Thursday, April 20, 2017

Postcards from Beautiful Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Zdravo! Mostar is beautiful!!!

Mostar Old Bridge in the Old Town
Having Tea at the Balconyof our Hotel in Mostar

Although very touristy during the day, the Old Town of the capital of the Herzegovina province of Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) lives up to the hype and expectation =)

We have fallen in love with Mostar. More stories and pictures soon about this lovely fairytale-like place.

Do hover your cursor on the pictures to see more information.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Postcards from Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Hi, sorry for the radio silence. I have been road tripping in the Balkans!

Sarajevo Old Town
Dutched Pinay and the Sarajevo City Hall, Vijećnica

I leave you, for now, a few pictures of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Sarajevo was our 2nd stop of this Balkan road trip. More stories and lots of pictures of Sarajevo and the rest of the Balkans soon! =)

Do hover your cursor on the pictures to see more information.

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Saturday, April 08, 2017

Hello from Dresden, Germany!

Hallo, wie gehts?

Dresden is uber lovely! Just leaving you with these 3 pictures of moi (on the first day) enjoying the city.

Dutched Pinay-  Macht & Power Residenzschloss, Dresden, Germany

Power & Fashion (Macht & Mode) at the Dresden Castle (Residenzschloss).

Dutched Pinay in Dresden, Germany

Ich *lick* liebe dich =)

Dutched Pinay Yenidze Dresden, Germany

When in Germany, drink beer!

Travel Period: April 2017
Destination: Dresden (Saxony), Germany

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Xiamen, China: Zhongshan Lu Pedestrian Street (中山路步行街)

Zhongshan street is the nerve centre of Xiamen tourism. All tourists, travellers, visitors, how you may prefer to call them, they all come here at some point of their visit. It is said that more than a billion people pass here every year. More than a billion!

Zhongshan Lu Pedestrian Street Xiamen China
Zhongshan Lu Pedestrian Street in Xiamen, China

Now you would wonder who these people are and where they all come from? Well, firstly, they aren’t foreigners. They are local Chinese tourists from other regions in China. Secondly, in this trip to Xiamen, I realised that China is seriously an economic power to reckon with. They do not need foreigners to augment their tourism sector. They are self-sufficient because millions of Chinese are out there travelling locally.

Zhongshan Lu is the oldest commercial street in Xiamen dating back to 1925. It is a kilometre long walking street filled with pretty retail shops, big department stores, lots of cute cafes and contemporary and traditional cuisine restaurants, food courts and more retail shops. It is closed to any vehicular traffic and smoking is not allowed on the streets.

Trivia: Did you know that Xiamen was awarded in the past as the most livable city in China?

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Saturday, April 01, 2017

Xiamen, China: Chinese Police Threw Me Out of the 100-Year Old Mansion Hotel

Well, at least they did it with a little bit of finesse!

I went to Xiamen, China last December using the 72-hour visa-free transit stay arrangement which is being offered to citizens from a list of qualified countries visiting some of the major cities in China. A few cities even have 144-hour visa-free stays such as Shanghai and Guangdong.

Lanqin Guoco Mansion in Xiamen, China
Lanqin Guoco Mansion in Xiamen, China

The reason why I chose Xiamen was because, in my earlier research, I found out that there was a direct flight to Cebu from Xiamen via Xiamen Air. My family lives in Cebu and I am visiting them in this trip. In the end, I have chosen to fly with PAL via Manila because the schedule allowed me a 3 full day stay in the city. I could have picked another Chinese city instead but I have already spent so much time on my Xiamen planning that changing it last minute will just cause havoc with my plans and my sanity.

At the Xiamen Airport, I was accompanied by an airport personnel to the special immigration counter for the 72-hour free-visa transit stay. Here I filled-in the form with my information and the hotel where I will be staying. So technically, immigration police know about my whereabouts in the city. You can read my earlier post about this here: Entering Xiamen, China with the 72-Hour Visa-Free Transit

Now I am thrilled about the hotel I am staying at in Xiamen because it is not really a hotel, but a 100-year old traditional Chinese mansion. The whole house was a piece of long gone China. It was as if I tread back in time, in the setting of the Chinese Kung Fu master movies I often watched as a kid on Sundays on TV.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Spectacular Photos of the Philippines from my Aeroplane Window Seat

This is perhaps the best photos I have of the Philippines from my aeroplane window seat, well, so far.

Philippines from my Aeroplane Window Seat

So green! And those inlet bays look really nice.

For some reason, in my previous trips to the Philippines, I either arrive in the evening or when it's cloudy or when it's raining. In fact, when I landed in Manila, the skies turned grey and then dark. Luckily, the skies were quite okay during our descent.

