Suggestions For Experiencing Europe

Photo by JoaquinAranoa from Pixabay

One continent that features highly on almost everyone’s list is Europe. The reason for that is that there are so many countries to visit and so much of the world’s history set across these 50 countries. Here we are going to take a look at some the most popular and easy to navigate places to visit in Europe, but that doesn’t mean you should discount the likes of Stockholm in Sweden and Prague in the Czech Republic. So here are some suggestions for your trip to Europe.


First of all, we are going to start with one of the places in Europe with the richest of histories and one of the heaviest influences on the rest of the world, Italy. And when you discuss Italy, it is impossible to not start with the food. You have, no doubt, had pizza and pasta by now in your life, but you haven’t had it the way Italians do it at home. The pride and passion they put into their food is second to none, so make sure you are ready to get stuck into the local cuisine as soon as you arrive

One of the big questions when visiting Italy is where to go? Well, that choice really depends on what you are looking for. Two of the most popular tourist attractions in Europe, not just Italy, are Rome and Venice. Both are steeped in history and cultural significance, with the former being 100 small islands connected by canals and bridges. Rome is the capital of Italy and prides itself on taking you on a journey through the Roman era right up to the modern day with the Colosseum and Forum just two of the monuments still standing.

Meanwhile, for those of you looking for a taste of the ocean life then you might want to hire a driver from WhereToRome and get yourself cruising along the Amalfi coast.

Photo by Walkerssk from Pixabay


Much like Italy, Spain has a lot to offer tourists outside of its main attractions. There is a gluttony of cities and towns to visit that you could just keep coming back for more. This time we are going to focus on the mainland, but don’t forget the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. The likes of Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote have lots to offer. The same applies to a lot of mainland Spain, from the countries capital Madrid to the capital of one its regions, Sevilla in Andalucia.

But for now, we are going to look at Barcelona. There is a reason that this part of Catalunya is so popular all year-round, and it isn’t just the weather. The merger of city life with the beach is one that tourists and locals love equally. There are few places in the world where you can be in the hub of the action of a major city only to be feeling the sand in your toes within a few minutes. Barcelona is famous for many things from its football team to La Rambla, but one major recommendation is to get up into the Gaudi Park. Not only will you see some of the wonderful works of this great Spanish artist, but you will also be offered views of Barcelona as a whole that just can’t be beaten.

3 Things You Need To Know When Visiting Australia For The First Time


Who wouldn’t want to visit the ‘land down under?’ Australia is the place for your bucket list dreams, with over 10,000 beaches to relax in, a diverse cultural heritage to discover, and some of the greatest cities in the world. Wildlife lovers will want to get up close and personal with the kangaroos and koalas, and for those looking for a more active holiday, there is the Outback to explore, and underwater adventures in the Great Barrier Reef. In short, Australia is a fantastic place to visit, and we have only just touched the surface with the country’s highlights. Here are some other reasons why you really should put Australia on your bucket list.

However, if you are planning on visiting Australia, there are a few things you need to know before arrival.

#1: You need to know that Australia is huge!

Don’t assume you can see all of Australia during your one week’s vacation time a year. Flying from Brisbane to Perth, for example, will take you five hours! And if you’re driving that particular journey, you’re looking at a three-day trip. Unless you are planning on backpacking around Australia for a good six months or so, we recommend you pick one area to visit and explore all that is on offer.

So, if you’re looking for a beach holiday, we recommend the Gold Coast, with its magnificent coastlines and ample surfing opportunities. If you want to get the Outback experience, learn more about Australia’s indigenous lifestyle, and see a few kangaroos, we recommend a stay in Alice Springs. Or if you’re looking for fun in the city, with stores galore and a bustling nightlife, we recommend you hire a car from Bayswater Car Rentals and see what Sydney has to offer you. Think about what you want from your travels, do your research, and then plan your route accordingly.

#2: You will need to ignore the myths

Let’s debunk a few of the common myths about Australia so you aren’t taken by surprise when you visit. For starters, let’s talk about food. It’s not all about throwing ‘shrimps on the barbie,’ no matter what you have seen on your television.There are all kinds of traditional foods in Australia, some a little unusual – Witchetty Grubs, fried crocodile – and some a little more common – meat pies, and fish and chips. You owe it to yourself to explore the culinary delights on offer, but don’t expect a barbecue around every corner.

