Thursday, December 9, 2010
the 18th travel and tour expo for 2011 will be on 18-20 february, at the SMX convention center at mall of asia, with the theme "around the world in 3 days."
it's going to be the first time in two years that i'll be here for this, so i'm going to get myself a lot of deals!
this means, though, that i have to start saving up for the trips already! 2011, here i come!
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
lunchtime had passed us by, and we were desperate to sit down and have a bite. most establishments in santander close after lunch and don't open until 5 or 6, so it was tough finding a place to eat in.
we chanced upon dias desur, and soon found that it was a blessing. the waiter was cheerful and pleasant, and the food fantastic.
sus and i each had a plate of this, their fish of the day. it's lubina cooked on a grill, served with vegetables and fried potatoes. maravilloso.
it was not a cheap meal at 12,50 euros, but it came with a primer plato, a drink, and dessert. you'd be hard-pressed to find such a deal in other european cities (save for cities in spain).
Monday, October 11, 2010
colette is a shop that sells beautiful things. :) it also has a cafe, so when we arrived, all we could think about was food, so we made a beeline for the cafe downstairs and had this:
for one thing, the musee du louvre is HUGE. it occupies over 60,000 square meters of space. because of this, i took the advice of the well-traveled and told myself that i should not even attempt to take in all the masterpieces in its walls. another thing was that i have read very little about this museum (being too caught up with the orsay), so i didn't know what to expect, or who to expect (save for the mona lisa and venus de milo).
no line had formed yet when we arrived by metro. as it turns out, there's an exit in the metro that takes you to the carrousel du louvre, a shopping space under the museum's famous pyramid. here, another entrance to the museum can be found, with much less people than by the main entrance.
since the museum was not opening its doors until 10am (that's later than usual because there was an event they had to take care of), susie and i decided to explore the area right outside the museum. we ended up walking to the jardin de tuileries, where we were able to sit by the fountain and watch the other people in the park. the weather, however, decided to turn chilly, so we headed back to the carrousel du louvre entrance.
i was shocked to find that an incredibly long line had already materialized in the few minutes that we were gone. so we quickly fell in line, and after a few minutes, the "gates" opened. this line was just to enter the cour carrée, a square that contains information booths, ticket booths, and the cloak room. good thing we already had our museum pass, so we didn't need to line up again for tickets. we decided to pass on the audio guides, so we just got a map of the museum, and dove headfirst into the throng of masterpieces.
we saw venus de milo, ramses II, winged victory. then came the paintings. i saw the card sharper by georges de la tour, a self-portrait of albrecht durer, une odalisque (la grande odalisque) by jean-auguste-dominique ingres, who became an instant favorite. my head was starting to spin with all the colors, the figures, the symbols. i may sound like an ingrate to you, but i didn't want any of these paintings to be forgotten, to be erased in my head. they were all beautiful, all important, and i wanted to allot precious brain GBs in my head for them. but thank god photography was allowed, and i can look at them so i can keep remembering.
in the middle of our visit, an alarm started to go off. "haha, somebody must have touched a painting or something," susie said. then the alarm was followed by an announcement in french, spanish, and then english, of which we only caught "please leave the premises immediately." i looked around and saw that nobody was following these instructions, so i thought i should do the same. susie insisted we go out and see what happened, since there were terror threats at the time.
i was very resistant and reluctant to do that, because we had come so far into the museum, and i really didn't want to go back to the cour carrée, then pick up where we left off if things were fine. it's idiotic, i know, but that's how enormous this museum was. i was tired and hungry, and i wanted to just cover the other things we wanted to see and leave. but susie kept insisting, and it was the logical and safe thing to do, so we looked for the exit.
when we finally reached the exit, the museum guards were just hanging out and talking like nothing happened, while the alarm was still going off inside. we asked them what the matter was. the response? something along the lines of "oh, nothing. false alarm. if we want you out, we'll get you out." i counted to ten, and walked back into the labyrinth.
after that, all the other things in the museum became a blur. all i was after was to see the mona lisa. we had entered one of the galleries, and saw a line of people trying to muscle their way into another gallery. and that's when i knew that i was only seconds away from meeting her. my exhaustion melted, my hunger vanished. i went straight for the crowd and used the singit skills that i've acquired through years of taking the MRT. in no time, i was near the front, elbowing my way to a wall covered with glass, to protect the precious little frame inside it.
my right hand lowered the camera. all around me, people were scrambling to get the perfect photo, but i couldn't take a snapshot--i was just staring. some people told me that when they saw her, they said, "that's it?!" because she was so tiny. but the words in my heard were, "THIS. IS. IT." it sounds too dramatic, but i nearly cried. for a friggin' painting. but being face to face with something so important was so incredibly overwhelming that i froze. i managed to get ahold of myself, and eventually snapped a photo, but i think that moment will stay with me for a while.
before that moment, i was being so cranky, i was being an ungrateful bruha because the louvre was exhausting the hell out of me. but when i got to that moment, and looking back at what i've seen, i would do it again, but next time, i will slap myself silly if i ever feel like complaining. because the things you see in the louvre are worth all the effin' trouble. the expensive admission fee, the long wait in the even longer line, the crowds, the indecipherable french descriptions, the starvation--they all seem so inconsequential when you think about what you take away from the louvre.
more photos of my visit to the louvre here.
musee du louvre
address: 75001 paris, france
opening hours: 9am-6pm (monday, thursday, saturday, sunday), 9am-10pm (wednesday & friday), closed on tuesdays
admission fee: EUR 10
metro: palais royal-musee du louvre
buses: 21, 24, 27, 39, 48, 68, 69, 72, 81, 95, or the paris tourist bus
batobus: louvre stop
Sunday, October 10, 2010
we got off our asses and took the metro to rambuteau, and were awed when we were faced with the mighty structure of the centre georges pompidou. the entire building have 7 "superstructure" levels, and occupies a land area of 2 hectares. it's mostly made of steel and glass, which makes it look modern despite the fact that it's been around since february 1977. i was intimidated from the sight of it alone.
we were there an hour and a half before closing time, so we didn't get to see everything on display. we did get to check out elles@centrepompidou, which is an exhibition of and about different kinds of art pieces by women. my favorite part of the museum is the fifth level, where i got to see modern works by picasso, matisse, miro, modigliani, gris, among others. it was a pleasant surprise, as i wasn't able to do a lot of research for this particular museum.
