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.

[To see the rest of the pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.”

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Conditorei Café Schober (Peclard) in Zurich: Coffee, Chocolates and Patisserie in Century-old Chic Café

Perhaps the oldest and chicest café in Zurich! This elegant café is a must visit for people who love the sweet stuff and/or the finer things in life.

Conditorei Café Schober
Fruit Tart

I have read about the Conditorei Café Schober before travelling to Zurich. The café has several names which have only added to my confusion, such as Peclard Schober, Peclard Café, Café Schober and Conditorei Schober. Rest assured, they are all one and the same!

It is an old café and chocolate candy shop that has been revered in the city as synonymous to quality, heritage and taste. The conditorei dates back to 1842 when it was founded by Eberle and taken over by Schober who ran the shop for 66 years until his death at 92. It is now managed by Peclard who continues the tradition. People, this is the real Swiss chocolate and patisserie deal.

There is no question that the café oozes rich history and quality confection products, but there’s more to that. This café has an elegant Neo-Baroque interior design which makes a visit here a very lovely and special experience.

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Zurich, Switzerland: Climb the ‘Lindenhof Hill’ for the Best City Views

Everyone loves a beautiful view I am sure, and all the more we want to experience it, embrace it and breathe it when we are travelling.

Lindenhof Hill, Zurich

I personally am a sucker for great views. I pick my cafes, bars and restaurants mainly for the view (and ambience too) it can offer. Naturally, I research beforehand and go to the best viewing spots of the places I am visiting as well. In Zurich, the best (and free!) spot to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the city would have to be the Lindenhof Hill.

The Lindenhof Hill is an elevated park with views to the Limmat River and Niederdorf, the other medieval quarter of Zurich Old Town. I have read that the area is actually a moraine hill which means it is a remain of a glacier. Hmm... sounds interesting huh?

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

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Lefkada, Greece: Athani Village and Lovely Sunset Dinner at Lefkatas

In my earlier blog post on the stunning Porto Katsiki Beach, I mentioned that Porto Katsiki would be best combined with a dinner (or lunch) in Athani Village.

Dinner at Lefkatas
Athani Village

Mountain village of Athani in the southwestern part of Lefkada.

When I was researching online about our day trip to Porto Katsiki Beach, I found out that the nearest village is Athani which is approximately 20 minutes with the car. Chances are, if you are coming from the north of the island going to Porto Katsiki or Egremni, you will pass by Athani, and if you are coming from the east in the area of Nydri or in the south in Vasiliki, you may still pass by Athani if the dirt road near Vasiliki to Porto Katsiki is closed. This dirt road was closed last year so we did the via Athani village detour.

So our plans for this particular day were a lazy day at the beach at Porto Katsiki and dinner later in Athani. I was eyeing this restaurant called Lefkatas which I read has great (sunset) views of the vast Ionian Sea. The food ratings seem to be promising as well. But we shall see when we get there, you never know if the restaurant turns out to be a disappointment in real life.

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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

An Afternoon at Stunning Porto Katsiki Beach in Lefkada, Greece

The Greek Islands are home to many stunning and virgin beaches. This is one of the reasons why we keep going back to the islands every summer, year in and year out. Yes, we are Greek Island fans =)

Porto Katsiki Beach
Porto Katsiki Beach

In Lefkada, Porto Katsiki is the must-not-to-be-missed beach. This idyllic postcard perfect beach is the face of Lefkada tourism, modelling as cover on its many island promotional materials. Porto Katsiki is just hands down beautiful. She will make every visitor stand in awe of her beauty and her pristine presence.

Its fascinating landscape is what makes Porto Katsiki breathtaking. It’s all about the ‘beauty’ and the ‘theatrical factor’ for this beach. The lush vegetation on top draws a very stark comparison against the abrupt cliff drop of gargantuan white limestone and the turquoise blue waters beneath it, which on some days turn into a bright azure blue.

