Tag Archive: Food Trip


Last Day in Colombo


It was nearly a chore coming back to the city. We enjoyed the beach and countryside so much we had to brace ourselves for the humidity, traffic, heat, crowds, noise and chaos to be found in the metropolis. Colombo is no exception. The city is a mixed bag of modernity amidst remnants of colonial rule. Upon arrival, I felt disoriented but not disheartened. Colombo is very clean despite the “clutter”, and culturally rich. The temples and Buddha statues compete with highrise buildings for attention. The old and the new, stand side by side. There is an eclectic variety of foreign and local elements present in the many parks, lakes, monuments, districts, structures around the city.

. Independence Memorial Hall

A young republic, yet it is the oldest democracy in Asia. Two rival political clans represent the 2 biggest political parties in the country. In 1960, the world had its very first elected woman head of government. Sri Lankans are very proud of their first woman Prime Minister, serving twice, Sirimavo Bandaranaike from 1960-65 and 1970-77. She was the widow of Ceylon’s 4th Prime Minister. Among South Asian nations, Maldives and Sri Lanka rank highest in terms of Per Capita Income and Human Development Index. As visitors to this island nation, we see it in their infrastructure projects and high literacy rate. The road network is impressive, young Sri Lankans get free university education and heritage sites are well-maintained. Beat that!

A Government Hospital

The attractions being far apart, we only managed to get off our bus to visit the Independence Memorial Hall and one temple. The Hall is in Independence Square, built to commemorate independence from British rule in 1948. A statue of its first Prime Minister — deemed Father of the Nation — stands at the head of the monument. Our motley group of travelers found it apt to have our picture taken here. If the Hall looks familiar to you, you may remember it being used as a pitstop in the popular “Amazing Race” series. Well, it wasn’t a race for us. But it was amazing!

👣👫👬👣

Gangaramaya Temple

While it was difficult adjusting to the city noise, we found refuge in 3 places. One is the temple. The 2nd is our hotel’s roofdeck bar. And the 3rd our last lunch in this island nation.

Gangaramaya Temple is both a Buddhist temple and education center. There are traces of Sinhalese, Chinese, Thai and Indian elements in the architecture of this most-visited temple in the capital. This was the last time we’d shed our shoes to enter a place of worship. A piece of Buddha’s hair is enshrined inside. Many locals were there to worship. Oddly, we also found donations in the form of dining furniture and vintage cars.

The old Victorian Cargills Department Store

If there are hostels, there must be a lot of backpackers

Being our last day, we were on the last few bars of our energy meters. Having found this refuge, we took comfort in the peace and quiet provided by this temple. We wished we were able to visit the Red Mosque as well but the guide said our bus cannot negotiate the narrow alley leading to it. And we weren’t really up for walking in the city heat.

Entrance to Gangaramaya Temple

Inside Gangaramaya Temple

Inside Gangaramaya Temple

2nd refuge: The roofdeck bar of Jetwing Colombo Seven with a panoramic view of the city is exactly what we needed upon reaching the last leg of our journey. There was a lap pool on the deck but who’d like to go swimming? Cocktails seem to be a better idea. Best time? Sunset, of course. There were other hotel guests and locals with us, but we seemed to be the only ones agog over the sunset. Well, we’re tourists 🙄

Photo Credit: Rick C

Photo Credit: Annabelle C

On our way to the airport to fly out of Sri Lanka, we decided on having lunch in 4-month old Shangrila Hotel’s Table One. Our last refuge. Located in Galle Face, the hotel has a commanding view of the Indian Ocean. Table One’s buffet spread offerred everything we wanted for a last decent meal in Sri Lanka. Crabs, prawns, lamb, curries, cuttlefish, squid, steaks, hoppers, noodles, dimsum, salads, soups, and an assortment of sri lankan desserts. I had a few pieces wrapped to eat on the plane as I wasn’t hopeful about the inflight meals. I brought them all the way back to Manila instead. And that coconut cookie with cashew nut was my morning upper! Swell 🤤

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: (Planned, as of this writing)

Sri Lanka (March 8-15)

Malaysia (April)

Sydney (Oct )

Easily, 50 international trips since 2001. I’ve also covered much ground back home. I’ve been busy. Traveled with family and different sets of friends. Oh yes, I have no shortage of travel buddies. Outside of family, there are my camino buddies, 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.