Another misconception is that Australia is a dangerous place to visit. Sure, there are crocodiles and snakes in the country, but you are unlikely to bump into one unless you are exploring away from the mainlands. Australia is actually considered to be a very safe travel destination, but as with any country you aren’t familiar with, it’s still worth adhering to a few safety tips, especially if you are traveling solo.

#3: You might never want to leave

Don’t be surprised if you’re tempted to throw away your return ticket home. When visiting Australia, you will soon discover why many people decide to uproot themselves and move there. The air is fresh and clean. The people are laid back and friendly. The climate is hotter than in most countries. And with the golden sandy beaches, tropical rainforests, and simply stunning mountain ranges, Australia is also one of the most beautiful countries in the world. And did we mention the kangaroos and koalas? You will have a fabulous time, no matter where you are in Australia, so get ready for a few tears IF you do decide to make that return journey home.

Thanks for reading!

Active Holidays to Change Your World View

The best thing about traveling is that you can enrich your life by discovering new ways to live. Whether you are visiting a beach paradise or the coldest, most northerly reaches of the planet, what you see and what you learn will have a lasting impact on the way that you perceive the world and your place within it.

Of course, for most people, traveling is almost always within the confines of a holiday. While you might dream of traveling as a lifestyle choice, the reality is that, unless you are willing to work as you go, you will inevitably have to make do with snatches of travel. And, it has to be said that if you are planning a holiday, you are much more likely to want to relax in Libjo than go somewhere freezing!

But before you close your mind to alternative options, think about what you want from a holiday. To relax is definitely one of the reasons we go on holiday but we tend to travel because we want to be diverted by the new. So, instead of lying on a beach for 2 weeks, reading trashy novels and occasionally looking up at the view, here are a few more active holidays you might like to try in between.  

Image Credit: Pixabay

Enter the Ice Caves

Iceland is a fascinating country, cold and ice-covered throughout much of the year and yet the active volcanoes that form the island provide hot springs just perfect for bathing and swimming. Weirdly, this geothermal activity means that the people of Iceland don’t need to heat their water for use at home, they actually need to let it cool. As geology goes, this is the kind of island you can definitely get on board with!

The landscape of Iceland is incredible. Not only are the glaciers simply stunning but the ice caves are certainly worth exploring. Taking a day to take a tour with Katlatrack is a really good way to see some of the more exciting areas as well as get to know other tourists if you are traveling alone.

The ice caves are, as you would expect, made with ice but what you might not realize is just how unbelievable they are inside. As the ice shifts and changes, the light alters too bringing a kind of ethereal energy to the caves. Of course, the ice is melting and reforming all the time so while you are perfectly safe to enter with a guide, you will never see the same cave twice.

Every day is a new experience here.

Image Credit: Pxhere

Walk the PCT

The Pacific Crest Trail has gained a lot of popularity as Wild, a memoir written by Cheryl Strayed, opened up the idea of walking as a means to heal oneself. Her idea was that if she walked the trail alone, she would have the time to come to terms with herself and her life as well as learn what it really means to be independent.

Though you probably aren’t looking for answers to such fundamental questions, the trail is still an extraordinary opportunity to get into the wilderness. Reaching all the way from California to the Canadian border, the PCT offers everything from icy mountains to dry desert. While you may not be up for spending months walking the whole distance, there are plenty of day trip options and equestrian routes that may appeal.

Taking some time away from society and entering the wild doesn’t appeal to everyone but if you are willing to rough it, you will be rewarded. Here on the trail, the stars are clear and beautiful and, without the constant noise of roads, you will hear so much more of nature. This can be quite an addictive space so do give yourself time to enjoy a new perspective. And if you do want to go for a longer period, do read up on a few tips before you get started.

Image Credit: flickr

Dive the Red Sea

SCUBA diving is probably the only way to truly explore a world that would otherwise remain completely hidden from view. The ocean is full of life that can astonish us and fill you with a sense of wonder from the fish that swim around the reef to the bioluminescent plankton that look like fireworks when you wave your hands.

There are a few locations you really should visit if you are a competent diver interested in the Red Sea. To get to some these locations you will need some experience and a few qualifications but this is well worth the extra effort. While there is plenty to see in the first few meters of water, if you want to see a wreck like the Thistlegorm or dive the Blue Hole, you will need to go deeper.

The Thistlegorm is a shipwreck from the second world war. The ship went down almost vertically with its anchor leaving a wreck that has remained almost intact. What is amazing about this particular site is the insight it provides to that particular time. The ship contained tanks, motorcycles and even rubber boots intended for the troops on land. Seeing all the materials of war on the sea bed where there is such peace is a strange contradiction – as are the moray eels and octopi hiding in the wreckage!