But for this particular flight, direct flight from Xiamen, China* to Manila, Philippines, the aeroplane was flying low when we entered Philippine airspace and maybe I am just on the right side of the window seat that I could see clearly the landmass and form of the Philippine archipelago. So the opportunities were there definitely to take the shots.

However, I only have a pocket camera so the quality and focus of the photos are not that excellent sometimes, especially when you are taking it from a far distance.

*I was in Xiamen, China for 3 days.

Philippines from my Aeroplane Window Seat

I do not have specific stories to tell for this post except a few photos that I would like to share during the descent of this flight to NAIA 2 (also called as PAL or Centennial Airport). I flew with PAL - Philippine Airlines, the national carrier of the country.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Looking Forward to Meeting You Dresden!

I have been wanting to visit Dresden for such a long time!


Photo from Dresden Marketing GmbH. Isn't she a beauty?

And I am going next week, for 3 full days to experience the old world charm & architecture of the city, learn a bit of (the war) history, enjoy the stunning sights and indulge in some authentic German food =)

The plans are set on stone, so I hope the weather will cooperate. So looking forward!

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dine with Panoramic Cebu Views at Lantaw Native Restaurant Busay

There are a couple of restaurants in the mountains of Busay that offers panoramic views of the city of Cebu. I have been to a number of them in the past years (Chateau de Busay, Mr. A, La Tegola and Blue Bar & Grill) and one of its latest addition is Lantaw Native Restaurant’s Busay branch.

I am a sucker for views so this was very high up on my agenda during my Cebu visit. It wasn’t also difficult to get everyone in my family on the same page since they all wanted to come here anyway. I mean, tell me, who doesn’t want sprawling city lights view while dining alfresco like this?

Lantaw Busay

WHAT DOES LANTAW MEAN?

If I were to base the meaning of Lantaw from the Cebuano dialect point of view, I do not really see any direct translation to English. The word is an action word and is usually used when we, Cebuanos, want to see something from a distance. Such as a medieval guard perhaps looking from the top of the tower fortifications for incoming enemies. Or anybody, in particular, looking over and observing something from a distance. It has something to do with ‘looking’ and a ‘fair amount of distance’.

That is lantaw. Probably the same reason why Lantaw Native Restaurant, a homegrown Cebuano restaurant featuring dishes in the Visayas region have adopted this name.

Quite interestingly, as this has somehow reminded me of the saying here in the Netherlands – ‘De kat uit de boom kijken.’ (The cat looking over from the tree). The meaning is not literally the same, though. It is the actual phrase that the cat is sitting up the tree and looking at everybody and the surroundings. The cat is basically doing the Lantaw thing. Naglantaw.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Cebu, Philippines: Marco Polo Views & Visiting Sirao Flower Farm

My mum has expressed interest in going to the most-raved about local attraction on Instagram and Facebook, the Sirao Flower Farms in the mountains of Busay in Cebu. But she complained that nobody really wanted to go with her so the visit never happened.

As a backgrounder, my mum loves flowers. I guess, most mums do.

Sirao Flower Garden Cebu

The window of opportunity came when I suggested a visit to the flower farms after the company Christmas ‘Eat-All-You-Can’ lunch at Vikings. They have given the rest of the afternoon free for the employees, so why don’t we take advantage of the free time as well and visit this flower farm? There has been some change of wind, because suddenly, everyone wanted to go, haha.

So off we piled up in 2 cars but before going to Busay, we had to pass by Marco Polo Hotel. This was just a few days before Christmas so we had to endure a horrible traffic, in which I managed to even doze off to sleep throughout the ride inside the car. A 15-minute ride took almost an hour! That is the sad situation of the traffic in Cebu City. Luckily, Marco Polo is on the same route to Busay.

By the way, before you proceed, just FYI – As of January 2017, there have been reports of landslides in the area of Sirao Peak. Read this: Visitors Entry to Sirao Flower Farms Restricted

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Cebu, Philippines: Death by Buffet ‘Eat-All-You-Can’ at Vikings

OK, nobody died but if you eat here every day you might, haha! It is an exaggeration to prove a point which is similar to the Death by Powerpoint analogy in the corporate world. The buffet industry in the Philippines is big. This kind of eating arrangement has become popular back in the 90’s when restaurants introduced a new concept of eating out – Fulfilling all your cravings for different cuisines in one meal: ‘Eat All You Can!’ (or ‘All You Can Eat’).

I grew up with the ‘Smorgasbord’ concept, similar to ‘Buffet’ which my family does during special occasions such as birthdays and festivals. I really have no idea how a Swedish concept became a vernacular term and local practice? Although the ‘Eat-All-You-Can’ I am sure is borrowed from the American ‘All-You-Can-Eat’.

