5-country Euro backpack

Last year, a dear friend asked for some pointers for her European trip with her parents, so I gave her everything I know and could remember.  It was fun rehashing the route and I always thought I should note it then.  I know decades down the road, only the pictures will remind us, and I will probably forget delightful details.  Here they are now!

country visited : Greece, Italy, France, Belgium, Netherlands

duration: 2 weeks

climate: summer

lodging: AirBnb and crashing at friends’ + kin’s [Belgium, Netherlands]

travel style: budget bordering on kuripot

airline:  Ryanair [their version of CebuPac] Booked them 5 months in advance, and is still was our biggest expense.

connections:  airport shuttle [Chania] and ferry [to Athens], furious sprint walking [to Piazzale Roma] to reach our bus for Treviso airport [Venice], Blabla Car ‘hitchhike’ [Paris to Brussels], train [Brussels to Leuven],  Megabus [Brussels to Utrecht]

luggage:  1 pack each with only 1 laptop for both [has to fit with strict Ryanair’s No baggage requirements]

food:  cook your own and baon! occasional splurge

travellers: Hugo and Tricia [H+T]

I would have to start that I flew from Oman in the Middleast so my airfare was already halfway as compared to coming from Manila.  After some days in the Netherlands, we first flew from Amsterdam to the southern island of Creta.


…was wonderfully warm.  We flew from Amsterdam Schiphol and reached Chania in the island of Crete.  Its airport was away from the old city of Chania so we took the bus for a late afternoon ride along winding hills dotted with olives and small houses.  Upon Reaching Eleni Bed and Breakfast in Chania, we just dumped our packs, walked the 3 minutes to the beach, sat and watched the sun go down colorfully over Crete.

allowable pack in Ryanair

allowable pack in Ryanair

sundown. Creta

sundown. Creta

Chania in Crete is unbelievably cheap, especially if you ask around and know where to look for the freshest seafoods and fruits.  Kostas, our Airbnb host was gracious enough to point us where to get good discounts.  The old Canea is of course a tourist magnet so prices will hike up a bit.  But I just couldn’t resist a knife with a ram’s horn handle with Grecian steel blade!

old Venetian port in old town Chania (Canea)

old Venetian port in old town Chania (Canea)

from the old gentleman of klinisknives.gr

from the old gentleman of klinisknives.gr










We did the tourist walk in the old town and was suitably impressed with all the history of this old seaside town and its present activities.  We did not go to the other side of the island for an exploration of ancient Minoan and Cretan culture anymore, we could not bear a 4-5 hours bus ride each way.  We decided to hang around the beach instead, and just totally relax.  For our second night dinner, Kostas shared us a voucher for a waterfront restaurant that served the freshest mussel dish and the best vine leaves I have tasted. Ever.

Soon, it was time to leave the island.  We booked an overnight ferry crossing towards Athens and so took a bus going to the port.  I was expecting a big barge, but in reality it turned out more like a small cruise ship! Proper check-in reception and our cabin was fit like a hotel with twin beds, TV and desk, its own shower & toilet and porthole over the waters. It was also the night the World Cup finals so we’ll always remember how Germany beat Argentina  in the end. Amazing boat ride all in all.


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The Philippines in ‘Time Space Existence’

recalling Venice and Biennale 2014

the urban report

I read a news article several months back that the Philippines is joining the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014 for the first time.  Also that my former professors from the University of the Phillippines Diliman are organizing it, together with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts.  I wanted to experience the Biennale for myself and so was pretty excited that I can plan for it and see an  exhibit coming from my own alma mater. When asked, Prof. Danilo Silvestre was kind enough to share tips of where and what to see first for free.  As we only had two and half days in Venice, this was really invaluable.

Fundamentals, the banner of this year’s Biennale Architettura,  was and is still being held at the Giardini and Arsenale park grounds in Venezia. Renowned architect Rem Koolhaas curated the  comprehensive exhibition.  In parallel, a Dutch…

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happy birthday mommy

Would’ve been awesome really to catch you up with all that’s happened since you were gone

All I know now is that  you and Pops have been together, and now till forever…

For my part, we’re still traversing the road of ‘doing fine-ish and just about to get better’ 

All these have been possible coz of how you raised us of course 

Your friends miss you terribly and I  never stop thinking of you every hour of everyday. 

in all the dreams I’ve had of you, I still always feel uplifted and calmed.

Or warned, thanks again for constantly looking after us! The wings inked at my back are for you and Pops ;-P 

On this 1st of September, we think of you more. Sending you our love and light.

We will definitely meet up someday, My, for a long overdue chika. God-willing not that soon, hopefully when all of us have lived the lives we are supposed to live…

Happy birthday to Consolacion Soriano-Sardinia! or Connie or Cons as everyone loves to call her  :-)  

from The Stranger

In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love.

In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile.

In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.

I realized, through it all, that…

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.

And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.

– Albert Camus

This was a very fitting thought to my sentiments the other day, given by a special person in the midst of hours-long call…

Pillars of Creation from the Eagle nebula

Pillars of Creation from the Eagle nebula

notes on traveling halfway around the globe

1. I always thought Doha International Airport’s yellow line had the longest Cobus transit (with the fastest drivers!)  in between plane and terminal.  Recall my old post for this in https://arkitrix.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/leuven/

2. Was mistaken.  London Heathrow’s purple line topped it by almost 15 minutes from T5 to T4.  With your most close up view of undergrounds, concrete barriers and the inner workings of various industries.

3. From the Middle East going to Far East Asia, I used to love flying Thai Airways. Until when they would do several hours layover in Karachi, at a time when this was the hottest political issue.  So good that they served liquor the most frequently!

4.  And transferring in Suvarnabhumi Airport of Bangkok requires you to walk maybe 5kms (probably less of course, but felt like it) in a circular route.  But come to think of it, it is also akin to the Zurich connecting flights. So it is always better to have trolley cabin luggages and to wear the most comfortable footwear.

5.  I swear this has everything and probably works everywhere in the world. Except in my home country.

multiple adaptors

multiple adaptors

6. It’s more gut-twisting and anxiety-inducing to take a cab ride from Tandang Sora, Quezon City to catch a domestic flight in 2 hours at Terminal 2, Pasay City than switching 3 planes flying almost 24 hours from Brussels to Manila.

7. It was a comical relief to transit in Heathrow for the sole reason of reading and hearing ALL wayfinding/instructions in plain English.  And not with 3 different scripts of Arabic, French or Dutch.

texts in plain English!

8. Brussels Zaventam has the nearest distance by foot from plane to train.

9. Luggages  weights for international flights usually do not pose a problem.  It’s when connecting to Philippine domestic flights when all hell breaks loose.

10. It still feels good to be able to talk straight shit to cab drivers in your own hometown.

Tourism, sustainably

While rainy season starts in the Philippine tropics, some sustainability thoughts while looking back to summer..

the urban report

I started writing this piece in the middle of a 2-hour lecture for a subject called Strategic Spatial Planning.  It was a 2-degree wintry day outside and I was wrapped in 3 layers of clothing inside the lecture room, and now that it’s spring it’s still quite cool at rainy 12 degrees. In any given day, I often forget either one among the necessary hats, scarves or gloves.  That day more than ever made me dream of verdant islands under the brilliant sun with pretty, chilled cocktails on hand.  The class was about tourism and how it should be sustainable economically, ecologically and socially.  A tall order and perhaps strategic planning can lead right to it, according to the professor.  Very interesting indeed but it got repetitive and so my mind wandered back to clear blue waters where schools of fish nip at your toes and perform the most natural…

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