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


My introduction of Donostia-San Sebastian kicked off with a ride on the txu txu train. From Playa de la Zurriola to Playa de la Concha to Playa de Ondarreta. Nieta enjoyed the txu txu petit train ride. But she would have gotten off if she could to dig her toes on the beach and feel the sand under her soles. Too cold for that, but her love for the beach drew her back here every single day of our stay in San Seb.

And so we walked the whole stretch of the concha (shell) shape of the beach one afternoon. Done this before but my nieta grew tired walking more than 5 kms and nearly gave up. We broke our trip with a dessert of chocolate y tarta de manzanas in Hotel Ezeiza near the funiculare to Mount Igueldo. Refreshed, energized, she walked all the way to the end.

Having painted San Sebastian with all its peculiar details like the statues and sculptures along the shore, she just had to walk it to appreciate it. 🏖⛱🚶🏻‍♀️ Especially the Peine del Viento which are the 3 iconic pieces of steel firmly anchored to the rocks. In English, they translate to “wind combs” and Eduardo Chillida couldn’t have named his sculpture better. His best work, they say.

Towards late afternoon, the air is chilly and the winds grew fiercer. Nieta took shots of the peine way too many times, each time inching nearer the edge. I couldn’t watch her! Told her she’d give me a heart attack and lose her dear abuela if she doesn’t stop. She did, with a lot of teasing and ribbing on how I’m so easily scared. The nerve!

Thankfully, we went back to watching this young artist make beach art. Amazing falls short to describe this genius. Aaaaah, art takes many forms here in Donostia. Either in its architecture, food art served on a plate, etched on the sand, painted on the door or wall, or anchored on the rocks. Well done, San Sebastian!


Finally! On our first night here, we only tried Atari Gastroteka right across Yglesia de Santa Maria in Parte Vieja. It was a leisurely meal without the tourist crowd, with wait staff not too busy to chat you up. Txikiteo can wait till tomorrow, I thought. For our first night, let it not be rushed and frenzied. Just one relaxing meal ordering the same stuff we enjoyed here the last time.

We’ve always known the Pulpo and Foie Gras here are tops but we discovered its salmon and beef cheeks too. My nieta was introduced to Ribera del Duero though she also took a swig at my Rioja. Our butts got stuck here as we were seated outside across the Yglesia at 7Celsius with a friendly waitress checking on us from time to time. The Txikiteo can wait, I repeat. For now, we savoured the peace and quiet, along with the good food and bebidas.

On our 2nd night we were ready for our txikiteo. But it so happened the whole of San Sebastian was celebrating Santo Tomas Fair and transformed the entire city into a farmers’ market. Locals donned farmers’ and peasants’ attires. I was tempted to buy an outfit but my Oriental looks would give me away. Any txikiteo idea was promptly dashed as we could hardly move across Parte Vieja. Crowd was so thick, everyone’s in high spirits (literally and figuratively) and so many drunks have dropped and broken their copas. No war freaks, just too drunk to stand steady and hold their glasses. Ergo, glass shards all over. We did the next best thing. La Viña is famous for its tarta de quezo but they do have a fine dining restaurante inside. More pulpo for us, plus jamon jabugo paired with txakoli. Perfect! Txikiteo can wait.

And so the txikiteo finally gets started on Day 3. First off, Borda Berri for bacalao al pilpil and orejas de cerdo. Next, Bar Etxeberria. That’s lunch. Kutixik para llevar so we can nib on jamon while walking around the Playas. For dinner, Bar Zeruko for La Hoguera, mushrooms and tuna. Next stop was La Cuchara de San Telmo for its cochinillo and oysters. Dessert was in Casa Urola for that torrijas to die for. You can say we took our txikiteo real seriously. After all, we were “deprived” of this famous pub crawl the last 2 days. No regrets though as we’ve discovered the relative quiet of a sit-down dinner and good txakoli in its stead.

My nieta swears she loves txakoli and ribera del duero. By the 6th copa, we have started calling ourselves “Luningning” and “Liwayway”, just for fun. The 2 wait staff flirting with each other we promptly named Mateo and Juana. Don’t ask why. The Lola (grandma) and Nieta (granddaughter) are simply enjoying their txikiteo. Salut!

PostScript: On the day we were leaving San Sebastian, we decided to have almuerzo (lunch) in Parte Vieja, hoping some of our favorite pintxo bars are already open. They weren’t. But we enjoyed our pintxos, cafe, desserts in 2 bars which now make up our list of new favorites. Casa Alcalde where I enjoyed my txistorra and pimientos de padron (as a first meal) while nieta had her mushrooms, kebab and iberico topped with a quail egg. Bar Sport has good reviews but never tried it before because it was always crowded. Not this time. Sangria with cheese cake? Why not? Nieta liked the tarta de quezo better here so we made sure we dropped in on La Viña again just to compare. 🙄


Eat well, laugh often, love much! This is our wish for everyone in 2018!

