Tag Archive: Family Travel


Anna Bay in Port Stephens


The weather forecast was gloomy but we were dead set to spend our weekend with the boys in Anna Bay. The preceding week in Kiama was an all girls (errr ladies) bonding adventure which included a visit to our favorite Benedictine Abbey in nearby Jamberoo. So for this weekend, we were hoping to join the boys on some thrilling adventures. Anna Bay belongs to the Port Stephens area in the Hunter Valley region and is one major entry point to the beach and sand dunes of Birubi Point. Here, there’s an assortment of things to do. Whale-watching, fishing, surfing may sound exciting but many find more thrills with the camel and horse rides along the shore, sand boarding and 4 wheel-drives across the sand dunes.

We weren’t in luck with the thrilling rides. But we sure got extremely lucky spotting pods of whales. The downpour was put on hold to allow us some time at the Gangan Lookout, the beach and sand dunes at Birubi Point and lovely walks by the shore just right behind our crib here in Anna Bay. We could have waited for sunset (before 5pm!) but it grew cold and the looming downpour dampened our spirits. The waters were so calm and so soothing to frayed nerves. Many residents and guests like us spilled out of the apartment buildings to idle away the hours at the beach, playing with their dogs or even letting their toddlers play around the huge “sandbox”.

Back in Kiama, I missed the pods of whales. I saw more than enough here in Birubi point. The beach behind our serviced apartment here is another whale-spotting area but after putting on a show for us in Birubi, these aquatic mammals must have thought we’ve seen enough. Evenings here are so pleasant, if not wonderful. The waves crashing to shore lull you to sleep and early morns are marked by visits of different birds perched on your balcony. Imagine having your morning coffee while these birds chirp in chorus and while watching dogs frolic by the beach. Happiness!

Our Crib

It started out as a heritage house tour and simple get-together of long time friends, then as bienvenida for visiting family members, and finally as a pseudo wedding reception for a young couple whose most significant ceremony we all missed because of the pandemic. There were 18 adults and 2 toddlers meeting for the first time who hardly warmed up and interacted with each other. Topics covered a broad range and the long table divided between the senior and younger members of the family. All’s well.

Palacio de Memoria

We nearly went overboard with the pseudo wedding reception. A bridal bouquet, a flower girl’s flower basket, the ring bearer’s pillow, the wedding cake. All in good fun. That happens when we all felt deprived missing a young couple’s wedding. The sprawling garden provided a beautiful backdrop for our group picture as well as bridal bouquet toss up between a spinster and a widow! The little girls from the past have all grown up, some with their adult children and toddlers. And the more senior members have done away with the dyes, proudly bearing their greying hair. The laughter across the long table sounded just as loud and crisp, the jokes nearly the same, and the banter seemingly endless but fun.

All In The Family
The Long Table

Here’s one unforgettable get together of family and friends. Never mind that the museum tour was cancelled and the bar housed inside one of the airplanes (spotted the 3 aircraft collections parked in the lawn) were closed. We enjoyed the antipasti and the main entrée as well as the refreshing beverages and vanilla-flavoured wedding cake. The pre-ordered al fresco lunch was seamlessly served and there was time enough to loiter around the gardens. For sure, I’d be back for the guided tour and the date at the bar. Por supuesto!

The Antipasti and the Wedding Cake
A Choice of Lamb, Beef, Salmon or Pasta

Palacio de Memoria is now an events and auction venue consisting of a historic mansion restored to its pre-war glory. Abandoned for 2 decades and now owned by the Lhuilliers to house their antique collections including the 3 aircraft, one of which has since been converted into a bar. One can just imagine how this heritage mansion cut a majestic vista right along the wide Roxas Boulevard just across the Manila Bay before parts of the Bay were reclaimed. I bet many parties were held in its sprawling lawn while the breeze gusts in from Manila Bay. At the time we visited, tents were being set up in the front lawn for what looked like a wedding event. I can also imagine what great parties one can host here to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or just about any momentous occasion. And there’s La Loggia Restaurant housed in a separate al fresco structure right beside the Mansion to provide the Italian food and refreshments. I heard one can even arrange picnics under one of the trees or just outside the airplanes with a picnic basket packed by La Loggia. Swell!


