Posted in RELATIONSHIPS, TRAVEL, Uncategorized

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY


August 1 is Swiss National Holiday. I was supposed to spend it doing makeup for a wedding but my husband asked me to decline the gig. He wanted to go somewhere because it is rare that he has a long weekend.

We checked out the flight prices and found the ones departing from Zürich exorbitant. The idea of flying from Basel through low-budget airline Easyjet came to mind. Rates were of course much more affordable. We just had to take a train from Zurich to Basel which was a bearable one hour ride. We chose amongst the following destinations: Spain, Tuscany, Poland, and Hungary. We settled on Hungary because 1) We both haven’t been there [It will be my 33rd new country to visit and his 37th.] 2) Living expenses over there are relatively cheaper and 3) It is big enough to explore for 4 days and 3 nights.

I can say that in the year and a half that we have been married, this is the first trip that we planned TOGETHER. There was division of labor. We debated maturely about the pros and cons. We equally shared expenses. We totally had teamwork and held each other accountable for making the trip a success. Our past trips were either just planned by him or by me individually. This was the first time that I sat down and showed him AirBNB and hotel options and we both chose which deal we liked best (We ended up staying at the 4-star Marriott hotel for the price of a small AirBNB!). He booked the hop on hop off tour while I reserved the cab that would pick us up at the airport. I must admit that I usually enjoy planning things alone and even doing things my way more. But I couldn’t deny that this was a really good exercise for our partnership.

I guess that teamwork is something that we really had a hard time attaining ever since we got married because we are both strong individually and we tend to make narcissistic decisions all the time. 🙂 It’s funny because the more I think about it, the more I realize that I am not built to withstand marriage. The beauty of it though is that regardless of how you were built, in marriage, you will be made to realize that LOVE has the power to change you for the better. The love that God has placed in your heart for your partner has the power to melt your stubborn soul and clear your brain enough to give it space for understanding, new ideas, and refreshing experiences. It’s so easy to say to your spouse, “No, let’s do it MY way.” But it’s so much more rewarding to be able to extend yourself further, with ego brushed to the side, and say “Ok, what is it that we both want and that we both will enjoy?” Or better yet, “Let’s do your thing first and then let’s do mine.”

I normally talk about what exactly I did on trips but I felt like it’s more fitting to share about this very personal experience because I like reading back what I wrote after a few months. I like marking moments and emphasizing learnings. In this trip, I learned to step back a bit and make my husband lead the way. I made him win a few more battles this time. 🙂 Like the day he all of a sudden decided that instead of going to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths on a Sunday as planned, he felt like doing it right after our bus tour that same Saturday. A part of me was starting to get annoyed that he would go off-tangent but I find that I would really not lose anything if I gave in to what he wanted. We ended-up enjoying the baths more because the sun was not too strong anymore. Good call.

Marriage is a weird thing. My Philosophy professor once said that all relationships are doomed to fail. It’s because, as philosopher Martin Heidegger pointed out, what makes you drawn to each other for the first few stages are the moments of “thaumazein” or “wonder”. When you still think that the other is so beautifully strange and interesting. And then you get to spend time together. You get to share more information about one another. And then all of a sudden, your partner feels all too flawed and familiar to you already. There’s no sense of wonder anymore. And so there’s nothing else that keeps you drawn to each other. And that’s when it starts to dwindle. And so he says that the key to a lasting marriage is to keep surprising each other. Keep making yourself interesting. Keep learning and sharing things. Shake up the routine. Don’t get fixated on the same things. Stop yourself from fighting over the same mundane details. Talk about things you have never discussed. Challenge each other to evolve. Maybe this is why we travel as a couple. To be able to see new things. To be able to talk about newer experiences. To watch each other go out of our comfort zones and beam with pride as we thrive.

