Posted in TRAVEL

MARSAXLOXX, MALTA


Mar-sa-schlock is a small fishing village in Malta.

It’s small but I just have to create a separate entry for it because of its sheer beauty.

I felt like I stepped into an illustration on a page of a fairytale. It’s so nice that we took a lot of photos and forgot the time of the next hop on, hop off bus and eventually missed it! We went rogue by knowingly hopping on a different bus company so we could reach the next destination on time. The DBF and I were holding our breaths until we were sure nobody was going to check our tickets. Getting kicked off of a tour bus is not really part of our What-to-do-in-Malta list.

Anyway, I’m letting the photos speak for themselves.

Overall, our Malta trip was a much-needed one that we certainly enjoyed. I am grateful for the opportunity to travel again as a couple. I thank God for healing the DHB’s knee fast. We really ought to maximise the life and the health we are given while we still have it.

d.

Posted in TRAVEL

VALLETTA, MALTA


The game plan was simple: hop on the red bus that will bring us from Sliema to the heart of Malta– Valletta.

We were greeted by the imposing gates of Valletta and we were driven around the outskirts and along the different harbours and docking stations they had. Malta is like the parking lot of European yachts and sailboats! It’s surrounded by the Mediterranean sea which allows easy sailing access to Greece, Tunisia, and Italy, of course.

This small country has become the haven for Italian and British tourists. In the plane, I read a lot of real estate ads for Malta properties. I’m guessing they have a lot of senior citizens who choose to retire there. I am not surprised because aside from the scenic view, quaint houses with colorful balconies, and clean surroundings, Malta has close to zero crime rate.

My husband was already getting annoyed at the amount of pictures I took while on the bus. I can’t help it! Malta is probably at the top 2 of the most photogenic countries I’ve ever been to. It’s like all of the houses were filtered in Instagram Valencia. Everything is color beige with a slight inclination to pale yellow. This provides a clean background to all the Maltese balconies that pop-up in every tasteful color imagineable. And when I say tasteful, their pink is not the loud and awful Barbie pink (no offense meant to Barbie) but always 3 shades lighter, leaning more towards peach than red, and always so subdued. Pure class.

I loved everything about Malta except for the fact that it’s not as cheap as we thought it would be. Meals are almost as expensive as in Zurich! The good thing though is that you have options unlike here in Switzerland where you can’t find anything cheaper than 10 dollars.




 

 

Posted in TRAVEL

SLIEMA, MALTA


We celebrated our 2nd year anniversary as a married couple last January. Being who he is, the DHB surprised me with booked tickets to Malta. But as fate would have it, he met a basketball accident and had to be operated on some time in December. He tore his ACL and his meniscus disc got twisted. He couldn’t walk normally for months. He had to go under physiotherapy everyday after his surgery. We had no choice but rebook the tickets to April, in time for his 35th birthday.
Malta is a country much like the Philippines in the sense that they are both made up of islands and that they both have been conquered by different nations throughout their history. Malta is so much smaller though. You can tour its biggest island in a day or two.

We decided to stay in Sliema which is at the coastline and strategically located between Valletta, the city center, and St. Julian’s the more touristy beach place.

What I liked about our hotel is that it’s perfectly situated in front of the hop-on, hop-off bus stop. It’s also just across the coastline that was perfect for walking at the crack of dawn or at night where the lights enliven the walk way and the music from the cafés provide the dreamy mood in the area. The DBF and I walked along the coast several times, holding hands, while discussing the future. I will forever cherish these peaceful moments.

For dinner, we had kebab at this Trip Advisor awardee place that was literally just at the corner of our hotel. We also tried gluten free pasta at the Sicilian place nearby on the DHB’s 35th birthday. The DHB had his favorite vongole although he wished he opted for the less healthy pasta.

The only bad thing I remember about Sliema was how rowdy the Italian teenagers were at our hotel. We were awakened every time they’d come running back to the hotel from wherever they were the entire day. Their noise just filled the halls. Malta used to be a part of Italy which is why many Italians choose it as a destination for summer. What’s interesting though is that the Maltese were also invaded by the Moors, the Knights, the French, and the Brits. So you’d hear the people speak with British accents yet the doors of their houses would either have a Muslim symbol or a Catholic religious sculpture.

Overall, I think choosing Sliema as our base was a wise decision because it was not as packed as St. Julian’s and not as landlocked as Valletta City.

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WALENSEE, SWITZERLAND


I am not a very sporty person. And so the idea of hiking up the mountain for a photoshoot did not excite me at first. In fact, it terrified me a bit. And so I initially just planned on having this gorgeous bride-to-be go to my place for hair and makeup, let her go, and trust that the makeup stays in place. After all, she only wanted a fresh and natural look. The thing with the Swiss though is that they are not very flamboyant. They are usually understated. And so there are no dresses or ball gowns in this shoot. Just the bride-to-be wearing a black jacket with small cute flowers (by M) on her hair, and the groom in a straight-up black thick parka.

