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What To Do in Amsterdam's Dam Square Area

19 March 2016

Amsterdam is a beautiful city in the Netherlands. It is filled with winding canals, beautiful and tiny houses, lined up in cobble-stoned alleys and streets. Seeing Amsterdam for the first time is a wonderful experience and I want more.

My friend and I stayed in the Amstel area where it is walking distance to the flower market, the Amsterdam Central Station, food outlets and convenient stores like the famous Albert Heijn and the Dam Square.

Dam square is a big open space attraction in Amsterdam. Plenty of tourists and locals flock the area to pass by, people-watch, shop, dine, and simply take photo shoots since it is the same place where the Royal Palace is, the New Church, Madame Tussauds, the Magna Plaza, and the National Monument which is just across the street.

Dine

There are plenty of food outlets near Dam Square and you will not miss one at all. Simply stroll near the area and you will find plenty of restaurants and fast food chains you are familiar to. You can also try out their small food chains along the road and enjoy the nibbles while walking around Dam Square.


The Vlaamse Frites food outlet was along the stretch of Damrak. I liked that I was served by a very gracious and elderly man. He even gave me extra fries! Now, that is super customer service! And not to mention, the fries were awesome and best eaten with various sauces. I chose the cheddar cheese!



Sights

As I have mentioned earlier, Dam Square is home to famous edifices. It is frequented by millions of visitors each year and even locals enjoy these sights.

National Monument

This monument was constructed to honour the victims of World War II.




New Church

Nieuwe Kerk as it is called by the Dutch is a 15th century gothic building which held prominent weddings and even Royal coronations in the past. It now holds art exhibitions. It is a church that is not used for any church services but only as an exhibition place.

It is also a burial site for famous people like the playwright Joost van den Vondel.




Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis)

The palace may not look very grandiose but once you see the inside, it has opulence written all over it. Unfortunately, my friend and I did not see the inside of this magnificent palace. So, I checked the internet for a nice photo to share here (Photo credit: pinterest.com). 



Interiors of the Royal Palace




Shop

Dam Square is teeming with big, small and other trendy shops frequented by both locals and visitors. Bijenkorf, Magna Plaza and Albert Heijn are the ones nearest to this place.

This is me and my friend near the Bijenkorf.




Nearby Attractions

Here are some attractions near Dam Square.  And no, I did not enter the museum!




You Wouldn't Have Heard Of These Amazing Islands!

17 March 2016

Our world is fantastic and full of unique places we have never heard about. Islands are some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. You should see these amazing islands that exist, but people often don’t know about them. Most of the islands boast beautiful scenery and beaches and look like they can’t possibly be real.


Andros in the Bahamas

The Bahamas is known for its incredible white beaches, glamorous nightlife, and hot weather. Most people have heard of its capital Nassau, and this is where holidaymakers regularly go. However, Andros in the Bahamas is named as one of the largest islands in the Bahamas but is the least well known. The island boasts the world’s oldest dive shop and has extensive underwater caves for people to explore. The island is rich in ancient rituals, and there is extensive history and culture to discover, as it dates back to the 1400’s. There are crystal clear waters, and Andros has the second largest reef in the Western Hemisphere. Read Here about other islands you might not have heard of.


Folegandros in Greece

Closer to home, Greece has many secret islands people don’t know about. Most people think they know Greece’s islands, which are always a top holiday destination. Rhodes, Corfu, Kefalonia, Santorini and Crete are just a few of the main ones who have thousands of visitors every year. However, many people have not heard of Folegandros. The island looks very similar to Santorini, with its beautiful white buildings, and it’s set in high cliffs. The island also has cobbled streets and many shops. As most people haven’t heard of it, it’s not a touristy area and only has access via a ferry service. The beaches are also superb. See here for more islands in Greece you won’t have heard of.


Thanda Island in Tanzania

Tanzania in Africa is visited for its beautiful beaches and safari holidays. Most people would have heard of Zanzibar, and this is where most of the tourists go. Thanda Island is one of the world’s most exclusive tropical islands, and individuals have not heard about this unique destination. Thanda private island is located between the mainland of Tanzania and Mafia Island and is only accessible via boat or helicopter! It boasts beautiful marine life and is full of history. It is also home to some of the world’s best wildlife and has some of the best reefs for snorkeling.

