travel

What’s Paris without the Eiffel Tower

How we ended up traveling to Europe in December of 2016 remains an enigma to me.

In 2015, my youngest child began with his obsession of drawing the Eiffel Tower just for kicks. He drew this on cartolina, bond paper, board paper, etc. (the list goes on and on). He placed his drawings everywhere in the house, would talk about it on end, and would express his intention to visit the actual Eiffel Tower. He copied a variation of images off from youtube tutorial videos. He even compelled us to buy him some miniature tower replicas in the mall.

Lo and behold, my parents decided to bring us all to Paris, France with side trips to Kaiserslautern, Germany (where my aunt lives) and Brussels, Belgium in December of 2016. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy.

Naturally, when we were in Paris, he had the time of his life. At first, we never really intended to visit the actual tower. The rest of us were pretty much satisfied to just take photos fronting this monument. However, he is a very insistent boy and through his theatrics of crying, whining, and more crying, we went there despite the extremely cold temperature. It’s a good thing that he encouraged (more like forced) us because more than fulfilling our child’s dream, this surreal experience was beyond breathtaking and worth the trip and long queue.

Here stands our man of the hour, the happiest boy on the planet, for having gotten his way 🙂 See that cheeky and proud smile of his?


Constructed in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel for the Universal Exhibition, the Eiffel Tower is a symbol of Paris and human genius for the world to see.

Above you will see the Eiffel Tower from afar and then here’s another closer daytime and nighttime view of the tower.

While you have options to get your ticket via viator or klook as well as direct with http://www.toureiffel.paris, we went the traditional route and lined up alongside most tourists at the entrance of the Eiffel Tower at the Esplanade (although it would probably be just better to get your tickets online to save you the trouble of being in queue for a long period of time as we were in line for a little over 30 minutes). After the long wait, we were led to an elevator that brought us up to the tower. There was another line here because they can only fit a certain number of people per elevator ride.

On the first floor is a transparent flooring. It’s 57 meters from the ground. Surrounding the tower are elements about the different aspects of the tower such as screens, touch screens, displays, digital albums, and reproductions though we were not able to personally see these as we were lead to another floor. Between the months of December and February, an ice skating rink is put up here for the enjoyment of people. Using the facility is free of charge to those with Eiffel tower tickets.

On the second floor, you will get to see views of key French sceneries and landmarks. There are also restaurants and shops on this floor. This is where we ended up going. The gorgeous view that surrounded us was definitely something.

The top floor is 276 meters up with only the antennae above it. A replica of the tower from 1889, panoramic maps, and Gustave Eiffel’s office with wax models of him and his daughter Claire welcoming Thomas Edison may be seen here. There is also a champagne bar offering either rose or white champagne.

Above are more views of Paris although I can’t really tell where the Louvre or Notre Dame is here.

What’s Paris without the Eiffel Tower right? I am glad my son paved the way for having us visit this place up close.  I am grateful too for my very generous and loving parents who helped make this trip possible.

Quick Tips:

  1. Get your Schengen Visa via VSF-Global (for Filipinos living in Manila). Here is the complete address: VSF Global Services Philippines Private, Inc. Mezzanine Floor Unit M01 Ecoplaza Building 2305 Chino Roces Avenue Extension Makati City, Metro Manila 1231.  Special assistance (for an extra amount) is extended to those who need to fast track their visa application. Do take note that VSF Global also caters to other visa applications for other countries.
  2. Consider flying Emirates because it is one of the cheapest couriers to Europe. Our stopover over was in Dubai.
  3. In Paris, since food prices are usually a bit expensive, why not get your food from the grocery where it’s a tad bit cheaper. Monop is one of the grocery options in the area.
  4. Be careful in selecting water because most of their offerings are of the sparkling variety.
  5. For souvenirs and other knick knacks, pay Monoprix a visit.
travel

Tips for Aspiring Professional Dancers

If you have ever considered being a professional dancer, working for the Walt Disney Company has probably crossed your mind…and how could it not? Disney now has seven resorts worldwide, and four ships in the fleet, so they are ALWAYS in search of people willing and ready to bring the magic to life! I made […]

via AUDITIONING AS A DANCER FOR DISNEY — Like No One Is Watching

Do check out the posts of “Like No One Is Watching.” More than being able to write very well, she is able to share her vast experiences in the field of dance. It’s definitely very inspiring especially for aspiring dancers.

travel

When in Iloilo, Choose Diversion 21 Hotel

Diversion 21 Hotel is part of a chain of hotels – Smallville 21, Century 21, Highway 21 – in Iloilo with the number 21 (surprise!) as its insignia. While I have been to Highway 21 and Century 21 already, I have found my home in the Superior Matrimonial Room of Diversion 21 Hotel whenever I am in this part of town.

