Euro Trip 2017: Imperial Highlights

Time to take a break from all the #hugot posts you’ve seen and read on my blog! I’M BACK, FRIENDS!!! Back to my beloved Manila. Back to reality. Back to my travel-loving single self (MWAHAHAHAHAHA!). And most especially, back to my own kaloka and unapologetic blog writing style! That was evident in my posts from early 2012 and before! Love it, then thank you! Hate it, I. don’t. care! 😛

So what’s the topic for this one? If it wasn’t obvious enough, well, I’ll spell it out to you: E-U-R-O-P-E. Yes! Two years in a row! Even I was amazed at God’s provisions in my life despite the setback I’ve encountered later last year/earlier this year. After my UK-Ireland trip last year, I thought I’d be seeing Europe again in, say, five years? But no, obviously, God’s plans are always better and THIS TRIP was just another testament to that! I’m claiming, though, that my third Euro trip will already be my honeymoon! So future husband, you better be reading! I want to go to France and Italy for that! Don’t worry, I don’t expect it to be next year (but who knows?! haha). I won’t even expect it the following year. In that year though, I’m claiming that I’ll be in Panama for World Youth Day 2019! Maybe you can come along? Haha! 😉 After that, then I think I can start to think about settling down. “Start” being the operative word! Char!

Rambling aside (serious muna ulit!), I went to Central/Eastern Europe — the “heart” of Europe they say because this region used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Not just a kingdom, but an EMPIRE!!! Did you know that the last “empire” remaining now is Japan? I went there, too, in June, and I’ve yet to write about it! Hehe! Anyway, this entry will serve as a “teaser” of what you can expect to read and see on this blog in the next few months. Since pictures paint a thousand words, I’ll let them do the “talking” for me for now until I can finally write separate blog entries for each country. In summary, I traveled with two of my sisters in a tour group to the following countries: Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria.

GERMANY

Munich

Regensburg

Bavarian Alps /
(Adolf Hitler’s) Eagle’s Nest

Berchtesgaden

CZECH REPUBLIC

Prague

SLOVAKIA

Bratislava

HUNGARY

Budapest /
The Danube River

Szentendre

Gyor

AUSTRIA

Vienna

Salzburg

To be honest, my pictures don’t really do justice to the actual beauty of each place we visited. And that’s what I’ll try to capture through my words in the coming blog entries. Until then! ❤

The UK & I

Believe it or not, I started drafting a blog post about my “future” dream trip to the UK waaay back in 2011. Back then, it was blank (how could I write? I haven’t even been there yet!) and it was titled “It’s been a long time coming…” Haha. It’s not surprising, though, because as early as age 7, I’ve already dreamed of going to the UK. Some dream of having the ultimate Euro trip (traveling to countries covered by the Schengen visa), but me, though I still want to do that, my priority has always been the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland through and through! So if you’re wondering why I spent almost half a month in the UK (to be honest, bitin pa nga!) and didn’t go to other European countries (with the exception of the Republic of Ireland), then obviously we’re not really close. Wahahahaha! Simply put that those who really know me know that the UK has always been the apple of my “travel” eye and if there’s anyone who deserves to go there, that’s me! me!! me!!! Pag-agawan na ng iba ang France, Spain, etc. Basta ang UK, sa’kin at sa’kin lamang!!! Lakas lang maka-#Brexit noh?! Mwahahahahaha! But yes, as early as age 7, I claimed it, then I finally went, and I sure as heck “conquered” not just the United Kingdom, but also Ireland! This is the very draft I started almost five years ago, and I’m so happy I’m now finally able to click “publish”!!! 😀

So the UK and I. The “I” can literally mean ME, but it can also refer to “Ireland.” 😛 You see, waaay back in history (even before Magellan landed in the Philippines! Haha!), there was no United Kingdom — they were “divided” kingdoms. Back then, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales were all independent states (or “kingdoms,” headed by monarchs). I’m not going to lecture you about their history per se, but let’s just say that somewhere along the way, the four became “united” into one country — hence the United Kingdom. BUT somewhere along the way again, Ireland became divided, and so now there’s Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK; Belfast is its capital) and there’s the Republic of Ireland (which is an independent country and requires a different visa; Dublin is its capital).