aside from the artworks, the 6th level also gives you a darned good view of paris. there's a cafe and restaurant there, but we decided to have dinner somewhere else.
check out the things i saw at the centre pompidou.
metro stops: rambuteau, hôtel de ville, châtelet
RER stop: Châtelet - Les Halles
bus: 21, 29, 38, 47, 58, 69, 70, 72, 74, 75, 76, 81, 85, 96
notes: closed on tuesdays and may 1st
admission: EUR 12, EUR 3 for panorama ticket (access to the panoramic view at 6th floor only, no entry to museums and exhibitions)
it took us 45 minutes to walk from our hotel to the orsay. along the way, we chanced upon a small street market selling fresh produce, as well as cheese, sandwiches, and quiches. we each bought a quiche and had that for breakfast while walking to the seine.
the museum is on the left bank of the seine; the louvre faces it from the right bank. the orsay's impressive collection is housed in the beaux-arts structure of what was known as gare d'orsay, an old rail station where trains to southwestern france would depart from. however, the gare d'orsay's short platforms could not conform to the longer trains that were starting to be used, so in 1939, it had to be closed. it then became a mailing center during the second world war. in 1977, the french government decided to turn it into a museum, and started conversion works that spanned six years (1980 to 1986). the museum opened in 1 december 1986, under the government of president francois mitterand.
when we reached the museum, there was a line snaking from its revolving doors. it didn't take long for it to move, though, and before long, we were by the ticket counters. susie and i had agreed earlier to get the two-day museum pass. it's EUR32 for two days, and gives you access to a number of museums and sights in the french capital. it also lets you skip the long lines at the ticket booths, which is the reason we went for it. in paris, you not only line up just to enter, but the line at the ticket booths can take up a lot of your time. if you're staying for four days or more, you can also avail of the four-day paris museum pass. this is actually a lot better than the two-day one, since you can spread out your museum visits in four days, and have time to see the rest of the city. before you do get one, though, make a list of the museums that you want to visit, tally the admission costs, and see if you can get your money's worth. the museum pass is available in the establishments that it grants free access to, as well as airports and tourist centers.
after paying for our tickets, we made our way to the gate that leads to the main hall. i paused by the entrance for a bit to take it all in. this is it, i told myself. i'm in the orsay. i'm in paris. there were plenty of people milling around, but it wasn't noisy at all. the museum was undergoing repairs, so there were new signs to lead visitors to the different halls. i look to my right and saw IMPRESSIONISM and POST-IMPRESSIONISM, and made a beeline for them, with susie trailing behind. here, i saw works by degas, manet, renoir, toulouse-lautrec, pissarro, and other greats.
i had to request for a break once we were done with the halls on the right side of the museum. it's surprising how walking from one gallery to another, and looking at paintings, can be tiring. luckily, there was a cafe at the ground level of the orsay, so susie and i bought drinks and shared a ham and cheese sandwich to tide us over. after that, we tackled the halls on the left side of the museum. here, i saw works by honore daumier (sadly, "rue transnonain," the only daumier work that i'm familiar with, is not in the orsay), and paul gauguin's tahiti paintings. there was also a sala dedicated to van gogh, where i saw "the church at auvers" and "le docteur paul gachet" both painted the year he died.
after that, i scoured the rest of the museum for edgar degas's "young dancer." we went upstairs and sped through the art nouveau furniture collection, but took our time with the rodin sculptures. when i couldn't find degas, i decided to go to the information counter to ask. there was a man asking for the specific locations of every painting he wanted to see. he asked for "bal du moulin de la galette" by renoir, another painting i was looking for, i strained to hear the response: "sorry, that painting is on loan." when it was my turn at the counter, i asked about "young dancer," and received the same reply.
i felt disappointed, since i wanted to go to paris to go to the orsay, and wanted to go to the orsay to see those two things. but of course, when i look back on the paintings that i saw that day, i can't really say that the trip was a disappointment. the orsay wasn't just about those two works. i got to see an amazing collection of artworks in one of my favorite periods in art history. i actually stood in front of a picture that renoir painted many, many years ago. it's not every day that i get to meet these images, and i am very, very thankful for the opportunity to see all these masterpieces. as for "moulin de la galette" and "young dancer," they shall be the next excuse for me to visit paris again.
view more photos of the musee d'orsay.
address: 62, rue de lille, 75343 paris
metro: solferino (line 12)
buses: 24, 63, 68, 69, 73, 83, 84, 94
paris museum pass
2 days for EUR 32
4 days for EUR 48
6 days for EUR 64
it was a nice sunny day in paris. the place was quiet, but not grim. right by the gate is a map that shows you the way to the graves of the cemetery's memorable residents. among them are writer samuel beckett, sculptor constantin brancusi, andré citroën (of the automobile brand), gustave coriolis (of the coriolis effect), the artist henri latour, author guy de maupassant (whose story, "the necklace," i read in high school), historian edgar quinet, and writer susan sontag.
sartre and de beauvoir's graves were just a few steps from the gate. from the map, all we needed to do was turn around and take a couple of steps, and there they were. the stone was adorned with kisses, the gravestone was also laden with gifts, such as a small, golden replica of the eiffel, plenty of roses, and even a lighter.
after that, susie and i walked around for a little bit, not looking for anyone in particular, but just looking at the stones and the graves, checking how long some had been staying there. we were pretty impressed at the variety and artistry in the tombstones. art in paris definitely permeates even its cemeteries.
some people would have said that starting the day by seeing the dead is a sad way to start any day, but i beg to differ. visiting one of the most influential personalities the world has ever known is one of the best ways to start any day for me. and it definitely fits what would become of our trip to paris--we ended up chasing personalities, both real and fictional, all over the french capital.
but that's getting ahead of the story. :)
list of cemeteries in paris:
montparnasse cemetery (Cimetière du Montparnasse)
3, boulevard Edouard Quinet 75014 Paris
Tel.: +33(0)1 44 10 86 50
Metro: Edgar Quinet or Raspail
Buses: 28 or 68
père-lachaise cemetery (Cimetière du Père-Lachaise)
16, rue du Repos
Tel.: +33(0)1 55 25 82 10
Metro: Père Lachaise or Philippe Auguste
Buses: 61 or 69
montmartre cemetery (Cimetière Montmartre)
20, avenue Rachel
Tel.: +33(0)1 53 42 36 30
Metro: Blanche or Place de Clichy
Buses: 95, 80, 74, 54 or 30
admission to these cemeteries is free.
