Archive for Travel

My Arabian Dream… coming soon! :-)

Posted in All About Dubai, Travel, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2009 by ketchupplease

Ok let’s face it… hubby and I are here in Dubai for work purposes and not really for leisure…

Bored with our dull routine, I looked up places where we can explore and find out more about Middle Eastern culture. One time, I dragged my hubby to explore the Dubai Museum (which turned out not to be the main museum, but a government office/gallery, oops… ) Excitedly took pictures and all… then hubby laughed at me and said as if we’re tourists… I looked back at him and smiled.. “hell, yeah we ARE tourists!!! We pay so much to see and explore other countries, and it’s ironic that we’ve been here for quite a while already (2 years for him), and yet we haven’t seen the really interesting places… For me, being a “tourist or traveller” is more of a state of mind… This is actually a good opportunity for us to experience the immensely rich Arabian culture! 

Dubai is a very modern city, filled with too many new malls and structures, but it doesn’t quench my thirst for mid-eastern culture.. I don’t really appreciate modern stuff as much as old culture-y stuff. I looked up possible weekend getaways, but it wasn’t very easy coz I had one major restriction — a big NO-NO to modern hotels/resorts! — and  Dubai, as we all know, is such a new city, some even call it an “artificial city”.. *sob* 

I thirst for old Arabian architecture, decor, Moroccan lamps (ohhh how I love them!), local cuisine, ambiance… the works! 

After days of googling and checking with our friends, I finally found the perfect place for a weekend getaway at Jumeirah Bab Al Shams Desert and Resort Spa! (right smack in the desert, baby! *wink*) A bit overbudget, so we’ll just wait for our First Wedding Anniversary in a few weeks so we can celebrate at the same time… Nevertheless, we already booked last night, and specifically requested a room overlooking the desert! ohhh… sounds like the perfect Arabian paradise! 

 I AM SOOOOO EXCITED!!!! 🙂 This experience will definitely go to our Memories of a Lifetime Bank”… 

My advice to fellow Pinoys in UAE —  do stretch a bit and treat yourself to some wonderful Arabian experience.. Make sure to bring home beautiful memories with you before you leave this desert city. Money’s as good as nothing if you can’t enjoy it once in a while, right?… 

bab1 bab4 bab6 bab10bab12 bab13 bab16

 

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The Most Beautiful Sight in Australia

Posted in Travel with tags , , on December 1, 2008 by ketchupplease

I’d seen so many beautiful views in Sydney and Melbourne, but this one was awesome! 

These “Mother and Child” koala pics were taken by my hubby at the Featherdale Wildlife Zoo in Sydney. Awwww…. 🙂

 

koala2

koala1

Busy Enjoying Oz! :)

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 28, 2008 by ketchupplease

Shucks, I feel bad not being able to update my blog lately…  I’m done with my Sydney trip, and am currently in Melbourne. 🙂

Australia is really a beautiful place! My in-laws are extremely nice and warm people, and they’ve been showing us soooo many places (that I actually forgot some of the names… I need to sit down and review the details of the past 2 weeks). My parents and I are really grateful for their awesome hospitality. My uncle-in-law drove us to everywhere… Poor Tito drove for  as much as 6 hours in a day just to show us different sites and we do appreciate it very much! Thank God, his sisters visited from the US too, otherwise we’d be too embarassed to give him such hassle. Hubby and I are super enjoying the company of our crazy bunch of cousins and I’m sure I’m gonna miss them when I leave. Even the super adorable puppy, Raphie, who reminds me so much of my dog Milo. Raffy though, is a “designer dog” (specially bred to be hypo-allergenic) which is black poodle-Cavalier St. Charles something -which costs 850 Australian Dollars, whereas my dog cost only 500 Pesos or about 16 Australian Dollars hehe!