Another must-see site is the Blue Hole near Dahab. This collapsed sea cave is incredible and, descending down El Bells and gradually swimming up next to the reef wall is an unbelievable experience. Larger fish sometimes come to play with divers from the open ocean to one side but do keep an eye on the wall for brightly colored nudibranchs.

Wherever you go, you must allow yourself the opportunity to see and do something that will change your perspective. Whether you intend to find peace or be amazed by something, any of these places should be on your bucket list. Actually, scratch that – put all 3 on your bucket list. Now you just have to decide which one you are going to do first!

How I Almost Missed a Trip to Islas de Gigantes

How I Almost Missed a Trip to Islas de Gigantes

My trip to Iloilo in September 2018 was booked in November 2017 through a promo fare of Cebu Pacific. The one-way trip from Cagayan de Oro to Iloilo only cost me Php 440. Not bad, right? I figured it was a flexible and cheaper route for me compared to flying from Butuan to Cebu and flying again from Cebu to Iloilo.  The plan was to meet my friend, Gail, in Iloilo. Gail would be flying from Davao on the same day.   Both of us would  arrive in Iloilo in the morning of September 18.

The plan seemed perfect until February came. We both got emails from Cebu Pacific informing us of flight changes.  Gail’s flight was moved to a 6 PM departure time.  She would arrive in Iloilo in the evening.  She was thinking of having the trip refunded since we would not able to see a lot of Iloilo given the shortened trip. She was also concerned I would be waiting for her the entire day. But then, I also got an email about my flight. My flight would arrive in the evening.  There was an option to cancel and have the tickets refunded.  We were thinking about that but we figured that promo fare prices kept increasing each year. We would not be able to book this trip at a bargain again.  Plus, it did not cost much. We might regret not getting this short break.  We still had 8 months to plan the trip.

Gail is a superb planner and trip organizer. I had always wanted to go to Islas de Gigantes but I thought it was not possible with our schedule.  Without considering the arrival and departure days, we only had two full days in Iloilo and the port for the boat ride to the Islas de Gigantes was three hours away but Gail had managed to fit the trip into the schedule. She was able to find a glamping resort with island hopping, land tours and full board meals.  She fixed all our itineraries and the Airbnb bookings. She had a list of food places to try in Iloilo. She also managed to invite another friend so we have more fun. The more, the merrier, right? 

Everything was in order.  I was excited for this trip. 

So I packed my things in the afternoon of September 17.  I saved my plane tickets in my phone. For some reason, I reviewed my ticket and my heart skipped a beat. Alas! My flight  was not only changed from morning to evening but also there was a change of date from  September 18 to September 19. I missed looking at the date when I was notified about the change. This meant that  I would miss one whole day in Iloilo! We already booked and paid for the reservations.  If I fly on September 19, not only would I miss the Isla de Gigantes trip, I would have to book a hotel  in Iloilo for the night  (and alone at that) because my friends would be in the islands.  So I decided to say goodbye to my Php 440 ticket and booked the same flight as Gail.  This meant that I would be taking an 8-hour bus ride to Davao and fly from Davao to Iloilo in the evening of September 18.  The one-way plane ticket already cost around Php 2,700.  I used my GetGo points to drop the cost down to Php 1,600. This was the price I had to pay for stupidity not reading the fine print.

These are the things I would have missed! The glamping resort was gorgeous! And we had the resort all to ourselves! This is one of the perks of traveling on a weekday- less tourists.  My anti-social and introverted self was happy. There were lots of things to see in Iloilo City but we just chose what we could cover with the time we had. We had a blast.

All Pictures Iloilo 2018 katrina karen

I am glad there was a solution to  my problem even if it was a dent on my budget. I feel grateful to the greater power up there that pushed me to check my ticket that day since I missed the cue the first time.  It could have been worse.  I would not know what to do if I found my mistake much later when I am already in the airport in Cagayan de Oro.  I guess I was meant to visit Iloilo and it was worth the extra Php 1,600. For that, I am grateful.

How I Almost Missed a Trip to Islas de Gigantes

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor, and Cebu

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

I love traveling. I always try to go to different trips in a year but when it comes to planning the details of the trip, I now try to be chill. I no longer want to cover every possible tourist spot in a particular destination. I just pick what I want to see and I am happy with just that. For the Dumaguete, Siquior and Cebu trip, I just want to go Manjuyod sandbar in Negros Oriental, Cambugahay Falls in Siquijor and Osmena Peak in Dalaguete, Cebu.

