Eurotrip 2014 Part 6: Ancient Olympia

Our next stop was Katakolon, Greece, located in the part of Greece called the Pelponesse. What’s there? Not a whole heck of a lot except overpriced Greek trinkets. What makes Katakolon a note worthy stop is it’s proximity to Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games.

As soon as we disembarked, we walked into the sea side town to rent a car for a day trip to Ancient Olympia. Thank God for AVIS!

It was a 45 minute drive to Olympia and we enjoyed it. Who would have thought that daddy would be driving in Greece?

We couldn’t understand a single thing on the road signs. Instead, we just kept following some tour buses (who obviously were on the way to Ancient Olympia) because we weren’t quite sure of the accuracy of the hand drawn map from the car rental place.

And after that fun drive, we arrived at Ancient Olympia.

We had absolutely perfect weather. Blue skies and golden sunshine greeted us at every turn.

The site of Ancient Olympia is home to a host of buildings. Temples, priest’s homes, baths, a gymnasium, and hostels were all found here. 

Probably the most impressive of the buildings that were here was the Temple of Zeus. Yup, that’s the temple of Zeus or what’s left of it at our back. 

We ended the tour with a hearty Greek lunch. I just had to try some Greek Salad in Greece.

Off to Santorini next!!! <3

If you haven’t been following my Eurotrip adventure you can see all the past posts below:

DAY 1- Milan

DAY 2- Milan

DAY 3- Venice

DAY 4- MSC Cruise

DAY 5- Bari

Eurotrip 2014 Part 5: B A R I

The first stop of our Mediterranean cruise was Bari, Italy. Truth to be told, I have never heard of Bari or anything about it. None of my friends have been there too, so I couldn’t ask anyone for some tips. Upon disembarkation, i was really shocked to see a very big town in front of me. It was like a secret gem of Italy.

Situated in the ‘heel’ of the boot-shaped country that is Italy, Bari is a big port city on the Adriatic coast. Since we were only there for a few hours, we only had the chance to explore the old town, also known as Vecchia Bari.

There’s something about medieval cities that excites me. There’s just so much history and glorious architectures. We visited the beautiful Castello Svevo, and also the 12th-century Basilica. I was happy there was a tour in the tangled network of streets and alleys to witness the making of home-made pasta. Oh, Bari- you surprised me.

If you haven’t been following my Eurotrip adventure you can see all the past posts below:

DAY 1- Milan

DAY 2- Milan

DAY 3- Venice

DAY 4- MSC Cruise

Eurotrip 2014 Part 4: All aboard!

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This was our home for 7 days. Ladies & Gentlemen, welcome aboard the MSC Fantasia!

It was a 7 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise - we departed from Venice, Italy and visited ports in Greece and Croatia. I really loved every minute of this floating paradise. I’m not sure if it’s the 20 hour buffet in the L’Africana Cafeteria, the spectacular theater shows, the casino and the luxury shops, or the pool & fitness area that caught me off guard. I was blown away by the elegance and sophistication this vessel had to offer.

The main reason why we chose this cruise line was because it matched the itinerary that we wanted. One, it was departing from Italy and two, it included Santorini, Greece (which I cannot wait to share) as one of the destinations. 

Here’s our itinerary:

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(Adriatic, to Greece and Greek islands, round-trip)

7-day Mediterranean cruise from Venice to Bari  Katakolon Santorini , Athens ,Corfu ,and Dubrovnik.

If you haven’t been following my Eurotrip adventure you can see all the past posts below:

DAY 1- Milan

DAY 2- Milan

DAY 3- Venice

Eurotrip 2014 Part 3: No place like Venezia

While on my trip in Europe, I was very lucky to be able to visit Venice. This city has always been on my bucket list and I’m glad I finally crossed it off. It’s unbelievably beautiful - it’s literally a city solely on water- everything from the taxis, the police and the ambulance are all on boats.

Our cruise was departing from Venice, so we were able to stroll around before embarking. When in Venice, it is best to take time to stop and admire the water-city and enjoy some people watching. No matter what time of the year, this place will be bustling with tourists

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Even though it is small, it can be difficult to navigate because there are no subways, buses, or trams to take, just water buses which can be hard to figure out. One thing for sure, prepare to get lost! 

Venice is expensive, just like any other tourist place but you will definitely fall in love with its maze of canals and small streets, whimsical bridges, and colorful buildings. 