El Nido, Palawan

Palawan is one of the largest areas in the Philippines and is known for its beautiful wildlife and aquatics. Its beaches are often overlooked for other destinations such as Bali and Thailand. However, as described here, Palawan's less known El Nido is an amazing island people don’t know about. El Nido has white sand beaches and has many coral reefs. The island is perfect for diving and also has a lot of history that people don’t know about.

These islands are simply amazing, and we can’t believe that people haven’t heard about them already. Take a look at this video to discover more gorgeous islands that the world should know about.





Akihabara and the Many Cafes

13 March 2016

Japan is one of our favourite destinations. We love Japan and the many sights to be seen. Not to mention, the trinkets, the oddity, the food, and the cafes to try.

I am very happy to have visited Tokyo last Dec. 2013 with my husband and daughter for a brief pre-Christmas get-away gift for our daughter. She loves Japan and anime stuff so much so visiting Japan as her Christmas present was the perfect choice. We were lucky enough to visit Akihabara, a nice area for cafe and cosplay lovers.

Akihabara has plenty of cosplay and maids' cafe for various types of people. It is also home to many action figure shops and souvenirs. During our visit, we didn't see much cosplayers because it was during the weekday. We saw some staff wearing costumes along the streets near the west side of Akihabara Station but we could not take picture of them.



The whole place is really interesting. We managed to spend almost an hour in one of the buildings with claw machines and those that dispenses capsule containers with toys inside. We did spend a lot there but the experience was worth every penny! We managed to get lots of kawaii trinkets too from those machines. And we also realised that people actually spend their time (and money) there for fun. I thought we were the only foreigners sucked in there out of curiosity. But the whole building is just meant for those machines or what the Japanese call as gashapon. It is quite addicting! I had to stop because I was spending way too much on the dispensing machines just to try my luck completing a set of miniature toys.




We strolled along Akihabara but didn't go inside the cafes. Some cafes were not open when we visited in the morning after our stop from Shibuya. It was fun to stroll along the many themed cafes and I bet, it would have been more fun if we went inside to check them out.






We also went to some shops with action figures for our collections. I managed to buy a toy robot (I forgot which one) for my brother.  Akihabara is also known as the Electric city.

Visiting Akihabara is just one of the many things you can do while in Tokyo. It's easy to reach by train.






Travelling to Greece? Tips to Help You Have a Great Time

09 March 2016

Visiting Greece is bound to be a great experience for you. You’ll meet lots of different people, explore a varied landscape, and eat some yummy food. However, it’s a good idea to do lots of research and learn as much as you can before you set off. These tips can start you off and help you to have a great time:


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Rent a Car to Get Around

Getting around Greece can be done a number of ways. You could rent a car from a car hire company. Just beware that their driving style will likely be very different to your own driving style. Alternatively, why not rent a moped? It’s ridiculously cheap and can be a lot of fun to do. If that’s not your thing, maybe consider getting the train. Just make sure you keep yourself safe.


Eat on the Cheap

Eating isn’t all that expensive in Greece, but it can quickly use up a lot of your budget if you’re going to nice restaurants. Don’t be afraid to try the street food, like gyros. They will hardly touch your budget and you’ll eat whole meals. If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen, try using authentic Greek ingredients to cook for yourself.


Explore Different Beaches

There are a number of different beaches in Greece that are perfect for different types of people. Whether you’re a couple, a solo traveller or a family, you can find a beach for you. There are many great beaches for solo travellers to try where they can meet new people!


Don’t Plan Too Much

Although there’s a lot to do in Greece, like visiting Olympia and the Acropolis, you don’t want to plan too much. Trying to pack your trip too full with activities can lead to stress and not enjoying things like you should. Make sure you really take time to enjoy the things you’re doing.


Learn Some Helpful Phrases

Learning a few phrases will not only make your trip more enjoyable, you’ll be able to impress the Greeks too. They’ll appreciate that you’ve taken some time to learn phrases and will be far more likely to help you if you need it.


Try the Local Drink

If you want to drink on your travels, try drinking locally made stuff. Even the monks in the towns drink it, and many say that it won’t give you a hangover the next day! Imported stuff will cost you a fortune, so it’s always better to try local.


Stay Hydrated

Greece is an extremely hot country, so make sure you stay hydrated. Carry a bottle of water with you daily and remember to drink from it. The last thing you want is heat stroke ruining your trip.

While you’re in Greece, remember to live in the moment and have as much fun as you can. Really savour it and enjoy it. Many people waste trips worrying about forgetting something or panicking that something will go wrong. Don’t worry about a thing and have a great time!


