Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Magical Venice - Part 1

Last December 2014, I had the chance to travel to Italy and France with three of my classmates for a total of nine days. It was my first time to travel outside the UK and I was pumped up to see the sights, taste the delicious food, and experience the culture.

Our first stop was Venice from December 14 to December 16. We booked a Monarch flight that cost about GBP40 each. The flight took 2.5 hours from Manchester Airport to Marco Polo Venice International Airport.  Our accommodation, Ca' dei Fuseri, a B&B that was booked through, provided directions on how to get there.

We arrived in the evening and the first time I set my eyes on the heart of Venice, I was in love (cheesy as it may sound). Everything just felt so magical. I read a novel once that was set in Venice, and the way the author described the place made a mark on me. Nevertheless, reality truly trumps fantasy as I walked along its cobbled streets. But first, my friends and I needed to find our accommodation so that we could leave our luggage and explore the city to our heart's content.

Rialto Bridge

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Search for that Blue Door and the Big Bear

"I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her."

Famous line from the movie Notting Hill back in 1999 starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. Since my friend and I were planning to visit the Portobello Markets, we decided to kill two birds with one stone by walking around Notting Hill and searching for the house with that iconic blue door. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Hidden Gem in London

Desserts have always been a weakness of mine, something that I can rarely say No to. Despite being full from a meal, I have been a living proof that there is indeed always room for desserts. So when a friend of mine suggested that we go to a dessert place while we were in London, I did not hesitate to agree and join her.

Apparently, the dessert place has been recommended by her friend who has been living in London for quite some time. I found this to be actually a good strategy whenever exploring a new place. Don't just be contented with known tourist destinations since they would most likely be crowded or overpriced. Instead, talk with the locals and discover from them their own personal recommendations or where they would usually go to for food or to hang out.

Upon arriving at the place, there were plenty of seats to choose from. At first, it had me worried because the lack of people can sometimes allude to a not-so-good food or service. But then I decided to just have an open mind and be reminded that this not the usual tourist spot and the time that we were there was still within the normal working hours.

The place specializes in pancakes so even though I was more of a waffle type of girl, I decided to try their specialty. And boy they did not disappoint! As soon as the server was heading our way, my eyes got huge and could not help but exclaim that "Wow! Their pancakes are sooooo big!". It was my first time to see such a huge pancake served in an equally humongous plate, that I immediately thought that my friend and I should have shared instead. They also had not just one scoop of vanilla ice cream as a topping, but they had three mouthwatering scoops! And when I sliced and had a first taste of the pancake, I just have to close my eyes and savour its deliciousness. Any thoughts about calories or exercise have been temporarily thrown away.

Who can go wrong with apple, cinnamon and vanilla ice cream?

A Visit to the Tower of London

Almost two years after my last post, I am finally back, and I hope to continue and be more consistent in writing about my travels in this blog. I know I still have to finish my Australia series but for the mean time, I wanted to share about the most recent places I've been to given the changes in my life. Because as of last August 2014, I have temporarily moved to the UK to pursue my MBA studies.

(Gasps!) Yes, one of my greatest dreams of going to Europe has finally come true.

So going a bit back to the topic at hand, it is currently summer here in the UK (meaning more time to explore). Since I would be meeting my highs school friend in London, I decided to combine some sightseeing as well.

Loving the medieval feel at the Tower of London
My classmates in the MBA have mentioned that going to the Tower of London is a must-do while you are here, so given the opportunity, I decided to book my ticket in advance and consequently avoided the long queues and wasted time.

By visiting the official website of the Tower of London I was able to see its opening and closing times, including the link to purchase the tickets. As a student, I was entitled to a discount and purchased the ticket for GBP16 versus the GBP21 as an adult. I also decided to purchase an audio guide since I tend to appreciate the place and the history more as opposed to just roaming around by myself. This cost an additional GBP3 with the discount already included.

I arrived at the place at around 2 PM by taking the tube and getting off  at the Tower Hill Station. This gave me three and a half hours to explore the place. Personally, I think I should have gone a bit earlier especially since I chose to also take part of the Yeoman Warder guided tours. If you are pressed for time however, I would suggest that you just take the Yeoman Warder guided tour (which is free), without the audio guide and then just select the areas of interest you wouldn't want to miss out on such as visiting the Crown Jewels.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Australian Adventure (Day 9 of 21) - Chilling at Home

     After having such an action-packed Saturday, my ninth day in Sydney was mostly spent relaxing at home and having a short trip to the nearby grocery store to buy some food, chocolates and to rent some DVDs.  The last one was more of a surprise to me because apparently in Australia, there are still plenty of people who are willing to shell out some money.  And mind you, these rentals don't come in cheap.  Unlike in the Philippines, wherein the norm is to download the movies/tv shows over the internet.

