Category Archives: Things

Euro Vacay Day 1-4: Berlin, Berlin…

I was very excited to finally set foot in Europe and with Berlin being one of my must-visit cities before I die. Haha! I’m really beyond thrilled! The immigration officials weren’t as stern as I expected them to be, due to the horror stories I’ve read and heard from some people. They just asked the purpose of my trip, the countries I’ll be visiting and it took less than a minute I think and I finally got my entry in Germany!

After planning this trip for almost a year, you would think that I was able to cover all of the bases already but no – my Qatar Airways flight landed in Berlin Tegel Airport around 10 – or past 10 in the evening. Lo and behold, most if not all of the stores are already closed! And stupid me was expecting there will be stores open 24 hours where I could buy a SIM card! I even bought a new phone for this trip! LOL. So my only option was to asked the airport staff on how to go about getting to my hostel for my four days in the city! There were buses that will take you anywhere in the cities, and tram too. I mean, this is Germany after all, but I was still totally clueless since I’ve not internet to Google where I am – so I just checked my accommodations booking and prayed to the gods that I got off the right station. Apparently I did not. Haha. I was literally lost and walking aimlessly. And there are only a few people out and about. Remember, this was winter time and I think it’s already past eleven in the evening. 

Thank goodness though, because I bumped into Norah – a local from Berlin who helped me find my hostel. She’s truly a godsend because I was just getting really cold by the time I bumped into her.  I told her the whole thing of me not able to get a new SIM card at the airport and I just showed her my booking and she took me to my hostel right then and there. 

I had my Berlin accommodation at the St. Christopher Inn Berlin-Mitte. They were very gracious and the hostel was actually kind of nice for a solo traveler like myself. One of the guy manning the reception asked me where I was from and I told her that I’m from the Philippines and he smiled and said that his mom is Filipina! Instant connection! LOL.  I absolutely loved the location of the hostel! It’s perfect because it ‘s all walking distance to all the tourist traps!!! I swear, I never had to use any transportation system within my 4 days in Berlin.  

The following day was not as eventful as I’d like it to be because I was still getting used to the cold! I just went our first to familiarize myself – saw the Berlin Cathedral where I went in for a mass on Day 3,  Altes Museum, Humboldt University, Alexanderplatz etc… It was just me being very fascinated and I still cannot believe that I made it here! For some people, this may just be nothing but from someone like me who grew up in the country – this is definitely a whole new world! A feat by itself!

Here are some of the pictures I took on my first foray in Berlin.

 

This was December 25th of last year! It was my first time spending Christmas outside of the country and alone for that matter. It’s kind of sad if you think about it because I’m usually with my family during this season but I was having the time of my life all’s good!

I joined a free tour of the Reichstag glass dome on top of the rebuilt Reichstag building! It was exhilarating!

Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe. It feels so heavy visiting this memorial. I will be writing more about this in conjunction to my visit at Auschwitz-Birkenau the following days.

The Reichstag Building

The Berlin Cathedral

I actually got inside the night before but was not able to take pictures inside because one – it was disrespectful and second – it was not allowed I think but I still see some folks trying to sneak a picture or two…

The Urania World Clock is a large turret-style world clock located in the public square of Alexanderplatz in Mitte, Berlin.

Yep, it really isn’t Christmas without this big ‘old Christmas tree!

Of course, I ordered Currywurst!

8 euro ain’t so bad.

The beautiful Postdamer Platz

Humboldt University

The Lustgarten

The view on my way back to my hostel

At the Westkreuz Station early in the morning on my way to Prague!

Here’s To A Great 2015!!!

It’s the dawn of the new year and another time to make some changes and be the better version of ourselves!

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I’ve tons of New Year’s Resolution but my priority is to take better care of my health. I realized that I’m not getting any younger so I’ve to make a lot of adjustments with my diet and lifestyle.

I’d also try to get into sports  – I loved watching football and play with my brother Nelson every once in a while but I’m planning to take on running. 🙂 Maybe complete a marathon before my birthday this year?

a couple of years ago when I was still a member of our local gym. Gah! I also need to hit the gym soon!!!!!

a couple of years ago when I was still a member of our local gym. Gah! I also need to hit the gym soon!!!!!

I’m also keen on continuing my traveling! I think 2015 would be a great year to see tons of places again. 🙂

nvs2I’ve been busy reading tons of stuff over the course of the last year and I ought to continue that habit. (I’ve read 335 titles in 2014)  I think it helps me clear my mind a lot and somehow [cheesy alert] relaxes my soul.

Books

Okay, I’ll stop blabbing now but lemme tell you at last that I’d still continue to blog anything I’m interested with to share with you guys. So there, I just wanna wish you guys a great and happy 2015!!!! Yay!!!