But something felt right about that day that I found myself agreeing to go with them up the alps. I did not regret my decision though. Although panting at a certain stage of the hike, I was able to join them where they wanted to take photos and the view was just magnificent. Pictures cannot even capture the feeling of grandeur and satisfaction. I wish every man can see what I saw that day so he’d probably start believing in the divine. No man could have ever created this thing of beauty. It was just so intelligently designed. The parts where the snow touches the sky, and the mountains contrast with the lake– no man could have ever thought of that. It was just poetic at every turn.

As you can see, I am still completely overwhelmed. I should be hiking up mountains more instead of chilling at home to watch Netflix. This kind of view is so much more satisfying than the next episode of Designated Survivor. or Riverdale.

(I’d like to thank F and T for taking me up with them to the alps. They’re gonna get married here in October by the lake, surrounded by the Swiss Alps. It’s gonna be epic. Below are my behind-the-scenes shots. )

d.

 

Posted in TRAVEL, Uncategorized

BARCELONA, SPAIN


I prayed for more weekends like the one I had in Milan (see previous post) and God granted my wish.

He gave me a trip to the land of Conquistadors to meet my cousin and her husband.

When I was still single, Spain was in my list of countries to visit. My friend and I were planning on partying in Ibiza. But that was around the time I met my now husband and my “hedonistic” plans got derailed by his protective ways. He didn’t want me to go to Spain all by myself (or just with a girl friend) because he said it wasn’t as safe as other EU countries. We never went together because he’s been there several times already and I didn’t want him to repeat a country instead of seeing a new one. And so when my cousin told me about going to Spain, I immediately took her offer of free lodging at a 5-star hotel if I meet her and her husband there. Finally, a guy to tag along and defend us just in case we get mobbed! Perfect justification to give my husband!

My cousin’s mom and my mom are sisters. They are both “mestizas” because they have Spanish blood running through them. Their surname is actually a brand of olives in Spain. One of our uncles living in the States traced and visited our relatives whom he found to be residing in Malaga. “Some of them don’t even speak English!”, he said. And this is why it’s so cool for me to be meeting family in Spain. It’s unfortunate that it was so quick but I’m grateful nevertheless.

Although we were able to go to historical sites (luckily, most of the Gaudi-designed establishments were just along our hotel street in Passeig de Gracia), most of our time was spent shopping at the luxury stores within the area. My cousin is fond of bags and shoes while her husband is into eyewear and watches. And so they both wreaked havoc from Chanel to Celine, Rimowa to Armani, Dior to Bottega Veneta. I understand though because luxury items are way cheaper in Spain than anywhere else in the world (except maybe Paris). The tax rebate was also very inviting. It was but logical and even practical for them to splurge in Europe where items are not only cheaper but quite newer than those that manage to reach Asia.

I arrived in Barcelona a day before they did and so I first stayed with my friend A who’s studying there. I met him while I was working in the Philippines. We worked on the first ever local TV commercial of Watsons. I was the Marketing Manager and he was the producer of the shoot. This is why it’s nice to have friends who are also vagabonds! You manage to bump into them during their travels or in this case, his short study escape to Barcelona. His flat was very nice and airy. It had a high-ceiling and it was just a few blocks away from touristy spot La Rambla. So that’s what I did on my first day, roam around Plaza Catalunya and have A take photos of me amidst all of the tourists.

When I finally met-up with my cousin at the hotel, we walked straight to the Boqueria Market and had paella Valenciana and a seafood platter. It was the best paella ever and this is saying a lot because we like our paella. There’s something soothingly tasty about this dish. It’s special order so they only cook everything once you decide to get it. It took about half an hour just to wait for the paella and so we had scallops, mussels, shrimps, and squids dipped in lemon butter sauce for starters. I still dream of the paella to this day! And I don’t even wanna start talking about the tapas and gold-dusted foie gras! Spanish food is worth flying to Spain for.

One of the highlights of the trip was the spontaneous yacht ride across Barceloneta Beach. We saw the expanse of the shoreline and M thought that what would heighten the experience was to sail in a boat with Moët in one hand. Who wouldn’t cheers to that?

For me, the surreal moment though was finally seeing the Sagrada Familia. It is still under construction.  It is, however, in its final stages already.

They say that 6 new towers will be added to the basilica, finishing the work that was started by Antoni Gaudi in 1882. The tallest of the six spires, the Tower of Jesus Christ, will measure over 172m and it would make the Sagrada Família the tallest religious building in Europe.

Chief architect Jordi Fauli said it will be completed in 2026 to coincide with the centenary of Gaudi’s death. I sure hope to come back to finally see it completed.

Now that I have experienced Spain, I can say for certain that this first visit won’t be the last.