view more photos of i gotta go's trip to cimetière du montparnasse
Saturday, October 9, 2010
our air france flight went rather well--the food was great, the choice of films were pretty entertaining. the length of the flight was just right, so i didn't feel restless (like i did when i took KLM to amsterdam from manila).
charles de gaulle airport was not what i expected it to be--it was huge, but quiet and empty. i wasn't sure if we had just caught it at a time when there's very little traffic, but it seemed a tad hollow to me.
we went to the RER station to get our tickets to the city center. it was a good thing susie was listening to the PA system, or i would have gone ahead and bought tickets to a train line that was being fixed at the moment.
after some confusion, it was established that we were still to buy our tickets in the CDG station, so we had to search for a machine that gave change, or a machine that's solely made to change bills into coins.
the station's information center had printed out little guides in english and french on where we're supposed to go to catch the other train from mitry claye, which connects to the RER as well (the line that takes you from CDG to paris city center). the airport had provided a bus to shuttle people from the airport to far-flung mitry claye, and the ride was looooong.
when we arrived at mitry claye, i was shocked to find a rather small and starting-to-get-run-down station. we were made to carry our bulky suitcases down and up flights of concrete stairs before we reached the dirty train. paris airport authorities didn't come up with a solution to make this convenient for passengers, especially the elderly ones.
we shuffled into the filthy train and found our place, then heard another announcement, in french, over the PA system. next thing i knew, everybody was hurrying out of the train, one parisian shouted expletives at the speaker on the train, and there was a huge commotion as everyone struggled with their suitcases again down another flight of stairs so we could transfer to the next train. as it turns out, the first train that they ushered us into was broken.
so finally, we were on our way to the city. this was around 830pm, i think. we changed metro lines to reach raspail, which is where our hotel was. i was not prepared for the fact that the paris metro is not at all suited to travelers. there were no lifts or escalators, only stairs that seemed to stretch forever. poor susie had to lug two heavy suitcases up and down flights of stairs. thankfully, one guy with a beautiful pair of white leather shoes helped me carry my suitcase down to the platform. and, as i will find out later, the french are actually quite a helpful lot.
we were finally able to check into the hotel at 930pm, tired, but happy and relieved to finally be where we're supposed to be. our receptionist, maia, was the nicest. he let us get settled in first, and gave us helpful tips when we decided to check out the neighborhood after we had everything in order.
so that was how we reached paris. more bloopers came after that, but the city endeared itself to me. :)
Friday, October 8, 2010
we left our big suitcases at the airport's left baggage facility. HKD 120/bag/day. a tad steep, but it sure is convenient.
then we went to casa g&c discovery bay (our friends' place) to drop off our stuff and play with their little one before setting off for tung chung.
one of the main reasons for the tung chung outing was to check out the canon s95 for susie. my man left the mall quite happy--he got the camera for HKD 3,280 (PHP 19,047.00) from fortress, and it included a bunch of freebies to boot: 8gb sd card, extra battery,a mini tripod, camera case, and even an sd card reader. a damned good deal.
i walked around the mall for a bit, trying to find something to buy, but nothing called out to me.
so now we're back at casa g&c. :) i think i'll go and join susie for a nap. i feel exhausted all of a sudden.
well, we're actually still at the airport. i had forgotten my carry-on on the conveyor belt at the inspection area before we got to the boarding gates. haha, talk about excited.
seems our flight is still on schedule. let's hope it stays that way. :)
Monday, October 4, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
i'm posting this using my htc desire, through an app called blogaway. testing how posting goes.
attaching a photo here as well, to see if it works. (dammit, i can't get the hang of typing using a touch qwerty keyboard!)
the photo was taken in fat michael's gastro pub in ortigas.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
things started piling up after we applied for our schengen visa. when we got our passports back from the spanish embassy, we had to make an appointment with the UK embassy for our visa application, and when that got approved, we rushed through all the hotel reservations and flight/rail bookings.
on top of that, PAL cancelled our flight to HK on october 8 and moved us to october 9 at 8am. i had to call them to rebook us to an earlier flight on the 8th, since we were going to catch our flight to paris at 10am on the 9th. it took me a while to actually connect to an agent, and when i did, they had to transfer me to two more agents just to give me my booking. no matter, though. after all the stress, i was able to get us the flight. i really just wish we didn't have to encounter these things.
and because of these mishaps, i'm kind of expecting the trip to be awesome. i usually try not to put such expectations on my trips, because that actually ruins them, but i can't help it this time. i think susie and i deserve this break after all the grunting and running around we've done for it. and i swear that next time, i'm going to book everything A YEAR early, and not wait for the last minute.
aside from the trip itself, i'm looking forward to testing out my HTC desire. it went through some repairs a few weeks back, and is now in tip-top shape. it now holds our itinerary using tripit, and even has links saved up on springpad for places of interest in the cities we're visiting. its 5MP camera will be used heavily, mostly to share photos on twitter and facebook of the things i find curious along the way. i hope my new gadget steps up.
so here's hoping tiny annoyances end now, and that we can sail smoothly through next week, and dive happily into the trip. :)
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
the place was simple and pleasant. the crew friendly enough. i enjoyed their fried spring rolls, and the pho bo was yummy, despite the reviews that said it was bland. i had forgotten what susie ordered, but he enjoyed it, too. we went out of ba noi's then with satisfied smiles on our mugs.
banking on that first experience, we decided to have lunch there last saturday.
it started out well enough: the place wasn't too packed, and the waitress gave us our menus; she was still attentive enough. we ordered the shrimp pomelo salad as our starter, and i got a pho bo again (because i loved it the first time), and susie finally got to try the lemongrass chicken (which wasn't available last time).
our salad arrived on time, but it wasn't anything special. it wasn't bad, but i wouldn't sing praises about it, either. i didn't mind much, because i knew the pho bo would make up for it.
this time, ba noi's decided not to prove the reviews wrong. the broth came warm, not hot, and was bland. the basil and lime they provided didn't give it enough flavor, so i asked for more. it took the waitress about 15 minutes to give me my additional spices, and by then, the broth had turned lukewarm.
