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V Ä S T E R Å S

May 27, 2016

I have always been fond of old looking towns, wherever part of the world I go. So when we visited the old town of Västerås and later on Fagersta in Sweden, I instantly fell in love with their warm and easygoing charm. Allow me to share with you a small glimpse of just how lovely an old town feels like 🙂

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Chilly spring weather in Sweden.

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Old town feels. Västerås Cathedral found at this same spot, dates back to as far as the 13th century.

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I find wooden houses truly endearing, somehow they feel so much more homey =)

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Found another red wooden house in Fagersta.

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Kyrkbacken is one of the oldest parts of central Västerås.

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Just like stepping back into time.

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Felt so at home 🙂

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Walk this way.

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Loved the pop of blue color on the windows. Huge contrast to the red walls.

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Got this weird fettish for doors and random staircases ?

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?

XX,

Cath

 

Travel Travel Tips

San Francisco

May 22, 2016

It was my first time in the famous San Francisco Bay Area and so like every eager tourist, I did almost everything touristy! 🙂 Most of the major attractions aren’t located far apart, hence a good 3 days is actually enough to appreciate this lovely city.

Also, location is key! If you are staying in a hotel or airbnb, key to exploring the city in the best most efficient way is by picking a location at the very heart of the city. In our case, we picked Grant Avenue in China Town, which allowed us to navigate around the city quite easily and stress free! The moment we stepped out from our hotel, we can already walk around to explore the gorgeous San Francisco streets.

So, here are my top recommendations on how to truly maximize your stay in SF. Enjoy! 🙂

  • San Francisco’s Famous Cable Cars – Another great way to enjoy the city aside from walking around, is by riding the iconic cable car. If you pick a good enough location for your hotel, you can simply walk to a nearby Walgreens to buy a whole day pass for about $20, or go straight to any pick up/ drop off point and ride one way for $7. This is the best way to wander fast through the city, experience the unique steep streets that really set SF apart, and just get to feel the locals’ way of life.
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The cable car driver, a Chinese man living in SF for over 20 years, volunteered to take my photo hehe =)

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Enjoyed my first cable car experience =)

  • Lombard Street – Now if you actually ride the cable car, one of its routes will take you right in front of the famous Lombard Street, or what is known to be the World’s Crookedest Street! Since we were lucky enough to be driving around with my aunt, we got to experience driving right through this very street! And for someone who drives on an almost daily basis, I would say it was quite the challenge. In fact, driving through the steep streets of SF is a unique experience altogether! 🙂
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Famous house right in front of the world’s crookedest street! Loved the flower details!

  • Palace of Fine Arts – Aside from its history of housing famous art exhibitions, it is actually a favourite location for weddings and photo sessions. In fact, when we were there, we saw about 3 couples having their post wedding photos taken, and about 5 debutants having their birthday photo shoot. So I just had to join in and did a bit of photo shoot myself haha! :p
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Gorgeous day for my mini photo shoot. =p

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Truly a dreamy spot for a wedding venue!

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Got lucky with the Spring weather too.

  • The Golden Gate – It is actually one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco and the United States. Hence, your SF trip would not be complete without a visit to see the famous Golden Gate!
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A bit of trivia: Before having my aunt and mom take this photo of me, I had about 10 groups of tourists asking me to take their photos. Shortly before that, I volunteered to take the photo of a family, and soon enough I realized everyone was lining up to have their photos taken! Quite funny but it felt good taking tourist shots of random people =) Should’ve charged a dollar per photo haha!

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Taken by my cool aunt Tess =)

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Little Miss Tourista! =)

  • The Twin Peaks – To have a 360 degree view of SF, head to the top of the Twin Peaks, which is about 1000 feet high above the city!
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Another Trivia : They call it the Twin Peaks cos they kinda look like boobies =p

  • Union Square – Of course, what trip is complete without visiting the shopping centre and food district? Union Square is the city’s top spot for all your shopping and dining needs 🙂
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Mom doing a blogger pose too! 🙂 Most favourite person in the world.

Really enjoyed hanging out at Union Square =)

Really enjoyed downtown SF!

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Took this over lunch at Cheesecake Factory, overlooking Union Square =)

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Every corner, so instagrammable!

  • China Town – One of the most legit China Town’s I’ve seen, felt almost like I was back in Hongkong. It is the oldest China Town in North America and truly houses the largest Chinese community outside of Asia.
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Felt right at home in good ol’ china town.

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Lots of Chinese restaurants and shops in every corner of this long stretch of road.

There you have it! And if you do find yourself in the gorgeous bay area, hope you find this article useful! 😉

XX,

Cath

Travel

The Grandeur of the Grand Canyon

May 8, 2016

Named as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon is truly a manifestation of God’s overwhelming greatness. As you can see, part of its uniqueness are its many layers of striped coloured rocks and soil, that give about its different red, orange, yellow and sometimes purple shades.

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It is located in the state of Arizona. At the bottom of the canyon runs the Colorado River, which has been running through it for about 2 billions years. In our case, it took a 2.5 hour drive from Las Vegas to be able to marvel at this beauty. And it was definitely worth the trip!

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The Grand Canyon is listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1979. Today, almost 5 million visitors come every year to experience such grandeur, and I feel blessed enough to have been one of them.

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Can you spot the eagle spreading its wings from the rock formations?

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Got so lucky with the awesome sunny spring weather!

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Checking out an authentic Indian Tipi! =)

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Sitting on the edge, overlooking the Colorado River. What an amazing feeling!