If you haven’t been following my Eurotrip adventure you can see all the past posts below:

DAY 1- Milan

DAY 2- Milan

Eurotrip 2014 Part 2: More of Milano

A visit to Milan is all about shopping, wandering through the Duomo, seeing the Last Supper (which we missed since we had no reservation), exploring the Brera and eating all the pizza and pasta in the world.

Some tips from yours truly. I’m no local or expert in Milan, but these are some places that I recommend to see and enjoy.

  • From the Duomo, check out the adjacent mall called the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. There are upscale stores here as well as cafes & restaurants. 
  • Walk a little bit more, and you will find yourself in trendy Brera district where you will have famous art collections at the Pinacoteca.
  • If you have more time from here, walk by the Sforza Castle, and do a quick stroll of nearby Parco Sempione
  • Night out at the Navigli DistrictThis area of Milan is well known for its many Resturants, Bars and Cafes. It seems to be the area all the locals hang out in so for a real taste of the Milanese nightlife this is the place to come.

The next day, we took a train from the Milano Centrale to go to Venice. 

I’m very sad to leave Milan, I had an incredible time and being in the city reminds me once again how much I love traveling, discovering new places, and of course eating Italian food. 

If you haven’t been following my Eurotrip adventure you can see all the past posts below:

DAY 1- Milan

Eurotrip 2014 Part 1: M I L A N O

The most awaited trip of the summer was our family trip to Europe. 

My parents fell inlove with Europe during their last visit a year ago and they wanted to take their daughters with them on their next trip. My sisters and I were all thrilled for this since it would be our first cruise experience! My last visit to Europe was on 2012, but it was just to Rome.I wasn’t able to explore the other countries in the EU.  I was excited as ever to explore 4 different countries, and 9 beautiful cities. 

Our first stop was in one of the world’s fashion capitals- Milan, Italy

We arrived in Milan at 8 in the morning from Hong Kong. It was a 12 hour flight and we were all very jet-lagged and tired, but that didn’t stop us from discovering Milano.

We stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel Milan. Location is a bit off downtown but still easily accessible. 

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View from our hotel room. 

My close friend Nikki, who lives and studies fashion in Milan, picked us up at our hotel and brought us to the city proper so we can have lunch and explore the city.

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Arco della Pace

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Pizza at Pizza OK

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Touristy in Milano, Arco della Pace

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Chic Italians spotted at Sforzesco Castle.

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Gelato to beat the heat.

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Parco Sempione, a large city park in Milan.

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Sforzesco Castle

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Nikki and I at Arco della Pace

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Beautiful Milan Cathedral, also known as Duomo di Milano.

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The Gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is the fifth largest cathedral in the world and the largest in the Italian state territory. If you want to go inside the church, it is FREE. No more entrance fees to be paid. However, they charge you 2 euros if you want to take photos. 

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The duomo attracts tourists from all over the world. It is certainly worth visiting if you ever take a trip to Milan. 

First day in Milan and already enjoying the gelato, pizza, shopping and the sight seeing. 

Coron Diaries Part 6: Photo Diary

See you soon, Coron! It was hard to leave this magical place. I’m glad my vacation in this island was well spent. Till next time…

Coron Diaries Part 5: The Black Island

Black is Beautiful.

After spending our morning at the Safari, we went to Black Island for our lunch and to get some relaxation at the beach.  The island’s sand was not black but was creamy white.  The “black” on the island are the mountains of black limestones that towers the island

Travel time is 3 hour boat ride from Coron town straight to the Black Island. It is around 45 minutes away from Calauit Island. The island is 1/3 the size of Boracay island. I’ve never seen anything like this island — gorgeous white sand beach plus limestone cliffs that reveal a maze of caves.

It’s one of the secret islands in the Philippines blessed with natural beauty. So happy we were the only ones there that day. 

Our boatman, Reggie, told us that several TV shows and movies were filmed in this island. It’s a perfect place to shoot since it’s very private and the beach is breathtaking.

This is definitely a must visit when Coron!

Coron Diaries Part 4: A Glimpse of Africa

When I was researching on the “Best Places to Visit in Busuanga, Palawan”, an article on the Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary caught my attention. It showed me several pictures of zebras and giraffes in the remote Calauit Island, northwestern coast of Palawan. I must have been living under a rock since I really had no idea that our country had African animals so that’s why it surprised me. I’ve never seen a Zebra or a giraffe in my life either. I immediately told Judd about it and he was excited himself too! Since we were going to Coron, we might as well include this in our itinerary.

Imagine a safari in the Philippines where animals roam freely… I really was stoked for this adventure in the wild.