I got what I wanted and more.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

We were able to tour around Silliman University in Dumaguete.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu
We met our friend May and her family.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu
We ate at pretty cafes and restaurants in Dumaguete.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

I flew on a broom in Siquijor.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

We went to a flower farm in Dalaguete.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu
We were able to visit the Sto Nino Basilica in Cebu.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu
I came home safe and sound.

All these pretty photos were reminders of a memorable trip.

However, there were more stories behind our trip and I felt I needed to immortalize them in this blog post.

This is the part where I start to tell you everything that went wrong.

It was one fine Saturday of August 18 when we took a 655 AM flight from Butuan going to Cebu. We were 5 happy travelers.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu
It was an uneventful flight which I hoped that all my flights should be. We arrived at around 8 am in Cebu. Our goal then was to reach the Cebu South Terminal since we would be traveling south to reach Dumaguete. There were 5 of us so we won’t be able to fit in one taxi.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

I learned through Googling that we could take a myBus from the airport and drop at Parkmall where we could then take a jeep to the terminal. Four of us were in seats that face the rear of the bus and only one friend was facing front. And so we missed the Parkmall stop. And we realized this when we saw SM, the end point of the trip. We thought the driver would inform passengers of the stops.

We resolved to take two taxis to South Terminal.

Upon arrival, we had to decide which bus to take. We had two options: 1. Take a bus to the Lilo-an port in Santander and take the ferry to Sibulan in Negros which is just 15 minutes from Dumaguete or 2. Take the Ceres bus that will take us directly to Dumaguete through a barge in Bato, Cebu. Option 1 is a shorter trip if you don’t miss the ferry ride after. It was already almost 10 am and we figured that it might be difficult to take lunch on the road so we decided to eat first before traveling. Elizabeth mall was near so we just walked.

All was well but as soon as we were almost done eating, it rained. Real hard. We waited for the rain to stop and decided to just take the taxi as soon as it was starting to let up.

After a few minutes of pondering, we decided to take option 1: bus to the port. We were led to a line at the back of the terminal. A long winding line. All the while we thought that the waiting area was in the front of the terminal.

This was our line. And we still had to go through that line at the back.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

Good thing that there were chairs. We just had to hop from one chair to another. Why the long lines? All those who would go to South of Cebu ride the same bus route. Whether you go to Carcar, Argao, Dalaguete or Oslob, you take the same bus. That is why everyone “sits” on the same line. Plus, it was the start of a long weekend.
It was already 1 PM when we got on the bus.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

A few minutes after the bus left the terminal, the bus made a U-turn and returned to the terminal. The driver felt there was something wrong with the bus. We had to move to another bus. The transfer was organized. We were instructed to sit in the same seat on the replacement bus.

It was a good thing that the driver noticed something wrong with the bus while we were still near the terminal. Imagine the hassle if it happened halfway through the trip. That was a relief until we got stuck in traffic in Carcar. There was an accident. Someone was hit by a truck. There was no alternate route. All vehicles had to wait until the area was cleared.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

If only we knew how long we had to wait we could have gone to buy chicharon from these stalls. hehehe

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

We arrived at the Liloan Port at around 630 PM and we were in luck this time. We caught the boat that was about to leave for the Sibulan. That was a quick 15-min boat ride.

As soon as we landed in the Sibulan port, our friend, May, fetched us. We were all happy to see her and we thought that our string of bad luck was over.

May drove us to The Flying Fish Hostel where we booked a 6-bed dorm room through Airbnb. Much to our surprise, we were led to a 10-bed mixed dorm room. We panicked. Five of the beds were already occupied. We wanted a room all to ourselves. So we decided to have the booking refunded.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

On the bright side, we had May still waiting for us outside who immediately got in touch with the alumni hall of Silliman. We were told there was an available room for 5.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

May also ordered a feast for us at Sans Rival, that famous restaurant in Dumaguete. We ate our worries away and just indulged every bite. After all that we’ve been through, we were famished.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

This was our dorm room in the Silliman Alumni Hall. Not bad for 1,400 a night!

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

Photo from my friend, May

I was so tired. I immediately changed into my sleepwear and called it a night.

The first full day in Dumaguete was a lot of fun. All those bad luck were wiped out from our consciousness.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

Or so we thought.

The next day was our trip to Siquijor.