a really good bowl of pho can turn my mood around, but at the same time, a really bland (bad) one can turn me into a monster. this was not helped by the fact that susie's order had not come, even when i was halfway through my bowl (and i was eating it very slowly since i didn't really like how it tasted). all around us, people who had just come in were already feasting on their dishes, while poor susie had to wait with a grumbling stomach.
we followed it up with the staff, who just nodded and went back to the counter. the dish came after about 10 minutes or so. by this time, i had given up on my bowl, and i decided to order the fried spring rolls so we can at least have something nice to eat. unfortunately, the dish never came even after susie had finished his food.
so we just paid for the bill (we didn't have to wait long for that, how nice) and left a note about how disappointed we were, complete with name and number. no response from them yet. doesn't matter, though. we're never going back there again.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
when: september 3-5, 2010
where: SM megatrade halls, sm megamall
i probably won't be going, since i've a big trip scheduled in a month. but i can't not tell you about it--you might be looking for a quick getaway, and this is the best place to find a great deal! :)
Monday, August 30, 2010
so last saturday, we went with adrian's suggestion to bring our monstrous appetites over to BRGR: the burger project in quezon city. i had no idea what was in store for us; the mere mention of the word burger compelled me to say yes.
BRGR is a small and bright burger joint along maginhawa street in teacher's village. the decor was playful, and the interiors kept simple. we walked up to the counter and were each given our own clipboards and marker. attached to the clipboard was an order form, where you can check the ingredients that you want on your burger.
the idea of making my own burger filled me with both thrill and dread--i mean, sure, it's exciting that i could put whatever i want on my burger, but when faced with the choices that BRGR has, it was actually a difficult thing to do, especially when you're hungry.
my order form ended up being the messiest, with a lot of corrections and crossed-out ingredients. i was so befuddled that i actually submitted my form without a choice of patty (you can have up to three 100% beef patties, or a tofu patty). i was initially lured by the idea of a delicious blue cheese burger, but that flew out the window the minute i saw "egg" as one of the choices.
in the end, i opted for a single 100% beef patty with a fried egg, sauteed mushrooms, bacon, onions, lettuce, and tomato on a potato bun. i ordered a side of potato fries and a glass of their vanilla milkshake. these extras caused my bill to reach Php400. pricey, yes, but if you loved your meal, price is nothing.
a word of caution: it's very easy to get carried away with your BRGR creations. choosing a lot of ingredients can drive your bill up, so keep a drop of practicality if you don't want to part with your cash (but where's the fun in that?). the average cost of a BRGR is about Php 280, if you skip the milkshake (Php145) and keep your ingredients to a minimum.
taste-wise, though, i only have one thing to complain about: the sauteed mushrooms came out tough when i bit on them, but they were still very tasty. other than that, though, my burger rocked. it took me a long time to finish it (it was very, very heavy), but the price and time were all worth it. the milkshake did NOT help matters any, but i wouldn't have missed that drink for the world.
we left BRGR with all of us clutching our tummies and breathing heavily after the battle that we just subjected our bodies to, but we all had big smiles on our faces.
so next time you're feeling hungry AND creative, head on over to BRGR: the burger project, and whip yourself up a burger that you can be proud of.
BRGR: the burger project
122 maginhawa street
teacher's village, quezon city
mobile number: (0915) 520-2266
business hours: 11am - 11pm daily
Monday, August 23, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
our first stop for the day was fort santiago, and while i've been there a number of times, that day was my first time to enter the rizal shrine. it's a museum that houses plenty of rizal artifacts, including photographs, paintings of rizal, and even rizal's vertebra (strange, right?). my favorite area was the staircase, which doubled as a gallery of paintings of rizal as portrayed by different artists.
san agustin church was closed for lunch, so bry took us on a tour of casa manila first. no photography allowed, and i wouldn't have been able to take anyway, because bry was sharing plenty of interesting details, including the placement of the rooms, the little details in each room, how the room you're entertained in by the head of the house signifies his relationship with you. having a guide with you really changes the entire experience. the displays take on a lot more meaning.
after casa manila, we had lunch at barbara's, and went back to san agustin. we entered the church, and learned about the architecture. bry then took us to the different exhibitions in the museum, pausing to expound on an artifact or two. it's funny, i've been to the san agustin crypt a number of times, but if bry (and susie) hadn't pointed it out to me, i would never have known that THE juan luna's remains are in that crypt.
now, i didn't tell you what i learned exactly, because that would be giving it away. :) if you want to learn what i learned, the best way to do so is to go on a tour yourself. so why not contact bryan ocampo to find out more about our history?
see more photos of our intramuros tour.
Friday, August 6, 2010
this plan was hatched years ago, when our friend adrian shared a dream he had of going to bacolod for the day just to have authentic chicken inasal. susie and i just laughed at him then, not realizing he was serious.
this year, we thought we'd make his dream come true. so, a couple of months back, we booked tickets to bacolod, taking the 6am flight, then going back on the last flight. on the day of the trip, adrian was obviously excited. he prepared by not eating any chicken dish a week or so before the trip.
upon landing, we went to chowking in front of the former city hall. we landed in bacolod too early, that chowking was one of the few places that was open on a sunday morning. it was our way of lining our stomachs for the chowfest that was to come.
come lunchtime, susie's brother took us to manukan country, where a row of inasal stalls can be found. aida's was the favored stall, and so we sat down and finally ordered the very thing that we came there for. of course, it didn't help that aida's had a poster inside the store saying "aida's chicken is now at makati square."
still, though, that didn't keep us down. bacolod will always have better-tasting chicken inasal than manila. i couldn't wait to have that tasty pecho, the "motor oil" mixed in with every spoonful of garlic rice i shovel into my mouth. lookit at our chicken inasal orders:
there's really nothing like the taste of freshly cooked chicken inasal from bacolod's manukan country. to make up for the long trip he made, adrian devoured four sticks of inasal: pecho, native chicken, isol, and another pecho, or i think a leg. he found the native chicken very tasty, and still speaks of it to this day. he was so happy about his meal, and by the price of the chicken, that he paid for all of our orders. we really should exploit this generous gene of his more. :p
so, with that crossed off our list, we all felt like there wasn't really anything else we should do. until we got to calea, dessert-maker extraordinaire. unfortunately, we were all bushed from all the eating, so there are no pictures of calea goodness to be shared. i wouldn't have been able to do them justice, anyway. i think, though, that anything you order from calea is sure to hit the spot. and that's coming from someone who doesn't have a sweet tooth.
susie's brother and his wife took very good care of us--picking us up at the airport, taking us to places other than manukan country, and letting us snooze off when we were all wiped out after the heavy inasal lunch. before sending us off, they even fed us leftover lechon, which was absolutely delicious.
seriously, eating in bacolod is such a pleasure. you'll go back to manila a few pounds heavier, but you'll be a very happy fatty. for this very reason, i vow to come back, but for a longer period this time, to make sure that i sample every tiny bit of yumminess this city has to offer.
