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Travel and Lifestyle Blog - A World of Art, Architecture, Culture, History, Gastronomy, Lifestyle and Adventure.

Updated: 2018-03-22T13:02:21.601+01:00


Skiathos, Greece: Fresh Pasta Dinner at La Cucina di Maria


I must admit though that I am not a huge fan of pasta. I don't know why, perhaps because I find pasta too starchy for my liking? On the other hand, I can’t live without noodles. Now that's a bit of a contradiction, haha.

In Skiathos, Dutchman and I had dinner at this really cool restaurant in the old town called La Cucina di Maria. It is an Italian restaurant specialising in fresh home-made style pasta and thin-crust pizzas. The reviews were very good and the restaurant was always full every time we pass by.

Hmm, they must be doing something right, huh?

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Skiathos Island, Greece: Maratha Beach (Our Favourite!)


Maratha Beach was one of our great finds last summer in Skiathos. This was "our kind of beach".

A picture of a very relaxing holiday without having to spend ludicrous amounts of money or having to fly across the globe in search of the sun! The Greek Islands are just around the corner from Western Europe.

The beach is down a small path from the main road.

We found this beach after checking out a series of beach spots and resorts on the southern coast. Dutchman and I have an exact idea of what “our” beach would look and feel like, so when we saw Maratha Beach, we were like – YEAH! This is it!

We were so glad to have found a pair of unoccupied sun loungers. We quickly settled.

If we went here during peak season, I am sure it would be impossible to find an available sun lounger, unless we come here really early or very late in the afternoon. The perks of going off-peak season.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Our Homebase in Skiathos Island, Greece: Fengeros Village


For our 2-week summer holiday last year in Skiathos Island, we stayed at Fengeros Village. It’s an apartment complex village with a pool and a bar which offers basic accommodation with a small kitchen and a balcony with stunning views.

Amazing view from our apartment's balcony.

We chose this place mainly because of the view. You know, I am a sucker for views.

Because the apartment complex village sits high on a hilly part not too far away from the main road and the coast, all apartments have views of the surroundings, the olive trees in the mountain and the blue Aegean Sea. Even the swimming pool, which was quite a good size is elevated and has spectacular views.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Skiathos, Greece: Stroll and Dinner with a View at Plakes Taverna


It is freezing here again in the Netherlands and I am supposed to do my weekly run but it’s cosier to sit at home in my huge warm chair and blog about the warm sunny days we had in the Greek Islands last summer.

So yes, that is what is inspiring me today to write about. Winter is still going strong and the summer holiday we had last year in Skiathos Island, Greece is keeping me warm and fuzzy.

So I checked my picture gallery and picked a few pictures to reminisce about. It was a late afternoon stroll in the rugged cliff peninsula in Skiathos old town and a dinner on an outdoor terrace with a lovely sunset view of the Aegean Sea.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Last Day Skiing Photos in Alpe d'Huez Grand Domaine Ski


Our last day of winter sports holiday last winter (January 2017) was spent skiing and boarding the whole day in Alpe d' Huez Grand Domaine ski area.

Alpe d'Huez is a long way from Vaujany, the little commune where we were staying for the holiday.  Both places are located far from each other, at both ends of the skiing territory. It would take me close to an hour to reach Alpe d'Huez by car from Vaujany, but with skiing, I can probably reach it quicker if I go fast and nonstop.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Vaujany Alpine Commune in the French Alps and the Cable Car Mishap


Last winter we spent our skiing and snowboarding holiday in Vaujany, a little alpine village in the Isere department in the French Alps.

The commune of 300 people - Vaujany. Most of these chalets are hotels, aparthotels, and rentals.

The Oz-Vaujany gondola lift that can fit up to 160 people.

We booked a chalet in a chalet hotel with a ski pass access to the Alpe d’ Huez Grand Domaine ski area which has over 250 kilometers of pistes! And of course, because Vaujany is not one of those popular ski resorts where most winter sports tourists go to, it is less busy. An ideal place for us who seek the peace and quiet.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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New Zealand Road Trip and City Trips in Shanghai and Hong Kong