Vikings Cebu

The family’s business in Cebu is throwing away their Christmas party at Vikings, one of the newest and largest buffet restaurants in the city. My mum just wanted to make things easier this time around. Last year they did a huge Christmas party, with food catering galore, a full-packed entertainment agenda and games et al. Too much work. Stress. So they want to simplify things by treating all the employees to an ‘Eat-All-You-Can’ Christmas lunch. Aside from the 13th-month pay given that is standard in the Philippines, each employee received a personal gift, a shopping gift certificate and they have the rest of the day free. Not bad at all =)

And so this is how I got invited for a free Christmas lunch at Vikings in SM City Cebu by the family. Of course, I won’t say no but if this was left to my decision, I do not think I would quickly go to a buffet restaurant.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Why go to a Mall? Lunch at Planet Grapes & Dinner at Hukad in Ayala Centre Cebu, Philippines

Whenever I go back to my hometown, Cebu, Philippines, I always spend a good amount of time at the malls. It is a given thing, which I have, in the past, tried to fight against with. I prefer local and traditional places than a humongous concrete box filled with shops. But helaas, when the current is strong, the wisest thing to do is go with the flow.

Planet Grapes Ayala Centre Cebu

Our lunch spread at Planet Grapes in Ayala Centre Cebu, Philippines.

Planet Grapes Ayala Centre, Cebu

So in Cebu, I was able to visit the big malls such as the Ayala Center which is this blog post about where I had a long and lazy lunch with BFF Badiday and dinner later in the evening with the sister. I also visited SM City and the newest addition, SM Seaside. These are the 3 mega malls in Cebu where you can practically spend a whole day without noticing the time. There is also a good number of smaller to medium-sized malls scattered in the city and in the bigger towns.

But why go to a mall and spend your time there? Well, there are many reasons why malls are popular and much preferred by the Filipinos, and upon a closer inspection, I realise that their argumentation actually make sense.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Meganisi, Greece: Spilia Harbour and Chilling Out at Agrios Beach Bar on Spilia Beach

We normally book our Greek Island holiday with a travel company and this means staying put on 1 island for the whole duration of the vacation. We do this mainly for the one-stop-shop package deal we get out of from booking with a travel agency and of course, for the convenience as well.

But this doesn’t mean we don’t island hop. In fact, this is high up on our list of things to do. We usually make use of locally available cruises. Each holiday island in Greece always has a number of excursions on offer and with a variety of cruise themes to choose from as well. In addition, there are local public ferries that sail regularly to nearby islands. They are oftentimes reliable and cheap.

Agrios Beach Bar on Spilia Beach, Meganisi Island, Greece

In Lefkada, we managed to take a whole day islands cruise to what they call, ‘The Undiscovered Islands’ which I still have to blog, well, hopefully soon. My blogging backlog is phenomenal but at least this backlog keeps me going =)

The other island we visited was Meganisi Island, which is perhaps the easiest and most convenient day trip from Lefkada. We took the public ferry in Nydri, Lefkada which is our base for the entire 2-week holiday. The ferry can accommodate vehicles so we brought our rental car with us. Transportation costs are inexpensive in the islands so bringing a rental car, van, camper or scooter on board is not a problem. However, during the high season, it is advisable to come early at the port because the ferry has a volume capacity limit.

So for this blog entry, I will be posting the last activity we did on the island – beaching and chilling out at Spilia Beach.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Awesome Lunch at the Top of Zurich: UTO Kulm Restaurant ‘Allegra’ in Uetliberg

This lovely lunch in the mountain of Zurich has got to be the highlight of my trip to the city last September. The food was delicious, the ambience and setting gorgeous and the views were hands-down fantabulous! In the company of great friends =)

UTO Kulm Restaurant Allegra Uetliberg Zurich

UTO Kulm Restaurant ‘Allegra’ is perhaps the highest elevated restaurant in Zurich. It is located in the only mountain of the city, Uetliberg, accessible by a 20-minute train ride from Zurich Hauptbahnhof. They call this place – the Top of Zurich.

I happen to know about this restaurant because I was staying at the UTO Kulm Hotel, the only resident hotel in Uetliberg mountain, which, by the way, I will blog about my stay here soon separately. The restaurant is UTO Kulm Hotels’ flagship restaurant called Allegra. I was going to meet with Bubbles and M and suggested to them that we’ll see each other for lunch at my hotel’s restaurant, mentioning on the side, of course, that it has its own outdoor terrace with great views.

It was easy to convince the girls who were looking for some adventure and fun outside the city centre. They chimed in, “Oh, this feels like going on a day trip.”