I myself could not help but be mesmerised by her. When we arrived, we just stood there in the parking lot looking down to the stunning beach with full admiration. Naturally, just like everyone else, we could not stop taking pictures and selfies.

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

Moussaka, Grilled Fish and Pasta Dinner at Restaurant Miramare in Vasiliki, Lefkada

Before our visit to Vasiliki, I did some initial research online at Tripadvisor for restaurants. I am always keen on the ambience of the place so I managed to pick a few interesting ones and noted them down.

Dinner Vasiliki Restaurant Miramare

The dinner outdoors on the port of Vasiliki.

Restaurant Miramare

I use Tripadvisor mainly for finding restaurants.I do not always follow the ratings because in my experience they do not always reflect the quality of the food and speak for the ambience of the restaurant. Ratings, I found, are very personal. We all have different tastes in food and what I see as luxurious could be middle class for someone else. I have seen snack bars rated as number 1 on the top 5 restaurants in Tripadvisor. Hello, a snack bar? But Tripadvisor does the dirty job by helping me prune things out. Once I have shortlisted a number of restaurants I can further investigate, it is when I use Google to search for more detailed information, such as experiences of others and pictures.

In Vasiliki, all the restaurants I noted down did not pass my in-person quality check. Just as I have earlier said, Tripadvisor rating and comments are not the holy grail but they act as a guide, giving us an idea of the restaurant landscape of a village, town and city. While walking around and surveying the harbour, there was 1 restaurant that really stood out which was approved by the Dutchman and Dutch mother as well. This was Restaurant Miramare on the port area. But we have a problem – they were full.

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

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Lefkada, Greece: Charming Beach Town of Vasiliki

2 weeks was not enough for us to see all the gorgeous beaches and charming villages in Lefkada. For this reason we have missed on Vasiliki Beach, however, we managed to visit the town for a quick sightseeing and evening dinner.

Vasiliki

Like most Greek coastal villages, Vasiliki used to be humble fishing village before it became a prime tourist beach town attracting the windsurfing community for its outstanding sea breezes. It is located at the southern tip of Lefkada Island and looks over to its sister islands, Ithaca and Kefalonia, both by the way we have visited the other year.

Because of its location being open to the sea, Vasiliki is vulnerable to anything the Ionian Sea vomits to its shore. This is the reason why regular passenger and cargo boats in Lefkada dock in Nydri where the crossings are more sheltered. Vasiliki sometimes cannot handle the fickle current of the open seas and for this same reason is Vasiliki known as one of the great places in Greece for windsurfing.

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

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Lefkada, Greece: Afternoon Lunch at Akrogiali Taverna and Beaching at Ammoussa Beach

During our summer holidays in the Greek Islands, it is my responsibility, well naturally, to scour the internet and Google Maps for idyllic beaches, cosy tavernas, cool hotspots and charming villages to visit on the island we are staying. Most of the time, though, I only get the full picture when we are there on the ground because the less popular Greek Islands (islands not often in the radar outside the European travel market) that we normally go to are not heavily documented online. Thankfully, it is getting better as the years go by.

Ammoussa Beach

The small cove beach of Ammousso in the south of Lefkada Island.

Greek lunch in Akrogiali

Greek-style lunch at Akrogiali Taverna in Ammousso.

This is partly my personal mission, aside from journaling my travels, is to document all our Greek island holiday escapades for other Greek Island lovers out there, and for those who are interested in holidaying or visiting and are planning their travels and looking for ideas. I journal every detail of our lunches and dinners at every cafe and taverna, and all the lovely Greek villages and beaches we have visited.

In Lefkada (this was our 2016 summer holiday), we spent a lazy afternoon in a small and intimate beach cove called Ammoussa, which is also spelt as Amousa and Amousso. It is located in the southern part of the island near the village of Marantochori. This is just before reaching the beautiful beach town of Vasiliki. In Marantochori you go into this small road that will lead you down to the beach. This is very typical in the Greek Islands to leave the main road or a paved street and go down further to a route that looked like a less travelled path, most of the times unpaved, just to reach a lovely beach that is nicely tucked away from the outside world. This is what makes the beaches in Greece really special.

