Denmark With A Capital C.

IMG_20180320_060436-01.jpgYou know what I liked about Copenhagen?

The landscape in the streets—the trees without leaves all perfectly lined up in the pavement.

The fresh produce and liver pate thickly slathered on a toast.

The hazelnut flavoured hot chocolate drink at Hotel Chocolat.

The tender juicy burger at Gasoline Grill where we ate al fresco at – 4C degree weather.

The leisurely walk at Strøget street.

The bicycles you can borrow for free.

The efficient transportation with free wi-fi.

The clean playgrounds that are adult-friendly

The enchanting castles and museums.

The vast gardens flocked with white pigeons.

The colourful instagrammable buildings at Nyhavn.

The unexpected showers of snow.

The friendly shopkeepers.

The peace and quiet. (Pigs here outnumber humans.)

What I loved about my trip? Staying at my cousins’ place.

Feasting on breakfast & dinner made deliciously by my wonder-womom cousin.

Iya happily leading the prayer before meals.

Playing Hide and Seek with my nephew and niece (Eli & Iya).

Walking hand in hand with these sweet, smart,  charming kiddos.

Impromptu pompoms-making lessons and copying cheer dances on Youtube.

Past bedtime girl/adult talks with cuz  Alma.

These are a few of my favourite things and I don’t wonder why Denmark is one of the top happiest places on earth.😍 Tak! ❤

IMG20180316142108.jpg

Advertisements

Weave it like Peruvians.

It was a 2-hour drive from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. Naturally, a pee-stop is required. And all the more if you’re traveling with me. LOL. We requested our driver to stop by a gasoline station, but thankfully, he had another brilliant plan— a  stopover at a textile shop with a loo, yahoo! That meant shopping plus a suprise “educational show” from lovely Peruvians. Learned about weaving and alpaca textiles. Beautiful Maria, the main ‘host’, showed us how to make lipstick out of Cochinita (cochineal), “a small parasite that lives on the cactus plant that makes the reddish tones.” I tried it on my lips and it was red as can be. I love spontaneous stopovers, don’t you?💓 #supportlocalsScreenshot_2018-02-07-17-44-03-78.pngScreenshot_2018-02-07-17-44-41-28.pngreceived_10154646063222024.jpeg

Stonehenge.

IMG_20180107_234329

“The dream is free, the hustle is sold separately.”IMG20171207144713

And dreamt and hustled I did to a place with an unsolved mystery — Stonehenge.

It was unplanned. I woke up to an early morning downpour and found myself grunting, “oh, bed weather.” But I remembered I was in London and was on day 2 of 3 days to wander around. Why waste time in a place full of possibilities, just sleeping off the day, right? So, after a hefty breakfast in my pretty laidback hotel, I grabbed my umbrella and headed towards the Underground. You can join bus tours or hire a car to the Stonehenge site, but since Paddington Station was just 30mins away (4.50 GBP) from the Waterloo Stn., where the trains to Salisbury were to be found, I opted to tour independently. It was a costly (39 GBP) 2 hour ride but the free wifi on board ain’t seem that bad an idea (excuse the slang). I snacked on my nuts and vitamin C drink and looked out the window with views of rooftops and chimneys from old houses that all looked the same. Boring to some but peaceful for others. I go with the latter.

It was before two o’clock in the afternoon that I reached Salisbury Station. The Stonehegetour double decker bus  was on its final journey and I was relieved to have made it. We were a handful of tourists: 3 couples, a family of 4 and 1 Chinese lady and me.  It is always better to come early so you can still go to the Cathedral in Old Sarum and roam around the city but if pressed for time,  Stonehenge alone can be had. I paid the driver (35 GBP) on the spot and sat on the upper deck to get a good vantage point of the countryside. There was a herd of sheep on green fields, a flock of blackbirds on gray skies, and on a narrow road, trees huddled together to bless our bus with their leaves.Screenshot_2018-01-14-11-22-52-58.png

We reached the Stonehenge Visitor Centre at about a quarter to 3 PM,  where a minibus was waiting to bring us to our final destination.

And finally, for what seemd like ages (pun intended), we made it to STONEHENGE (all caps intended). It was a slow motion moment with silent drumbeats and exclamation marks punctuating my vision. It’s what dreams are made of.IMG20171207145805.jpgIMG_20171207_184053.jpg

The strong gusts of wind and the impending sunset in the horizon added drama to our visit.  I did selfies for all I care and stared at the stones forever. The “Whys” and “Hows” questions left unanswered. And when the sun has finally set, when the blackbirds disappeared, when darkness started to creep in and the stones were just silhouttes, that’s when I knew I had to leave.

And I thanked God for letting me witness another miracle.

Till the next one!

