We only had two must-do’s for our trip to Paris: (1) Spend a day in Disneyland and (2) Eat. I’m not the type of traveller that puts so much importance on eating local food. I’d much rather stop by a local grocery and make my own meals in order to save on money and time. However, Paris is a different story. French cuisine is known worldwide for being one of the best (if not the best) so I had to make an exception plus it was Matt’s only request.
For my research, I found Condé Nast Traveler extremely helpful because of their Best restaurants lists (50 best and 24 best in Paris). The website is a great resource for everything travel related and since Paris is a major city, there was more than enough information readily available.
Croissants/Bread from neighborhood Boulangeries
On our way to the metro stations, Matt and I would always pass boulangeries with windows filled with all kinds of bread and pastries. This is a great option for people on budget and are just looking for a quick bite before starting the day. A croissant can cost you as little as 1€ and are made fresh every morning.
Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to find myself on a plane from Amsterdam to Paris-Orly airport. It was freezing in Amsterdam that day (-8 degrees celsius!) so saying that I was ecstatic over Paris’s barely-above-zero-degrees weather was an understatement.
Matt and I were in Paris for a long weekend and had arrived late on Thursday evening. We made our way to our Airbnb host’s house in the 11th arrondissement with ease, despite him being exhausted since he came straight from work. Because our trip was a quick one, I had planned majority of what we were going to do more than a month prior so that we could get the most of our time in the French capital. The typical tourist spots were on our list but our trip was focused on two things in particular:
A trip to Disneyland Paris; and
Eating as much good food as possible.
And I’m happy to report we came home happy and more than content. Paris has always been my dream city and finally being able to walk the streets, stare at all the chic fashion boutiques, order croissants in the morning and use my shitty French has definitely left me more starry eyed. 3 days was definitely not enough to see, eat and explore what Paris has to offer so don’t be surprised if ever you find me back in the near future.
The wonderful thing about the Netherlands as a country is that everything is close by. You can go end to end of the Netherlands within a day; hours even! Which is why I jumped to the chance to explore a couple of places with Alex, my closest friend here in Amsterdam. We met Friday night to discuss what our game plan should be then woke up extra early the next day and set off on our adventure.
We were able to travel to a number of places because I had purchased discounted tickets from the Albert Heijn (a local grocery chain) which gave us unlimited train travel for only 15 euros! So the main goal of the whole day was to make the most of these tickets, not necessarily experience everything each town had to offer. I’ll save that for another trip. 🙂
Our first stop was at Delft, a cute city populated by cobblestone streets and amazing doors. I took the most photos here because everywhere we went was picturesque. Delft is known for blue porcelain, Johanne Vermeer and being one of William of Orange’s residences.
I didn’t know what to expect when I stepped on to the plane heading towards you back in October. I cried millions of tears from the Immigration counter to my seat on the airplane because finally, I was starting the long journey I had been dreaming of. The sheer amount of blog posts, testimonials, youtube videos, and guide books that I had read could not prepare me for what was in my future, when you and I would finally come face to face. Honestly, I still cannot describe how I feel about you despite having been with you, in you, for about a month and a half already.
I will try to illustrate my thoughts in bullet form for the time being.
Everyone was right about your temperament. In a single day alone, you would give me a bit of sunshine only to be followed by endless bouts of rain, scattered all throughout the day. I can’t tell when your tears will pour so I find myself staying in my waterproof boots and bright, yellow raincoat.
You are kind. I lost my wallet about a week ago and somehow, it found its way back to me. If that had happened anywhere else, I knew I would have had to kiss Chewy goodbye.
Nothing could have prepared me for the money situation. I was not previously informed that you promoted paperless transactions, so I was quite reliant on Anna ’til I was finally able to get a bank card of my own. This irked me for weeks even if I knew it would get better in the long run.
You have so much to offer. I could get lost in the mazes of your museums for days, maybe even weeks. Don’t even get me started on the houses! The streets are generally quiet but nothing short of interesting. I could stare at you and never get bored.
You are home now, but not really. I still feel like an outsider not because of the language barrier or my ethnicity. You are beautiful but a stopover, if that makes any sense. I was waiting for that feeling everyone talks about when you know you’ve found the one; that it’d be love at first sight and that I would settle here for the rest of my life. I honestly was hoping that from you, for us but sadly, it doesn’t appear to be so.