Monday, August 2, 2010
i found out about the great miles getaway promo of philippine airlines via email, and they told me that miles are now at 70% off! it came at the right time, since i needed to book susie and myself tickets to hong kong for the europe trip in october. airfare to european cities from hong kong are cheaper, so i decided to transit via hong kong this time. even with the taxes we paid for the redeemed tickets, it still out came out cheaper than buying tickets from manila to a european city.
booking and ticketing period for the promo is only from august 2 to 4, and travel is until december 7 only. i decided to go straight to the mabuhay miles center this morning so i can book and pay for the ticket already. when i got there at 830am, the line snaked from the second floor to the parking area of power realty building. the maintenance personnel of the building told us that people had started lining up at 5am. i expected a lot of people to be there for this promo, but i wasn't ready for THIS.
a few minutes later, i was finally ushered into the packed ticketing office on the second floor. i was given my transaction number: 5147. i looked at the screen to see what number was being accommodated then: 5023. niiiiice.
during the wait, i had made friends with rheean, who was also there to claim her tickets. she told me that she was able to book tickets over the phone, although she had to stay on the line for 8 hours. apparently, the promo started at midnight today, so she called the mabuhay miles hotline at 12, and was accommodated at 8am. it was an incredible feat, staying on the phone for 8 hours, but her tactic paid off: she was able to secure roundtrip tickets to hong kong for her and her baby, as well as osaka tickets for her and her friends.
while waiting, i asked my mom to try and book my dates over the phone. i was really lucky that she was able to get through and secure flights for the dates that i needed--i owe my mom a lot for this (since she also gave me her miles). at 230pm, my number was finally called, and my transaction went smoothly. at 3pm, i was able to have lunch.
it was one hell of an experience, but quite worth it, because I GOT MY TICKETS! i paid php 9806.00 for both susie and myself, which already includes travel tax. i'm hoping PAL comes up with a way to make their great miles getaway promo less of a hassle, but if this is how it goes next time, i've got a slew of tricks up my sleeve to make it worth my while.
this signals the start of the preparations for europe 2010. next up: visa application requirements.
Monday, July 12, 2010
quiz nights at 121 are fun and hilarious (if you're on our team, that is), not to mention actually informative. it doesn't hurt that they serve pretty good salpicao and beer below zero at cheap prices. the alcohol definitely adds to the fun. :p
while enjoying quiz nights, i found myself getting hooked on the world cup matches as well, as 121 is among the bars in manila that show the games even at ungodly hours. and since i've gotten myself terribly inebriated while supporting la furia roja, i thought i might as well cheer them on all the way to the finals.
so early this morning, i found myself waking up at 130am, and made my way to 121 for the most exciting game of the season (naks, feeling). i was biting my fingers (not my nails, take note) the entire time, the game was so darned exciting. watching these games have sent me into incredible emotional swings--this morning, i've slammed my palm down the table, causing the water droplets on the tabletop to jump, i've screamed for missed goals, cheered ecstatically for iker's incredible saves, and reprimanded the team for being "lax." i was trembling by the time iniesta kicked that ball in.
the crowd at 121 definitely made the experience more sensational; we all sang ole, ole, ole when the match finally ended. it's the kind of shared experience you don't get to have everyday. i love it when strangers come together for a common interest. i think i'm going to be watching more futbol matches at 121 in the future. here's to more sleepless nights!
121 grille and restaurant
2nd level allegro center, pasong tamo extension, makati
quiz nights on tuesdays, drinkeoke nights on thursdays
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
in the meantime, mark your calendars for some culture and history, brought to you by the ayala museum:
16 july, friday, 6pm
music and entertainment, in cooperation with 106.7 dream fm, featuring a performance by louie cristi (erm, sorry, i don't know who that is).
16 july - 12 september
olivia d'aboville - chasm of fantasies
d'aboville recreates the wonders of the ocean using materials that we would normally throw away.
21 july, wednesday, 430pm
designtalks with ed calma
come and hear how this famed architect's works came to life.
24 july, saturday, 3pm
history comes alive! (the philippine american-war) with ambeth ocampo
the second of his lecture series on philippine history. will probably attend this one.
until 1 august
a vision of philippine art
the purita kalaw-ledesma collection
so much to keep us occupied this rainy month (and it's great, too, since going out of town is kind of discouraging in this climate). go and check 'em out! let's get some kalchuh!
The Ayala Museum
Greenbelt 5, Makati Avenue, Makati City
Museum hours: 9am-6pm from Tuesday to Friday, 10am-7pm on weekends, closed on Mondays.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Haul your butt over to the Ayala Museum and check out their historical dioramas. It's a fun and cute way to learn about Philippine history. Because heaven knows we need to learn more about our country's past.
The Ayala Museum
Greenbelt 5, Makati Avenue, Makati City
Museum hours: 9am-6pm from Tuesday to Friday, 10am-7pm on weekends, closed on Mondays.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
this exhibit at the silverlens gallery opened last june 9 and will close on july 3. i got this brief description of the exhibit from the website:
Considered as the Father of Philippine photography, Protomartir captured the city in ruins from the Second World War, its battle wounds and its restoration--scenes we thought only survived in memory. He captures post-war Manila's architecture and landscape, with Filipinos going about their daily business in familiar places such Intramuros, Luneta, Ermita and Quiapo as well as in buildings and bridges that are no longer, including the old Sto. Domingo Church, which is one of the six Churches that once stood in Spanish Intramuros...the photos were unearthed by direk uro dela cruz, whom i know as that guy who directs bubble gang. i just found out that he's a big photography nut, and through his explorations in camera shops, he discovered a box of negatives taken by protomartir. he digitized the images, and now, they're here for us to see. to know more about how protomartir's photos were discovered, read jessica zafra's photographs from the dead.