Souvenir

sou·ve·nir  n.

A token of remembrance; a memento.

[French, from Old French, to recall, memory, from Latin subvenre, to come to mind : sub-, sub- + venre, to come; see gw- in Indo-European roots.]

Souvenir Morong, Bataan, July 2013

Souvenir
Morong, Bataan, July 2013

This was a very pretty key chain which I bought in Bataan when our team went to Island Waters Resort in the town of Morong. It was my second time in Morong and at the resort and I wasn’t able to buy a material souvenir the first time around so here’s the my little memento from the beautiful Morong.

the edited version :) which one do you prefer?

the edited version 🙂 which one do you prefer?

My First Adventure In Sagada (October 2010)

 My Accidental Trip To Sagada

My first trip to Sagada was an accidental one. My travel buddy (Dominic) and I are actually planning to visit Baguio since Dominic haven’t been there so I thought that it’d be a cool idea to just go there and get ourselves a much needed break from everything that’s in the city (work, work work that is.) About a week before our scheduled trip, Dominic suddenly suggested Sagada which I have heard before and the thought of going there made me so giddy right away. I’ve been dying to go there but I just never had the resource of time.  I thought to myself, “Now is the time to do this! Yay” Right away, we search the net for everything we could learn about Sagada and man’ 99% of what’s written about it made me even more excited. I just can’t wait to go there.

picture taking at one of the stop overs in Banaue :)

picture taking at one of the stop overs in Banaue 🙂

At S. Joseph Inn aka St.Joseph Resthouse

Also known as St. Joseph Resthouse.

History has it that St.Joseph used to be a convent and was converted into a resthouse.

At St Joseph InnI Just want to say that we truly enjoyed our stay in Sagada and staying at St.Joseph Inn was just as great. We arrived at around nine in the morning and immediately checked-in paying P500/night – we chose to stay at the dormitory because it’s way cheaper (their cheapest actually) than the private rooms with private restrooms. We’re okay with a shared restroom anyways, since we’d only be staying in town for like 2 nights.

The roomsI actually loved our room. It was very clean and very comfortable. You have to go to the dormitory’s receiving room to use the power socket if you’ve need something with electric current LOL (in our case, our camera, cellphones and laptop.)

You can see the shared washroom at the background

You can see the shared washroom at the background

The restroom/bathroom are okay. There’s a separate restroom for male and female but we actually used both since we’re the only visitors when we arrived (and 3 European guys when we left.)

Dominic Checking the garden

Dominic checking the garden

The dormitory was actually a bit creepy because it was so eerily quiet! But that adds up to the adventure. They also have a restaurant just outside the inn but we didn’t eat there because we’d like to explore more and it doesn’t look appetizing at all since no one seems to be eating there…

just fooling around.

just fooling around.

Dominic and I had a lovely stay at the inn. I just wished back then that we’ve more company 🙂

To contact the inn – call / text at 09185595934

At Yoghurt House

It's a two story establishment and this is the second floor of it :) Cozy huh?

It’s a two story establishment and this is the second floor of it 🙂 Cozy huh?

The Yoghurt House was perfection for us. We loved every bit of it! We love their hospitality, the vibe of the place, the entrée and ofcourse – its yoghurt!

Here's the sumptuous lunch that we ordered. I'm overwhelmed by the big servings!

Here’s the sumptuous lunch that we ordered. I’m overwhelmed by the big servings!

We went here for lunch immediately after unpacking our stuff at St. Joseph. It was glorious! We ordered Garden Salad with Tuna, Pancake, Sauteed Beef in Onions and Rice, Two Mountain Teas (uber awesome) and two Banana, Granola, Strawberry Preserves Yoghurt! –that’s just for lunch and everything seems to be good for two!!!!

I am a tea lover and this mountain tea's amazing!

I am a tea lover and this mountain tea’s amazing!

Banana, Granola, Strawberry Preserves Yoghurt - Now you it see, now you dont!

Banana, Granola, Strawberry Preserves Yoghurt – Now you it see, now you dont!

After our spelunking, we also decided to eat here for another uber-awesome dinner!
We only had Pasta’s and Mountain Tea –it was U-N-B-E-L-I-E-V-A-B-L-E!

Yum! Yum!

Yum! Yum!

