Featured Traveler: Youmi and GEORGIA

As a continuation of my travel blog project (which started all the way back in 2012, wherein I feature different travelers who have been to unique destinations OR have unique experiences in familiar places), I’m featuring someone who has been to a Eurasian country that has that Eastern European charm without the costly Schengen visa– and- Euro combo needed when one wants to travel to Europe — I’m talking about my friend, Youmi, and her trip to the enchanting country of GEORGIA (not to be confused with the U.S. state). 😉

Youmi in Chicago, Illinois, USA

For those dreaming to travel to Europe, Georgia may not be part of the Schengen states, but it’s a good place to start! It’s a country that’s half Eastern Europe and half Western Asia, making it unique already because you can be in two continents depending on what part you find yourself in. And for Filipinos like me, applying for a Georgian visa is easier than the traditional European Schengen visa because it can be applied online (e-visa) through https://www.evisa.gov.ge/GeoVisa/en/VisaApp. Very interesting, indeed!

So, let’s get to know more about Youmi, her travel background, and her life-changing trip to Georgia! *hint, hint*

“I started traveling around the Philippines only and I enjoyed it so much, so I thought, ‘What more if I travel to other countries?’ That’s when I tried to go to Hong Kong where the nearest Disneyland is located. After that, traveling to other countries became part of my ‘goals,'” Youmi said when asked how her love for traveling started.

As of this writing, she has been to a total of ten (10) countries outside the Philippines: 🇭🇰🇲🇴🇬🇪🇺🇸🇸🇬🇰🇷🇲🇦🇲🇨🇯🇵🇼🇸 — can you guess what these flags are? 🙂

In Georgia, the major places she visited were Tbilisi, Narikala, Gudauri, and Signagi…

flea market in Tbilisi

Georgian bread worth 1 Lari – the official currency of Georgia (around Php17)

various artworks sold in Narikala

Georgian wood art

free amusement at Mtatsminda Park

Old Tbilisi

Georgian National Museum

inside the Georgian National Museum

Old Tbilisi

Signagi

Wine World in Signagi

food and drinks at Wine World

Bodbe Monastery in Signagi (the main religion in Georgia is Christianity, under the Georgian Orthodox Church)

snow in Signagi

…her most unforgettable experience, though?

It was in Georgia where Youmi got engaged to the love of her life, James! ❤

Mtatsminda Park – the place where James asked Youmi to be his wife!

Gudauri ski resort (located at the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range) – where Youmi experienced her first now, with her engagement ring to boot!

Youmi and James in Georgia

As someone who has been through that moment” (a.k.a. a marriage proposal) most females dream of, I could imagine how Youmi felt! Each engagement is unique and special, and I pray for a great marriage for these two all the days of their lives — which all started in Georgia! They actually got civilly married there, which required notarization from the Georgian Consulate in Manila in order to be recognized locally… no worries, though. The couple planned a Christian ceremony anyways! Life-changing, no? 😀

What started in Georgia will continue as Youmi lives her life as a wife and mother. She plans to travel to more places, including her dream destination, Iceland (mine, too!), because for her, “Travel is freedom. It is my breather. I travel when I want a reset in all the stresses I have in life. I also travel when I feel that my life is becoming routinary. I travel to live fully, to learn in every place, and to allow the world to shape me in becoming the best person I can truly be.”

Her quick- and-easy travel tips are:

  • Research and plan for your trip
  • Pack less (because less is more!)
  • Get good shoes and walk everywhere if you can
  • Go with no expectations (inconsistencies/surprises are part of the experience)
  • Buy and try new things — something that will make you remember the place

So what are you waiting for? Georgia is a beautiful country and after Youmi‘s sharing, it automatically became part of my “countries I want to travel to” list — I even have a hashtag in mind already: #GeorgetteInGeorgia WAHAHAHAHA! 😛

❤ ❤ ❤

*all photos in this feature are from Youmi herself


For more of my other featured travelers on this blog, click HERE.

