ciao, Italia – Day 2 in Bologna

It only goes to show that not everything will go as planned when one travels. Always, always be prepared for whatever happens. Sticking to the planned out itinerary is good but what if something comes up? Like, let’s say, the Gelato Museum you planned on visiting that day just closed for the season. Yeah, do some thorough research but also be flexible and roll with the punches.

After our jam-packed and super warm day in Venice, we decided to have a chill day back in Bologna, so, we decided to just go to the city center and see what it had to offer… our stomachs! Because that plan to visit the Gelato Museum didn’t push through, we went where we could and stuffed our faces. Fun times! Pasta, granita and, yes, gelato!

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ciao, Italia – Venezia!

It’s one of the most unique places in the world. With it’s rich history and culture, Venice is definitely a place you must visit.

The first thing the comes to mind when someone says “Venice” is, of course, the gondolas. It’s a very unique site to see, there are no roads, just canals; no cars, just boats. Other than that, Venice is a very picturesque city, as all Italian cities.

We decided to take a train ride to Venice for a day, to see what it was all about. Italy is a country that’s easily travelled by train. It can get quite expensive but if you book ahead, you can get some good deals.

When we arrived in Venice, suffice to say, it was HOT! This was mid-August and it was super hot, like middle-of-summer-in-the-Philippines hot. Add a huge crowd of tourists (which we were a part of), it can be quite a disappointment. The boats were packed with people, which makes it super convenient for those nasty pickpockets. My sister almost had her stuff stolen. She noticed someone slowly opening the zipper on her bag and thank God she did! She stared the guy down, so he just moved on and got off at the next stop. We’ve been warned about pickpockets in Italy, but since Venice is a major tourist attraction, there were certainly a lot there!

Other than that, it was a fun trip. We had fun taking pictures all over and I must say, I think these photos are some of the better ones from our whole trip. Venice is just that pretty. Here are photos of our day in Venezia!

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We have our tickets! Let’s go!

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You’re in Venice, for sure!

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a parking space for gondolas? LOL

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Sorry, random people! I have to take a picture!
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The Bridge of Sighs – this is the bridge where convicts pass through before their execution. Fun, eh? 
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Piazza San Marco

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Basilica di San Marco
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St. Mark’s Basilica
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Campanile di San Marco
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Lunch time!
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We grabbed a bite at the oldest cafe in the world – Cafe Florian.
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It was a tourist trap but hey, desserts!
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At least, I get to say that I had lunch at the oldest cafe in the world. That counts for something, right? LOL
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Rialto Bridge – one of the bridges that cross the Grand Canal

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“Sikit-sikiti lang!” This was in the boat to Murano. It was like being in a tightly packed jeepney back in Cebu, comes with pickpockets, too! Felt right at home! Just kidding! 
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Glass blowing demo in Murano.
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The finished product, well almost, it has to cool first. Let me point out, that after the demonstration, we spent a lot of time in the gift shop. Got a pair of glass earrings, too! Hmm, wonder if they had glass slippers?
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Picture time!

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By the time we were in the boat ride back to the “main land”, since Murano was a bit farther out to sea, we were drained.
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Of course, PIZZA!
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Now, back to Bologna! 

The day went by so fast in Venice. Although we didn’t get to see most of the place, it was amazing being just there. I would want to go back someday, when it’s cooler, and explore the city some more.

More Italy adventures to come! Thanks for browsing through!

 

 

 

 

cześć, Wrocław!

After the Paris leg of our trip, we headed to Wrocław, Poland. My older sister went to Poland for work a few months back and we decided to stop by her new home, explore, check out some spots and most importantly, rest up. That time in Paris was a bit fast paced, so we took out time to relax in Wrocław. Here are some of the snaps I took while we explored the especially pretty town. Pardon the haphazard post processing of picture, I edited all these on my mobile.

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so many old time-y structures, such pretty colors!

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there were churches at every corner

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pierogi – Eastern European dumplings!

