Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dublin in Black & White

Taking a time out to pursue my other love (photography) has been a breath of fresh air when I was in Dublin. I got the inspiration to take black and white shots from the charcoal paintings that I saw along Grafton Street. Here are the fruits of my labor:

Ha'penny Bridge - this bridge is called as such because before, people need to pay a half penny in order to cross it. The Ha'penny Bridge divides Dublin to the north and the south.

A small alley leading to Temple Bar

I waited for a few minutes here until all three are reading at the same time

Arnaldo Pomodoro's "Sphere Within Sphere" sculpture in Trinity College. Versions of this sculpture can also be seen in different parts of the world.

Old books in the Long Room Library

Staircase in the Long Room Library

The Campanile, Trinity College

The Parliament Building - this building was built without windows to save on taxes. In old times, in Ireland, the more windows a building have, the more taxes they pay. This building now serves as an office of the Bank of Ireland.

Ducks at St. Stephen's Green

Cute little boy at St. Stephen's Green


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sampling the foods in Dublin

I have been back from Dublin, Ireland after having stayed there for 2 months and I'm starting to really miss the place. Two months may not be enough to sample all the foods there but these are some that I have tried out:

Traditional Irish breakfast at Quay's Irish Restaurant, Temple Bar area. It consist of Irish bacon or rashers, sausages, egg, potatoes, baked beans, bread, white and black pudding. 

Irish beef stew at Metro Cafe
Wok In's delicious prawn noodles

Leo Burdock's Fish and Chips

Peri-peri chicken, salad and chips at Nando's

My version of gourmet dinner: Fish cake, asparagus with butter and coleslaw. I bought everything at Tesco's, a grocery near my apartment. I love asparagus!
Some of my other recommendations include the butter croissant from Spar, Chicken and Bacon wrap and a glass of Hot Angel (white chocolate) from Insomnia Coffee, corned beef from M&S, roasted chicken from Supervalu and the Garlic and Cheese fries from Supermacs.

Where to find them:

Quay's Restaurant
10-12 Temple Bar Square
Dublin 2
Website: http://www.quaysrestaurant.com/index.html

Metro Cafe
43 South William Street
Dublin 2
Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/metrocafedublin

Wok In
Lower Stephen Street
Dublin 2

Leo Burdock Fish and Chips
In several locations within Dublin but the oldest (100 years) was the branch near Christchurch Cathedral
West Burgh Street, Christchurch
Dublin 8
Website: http://www.leoburdock.com/index.html

Tesco
Temple Bar Metro
40-47 Fleet Street
Dublin 2
also in several locations
Website: http://www.tesco.ie/

Spar
Mayor Street Bridge
Irish Financial Services Centre (IFSC)
Dublin 1
also in several locations
Website: http://www.spar.ie/

Insomnia Coffee
4 St. Stephen's Green
Dublin 2
also in several locations
Website: http://www.insomnia.ie/

Marks & Spencer (M&S)
24-29 Mary Street
Dublin 1
also in several locations
Website: http://www.marksandspencer.ie/

Supervalu
Aston Quay, City Centre
also in several locations
Website: http://supervalu.ie/

Supermacs
Westmoreland Street
Dublin 2
also in several locations
Website: http://www.supermacs.ie/









Monday, August 12, 2013

Creative juices flow on Grafton Street

When I arrived in Dublin a few weeks ago, I was greeted with sunshine. It was quite unusual, I think, because from what I've read, they say it always rain in Ireland. So I was expecting that the Irish rain will be welcoming  me when I arrived. But the sunshine continued for 2 weeks and it has been a great time for me to pretty much explore the area. The one thing that I have grown to love in Ireland is the Irish's passion for art - you see musicians, painters, singers, photographers on the street. A very good place to nourish those creative juices.

busy Grafton Street - where shopping and passion for the art collide
One place to see that art is in Grafton Street. Aside from being Dublin's shopping district, Grafton Street is also where you will see a lot of performers. And the good news is you will see different sets of performers everyday!  Here are some of the creative and talented people that I have seen so far:

Men (and dog) in black
Dancers
orchestra on the street
Strip Cheese - the best I've seen so far
So when you're in Dublin, don't forget to drop by at Grafton Street and also give a few euros if you enjoyed the show. Some of these street performers rely on a few donations to get by. Walk through the entire street and who knows you might even see the flamenco dancers or the guy who eats fire!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Prelude to the Emerald Isle

For the coming weeks, I will have a wonderful privilege to visit Ireland, also known as the Emerald Isle. Here are some of the images that I found in the web and I just can't wait to explore it! I'll be writing some articles about it and I hope you'll join me in this wonderful journey.