The last 2 years were marked by non-activity and a much-limited social life. My last trip was just a few weeks before the lockdown and meet-ups with family and friends were restricted to zoom meetings and Viber chats. Finally, this.

Boracay

Flying into this island south of Manila was a thrill by itself. After all, it’s been 2 years since my last flight. Travel today involved many health protocols, but seeing this slice of Shangrila is worth all the “trouble”. The hotel was fully booked and it’s good that people are spending their holidays and traveling again. Overcast skies and intermittent rain didn’t deflate our excitement. In the four days we were in the island, we had 2 days of sun. Not bad.

Sunset Watch

Unlike our previous trips, this one tops the list in the leisure and R&R department. Most activities centered around the beach and the hotel pool. We even managed to put to good use the excellent hotel facilities for kids such as the entertainment center, fish feeding ponds and playground. There were shuttles to take us to the more crowded and busier boat stations and Resto/shopping spots, but the hotel has been our little corner of paradise we truly enjoyed staying in. A perfect way to enjoy this break from our pandemic confinement.

Happy thoughts. Happy memories. May this pandemic finally blow over so we can spend more holidays under the sun with sand between our toes, sipping our piña coladas, mango daiquiris and margaritas or cold beers. As the wind slaps our salty faces and ruffles our sandy hair, we feel grateful to enjoy these slices of paradise. A real Shangrila.

Busy Since I Retired


I kid you not.

My self-imposed retirement began in early 2001. I quit to have a life. And it’s been a life of adventures and nurtured relationships since.

I love to travel. And I travel with different sets and circles of friends. No better way to bond than enjoying their company 24/7. I’m one who easily gets along with most anyone on a trip. Perhaps because I’m in my elements when traveling. But I do realize it’s better to travel solo than putting up with bad company. I’m also hell-bent when I wish to be someplace and no one’s going with me. Guess it all started when I was a child standing in line to enjoy rollercoaster rides. I don’t do that now. Not because I’m afraid but more because I’m cautious not to break a brittle bone. I go visit family and friends whenever I can. I have always maintained that life is too short to waste it. As years pass, I appreciate more and more the value of relationship. I am happy I nurtured many since childhood.

2001:

USA Roadtrip

Beijing + HK

2002:

Spain + Portugal

Lourdes, Paris

2003:

USA East/West Coast

London

Roadtrip from Paris thru Tours,

Bordeaux, Lourdes, Provence,

Barcelona, back to Paris

2004:

St. Petersburg+Moscow, Russia

Switzerland

Provence+Paris

2005:

USA

2006:

Singapore

Europe

2007:

Alaskan Cruise

Vancouver+Victoria, Canada

Seattle+San Francisco+LA

2008:

HK/Macau

Taipei

2009:

Turkey & Greece

Indonesia

HK New Year

Shanghai

2010:

Siem Reap

Shanghai

2011:

Bhutan

Shanghai

2012:

South Africa+Zambia

Spain

2013:

Australia

Spain

Mongolia

Korea

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

2014:

Australia

Hanoi/Halong Bay, Vietnam

India

2015:

Myanmar

Spain

Berlin, Germany

Scandinavian Cruise

Bangkok, Thailand

Morocco+Spain

2016:

Italy

Tokyo

Sydney+Gold Coast, Australia

Japan

Bangkok, Thailand

2017:

Spain

Sydney

Tasmania

Miami/SFO/Vegas/Utah

Peru

Fukoaka

Spain

Paris, France

2018:

Sri Lanka

Central Vietnam

Vienna, Budapest & Bratislava

Kenya & Tanzania

Sydney

Bologna, Modena, Parma, San Marino

Vienna

Plitvice Lake

2019:

Brunei

Hokkaido

London, Bath & Cotswolds

Amsterdam & Brussels

Ljubljana, Trieste, Graz

Istrian Peninsula+Zagreb

Bali

2020:

Egypt

Easily, nearly 70 international trips since I retired in 2001. Way more than my combined trips before my self-imposed retirement. And a few times, I did back-to-back trips as well as “slow trips” counting up to 3 months home-based somewhere. I’ve also covered much ground back home. I’ve been quite busy. And very happy! Traveled with family and also with different sets of friends. Oh yes, I have no shortage of travel buddies. Outside of family, there are my camino buddies, a foodie group, college buddies, travel blogger-friends, former work colleagues, dormmates, childhood friends, etc. My friends would always ask which trips rank among my Top 10. And I’m always stumped for choice. How do you choose from among so many trips you’ve enjoyed and wish to repeat? But this I say, the more memorable ones are those where I learned the most, interacted with locals the most, or simply where “something clicked” to change my outlook in life. Not exactly an epiphany; just a simple discovery or realization from a meaningful experience.