      Once we made our selection, we went back home and had some afternoon snack - Filipino style.  We ate at the terrace where we had a relaxing view of the neighborhood. As I was feeling a bit nostalgic, I decided to catch up with a friend back at home over Skype. (Ahhh, the wonders of technology!)

Couldn't help but hoard some Cadbury chocolates, especially since they were on Sale!
Yummy Pancit - reminds me of home

     With my tummy full, I decided to spend the rest of the day reading a good book in my Kindle. Though I may not have gone to a special or new place that day, I still thought that it was a day that was well spent. After all, no vacation would be complete without a relaxing day at home.  Sometimes, our days could be so busy and fast-paced that we forget to appreciate the simple things in life.  A home cooked meal with the company of family, exchanging stories and laughing their hearts out, is what most people take for granted. Getting together in the family room to watch rented movies may not be much for some, but it was definitely enough for me. These kinds of bonding moments are the ones that I treasure the most and would fondly think of, many years from now.

    How about you? When was the last time you spent your day at home just bonding with your family?

More Soon - Day 10 - Back to Olympic Park

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Australian Adventure (Day 8 of 21) - FUN at Jamberoo Park

At Jamberoo Action Park
         What better way to escape the summer heat, but to go to Jamberoo Action Park. It was an extremely enjoyable and exciting Saturday as I was able to visit Australia's version of a water park where friends and family can have a great time.  It's the perfect place to cool down, create great bonding moments, get some adrenaline rush from the rides and bring out the kid in everybody.

         The park opens daily from 10 AM to 5 PM.  Children three years and below are given free admission, while children from 4-12 years and seniors aged 60 and above are charged at a rate of AUD33.  Since I didn't belong to any of those categories, (as much as my height may sometimes say otherwise), my ticket cost about AUD41.  The ticket already covered all the rides for the entire day.

         It took us about a 2-hour drive from Tita A and Tito Bru's house and we didn't even encounter any traffic on the way to the place.  The next thing I know, I could just see mountains everywhere and saw a sign welcoming us to Jamberoo.  There were plenty of parking spaces so we were able to find a spot in no time.  We arrived at the park by around 11 AM and my aunt proceeded to get us some tickets.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Australian Adventure - (Day 7 of 21) - Discovering the Beauty of Parramatta

St. John's Cathedral behind me
        For my seventh day in Sydney, Tito Bru decided to show me around Parramatta, a suburb where Tita A and Tito Bru used to live.  It was a very peaceful place and had a beautiful park, open for anyone who just wants to relax or just enjoy the surroundings. It's located quite near to the Sydney Olympic Park and around 24 km away from Sydney's CBD.
        The first famous landmark that I was able to visit was St. John's Cathedral, which could be found on Church Street.  It is known to be the oldest church in Parramatta and was built way back in 1803.  I wanted to take a look inside the church, unfortunately, it was closed for the day.  Beautiful flowers surrounded the church, so I just made myself content to take a few pictures here and there.

         Near the church, the town hall was also situated, including the centennial clock.  What I liked about the place is that once you get there, you only had to walk, as each place is located very near each other.  A number of restaurant could be found, a few steps away from the church and the town hall.  Anyone would probably have a hard time choosing which restaurant to go to as there were so many in the area.

A good spot to rest and have a picture
Town Hall

Centennial Clock
             As we were full of energy on that day, we decided to just keep on walking until we were able to reach Parramatta river.  There were trees surrounding the area, which gave us some shade from the scorching heat of the sun.  There was also a paved path on both sides of the river wherein we encountered several people who were also having a good walk with their friends or sometimes with their pets. A few were also on their bikes, some on a jog and others like us, who were just happy to enjoy the view and the fresh breeze blowing over the area.  The park seemed to be a place where you can reflect, and just have some peace and quiet.  There were also some fun facts about the history of the place, for those who wish to know more about the place.  Tito Bru also mentioned that previously, the place was very dirty and would not be recommended as a nice place to visit.  But after some efforts from the people, they were able to clean up the place and make it inviting to both locals and tourists. The only thing that you have to worry about is when there are serious rains because the water level on the river could rise up pretty high and could result to some flooding to the nearby places.

Lennox Bridge

With their pets

Lots of paddles

Definitely peaceful
            Once we had enough of our walking, we decided to cool down in one of the shopping centers in Parramatta, which was Westfield.  I didn't get to buy much for that day since I mostly just window shopped.  To quench my thirst from all those walking, I had some cold and very delicious strawberry milkshake at McDonald's.  After walking around for about an hour or two, we met up with Tita A, who came from her work. We ate in a Vietnamese restaurant, which I discovered was one of their favorite restaurants to eat when they were there.  I was so hungry at that time that, (gasps!) I didn't get to take any picture at all, nor was I even able to get the name of the place. But I do remember that the food was good and it was a nice ending for our day.

More Soon: - Day 8 - FUN at Jamberoo Action Park

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