Dublin Castle - image from tumbler.com
Glendalough - image from numberone-niamh.blogspot.com

The Book of Kells - image from art-imagery.com

Guinness Beer - image from gigfy.com

Irish coffee - image from sprudge.com

Shamrock - image from theshamrockcrawl.com


Saturday, June 22, 2013

The cheapest places to travel in 2013, from a currency point of view


Image from mozo.com.au

*This is a guest post.

Do you enjoy travelling, like Che? Then check out this table to find out the cheapest places to travel in 2013, in terms of where you can get the most foreign currency!

 Country and Currency
 Current exchange rate for US dollars:
Best US dollar exchange rate since: 
% US dollar has climbed in 2013: 
India (Rupee) 
59.56 
All-time best 
 9.33%
Turkey (Lira) 
1.92 
All-time best  
8.23% 
 Brazil (Real)
 2.24
 April 2009 (50 months)
9.96% 
 Indonesia (Rupiah)
 10130
September 2009          (47 months) 
3.42% 
South Africa (Rand) 
 10.23
 November 2009       (42 months)
28.89% 
 Australia (AU dollar)
 1.08
September 2010          (21 months) 
 13.54%
 New Zealand             (NZ dollar)
 1.28
 June 2012 (12 months)
 6.95%
Singapore (SG dollar) 
 1.27
June 2012 (12 months) 
4.49% 
Thailand (Baht) 
31.12 
 November 2012          (7 months)
1.87% 
Mexico (Peso) 
 13.25
 December 2012          (6 months)
 3.74%

So for example, right now is the best ever time to travel to India. This is because you can exchange US dollars for Indian rupees at a higher exchange rate than ever before!

About the author
Peter Lavelle is a currency dealer at a foreign currency broker Pure FX.

To find out when the exchange rate hits a fresh record high, sign-up to Pure FX's free newsletter.

We'll send you an email when the best exchange rate becomes available!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Taste of Mushroom Burger, Tagaytay

With all the people looking for healthy alternatives, different vegetarian and semi-vegetarian restaurants have sprung up all over the cities. One of which is Mushroom Burger in Tagaytay City. I was not able to go there when I had a Tagaytay food trip last March but I vowed to return just to try out Mushroom Burger. I have always wanted to visit this place ever since I heard of it. Quite intriguing really specially for people who love mushrooms - just like me! 

Last week when my family attended my cousin's wedding in Batangas, we passed by the Mushroom Burger restaurant and I mentioned to my sister how I would love to try out the food there. She got intrigued too and gladly volunteered to drive us to Tagaytay this weekend.


I was so excited when we entered the restaurant and I saw how simple the interiors were. When we arrived, there were only a few people dining but towards lunch time, we see a lot of people coming in mostly families. After we selected our seats, my brother and sister headed to the counter to check out their menu. These are some of the items that we ordered:

Mushroom Royal - the patty is a combination of beef and mushroom topped with cheese  as well as mushroom and egg omelet. This costs Php105 including fries and drinks.
Mushroom Sandwich - purely mushroom, this cost Php85 including fries and drinks.
Chocolate Mallows Tornado sundae - this costs Php35
Mushroom burgers, fries and sundae
They also have other selections such as noodles, chicken and rice meals for those who is not a fan of mushrooms. You can choose to dine inside but there are also some tables outside. There is a playground and a wishing well outside to keep the kids entertained. I can say that this restaurant is a really good place to hang out and bond with family over delicious mushroom burgers and fries.

Culture mushroom display inside the restaurant
Mushroom Farm - this is a restricted area but I hope they will allow people to see it also

Address:
Mushroom Burger
Km 60, Brgy. Kaybagal
Tagaytay City

Check out their website here.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Tagaytay Food Trip


Tagaytay reamins to be one of the most visited cities in the Philippines mainly because one can relax and experience a microvacation without driving or going too far from Manila.  Aside from the cool climate and picturesque landscape, Tagaytay has been a favorite destiantion for foodies. Two weeks ago, we went up to Tagaytay to try out some of its awesome food. Here is a short guide for those planning to have a food adventure in Tagaytay:

1. Buon Giorno at Cliffhouse Tagaytay - Buon Giorno is an Italian restaurant located in Cliffhouse, Tagaytay. It offers a variety of Italian dishes and we get to try out the Spaghettini Aglio e Olio (Php 272) and the Spaghetti Vongole e Gamberetti (Php 302) which both tastes so good! They also serve their pasta with a free basket of garlic bread. Since Buon Giorno was our first stop in our food adventure, we only ordered pasta so that we wouldn't fill out our tummies too much - leaving room for our next destination.

Buon Giorno menu
Spaghettini Aglio e Olio and a free basket of garlic bread
Spaghetti Vongole e Gamberetti
How to get to Buon Giorno: Ride a jeep with the sign "NBI" and alight at Cliffhouse. Cliffhouse is along Aguinaldo Highway, after Leslie's Restuarant.

