Eurotrip 2014 Part 8: Hello, Acropolis!

After 4 days of exploring small cities/towns, we finally arrived in Pireaus, the gateway to Athens from sea. Yes, finally in Athens —- a BIG city! We couldn’t wait to go visit the Acropolis, eat more Greek food, and go shopping! Although the port was pretty far from Athens, we still managed to commute to the metro. We rode a bus, a train and walked a little bit to get to the central.

The downtown area was fun and it had great energy. We dropped by a few of our favorite retail shops — H&M, Zara, Bershka, etc.It was overwhelming to finally get to shop after 4 days of no commercial stores.

After lunch and shopping, it was time to see the Acropolis.

That’s the Acropolis, alright! We really had to figure it out on how to get there. It looks impossible to ride a train, and we didn’t want to ride a bus either. Our solution? Walk.

We talked for about 25-30 minutes to get to the top. We got lost along the way, but that didn’t stop us from reaching the Acropolis.


It was worth the climb to witness the majestic ruins of the Parthenon & the Erechtheion. BUT… yes a big but— there is a downside, prepare to be with a couple thousand of tourist. It is a mess of people! You also need to pay for admission, and then walk up the stairs to the top.

It was one of our least favorite stop of the trip. Athens isn’t that fancy, and it’s pretty run down, so other than the Acropolis, there isn’t much there to offer other than a big city.

Eurotrip 2014 Part 7: Fall in love with Santorini

There is nothing quite like Santorini. With it’s white washed churches set against the blue waters of the Mediterranean, I can honestly say that the island of Santorini met all of my expectations, and even surpassed them.

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Since before I can remember, the island of Santorini has been a destination on my bucket list. I have seen a couple of movies that was filmed here and also seen several photos of it on travel magazines, ads on newspapers or TV, as it is the most photographed town in Greece after all.

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From the crystal clear blue waters to the stunning white cliff side towns – everything about this tiny Greek island is spectacular.

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We arrived in the old port of Santorini at 7 in the morning. Santorini is too little of a port for our ginormous cruise ship to come into so we had to be tendered in by small boats. (A ship’s tender is a small boat used to take people and /or supplies back and forth from the boat and port. Now you know.)

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From the Old port,which was in the town of Fira, we rode a cable car to reach the caldera cliffs. There’s an option to take a hike or ride a donkey for 5 euros too, but we opted to take the cable car instead. 

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As soon as we arrived in Fira, we rode a private van to take us to the beautiful, picturesque town of Oia.

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Oia- It’s pronounced [ˈi.a] or ‘ee-yah’ for those who don’t know. There is no doubt in my mind that Oia is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen in my life (so far). It took my breath away. Really!

Poised on a cliff with it’s white painted houses and it’s blue domed churches with white-washed walls, Oia offers fantastic views of the Caldera and the best sunsets one will ever see.

I was so happy I was able to taste the authentic baklava from Greece — it was heavenly. It was a perfect pair for my latte.

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We spent the whole day enjoying the fantastic view of the caldera. I don’t think I put my camera down for even a few minutes. I just had to take all the photos that I could.

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After exploring the little town of Oia, we headed back to Fira to have lunch and do some shopping. 

Time passed by too quickly and before we knew it, it was time to leave the beautiful island. 

This time, we decided to just take a hike down to the port. We thought it would be easy and quick. But guess what? It was a terrible idea! We should have just rode the cable car and a donkey. It was quite challenging going down since we didn’t have any sneakers on and the sun was scorching. Bad idea.

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That sums up my wonderful trip to Santorini, Greece. I swear, this place is definitely heaven on earth. Oia was absolutely a dream…and my most favorite town on the island of Santorini. I only wish we had more time to enjoy it! 

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

DAY 6- Olympia, Greece

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!