We just went go-karting today at LeMans Go-Kart.. Didn’t get any prize, but it’s ok, we all enjoyed it! Tomorrow my parents and dad-in-law are leaving for Manila… I have one more week left here in Melbourne with my mom-in-law. Hubby’s leaving for Dubai on Monday. 😦 

I’ll update my blog again with pictures when I have the time. As of now, it’s all rush-rush everyday…

Take care, everyone! Hope everything’s well… We’ve been totally cut off from Philippine News since we got here… and no time to go online since we’re usually dead tired at night.

Till my next blog… 🙂

Gold Fever in Dubai

Posted in All About Dubai, Travel, Uncategorized with tags , , on October 20, 2008 by ketchupplease

 Dubai is damn rich and overflowing with gold… 😉

 24K PURE GOLD VEST                

 – 70,000 pcs of 24k gold links

–  5,064 grams

–  304 pcs of flowers and butterflies made with 21.6  karat gold with diamonds

 – 53.42 carats diamonds

 – 35 people involved in design and manufacturing

–  6 months creation time 

  (Being sold at PRIMA Gold, Mall    of Emirates… like duh? hehe)

Surrounded by so much gold and diamonds at the Gold Souk!

(The reason why I’m  thinking of looking for  work here in Dubai – so I  can shop at the Gold Souk!  haha!)

Dubai is a super wonderful place… The constructions are unbelievable… seems like they just wanna be the BEST in everything! I just haven’t taken a lot of pics yet. Will post more pics next time… 

But let me share with you this interesting piece of info:

A full tank of gas here (for a 2007 Honda Civic) costs about 600 pesos (US $12.50)…  For a 2006 2.7 Toyota Fortuner, its about 900 pesos ($18.75).  Ain’t that neat? 😉

Bonjour! Au Revoir!

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 8, 2008 by ketchupplease

Two weeks ago, I was still in Paris, happily exploring its lovely streets and monuments, enjoying the Parisian life… but alas… all good things must come to an end… 

NOT! 

Hehe  Well yeah, I’m back in Dubai (with tons of laundry that I’m just too lazy to do yet coz I’m still on vacation mode.. yup vacation from being a housewife lol).. but I refuse to say goodbye to Paris, because I know I’m going back there again someday.  Anyway, I just had my ultimate dream come true and of course I’m going to share it with you (including an unhappy incident — actually an accident in Louvre).

But first, these are the things I realized about Paris:

-A lot of Parisians are dog lovers

-They have an X-rated TV channel (we wonder how parents can monitor their kids shows)

-Surprisingly, it’s cheaper in Paris than Helsinki… (meals on the average are at least 2 Euros cheaper. You can even have a frenchbread footlong sandwich for lunch for less than 5 Euros! )

-Buy drinking water in the grocery.  A 1.5L bottle of Crystalline costs just 80 cents I think. Outside, it costs at least 5x higher.

-The lights in Eiffel Tower are blue, not yellow as I expected… hmm…

-I don’t know how Frenchpeople can eat frenchbread everyday… it hurts my teeth *lol*… but I so love croissants.

-I LOVE Paris for its lifestyle, museums, parks, and monuments, but Rome’s sculptures are still more amazing (especially my beloved Fontana Di Trevi)…

– There are a lot of truly talented artists who perform on the streets and sell their stuff. We bought a CD from an acoustic group, and wow, they are AMAZING! 

– I love Eiffel Tower because it’s THE Eiffel… but Sacre Coeur… aaahh.. BREATHTAKING! 