Address: Buon Giorno
General Emilio Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City
Phone:(046) 413 2102



2. Carlo's Pizza - located in an area called One Destination. Carlo's Pizza offers one of the best tasting pizza I have ever tried. We ordered the Messicana Pizza which is a combination of ground beef, tomato salsa, green pepper, jalapeƱo chilies, cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese. For the affordable price of Php 255 that is good for 2-4 persons, this pizza is easy on the wallet but makes your tummy happy.

Messicana Pizza
Good food at Carlo's Pizza and a good view - what more can you ask?
How to get to Carlo's Pizza: One Destination is just a few meters from Cliffhouse so you can also ride a jeep plying the "NBI" route and alight at One Destination.

Tip: Get a table outside for an amazing view of Taal Volcano.



3. Len's Kitchen at Mahogany - what is a trip to Tagaytay without trying out its famous bulalo? While there were a lot of restaurants throughout Tagaytay serving bulalo, we chose to go to Len's Kitchen at Mahogany since I read a lot of good reviews about this place. Len's Kitchen is located on a strip of carinderia-type eateries just opposite the Mahogany market so you can be sure that they use only the freshest meat in their bulalo soup. The bulalo is served piping hot, a perfect balance to the cool climate of Tagaytay. One order of bulalo is around Php 350, good for 2-4 persons. You can request to have the bone chopped up so that the bone marrow will mix with the soup. They also offer free dessert, unlimited bananas and pineapples.

Tagaytay's famous bulalo - yes it might make your cholesterol level go a notch higher but who can resist this anyway?
How to get to Len's Kitchen: Ride a jeep with the sign "NBI" and alight at Mahogany. Landmark is a police station on the corner of Mahogany. Walk ahead until you see the strip of bulalo restaurants opposite the Mahogany market.


4. Bag of Beans - to cap off the food adventure, head out to Bag of Beans located near the Tagaytay rotunda. Bag of Beans is one of the most famous coffee shops in Tagaytay (even more famous than Starbucks, I think).  It serves the rare alamid coffee (Civet coffee) which is made from the droppings of the civet cat. If you are not brave enough to order the alamid coffee, order their blueberry cheesecake instead. The cheesecake is so good and though it is priced at Php 150 per slice, you would still feel that you got your money's worth.

This blueberry cheesecake is so good, it melts in your mouth!
How to get to Bag of Beans - ride any jeep that will pass through the Tagaytay rotunda. Bag of Beans is opposite 7-eleven and is beside BPI. There are several branches of Bag of Beans all throughout Tagaytay so their blueberry cheesecake won't be that hard to find.


5. Good Shepherd - for some pasalubong/ take home food shopping, don't forget to drop by at Good Shepherd in Maryridge. Good Shepherd is run by nuns and is famous in Baguio City. It's a good thing that we don't need to go up as far as Baguio City to get a taste of their famous Ube Halaya for they now have a branch in Tagaytay. 

Good Shepherd heavenly goodies

How to get to Maryridge Good Shepherd - From Olivarez Tagaytay, ride a jeep going to the "Terminal". Then from "Terminal", ride another jeep going to People's Park. Tell the driver that you will be alighting at Maryridge which is just a few meters after Picnic Grove then walk ahead until you see the entrance to Maryridge.

Other recommendations: You can also try out El Mare's buko pie near Tagaytay public market and burgers at Mushroom Burger. There are a lot of good restaurants around Tagaytay, ask the locals for their recommendations and I'm sure you will be returning back to Manila energized, refreshed and maybe a few pounds heavier because of your food adventure. :-)


Snapshot on the road: Wisdom Path, Hongkong


Wisdom Path - Lantau Island, Hongkong

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Inspirations: Getting back on track

For the last 6 months, I have been in a transition. There have been very few posts on my blog because there were a lot of things happening in terms of my career and family. I have resigned from my previous work with all hopes that I will be pursuing the things that I loved the most - that is to travel and to write about travel. I have been in contact with a travel magazine editor and applied as a freelance writer, exchanged a few emails with them until I did not hear from them again. I was disappointed that it didn't go well but it never stopped me from dreaming. Until most recently, two of my loved ones got sick and I had to take many trips - not to exotic destinations or far flung places, but trips to the hospital. It was a sad moment and my initial thought was I had to take a job immediately (something that is related to my work experience) to pay for bills. I have to adjust to a lot of things including me working on the night shift.  My dreams would have to wait...

Putting things off because there were some things that I needed to attend to made my spirit lost that certain high. When 2013 arrived, for the first time in many years I do not have any travel plans. It was unusual of me because usually my trips were booked 6 months in advance or even more. 

