Thursday 4 December 2014

36 Hours Down Under - A Preview of Sydney

After a two-week wait I received an email from the Australian embassy with my visa grant. Unlike my other visa applications, in particular for the US and Europe, getting an Australian visa was the easiest and most hassle-free application I have ever experienced. Everything was done online from filling out the application form, paying the visa to scanning all my supporting documents. I never had to leave the house. Easy peasy!

Now all I have to do is wait for the Big K's roster and hope he'll get a flight to Sydney. 

Sydney here I come!

Thursday 23 October 2014

36 Hours in Xi'an (Well, sort of....)

One of the main reasons I wanted to come with the Big K on his trip to China was the opportunity to see the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. The story of these life-sized clay sculptures have been frequently featured in magazine articles and TV documentaries. And what makes these statues remarkable is the sheer number of them. No, we're not talking of a handful nor a hundred but think thousands! Thousands upon thousands of warriors and horses, all created to accompany a single person in the afterlife. 

And where do you find this incredible army? It's in Xi'an, the ancient city in the Shaanxi province. Xi'an is one of the oldest cities in China and was once the eastern terminus for the Silk Road. It was also the capital city of 13 dynasties (there were 26 dynasties in all) where a total of 73 emperors once ruled.

Monday 20 October 2014

Beijing's Temple of Heaven and Qianmen Street

Having barely unpacked our bags from our last adventure, the Big K told me to get my gear back on as we were going on another trip. Yay! To be more exact he was going on a two-week training. Read: Do Not Disturb Me I Will Be Working. But I was more than welcome to join him (refer to previous statement: You're On Your Own. Which was totally fine with me!) 

So, where to this time? The beautiful city of Beijing! Unlike my previous visits to this ancient city, this time I was looking forward to a more relaxed tour of the place. Or so I thought.

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests at the Temple of Heaven

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

After learning that the Big K will soon be flying to Australia, Sydney to be exact, I've been excitedly planning an itinerary for if and when I get the opportunity to ride shotgun with him again.

Since we plan to be in Sydney might as well visit Melbourne, right? So how does one get from point A to point B? Aside from the obvious airplane ride, there are trains connecting these cities. If you've been a regular visitor of our blog you'll notice our preference for train travel. 

On second thought, maybe rent a car and drive along the coast? Hmmm.... Train or car? Such a pleasant dilemma to be in. 

So while contemplating on what to do on our next adventure down under, here are some of the memorable train and road trips the Big K and I have taken.

Are we there yet?!

Saturday 23 August 2014

Bangkok And A Night At The Museum

I was looking forward to the Big K's August roster because I learned that he would be going to Bangkok for a series of company training sessions. And little ole me got all excited when I found out that he had a few days off before the start of one of his training sessions which meant I could ride shotgun again. Yay!

The last time we were in Bangkok we stayed at the Bangkok Tree House at the Bang Namphueng area also known as the "lungs of Bangkok" because of its abundant greenery. Bang Namphueng is a 20-minute boat ride across the Chao Phraya river from busy metropolitan Bangkok and is also the site of one of Bangkok's non-touristy floating markets.

On this visit we opted to stay right by the city but still along the Chao Phraya river. 

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Unforgettable Bruges

Bruges or Brugge in Dutch was never in our original itinerary during our recent European holiday but as fate would have it the Big K was given extra vacation days that gave us the opportunity to make a last minute detour to this enchanting medieval city. And oh boy are we ever glad we made that decision as we simply fell in love with this beautiful city.
Minnewater Lake 

Monday 4 August 2014

The California Zephyr: Chicago to San Francisco

My first long distance train ride in the US was a 12-hour trip to the East Coast with the Gorgeous H that I wrote about in an earlier blog post. During my recent visit with family, my train-loving sister talked me into yet another train ride this time to California. 

Our journey started in Cleveland, the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where my sister and her long-suffering husband, the Doctor A lives, an overnight in Chicago and finally the Can-I-survive-two-days-in-a-minuscule-cabin-with-my-energizer-bunny-of-a-sister-train-trip. Yup! You read it right. It was going to be a much longer train ride across some of North America's scenic countryside. 

Saturday 3 May 2014

Châteaux of the Loire, Part Three

Here's our third and the final in the series of blog posts about our week-long visit in the Loire Valley. 

  • You can read Part One here 
  • And Part Two here.

Château de Cheverny

Thursday 1 May 2014

Château-Hopping in the Loire Valley, Part Two

Next to our love for train rides in Europe, the Big K and I also enjoy road trips. We love speeding on autobahns or autoroutes, motoring along back country roads, traipsing from one picturesque village to another while trying to figure out what-the-heck-does-that-road-sign mean and all the other joys (and hair-raising excitement!) of driving.

And since the châteaux of the Loire are spread out in a large area, they are better reached by a car. Yup! Definitely a road trip here. In our week long excursion (well, 6 days to be exact), we had set our sights on the châteaux located along the central part of the Loire that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site (it would have been physically impossible to see all 300+ châteaux in the little time that we had). We wished we could have stayed longer.

We ended up visiting ten impressive châteaux. I know of some people who would cram so much things to see in such a short time but the Big K and I prefer to take our time sightseeing. You could say we're the step-back-and-enjoy-the-moment kind of travelers.

Château De Chenonceau

Saturday 26 April 2014

Château-hopping in the Loire Valley!

It was a cool, sunny morning when the Orient Express pulled into Gare de l'Est in Paris. Perfect timing as the Big K and I had just finished breakfast that was served in our cabin. Much as we wanted to linger on board we had another train to catch. After retrieving our bags with the help of our très gentil steward, saying our goodbyes and more last minute picture-taking with the blue and gold train, the Big K and I hurriedly hopped on the metro to get to Gare Montparnasse to catch the TGV that would take us to our next adventure - Château-hopping in the Loire Valley!