EIFFEL TOWER – We stayed in Etoile Trocadero, which is about 15 mins. walk to Eiffel Tower… and yes you guessed it right, it was our first destination! You know how it feels when your ultimate dream is about to come true in a few minutes… your heart beats faster, and you’re very, very excited that when the moment comes you’re so sure you’re gonna cry? So we were walking towards the Eiffel Tower, and I was like, oh my gosh it’s the Eiffel! Wow! Wow Eiffel!.. and as we approached it, I realized, wow this was the dream that I have long been waiting for… uhmm no tears? No butterflies in my stomach? Hey Eiffel wasn’t as huge as I expected it to be… hmm… I kinda expected the base to be about 3x bigger… Hahahahaha! Anyway, it was GORGEOUS still! We went up to the top and enjoyed the birds eye view of Paris… We met up with hubby’s officemate, Andrew, who traveled with us. It was really a good thing that there were 3 of us that time coz at least we can take pictures for each other (not to mention that Andrew is a camera nut and has, I mean HAD a neat SLR). We waited for the sunset and admired Eiffel in a different perspective… this time a glowing blue Eiffel that blinks every hour for 10 minutes… woohoooo! It’s just so… so damn beautiful! 

   

 

L’ARC DE TRIOMPHE – After that, we went to L’Arc de Triomphe, a grand monument to the victories of France’s greatest military battles. It was majestic… I didn’t expect that inside, it was also very beautiful. The lights highlighted the sculptures and intricate details… and we had another round of pictorials with our friend.


arc de triomphe (by andrew)

arc de triomphe (by andrew)

 

LOUVRE MUSEUM – The following morning, hubby and I took a train to Louvre to meet up with Andrew so we could go to the Louvre Museum together. I was thrilled to see the glass pyramid and wanted to kick myself for forgetting to jot down the locations mentioned in Da Vinci Code… We caught up with Andrew just outside the Louvre entrance and sat by the fountain to take more pictures before going in… He and hubby chatted a bit while I was busy peering through my Fisheye cam, trying to look for new subjects and angles… and I figured, it would be cool to take a picture of our shadows by the Louvre pyramid! I was so excited.. I asked Andrew to take our picture and directed my hubby to pose with me, and have a kissing shadow pose too on the next shot. I wasn’t very satisfied with my pose, so I moved back a bit.. and then Plop! I had unknowingly shoved his Nikon D80 camera with 18-200 VR lens down to the Louvre fountain… At first I was on denial, a camera so expensive must have some sort of extra protection against water or accidents like that… but I was wrong. In a span of 3-5 seconds, the water had entered the camera and lens… OH… MY… GOD!  Andrew was calm and said that it was ok (of course, we had to replace it).. and that we shouldn’t let it ruin our whole trip, although I could see in his face how heartbroken he was. Somehow I wished it had happened after Louvre Museum, or later… not on our second day in Paris!

After this accident, entering the Louvre Museum was torture to me and Andrew. Andrew, because he couldn’t take any pictures, and me, because I was bothered by my conscience and guilt, and whenever I would see something amazing (or symmetry as what he usually looks out for), I would feel bad again that he won’t be able to take a picture of it… I actually felt guilty each time I took a picture of anything at all!


  

what the..??

 

NOTRE-DAME – After Louvre Museum, we walked to Notre-Dame… another torturously wonderful sight with its old gargoyles… I, myself, would have wanted to take close up shots of the gargoyles and gothic ceilings with Andrew’s SLR… oh well…

 

ST. SEVERIN CHURCH – We crossed a short bridge and checked out St. Severin Church, one of the Left Bank’s oldest and loveliest churches… It’s famous for its flamboyant Gothic columns… (We wanted to see Ste. Chapelle too, but unfortunately it was already closed that time.) At this point, hubby’s digicam ran out of battery and I ran out of film for the Fisheye cam. Normally, I would freak out as we still have some places to see that day. But instead, I was relieved that all 3 of us have no cameras anymore so Andrew wouldn’t feel worse. 

a column in St. Severin (pic from Wikepedia)

a column in St. Severin (pic from Wikepedia)

 

CHAMPS-ELYSEES – We walked back through the Champs Elysees Avenue and enjoyed the views at night. Paris is called the “City of Light” – and rightfully so!