Posted in Uncategorized

MILANO


When I saw B’s Facebook message asking if we’d like to go with him to Milan, I immediately asked M if she was also available. M has never been to Milano and so I was excited for her to see the big Duomo for the first time. Since I’ve stayed in Milano for days in the past, my only goal now was to shop for household stuff for half the price we’d usually spend in Zurich. I also wanted to see my family especially my goddaughter there.

It was a smooth 3-hour car ride from Zurich to the heart of the city. The fun thing about Europe is that each country has a distinct look and feel. As soon as we entered Milan, we were greeted by rows and rows of shopping stores. I gasped when I saw my favourite corner–a Sephora beside a Grom gelateria.

Italians in leather jackets and Vespas were suddenly a dime a dozen. It was days before Fashion Week and so we also spotted a number of models casually strutting the cobbled streets. Elle was also celebrating its 30th Anniversary and they put up a number of printed red umbrellas for display.

M and I feasted over the change of fashion–from the understated suits and neutral colors of the people in Zurich to the flashy metallic boots, ribboned denim pants, and floral Gucci handbags of the citizens of Italy.

For lunch, we veered away from the fancy looking restaurants and chose a hole in the wall for some authentic egg carbonara and meatballs. Of course, Italian coffee will always be on the menu. (The Italians are outraged to know that Starbucks will be setting up shop in their region.)

When we met with my auntie, she treated us to Luini sandwiches, a novelty in Milano. That was after we gorged on our caramel salz gelato + our respective favorite ice cream flavors.

I told myself that I shouldn’t be repeating countries anymore but I think Italy is just too beautiful to resist. It doesn’t help that it’s just a stone throw away from Switzerland.

Praying for more weekends like this one.

Until my next adventure,

d.

 

 

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HOME and 2016 INSIGHTS


I read this on my feed: “I hope you fall in love with someone who makes you feel like home.”

It’s crazy because the first time I kissed Mike, my husband, the way I had described it was that it felt like “Home.”

Home is your place of residence. Home is where you reside. But maybe in relationships, home is specifically where your heart resides comfortably.

2016 is a year of trying to settle in Zürich, Switzerland, my new home. It is also the year wherein I went home to the Philippines twice. I was lucky enough to spend quality time with my family. And each time I get to spend with them makes me value them even more.

It’s funny how distance made me closer to my parents. I talk to my Papa almost everyday now that we are apart. As a kid, if somebody would tell me that there will come a time that I would be super open about my life with my father, I would probably laugh in disbelief. I used to consider my Papa as “the Boss”–someone so authoritative that it’s hard to appear vulnerable around him. But as I grew older, I realized that Papa is the first person who will have my back come what may. And he has always had my back, he’s just more showy and vocal now. Papa has provided a great home for us. And whenever I feel lost, I call him to somehow feel closer to home…to my safe zone.

That’s also what Mama stands for, although just more warm and gentle. I have been blessed with such a loving mother that imagining my self as one becomes a bit harder because I am not sure how I can actually be even half as great as her as a mom!

My brother is a man of few words. But whenever he talks, it’s usually to say something sarcastic, witty, and funny. I worry about him even from afar. I worry because he is my only brother and even if he’s grown to be a responsible man, I just worry as a big sister for whatever he does. I worry he’d meet an accident during a basketball game. I worry he won’t be able to fix everything before his wedding next year. But I also hope for the best for him all the time. I remember being home alone one time with him– He opens the door of my room and all of a sudden throws a pillow at me. Of course, I asked him why he’s such a crazy person and he’d tell me it’s because he’s bored. When our parents are away traveling, we’re left with no choice but to endure each other. My semblance of home always constitutes the presence of my brother.

Before the year ended, my husband met a freak accident at a basketball game. He twisted his knee, tore his ACL, and snapped his meniscus disc. As I write this, I’m watching him feel bored in the couch as we await for his surgery schedule. This accident forced us to be together 24/7. There were moments he’d feel scared about the operation as he’s never had one and he’d ask for a hug from me. In these precious moments, I realized that the feeling of home, of being safe, of having someone to support you, of not being alone, is so empowering and is really what love is all about. When you have someone over extend himself for you… that’s concern, that’s care, and that’s love in action.

Yes, this year, I realized that the feeling of home…where your heart resides comfortably…is actually as close to feeling loved as possible. That in order for someone to feel loved, he must feel at home in one’s arms. I feel loved by my family and with them I feel that my heart is comfortable and safe. I feel extremely loved by my husband because even during the first time we met, he has already made me feel like my heart has a home to reside in. And he continues to make me feel that way up to now. 2 years into this marriage and I now fully understand that to love someone is to constantly decide to provide a safe haven for the other’s heart to reside in. Everyday, you have to make each other’s hearts feel like there’s KFC chicken and gravy, Mövenpick Swiss chocolate ice cream, or ice cold Coca-cola even when the other has a broken knee and cannot walk… most especially when the other cannot walk.