This place’s my favorite eating hub in Sagada. I love the way they cook their food and its hospitality. I won’t mind having to eat here all day long whenever I’m in Sagada 🙂

My First Spelunking Experience In Sagada 

This was actually one of our top priorities coming to Sagada – to experience spelunking the Sagada way. It was my first time doing it and I have to tell you that I was nervous as hell! I’ve never done caving in my life but the adventurous side of me wanted to do it so bad! After checking in at St.Joseph and having lunch at the Yogurt Housewe immediately texted the  Sagada Genuine GuidesAssociation or SaGGAs for our guide and they sent the very nice Kuya Rod who immediately asked us our itinerary. We told him that we’d like to go caving right away and we went to their office to discuss which type we’d like to do. We can do the Cave Connection (two caves connecting – from Lumiang Cave to Sumaging Cave) which would take approximately four hours to finish or the Sumaging cave spelunking (which is the last stop of the cave connection.) Since Dominic and I are very much excited to do it, we decided to do the cave connection. We walked for about 20 minutes to get to the cave’s entrance from the SaGGAs office and while walking through that part of Sagada, you can see the limestones part of the moutains (check picture below) in both sides of the road and saw some hanging coffins in them. Kuya Rod stopped us and asks us if we wanted to take pictures of it so we gladly took turns in taking pictures. With us is another guide (Kuya Rod’s assistant) named Tarik who took our pictures for this adventure.

Cliff

Look at the background! (btw, the head gear was provided by the guides :) )

Look at the background! (btw, the head gear was provided by the guides 🙂 )

When we arrived at the Lumiang cave’s entrance, we were greeted by the world-famous hanging coffins of Sagada. We were amazed at how rich their culture is. We found out that the reason why they are not burying their dead was because they believe that they will be forever dwell at the “underworld” if they bury them underground. We also asked why the coffins are so small and we’re told that they put their dead inside the coffin on a fetal position because they believe that you should be lay to rest the way you were at your Mother’s womb. I even mistakenly asked if this is where they returned the “mummy” that was documented by The Correspondent years before and was told that it’s not in Sagada and they do not mummify their dead because they feel that doing so would violate the body of their deceased loved ones.

These are the coffins you'll see upon entering the Lumiang Caves

These are the coffins you’ll see upon entering the Lumiang Caves

Here's the entrance of the Lumiang Cave. Looks scary aye?

Here’s the entrance of the Lumiang Cave. Looks scary aye?

Noticed the two gecko carvings?

Noticed the two gecko carvings?

 We started the exploration at about two in the afternoon and I’ve to tell you that even before it began, I’m already terrified to death! LOL

Here, Kuya Rod is giving us tips and telling us bits of history about the place

Here, Kuya Rod is giving us tips and telling us bits of history about the place

To be honest, I was nervous  the whole time that we’re navigating the Lumiang cave because I felt suffocated at first and seeing deep dark holes down are quite unnerving; good thing we have Kuya Rod and Tarik to assist us.

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We stop every now and then with Kuya Rod telling us more about the caves and the stone formations we see. It was beautiful and gratifying. These are the real wonders which I hope more people would come to witness themselves. We gasp every time we see beautiful rock formations which we only used to see on pictures and TV/Internet. Touching them and feeling them (and having our picture taken with them) was beyond any experiences I had so far.

These are some stone formations you can see while inside the caves.

The Umbrella

The Umbrella or the half Papaya rock formation – whatever you wanna call it. ‘Such gem inside this humongous cave!

This I’d like to call the Gay Queen. Go figure 

This I’d like to call the Gay Queen. Go figure 

The Face. What image do you see?

The Face. What image do you see?

It looks like a.... funny huh? (I wasn’t able to ask the name of this one, but go figure)

It looks like a…. funny huh? (I wasn’t able to ask the name of this one, but go figure)

The Bull Frog

The Bull Frog

The pregnant queen. LOL

The pregnant queen. LOL

The King...eerrr... ya know what I mean.

The King…eerrr… ya know what I mean.

The little Prince

The little Prince

The King's Curtain

The King’s Curtain

There are still a lot of rock formations and I thought that you should see them on your visit here instead 🙂

Rappelling baby! (it's about 5 feet high - LOL)

Rappelling baby! (it’s about 5 feet high – LOL)

I couldn't care less about the bats' poo

I couldn’t care less about the bats’ poo

After about four hours of walking, hiking, rappelling and sliding – we successfully made the connection from Lumiang to Sumaging cave. I am mighty proud of myself that day!

We couldn’t ask for a better way to start our first day in Sagada. It was a perfect way to kick things off!

We couldn’t ask for a better way to start our first day in Sagada. It was a perfect way to kick things off!

 

The "WE DID IT" pose! Yeaaahhhbbbaaa!

The “WE DID IT” pose! Yeaaahhhbbbaaa!