Who cares if you keep going back to the same “pre-loved” places? While I do have my bucket list, it can’t be more serious than being with loved ones. My family. My friends. The new friends I meet are a bonus. And my heart overflows with gratitude.

As the year ends and a new one begins, my heart is filled to the brim with fond memories that money can’t buy. What’s been, has been. You can’t go back and “create” your history. You make it as you go along. Your past is THAT. Can’t change it. So be mindful of your present, to gain a past to remember with fondness.

From my family to yours, God bless us all this Christmas Season as we remember Him who is our greatest present. Merry Christmas, everyone! 🍾🍸🥂


The “hells” of Beppu offer a unique experience. Its hot springs generate so much steam you can cook just about anything. Clams, scallops, fish, shrimps, octopus, pork, eggs, sausages, corn, sweet potatoes, cabbage. First you buy your stuff to cook in the store. The man in the open kitchen made sure we saw our bought stuff laid out in the steaming pots and baskets, and advised us to claim our tables and wait 15 minutes. As he dropped the pots, hot steam jetted out ferociously and blurred my eyeglasses. I’d never make it as a cook. Not even as steamer!

Hell’s Kitchen. Very eco-friendly. But we all wished the man fished out our lunch sooner than 15 minutes. The octopus meat wasn’t so tender anymore. And the shrimps were overcooked. Rather, oversteamed. But we enjoyed our pork slices with steamed cabbage, which tasted rather sweet. Even sweeter were the corn and sweet (say that again?) potatoes. The fish was ok, so with the sausages. But the clams and scallops were rubbery. Again, oversteamed!

Well, we still managed to enjoy our lunch. Can’t resist this unique onsen cooking here in Beppu. You’d find steam vents all over the place. We were lucky to beat the lunch crowd as we came early. Heard it can be crowded. The food is just average but one must think of this as an experience rather than as an honest-to-goodness dining.

If visiting Beppu, don’t skip this experience. But be sure to tell the “steamer-chef” to steam your seafood stuff for only 7-10 minutes. I think that should do it. And yes, don’t miss the sweet corn and potatoes. Then, sit back, relax and have a beer while waiting for lunch.

Happy steaming, Happy eating!

(PS. Thanks, Iyay for letting me use your photo)

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THE BEPPU SPRINGS IN AUTUMN


Beppu is a resort city in the Oita Prefecture. Found in the southern island of Kyushu, Japan, it boasts of as many as 4,000 onsens or hot springs set between the volcanic mountains and the lovely Beppu Bay. You know you are in Beppu as soon as you see those steam vents all over the city. Quite amazing and rather unreal to find in a city.

We arrived autumn time. The (hot) springs area in Umi Jigoku was teeming with steam vents looking even more surreal because of the autumn foliage. Unfortunately, we came on a long weekend. This Thanksgiving weekend sent throngs of locals out of their urban abodes heading for the luxury of sand baths, mud baths, foot baths, onsen, hot spring baths to be found in Beppu.

We couldn’t wait for 2 hours for the sand baths. Besides, it’s freezing cold (as low as ZERO degree in Mt. Tsurumi Summit at 1,375 meters high) and we weren’t confident we’d enjoy lying down “buried” under the hot sands for only 15 minutes, then up and go. Too much trouble. Instead, we opted for the foot baths. Still too hot for our legs and feet, but t’was fun doing this with the group before a hefty kaiseki in our hotel’s restaurant. A lonnnnng dinner, with the ubiquitous Japanese cooking utensils and dishes spread out on our long table. The plating typically teases, but the taste never ever disappoints!

We were filled to the brim with all the sumptuous food. The miso soup had an unusual, savory taste. The pickles you’d care to eat with your rice. The thin meat slices paired well with the broth with morsels of fish balls, shrimps, etc. The saba (costing ¥5,000 per mackerel) was so fresh. The tempura batter sweetish and crisp. Even the matcha gelatine-like dessert tasted sooo good.

That last photo above was sourced from our hotel’s site.

So, no worries. We didn’t snap photos inside the hotel’s onsen. Did we try it? Naturally. Beppu boasts of the best onsen experience. And so, we ended our long day on a “hot” note.