I have always been in constant awe of nature’s magnificence. Therefore I am truly grateful for such an amazingly humbling experience and witness firsthand, one of God’s greatest creations.

XX,

Cath

Lifestyle Travel Travel Tips

Spring In Sweden

April 1, 2016

The Swedish countryside is richly filled with rolling hills, open landscapes and mountains lined up with pine and birch trees. Freshwater streams and lakes are equally abundant especially on the Southern parts. If you love nature as much as I do, you will definitely enjoy experiencing the 4 different seasons in this gorgeous country. This time, I am really enjoying Spring in Sweden.

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Since the climate varies in different parts of Sweden, temperatures can vary widely too between summer to winter, sometimes making summer still quite cold and winter season long and dark. Spring this year ranges from lows of 2 degrees (Celsius) to highs of 12, with cool winds and sunlight starting to shine, melting the winter ice away.

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Taking all of nature in and really taking advantage of the fresh crisp air  as much as I can during my stay here. Our days are filled with early morning hikes at the woods and long afternoon walks along the countryside.

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Taking short regular breaks from our hectic city lives can be very good for the mind and spirit. Being away from crowded buildings, noisy cars and endless traffic can be quite refreshing. Most importantly, taking a good long pause from running around the daily marathon of life, allows us to put things in better and bigger perspective.

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I have been more alive in the past two weeks than I have in a very long time. Grateful for this time to be surrounded by loved ones, the magnificence and calming power of nature, and to simply just be.

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XX,

Cath

Travel

B O R A C A Y

March 29, 2016

Don’t you just feel blessed to have some of the best beaches in the world, found right at the very heart of our very own beloved Pilipinas? Boracay, mostly famous for its white sand and crystal clear waters, is always a top of mind choice for summer destinations in the country. Its peak season starts from October all the way till May, which is culminated by the annual Laboracay Labor Day Celebration eagerly anticipated by beach and party lovers! Although if you ask me now, I honestly prefer going to the island during the not so overly peak months and still get to appreciate the peaceful beaches and watch the always gorgeous golden and sometimes cottoncandy – like Boracay sunsets. 🙂

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XX,

Cath

 

Lifestyle Travel

What Is Your Happy Place? ☺️

February 20, 2016

We all have our own version of a “happy place”. It could be a unique place close to our hearts, a special memory we hold so dear, or a person whose company makes us feel more at peace. Whatever form or shape it takes, this place is where we can always breathe more, dream more, live and love a little bit more. It is where we find ourselves going back to, time and time again. To me, it has always been the ocean. Growing up close to the beach, I’ve always had an early connection with the ocean. Which is probably why I’ve always preferred sports that involved being by the sea –  diving, surfing and triathlon consumed my early 20’s. Even on my calmer and older days, listening to the soothing sound of the waves, watching the clear blue water glisten under the glorious sun, feeling the sea breeze brush against my sun kissed skin – all these just almost instantly put me in a state of joy and peace. What about you, what is your happy place?

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XX,

Cath

 

Travel

The Less Traveled Path in Phuket

February 13, 2016

Thailand has always been close to my heart. Over 7 years ago, I backpacked around Asia with my girlfriends, and Phuket was one of the places that really strengthened my love for traveling. Of course at that time, beach parties and famous tourist destinations very well topped our agenda. So we spent a good time exploring the Phi Phi Islands, diving the famous Viking Bay, hiking all the way up to the viewpoint, and just making loads of new friends.

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Travel Travel Tips

E L N I D O

February 12, 2016

We are truly blessed to have one of the greatest wonders of the world at the very heart of our beloved Philippines. El Nido or what is known in Spanish as “the nest”, is surrounded by enchanting marble cliffs and magical looking lagoons with their turquoise green waters, that give this place so much more character. It is also known for its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters perfect for island hopping, snorkelling and scuba diving.

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We took a flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa and took a 6 hour van ride to El Nido. For those looking into a side trip to explore Puerto Princesa, or have more time to spend in this island, or simply want the cheaper mode – then taking this route is advisable. However since we only had 4 days, we realized taking a direct flight from Manila to El Nido would’ve been more efficient for us. Hence we took the direct flight via ITI (Island Transvoyager, Inc.) from El Nido back to Manila to spare us more time to explore the island.

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There are quite a number of hotels and resorts registered in Agoda or Booking.com, which you can choose from within El Nido Town Proper, Corong Corong, Dolarog Beach or Matinloc Island. Tour guides and boat tours are pretty much everywhere, which makes it accessible to see all the famous tourist spots. Just make sure to bring enough cash since there are no banks or ATMs around. There are a few places where you can do foreign exchange or where credit cards are accepted, but it would be best to have some cash with you.

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We took one of the day tours that brought us to 10 breathtaking spots around El Nido. You can choose from different tour packages depending on what you want to see and how long you prefer to stay in each spot. We were lucky enough to have such a cool tour group composed of different nationalities just in awe of how gorgeous the Philippines is! We saw caves, hidden and secret beaches, big and small lagoons and the famous Matinloc Shrine built to honor the blessed Virgin Mary.

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Our tour group, had so much fun with these guys! ☺️

On the other days we didn’t take the tours, we rented out a scooter and just rode around the island. We went to Nacpan Beach, a good 45 minute scooter ride from town proper, and it did not disappoint. It was a private stretch of long beach all to ourselves. ?

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If we were to decide on which place to go back to, may it be anywhere in the world, El Nido is definitely top of mind. Truly world class and a gem worth seeing! And as for me, it makes me even more proud of being a Filipino, to have such beauty in our country.

XX,

Cath