Beyond historical evidence, the significance of Protomartir's images is meaningful. Protomartir hands to the Filipino people cultural treasures that should remain part of Filipino consciousness and memory. Sixty-four years later, we celebrate Protomartir because through him we were there too.
on july 1, carlos celdran will be there to hold a talk to put the photos in perspective. direk uro dela cruz will also be there to give an introduction of protomartir.
if you're as interested about this exhibit as i am, check out the event details posted below. :) to rsvp to the talk on july 1, use the phone number or email address provided.
exhibit: being there 1946: the legacy of teodulo protomartir
where: silverlens gallery
address: warehouse 2, yupangco building, 2320 pasong tamo extension, makati
gallery hours: mondays to fridays, 10am to 7pm, saturdays, 1-6pm
phone number: (02) 816-0044
mobile number: +63905-2650873; +63917-5874011
photo taken from the silverlens gallery website.
Monday, June 21, 2010
we had inadvertently scheduled the long-overdue day trip to bacolod a day before our spontaneous hong kong trip with susie's family. it made for one busy but fun-filled week(end).
about a month ago, susie and i decided to finally grant our friend a's wish to fly to bacolod for a day just to taste their succulent chicken inasal. a had originally wanted to do a spur-of-the-moment thing, but exorbitant plane fares didn't give us the luxury of spontaneity, so we made do with a scheduled, but still bahala na-ish trip.
somewhere along the way, susie's family, on a whim, booked a trip to hong kong, and invited us to join them. i, being beaten by the daily grind, did not have the strength to say no. so what if i only had a few vacation days left? i'll worry about that later. and the trip just happened to coincide with mika's concert in hong kong, which i had been wanting to see. so saying no was definitely not an option.
the result of this weekend? bloated stomachs, satisfied, giddy grins, tired, aching feet, a spankin' new phone, and one broken maleta. the maleta part still hasn't sunk in, but i think it's a small price to pay for such a great week(end). i keep enclosing "end" in parentheses because the getaway stretched until thursday.
photos and stories to come VERY soon.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The experience was enjoyable, though definitely not perfect. I’ve broken down The Manila Hotel experience in various segments, so read on:
To book for the My Manila Tour, I sent an email to Carlos’s assistant, Lesley, who then referred me to The Manila Hotel’s representatives, Nian and Gyranne. They told me that I can reserve a room through them (by email), or through The Manila Hotel website, which is what I did.
Since I would have to provide my credit card details, I decided to reserve through the website, which was more secure than my GMail account. At first, I was a bit confused about booking online, because the only price shown was for single occupancy. But once I clicked on “book,” I found out that you had to key in the number of guests per room, and the system will automatically add an additional person charge.
It was also nice that they put the inclusions and itinerary on the site, so you know what you’re going to get out of the tour.
We drove to Manila Hotel and were greeted warmly by the valet. Did you know that valet parking comes free of charge, whether or not you’re staying the night? Pretty cool, methinks.
To check-in, we showed a printout of our reservation, and check-in went off without a hitch. We were escorted to our room on the eighth floor, where we had some down time before the Intramuros tour.
Room and Amenities
The room we got was in the new wing of The Manila Hotel, and was one of the redesigned/updated rooms. While it retained the wooden closet doors, the entertainment console, and antique-style bed, it also had modern accents, such as the mother of pearl frames on the mirrors, a Samsung flat-screen TV, an iLuv mp3 dock, and a waterproof LCD TV by the bathtub. The look was also updated by installing new wallpapers.
It was a pretty good-sized room, and provided us a view of the bay. Being a budget hostel regular, it was one of the more luxurious rooms I’ve been in. It was also newly carpeted, and the king-sized bed had a Senso Memory Foam mattress, which, for someone who has scoliosis like me, was very, very comfortable.
I discovered through the website that the bathroom was newly redesigned as well, and is decked in Italian marble. Aside from a tub, it also has a separate rain shower area, and comes with L’Occitane toiletries. I was stoked when I saw that they also provided a loofah, aside from the usual shower cap, toothbrush, and shaving kit. The bathroom also came with three sets of towels for each guest, and a bathrobe.
Other room furnishings included a safe, a set of office supplies placed in a leather case, complimentary water, a mini bar/ref, coffee-making facilities, and comfy hotel slippers. I was also surprised to find that they offer free wi-fi in the room—I’m so used to being charged for that in other hotels.
During our stay, we also got to enjoy the different facilities in The Manila Hotel. On our first night, we used our coupons for complimentary 2-for-1 cocktails at the Tap Room, which featured very classic bar design (I loved the wooden walls and wooden bar).
For my first drink, I decided to try an alcoholic one, which reminded me of a tequila sunrise, but was called something else. It was too strong for me, so I opted for a non-alcoholic one for my second, which I ended up enjoying a lot! They called it a Fruit Crush, which reminded me of a Piña Colada sans the alcohol. Malou, one of the writers, was able to obtain the recipe from the waiter, and we found out it had coconut, cream, and pineapples. It was very, very yummy.
We were then given a private tour of the MacArthur Suite—a two-bedroom extravaganza with a kitchen, dining room, living room, and an office at the top floor of the old wing of The Manila Hotel. It was decorated with MacArthur memorabilia, but upsized with modern comforts: the kitchen had a washing machine and refrigerator, while the living room and master’s bedroom were both equipped with their Samsung flatscreens.
Afterwards, we were treated to a lovely dinner by Chef Christine Zarandin at the Champagne Room. I loved the charming, Frenchy interiors of the place, which seemed to come alive when it’s filled with happy, chatty people. The food was superb (especially the lobster), but service could use more courtesy and speed. The experience was made more enjoyable by the company we had—Susie and I were exiled to a table separate from the larger group, but we were lucky enough to be joined by Tessa, Carlos’s wife, and their friend Ria.
On the second day, we woke up to a breakfast buffet at Roma, since Café Ilang-Ilang was being renovated. There was a wide selection of breakfast offerings—cereal, various kinds of bread, yogurt, typical Filipino breakfasts like tocino and lugaw, plus a few others that made it quite a good spread.
