Happiness is that place called Granada

Happiness is exploring the enchanted labyrinth of Al Hambra

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Basking in the richness of gardens and palaces

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Cruising along roads of green and yellow fields

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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

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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

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Happiness is spontaneity

Bonding with charming Spanish speaking cousins

Laughing over silly little things

Learning the art of letting go

 

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Happiness is writing the story of your travels

Finding catharsis in wistful wandering

Breaking down fears into smithereens

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Happiness is contentment wrapped in faith and sobriety

Discovering churches that are old as time

Waking up to a view of mountain tops

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Happiness is that place called Granada.20150222_113047

 

A place called Granada

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I knew this place was special the minute the bus I was on, was cruising along fields of green and yellow. Then it was heading up to a narrow highway leading to this small town bursting with pretty buildings. When the bus pulled into a stop (my stop) in front of the Cathedral with a wrought-iron door & an orange tree, I was sold. Orange trees!

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Then I stepped into the most interesting road and I just couldn’t (won’t) pass up the opportunity to take a picture of my black boots on those white pebble┬ástones.2015-03-09 20.57.04

And there I was, the odd one out, wheeling my turquoise luggage asking strangers in the street if they knew where my hotel was. And even if how many times I wrongly turned on a dead-end street, even if my phone’s battery was running low, even if I was lost in translation I still found myself smiling for being wonderfully lost in this beautiful, medieval Andalucia.20150220_15013020150220_145845

My Film Appreciation professor in college once told us that the first 5 minutes of every film (Exposition) is vital and not to be missed for it can already foretell the plot of a movie. And if this were a movie, I bet you could already tell that it’s bound to have a happy ending.2015-04-20 07.03.28

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Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan.IMG20170520102251.jpgIt is home to one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of the 7 Wonders of Nature: the Underground River. It spells warmth—the people, the weather and food (hello, crocodile sisig!). While the beaches are not as pristine as El Nido, Coron or Boracay, the sand, sand castles and trip inside the cave will be enough to take your breath away. (Tip: keep your mouth closed for the duration of the ride.)

A visit to the Crocodile Farm, Baker’s Hill and Butterfly Eco-Garden and Tribal Village will make you feel like a tourist in your own country…do these tours. An interactive, educational and cultural tours are provided by local tourist guides. When it comes to eloquence, flexibility and generosity in bathroom breaks, Filipino guides are the best.

It was just like a field trip that my Google-searching expertise can’t provide extensively. I learned that most butterflies have a lifespan of only 2 weeks and that the smaller scorpion has the deadlier sting than the bigger one. I held a snake & a scorpion, saw a ‘tulala’ tuko, sleeping bear cat, almost a hundred crocodiles and a walking bayawak for the first time ever, up close. I came to know that there is a group of birds called peafowls— peacocks refers to the male while the female peafowls are called peahens & their offsprings, peachicks.

I saw how one’s imagination can lead to a wonderful creative paradise called, Baker’s Hill. It’s not only bread or pastries inside that they sell (heck, they don’t even charge for an entrance). It has this Alice in Wonderland vibe with its well-manicured lawns and garden, beautifully arranged flowers, colorful tiles, life-size figurines of Shrek, Snow White, etc., and tall trees that cover the sun.

We met the indigenous tribe, Pal’awan, who are confident in their flawless brown skin wearing only bahags (loincloth for men). They showcased their hunting tools and musical instruments like kulintang (the names I only remember reading in my highschool books). They played music and showed us how to start a fire the natural way (done in seconds!). They are encouraged to make handmade products to sell and not only thrive by hunting alone (I bought a bamboo speaker).

Puerto Princesa has a good geographical location close to seaports that is why it is also called the princess of ports. For more technical information, please search the internet.

Palawan, you were a wonderful, hot summer fling. I hope to see you again next year. El Nido or Coron, here we go!IMG20170522095557.jpg