#MikaIshTheOne: The Proposal

It has been more than six months since I got engaged. ❤ My fiance, Ish, and I decided to post about our engagement publicly only after two months (with the exception of our families and close friends) because we wanted to focus on the wedding- and marriage-planning (a.k.a. book our major suppliers, scout our launching pad, etc. — see previous post), and savor the moment.

Well, for those curious and who keep on asking me (haha), and since because I haven’t written on this blog for a while, here’s the version of our engagement story based on my perspective. 😉

❤ ❤ ❤

February 4, 2019. It was an ordinary February Monday — or so I thought. I woke up, said my morning prayers, prepared myself for work, went to my daily eight-hour grind, sweat some at the gym after, and even asked one of my female colleagues to grab some street food as a post-workout snack (isaw is protein, right? LOL!) because I wasn’t in a hurry to go home. Safe to say, I didn’t have a date scheduled that night because the day before, Ish and I had our #Sundate. I was all prim and proper in my maxi dress and “no makeup” makeup look, we ate lunch at a newly-opened Filipino-inspired restaurant, then visited one of my favorite jewelry stores, Pandora — but only to window shop, of course. So on that ordinary Monday night (or so I thought again), between biting and savoring one of my isaw sticks in the middle of Padre Faura, Ermita, I received a call from Ish asking if we could meet up at my house. I said sure, thinking that it was just one of those usual random visits we’re so used to because of our proximity to each other — a big plus in our dating season. Upon ending the call, my colleague and I immediately rode a jeepney and headed home.

I first arrived at my house, with only our house helper in the midst. It wasn’t long after when Ish followed and greeted me with a smile, kiss, and hug. He was wearing one of his white short-sleeved polo barong tops, and I was in my gym clothes — sweat and all. He loves me that much that he didn’t care, and I love him for that. We both came from work and upon entering our living room, he stood beside one of our sofas near the door. He started sharing how his day went, and I was eagerly listening while I multitasked in preparing him a glass of water. He even cracked a joke in between about him winning a very small amount from the lottery, and we both laughed. And then I noticed the change in his demeanor, his smile was still there, but somehow, I’d gotten the signal that he’s serious already — serious enough that I thought he wasn’t kidding about the lottery! 😛

And then he started telling me that he loves me… Not that that was unusual, but I knew something was up and my brain was trying to figure it all out. Haha!

To be honest, everything was a blur already. In hindsight, I just noticed that he had been standing there at one corner of our living room since the time he arrived. That must have been a few minutes already, so I walked to our other sofa, tapped the empty seat space on my right as a signal for him to sit beside me. He did sit, but on the other sofa near my left.

He was still speaking, but my mind was really trying to figure out what was going on during that regular “date” visit. I was that clueless.

And then he suddenly pulled out a white box.

For a second, I thought it was a Pandora box containing the pair of earrings I was eyeing the day before… Laughtrip talaga! When he said it wasn’t and further removed the packaging that revealed a purple box, I knew this was the moment.

But my mind still couldn’t fathom what was really happening!

Then he opened the purple box, and inside was a beautiful white gold ring with a shiny diamond in the middle. My mind couldn’t believe what was happening, and I couldn’t keep myself from thinking about his joke earlier and kept laughing.

I kept on yellling in a laughing tone, “TOTOO BA ‘TONG NANGYAYARI?”

To which Ish replied, “Sabi ko na nga ba ganyan ka mag-rereact [referring to my loud voice] kaya hindi ko ‘to ginawa in public.” Well, my friends would agree. Wahahahaha!

Then, he continued, “Will you marry me?” [I swear it was more romantic than the way I’m narrating it here! Hehe!]

To which I answered, “Teka, ‘di ba dapat luluhod ka muna?”

He replied, “Hindi ka kasi relax eh… gagawin ko palang kasi.”

And then while down on bended knee, he asked me again, “WILL YOU MARRY ME, Mika?”

Trying to compose myself (from laughing as a result of my excessive joy, mind you), of course I answered a resounding “YES!”