Copacabana Hotel in Manila - Hotel Review

We needed an affordable accommodation near the SM Mall of Asia last February because it was near the Vikings Venue where we held our daughter's 18th birthday dinner celebration.

There were other hotels in the vicinity but I needed an apartment with several bedrooms to accommodate my other relatives for the night. It was Copacabana Hotel that got my attention from Booking.com because they offered many room options, including 3 bedroom apartment.

I booked 2 nights in this property (Feb. 12-13). The first night was for a double bedroom and the 2nd night was for 3-bedroom apartment. Both of the rooms were clean and spacious but my husband and I (even our guests) enjoyed the super spacious 3-bedroom apartment that also has a maid's quarter so it was practically a 4-bedroom apartment, good for more than 10 persons!


2-bedroom (I booked using different booking site)

Here are some photos of the 2-bedroom unit in Copacabana. They are spacious, clean, well-lit, good working air-conditioning unit and large vanity area with sink.

The only thing I find a bit uncomfortable and unhygienic is that there is no wash basin in the bathroom. I had to either use the shower area to wash my hands after using the commode or go to the sink in the vanity area. We were allowed to check in early than usual because the room was already available and that is a plus!

Also, reaching our room in the 11th floor was part lift and part stairs as the lift was only until the 10th floor.





All in all, the room was okay for us. The beds are comfortable. The room is properly lit. The air-con works perfectly. It may need upgrading in terms of technology. It still uses an old type of TV rather than flat screen units.



3-bedroom (with a 4th room for maid's quarter, I booked using Booking.com)

We had a very wonderful experience in this bedroom type. For one, it is very, very spacious that you can practically ride a bike inside. It is well-lit. The air-con units work perfectly and could even get cold at night. There is a living room area, long dining table for the whole family, 3 bedrooms plus a maid's quarter, 3 complete bathrooms (1 shared between the 2 rooms), and a fully functioning kitchen area with gas range and other appliances.

We even had a situation towards check-out when I asked my relatives to count the set of towels because I didn't want to be charged unnecessarily. There were several staff who came to check and re-count and eventually, I was not charged because I seriously didn't know what happened as we were all busy preparing for our daughter's 18th birthday party the night before. They were all polite and so professional dealing with the situation.  I was never made to feel uncomfortable and I give my commendations to all of the management and staff of Copacabana for running a great hotel with courteous and professional staff.

The living room and dining area



The master bedroom






The kitchen



The 2nd  room (similar to the 3rd bedroom)



The maid's room with attached bathroom



Spacious unit



The best part of our stay!



The highlight of the whole stay was the management team's thoughtfulness. I actually requested from Booking.com if the hotel can provide a surprise birthday cake gift for my daughter as we were there to celebrate her special day. We were pleasantly surprised to see the yummy, chocolate cupcake with a birthday greeting for our daughter in the receiving area.  We were all smiling from ear to ear and really appreciate the gesture. Our daughter loved the surprise and the cupcake!


Nearby attractions/places of interest:
SM MOA
Roxas Boulevard
Manila bay
Malate Church
Manila Zoo
Nearby restaurants and casinos


Price range:
3 bedroom apartment via Booking.com = AED 764 for 1 night

I think this is reasonable considering the number of rooms in 1 unit. I computed the cost of booking separate rooms for 10 adults with 2 small kids to be more expensive than paying for this whole unit. At least with the rate, I only had to pay 1 deposit for the entire unit.


Hotel's features:

Outdoor pool
Free parking
Room Service
Car Rental
Airport Shuttle (surcharge)
24-Hour Front Desk
Currency Exchange
Tour Desk
Ticket Service
Baggage Storage
Concierge Service
Laundry
Ironing Service
Daily Housekeeping
Meeting/Banquet Facilities
Business Center
Fax/Photocopying
Hair/Beauty Salon


My recommendation: 5 out of 5




My family and I are impressed with the way they handled our special request and when they were searching for the towels that were not in the unit. We were treated with respect. We felt comfortable and very welcomed in their property. The whole staff were courteous and very professional.

The 3-bedroom unit is perfect for a big group of people like my family. I highly recommend this place for everyone. The check out is at 12:00 noon compared to other hotels that is only until 11:00. The property also allows pets. Please check the hotel before you book for any changes on their pet policy.