Carlos was also able to snag us private access to The Manila Hotel Archives, which was tiny room near Mabuhay Palace. As tiny as it was, it included a deluge of memories, among them old brochures, menus of the hotel’s many restaurants, clippings that featured the hotel. The walls were decorated with black and white photos of famous personalities who’ve stayed in The Manila Hotel, among them the King and Queen of Spain and Prince Charles. We also found a signed Philippine jacket by Manny Pacquiao, which sent one of our companions, Colin, quite giddy, as his son happens to love the Pinoy Boxer.
And finally, before we took off for the Imelda Tour at CCP, Susie and I decided to check out the pool area. He decided to just hang out by the lounge chairs while I took a dip in the pool. The water wasn’t as refreshing, because the pool water was warm. Being newly renovated, the pool area looked pretty inviting—it was huge, had its own kiddie pool, and it had a pool bar where you can enjoy a drink or two. The lounge chairs surrounding the pool were comfortable enough, and provided some shade if you’ve had enough of the sun.
In terms of rooms and facilities, I can say that The Manila Hotel is already on its way back to awesome. However, they really need to keep up in the service department.
The staff, while friendly and accommodating, still lack professionalism. I saw this at the reception desk while we were checking out. Our check out process went smoothly, but there was a man who was requesting for something, and he was made to wait for a long time.
He approached the reception desk while we were checking out, and the staff was clearly frazzled. When asked what was taking them so long, one of the receptionists didn’t reply, but decided to dial a number, and grumble “Please pick up the phone, pick up the phone, PICK UP THE PHONE!” That didn’t make the guest feel any better, and it even showed that they lack organization. In situations like that, I believe people should keep calm, and try to pacify the obviously irritated client instead.
There were other instances when I saw that there really is a need to train the staff. I guess, after the physical upgrades, they can concentrate on the people next.
Oh, it definitely was not cheap, but not shockingly expensive either. We paid Php 13,980.00, which already included a superior deluxe room for two, cocktails at the Tap Room, dinner at the Champagne Room, and two Carlos Celdran tours. That comes out to about Php 7,000 per person, for a weekend where you can get to know your country a little better in style. I’d say it’s worth dishing out that much moolah to pamper yourself and soak up some culture every now and then.
Even with a few chinks in the armor, though, I will still come back. It will take a lot of work, but The Manila Hotel can and will get its former glory back, and I will be there to applaud when it happens.
The Manila Hotel
Address: One Rizal Park, Manila
Phone number: (632) 5270011
Friday, June 4, 2010
flights are every monday, wednesday, and friday. in theory, this should be fantastic news for those who surf in san juan, la union, which is just 15 minutes away from san fernando. instead of taking the five-hour bus ride/drive to la union on weekends, flying should save you time on the road and give you more time to be one with the waves.
however, when i tried booking a flight to la union for june 11-14, i found out that the schedules aren't ideal for the usual la union weekend getaway. the flight leaves at 10am on friday, and arrives in san fernando at 11am (i also can't believe it takes an hour to get there--should be faster. manila to legazpi flights take 50 minutes.). this means you have to take friday off from work if you want to surf on the weekend, instead of just having saturday and sunday on the beach.
the flight back to manila leaves at 1130am and lands at 1230pm. this, again, eats up your working hours (of course, i'm talking about usual working hours for most people), and makes the idea of a weekend getaway quite useless.
then again, the flight wasn't made for those of us who are scrimping. roundtrip flights to san fernando, la union cost Php 7,375.20 per person, which is about seven times what you pay for a bus ride to LU.
so, it's back to partas rides and arnes bus stop meals for us surf-lovin' cheapos.
Friday, May 28, 2010
the experience wasn't perfect, but we definitely enjoyed ourselves. there's something exciting about being in a hotel that's seen your country through its ups and downs.
service needs a little work, but the manila hotel is on its way to awesome. hopefully, it'll be in tip-top shape by the time it turns 100 in 2012.
so, come on, view my photos of the manila hotel.
update: uploaded a couple more albums: dinner at the champagne room, the manila hotel's macarthur suite, and the manila hotel's archives.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
this was a special weekend, as the tour was an overnighter and offered a stay in the manila hotel. the hotel is now under new management, and is out to get its former glory back. the rooms have been refurbished, featuring mother of pearl-bordered mirrors, a waterproof television in the bathroom, a huge LCD tv in the bedroom, and senso memory foam mattresses for a good night's sleep. and i'm just enumerating what i can remember.
aside from the overnight stay, we were also privy to a tour of the lavish macarthur suite, cocktails at the historic tap room, and a fancy dinner in the quaint champagne room, where the lobster with vanilla cream sauce was simply unforgettable.
outside the hotel, we were treated to two of carlos's tours--the intramuros tour and the imelda tour--where we learned a lot about philippine history, art, architecture, and politics.
but more details to come when i gather my wits and edit the photos (believe me, i got plenty). it was interesting being the first "experimental" batch of this tour. i'll tell you all about what happened in my manila tour soon, so stay tuned.
Friday, May 14, 2010
i'm pretty psyched to go on this tour; i haven't stayed in the manila hotel ever, and i find it strange that i've lived here all my life and have never stayed there. so now's my chance.
the my manila tour is also a great way to experience manila in a different way. the itinerary is pretty relaxed, and seems like a lot of fun:
1pm: check-in manila hotel
3pm: intramuros deluxe tour (transfer by jeepney)
6pm: tour of macarthur suite and hotel; cocktails at the tap room
8pm: dinner at the champagne room
7am: breakfast buffet
free morning to enjoy the pool (the pool area's been renovated--looks awesome!),
walk luneta park, bike around manila, go to mass at ermita church
2pm: late checkout
3pm: imelda tour (transfer by jeepney)
5pm: return to hotel for a halo-halo
my manila tour
dates: may 22-23, june 19-20, july 3-4
superior deluxe room
single occupancy - Php 10,815.00 net
twin/double occupancy - Php 13,980.00 net
sunset or sunrise suite
single occupancy - Php 24,465.00 net
twin/double occupancy - Php 27,630.00 net
mobile: +63 920 9092021
photo: tap room of the manila hotel, taken from the manila hotel.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
according to my latest escapade, my last trip out was to the manila seedling back. i would like to report that the parsley i bought from there is alive and well, while the basil is being nursed back to health. since then, i have bought a new basil seedling from SM, and that one seems to be doing better.
i have also been editing the remaining photos of last year's trip to spain, and i'm hoping that i can finally finish uploading them. i can't believe it's been a year.
i do plan to have another daytrip soon, as well as a couple of weekend getaways. how about you? where are you off to?