Marriage is a weird thing because the law of man and the law of God bind you together for life regardless of feelings and circumstances. Yes, it is weird BUT it can also be so beautiful. We always hear people joke about how marriage can be tough and how it can feel like a prison cell. But we never really emphasize the beauty of that suffering. That in those moments of suffocation, of conflicts, of having to sacrifice your own wants and needs for the other, is when true and genuine LOVE shines through. And it’s the kind of love that an unattached person will never really grasp. And that’s what makes marriage important, necessary, and sacred. It brings out that kind of love that is deeper than all the other levels of love that you have ever felt while you were not yet bound and tied to this one person. Marriage is weird, tough, and exhausting but it can truly be a beautiful and meaningful thing. My friend just recently got married and in her vows, she said that “I will never forget that this is a once in a lifetime kind of love.” What she doesn’t know yet is that it is not even the rarity of it that makes the marriage kind of love special. It’s the depth and magnanimity of it.

I joked while we were walking across the Chain Bridge atop the River Danube that I am admittedly the Buda (coz I’m chubby!) and he’s definitely the Pest! 🙂 But just like Hungary’s Buda, Pest, and Obuda, we were united by fate and all we gotta do is build bridges of love each time we feel like we are too different or far apart.

Here’s our travel video:

 

Until our next adventure,

d.

 

 

 

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Posted in ENGAGEMENT, PHOTOGRAPHY, PROPOSAL, RELATIONSHIPS, TRAVEL, WEDDINGS

THE EPIC MARRIAGE PROPOSAL AT THE ZURICH FLUGHAFEN (AIRPORT)


ANNOUNCEMENT

The DBF and I are ENGAGED!!!!!!!!!

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And I couldn’t be any prouder of how he planned and executed his proposal. It was so well-thought of and so full of meaning for the both of us. He couldn’t have chosen a better way of doing it. The timing, the place, the surprise… I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!

Well, that’s not exactly true. Hahahaha. I have imagined it to happen in Paris, with the view of the Eiffel Tower. I also thought he would do it in Greece when he surprised me with a booked ticket to Athens. When I got no proposal in Athens, I thought to myself, maybe he’s gonna pop the question in Italy, or in Cannes…or Provence…or Nice. Or maybe in Monaco–our 11th new country to go to together?! But he didn’t.

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So I gave up on the idea. In fact, on the day that he proposed, I was talking with my cousin on Viber and was telling her that maybe the DBF is taking his time. Maybe he’s gonna grant me that one year that I asked of him (so I may put my MBA to good use and work again in Manila).

MORNING OF THE PROPOSAL

That morning in Switzerland, while doing the second batch of laundry and hanging the first batch onto the clothesline, I was talking with my cousin K over the phone. She’s also engaged to be married in 2015. We were talking about how life would really change once we tie the knot. I was telling her that I’m dreading the idea of juggling household work with a full-time career. And that all hell will break loose when on top of those things, we would have to take care of babies! Hahaha! I even told her that I’m kind of excited to go back to work in Manila coz I was really getting tired of the household chores in Zurich! LOL.

Anyway, weeks before that morning, I already knew that we were gonna meet the DBF’s best friend C, a flight steward from Swiss Air, at the Zurich Flughafen for an “Airport Tour”. I was told that the Swiss Airport has a really nice observation deck and that the tour has been arranged by C way before I even flew to Zurich. I also knew that after the tour, the DBF and I will have dinner at Restaurant Die Waid which was on top of a hill and overlooking the city. Thereafter, we were scheduled to proceed to the bar to meet some friends for his post-birthday and my farewell party (since I was gonna be leaving for Manila in a few days).

I had NO CLUE that he was gonna propose that day because 1) It was a Friday and he had work 2) He had to drive his mom to the airport during lunch time which made him pretty stressed out that day already 3) He even offered a colleague to ride with us from the office to the airport because she was scheduled to fly to London 4) He even made me buy a tank top to wear underneath my sheer top when we were already at the airport! Hahahahaha He was clearly not trying to please me that day!!! 🙂

THE REVEAL

I met-up with him at the airport wearing a black and cream ensemble. I had already put on eye makeup but decided to skip the lipstick for later.

The DBF led me to Check-in 1 where we usually go when we #flySwiss. He said that was our meeting point with C.

C called him several times and I kinda figured that C will be late. So I was just there, patiently waiting with the DBF. He was kissing my forehead. We were talking about stuff. I even asked him to check-out the tall and pretty girl who passed us by.