If you are looking for similar property or want to book the same unit, please feel free to use the search widget below:

Booking.com
Copacabana Hotel is located at 264 EDSA Extension, 1302 Manila, Philippines. It has 141 apartments/rooms. Disclaimer:
I personally booked and paid for this stay. I was not compensated by the property in any way to write this review.


(All photos are my personal property. Pls. do not use without my permission.)




Amazing Adventure Breaks in Europe

08 March 2016

When you think of adventure holidays, a lot of people believe that they are for kids or families. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. Sure these types of holidays can be enjoyed by both children and adults alike, but you don't have to take kids with you! In fact, sometimes holidays are a lot more fun without them! Shh, just don’t tell anyone we said that. Whether you have kids or not, a break is always welcomed. Who doesn’t like going on holiday?

pic via Flickr

So if you fancy something a bit more active than lying on the beach sipping cocktails (although that does sound good) what are your options? There’s plenty of time to sit around, and if you’re looking for adventure, then you’ve come to the right place. Doing something different is a great way to revive your lust for life. When you’re doing physical activities, the adrenaline can give you a real boost. You’ll be energized and refreshed and ready for anything. Who knows, you might even find you have hidden talents!


Hit the Slopes!

Skiing has a rep of being only for the wealthy, but it can be surprisingly affordable. You can get some great deals on short breaks. If you’ve ever fancied visiting the Alps, then you could be hitting the slopes very soon if you decide to get your ski’s on. From the novice to the expert, there are courses to suit everyone and tuition is available. To save more money, make sure lift passes and hire charges are included in the price of your holiday - you don’t want to get stung by hidden charges! There are some great packages available at momentumski.com


Fly through the Sky!

The longest zip wire in Europe is situated in Wales. Set in the Snowdonia National Park the line is not for the faint-hearted. You can zoom along at speeds of up to 90mph on what is reckoned to be the greatest zip wire experience in the entire Northern hemisphere. Snowdonia is also known as an area of outstanding natural beauty. You’ll also find a very warm welcome if you visit Wales; it’s one of the friendliest places you could ever hope to go. They certainly like to have a drink and a good time. Find out more at visitwales.com

A Swimmingly Good Adventure

If you are a water baby at heart, then why not visit Siam Park in Tenerife. The popular Spanish resort is reckoned to be one of the best water parks on the continent. With a multitude of white-knuckle water rides, you’ll love the thrill a minute atmosphere. IT certainly has unique surroundings. The park is Thai themed and rich in culture and eastern promise. One of the main attractions of the park is the infamous “Tower of Power.” This petrifying ride features an 80foot drop that passes right through a tank that is full of sharks. Definitely not one for you if the film Jaws gave you nightmares! Don’t panic, they can’t get you, but it’s certainly one for the hardcore amongst you! To make a splash, swom over to tenerifewaterpark.com


What Is An English Seaside Holiday Really Like?

03 March 2016

Lots of people love to take a vacation as a way to destress and relax. This has been the case for over one hundred and fifty years in the UK. The Victorians popularized holidays on the coast when train travel was invented. Journeys to the coast were made so city dwellers could take in the fresh air and coastal activities their homes lacked. Today, millions of Brits still head down to the coast for a break. So what is an English seaside holiday really like?

Most of us have seen picture postcards of a sandy beach and kids playing with buckets and spades. Much of the English coastline, however, isn’t like this. Instead, the coastal areas can be rocky. They’re wild and rugged. They’re also home to a huge variety of sea life and wildlife that you won’t find anywhere else.




Many of the sandy beaches in the UK now form part of the seaside resorts that are popular with people on vacation. You can find golden sands and seawater paddling pools in lots of places like Southend-on-Sea and Blackpool. These big tourist hotspots are also home to theme parks, seafront cafes, promenades, and more. The attractions in Blackpool are famed throughout the country and abroad. The famous tower and ballrooms have also enjoyed a popularity revival in recent years.

Beach holidays are something most of us love. We pay a lot of money to visit hot countries with hundreds of miles of white sands and warm blue waters. England isn’t exactly like that. And most Brits will tell you they go to Spain or the South of France for that. But that doesn’t mean that England’s beaches aren’t worth the visit. Many are very clean, and they are guarded, so you and your children are safe.