At  The Marlboro Country Of Sagada

After our Bomod-Ok adventure, we’re supposed to go to Mount Ampacao (the highest peak in Sagada) but we’re told by Kuya Rod that there are roaming military personnel around that time since the Barangay election was on the following day. (I think it’s not really unsafe –we’re just taking precautions) So we had our lunch at the market along with our three new companions for the Bomod-Ok tour namely Jill, Donna and Angel (who’s actually the man behind Lakwatsero.com) and they told us that they would just rest and not go with us at the Marlboro Country which we chose to go to after the cancelled Mount Ampacao tour.

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That's real excitement!

That’s real excitement!

look at those towering Pines!

look at those towering Pines!

The foggy surroundings

The foggy surroundings

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It was a tiring 2 hours trek and it feels like forever reaching the peak. The weather isn’t cooperating with us but we could still appreciate the beauty of it. The pines are towering kings of the mountains, wild flowers are all around and the fog is very much accompanying us on this adventure.

 

some of the wild flowers

some of the wild flowers

at the far left is a wild berry I was told

at the far left is a wild berry I was told

Flowers 1

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Upon reaching one of the mountain’s peak, Kuya Rod pointed to us the wild cows and the three more (brown?) horses at a very distant view of the other mountain. It’s unfortunate that our little camera could not get a better view of the wild animals so we just took pictures of ourselves, the view of the seven mountains.

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Yay! Finally!

Yay! Finally!

It's foggy but it's still beautiful! it's just worth it

It’s foggy but it’s still beautiful! it’s just worth it

in here you can see that the rocky moutains - lotsa limestones there

in here you can see that the rocky moutains – lotsa limestones there

Hey Kuya Rod!

Hey Kuya Rod!

View from the top!

View from the top!

It was nonetheless a worthy experience – I personally enjoyed it because I feel closer to heaven and closer to my Mom who actually passed away last July. It was very unfortunate for Doms though, because he’s running a slight fever and it almost took his all his strength to get to the peak to even enjoy it as much as I do but I think he did enjoyed it just the same.

Yes, you've to walk another grueling two hours Doms!

Yes, you’ve to walk another grueling two hours Doms!

I’d say it would have been nicer if the weather was sunny since we started it at around 2:00PM. The weather’s such a bummer to begin with and we’re soaking wet when we arrived at the Inn we’re staying. The next time we go back to Sagada, we’ll probably try to see this place again –hopefully with a better camera and a good weather!

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Hey there!

Hey there!

Sagada’s Echo Valley, the Cemetery and Our Way Home!

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We decided to go to the Echo Valley by ourselves (as our ME time) on our last day in Sagada but we ended up having our little guide JR accompanying us.

Church of St Mary The Virgin

Church of St Mary The Virgin

At the sideof the Church

At the sideof the Church

Inside the Church of St Mary The Virgin

Inside the Church of St Mary The Virgin

It was closed then but it wasn't locked and a local bystander opened it for us

It was closed then but it wasn’t locked and a local bystander opened it for us

Look whom we bumped into!

Look whom we bumped into!

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Conspicuously (kidding) following us was a Korean family who then asked if they could go with us. We passed by the town cemetery and what they call the Calvary, it’s like the peak of the cemetery with a tall white cross.

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SAM_0965We’re quite disappointed upon arrival because of fogs covering the valley. It’s where you can also see some hanging coffins. We saw a glimpse of it and some blurry visions of the hanging coffins every now and then though

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our little guide JR!

our little guide JR!

our little tour guide JR. He actually volunteered to guide us 🙂 such a nice little chap!

Right after our short tour in Echo Valley, we checked out from St. Joseph and we’re off to the 11 o’clock bus trip to Baguio ( We decided to use this route because we were told that it’s safer.) It took us another 6 hours going to Baguio. It was a bit scary because the weather isn’t cooperating and while on the road, we had almost zero visibility!

'bought this during one of our stop overs on our way to Baguio... it does look like an elongated a persimon... anyone?

‘bought this during one of our stop overs on our way to Baguio… it does look like an elongated a persimon… anyone?

Another thing though, It was Dominic’s first time in Baguio. He was very disappointed about it but I told him to come here at another time and see the rest of its beauty.

looking so disappointed

looking so disappointed

a view from SM Baguio

a view from SM Baguio

disappointed??? hhmmm

disappointed??? hhmmm

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On our way home, it was a very uncomfortable experience because GENESIS, the bus we rode in asked us to transfer because apparently, there are only few passengers and they will be going back to Baguio. Such a bummer because we’re dead tired and we just want to rest!

I was dead tired

I was dead tired

Anyways, after that unfortunate incident – we arrived in Cubao, Quezon City at exactly 11:30 in the evening; earlier than we expected. Arriving at the apartment, I immediately dozed off but still had a smile on my face!