 

And then I noticed something on the digital billboard in front of us. It was my face…our picture…taken at the 30th birthday party he secretly arranged for me! Then I realized that the other pictures were images of us taken from different countries! It was like my Facebook page flashing right in front of me…at the Zurich Airport… for EVERYONE to SEE!

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And then I read my name: Denise! And my heart started to beat really fast and I felt like my brain was losing oxygen as it couldn’t really process (or it did not want to process) what my eyes had just seen! Hahahaha! And then I read it slowly, will… you… marry…me? I took two steps back (and almost fell!) when I realized that it was indeed a marriage proposal happening right at that moment! Then I turned to him and saw him kneeling and all I could think of was “Thank God for this man!” and moments from the past year together kind of flashed back before I could hear myself say with full conviction “Yes, of course!” I think I already answered even before his knee could fully touch the floor! hahahhahahhaa

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I just saw a glimpse of the ring. And I didn’t even bother to check it until after I said Yes! Proof that when you are being asked by the right man and when you are sure of your love and commitment to one another, nothing else will matter!

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But he did buy me a nice ring. 😉 The man I’m marrying really has good taste!

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Here’s the proposal video that was shot using the GoPro installed by our good friend A.

 

 

This wouldn’t have been possible without the blessing of our parents, the love and support of our family and friends, and most especially the cooperation of the Swiss Air and Zurich Flughafen officers (whom apparently the DBF approached and met with several times during the course of his proposal planning). The Swiss are very conservative so the DBF was told that this display will only be allowed this one last time.

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I can’t believe that he already bought the ring back in December when we haven’t even celebrated our first year together yet?! I can’t believe how sure he was all along. And I’m so grateful that he really tried to make this milestone a very special one.

I was thinking of all of these countries that he could have chosen. But why choose one country when you can propose at the airport– the gateway to all of those beautiful places!  I wanted someone to “hold hands and see the world with” and my dear boyfriend chose to propose at a place that was, is, and will be the starting point of all of our adventures together! It was truly perfect! It was so ME! It was so US! 🙂

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He really does his best in everything and All for Love.


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Extremely blessed,

d. 😉

 

 

 

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Posted in RELATIONSHIPS, TRAVEL, Uncategorized

TURNING THIRTY


I’m an imperfect human being and so to feel loved perfectly is such an overwhelming feeling. The past few weeks have been crazy beautiful for me. I have been on the receiving end of soooo much love from the people that I value most in life. Let this blog post be my way of thanking each and everyone who has made me feel like I’ve done something good in my life to make me deserve such thoughtfulness and attention.

THE BIRTHDAY SURPRISE

I knew that the DBF won’t be able to fly to London on my 30th birthday because it falls on a weekday and he has work. He gave me my birthday gift in advance on the last day that I was in Zurich.

Ok… so… 4 days before my birthday, my flatmate G invited me to the Royal Opera House. He said we were going to this event of his friend and that I should dress-up well so I did. I even posted a picture of us on Facebook while waiting for his “friend”.

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His “friend” turned out to be…The DBF!!! Yep, he surprised me the weekend before my birthday. I was on Atkins diet and wasn’t eating carbs for weeks so when I saw him enter the door of our flat, I literally felt weak in the knees!

My first question: “So we’re not really going to the Opera???”

LOL my thought bubble: what a bummer. hahaha kidding!

His reply: “No, babe, sorry. But we’re going on a date night!” So we went to this cozy Chinese restaurant near our place and talked about how he planned the surprise. As soon as we finished eating, he asked me if I wanted to have some drinks at the bar.

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He led the way to Zebrano, a famous mixed bar in SOHO. We went to the Basement where hiphop music was playing and what greeted me was essentially the biggest surprise of my life! My friends… from random parts of the UK… from Luton to Peterborough… were all there with a fancy cake from Patisserie Valerie and a sparkling champagne bowl to greet me!

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I think I was in shock for a few good minutes. I couldn’t believe how my boyfriend who lives in far Zurich managed to organize a surpise for me in busy London town! Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined organizing such party myself! I can’t even pool all of those people together considering their conflicting schedules and random zip codes! I truly got myself a rare find.

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Half-way through the party, I recognized two people coming down the stairs…it was B and C!!! Our friends from Zurich!!! They flew to London to surprise me as well!!! I screamed my lungs out as no words were coming out of my mouth! At that point, I was already in shock overload.