The price of this room type is a little over Php 2 000 (under 50 USD) per night and is inclusive of breakfast. Do take note that their actual fees are lower than their published rate online.

What’s nice about this hotel is its well -thought architecture and interior design from the all-white motif going on with a pop of colour here and there to the comfortable beds and general zen-like atmosphere. The food, while a tad bit expensive, is rather good too with portions usually more than enough for sharing.

Outside of this hotel are several restaurants, a bakery, a mini mart, and a karaoke bar. A stone’s throw away from the hotel is a mall (SM Iloilo) and more shops for dining, consumer goods, and wellness.

Diversion 21 also caters to various function from small meetings and seminars to grand parties and special events with per head prices starting at Php 500 (or 10 USD) inclusive of buffet lunch and snacks. Thus, people really flock to this hotel because it has the capacity to hold various events. To know more about this, email Ms Shiela at diversion21cafeiloilo@gmail.com.

If there’s anything to improve in the hotel, it would be the heating provisions in the shower and the availability and speed of its wireless internet. Other than that, its all good.

Just remember to book with the hotel early as the place is usually fully booked.

Some Quick Tips:

1. Iloilo is part of Panay Island. If you’re on vacation, why not tour the entire Panay – from Antique (San Jose and Tibiao), Aklan (Boracay and Kalibo), Capiz (Roxas City), and back to Iloilo (Molo and Jaro). You may stay for a day or two in each location.

2. While you’re at it, why not cross over to Negros Occidental (Bacolod City) for more sight seeing. Consider traveling to Negros via Fast Cat or Super Cat (about an hour from point to point).

3. Be sure to visit Breakthrough Restaurant in Molo, Iloilo. Their baked scallops and ‘aligue’ rice are big hits among other mouthwatering dishes. The place is also overlooking the sea so it’s very relaxing.

4. For Catholic devotees, do find time to drop by the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles (Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria) located in Jaro, Iloilo.

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The Magic of Disney Continues

I have been to Disneyland a couple of times with the usual staples not to be missed – shows/musical productions, family friendly rides (such as It’s a Small World), attractions for the more adventurous (such as the Space Mountain), and parades.

This time around however, since we stayed at the nearby Disney Explorers Lodge, a new facility here at the Hong Kong Disneyland compound, we were able to receive fast passes, enabling us easy access to rides and attractions. The hotel rooms are really spacious and good for large families. The room we got had two queen beds and could accommodate 4 persons. Moreover, the hotel lobby is really grand reflecting a jungle-like/tropical theme.

This particular Christmas experience for me was quite memorable because I rarely get to visit Disneyland in the evening, and during this specific time, we were able to watch the evening parade and it was just MAGICAL. I was giddy with excitement and waving at the performers with glee, as if It was my very first time to witness such a spectacle.

Iconic Disney characters were donned in LED Lights and this had a huge impact on the overall effect of the evening parade.

After the festivities, while walking down the town that leads to the castle, we were welcomed with snow along the long stretch of pavement. While these were actually just soap suds (I think), it was simply enchanting, like being transported to another world where anything and everything can happen.

I cannot even begin to explain the joy I felt. Coupled with the 9 PM fireworks display, it was definitely a memorable and mesmerizing evening. Truly, the Magic of Disney Continues and will never ever wear off.

And as Walt Disney said himself, It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.

And he (kind of) just did.

Some Quick Tips:

Tip 1:  Selfie sticks are not allowed in Disneyland so be mindful of this.

Tip 2: Water and food is not permitted in the premises either. It would be best to just bring an empty water bottle and just fill it up with the water coming from the water fountains within the premises.

Tip 3: The food in the hotel is a little pricey. Consider buying your food at “Taste” located at the Citigate Outlet Mall. Using the MTR, get off the Tung Chung Station and go towards Exit C. It’s located one floor down from the ground floor.

Tip 4: You can book your Disney Tickets via klook.com but if you are with small kids and senior citizens, it would be best to just book your tickets direct with Disneyland as they have extra discounts for children and the senior ticket price is only 100 HKD.

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Wandering in Astoria Palawan

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Located in San Rafael, Puerto Princesa, Astoria Palawan is a little far from the city especially if your intention is to go on excursions to the Underground River (Subterranean River National Park) and Honda Bay Islands, or go fire fly watching. If you will book your stay in Astoria, be prepared to pay higher tour package prices. You may book this direct with the hotel.