Then, I saw the blog of one of my favorite authors - Paulo Coelho. He has these e-cards showing quotations from the books he has written (most of which I am familiar with because I read almost all of his books). Those e-cards were simple reminders of having a dream, pursuing a dream, of love and of triumph. Reading them made me realize that a dream should not stop when something doesn't go as we have planned. Dreams are for those who go on even if something fails. It is a power we have in ourselves to see beyond where we are now and aspire for something or somewhere that we want to be in the future.

Today, I share with you my readers one of the ecards from Paulo Coelho's blog. Be inspired, believe in your dreams and something which I have learned to embrace right now, is to never give up.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sample Itinerary for Bacolod-Guimaras-Iloilo

More than a year ago, I embarked on a solo journey to three beautiful places in the Philippines - Bacolod, Iloilo and Guimaras. Some of my friends have been asking for my itinerary on the said trip. That is why I decided to just share it here in my blog  so that anyone planning a 4days/3 nights can also have some ideas.

Day 1 - Bacolod
  • Arrival in Bacolod City and check in at Bacolod Pension Plaza (Cuadra St., Bacolod City)
  • Lunch at Nena's Beth for a taste of the famous chicken inasal (Manokan Country, near SM Bacolod)
  • The Ruins in Talisay City - this is what remained of the grand mansion that Don Mariano Lacson built, following the death of his wife, Maria Braga. Today, it is a tourist attraction for its romantic, yet strong structures.  How to get to The Ruins: From Araneta Avenue (Old Bacolod City Hall), ride a jeepney with the Mandalangan-Lopues route. Alight at Lopues (another landmark is Robinson's Place) and ride another jeepney going to Talisay City. Alight at Bata (Pepsi bottling plant). You will see a signboard here going to The Ruins.  Ride a tricycle and tell the driver to bring you to The Ruins. Fare: Php80 one way.  You can have the driver wait for you since there are not many tricycles going that route. Travel time is around 15 minutes and you'll be transported back in time. Entrance fee is Php60. Best time to go there in the afternoon and wait for the sunset.
  • Calea Cakes located at Lacson Street. Calea is quite famous in Bacolod and there are also many branches throughout.
  • ANP Negros Showroom for souvenirs, also located in Lacson Street
  • If you still have time, you can also visit the ancestral houses in Silay City

Day 2 - Guimaras
  • Bredco Terminal - for ferries going to Iloilo. I took the Supercat, fare is Php320 for tourist class. Travel time is around 1 hour. There are also other ferry companies going to Iloilo. You can choose whatever you like. They have schedules almost every hour.
  • Arrival at Muelle Loney Port, Iloilo. To get a taxi going to the hotel, you can walk until you reach the main street. There are taxis along the port but they charge a fixed rate of Php200 when going to Iloilo Midtown Hotel (which is just near the port).
  • Check in at Iloilo Midtown Hotel - this is near Amigo Plaza (shopping mall) and SM Delgado
  • Ortiz Port in Iloilo City - this is the terminal for pumpboats going to Guimaras. Fare is Php14 if you travel during the day and Php17 if you travel at night.  I think the earliest trip is at 6AM and the last trip is 10PM. Travel time is around 45 minutes.
  • Jordan Port, Guimaras - upon arriving at the port, there are tricycle drivers that offer trips around Guimaras. I don't know their rates because I have already made arrangements with Kuya Jun, a local tour guide. I paid Php1000 for a tour. You can contact Kuya Jun at (0918) 367-1195.
  • Tour around Guimaras: Daliran Cave, Trappist Monastery, Raymen Beach Resort, Smallest Plaza, Guisi Lighthouse and Balaan Bukid. I arrived in Guimaras at around lunch time so I did not get to see as many places as I could have been. So it is ideal to go there in the morning so you can explore more.
  • Raymen Beach Resort - rates are Php400 per hour and Php150 for the succeeding hours. I only availed of the 1 hour tour and I was able to go to the Lawi Marine Turtle Rescue Center, Ave Maria Island and Baras Cave.
  • Back to Jordan Port to catch the boat going back to Iloilo.

Day 3 - Iloilo
  • Travel to Super (Iloilo wet market) - terminal for jeeps going to Miagao Church. Travel time is around  1.5 hours, fare Php50.
  • Miagao Church - UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Other churches you will pass by and can explore:  Molo Church, Tigbauan Church, Guimbal Church
  • Deco's La Paz Batchoy beside SM Delgado
  • Roberto's Siopao located at JM Basa Street - famous for the Queen size siopao
  • Tibiao Fish Spa - located in the lower ground floor at SM Iloilo (they also call it SM Mandurriao). The rate for a fish spa is Php120 for 30 minutes.
  • Take home some biscocho from Reggie's or Biscocho Haus (located at near SM Iloilo Traveler's Lounge)
  • Other suggestions: Museo Iloilo, Iloilo Provincial Capitol and Jaro Cathedral

Day 4 - Manila
  • Back to Manila
Read more of my solo travel adventure to BacolodGuimaras and Iloilo.