Posts Tagged ‘ Travels ’

Inside: Carnival in Venice

It’s already February and am yet to travel. *gasp*

Where to, to start another year of globetrotting? Back to Italy! Where specifically? To Venice for their carnival! :D

First time in Italy. First time to visit Venice. :)

First time in Italy. First time to visit Venice. :)

The first time I travelled to Italy was 2 years ago. I travelled solo for a week and visited Rome, Florence then Venice. The most popular route. Typical? I guess. But for a reason most definitely! I keep telling my other friends who seem to shun touristy things that touristy places/ things are the way they are for a reason and it’d be a shame to skip them just to avoid the crowd.  Anyways, since I had been couchsurfing my way around bella Italia – and met many wonderful people and got to see places I grew up studying and dreaming of- … I wanted a break from staying at other people’s place and and to just be on my own and to treat myself I guess, so I booked for a room by the Rialto bridge  in Venice. It was perfect!

Sunset in Venice

Sunset in Venice

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I like how Venice is really just any other city except for the fact that it has canals instead of roads. Vaporettos instead of buses. Water ambulance, fire boat, etc. Awesome! I wasn’t really aware of Venice’s masquerades back then but seeing all of the masks by the streets, I figured, buy one and come back to Venice to actually use it in the festival season.

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And that’s what I exactly did last week! :D

With travel buddies, Shalinee and Jessica

With travel buddies, Shalinee and Jessica

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Venetian Carnival is an annual fest held in – as the name suggests – Venice. It is celebrated until before the start of Lent, 40 days before Easter. Here are pictures taken during the last Venice Carnival.

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The cons of visiting a place during a feast is the seriously huge crowd of people!

The downside of visiting a place during a feast is the seriously huge crowd of people!

P1100441Venice. Expensive. Touristy. Crowded. Still, it was a truly fun experience! We’re even thinking of going back to another carnival wearing a full costume. Should be fun! ;)

Best done with friends. If you wanna go there for romantic purposes, better go off season to avoid the throng of visitors – or at least to not have as many of them there.

*If looking for accommodations and you realize that Venice’s hotels are out of your budget range, look for a place to stay at in Venice Mestre. It’s in the mainland and much cheaper. And besides, it’s just 15mins away by bus. :)

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AAU Trip to Rome

Second attempt at making a video out of the pictures of a trip. This one’s with my workmates in London as we embarked on a whirlwind overnight trip to the eternal city of Rome. First flight in, last flight out. If I’m with people who are up for all of my crazy ideas… these are the sort of things that would ensue! lol

Enjoy watching! :D

 

Birmingham: The Gateway to the West Midlands

Staying in Birmingham certainly has its perks – centrally located in the heart of England, there’s many places in its vicinity that are easily accessible when using this Midlands metropolis as a base. Click here for some fabulous hotel deals in the city and plan your itinerary to include central Birmingham activities as well as venturing further afield to see what else the West Midlands has on offer.

An exterior view of the new Library of Birmingham and its outdoor roof terrace garden at Centenary Square

Picture courtesy of telegraph.co.uk

When the sun is shining, it’s all the more reason to explore as much as possible and the sheer volume of attractions and things to do in and around Birmingham is quite impressive. Whether you’re visiting with family or it’s a strictly grown up affair, the possibilities are endless.

Castles are a great addition to any West Midlands break, with Warwick and Kenilworth Castles being within easy access of the city. Throughout the summer, there’s a full programme of events to keep youngsters busy while the heritage and history of these majestic fortifications is enough to enthral adults for an afternoon. With a season full of jousts and tournaments, a trip to Kenilworth Castle is well worth it for your fill of medieval thrills.

The Black Country Living Museum is less than half an hour away from the city, in the heart of Dudley town, and takes visitors back to the Industrial Revolution, in which the West Midlands were exceedingly important. Set over 26 acres, the museum will engross you in years of urban heritage that has been flawlessly rebuilt in this dedicated space.

Black Country Living Museum. pic courtesy of visitbirmingham.com

Museums are rife in and around Birmingham, perfect if you’re up for a day of culture and history. While young children may resent you a little for traipsing them around museums, if you’re travelling without kids, visiting museums can be a great way to while away the hours – particularly if the weather outside is a little drab. From the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, the Pen Museum and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in the city centre, to the fab Midland Air Museum and Coventry Transport Museum in, you guessed it, Coventry, there’s plenty to keep the inquisitive minds occupied.

If thrills are more your thing, Birmingham is just a short distance away from the awesome Alton Towers which will keep even the most mature of people screaming with delight. A brief hour on the road and you will arrive at this fantastic theme park, set in the middle of lush countryside. While Thorpe Park competes with the park to be the UK’s number one theme park for thrills, Alton Towers has it all. From fast-paced adrenaline rides including Rita, 13, Oblivion, Nemesis and Air to gentle strolls around the beautiful gardens, there’s something for everyone. Plus, grab an online deal or special offer and you can save plenty on entrance fees.

Alton Tower’s The Smiler. pic courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

If you choose to stay in the city of Birmingham, spend an evening at the Electric Cinema – the oldest working cinema in the UK and now showing an eclectic mix of art-house and mainstream films. Located on Station Street, in the heart of the city and just around the corner from the Bull Ring Shopping Centre, upcoming movie delights include Scarface, Blackfish and Otway the Movie.

Start planning your Birmingham trip, today. ;)

 

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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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Songs and Travels. My Travel Playlist!

Every now and then, some friends would be asking what kind of music I listen to when I’m on the road. I love almost all kind of music but mostly…

I love songs that just plain exude positive vibes
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield is a definite favourite of mine!
or those that could wake you up when you’re feeling sleepy,
Jay Sean’s 2012 is sure to get me up and about!
or calm you down when you’re anxious.
The beach comes to mind whenever I hear All Saint’s Pure Shores

Songs sang in a different language especially if it’s the place I plan to go to
Garry Schyman’s Praan

or songs that remind me of places I’ve been to
Paris comes to mind whenever I hear La Vie En Rose by Louis Armstrong!
plus songs that reminds me of home! Manila! *sigh*
Manila by Amber

I also always listen to songs that somehow makes me feel part of a bigger world. ;)
U2’s Beautiful Day

And I enjoy watching videos that makes me want to go out there and experience what this world has to offer!

Happy new year and more travels everyone!!!♥

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