On its own however, Astoria Palawan is clearly one of the best hotels I have been to because prices are reasonable considering the high end rooms, amenities, finishing, and overall aesthetics. Architecturally, it was well thought of and the owner(s) of this property definitely did not scrimp on its fixtures and art installation.

Located in a 5-hectare mango orchard, it boasts of an infinity pool; spacious gym; indoor playroom with video game facilities; a billiards, table tennis, and foosball table soccer game room; karaoke room; a tree house; an outdoor playground; and a mini-golf area. Minutes away from the main facility is the Palawan Waterpark also owned and operated by Astoria. This is definitely a good place to visit although it is suggested that aqua socks be worn because the floor bed of some pool areas are not so smooth. We had a 1-day free waterpark access. Just coordinate with the hotel front desk officer-in-charge to arrange this.

Astoria has outdoor fat bikes (since the wheels are thick) as well that you can use for free and a beach front. At the time of our visit, the beach was under rehabilitation so swimming here was not allowed. Still, we were able to take great photos.

Since there are mango trees surrounding the hotel, it is advisable to apply insect repellant as the area is sprawling and good for long walks.

There are also function rooms in the facility so definitely, this place was designed to suit not only families but also companies intending to have seminars/company get-togethers. A bonus feature is the cool shower pods by the pool. All you have to do is step on the pod, and voila, this serves as an instant shower before taking a dip in the pool.

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The breakfast buffet that comes with the hotel stay is not shabby either. The spread is delicious although the food choices are rather limited. In the evening, expect a lounge singer to enthrall you while you wine and dine the night away. To book with Astoria,visit their website at https://www.astoriapalawan.com.

 

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DIY Trip to Hong Kong

We tried booking a reasonably priced hotel in Hong Kong within the Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district and found Standford Hillview Hotel.
Its a pretty new hotel with modern amenities. The room we booked was the Oak Room and this was around 13 sq. meters with a double bed. While the room was rather small, it had all the basics enough to make one’s stay comfortable. An added feature of the hotel room is its free 3G Handy Smartphone that can be  lugged around during the duration of your stay for navigation and wi-fi purposes.
The upside of this hotel is that it is brand new, the food is good, there is a free shuttle service to the Central MTR Station where the Airport Shuttle Train service commences. The bonus feature of this hotel is its free 3G Handy Smartphone service (as mentioned earlier).
The downsides are as follows: the hotel is situated on a hill and the walk going uphill is not advisable for persons with disabilities or those who are finding it hard to walk up and about; the nearest MTR is also a bit far away and reaching it would take several minutes. The main attractions in Tsim Sha Tsui is in Harbor City which is situated quite far away from this hotel.
Still, there are nearby malls, diners, bakeries, and coffee shops, and supermarkets within the area. So in all, its still all good plus you are compelled to exercise. There was a day that we actually clocked in 25 000 steps.
On this trip, we have maximized the use of the MTR and got ourselves octopus cards which we procured via klook.com. We also also got our airport shuttle access via klook.
Here are the places worth a look for your shopping needs:
1. Sneaker Street  for your footwear fix – There are an array of shoes her but they are not necessarily cheap. Still, if you are looking for variety, this is where to go.
2. Kwun Tong Factory Outlet Stores for more footwear at high discounts – When we went here, only Nike, Adidas, and New Balance had physical stores. The rest seemed to have closed down. Still, there are good bargains here for branded footwear.
3. Hong Kong Industrial Centre – This is apparel heaven and definitely way cheaper than the items sold at the retail markets of Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay. While there are standard ladies apparel, there are also a good chunk of modern wear suitable for the fashion savvy.
For food, some recommended spots are as follows:
1. Dim Dimsum
2. Yum Cha
3. Din Tai Fung
Dim Dimsum is for those with low to mid-range budgets. While the place is basic, the food is really delectable. There is one near Sneaker Street.
Yum Cha has a package available via klook. There is a branch of this within walking distance from Stanford Hillview Hotel. It’s a little pricey but may cost less if booked with a coupon/deal provider. It is important to go here early because the lines here are quite long.
Din Tai Fung is definitely the most pricey of the three restaurants. Still, it is our go-to diner because of the good food, clean surroundings, and to-die-for shao long baos. The place is more subdued and not as packed as Yum Cha.
It is really easy to travel around Hong Kong due to its efficient transport service. Its nice as well that you can use your Octopus card in both the MTR and Bus lines as well as use such in procuring food and drinks. There is never a dull moment here and there is always something new to look forward to each time we visit.