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

Monday, March 06, 2017

Recap of My Travel to Novi Sad, Serbia

If you are visiting Belgrade and you have an extra day to spare, I strongly suggest that you visit Novi Sad, the second largest city in the country. I was here last year and I spent 2 days and 1 night in the city. I have to say that Novi Sad was one of my highlights in this Serbian city trip.

Dunavska - Novi Sad
Wake Up Novi Sad

I arrived in Serbia via Belgrade, flying with KLM from Amsterdam. At the Belgrade Airport, I rented a car which I booked of course ahead of time. I wanted some comfort and privacy going to Novi Sad, so a rental car was the best solution.

Novi Sad is actually not too far from Belgrade, however, there is no railway connection between both cities and if I go with public transport, I will have to do this with the public bus or I take a taxi. The last thing I would want to happen is to become a harassed chick frantically lugging my suitcase on the streets of Belgrade, looking for the bus to Novi Sad (the bus names and destinations are only in Cyrillic alphabet) and hoping someone will speak English with me. My problems are not over yet though because when I get to Novi Sad, I will have to find my way from the city centre to the fortress where my hotel is located. Logistics and language wise it’s just a big hassle. I do not have any patience for this.

In addition, I’m not a starter in life anymore who is saving her pennies so I do not mind paying extra money for some comfort and peace of mind. A car will also help me maximise time since I am only staying a night in Novi Sad.

Here is some practical information on travelling by a rental car in Serbia: Road Trip Route, Rental Car, GPS Issues, Parking Tips and more

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

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Where I stayed in Bologna: Fabulous B&B Cà Bianca dell'Abbadessa in San Lazzaro di Savena

A personal trait of mine is that I do give out compliments easily and generously. I often frown on people when all they say are nothing but pretentious and superfluous takes on their lives, their jobs, their children and their vacations. Like when you ask, ‘How was your holiday?’ I would expect a more actual and reasonable answer other than, ‘It was OMFG fantabulous – the BEST holiday we’ve ever had – it was smashing our expectations, it could have not gotten any better.’ Hogwash. I get you are being positive but let’s just go back to earth and plant our feet on the ground, shall we?

B&B Cà Bianca dell'Abbadessa
Breakfast area B&B Cà Bianca dell'Abbadessa

A lot of travel bloggers do this as well when they write blog articles with fetching headlines – ‘The Best blah-blah here and blah-di-blah there’ – ‘What you need to see or do before you die’. I mean seriously, what is best? What do you know of what I want in my life? For all I care, your best is not good as mine? And hello, I do not have ambitions to do skydiving! But I give them the benefit of the doubt because most of them are young and just want SEO (search engine optimisation) juice for their blogs.

So yeah, I dislike exaggeration. Very much. I try my best not to have misleading titles in my blog posts as much as possible. When I dish out compliments, I really mean it and they better be worth it if I write about them on my blog. This means that when I write my reviews of the places I have stayed and been to, I will for sure write them without wearing rose-coloured glasses. And I pay for these places anyway so I have all the rights and freedom to say whatever I want.

Sorry for the lengthy introduction, but I am happy to say that the B&B country house I stayed in Pianoro - Lazzaro di Savena near Bologna was one of the best I have been to, well so far. The property and the location were just fabulous and my short stay there was really a priceless experience for me.

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

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Fascinating Modena Street Scenes and Modena Travel Recap

This is my last entry of Modena (Italy), until of course my return which we do not know yet. One thing for sure, though, and that is, I love Italy... and I will come back!

Modena streets

A typical street occurrence in a town or city in Italy. Locals just bring out their table on the street and eat and drink there together with family, friends and neighbours (and passersby as well!).