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the oldest beer house
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performance art! looks like a weeping angel (from Doctor Who), doesn’t he?
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Rynek – Market Square
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yes, we had burgers! in Poland!
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a girl has got to eat!
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yes, we had some Japanese food, too!

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the cutest toilet signs i’ve ever seen!
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pierogi again, this time, steamed!
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we should always try the local traditional food, yes?

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Costa Coffee!

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there were so many adorable statues of dwarves! each one had it’s significance and meaning.
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more dwarves!
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The Anonymous Pedestrians – a memorial to the introduction of martial law and the people who disappeared (“went underground”) in the middle of the night.

La Tour Eiffel

There are times in life when you experience things and you just want to pinch yourself to make sure you aren’t dreaming. This day, this afternoon, was one of those moments for me. It was this day that it sunk in that, yes, I was actually, really in Paris, France – one of the top most place to visit on the bucket list.

I could hardly believe that I was there looking up at the iconic Eiffel Tower, carrying a box of Ladurée macarons. It may seem simple but it felt so surreal. Around this time, I was pretty burned out at work causing much stress. It was this moment that I realized, “Wow. You’re in Paris. You left your stress behind and landed in Paris.” I was very happy to say the least. It was a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

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Versailles

Growing up with Disney and the Princesses, I’ve always wanted to see palaces and have been curious on how it would have been like to live in one. Being a reader, I gravitate to fantastical or historical stories involving mighty cruel villains, charming yet mysterious princes, strong and beautiful heroines set in magical lands – all wrapped up in the typical happy ending. (“Far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, a prince in disguise!” – Belle, from Beauty and the Beast) Being a bit of a romantic, I guess, I kind of wanted to be in a fairy tale.

I’ve always wanted to see Paris – the romanticized City of Light, and Versailles, with the Chateau and the Gardens where French royalty once presided. Doesn’t hurt that it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. So, it was no surprise that my historically curious romantic self was quite giddy on this day. I tried to reign the excitement a bit, but I couldn’t help but be in awe of what I saw.

As it is a very touristy place, it was expected to be super crowded and it was. The line just to the entrance was a mile long so we did a skip-the-line tour that lets you skip the line (duh). The tour package also had audio guides for which narrated bits of information in each room we went to inside the palace. It was all very interesting – to see the walls, the paintings, the furniture, the history! It was magnificent and opulent and a bit overwhelming. It was just too much of everything that I couldn’t comprehend how such things came to be hundreds of years ago because of man ( and man’s desires).

The tickets we booked also included access to the gardens, which we went to first. On a side note, it would be amazing to have photo shoots there! Even just in the gardens! I don’t think it’s allowed though. Speaking of photos, here are some that I took on our day trip to Versailles. Please note the captions. 🙂

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This was outside the train station. Most buildings looked like this – like there was a theme!
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Cobble stones – I learned are pretty for pictures, bad for walking on.

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When in France, have crepes for lunch – Le Carré aux Crêpes!
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They had set meals – with cider!
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The set meal includes a choice of savory crepe, “savoury galettes”.

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The set meal had a choice of dessert, too. This one was for my niece’s kid’s meal.
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Of course, creme brulee!
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Chateau de Versailles
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Jardin de Versailles
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Hello, fellow tourists! Let’s explore the gardens! These gardens were huge! We were given a map and we didn’t get to go to all parts.

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It was raining that day. Thanks to the handy umbrellas from our Airbnb hosts! 🙂
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had a bit of fun chanelling Mary Poppins with the umbrella

waiting for our tour of the Palace
Looks rich, non?

 

mirror selfie in the Hall of Mirrors
Gold, gold, gold.

 

Lots of gold trimming

Totally unexpected! Laduree by the gift shops! Ahh!

 

Nothing like macarons to end the tour! See my extra happy face.

 

Our day didn’t end there. Here’s a peak on where we went to next! Any guesses? It’s quite obvious.

bonjour, Paris!