PS. Times have changed since early 2020. We were lucky to do that Nile Cruise in Egypt. COVID-19 took over and our traveling life was put on hold. All 3 pre-booked trips this 2020 cancelled.

Abuela Con Nieta


Traveled with my nieta over the holidays — her first time in Europe. We based ourselves in Madrid but made 3 night trips to Paris, Barcelona and San Sebastian. Paris was at the top of her list but she ended up loving San Sebastian best and Barcelona second best. I wasn’t surprised.

She loves visits to the art galleries and spent lotsa time there. And I mean lotsa time! San Sebastian has no museos in the league of Louvre nor Prado, but she digs the vibe in this Basque city so much that I’m convinced she can live there.

Traveling as abuela y nieta, our pair must have invited some attention. Or at least we were marked. Or perhaps SHE was marked. More than once, I was asked “Donde esta la chica?” She’d always find a vacant seat on the train where she can more comfortably sit, or stray away from me while we’re in line. She’d get free admission to some museos when the man at the window would ask if she’s a student. No student ID nor passport copy, but she gets in free or at a discount while her abuela pays the regular rate. She’s out of her teens now but still acts like a child like when I couldn’t get a decent shot of her without her tongue sticking out or her crinkling her nose.

Our vacation lasted a full month. She’d tease we didn’t quarrel as much as expected and laugh. I was happy to show her around, much that museos and art galleries were coming out of my ears. She discovered she’s a good dishwasher and that she easily forgets things. I discovered I can appreciate street and urban art too. We share food preferences and love bubblies. She likewise shops like me — quick, decisive and wise. Ahem.

I am certain “art appreciation” was the highlight of this trip. I have seen how she spent for art materials and art books, more than she spent for those fashion stuff. For sure, she has set her sights on a return trip knowing how she has enjoyed this holiday.

While in Madrid, she found time to meet with her friends now studying there. It was amusing to see her playing tour guide cum photographer. Their photos speak volumes on how much they enjoyed each other’s company, sticking tongues and all 😜 She loves Spain. And judging by how she’s been painting lately, mi nieta is inspired. 💕👩🏻‍🎨🎨

Travels with #aponimamu:(Just click on the link)

Around Paris

Louvre and Centre Pompidou

Bohemian Paris

Touchdown, San Sebastian

Txikiteo in San Sebastian

The Playas of San Sebastian

Traveling Paintbrush of Anna

Museo Guggenheim (Bilbao)

Museu Picasso (Barcelona)

Museo Reina Sofia (Madrid)

Museo Thyssen-Bornemizsa (Madrid)

Gaudi and Ciutat Vella

To Montserrat and Back

A Pleasant Moorish Surprise

Not Segovia, But Alcala de Henares

Street Art In Spain

Some Musings and Ramblings:

Abuela Con Nieta

Happy Thoughts for Anna P


Well …… it’s a 7 hour layover and we’re enjoying the food, drinks and huge shower room (my favorite corner here) of Al Dhabi Lounge in Abu Dhabi while waiting for our connecting flight to Manila. Still, it’s a seriously long wait and what better thing to do? BLOG ! Yes, before those memories fade. 


Palacio Cristal in Parque de Retiro


Travels have a way of emptying one’s mind of day-to-day concerns. Perhaps to make room for our fond memories. There is that giddy anticipation over new places, flavors and experiences. I delight in the novelty, discovery as well as in the rediscovery of past delights. Cameras make great memory-keepers but our minds play out varied reactions  with each discovery and replay of happy thoughts. Priceless. When I was growing up “alone” (busy parents, older sisters in college), I learned to read a lot and write down my thoughts. I completed many diaries and even named them. Dear Betty. Dear Jane. Dear Henry. Dear Kevin. Whenever I feel seriously sad, I write. Whenever I feel happy, I write more. Life is a celebration. And it’s worth writing about. If only to remind me of the many things to be grateful for.  No handwritten diaries this time. Thank God for blogsites where I can store my journals in cyberspace while drinking my cortado!