 

 

IMG20171207151519IMG_20171208_050528

 

 

 IMG_20171213_050533.jpg

London Calling.

LONDON CALLING.

IMG20171208120428.jpgIt was bound to happen. My fixation on Princess Di (I have books about her), Becky Bloomwood (Shopaholic Series), Downtown Abbey, Sherlock Holmes (the tv series ), M&S and scones (with clotted cream) had to lead somewhere— to its origin, sooner rather than later. London was a call I had to answer.

Repercussion was, I was alone. But thankfully, with the help of the Undergound Station, navigating London was smooth and easy. I didn’t have an itinerary. I went where my feet could take me.  

It was only a 15min distance from the airport to my hotel near the Paddington Station, via Heathrow Express train. And as suggested by a kabayan who I met working at the station, I bought a day pass metro card to take me around.

Proximity to the metro station is always my main concern because I thrive on trains; a room with its own loo comes in second because I love my own space.

Thanks to the inventor of selfie sticks, it is handy for the solo traveler— for picture taking and to act as a weapon for obnoxious strangers. But no, London is safe and clean. It is diverse with a good mix of asians, caucasians and europeans— my anxiety was brushed aside because I didn’t look like the odd one out. London is like unraveling a history book on royalty and chivalry. Its magnanimity can draw you in and drown you. My inner fan was cartwheeling with every familiar site I saw that I have only seen in movies. Even Pret A Manger was familiar, as it is referred to often in the Shopaholic series.

I went outside Buckingham Palace, toured inside Westminster Abbey, saw The London Eye, Big Ben (under construction), prayed in St. Paul’s Cathedral, got sentimental by the Tower Bridge, bought fresh cherries at Borough Market, shopped for food at Marks & Spencer, bought supplies at Boots and had a mini heart attack seeing the facade of Sherlock Holmes Museum— all a stone’s throw away from the Station.

“Do something every day that scares you” and that was the mantra I was chanting in my head the day I left for London. And the way back to Dubai? I was singing: “I made it through the rain” because it sure did rain the next day.

If you’d ask me if I liked it? I’d say yes, I enjoyed my own company. I was in control. I would go back. But I would prefer to travel with someone to share the ordeal with. Someone to share the blame with (ha ha) and laugh with the highs and lows. 

Traveling solo is redeeming and adulting. A faith rebuilder and cementer. The truth and dare. A breakthrough. Do it at least once in your life. London is not a bad idea. It is best consumed alone for 2 days and then to share for the rest of the week with someone. And oh, lemme know if you plan to visit because I have unfinished hoarding to do at M&S & Boots. LOL.

IMG20171206151010

Day pass = 12 GBP/ Heathrow Express = 40 GBP/ Westminster Abbey = 22 GPB / St. Paul’s Cathedral = 18 GBP / Buckingham Palace/ London Eye / Big Ben / Sherlock Holmes Museum/ Tower Bridge

The Road to Machu Picchu

IMG20170927205437.jpgThe Road to Machu PicchuIMG20170927164854.jpg
Disclaimer:  Exhausting, unnerving and expensive! Prepare to battle. LOL. I didn’t get this memo when I chose to join my friend on her ‘expedition’ at the last minute. So now, consider yourself warned. Ha ha.
Dubai-Madrid : 8 hours flight (Emirates Airlines)
Madrid-Lima : 11 hours flight (Iberia Airlines)
Lima-Cusco : 01 hr 30 mins flight (Avianca Airlines)
Cusco-Ollantaytambo : 02 hours by car
IMG20170927133817.jpg
The air was cold and the streets deserted, as we walked out at dawn to find a tuktuk to the train station for our 2 hour train ride via Peru Rail that was scheduled to depart at 05 am (best to buy tickets online to avoid the queue. Show your passport for validation.) We brought a backpack filled with essentials meant for surviving the 5 hour hike (see list below). We were surprised to have been handed over a breakfast loot by our host when we were heading out the door; he had a take-away bag filled with fruits, sandwich and a drink. Hot/cold drinks and a big chocolate cookie were served inside the train from a trolley same as the one in the aircraft. I had a good eye-shut in the spacious 2-seater cabin but when the sky turned lighter and the mountain views visible, it was hard to keep it closed.received_10154646061022024.jpeg
IMG20170927175049
There was an early morning mist and drizzle as we disembarked at Aguas Calientes station. Raincoats were selling at 5 sols and bus tickets were payable only by cash at the ticket booth (Present your passport.) It wasn’t the road less travelled after all…there was already a snaky line formed ahead of us, waiting for the bus. And the 20 minute ride was thrilling and daunting to say the least. The zigzag road is deadlier to that of Quezon province’s Old Zigzag Road.
What to bring:
-walking stick
-high altitude sickness tablets ($84 USD) OR Coca candies (10 sol)
-backpack
-water
-energy bars
-face towel
-body heat ointment
-hiking boots
-selfie stick
-sunscreen lotion
IMG20170927210058-EFFECTS.jpg
Machu Picchu is reminiscent of an oversized Minecraft game (no kidding!). The big blocks of stone terraces, vast fields of green grass and the blanket of fog hovering in the horizon were testament to this (my) realization. The nonexistent gamer in me was unleashed each time that I was on the cusp of aborting the “mission” to reach the top.2017-10-09 08.42.51.png
 2017-10-09 08.44.26.png
Nobody came for glamour or to glam up. Sneakers, hiking shoes, hooded jackets and worn-out faces were the norms. Some came with a glow and most others with purposeful strides.
Choose the morning group for a less crowded space. The lone toilet was in the entrance and it was about a 5-hour hike so better wear an adult diaper if you can’t hold it.
2017-09-28 07.54.37
It might be the longest, most expensive trip ever, but coming face to face to this massive citadel is nothing short of incredible. It is an investment. The ultimate face-palm-pinch-me-am-i-dreaming moment worth that cha-ching.
Oh, and one thing’s for sure– the llama won’t bite.IMG_20171003_221239_228.jpg
Book at:

Transit 101 in Amsterdam

IMG_20170929_232350That dreaded layover. 4hours? 12hrs? Been there done that. The perks and woes of an airline staff.
If you’re transiting and have a few hours to spare till next your next flight, why not go out of the airport and visit the city? (Considering no visa is required.) And if a train is inside the airport connecting to the city, you’re in for some luck.IMG20170929204541.jpg
IMG20170929200709.jpg
Transit passenger 101 in Amsterdam:
– Check the local time; synchronize watch/ mobile phones.
– If on stanby, store luggage at Baggage Storage on level -1. One large sized locker fits 2 medium sized trolleys: €9.50 —good for 24hrs— credit cards only accepted.
 – Exchange money to local currecy; ask for smaller bills.
– Look for Info Centre; ask for a map of the city & which station to get off, etc. Metro to Central Station: €9.50/ 2 way, 10 minutes travel time.
– Walk around the city, while eating. Saves time. Hello, fries and sausage!
– Churches, the Red Light District and ‘drug stores’ are a stone’s throw away from each other from the Central Station. Choose your own adventure.
– Shop for souvenirs or buy groceries at the Schiphol airport (which is more of a mall with an airport.lol) Stroopwafels are cheaper there and everything else.
– Be back at the airport at least 3hrs before your flight.
– Have a Shiatsu massage on coin operated massage chairs at the airport: €2, 5 mins.
– Use airport wi-fi and log in back to your social media life.
– Post pictures and make life look easy.😊IMG20170929195512.jpgIMG20170929201445.jpgIMG20170929195305.jpgIMG_20171004_214551.jpgIMG_20171004_214212.jpgIMG_20171004_214327.jpgIMG_20171004_214424.jpg

Happiness is that place called Granada

Happiness is exploring the enchanted labyrinth of Al Hambra

20150220_165120

Basking in the richness of gardens and palaces

captured_by_snapseed_98.jpg

Cruising along roads of green and yellow fields

Feasting your eyes on medieval Andalusiacaptured_by_snapseed_113-1.jpg

2015-02-25 03.02.26

Happiness is the timeless union of nature and architecture

Stepping on a pavement of white pebble stones

Standing behind majestic wooden doors and wrought iron gates

Walking the streets under the shade of orange trees

captured_by_snapseed_6420150220_144942.jpg

Happiness is witnessing an intimate flamenco showdown

Watching the dancer prance in fiery, graceful passion

Hearing the singer bare her soul

Feeling your heartbeat climb to a crescendo

 

Happiness is wantonly surrendering to sinful sweets

Dunking big sized churros into a hot thick chocolate drink

Getting a complimentary buffet breakfast

Eating two kinds of ice cream

 

Happiness is the never-ending dose of sensory satisfaction

A colorful plateful of paella

A hefty serving of Jamon Iberico with queso

An impromptu shisha session20150222_144832captured_by_snapseed_5_1.jpg

20150221_211055

Happiness is spontaneity

Bonding with charming Spanish speaking cousins

Laughing over silly little things

Learning the art of letting go

 

2015-03-08 04.51.29

Happiness is writing the story of your travels

Finding catharsis in wistful wandering

Breaking down fears into smithereens

Closing a chapter for a new beginning2015-03-09 21.02.45.jpg

 

captured_by_snapseed_13

Happiness is contentment wrapped in faith and sobriety

Discovering churches that are old as time

Waking up to a view of mountain tops

Saying a prayer on bended knees20150220_165916.jpg

2017-05-05 13.58.49

Happiness is that place called Granada.20150222_113047