After hours and hours of being in transit, we finally arrived in Paris, France.  It’s still kinda surreal that I get to say (type) that.

Paris is one of the places that I get to check off my bucket list. I can’t thank the powers that be enough for this opportunity. I can’t help but be grateful of every blessing that has been given to me, this trip was one of those wonderful blessings.

In Paris, the family and I stayed in this cozy Airbnb in the 19th arrondissement. A bit far from the center but it was within our budget. When we arrived, we took the chance to explore the vicinity and have lunch at a nearby cafe.

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Liberte. Egalite. Fraternite.

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We ate at Le Pavillon des Merveilles – an Alice in Wonderland themed cafe. It was decked out in huuuge cards and had other cute decors all around the place. The food was very good too, especially the dessert! I remember we had these chocolate cookies – yum!

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Bienvenue! Welcome!
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Alice in Wonderland themed.
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These cards were huge – human size!
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Croque Monsieur, Gazpacho,  and a veggie lasagna? I forget. Super yum though!

After lunch, we decided to take the train to the center of the city and explore some of the must see touristy things. What better way to see everything than by walking? So, we got our phones out, opened Google Maps and went exploring. Here are some of the places we saw on our walk – Notre Dame, Pont Neuf, and The Louvre Museum.

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Their public toilets, high-tech!

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pretty buildings…

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Notre Dame de Paris

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that iconic glass pyramid – you know you’re at The Louvre
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somebody’s happy

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The Seine with the top of the Eiffel Tower peeping out – magical!

 

And this was only day 1 in Paris!

 

Disneyland Paris Feels

So, something amazing happened. I went to Europe! For three weeks! With the family! It was amazing… but more on that later.

What kind of Disney kid would I be if i pass up the chance to go to Disneyland Paris? I mean, aside from the part that my sisters’ main purpose of stopping by Paris was just that.

Here I am, sharing my excitement… and slight disappointment from my day at Disneyland Paris. Excitement because, hey! It’s Disneyland! In Paris! but disappointment because, that was it? Disneyland? In Paris?

It may be my fault that I got disappointed. I got my hopes up, expectations were high. Even after reading and researching about the park, even after finding out that it wasn’t the best of all the parks, I still expected so much. Oh, well, it was still quite an experience, though, no doubt about that. That is one more park to check off the list!

There are so many unique things to the park like Sleeping Beauty’s castle with that super cool dragon inside; some things common to some other parks but a new experience for me – like the Pirates of the Carribean ride and Peter Pan’s flight (which was super fun!). It was still very memorable and amazing. I would not take it back. I would probably not make a point to visit it but if by some miracle, I may find myself in Paris once again, I’ll be sure to go.

i DisneyBounded as Snow White. can you see it?

posing with statues is fun. funny the one that posed before me was a little kid. LOL
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Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – so pretty.

so, is this Maleficent? or not?
sound advice

Serendipity – Sarah J. Maas Book Signing in KL

Have you ever experienced things that were a happy coincidence? Serendipity?

First, let me elaborate. Being an avid reader living in the Philippines, it’s very fortunate that local bookstores have been organizing book signing events featured authors that I’ve read. I’ve been to one before. The latest one featured Sarah J. Maas, author of the bestsellers – the Throne of Glass series and the Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy. Both series are still on going and I am eagerly waiting for the next books to come out.

The Throne of Glass Series is a six book series (with 4 books out and the next one coming in September 2016) about Celaena Sordothien, an 18 year old imprisoned assassin who was offered freedom by the Crown Prince on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find the new royal assassin. It’s a retelling of Cinderella with a bit of a Hunger Games vibe.

A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy is a book series centered around Feyre, a 19 year old huntress who kills a wolf in the wilderness to feed her family. Then, a beast-like creature arrives and demands retribution for the wolf. Feyre is taken away into a magical land and discovers that the beast that took her was no ordinary beast but of the beautiful immortal fairies who used to rule their world. Sound familiar? It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with some fairy magic. The second book was recently released and I’m obsessed! Waiting for a year for the next book is torture!