He put the ring on my finger, and I was amazed at how it fit perfectly. I asked him how he got my correct ring size, and he mentioned that he had help from a Saint. Just a little back story, I’m a devotee of St. Benedict of Nursia and I always wear a St. Benedict medal ring on one of my ring fingers. I remembered on one date, Ish jokingly borrowed it briefly from me, he tried to slip it on his ring finger but it fit only up to the middle of his pinky. Little did I know, he was already taking note of my engagement ring size then! *hint, hint to all the men planning to propose to their girlfriends* 😉

Anyway, two days after our fateful engagement night, we reserved our date and church.

Our engagement was very casual and personal, which made it more authentic for me and Ish as a couple. There were no cameras, no fuss, and we had an audience of One: God. At first, I asked Ish why he didn’t propose the day before when I was in my “prim and proper” outfit?! Hahaha! He said that he wanted to propose on a day that would really surprise me, and well, he sure did succeed in that! 😀

Almost two weeks ago, we had our engagement/prenup shoot. Just like our engagement, it was casual, fuss-free, and very relaxed. It also dawned on us that we have a few months left before our wedding… time flies really fast when you’re having fun. So yes, I can say that I’m enjoying our wedding preps and engagement. But more than that, we’re enjoying our marriage preps and we can’t wait to finally say our vows in front of the One Who orchestrated our love story in the first place. ❤

Having said that, Ish and I continue to ask for your prayers as we journey to God’s altar. Likewise, we also pray for our fellow engaged couples, especially the ones we made friendships with during our Discovery Weekend retreat — highly recommended for engaged couples or boyfriends/girlfriends serious enough to consider marriage, btw!!! 🙂

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

“…I found the one my heart loves.” -Song of Songs 3:4

 

Life Lately as a “Bridechilla”

Yep, just like that, almost six months have passed without any activity on this blooog. Haha!

But I’ve great news, since the last time I blogged, I got engaged, reserved our wedding date and church, went to a bridal fair, booked suppliers for our wedding, joined a wedding-related online group, bought our launching pad — yes, I’m officially a BRIDE-TO-BE!!! ❤

(And those are just the wedding-related stuff… I still have other things going on in my life! Whew!)

Anywho, contrary to what most people think of brides-to-be, I’m NOT a bridezilla (and I pray I won’t be one! huhuhaha); I’m more of a bride-CHILL-a = a cool, calm, and collected bride-to-be! Wahahahaha!

Just a quick update (mostly as a personal reference), since I got engaged almost four months ago, we’ve already accomplished / booked MOST of our major suppliers — let this be a checklist for fellow bridechillas out there (oh yeah!):

-wedding date

-wedding budget

-entourage

-church

-florist

-accommodation

-reception venue

-bridal car

-caterer

-cake

-lights and sounds

-photographer and videographer

-photobooth

-host

-bridal dress designer

-female entourage dress supplier

-bridal accessories

-hair and makeup artist

-wedding coordinator (on the day only)

-invitations

There are many others that we haven’t checked off of our list yet, but I’m thankful to God for all the guidance and provisions. Planning a wedding (even an intimate and simple one like ours!) and preparing for marriage are not for the faint of heart, and I’m grateful that me and my fiance (yaasss, Ish isn’t just my boyfriend anymore!!!) are very hands-on with everything.

Also, let this be my simple way of saying that I’m probably going on another hiatus on this blog. I don’t know, maybe the next one you’ll read here is a review of my suppliers. Or our honeymoon baby (I’m claiming it in Jesus’ mighty name!). Or a combination of both. Only God knows.

All I know is that my life lately has been a challenge of balancing time for work, family, friends, finances, fitness, wedding preps, etc. But overall, I thank God that He’s at the center of it all.

Speaking of faith, please pray for me and my fiance, Ish, as we attend the first of our many marriage preparation seminars next week! Rest assured that I’m also praying for whoever you are reading this. God bless! 🙂

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

“Do everything in love.”
-1 Corinthians 16:14