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Turning thirty wasn’t so bad after all.

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COUSIN BONDING

The Monday after that epic weekend was quite special as well. My baby cousin B, a flight attendant for Philippine Airlines, arrived in London and spent 3 whole days with me! She’s the first family member to visit me in London! I was beyond excited! I toured her and her friend around.

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We even have a video of our bonding moments:

CHRISTMAS MTV

Christmas Eve was spent with friends from London, Brussels, and Zurich. We ate at Acqua, a Japanese restaurant along Oxford Street.

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Our friends from Luton adopted us on Christmas day. We happened to be mostly couples so I had this funny idea of creating a super cheesy Christmas video. Watch at your own risk:

We also had a quick photoshoot as it was freezing outside. 🙂

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NEW YEAR

I met the DBF on January 1, 2013. We promised to be together on New Year’s Eve to welcome another year. So we welcomed 2014 at our flat’s rooftop in SOHO. The fireworks from the London Eye can be seen from where we were. We brought a bottle of Möet which we shared with two more friends. We ended-up partying at two bars around the area.

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It was an eventful December 2013 for me. Everything passed-by so quickly. I am now back in the Philippines, my home country. I have successfully passed my MBA. I am now back to where I started. I am thrilled and scared at the same time.

Thank you for following my story. Cheers to an even more packed new year!

Posted in FOOD, PHOTOGRAPHY, RELATIONSHIPS, TRAVEL, Uncategorized

A MONTH IN ZÜRICH


GOOGLE

I spent almost the entire month of November in Zurich! How I managed to eat in a country where the average meal costs as much as 3 meals in already expensive London is also a mystery to me. Oh yeah, the DBF sponsored the groceries! Saved me from a month of starvation. haha!

This time, the highlight of my trip was not some magical lake, cable car ride, or mystical glacier. It was actually visiting one of the best places to work in the world–GOOGLE!

The DBF’s housemate, A, is a Googler. He invited me to visit their HQ. One bummer though: I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside. I had to sign an agreement of non-disclosure. So I will just be sharing the photos I took outside the office.

I think all Googlers have high EQs aside from having really high IQs. Imagine working in a place where there is a wine cellar, liquor bars, rooms for sleeping and relaxation, arcade games, 24/7 free food, all-you-can-eat and free-for-all cafés! How can they possibly find time to work when they are surrounded by all of these awesome “perks”? All Googlers must have been subjected to the marshmallow test and passed with flying colors before they got accepted!

By the way, this is A wearing his Google Glass and holding the pancakes he cooked for breakfast. 🙂

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There was a mommy-kiddie tour! How cute that the kiddos in bubble jackets and beanies held tightly/were tied-up (?) to the line rope. IMG_3388 IMG_3381 IMG_3366

HALLOWEEN

Another trip highlight was partying with friends at a Halloween house party. I came in as a fashion victim hip hop girl coz the theme was to wear something mismatched or ugly. I ransacked the DBF’s closet and borrowed his cap, shades, jacket, and jogging pants. I “excessorized” with a lot of bling, of course!

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IKEA

I think I went to Ikea thrice to 1)eat Swedish meatballs, 2) buy throw pillow cases 3) buy more bedsheets. I was a “domesticated-goddess-in-training” so I had to manage the household while the “bosses” were away.
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The DBF inherited these floral cases. They’re pretty but not befitting a bachelor’s pad. I changed the cases into more quirky ones that complemented the green stripes of the couch.
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COOK-OFF AND DATE NIGHTS

I am so helpless in the kitchen. It’s always hit or miss when I cook. Good thing I have friends and the DBF who patiently teach me their tried and tested techniques and recipes.

My friend C adopted me for a night to teach me how to cook her pasta dish. When it was time for me to do it by myself, I tweaked it a bit to taste a bit like frutti di mare. The DBF and A gave me a high score for it, for once!

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Here’s my version–

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On days when the DBF gets tired of eating mediocre-tasting food (a.k.a. my cooking!), he begs for a “Date Night”. Date Night means we either go out for dinner and watch a movie or buy dinner somewhere and watch a movie at home. Either way, that means we’re eating something yummy so I’m happy! hahaha (that also means no dishes to clean afterwards!)