Remember that we just wanted to be chill about the trip? We planned to take the 8 AM boat to Siquijor.
We arrived at the pier at 745 AM. Ha! The tickets have sold out so we bought tickets for the 9 AM trip. On the bright side, we now have time for breakfast. We had breakfast at the Silliman canteen.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

It took us an hour to reach Siquijor by boat. Because we learned our lesson earlier, we agreed to immediately buy tickets for the afternoon trip back to Dumaguete. When we learned that tickets would be sold only by 11 AM, our multicab driver arranged for somebody to buy the 4:20 PM trip tickets for us.

Off we went on our tour. We enjoyed our time in the Cambugahay falls. Who wouldn’t?

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

We enjoyed it so much that we had to cut short our trip to the Salagdoong beach because we no longer had enough time. Our driver had to drive fast for us to make it to the 4:20 PM trip.

As soon as we arrived at the terminal, our tickets were handed to me. We were walking fast towards the terminal area even more so when the person manning the gate already told us that the boat was about to leave. Boarding already started. My friends went ahead of me so that they could at least inform the crew that we were already coming. I was left a little behind because I still had to pay the terminal fees.

I saw my friends whose faces showed relief that they reached the boat just in time. And then one friend realized, ” Why are we in a RORO (roll-on roll-off) boat? Aren’t we supposed to ride a fast craft?” Then we saw a fast craft leaving the dock. That was our boat. We missed our boat by a few minutes.

The crew in the RORO were kind enough to help us on what to do next. They assured us that they would wait for us to secure a refund and buy new tickets. I walked so fast towards the gate to get the refund and buy the tickets.

This is us in the boat. Can you see the beads of sweat on my cheek?

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

Our ordeal was not over because two of us in the group got diarrhea. Somebody in Siquijor might have put a spell on us. Ha!

The bright side? We got to see dolphins and this lovely sunset.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

By the 4th day of our trip, we had become veterans of misery. Ha! We were still amused at the series of unfortunate events that befell us. I kept telling my friends that this was just a test. And that Murphy’s Law was in effect: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. So be it!

It was now time to travel to Cebu. We planned to drop by Dalaguete and visit Osmena Peak. We took the Ceres bus this time. We had lunch at the pier where the barge was. The barge would carry the bus to the pier in Bago, Cebu. For the two of us who had diarrhea, lunch was patatas, a local square biscuits. We failed to notice that only our group was left eating. The bus conductor came to tell us that they were waiting for us. The bus was already on the barge. When we reached the bus, we saw that one friend was not with us. We decided to call her and we saw her from a distance panicking outside not knowing where to go. She did not realize that the bus would be loaded onto the barge. She finally saw where we were. All is well that ends well.

We dropped at Dalaguete for Osmena Peak. We were lucky this time because we were able to hire a multicab going to the foot of the mountain instead of riding at the back of a motorcycle. We even minimized our misery by hiring a guide and renting a trekking pole.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

We enjoyed both the peak and the flower farm that was suggested to us by our guide. By the time we got back to the Dalaguete highway, we were starving so we enjoyed a bowl of batchoy at a local eatery.

Our tummies were full so we were ready to travel to Cebu. We were waiting at the bus stop along with other passengers. Remember that there was only one line in the south terminal because the route would only drop passengers along the way? Oh well, we were waiting for a bus to Cebu at the end of a holiday. All the buses we tried to hail were full. There were passengers standing on the aisle. I could hear one of my friends asking if there were vans for hire or anything for hire. There weren’t. We were advised to go to another bus stop because there were more passengers alighting there. We hired a tricycle to get us there. We met a passenger who told us that she had been waiting 3 hours for a bus. I guess she was not willing to stand on the bus aisle. We were.

When the next bus arrived, we saw that there were passengers alighting but the seats were still occupied. We asked the conductor if there would be passengers disembarking. He told us that we could stand in the aisle near the rear of the bus because there would be 3 passengers disembarking in the next town. True enough, we only have to stand for a less than an hour and we all got seats. With this, our string of back luck ended.
We arrived safely at our hotel in Cebu. We were able to visit Sto. Nino Basilica the next day. We dropped by SM before we headed for the airport.

It was a memorable trip. I have to give props to my friends for staying positive all throughout our journey.

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

Traveling indeed is a test of faith, character and even friendship. I am sure to be keeping these friends I have.


“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain

Everything That Went Wrong on Our Trip to Dumaguete, Siquijor and Cebu

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...