Champs-Elysees (pic from Andrew)

 

MONTMARTE – SACRE COEUR (Buy your souvenirs here! Souvenirs are at least 3x cheaper in this area, as compared to the other places we went to.) The following day, hubby and I headed to Montmarte to see the Sacre Coeur. Years back, I loved the movie “Amelie from Montmarte” so I wanted to see the area. We took a train to Montmarte and walked to Sacre Coeur. I loved the little stalls along the sidewalks selling paintings, old books, pictures, and personal artworks. We were overwhelmed with the Sacre Coeur. Hubby and I agreed that this church was definitely much more solemn than Notre-Dame. We climbed 300 steps in the narrow winding staircase and enjoyed the stunning vista of the city. BEAUTIFUULLL!!!

       

 

PIGALLE / MOULIN ROUGE / MUSEE DE L’EROTISME – Pigalle, the red district of Paris, is in the south of Montmarte. It’s home to the Moulin Rouge, lively bars, and erotic shops. We had a bit of a hard time before we found Moulin Rouge coz the map that we had lead us to a different location. We passed a museum called Musee de l’Erotisme, showing the history of erotica and porn, hahaha! It displays ancient fertility symbols, chastity belts, modern artworks, and antique pictures from brothels whose clientele included royalty. My guess is, this can only be found in Paris! So we just had to go in. Haha!

  


CIMETIERE DE MONTMARTE – Yup, we went to the cemetery. No, we don’t have any French relatives… we just wanted to check out the French tombstones. J According to our guidebook, it’s actually a popular tourist destination. It’s also the final resting place of many artists who lived in the area. The tombstone of a beautiful woman named Dalida stood out among the rest… We were so curious as to who she was coz she looked Vavavoom! J (We later on found out who she was… read on…

 

MUSEE DE MONTMARTE – This white villa was home to Renoir, Raoul Dufy, Suzanne Valadon and her son, Utrillo. After paying the entrance fee, we were directed to the garden but there were no further signs so we just followed the sounds of voices, entered a small gate and walked into a happy crowd of French people. There were some cocktails on a table, so I thought.. “Whoah! This must be a cool museum!” and wondered if we were welcome to get some  too. We were met with friendly smiles… and then a big French man in a suit came to get us. That’s when we realized that we just walked into a private party. OOPS… Pardon Monsieur! Anyway, this is just a small museum with a lot of artworks and 1800’s posters… Downside is, everything was in French so we couldn’t understand what we were looking at.

 

 

DALIDA HOUSE – We were already tired from walking on the hilly streets of Montmarte. I was posing here and there coz I loved the area. This side of the city seems to be more cozy and private – and probably more luxurious. As fate would have it, we got lost a few times and couldn’t figure out the way to the train station. We found ourselves at Place Dalida where this Vavavoom Dalida lived! Turns out, she was a very famous diva. That’s so cool! 

 

Cruisin’ Together (Stockholm, Sweden)

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2008 by ketchupplease

Stockholm was definitely a part of our itinerary for September 12-14… and I was kinda freaking out that we still hadn’t booked for the trip 2 days before our departure.. My hubby’s contact person wasn’t replying… some of his officemates wanted to join but were still undecided, etc… After about 2-3 days of pestering him with  “babe, can you please call up Viking Line…. now??” (coz I didn’t know his officemates’ arrangements), he finally gave in. And thank God for my persistence, coz we got the very last available cabin!!! It didn’t matter anymore that the cabin was below water level, as long as we could leave for Stockholm Friday…


Stockholm is very beautiful and has a different character than Helsinki… I’d say that Helsinki is “masculine”, and Stockholm very “feminine” in terms of architecture and charm. We had a limited time in Stockholm so we prepared an itinerary:

Gamla Stan (Old Town) – it’s a small island in the middle of Stockholm. I loved the old buildings and the little shops. Picturesque view! We also posed at Stockholm’s narrowest alley, Marten Trotzigs (less than a meter wide)… My hubby and I were joking that some eskenitas back in the Philippines were even narrower than this… 

  

Royal Coin Cabinet – we saw the largest coin in the world! Strange though, that it’s rectangular, almost like the size of a laptop… solid metal so it’s much, much heavier!