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This is my favorite meal in Zürich– Korean Beef noodles at Yumi Hana! I can eat this everyday.IMG_3293

There was a week when I was down with the flu. The DBF volunteered to cook hot Filipino dishes to make me feel better. He asked the recipe for “nilagang baka/beef” and “tinolang manok/chicken” from his mom. He nailed both dishes! Thank God for boyfriends who know how to cook well!!!

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Date nights would also sometimes include his friends…IMG_3472

and his family… This time his mom treated us to cheese fondue!

One of the best date nights was when we visited the Christmas Market. We had raclettes, flammküchen, and glühwein. I definitely felt the Christmas spirit!

I’m going to miss Zürich ;(

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Switzerland, it’s been fun hanging around. ‘Til we meet again,

d.

Posted in PHOTOGRAPHY, RELATIONSHIPS, TRAVEL, Uncategorized

COLMAR, FRANCE


My blog turns 1 year old today! 🙂

So I’m posting another travel entry.

One fine Saturday, the DBF and I drove to Alsace, France with newlyweds J and Y.

We explored a quaint town called Colmar. The people there speak French, German, and English. It’s said to be one of the first few towns occupied by the Germans and the last to be liberated.

I have these realisations during the trip:

1) I want my future kids to learn at least 2 more foreign languages.

2) It’s possible to learn French (my favourite language) and German (the language I NEED to study) at the same time.

3) I am so lucky to be with someone who goes out of his way to show me the world.

4) I will miss Europe so bad.

Enjoy the pictures and the video! 🙂

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Posted in RANDOM, RELATIONSHIPS, RELIGION, TRAVEL, WORK

MOTIVATION INSPIRATION


I can say that I was at the height of my marketing career when I decided to study in the UK. It was not an easy decision to make. I had to leave a job that I enjoy and colleagues that I have grown to love. Imagine, I would drive for more than an hour just to reach our office and then back. If I didn’t love what I was doing or if my officemates were a pain to work with, I wouldn’t even go through the hassle!

But my life had to take a detour. I knew it was time for me to set the bar higher. I knew I was ready for a new challenge.

So I applied for a scholarship in the UK. Since the UK government controls working time of students, I knew I wouldn’t be able to work full-time while studying so I told myself that the one year that I’m dedicating for my studies should also be about enriching my life through travelling. I vowed to take advantage of all the promo flights I could get and see as many new countries within the EU/Schengen area.

But being a student-traveller comes with a price! My friend RV and I would buy food at the clearance station just so we can save up for travel money.

For one year, I have been rotating only 3 pairs of jeans because I didn’t want to buy a new pair and spend money that can instead go to my travel fund.

To earn extra, we would sideline as face and hair models at a famous makeup school here in London. We would also sign-up for paid surveys and focus group discussions.

In life, something’s really gotta give!

But I’m also very lucky to have a lot of friends and relatives around the world. When I travel, I usually don’t spend on hotels because my accommodation is free. Thank God for the angels in my life!

What’s more amazing is that even just by living my life, I get to inspire someone…some random soul looking for an extra push!

Last night, I got a random message from a girl named E. Here’s what she wrote:

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This is not my first time to receive an encouraging random message from someone who happens to pass-by my blog or see my photos on Instagram. But this one right here is special because 1) It came at a time when I was the one who needed an extra push (struggling to finish my paper!!!) and 2) This girl, I found out, was one of the students that was in the audience when I gave an inspirational talk in UST (University of Sto. Tomas) about four years ago!

Sometimes, life really goes full circle.

When I blog or when I post something on my social networking sites, I have two motivations: 1) to document my life so I can show it to my future kids and grandkids and 2) to somehow inspire someone.

Yesterday, I posted this short clip on my account–

It’s a culmination of the year that was— 11 countries in 11 months…with a cool MBA degree to boot! Well, I haven’t technically graduated yet. I still have to pass my dissertation and take a few more classes. But it feels like time will fly so fast and I will be going back to my home country anytime soon.

I can never thank God enough! I also owe a lot to my parents, my brother, and those who have inspired me to pursue higher studies and reach what was once but a dream!