Italy is a country that you can easily fall in love with. Seriously, it is a multifaceted country that has a lot to offer. Do you want art, culture, architecture, history? What about divine Italian gastronomy? Oh, and there is stunning nature as well! I have only been in the north and the farthest city in the south I have visited was Rome. I have ventured out to Frascati though, which is half an hour south of Rome and home to the locally famous wine of the same name and the once Papal vacation house Castel Gandolfo, now a museum.

I have vowed however to visit all the beautiful places in Italy, one trip, one region, one city and one village at a time. Culture tripping, savouring its local delicacies and just really basking in the dolce vita lifestyle. It sounds very decadent and carefree, but we all want that, don’t we?

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Thursday, March 02, 2017

Modena, Italy: Aperitivo in a Secret Alley (Bar Enoteca Ristretto)

The ‘aperitivo’ culture is one of the things I love about northern Italy. The Italians in this part of the country take this seriously to heart and practice aperitivo after work hours.

So I discovered aperitivo many years ago on a trip to Verona with Blondine, where we ended up one evening skipping dinner as we sipped on our second round of cocktails and wine. Little bits of delicious Italian goodness never seemed to stop coming to our table. We were somewhat puzzled, but of course, we never complained, afraid they would stop sending the delicious treats. But we really wondered -- Why are we getting free food? Haha. Suffice to say, our dinner plans were thwarted down the drain that night, but then that gave us an excuse to order another round.

It was when we learned about Italy’s happiest hour(s) of the day. Well at least in northern Italy where aperitivo is a lifestyle set in stone.

Aperitivo at Bar Enoteca Ristretto

In Modena, I had a very early aperitivo and I am not apologising for it. Apertivo hours are usually between late afternoons and before dinner time. But it doesn’t say you cannot get aperitivo earlier, as long as it is after lunch of course.

Whilst walking around Via Adeodato Malatesta, I passed by this narrow alley with people having a very late lunch. The alley is slightly hidden from the main street but still visible, especially if you are the observant and thorough type who can canvas an area quickly and spot the unusual stuff. Well, I am guilty, I tend to do this a lot. Now in Italy, it is normal for people to have lunch for long hours. The Italians love to sit outdoors and talk with family, friends and colleagues over food and drinks. The tourists seem to follow this local trend as well when in Italy. And this is another thing about the country that I really love. You eat outdoors, you take your time and you spend it with people that matter to you.

Writing this post now makes me want to plan a trip to Italy! But if I go, it will have to be the south, because the farthest I have been so far was Frascati, which is half an hour south of Rome. I could live in Italy, you know!

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Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Modena UNESCO World Heritage Site: Piazza Grande, Palazzo Comunale and Modena Cathedral

Ciao signori e signor, buona sera!

Are you keen checking out beautiful UNESCO world heritage sites when travelling? In Italy, seeing these places is just like taking a little walk in the park. They are that, unbelievably, very common. One would not have expected less of the now-defunct Roman Empire, right?

Modena Duomo

The oldest square of Modena, the Piazza Grande is a UNESCO site. Unfortunately, my favourite square in the city is Piazza XX Settembre located beside the delicious, colourful and lively Albinelli Market (must visit).

It certainly must have been the buzz around it that attracted me to this place. There was a market going on and the stalls were well-decorated and very inviting. It is also a much smaller square, as compared to Piazza Grande and Piazza Roma for example, and is, therefore, more intimate and cosy. To prove this fact, the market in the middle and the outdoor café terraces along the sidelines almost kiss each other. That’s intimate I guess =)

Piazza Grande

But the 2nd runner up on my list is none other than, Piazza Grande herself. Previously called ‘Piazza del Duomo’ in the 12th century and later renamed to Piazza Grande in the 2nd half of the 17th century, this is the heart of Modena. Obviously, the only rule that stays constant and consistent in this world is that change is inevitable. The cathedral and the town hall are both located on Piazza Grande, so everything that is important, or significant in nature, happens here back in those days. Power, however, has shifted, from dogmas and clerics to laws and state politicians. So that explains the renaming of this very important square.

Aren’t we glad that religion is now separate from the state? Well, at least in most countries.

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