse! haha <3

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Swimming with whalesharks!

Swimming with whalesharks is always a pretty cool experience!

Dalaguete

Scaling high peaks!

From swimming with whalesharks, we then went on to scale the highest peaks of Cebu!

Bohol

Chocolate Hills

Behind us is the Chocolate Hills of Bohol. Browsing through our pictures for this trip, I told one of the guys who travelled with me that it looked like we had one big photoshoot in the Philippines! The country is just so picturesque, every shot is looking so awesome!

Puerto Princesa

Getting stranded

Getting stranded then hitching a ride enroute to an almost secluded, pristine beach!

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Visiting a natural wonder of the world

Visiting a natural wonder of the world is on our must-do list while in the island of Palawan.

El Nido

El Nido!!!

El Nido!!! Nothing more to add. :D

Hong Kong

Hong Kong island mural

Back again in my fave Asian city, Hong Kong. The length of time I’ve spent here would total more than a month already! Wow! Posing in front one of the island’s mural.

Macau

First family overseas trip!

First family overseas trip! I’ve always travelled with my mom but it’s the first time for the boys to go out of the country. :D

Singapore

With the Marina Bay Sands Hotel at the background

With the Marina Bay Sands Hotel at the background.

Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia

The iconic Petronas Tower of Malaysia, once the highest building in the world!

Melaka

Quick stop over in Melaka

Quick stop over in the UNESCO World Heritage city that is Melaka! :D

 

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Must See Travel Movies

I am currently on a travel hiatus. The last trip I’ve been to was almost *gasp* 2 months ago! Don’t get me wrong. I know that it wasn’t that far ago but for someone who’s as passionate and as crazy about travels as I am, I hope you’ll understand what it feels like to be on the road almost every other weekend and then to find yourself at home on consecutive weeks…  hehe (enough ranting!) It is a self-imposed hiatus though as I am saving up for my first trip back home (Manila, here I come!) after almost a year and a half of living on the (almost on the) other side of the world – London! It would be a 5 week holiday in Asia and I’ll be visiting 4 countries at that – I can’t wait!

To proactively make this self-imposed hiatus more bearable for me, I just busy myself with planning for my upcoming trips and if there’s actually an urge to go someplace – as friends keep posting status updates of where they’ve just been or because of friends uploading pictures of their recent trips overseas, then I go online to watch movies that’d make me feel like I’m actually out there: English language movies set in various locations around the world or foreign language films with English subtitles which is weird in a sense as I do this to satiate my wanderlust but then the movies that I have on my list might make you want to go out there and see those places yourselves!

Here are some of my favourites and hope you enjoy watching them too – please, please leave suggestions at the end of this post! I’d appreciate them a lot! Plus I’m running out of “travel movies” to watch! haha

Amelie

Amelie

This is one of my cousin’s favourite film. I’m happy that I’ve seen it only AFTER I have been to France. At least I didn’t go around the city going, this place was shot in the movie etc etc. Instead, while watching the movie, I found myself happily excited to see the places that I’ve seen and been to included in the movie and I got to say – I’ve been there! haha

PS  I Love You

PS I Love You

It had been quite a while but I do remember crying my eyes out while watching this flick while at the same time wanting to book myself a plane ticket to Ireland. Holly, deeply inlove and married found her self widowed after her husband died of a brain tumour. Devastated, she travelled to Ireland. The weird thing about it though is that she kept getting letters from her deceased husband. AT least, it’s helping her move on. :)

Eat, Pray, Love

Eat Pray Love

Italy. India. Indonesia. Midlife crisis indeed, after getting a divorce and you just feel so empty, what do you do then? Go and find pleasure in Rome. Then head to India to reconnect with your spirit. And afterwards, fly to Bali to regain your balance. Unfortunately, not everyone can do that come to think of it, everything is possible if you really want to make things happen.

The Bucket List

The Bucket List

We all have a bucket list, what’s yours? Now then, imagine yourself having enough money that doing them isn’t a question of possibility anymore. That’d be amazing, right? Only catch is that you might not have enough time as is the case for the lead characters in this movie.

The Holiday

The Holiday

It kinda reminded me of Couchsurfing only in this movie, you don’t host or stay with a total stranger… instead, you exchange houses -one is living in LA while the other is in England.

Under The Tuscan Sun

Under the Tuscan SunIt seems like some people only hit the road after something tragic happens to them then it’s like they’re catapulted into the world of the unknown and since there’s nothing more to risk, they then decide to take the plunge and travel! Anyways, this movie follows Frances, a divorcee, who while on a gay tour of Italy bought a rundown villa on impulse! It was amazing to see her travel all the way down to Positano which in my opinion is one of Italy’s most beautiful places!