But this isn’t what this blog post is about. Well, it is, sort of.

So, serendipity. Ms. Maas’ Philippines leg of her Asian tour only covered Manila and I am all the way down here in Cebu City. Personally, having never been to Manila, I was not interested in going. Because I love love love the book series, I considered having my sister go in my stead since she was working and living in Manila. As is the PH wasn’t the only stop in Maas’ tour, she was slated to visit Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia next, and lo and behold, we were going to be at KL at the same time time. See, serendipity? Aren’t I lucky?

As our KL itinerary was not so packed, we went to her book signing event at the Borders Bookstore in The Curve mall which was a 30 minute drive from our hotel.

We went to the bookstore a few hours early to browse the shelves upon shelves of books. Seriously, why can’t the bookstores in Cebu be as big and well stocked? I was having serious bookstore envy, if that’s even possible. LOL Also, they had a Starbucks in the bookstore! We don’t have that here! Well, we had a Bo’s Coffee Shop in a bookstore once, but that cafe closed. Hurr. Books and coffee – two of my favorite things ever!

Anyway, here are pictures of our day spent in that heavenly bookstore. No photos of the said shelves, I was too distracted by the actual books to take any. Oh, well.

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Hopefully, more authors will come ’round to our part of the world.

KL Adventures through Instagram

On March 2016, I spent a few days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My sister had business there and I decided to tag along. I’ve never been to Malaysia, so it was great having to explore somewhere new. But since the pictures I took during the trip are still in the camera’s memory cards, I’ve decided to share some of the images I posted on my Instagram account, @xyrielle. When the pictures will be transferred, I’ll definitely post those here. In the meantime, here are my Instagram posts during the trip.

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Malaysian skies…
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Airport pic!
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Oodles of noodles at Secret Recipe
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Meet and greet with one of my fave authors, Sarah J. Maas
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and I had my books signed!
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Their McDonald’s has Pie ala mode
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Starbucks Coffee!
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Climbed those stairs at the Batu Caves
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said “hello” to the resident monkeys at the Batu Caves
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Pigeons! Rats of the sky.
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Tried their KFC, too. They have Zinger.. and surprisingly, not as spicy the the PH’s.
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Dinner at IKEA!
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and again at Secret Recipe.
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Lunch at Miss Kwan’s at Suria KLCC
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The iconic Petronas Twin Towers – a must in KL!

 

Hong Kong 2015

After months and months and months of these pictures in storage, they are now sorted and ready for posting! Yey!

At the end of 2015, the family decided to have a different kind of Disney experience. This Hong Kong trip was, more or less, about that – Christmas at Disneyland. The theme park changes their decor to reflect the season. We have experienced Easter at Tokyo Disney and now, Christmas at Hong Kong Disneyland. Apart from a fun day at the happiest place on earth, we also explored the bustling city. We had to go to the typical tourist attractions as it was the first time for the parents to set foot in Asia’s World City.

For me, Hong Kong is one of those places I won’t get tired of going. Even though this was the second time I went, I won’t hesitate to go back, given the chance. It’s both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. I would be totally comfortable around the city but still be in awe of the new things I get to discover.

Here are the pictures I took, although atypical, I thinks it’s the memories and the experience that matter most, as a traveler. These pictures are reminders of the times spent on a new yet familiar place. I’ve also included some of the photos I posted on Instagram. 🙂

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Octopus Card for easy commute

 

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Mak’s Noodles @ The Peak Galleria
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Camera’s at the ready!
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Hello again, Disneyland!

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Oh, Christmas Tree!

 

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Buns, buns, buns.

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Festival of the Lion King – a must see at Hong Kong Disney!

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Happy 10 year anniversary to Hong Kong Disneyland!

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Paint the Night Parade

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King Triton!

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Starbucks red cups!
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Out and about at night.

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Victoria Harbor, an HK must!