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It’s a matter of choice. And finances 🙄. The Napa Valley Wine Train choo choos through the valley’s towns and vineyards. At this time of the year, it should be a splendid ride sipping some vintage wine paired with a gourmet meal while one’s eyes feast on the autumn foliage running through Napa, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena. Or you can drive it!

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Yountville. This is Thomas Keller country. Per Se. French Laundry. Ad Hoc. Bouchon. Choose according to errrr….. budget. Bouchon breakfast of your favorite brew and that cluster of freshly-baked epi with the signature butter and jam should do it. If you like, take your brew and bread a few steps away to a garden table right by Thomas Keller’s organic farm just across French Laundry. Here you can enjoy the farm view, linger, and people-watch. A much better deal than watching the line at Bouchon Bakery and feeling guilty overstaying at your table.

Oakville. We missed the oldest grocery store in California here. Still operating, but with artisanal products intended for tourists/visitors rather than its measly population of 300. We should drop in next time we’re in the area. But we didn’t miss visiting the Carmelite Monastery — with its beautiful garden and pond meditation place. The vineyards around the area look newly-harvested. Thank God the recent wildfire didn’t reach this area.

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Rutherford-St. Helena. Well, if you ask me, I like St. Helena best. It is farther away but certainly worth the extra distance. For many who have done Napa and nearby Yountville, St. Helena struck me as more elegant in a casual way. More posh. We only managed to visit Far Niente, Beringer and Hall vineyards but these are truly enough for a short afternoon visit. The interior road to Far Niente is like a drive to a forest basking in its autumn colors. And the Far Niente gate — though closed the day we visited — is teeming with blooms.

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Beringer with its Rhine House and garden replete with blooms is quite a sight. On the other hand, Hall seems “ready” for its many wine-drinking guests. Before the tasting, one can stroll around the vineyard and enjoy the view. The staff were also accommodating.

St. Helena has a number of restaurants worth visiting. My friend’s favorite is Farmstead. But we went for the less formal Gott’s. The original is right here in St. Helena. This unpretentious place has a good, informal setting for “happy hours” — wine or craft beer — and a good selection of reasonably-priced soup, salad and sandwiches. I liked today’s special – a beef brisket sandwich, and enjoyed the spicy tomato soup, but I’m told their burgers are tops. Perhaps next time. St. Helena absolutely deserves another visit!

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My first reaction is why? How? This indigenous mammal has graced many homes as pets. Like the rabbits. But here, it has been a staple Andean dish for 5,000 years. They are actually rodents, more furry and cute! But here in Peru, they are either fried or roasted and called CUY. In some, they are served much like the suckling pig or cochinillo.

Tried this in Cusco, with ceviche (trout) on the side. They love their potatoes here so that makes up the carb component of one’s meal. I don’t know. Didn’t think I’d try it but then cuy is a Peruvian delicacy most locals would say no one should miss. But we opted for the better-looking cuy chaktado (fried under a stone) vs the roasted cuy on skewers found in most markets.

I like their ceviche with corn kernels (big kernels, long thin kernels) but I’d pass on their tamales and pisco sour. The tamales is too bland and the pisco sour too strong. In Lima, we’ve tried their lomo saltado and that’s ok. Won’t really crave for it. And no I won’t be ordering ice cream for dessert here. The texture and flavor just don’t make the cut. Nor would I order suspiro — a blend of egg yolks with condensed milk, cinnamon and port topped with meringue. Suspiro is simply too sweet for me. Each time it was served, I only managed a couple of teaspoonfuls. But I do like the variety of fruits we tried at the Food Market. Especially their custard apple, called chirimoya.

Do i have a favorite dish? I’m not particularly fond of meat but their salads, especially the avocado and lima beans as well as the variety of potatoes complete my meal. Trout is good too. And the quinoa soup is divine! For the carnivores, cuy fried or roasted, chicharrones (fried pork rinds), alpaca chops and lomo soltado should be IT!

Peruvian cuisine has survived many many years. The many varieties of potatoes and potato dishes, the big fat kernels of corn, those bigsized peanuts all pre-date the Incas. Our local guide kept reminding us the world owes Peru for its potatoes, now eaten all over the world. Through the years, Peruvian cuisine blended Andean ingredients with the Spanish and African to produce Creole cuisine. Then the Chinese came, and the craving for fried rice a la Peruviano gave way to chifa. The world-famous Nikkei cuisine blends Peruvian with Japanese cuisine — anyone cares for sushi with pisco sour? No wonder Peru — Lima, in particular — is home to many inspiring and aspiring chefs. A real food haven where many restaurants rank among the best!