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

I’ve only been to China once but it;’s such a huge and beautiful country that there are countless more places there that I want to go to! This action movie was set in the late 1700s and aside from the amazing martial arts and very good story, it also shows the beauty of this country.

Mamma Mia

Mamma Mia

Greece and ABBA. For me, a very good combination! :D  Based on the West End musical of the same title, the movie  is about Donna’s daughter, Sophie, who is about to get married but wants a father to give her away. The thing is, there are 3 possible dads and her mom’s not so sure who her father really is! hehe

Outsourced

Outsourced

I haven’t been to India. Some travellers like to say that there’s India and then there’s the rest of the world. It’s a HUGE country – a subcontinent at that – with tons of people with a long history and very lively culture. It can get pretty overwhelming which is what happened to the lead in this movie. His entire department is outsourced to India as it’s cheaper to do business from there and he’s sent there to train the guy taking over from him. Alone in a place halfway around the world, he fumbled his way around until he learned to accept and embrace the culture he’s in.

The Way

The Way

I saw a friend change his facebook status to something like this: I want to go to Spain after seeing the movie The Way. So curious me Googled what the movie was all about and watched it that same night! Yes, it made me want to go to Spain too to do a pilgrimage at the Camino de Santiago! The Way is about the story of a father who flew to Spain to collect the body of his son who died during a storm while walking the pilgrim route in Galicia, Spain.

The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Greece. America. Mexico…The travelling pants indeed made some serious travelling that summer as it was sent by four friends to one another so that they’ll stay connected. :)

The Beach

The Beach

Probably the quintessential travel movie that makes people want to go out there! A young Western guy heads off to backpack in Thailand. The allure of finding a small piece of paradise in this world that you can have all to yourself, who wouldn’t want that? But then it goes to show that nothing in this world is really perfect, even in a beach paradise. Leonardo di Caprio. Pristine beaches. Warm weather. Palm trees. *sigh* :)

Into The Wild

Into-the-wild
Is a movie based on the real life story of Christopher McCandless. After graduating from university, he decided to cut ties with society and to just be out there – his ultimate goal of the “Great Alaskan Dream” and to rough it out “into the wild.” He even changed his name to Alexander Supertramp, a fitting one I must say to a journey he decided to embark on. It was pretty extreme for me but it came recommended by most of the guys that I’ve asked about which movies made them want to go out there. :)

Benvenuti Al Sud

Benvenuti Al Sud
In the movie, a postal manager from the north – of Italy – was punished for faking his application for a better office by sending him down south instead. The movie showed how those from the north – stylish, cultured people – were stereotyping people from the south and why that shouldn’t be the case. I was travelling in Napoli with a Polish friend and we were being hosted by a Greek guy along with another American when we watched this movie upon our host’s suggestion on our first night there. He thought it’s a good introductory movie since we were in the south. Sitting around a personal computer with bowls of popcorn on our laps, we couldn’t stop laughing and I couldn’t help but be amazed at the beauty of the places featured and I was just happy to be in the area! Unfortunately, Castellabate, the place where the movie was shot was out of our way. Would definitely want to come back and see it next time!

3 Idiots

Three idiotsI have a friend who is crazy about movies (Hi Micher!!!). I asked him one day what he’d recommend for me, 3 Idiots was in his top 3 choices. It’s a Bollywood movie so do expect them to break out into a song and dance number every now and then but despite that hehehe I ended up really liking it! The movie centers around 3 guys with different backgrounds as they pursue an engineering degree. It gives an insight as to how the people in India are very competitive and how important education is for them. The movie brought tears to my eyes – but then I cry easily, okay, enough with the excuses – but the scenery here is just amazingly beautiful! India is definitely in my list of places to visit!

A Map For Saturday

A Map for Saturday

When I was still in Manila, my travel blogger friends were raving about this movie! I don’t know why I didn’t just watched it online but was instead waiting for one of them to give me a copy. D’oh! That is the only reason I could give as to how I only got to watch it this week. I know that this is a list of movies but I guess this one still counts as it’s about being out on the road. An American TV producer quit his job to backpack around the world for a year. And while he’s at it, made a video to document his trip and this was what he came up with. I have to say I do agree to many of his sentiments especially when he said that it’s not about the place anymore but the people you met along the way that makes it memorable – or something to that effect. Probably not relevant but I got to say  that I haven’t really stayed in a hostel before -I have tried, but I had my own room so it kinda doesn’t count- it was the locals (and yes, other travellers too) that I’ve met which made places come alive for me!