On the day of our safari, we were told to get ready by 5 am since Calauit Island is a 4 hour boat ride from Coron Town. To maximize our stay and to enjoy island hopping, we really got up extra early that day.

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I was greeted by this lovely sunrise while we were bound for Calauit at 6 in the morning.

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On the way to Calauit Island, you can really see a lot of virgin islands, private islands and resorts and more limestone formations.

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After our 4 hour journey, we finally arrived at our destination. I was thrilled to finally experience the safari!

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That’s our boat on the left of this photo. A cute wooden walkway will lead you to the island.

We were told that we had a jeepney to take us around the reserve. Since a group came earlier than us, we had to wait for a little bit. While waiting, we got to meet our tour guide who was very entertaining, approachable, informative and kind. He brought us to the reserve and we were greeted by the giraffes from Kenya.

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Calauit Safari Park covers almost 3800 hectares. This safari park was established on the year 1976 by Presidential Proclamation 1578 issued by President Ferdinand Marcos.

The animals were all brought to the Philippines from Africa by boat, MS Salvador if i’m not mistaken. The green island was transformed to a savannah — its residents relocated and its bamboo forests cleared to provide a suitable environment for the animals.

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The best part of coming early was getting to feed the giraffes. Yes, they allowed us to feed! There are more than 20 giraffes in this island. I only remember three of their names though — Isabel, Terrence and Miller.

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Look at Judd’s shirt! I say he was twinning with the Zebras. So tell me, who wore it better? Lol

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The animals are free to run around and explore the island. Talk about, YOLO. Hahaha i kid.

Aside from the pretty zebras and amazingly tall giraffes, they were also other animals we had to see.

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Here’s a cute porcupine!

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Some baby crocs too.

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Wild bearded pig, which is endemic to Palawan

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And of course, how can I forget the Calamian deer? The Calamian deer is endemic to Palawan and is an endangered species but their population has improved in the park.

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Thank you to our trusty driver and his jeep for the safari experience in Little Africa.

That 3 1/2 boat ride to theCalauit Island was absolutely worth it upon seeing these lovely zebras and giraffes! No need to go to Kenya in Africa to see these animals live in action. 

I hope this entry was helpful and made you add “Calauit Safari” to your list. 

Coron Diaries Part 3: Limestone Cliffs & Lagoons

Coron Island is famous for their limestone formations and the lakes/lagoons inside those limestone formations on the sea.

We spent another day island hopping for our Coron adventure.

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Coron Island is home to 7 lakes but only Kayangan and Barracuda can be visited. I am glad we visited those two. The island is undoubtedly the area’s primary eco-tour destination for tourists. Coron island is a 15 minute boat ride from the town of Coron. 

Our first stop was Banol Beach.

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Banol Beach is one of the few beaches on Coron Island. Its white sand contrasts with the limestone in the background and provides a lovely vista on approach. Too bad we couldn’t enjoy the water that day since they were a lot of jellyfish like creatures and we were scared it would sting us.

Our next stop was Twin Lagoon. 

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Why Twin Lagoon? The first lagoon is where the boats dock, while the second lagoon is hidden, the only access of which is a small crevice underneath the rock, or during high tide, a ladder over the rock.

Since it was high tide, we took the ladder to get to the second lagoon.

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I took a photo as I reached the second lagoon. I was too excited to jump off!

Water in the lagoon can be fresh water or salt water as you go along the waterimage

 Judd and I were just floating on the water facing up, watching the blue sky and the clouds and feeling very relaxing.

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The next stop was the famous, Kayangan Lake.

I believe that you cannot leave Coron without visiting this primary attraction. Dubbed the cleanest lake in the Philippines for three consecutive years. 

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From the docking area, there is a 10-minute uphill hike to a small cave and ideal viewing point of the Kayangan Lake.

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It was a breathtaking view. I have never seen anything like this in my life. It was a very perfect moment. From this viewing point, you will take another 10 minute hike to the beautiful hidden lagoon of Kayangan.

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The lake is very clean that you can see people swimming underneath. I actually wouldn’t mind spending the whole day here… if only we had more time.

What a great feeling to just swim around the lake taking in the clear blue skies, the swaying trees and the majestic mountains that surrounds the lake

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Kayangan Lake is one of the cleanest forms of water in the country. It is a mix of freshwater and saltwater which makes it perfect to swim in. The water is almost transparent that you can see the limestone formation under it.

This has got to be my favorite place in Coron. I am really itching to go back here and enjoy the water, the cliffs and the view. Someone, take me back!!! :)