So technically, I’ve been to only two countries: the UK and Ireland. But trust me, if you’ve been there, you can easily distinguish the different characteristics of each “kingdom” that it’s not fair to write about the UK as a single country. (Plus! A week after I left, #Brexit happened. Go figure.) 😉

Now that you know that, you can further understand why I’ll be writing about England, Scotland, and Ireland separately — and why I still have more reasons to go back: I still haven’t been to Northern Ireland and Wales! Told yah, half a month wasn’t enough for the UK alone! Tapos ine-expect pa ng iba diyan na pumunta ako sa ibang European countries?! Kayo kaya ang pumunta at gumastos! ‘Nuff said. Haha!

Anywaaay, here’s a summary of the things you’ll be reading on this blog in the next few months (monthsss talaga! HA HA HA):

The UK & I

June 2016. Buckingham Palace, London, England, UK

ENGLAND

London

Big Ben

Did you know that this is actually called the Elizabeth Tower (prior to 2012, the Clock Tower)? Big Ben refers to the bell of the clock but not the tower itself.

York

Yorkminster

Trivia: some scenes from the Harry Potter movies were shot here at Yorkminster!

Stratford-upon-Avon

Shakespeare's grave

That’s the grave of William Shakespeare, one of the greatest writers of all time lang naman. 😛

Oxford

Christchurch

Two words: OXFORD UNIVERSITY.

Wiltshire

Stonehenge

One UNESCO World Heritage Site off my bucket list, more to gooo! #Stonehenge

Bath

Bath

One of the Roman baths (guess you know where the place’s name came from! haha).

SCOTLAND

Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Mary, Queen of Scots sure was lucky to have this view when she was still alive!

Glencoe (the Scottish Highlands)

Glencoe (the Scottish Highlands)

One word: BREATHTAKING! (This was also where we passed to go to Loch Ness…)

IRELAND

Dublin

Dublin Castle

Look, it’s the Dublin Castle! Hehehe!

The Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Ever heard of the lyrics, “where the fields are green, to see you once again… #mylove”??? THEY WERE RIGHT! Hahaha!

And this was just a teaser, so stay tuned for more!
Besides, when it comes to the UK and me, mahaba-habang usapan lagi yun noh!!!

Mika xx

Travelers of The Month: THE WORLD Through The Lens of George And Angelo

“Save the best for last,” they say.

And that’s exactly what I’m doing here as I conclude my 2012 (travel) blog project — by featuring two of the most well-traveled people in the country I can think of: George and Angelo. 😉

No specific country or place will be highlighted in this post because as you’ve seen in the title, THE WORLD itself is the focus.  From Africa to North America, Europe to Asia, my featured travelers surely went and will go there!

Best of all, the photos you’ll see in this post were ALL taken by themselves.  And despite not being professional photographers, I definitely had a hard time choosing which photos to include here not just because of the number of albums (they’ve been to A LOT of places!), but because of the endless great shots that truly captured each and every place they’ve traveled to.

So I’ll stop rambling now and share with you what George has to say about TRAVELING…  and why it’s always better when he’s with his “better half,” Angelo.

Angelo and George in Borobudur, Indonesia

Angelo and George in Borobudur, Indonesia

“I never counted the countries I visited; even if I would, I would’ve already lost count.  I just remember places and faces and even if I revisit, something novel will emerge or I will simply make it happen,” George answered when I asked him about the number of countries he’s been to.  And it’s true.  If you counted the countries he has traveled to, you would’ve lost count too! 😀

But like most people, George‘s first take on traveling happened in the country.  He shared, “I first ventured out of Manila when I was four or five years old (1981 or 1982); we went to see Mayon Volcano.  It was a great experience just to leave but then one had to endure long hours of land travel and as a child, I never looked forward to this.  I can’t remember if I successfully articulated in my consciousness that passion for travel; what I know is just that I was glad that we left and that I went to a place that I’ve never seen before.”

It wasn’t until a few years later when he found himself traveling to Japan — his first international destination.  “I first ventured out of the country when I was 9.  It was a dream come true because I grew up being fascinated by Japanese pop culture and anime.  Godzilla, Voltes V, and Daimos amongst many Japanese cultural artifacts have become indelible memories.  Tokyo Disneyland was so surreal.”

A young George in Tokyo, Japan (top) and Taipei, Taiwan (bottom) both in 1987

A young George in Tokyo, Japan (top) and Taipei, Taiwan (bottom) both in 1987

And thanks to those childhood memories, Japan — as it turns out — is now one of George‘s favorite countries to visit.

That AND Spain.  When I asked him about his favorite countries, this is what he said: “Spain and Japan are the foremost countries that come to mind.  The diversity of experiences and cultural depth have always inspired me and my soul mate [Angelo].  I’m not so sure if it’s the historical/cultural connection but I guess it all boils down to what I learn regardless of repeat visits.