Mi favorito, Cafe Cortado!




Mi hermana. Mi sobrina. Mi nieto. Mi amigos y amigas. All together in dear Madrid, which is home for 6 years to my dear sobrina. I have visited yearly for at least a month to nearly 3 months. Left alone in our Madrid crib in times past, I’ve learned to appreciate Madrid’s many quaint alleys, tiny squares, specialty museums, roadside taperias, and many off-the-beaten paths. No tocar (don’t touch) rule in mercados doesn’t apply in my favorite fruit and vegetable stall. There, this “suki” can enjoy touching the zucchini, potatoes, carrots, spinach, asparagus, naranja, mushrooms, etc. The vendor simply hands me a bowl or basket to fill with my chosen greens and fruits. And the cheese store where I get to taste slices of different quezos — “para probar” (to try). Or ask the fish vendor to clean the fish I buy. Mercado visits are no obligations here, they’re actually delightful adventures. And walking without maps, missing turns and getting lost? There’s always a cafe bar or Iglesia to relax in, meditate, or simply sit out and while away the time. If you chance upon a wedding in the church, it’s your good luck. Cheap thrills! 


Parroquia de San Jeronimo. Behind Museo Del Prado.


And so our Spanish Holiday with sidetrips to Lourdes and Saint John Pied de Port in France is over. Temps rise as our plane lands in Manila. Our hair still a tad limp and wet from the shower we took in the lounge. Our bellies still full from the buffet spread. Our hearts warm with the precious bonding moments. Our minds filled with happy memories. Our leg muscles reminding us we’re no longer spring chickens. And our pockets dry and burned out. Tee Hee. 😉 It would likely take a week to recover our energy to prep for another flight Down Under. From the last dregs of winter to early spring to the intense summer heat of Manila before we catch the onset of Autumn in Sydney. Phew! 


Nap Time En Parque Retiro 😴


Adios, España. Hasta luego.


For more blogs celebrating life, check out : 

https://lifeisacelebration.blog/
http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/liliram/

Like me on Facebook: 

https://www.facebook.com/Lifeisacelebration


Half the family. Six whole days. Five nights. A flight deal. An AirBnb find. A Disneysea dream. A shopping spree. A few discoveries. All within budget! 




Just tap on the topics below for blog photos and details. Enjoy! 

A Happy Place: Disneysea Park Tokyo

Twinnings In Tokyo

Tsukiji Market

Dining In Tokyo

Family Travel Made Easy
For more blogs celebrating life, check out : 


https://lifeisacelebration.blog/


http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/liliram/
Like me on Facebook: 

https://www.facebook.com/Lifeisacelebration



Hi everyone! On our latest Bangkok adventure, here’s a blog summary. For updates, follow lifeisacelebration on Facebook and/or subscribe to this blog site.

Our Bangkok Cribs

Floating Market

Elephant Ride

Bang Pa-In Palace

Ayutthaya UNESCO Heritage Site

A Thai Engagement Procession

A Thai-Buddhist Wedding Ceremony

Art In Paradise Trick-Eye Museum

Chocolate Ville

Terminal 21

Keep reading!


Power up at the Powerhouse Museum! Sydney, NSW.

Power up at the Powerhouse Museum! Sydney, NSW.

A Day In The City: Well spent in the Powerhouse Museum.  Just $35 for the 3 of us. 2 adults+1 kid.

A Day In The City: Well spent in the Powerhouse Museum. Just $35 for the 3 of us. 2 adults+1 kid.

Today, we let the teens rule. We’ve been doing the beach and mountain destinations lately and the teens so badly need a break. Maybe a technology break? Nothing some retail therapy and a day out in the city won’t fix. And this is what they chose as activity for the day in the city.

 

 

20140608-074203-27723413.jpg

Teens In The City. Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

20140608-074250-27770763.jpg

Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia.