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Zurich Altstadt: Beautiful Pictures Walking Tour of Niederdorf & Hochschulen Quarters

Getting the hang of the city was a piece of cake for me since the medieval core centre is small and walkable, divided into 2 parts, the left side of the river and right side of the river. This division is very ideal in my opinion, especially when you want to go slow and focus on 1 section only for a day of sightseeing.

Old Tram in Central - Zurich Old Town

Zurich Old Town or Zurich Altstadt (District/Kreis 1) is the historical and core centre of Zurich City. The Old Town district is divided into 4 quarters separated into east and west by the Limmat River.

ZURICH ALTSTADT - EAST (RIGHT SIDE OF THE RIVER):

NIEDERDORF – This is the medieval centre on the eastern side of the river where the Rathaus (old city hall) and the Grossmunster Cathedral are located. This area is also called Rathaus by many.

HOCHSCHULEN – The newer part of the Niederdorf area, also called the university quarter, this includes Bellevue which partly lies on Lake Zurich.

ZURICH ALTSTADT - WEST (LEFT SIDE OF THE RIVER):

LINDENHOF – The medieval centre on the western side of the river where Schipfe, the Lindenhof Hill and the Fraumunster Cathedral are located.

CITY – This is the newer part of the old town extending all the way to the Schanzengraben. From Burkliplatz, Paradeplatz all the way to Zurich Hauptbahnhof in the north.

The Old Town is best explored on foot, especially in the medieval part and perhaps doing so with a combination of taking the tram to make things quicker, easier and convenient. I bought the Zurich Day Pass (not the card) which was very handy since we were going to areas outside the city centre. The day pass is based on a 24-hour time and activated once you use it. Sightseeing on foot can take its own toll at the end of a long day so it’s wise to reserve those walking muscles for within short distance walks.

So come and follow me in this walking photo essay tour of the beautiful Niederdorf and Hochschulen Quarters in Zurich Old Town.

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

My Favourite Spots in Zurich: The Squares of Neumarkt and Spiegelgasse-Napfgasse

We all tend to have that special place or places we discovered during our travels, right? And that they somehow become our favourite, and sometimes even the highlight of our trip. When we think back of that special place, we cannot help but smile and feel good about it. Yeah, I have many of these feel good places in my travel memories =)

Neumarkt Square Fountain Zurich

The Neumarkt triangular square and Nike fountain in Zurich Old Town.

Spiegelgasse Napfgasse Square Fountain

The square and fountain between  the narrow pedestrian streets of Spiegelgasse and Napfgasse in the Niederdorf Quarter of Zurich Old Town.

In Zurich, there are many nice places to see, explore and experience. However, Zurich is not a city that is rousing and intriguing as Amsterdam or London. Not even like Barcelona and Paris. On the surface, the city does not seem to have any trace of that conspicuous mischievous factor, which we usually notice and sometimes look for in a big city. I have to admit that a sense of promiscuity does give a city some (wild) edge. You know, excitement. Zurich’s allure, however, is nothing like this. More like subdued. She does not really flaunt herself to her visitors, like a seducer looking for a one-night stand. You come to her, of your own volition and free will.

Zurich, therefore, is what I call a very ‘proper’ city. She quite reminds me of Oslo and Helsinki. A very grown up and responsible city that you can always depend on. A perfect image of decency and sobriety. Except perhaps for the teasing display of public baths and outdoor pools during the summer months, which came to me as a surprise during the visit. After all, it is nice to see the Swiss exhibiting a darker shade of grey on this aspect, well, outside financial - secrecy - banking matters. *pun intended*

So yes, I have 2 favourite spots in the city, and I’ll tell you about them in a second and why.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Zurich, Switzerland: The City of Public Baths and Outdoor Pools

If there is one thing that really stands out in Zurich during my visit last September, that would have to be the (many) public baths and outdoor pools. I never expected to see such a thriving public and urban bathing culture in Switzerland. The baths and pools were everywhere!

Well, luckily, it was a very hot mid-September and any hints of autumn coming were nowhere to be found. A few of the pictures below will show you just how sweltering hot it was in Zurich.

Frauenbad am Stadthausquai Zurich

This is the Frauenbad (Women's Only Pool/Bath) on the Limmat River in Zurich Old Town. 

Seebad Enge Zurich

This is the Seebad Enge, south of Zurich Old Town located in the district of Enge on Lake Zurich.


The city has undoubtedly a high density of badis on its rivers and lakes. There are officially 11 public baths and outdoor pools, and not to mention that many locals have a practice of just laying anywhere on the water’s edge for a sunbathe and a swim. I was not really expecting to see anything like this in Zurich but it does make sense because the city is surrounded by alpine mountains and fresh and clean bodies of water.

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