Thursday, April 29, 2010
for more details, read hotels.com launches 48-hour sale with half-price rooms, which i stumbled upon at etravel.org.
you can also go to hotels.com's 48-hour sale.
i didn't expect the place to be so huge--i thought it was just a little garden with little plants around, but when i arrived, i found that it had so many tents/stalls/greenhouses. the variety of plants you can take home and care for was just overwhelming.
luckily, i did not give in to temptation and just got what i came for--a little sweet basil plant, which cost me P50, and a parsley plant for the same price, i believe. my sister asked me to get her sweet basil, too, along with rosemary and tarragon. i got all those for a total of P150.
the shopkeepers are also quite friendly. my parsley came from a nice, friendly lady who assured me that the parsley would be quite fine in a balcony. kuya basil, meanwhile, sold me my sweet basil (and my sister's plants). they're all very easy to talk to, and are willing to give advice on how to take care of your new babies.
aside from plants, the manila seedling bank also has stalls that sell kitchenware, toys, tables, and animals. we found a couple of pheasants and big-ass cochin chickens in one of the stalls.
i think i would have enjoyed the experience even if i hadn't bought anything. strolling through the stalls and tents was lovely enough--it was such a nice way to spend a sunday afternoon.
manila seedling bank foundation, inc.
address: quezon avenue extension cor. EDSA, quezon city
MRT station: quezon ave., and just cross quezon avenue to get to the EDSA entrance.
by car: go along EDSA, cross quezon avenue and turn right at the manila seedling bank gate. alternatively, you can also turn right at quezon avenue (if you're coming from the south), turn left at agham road, then u-turn and enter at the agham road gate.
phone number: (02) 924-7001 to 02
email address: email@example.com
view more photos of manila seedling bank.
Friday, April 23, 2010
travelife magazine found out for me in this article: travelife magazine's suitcase tales: talking travel with gilbert teodoro.
every interview i've read with this man makes me see just how sensible and reasonable he is, and how well thought-out his plans are. no mud-slinging in his campaign, and he makes no promises about alleviating poverty in one fell swoop--he wants us to work on it and for it ourselves, as we should.
i believe in gibo teodoro, and i'm supporting his presidential bid in the coming elections.
it's been a while since i had a roll of film developed, and i was surprised to find that it takes longer than usual now. i took my roll to digiprint and asked for their film to CD service, which costs P155, and takes 5 days.
i was expecting my butanding photos to arrive tomorrow, but i was so happy when i was handed a package this morning from digiprint!
the photo on the right is one of the butanding photos i like best from my batch--it's a beastly butanding (in reality, it's a gentle giant), complete with a nicked fin. three remoras can be seen clinging to the fin, sucking the dirt from the butanding's skin.
gliding along on top of a lumbering whale shark will forever be etched in my mind.
"tingin sa baba!" kuya gits, our guide, shouted. so i did, and what i saw next left me in awe: a lumbering, spotted butanding swimming calmly right below me. it was so amazing that i completely forgot that a few seconds ago, i was having a hard time breathing through my snorkel.
for a few golden minutes, i was breathing as i should through the snorkel, my eyes glued to the butanding before me. thanks to kuya gits for letting me just cling onto the lifebuoy, else i would have been left floating there, staring in awe at the majestic creature.
every now and then, my eyes would travel the butanding's entire length. that was me trying to comprehend what i was doing, attempting to accept the fact that i was just a few feet away from a friggin' whale shark.
it was such a surreal experience, and i'll be doing it again next year. but this time around, i'll make sure to be more at ease with a mask and a snorkel. i want to chase the butandings myself.
see more photos of my butanding interaction.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
i'm still waiting for the photos of the butanding interaction from the underwater camera to be processed, but in the meantime, i'll leave you with this video of me ziplining at lignon hill in bicol:
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
yep, that's carry-on, and not checked baggage, which means for passengers of spirit, gone are the days when you can exercise your mad packing skillz to fit everything in a tiny bag just so you don't have to pay for luggage when you travel.
the airline says they are charging this fee to improve safety and inefficiency, and in a way, i do see their point. bob thompson here echoes my sentiments, albeit in a more intense manner than i could ever muster:
while i wouldn't say it in the same way he did, i see his point. i've seen just how disruptive those "morons" are, and they are present in every flight i've ever gone on, and probably every flight you've been on as well. they get away with bringing a lot of stuff on board, while you, the diligent passenger, did your best to make all your things fit in your tiny bag. spirit airlines' reaction may be a tad too extreme, but i'm sure it will improve boarding efficiency, and will definitely lessen the load onboard.
however, i think they could have gone through a few other measures before settling for charging passengers a carry-on fee. i liked easyJet's way of measuring whether your carry-on can be brought on board or not: they have a little stand at the end of check-in counters with a container that has the correct dimensions for carry-ons. all you need to do is place your bag there, and if it fits, you can take it. doesn't matter how heavy it is, all they need to know is that it will fit in the overhead compartment.
another budget airline is setting the stage for yet another outrageous charging scheme. that oh-so-famous european budget airline ryanair is contemplating charging passengers for use of the lavatory for flights lasting an hour or less.
i can't resist quoting the following lines from the article:
i, for one, find the lavatory fee a little too extreme. i actually shouldn't be that bothered, because i don't go to the restroom a lot, much less on board planes, but let's not take budget traveling to the extreme and charge "natural urges" a standard fee as well.
The carrier said it is working with Boeing to develop a coin-operated door release so that when nature calls, passengers would need to deposit the change before being able to use the facilities.
The idea is to encourage people to use restrooms in airport terminals before boarding, Ryanair said. If the airline were to proceed, the changes would be at least 12 to 18 months away.
As part of the plan, the airline is also considering removing two of the three lavatories on some of its planes so it could squeeze in up to six extra seats. The move would help reduce fares by at least 5 percent, Ryanair said.
i'm updating you on these because these airline fees might reach our shores as well. at the moment, budget airlines have only taken out inflight meals and have retained standard services such as seating assignments. i wonder if any of our budget airlines will implement any of these schemes, and how pinoy travelers will react to these airline fees.