“I’m just drawn to the rich art scene in Madrid, while Barcelona breaks the boundaries of art.  Think of Gaudi and one will just want to stay.  On the other hand, Valencia has exquisite and modern architecture (Calatrava’s City of Arts and Sciences).  Spanish food (eating authentic paella should not be dismissed), markets, and the warmth of the Spanish people are always worth looking forward to.

(photos by Angelo Lacanlale and George Binay)

Clockwise from top left- Cordoba, Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia, La Alhambra, Madrid, and Garden of Alhambra

Clockwise from top left- Peñiscola, Parque Guell, Streets of Granada, Valencia, Zaragoza, and Toledo

“On the other hand, the paradox of the modern and the traditional core is the contradiction that defines Japan.  For me and Angelo, Japan has become an annual journey.  I don’t even know where to start.  I guess the historic monuments of Ancient Kyoto so much so that it’s named UNESCO World Heritage City; it’s only second to Rome.  We also make it a point to go to Japan not just to welcome the new year but to spoil ourselves with all the fukubukuro (mystery bags) in all our favorite Japanese stores and signature labels.  With such significant discounts, we shopped like hoarders to our hearts content.  Never mind overspending in this time of the year.  The food — need I say more?  The precision/attention to detail in all aspects such as gift wrapping makes Japan what it is.  More importantly, the civility and strict order that defines Japanese society are truly remarkable and exceptional.”

(photos by Angelo Lacanlale and George Binay)

O-torii

Clockwise from top left- Itsukushima Shrine, Hiroshima, Shinkansen, and Okunuin

Top- Arashiyama; Bottom- authentic Japanese food

As a seasoned traveler, those two countries must be really special to stand out among the number of countries they’ve visited…  and still counting.  Having said that, how does “traveling” still affect them?  George admitted, “Traveling is empowerment and a liberating activity that must be experienced; imagination becomes a reality and it is essential precisely because it’s education.  It removes you from your shell of ignorance.  My work and ministry as an academic have been largely enriched by this.  Creativity, innovation, and inspiration at work and my relations with other people have largely been nurtured by my travels.”

More thoughts on traveling: “There are times that you have to venture on your own (business trips) but the better half and I have always valued shared experiences and yes, we discuss the lessons that we’ve learned simultaneously as we discover the people, places, and the cultures we experience.”

The World

all photos by Angelo Lacanlale and George Binay

Bandar Seri Begawan

Vienna

sampling authentic Japanese food

Brussels

Vancouver

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Shanghai

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya

Penang

Penang

The Great Wall of China

Clark Quay

Vatican Museum

Zagreb

Prague

London

Chateau de Versailles

Delphi

Budapest

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Borobudur

Gyeongbok Palace

Montenegro

Marrakech

Auschwitz

Bangkok

Bangkok

Trojan Horse

Trojan Horse

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Starbucks mugs (personal collection)

Seeing those shots, it makes you wonder, “What’s next for these two?”  Well George said, “Nepal.  Simply because I haven’t been there.  You always want to visit an unchartered territory.  The unfamiliar excites me.”  In fact, he recently posted this on Facebook,

“Thanks to National Geographic, Gelo and I will welcome 2013 on a spiritual note which is inspired by Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism and by the grandeur of the Himalayan peaks — most notably, Mt. Everest.  A lifelong dream that will finally become a reality.”

National Geographic?  Mt. Everest?  A dream turned into a reality?  By the looks of it, there’s no doubt that 2013 will be another great travel year for these two!  As George put it, “I look forward to equally interesting journeys next year.”  And so do we!

Lastly, George leaves us with one, but very useful travel tip: “Research, research, and more research so you will welcome, appreciate, and enjoy the unique absurdities that will come your way.  Just go and be modern-day global nomads.”

♥♥♥

Once again, I’d like to say thanks to Sir George (and his partner, Angelo) for sharing with us their travel adventures.  It’s truly an honor!

As for all of you, it has been a wonderful year sharing with you the different travel stories of “people like you and me — who just happen to have ‘wanderlust’ as their middle names!!! ;)”  May all of us embark on interesting journeys this coming 2013 as well!

To repeat what George advised,

“Just go and be modern-day global nomads.”

The Lady’s 2012 Blog Project…  signing off. 🙂

Happy New Year in advance, everyone!!!


This post is brought to you by The Lady’s 2012 Blog Project.

You can also check out my other featured travelers HERE.