Royal Palace (Royal Crown Jewels, Royal Carriages, Royal Armoury  late 14th-18th century collections)

The Royal Palace has different museums, but we went only to the top 3 that interested us. I must have said “WOW!” a hundred times – each one louder than the previous – as I ogled the 15th century Royal Crowns, Scepters, Orbs, Knights (and horses’) Armours, royal clothes, boots, sleepwear.. and the Royal Carriages!!! I didn’t expect that they would actually look like the ones in fairy tales – with fabrics and threads of silver and gold! The gems on the crowns were unbelievable and must be worth hundreds of millions… the diamonds were huge (and so many!).. and the details very intricate. For example, from a foot away, you’d see a tiny dot on the crown… but if you peer closely, you’d realize that the tiny dot was a sculpted face, with a body, a crown and scepter with little jewels! Too bad we were not allowed to take pictures of the crowns… I just got myself 2 books on Royal Crown Jewels and Royal Armoury and Carriages… It was truly was an honor having seen those collections. It gave me goosebumps!!!

    

   

After that, we headed to a mall, then a small museum called “The Medieval Stockholm”, but after everything that we’d seen in the Royal Palace, we were bored with their stuff. We just went around the market stalls in the plaza and got some smoked cheese and marmalade cheese (yup cheese with marmalade mixed in it! Yum!), had some sausages, Dutch pancakes, coffee… and guess what, we found a Fisheye2 Lomo at a camera store along Gamla Stan… we just had to get it for our Paris trip, especially for the Eiffel Tower… yipee… 

Too late when we realized that we forgot to go to the Army Museum where the Viking collections were. I would have loved to go to the Museum of National Antiquities and Vasa Museum too if we had more time, but as hubby said, it was a reason for us to go back someday… I had a wonderful time in Stockholm, and I’ve fallen in love with the Royal Palace collections…

Strolling around Helsinki

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2008 by ketchupplease

The weather was nice yesterday… for the first time since our arrival, it didn’t rain! So I had the urge to go out and explore Helsinki alone. Armed with videocam, digicam, and my sweet Holga 135, I went out and clicked away… I hung on to my city map (and kept an extra one in my pocket- just in case)… It wasn’t very easy navigating my way to the tourist information and City Museum.. yes it was just about 10 blocks away, but it was hard reading maps with streetnames like Kalevagatan, Mannerheiminite, Pohjoisesplanadi, Aleksanterinkatu, Keskuskatu… I must have looked disoriented and hopeless as I peered closely into my map, that an old Finnish man approached me and asked if I needed help.  For a split second, I wondered if I should talk to him or not, but then I needed anybody’s help… so “YES!”. He was very kind to help me figure out where I was in the map (told ya Finnish people are very nice and friendly!).. so I finally found the City Museum and the Tourist Information Center. 

 

HELSINKI CITY MUSEUM (Free Entrance)

 It was a small museum, but very informative. I loved the old stuff displayed… we were only a few people so sometimes I would get a creepy feeling when I’m alone in a dark corner, surrounded by old stuff (though not as old or ancient as I wished), and some mannequins in old costumes… It was different in a way, that there’s an area dedicated to some “not-so-old” stuff…  things I kinda not expected to be displayed in a museum, like some not-so-old dentist chair and bicycles? I must have missed reading the special story behind it.. hmm…  Anyway, it was a good trip… 

 

 SEDERHOLM HOUSE (Free Entrance)