During the summer months, most beaches are filled with day trippers and holidaymakers wanting to make the most of a sunny day. Deck chairs are often hired. They’re one of the most annoying, yet iconic part of any English seaside resort. You can also find Donkey rides for the kids, Punch and Judy puppet theaters and vendors selling fish and chips served in paper cones. It’s these things that make the English beach vacation so memorable.




No trip to the English coast would be quite complete without sampling some of the seafood dishes. Mussels and eels continue to be popular dishes around the London area. Both are often served in liquor so they may not be suitable for children. Cotton candy or candy floss is also widely available. Donuts, burgers, and hotdogs can be found in most resorts too.

The UK is a tiny island, which means the coast is never far from you when you visit. You can paddle in the sea, build sandcastles, and even play soccer on the beach. The sound of the seagulls can be heard miles inland, and the scent of the water is alluring. Best of all, the view of the coast of England is beautiful. Much of it is unspoiled, and all of it provides beautiful views of the sea. Enjoy your English seaside holiday.

Make the Most Of Morocco

02 March 2016



Maybe there is just a little bit of everyone’s fantasy destination in Morocco. It stands in the collective imagination of the West. It is the mysterious bridge between the warmth of the Mediterranean and the mysterious legends of the East. At the same time, it has all the appeal of what we seek in an exotic destination. It is edged with just enough mystery and a hint of the unknowable mystique of the Arab world. It is a place that you yearn to know, but realise that you never will completely, but to taste and sample it may well change your life forever.

To make your way to Morocco is to embark on true adventure. It is to show a real zest for all that life can offer. It is convenient as it is close by, and yet centuries apart. It is familiar through tales and legends. It is medieval and modern all in the same breath. There is a sense here than life is being lived, embraced and that life is colourful, sensual and sometimes edgy.



It is life above all that is filled with character and real charm. Embracing it we know will make us better, more rounded and even more understanding. It will elevate us with spirit. From the beaches of Essaouira, and Tangier to the heights of Jebel Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco does exotic. From Sahara night camel trains under the stars, to medieval Berber villages in the mountains. The sensuous cities of Marrakech, Fes and Meknes, all life it here. It is rich and vibrant, and it is touchable.

Naturally you will want to stay safe during your travels. Morocco is no different from any other country. There are things that it would be foolish to do and disrespect anywhere you go. Morocco is no different. Respect the culture and the values and you will not only travel well, but you will also be welcomed and respected as an honoured visitor.

Perhaps there is no more sensual and complete Moroccan experience than Marrakech itself. Where do you start with a such a stunning city? Walking and sightseeing tours in Marrakech can let you know exactly how to make the most of your trip. From the main square in the Djemaa El Fna you will be astounded by the smells, sights and spectacles of this thousand-year-old market. It is a riot of the senses, magic, music and dancing. It is at heart a living, breathing, thriving marketplace. With its snake charmers and chained monkeys, it is like being in a film set expect that this is real and how life has been lived for thousands of years.

Make your way to the souk and immerse yourself. From leather goods to sumptuous spices and foods, there is vibrant life all around you. Haggle and become a part of the melting pot. Explore magical mosques that rise above the skyline with their minarets and hints of a culture and religious devotion that runs deep.



From incredible tombs to magic gardens and from beach resorts to mountain getaways, Morocco has it all. It is a country of truly exotic adventure that can only wait so long for you to explore it. It is a part of you just waiting to be found and discovered.

Canceled Birthday Travel Plans

A lot has happened in February and mostly painful. What was planned to be a happy celebration of my daughter's 18th birthday in Manila became a whirlwind of emotional distress for me and my family.

My was admitted in the ICU last Feb. 11, my daughter had her birthday party on the 13th and mum passed away last Feb. 22, the same day my hubby and I flew back to Dubai. We had to return to Manila to facilitate my mum's funeral and burial services. My dear mum was put to her final resting place last Feb. 28.

Yes, it has been a very, very tough February for all of us. The only redeeming factor was the celebration of my daughter's birthday. However, much as we wanted to celebrate all the way, we couldn't because we knew mum as not well. Little did we know that, that would be the last time we would see, talk, and touch her.

I don't think and feel it is right to celebrate my birthday in few days. I just don't feel happy at all. So, it is just fair to cancel my birthday travel plans and postpone some other time when I feel it is right.

I have to thank my husband who wanted to make me happy on my special day. I know he means well and I know that he knows what is going to cheer me up. For now, I just want to stay at home and rather offer a prayer for my mum. We can always travel later on.

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