I hope you don’t mind these letters, Amsterdam. I feel like this is the first of many that I will write over the next year.
I remember the day we booked our tickets for this trip as if it had just happened. It was a rainy December afternoon and I was stuck in traffic with Ralf. I was mindlessly scrolling through my emails when I came across PAL’s announcement for their annual holiday seat sale. I scrambled to sit upright on my seat. I clicked the link and checked our dates for our Palawan trip. Our roundtrip airfare only cost P1600 inclusive of taxes! I opened our Telegram group chat immediately and typed with the speed of light.
“GUYS. ETO NA. SEND ME YOUR DETAILS.”
One by one, the personal details started pouring in. Prior to this, I had never booked a flight through PAL’s mobile website so it was a bit of a challenge since there were 5 tickets in total that I had to buy and not mess up any information. I read it again once, then twice, and one final time before I hit the PURCHASE button. A familiar email ringtone later and I had it: the tickets to our first high school barkada trip together (ever).
One fine Saturday morning, we piled into the car and headed north to Zambales for some much needed sun exposure. It was my first time driving that far and my first time that far North. Crystal beach is actually just 4 hours from Manila (more or less); I just never got around to exploring (Luzon in general) so this was a real treat. Mini-adventure with Kate and Timmy, my best friends from those DLSU days.
We arrived at the town of San Narciso around 12pm. After checking into our room and resting for a few minutes, we went straight to the beach.
Let’s paint the scene. It was the end of 2016, I was single, grieving, working at a job I really wasn’t happy with and wallowing in self pity. I had spent the last two months of the year on an emotional roller coaster. Things weren’t exactly ideal. So when Annie said that she was game to go on a short getaway trip with me to recharge and clear my head, I began my search for the perfect Airbnb in Tagaytay.
Tagaytay City, the place everybody runs away too when they want to escape the noise and pollution of Manila. Because I wanted to get away as soon as possible, I chose to go to Tagaytay on the first weekend of the year. Never mind the fact that I had never actually explored Tagaytay (past trips were done with Ralf and we only ever went to one place and for work) before, I just wanted to find a cozy spot, far far away from all the places that reminded me of 2016.
After searching high and low on Airbnb for an affordable and quiet stay, we decided to spend out one-night stay at Moon Garden Bed and Breakfast. I was intrigued by their photos (of course) and the description written by Ian (the owner). I messaged him about our plan and interest to stay at Moon Garden and he happily obliged. Communicating with him was very easy, something that you should always look for when you’re choosing accommodations via Airbnb. You can check out their listing here.
Finally some time to squeeze in a quick life update.
We’ve officially surpassed the midpoint of our USA trip. As of the moment, Ralf and I have travelled from Manila to Los Angeles, New York, Virginia, Washington D.C., Orlando and back to LA. All those places in a span of 25 days.
We have visited places like LACMA, the Flatiron building, Madison Square Garden, The Met, Top of the Rock, the US Capitol, Great Falls Park, Disneyworld, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Sta. Monica Pier… just to name a few.
And I finally finished my citizenship papers! After months and months of working with Sandi, making plans and discussing the procedure, I’m finally getting my Filipino passport this November!
Tomorrow we leave for San Francisco to see Ralf’s tita and her daughter via JetBlue and will be coming back to LA after the weekend.
This trip has been incredibly tiring so far but so rewarding. We’ve met old friends and new friends along the way, seen so many new places and heard so many stories. Many things have also happened, to us and to people around us since we left the Philippines. In due time these will all be shared here on the blog.
But ’til then this will have to suffice. Expect tons and tons of photos and videos up on the new Youtube page: Jamie Sees
We were driving home from a long day in Manhattan when we saw the lights. Every year on the anniversary, these two massive beams shoot up to the sky to remind everyone what happened on that tragic day, 15 years ago. My aunt, who was driving us back to Long Island, started sharing stories about what happened to her and the people around her.
“I have sort of a Zen body philosophy, I’m sort of like: we’re one weight one day, we’re one weight another day, and some day our body just doesn’t even exist at all! It’s just a vessel I’ve been given to move through this life. I think about my body as a tool to do the stuff I need to do, but not the be all and end all of my existence.” – Lena Dunham
As a part of my 2016, I present my first swimsuit photo in 2 years and a new hashtag #loveyourbody. I’ve spent the past 18 months or so comparing my body to what it used to be and as an attempt to change that mindset once and for all, voila!