The map says “Visit the oldest house in central Helsinki from 1757… very interesting… it’s just near the huge white Lutheran Cathedral. I was expecting a really old house… but when I got there, it looked so new to me! The walls were newly painted… everything was intact… it was nothing like a 1757 house… the old soul in me was disappointed… (I grew up in the Philippines in an ancestral house made in the 1800’s, great condition, but it has maintained its antique look) so it hurts me that they have made this supposedly 250-yr. old house look new. But anyway, it’s still pretty… the house led to different rooms, showing pictures of Finnish festivities and celebrations. Apparently, Finns had lots of them (and they loved eating)! The house was like a maze, and again, gave me an odd feeling, being the only person in the second floor, amidst the old furnitures and costumed mannequins… so I walked around the rooms, hearing only the thuds of my boots (and an occasional suspense movie soundtrack in my head) and then… EEEEEEKKK!!! At the end of it was some huge, black, monstrous-looking creature (uhmm let me correct that, it was a HUGE, BLACK MONSTER, period.) hanging in the hall!!! I shrieked loudly (I was alone, remember?)… and was embarassed to see a Finnish man behind the wall… why the heck did they hang it there?!? Whatever it was, it’s my first time to see such a thing, maybe it’s a Finnish monster… Haha, I think I got it on my videocam, together with my shriek… hehehe…

 

KORKEASAARI  ZOO (12 Euros with boatride)

Well, the port was just a couple of streets away! So I thought, why not check out the schedules for the boat trip to the zoo… and what do you know, I  arrived exactly on time and had only about 5 seconds to decide if I’m coming or not.. and so, Miss Spontaneous jumped on the boat… And then it struck me, “why am I the only passenger here?”… The pretty Finnish assistant told me, “No, no! There are other guests!” and pointed to the lower dock… and there I found a couple sitting at the very end (obviously not wanting to be disturbed) hehehe… Oh well.. I should enjoy this trip… so we arrived at the Korkeasaari Island Zoo.. there were about 6-8 other people in that huge zoo… so just imagine going around (most of the time alone coz the other people are somewhere else)… sometimes there were beautiful peacocks walking around (at first I thought they accidentally got out of their cage, but I realized it was normal when I saw 3 of them perched on the restaurant porch).  

Of course they had camels, leopards, tigers, lions, etcetera… but what I really loved were the reindeers!!! As in SANTA’s reindeers!!! I loved watching them… (Ohh I haven’t mentioned, Santa Claus lived in Lapland, which is in North Finland… so I’m in the home country of Santa Claus!)

Going back to the zoo… ok, a couple of huge cages away was supposed to be some kind of owl. (Now I really have to tell you about my bird phobia… I had horror experiences with my pet lovebirds when I was a kid -i saw the birds die horribly- so I grew up disgusted with birds or anything with feathers, having nightmares, and for some reason, I usually encounter dead ones)…  Anyway… so this cage was supposed to have some kind of owl.. but I couldn’t see any… so I looked around some more (some animals are shy).. and I saw a big rock on the ground.. and saw something… I peered closer… and eeeekk… it looked like a mutilated bird.. so I thought… no it can’t be… it must be my imagination acting up again… I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t what I thought it was.. and ended up staring and staring at it… and it really was “that”… I don’t know… maybe it was the owl… or maybe it was the owl’s meal?! Ughhhhh!!! Well, there’s a saying that “what you resist, persists“, and the things that you absolutely abhor shows itself to you the more you resist it… It IS happening to me… !!! Ok enough of that, I must be grossing you out… Well, it was another experience to laugh about with my husband. Aside from the fact that I got lost in the zoo. I was diligently following the map and looking for the seals, when I got lost… It felt like I was in Blairwitch project hehe… it came to a point that it wasn’t interesting or funny anymore.. Later on I found out that I was walking on the other end of the island… behind the zoo! So the only way I could find the port entrance was to trace the edges of the island, praying that I’d end up back where I started… I was very thankful that I found my way back to the port, coz I read just now that the zoo island was 22 hectares. Whoaaah!!! Hehe… you must be thinking that I didn’t enjoy those trips… true I had some creepy moments, but well, that’s why it’s called adventure… it’s something to look back to and smile about. 

And so, I rode the ferry back to Helsinki. BRRRRrrrr… it was sooo cold.. but it was something I should embrace and experience while I’m here… so I sat on the top deck, and however uncomfortable, decided to enjoy the cold 10ºC air  …