Hôtel de Ville de Tours (Town Hall of Tours) 

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Glass and Lace, the Islands of Murano and Burano

Our day trip to the islands of Murano and Burano was a welcome respite from the tourist-filled sestiere of San Marco. Although the two islands get their own share of visitors, it wasn't as bustling (well, not during the time we were there anyway) as busy San Marco.

The picture-perfect colorful houses of Burano.

Thursday 17 April 2014

Venice, Italy

Our recent trip to Europe this year was extra special because it was the Big K's golden birthday treat (though his birthday isn't until June). If you are a regular visitor to our blog you already know that the Big K and I are big on celebrations. No, not the party kind of celebration but the going-away-someplace-special kind of celebration. We always try to make it a point to go somewhere to spend our birthdays and anniversaries. Uh-huh! Itchy feet we have. 

And as luck would have it or one can also say it was an early birthday gift as the Big K was given more time off from work than we had originally planned for. We were able to stretch our trip to 3-weeks adding two more cities to visit on our original itinerary. Ah! The beauty of DIYing one's trip! 

First stop, Italy.

Thursday 10 April 2014

The Venice Simplon Orient-Express

We love taking the trains in Europe. It may not always be the fastest way to get from point A to point B, and sometimes the WCs leave a bit to be desired (sometimes a lot to be desired, something the Big K and I are sensitive about. It's a thing of ours) but there is just something special about train rides. It might be the gentle swaying of the cars or the peculiar click-clack of the wheels against the rails or sometimes the beautiful scenery shooting by (and in some cases it does shoot. France's TGV does 300+ kms/hour).

The Big K and I always talked about how it must have been to travel in the early years of train rides, in particular the golden age of train travel of the 1920s and 30s. And of course there is that matter of Agatha Christie's famous detective, Hercule Poirot in the Murder on the Orient Express that added to the intrigue of train travel.

The Orient-Express. A name that brings to mind the luxury and glamour of train travel. We'd always promised ourselves that one day we would hitch a ride on the Orient-Express. 

And guess what? That day has arrived!
The distinctive blue and gold livery of the Venice Simplon Orient-Express train.

Monday 10 March 2014

La Route des Vins D'Alsace (The Alsace Wine Route) Part Deux

What does New York City and the town of Colmar in France have in common? 

Answer: The Statue of Liberty. 


The capital of Alsatian Wine (capitale des Vins D'Alsace), Colmar, is the birthplace of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty in New York. 

The statue of Lady Liberty as you may already know is a gift of the people of France to the United States of America. 
A replica of the Statue of Liberty can be seen at the roundabout at Colmar's northern entrance to commemorate the 100th death anniversary of its creator, Monsieur Bartholdi.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

La Route des Vins D'Alsace (The Alsace Wine Route)

Here's another long overdue post on a road trip adventure the Big K and I did in the Alsace region of France. The trip was supposed to be a two-week Tuscany tour that we had been planning on and off for quite some time. But for one reason or another our adventure "under the Tuscan sun" had to be put off for a later time.    

Our change in travel plans as it turned out, worked perfectly! The big K and I had one of our most memorable times driving around Alsace's Route des Vins. Our week was spent visiting picturesque towns and villages, sampling some of Alsace's mouth-watering cuisine (I wrote an earlier post on this), a visit to an impressive mountain fortress, drooling (the big K mostly) over hundreds of classic cars in one of the world's biggest collections of vintage automobiles. Most of all, we spent a most delightful week just driving around (and getting lost!) while enjoying each others' company in the simple, welcoming beauty of the Alsace countryside. 

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Germany: The Romantic Road

This is a long overdue post not to mention a very long one too. I have always been meaning to write about our travels when I started my blog in 2012 but something would always come up, mostly another trip. I know, I know I should have started blogging a long time ago but hey it's never too late to start, right?

Anyway in between waiting for our trip to Europe in March (Orient Express, baby! Yoohoo! I'm beside myself with excitement! I promise to write about it after the trip, definitely!) and planning another trip back to the US later in the year with my dear old folks to visit my siblings, the gorgeous H and stylish P, here's a post of one of our road trip adventures in Europe.

One of the highlights of the Romantic Road tour is Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau. The castle was one of the inspirations of Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty castle.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Mont Saint-Michel Part Two

It felt like déjà vu waking up early to catch the 7AM TGV to Rennes where my sisters, the gorgeous H and stylish P and I would board the bus for the hour and a half ride to the famous rock at the coast of Normandy, Le Mont Saint-Michel. 

It was way back in 2010 when the Big K and I first saw this UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can read about how our trip went in my earlier blog post here.

This photo was taken in 2010 before construction began for the Mont's restoration.

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Not Your Everyday Farm

I am still hung over, in a healthy way.....

The Big K and I make it a point to always go somewhere to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Since I started blogging I was able to write about our anniversary trips in Hong Kong and Tagaytay.

This year's anniversary celebration, we decided to go on a road trip. The Big K only had a few days off so driving somewhere near the metro was preferable. 

Now where does one go for a romantic celebration that is within an hour or two hour's drive away?

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Got bitten by The Fleas in Paris! (Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen)

Being bargain hunters the Gorgeous H and the Stylish P couldn't wait to check out one of Paris' best known if not most popular flea market, the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen-Paris or simply called Les Puces.

Les Puces is open on Saturdays and Sundays with some merchants remaining open on Mondays.