Let us count our blessings and be blessings to others as well,

d.

P.S. Happy birthday to one of my life saviours, an angel to me and my brother, my Godmother VSP! Thank you, Ninang, for being there during the toughest time of our lives. Thank you for being one of the four readers of my blog. Thank you for your generosity. You are one of my most treasured blessings.

Posted in FOOD, PHOTOGRAPHY, RELATIONSHIPS, TRAVEL, Uncategorized

THE STONEHENGE AND A MICHELIN STARRED RESTAURANT


FRIENDSHIP

I’d like to believe I’m a pretty friendly person. It’s so easy for me to strike a conversation with someone. When travelling, I’m the one who’s always ready to ask a stranger for directions. I have no qualms in asking for photos with British guards or just about anyone I find interesting.

But even if I have about 4,000 Facebook friends, I only have a few people whom I can really say that are very close to me. This small circle of friends know me to the core. They don’t just see the surface– the happy go-getter D. They have also learned to accept the lazy and crazy Denise who’s battling with (and always complaining about) hormonal imbalance.

They see the Dens who parties with them but refuses to order a drink and get intoxicated. They understand the girl who bails out on dinner dates because she’s on a cleansing diet.

They have heard my innermost thoughts. They have seen me lash out about something unacceptable. They have heard my litany about work frustrations and love life problems.

These select few I hold really close to my heart. C is one of these people. I have only met her 2 years ago in my previous workplace. But we have forged a friendship that goes beyond the office space. Even after I’ve resigned, we’ve kept in touch. She’s one of the few people whom I’ve called to tell about this “new guy” I’m dating. And I believe I’m the first one she has told about her “potential” boyfriend.

I was jumping for joy when I found out that she has already met “the one”. Even more ecstatic when I learned that they’re planning to go on a Euro Tour with London as their first stop!

HOTEL MIX-UP

Funny ‘coz the first day we were supposed to meet in London, we got the hotels mixed-up! We got so excited that we forgot to clarify with each other which Radisson Blu they were staying at. I first went to the hotel nearest my flat because that’s where I suggested them to book only to find out that they were at another branch! 🙂

I was so happy to see her at the Grafton and finally meet J, her new beau.

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THE STONEHENGE

C treated me to a trip to the iconic Stonehenge. It was a 2-hour coach ride from London to Salisbury, Whiltshire.

Some might ask, “a two-hour ride just to see rocks?!” Umm yes! But these are not just rocks. These stones date back to 3000 B.C.! They’ve literally stood the test of time! They say that these henge stones appear to mark the passing of seasons and particular sunrises and sunsets. They’re said to be used for religious practices some 5,000 years ago. They’re mystical stones that remind me of the Flinstones. 🙂

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OF LOBSTERS AND MICHELIN-STARRED RESTAURANTS

C and the gang are set to go to Paris, Nice, Monaco and Rome in less than 2 weeks. Their London itinerary is the most relaxed and flexible so they packed it with a lot of sit down dining experiences: high-tea at The Ritz, dinner at Burger & Lobster, and lunch at L’Autre Pied, a Michelin-starred restaurant.

1) It was mayhem at Soho’s famous Burger and Lobster. We had to wait for 2 hours just to be seated. We didn’t mind because we knew we were in for a treat! Much like Le Relais de l’ Entrecôte in Paris, this restaurant only gives you two meal options for a fixed price: burger or lobster!

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2) Most Michelin star restaurants in London require a 2-3 month advance booking. The gang was lucky to find this French restaurant with an available table for a party of five on a Saturday! L’Autre Pied’s 3-course meal was surprisingly not that pricey. Their rating was definitely well-deserved as each dish was cooked right and carefully prepared. It was the best way to end the gang’s London experience! IMG_9823 IMG_9837

 

Beetroot sorbet–IMG_9826

 

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Scallops–IMG_9825

Deer– (a first for me!)IMG_9828

Hake–IMG_9829

Dessert–
IMG_9842

4-cheese platter–IMG_9839

20130916-110417.jpg

I was quite sad to see C leave but the gang promised to return soon! 🙂IMG_9852

 

Cheers,

d.