 

 

Just next door to the Darling Harbour, it can be found along Harris Street in the Pyrmont area. Kids and teens would certainly love this arts and design museum. Fun, interactive and yes, a strong wifi too! We took the train to Town Hall and walked along George Street, turning right in Hay Street, and naturally not missing Paddy’s Market. 🙂

 

 

20140608-074717-28037062.jpg

A permanent exhibit of Sydney public transport is so well-curated.

20140608-074809-28089947.jpg

Oh yeah, that’s Martin’s Place! Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

 

 

Known for its use of technology to educate the masses, the Powerhouse Museum displays a diverse collection of science and decorative arts. Truly a center for learning and innovation. There is an impressive exhibit of Sydney’s public transport, evolution of fashion, complete with observational and hands-on experimentation and play areas.  Wiggles, anyone?

 

 

20140608-075927-28767048.jpg

Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

20140608-075941-28781260.jpg

 

 

Very well-organized and curated this Museum. After 3 hours, we grew tired and found the Museum well-appointed for weary visitors. We claimed a leather sofa by a corner to re-energize 😉 The strong wifi was a bonus. Then we moved to the interactive play area that even I couldn’t resist.

 

 

20140608-080801-29281891.jpg

Choo Choo at the Powerhouse Museum. Just a stonesthrow from Darling Harbour.

20140608-080840-29320318.jpg

Not the kind you’d use on Syney’s many bike lanes. Powerhouse Museum.

 

 

Blame it on The Wiggles. This Australian children’s music group formed in Sydney, New South Wales in 1991 is a byword among OZ kids. And today’s adults “grew up” with them. Think Hoop Dee Doo, Yummy Yummy, and more! There is a sizable area dedicated to sapping children’s energy. It sapped mine too 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tired, after 3 hours. Who wouldn't be? Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

Tired, after 3 hours. Who wouldn’t be? Powerhouse Museum. Sydney.

Never Too Old for The Wiggles! Powerhouse Museum.

Never Too Old for The Wiggles! Powerhouse Museum.


Nami Island is a relatively “new” tourist attraction just outside of Seoul, Korea. Many tourists “drop by” this half-moon shaped island which can be reached via an hour’s drive from the capital and a short 5 minute ferry ride across the Han River. A day or half a day spent here may be enough soaking in the beauty of this island which showcases nature in all its splendor. I hear they turn off all lights in the evening to allow guests to “commune with nature” while in this tiny island spanning only 4 kilometers in diameter. Must be quite an experience especially during Autumn when one hears fallen leaves “crunch” while squirrels run over them in the dead of night.

 

 

20131124-014644.jpg

One of the ferries crossing Han River towards Nami Island.

20131124-014825.jpg

“Winter Sonata” made this island even more famous!

 

A Republic Within A Republic

 

I sensed the question coming as soon as we lined up for the ferry ride. The arch bearing the name NAMINARA REPUBLIC caught the eye of one of my elves. Confused that there’s a republic within the Republic of Korea, I was caught off-guard. I didn’t know! So I shoo-shooed my little man to ask our Tour Guide. Naturally, I was all ears listening to the guide’s spiel as it was obviously not the first time the question was raised.

 

20131124-020608.jpg

Choose your Season. Winter or Spring? We came in Autumn and look what we found!

20131124-021046.jpg

Vibrant hues of Autumn.

 

 

Once a desolate piece of land, one man’s love for art, nature and music and his dream to share such partnership of Nature and Culture with the world gave birth to the Nami Island we enjoy today. The former Governor of the Bank of Korea bought the island back in 1965 as he prepared for a life of leisure with Nature in his retirement. Not just a banker, Mr. Minn also founded the very first symphony orchestra in Korea. The highly-cultivated island (recreated under the helm of a very cultured visionary) hosted many cultural events nearly every weekend and attracted moviedom’s producers as location for some popular movie and television series drama. NAMINARA Republic declared its CULTURAL independence in 2006 and adopted, rather “invented”, its own anthem, flag, currency, passport and “certificate of citizenship.” Truly, one can’t help admire Mr. Minn’s vision and determination.

 

 

20131124-065219.jpg

The island is teeming with flowers and trees. Nature at its best!

20131124-065425.jpg

Thrilling to walk between two rows of these lovely trees. Very romantic!