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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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Morocco in Pictures

For my first travel for the year 2013, I was able to visit my 3rd continent, AFRICA! Woohoo!

And to where did I go? Morocco!

I booked a flight here thinking that I’ll be needing a quick escape from London’s winter and because I’d love to eat more Moroccan dishes! hehehe I was able to buy a discount voucher online that allowed me to scoop up bargain steals for accommodations there. So I invited (girl) friends to tag along with me. It was a trip that was full of laughter, endless stories, yummy foods and memorable time! :D

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The seven of us playing with our shadows! :D

Marrakech International Airport

Day 1. I love this intricate architecture of Marrakech-Menara Airport. It’s so beautiful!

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Day 1. Things we needed for this travel: Money. Smartphones. Travel guide – although Morocco is part of Africa, it’s also included in LP’s Europe on a shoestring guide. Shades. And ah.. uhm.. cigarettes for others -_-

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Day 1. A local hauling woods onto the back of his cart

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Day 1. First meal in Marrakech: tagines – a method of cooking dishes in a clay pot – and pizzas!

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Day 1. Walking around sunny Morocco is such a refreshing change coming from snowy UK!

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Day 1. One of the many alleys inside the medina (old city). This one in particular reminds me of the “Where The Hell Is Matt?” video!

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Day 2. One of our must do here was to ride a camel. My companions were scared to ride the camels. It was too funny we even took a video of them! Another must do is to visit the Sahara but that would require an overnight stay in the desert which would have been perfect were it not for the lack of time. *sigh*

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Day 2. They started enjoying our ride once we got going. :)

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Day 2. Lambs sent out to graze by their shepherds.

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Day 2. Enroute to Ourika Valley, I would just be mesmerized by the view in front of us that I repeatedly asked our driver to pull over so I could take pictures such as this!

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Day 2. Moroccan ladies making argan oil the traditional way.

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Day 2. Again, we had to stop because it’s just too beautiful not to admire! haha

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Day 2. JUMP!!! -thanks for the picture Anne!

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Day 2. An elderly lady leading her lambs up into the mountains

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Day 2. I was disappointed when I saw the small waterfall pictured in the background coz I know that our destination is the waterfalls and this one is too small. Turns out, we were just halfway there! Whew!

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Day 2. Distracted with the unfamiliar terrain and busy making sure I don’t fall on our way up, I didn’t notice that we were really high up in the mountains already! I loved it!

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Day 2. Our guide asked me whether I wanted to take the same route back or whether we’d be willing to climb more but the first part would be a “bit more difficult” but easy thereafter -our guide’s words, not mine. Of course I chose the latter as it pleases me to keep trying new things. I was happy with my choice because despite the fact that it wasn’t really easier, the view more than made up for it!

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Day 3. Back on the road again! This time, we’re headed west to visit Essaouira, the coast!

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Day 3. I was informed that this is a forest. And I thought to myself, if this is a forest, what would they say to our forest back in the Philippines? hehehe

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Day 3. Essaouira is also known for their craftwork. I bought a beautiful box that they call “magic box” since one can’t open it unless shown how to. :D

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Day 3. It’s pretty cool how we were up in the mountains the day before and by the beach the next! Lots of kids were practicing football when we got there. :)

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Day 3. Would have wanted to swim but forgot my swimwear -and I’m guessing the water would be quite cold seeing as it’s winter time. hehe

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Day 3. Having a relaxing day for a change.

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Day 3. Our friend, Ava, had her birthday that day and the thoughtful people in our accommodation, Riad Zayane Atlas, made note of it when they served us delicious dinner that night!

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Day 4. Time for some pampering. We booked ourselves some traditional Moroccan scrub – hammam, and the others went on to have massage. I’ll definitely have another hammam if given the chance!

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Day 4. Checking out Moroccan goods and souvenirs.

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Day 4. The Djemaa El-Fna at dusk is starting to come alive!

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Day 4. Everywhere in the medina is full of hustle and bustle. It’s so alive! I love it! Just remember to be careful of pickpockets and some would try to make you pay for huge amount. Enjoy yourself but always be vigilant.

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Day 4. Marrakech’s medina

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Day 4. Savouring my last afternoon in sunny Morocco!

Africa is beautiful in its own rugged way. Anyone up for cheap Egypt holidays? :D

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