Tuesday, 3 November 2015

[Visit Ph] Three Days Out of Manila, Part 1 of 3

Hello there! I´m back from my two weeks vacation in the Philippines!  It was a short break, and although I was tempted to cram those two weeks with trips around the islands, in the end, I decided I wanted it to be a very laidback experience, one that would allow me to enjoy the everyday moments with the family.

Of course, being travel-crazy Pinoys who wouldn´t stay put,  my family and I decided that  a short weekender  in Calabarzon would not be too much of a hassle, so that´s what we did!   Calabarzon, if you do not know, is the region just south of Manila made up of 4 provinces - Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Quezon.

Our Base: Ricarte´s Hill , Batangas via AirBnB
I rented a small vacation house in Airbnb in Nasugbu, Batangas.  It was the perfect location, since it was just 10 minutes away from Tagaytay city center, but it was far enough to be really peaceful and provincial.  The two bedroom resthouse with a wading pool and a kiddie pool was inside the owner´s mango farm, so the location was very rustic and full of trees.

    itsy bitsy spider in the garden

The house was just big enough for the six of us, with two rooms, one with a queen sized bed and another with 2 double beds.  There were foldaway mattresses and extra pillows available.

The house itself was spic and span, the pools were cleaned daily and there are helpers who can assist you.   The cooking area itself is separated from the house by a few yards, but that´s okay.  We didn´t cook at all haha!  We did avail of their cooking services and had one breakfast and one dinner catered.  For breakfast we had garlic fried rice, tocino, tapa, longanisa and ham plus putok pandesal. For one dinner we had kare-kare, laing, inihaw na liempo, rice, leche flan and buko pandan.  The food while not stellar is full of that homecooked goodnes, like something an auntie would cook for you. For our three day stay inclusive of the two catered meals,  I paid only  250€.  Truly value for money!

Because our rented flat was right smack in the middle ofNasugbu and Tagaytay, we could, if we wanted, enjoy the beaches of Nasugbu and the cool highlands of Tagaytay.

We decided to forego the beaches and instead went on a trip to a hacienda in Quezon, visited a bee farm in Cavite and went around Tagaytay for some fun and food trips.  Details on my next posts!

Ricarte´s Hill Garden Resort
Book through AirBnB 
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Saturday, 20 June 2015

Beauty Haul: Foreo Luna Mini, Elizabeth Arden Intervene, Chanel Vitalumiere Compact

I spent a little over 250€ last Friday for this beauty haul.  It is certainly  extravagant and somewhat excessive for my ordinarily thrifty lifestyle, but my skin´s been pretty bad lately, so bad that even my ever-reliable Guerlain Lingerie de Péau foundation could not cover the red splotches around my mouth and the tired pallor of my face.

And then there is the fact that the sale season in Europe has began, with 30% to 50% markdowns on goodies.  And so I got a little crazy and bought goodies which will hopefully help me in my beauty battle against stress and ageing.

The Haul: Foreo Luna Mini, Chanel Vitalumiere Compact Powder, Elizabeth Arden Intervene Products (Anti-Fatigue Eye Cream, Time FightingRadiance Serum, Skin Tone Perfecting Capsules), and my freebie of Smashbox Makeup Pouch 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

A Spring of Tulips in Holland

Ah, spring!  The season of beginnings. The earth resplendent in a robe of colors, and for those of us who lived through the darkest of winters, spring means a sigh of relief, a promise of light.  Spring holds with its arrival the promise of rebirth, of beautiful blooms,  of nature being at its flirtiest.

It was my first spring in Holland.  And like most first-timers, I marked it with a rite of passage.  In Japan and Korea, spring is a time for hanami, the annual flower viewing custom to enjoy the pristine and ethereal cherry blossoms.  In Holland,  the gray landscape is cracked open by a carpet of unfurled bulbs.

    Tulips: From bulbs to blooms

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Cochem, Germany: A Castle, A River, and A Fairytale Town


Cochem, Germany is an insider´s secret.  Most people who come to  visit Germany target the bigger cities --Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg, Dresden.  And that is understandable,  with limited time, we choose the cities with the biggest media mileage. What, in the age of social media, is deemed as  brag-worthy.  But Europe, being a traveller´s  dream,  offers so  many landscapes.  Just as there are different sorts of tourists  --backpackers, those in search of romance, those who want to hit all the iconic cities, those who want to forget--- Europe has  as many cities and towns to cater to every traveller´s preferences.    Last year, I embarked on a solo trip to Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Hamburg, and early this year I visited Berlin.  And how I enjoyed Germany!  Next to Spain, where I lived, it is Germany that made me feel so comfortable and safe -- the germans are unmatched when it comes to friendliness and  even in the big cities, it always felt safe to roam around alone.

And yet even though I enjoyed my past trips to Germany,  it was only when I went to the little town of Cochem that I was dazzled, so dazzled that I uttered with hope and longing,  ¨ I wish I could live here!"  

Friday, 15 May 2015

Mussels and Waffles and Laughter in Ghent

I am truly getting older.  My equally-single friends and I are now talking about mid-life crises, about (not) coming to terms with living alone, about past loves, hopes and frustrations.  The Polish friend and co-engineer, older by close to five years and prone to drama, sighs why the Lord has not blessed her, and enumerates her ¨misfortunes¨. By that she refers to her still being single, a few months shy of forty.  She then points to her perfectly okay figure and complains of weight gain, and points to her clear face and her little laughlines in despair.  We tell her, come on, B! You are so blessed! You´re still pretty and you have a good job, yes? And then of course, she talks about the enemies she´s made at the work site.  I think she really wants to anchor her life now with something, she wants to get rooted to a life and stop the traveling.   She is ready to buy a house, but she doesn´t know where. She just wants to not be alone anymore.

Ah, the travails of being a thirty-something woman,  living  on her own in a foreign land.  I, for one don´t share her desperation yet. I still don´t feel old.   And, having come from a long talk  not too long ago with two Christian elders who fundamentally counselled me about my life direction, I am not worried at all about my life path.  But, B surely needed some cheering up so yesterday,  we went on a road trip to Ghent for a day of waffles and mussels and laughter.

Ghent is a city in the Flemish region of  Belgium, about  a two-hour drive away from my place in Rotterdam.  M, my college best friend and also former workmate of B, was our designated driver.

                                         Ghent is full of canals and ornate buildings

   A shop along the canal.  See the windows under ground zero.

My List of Things To Do in Madrid

    Lavapies: one of Madrid´s older, working class areas

For those who don´t know,  I lived in Madrid for two years until late 2014 when I got a seemingly better work offer in Holland.  I figured,  it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work in an environment where I can learn  aspects of my industry that I can never hope to get exposed to in my (then) current job.  So when 2015 came, I jumped ship and am now living in The Netherlands.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Eleven Things To Eat in Ilocos

It is summertime in the Philippines!  The streams on my facebook is filled with images of  our tropical brand of happiness!  Here I am cocooned, sweatshirt and all, watching the gloomy Saturday run its course, my mind miles away filled with a longing for...

Halo-halo - the quintessential Filipino frozen dessert
    (Image from nytimes.com)