In 7 weeks I am embarking once again a long distance trip. To the other side of the world!Flag of New Zealand.Yup, I am going to New Zealand to visit my sister who lives in Auckland. We are going on a road trip starting from Auckland going down south to Wellington with stops in Matamata and Taupo, and then we take the ferry to Marlborough wine country, passing the Nelson Lakes National Park and then finally, Christchurch.As I do not have weeks to stay, I am reserving the very southern part of the island for another trip. Perhaps with the Dutchman if he is up for some adventure in the near future.There is going to be a lot of nature sightseeing on this road trip and just enjoying what mother nature has given us. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="450" src="!1m28!1m12!1m3!1d65001669.116919436!2d50.162218406948355!3d6.078436303998564!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m13!3e4!4m5!1s0x47c63fb5949a7755%3A0x6600fd4cb7c0af8d!2sAmsterdam!3m2!1d52.370215699999996!2d4.8951679!4m5!1s0x6d0d47fb5a9ce6fb%3A0x500ef6143a29917!2sAuckland%2C+New+Zealand!3m2!1d-36.8484597!2d174.7633315!5e0!3m2!1sen!2snl!4v1520687856720" style="border: 0;" width="600">There are no direct non-stop flights from Europe to New Zealand, so I am stopping in Shanghai and Hong Kong for a few days each way. See how far it is. Asia is just halfway through.Flag of China.But I also have 2 other city trips planned in Asia because there is no direct flight from Europe all the way to New Zealand. That's more than 20 hours flying! So going to NZ, I will be stopping for a few days in Shanghai, China. I have been watching videos on Youtube about Shanghai so I am quite prepared now. I need to pick up a few Chinese words and phrases because the only thing I can be proud of myself right now is that I can count in Mandarin.I will be making use of the 144-hour visa-free transit in China, although I may only be there for 72 +/- hours (3 days).Flag of Hong Kong.Going back, I will be stopping as well for a few days layover in Hong Kong. I just love this city. Did you know this is my favourite city in the world? I hope to meet up with my parents here before I fly back to the Netherlands, and plan to check out some new sights and food destinations as well.There are lots to prepare, such as booking the hotels, rental car, and stuff. My flight tickets though have been bought a few weeks ago, so the trip's guaranteed =)Oh, I cannot wait!Travel Period: Spring 2018Destination: New Zealand, China, Hong KongKeep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay TravelsHappy Travels! Enjoy Life =)All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.~~~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~~~ [...]

Skiing Flaine: View of the Slopes / Pistes from the Chairlift


The perfect weather during winter sports can sometimes be elusive.

Moi taking a pause =)

Mother nature did not indulge us with great weather during our skiing and boarding holiday last January in Val Cenis, French Alps. We barely had sunshine, instead, we had snow, lots of it, windstorm and grey skies. But you know what? I've had the best time ever. I really enjoyed last January's skiing holiday. I wish we could stay longer than 1 week. I will post more stories and pictures of our winter sports holiday soon.

For this post, let me go back 2 winters ago (yes, I have a massive backlog!)... to our winter sports holiday in Flaine ski resort.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Modern Afternoon Tea Twist at TWG Tea Salon in Taipei 101 Mall


I love tea. Who doesn't?

During the weekdays I always start my day at home with yogurt, muesli, wheat cornflakes and blueberries, and then when I arrive at the office, I take my first drink of the day, my first cup of tea. In fact, I drink more tea than coffee at work.

So I am more of a tea person than a coffee one, although I love espressos especially after lunch and dinner, they are perfect. It is tea, however, that carries me throughout the working day.

And in Asia, particularly in Taiwan, we all know that tea is king.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Hidden Temple in Ximending: Taipei Tianhou Temple


Just like churches and mosques, I find temples very interesting deserving a visit and much appreciation. Temples, after all, reflect the souls of every country, city, and peoples.

The entrance of the temple on Chengdu Road.

In Taipei, I was able to visit 3 beautiful temples.

The famous Longshan Temple which was really on my travel sightseeing agenda, the Songshan Ciyou Temple which I happen to stop by when I was in the area visiting the Raohe Street Night Market, and the Taipei Tianhou Temple which I am blogging now.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Dongmen, Taipei and the search for Xiao Long Bao dumplings on Yong Kang Street


Taipei is known for its xiao long bao dumplings. It is a steamed light bun type dough dumpling usually filled with minced pork and with a soup in it. It is often times called soup dumplings. I was not going to leave Taipei without having tasted these delicious soupy doughs.

Xiao long bao's are soup dumplings.

Moi on Yong Kang Street.

I knew about the famous Din Tai Fung, the most sought-after Chinese restaurant in Taipei that now has branches all over the world. They rose to fame because of their xiao long bao’s. When I travel, I tend to follow my stomach's lead so I did some googling and found out that there is a Din Tai Fung in Dongmen area near Yong Kang Street. In fact, this is the original Din Tai Fung restaurant.

it turns out that Yong Kang Street in Dongmen is on my list of places to visit. I have read that the street has many street food eats, dumpling and noodle houses, mango shave cafes, milk teas and local Taiwanese-style restaurants. Definitely my kind of street. It wasn’t too far from Ximen as well where I was staying, just a few metro stops.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Taipei: Video and Photos of Ximending at Night


Ximending is a must experience when visiting Taipei.

Ximending is a fusion between Times Square in NYC, Myeongdong in Seoul and Mongkok in HK.

I booked a hotel in Ximending area during the short visit to Taipei, Taiwan, so I walked on the streets here every night. Best decision for a first time visit in Taipei.

The area is one big showcase of neon lights. Shops open until late here.Ximending is pedestrianised so people are everywhere. There is street food all over the place and long queues for some of the lucky ones. There are lots to see, do, eat and buy here! It is the happening place.

If one needs to while away time in the evening in Taipei, then you've got the night markets of course and Ximending as well =)

[To see the video I made of Ximending during an evening walk and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below please]

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On the Road to Mekong Delta: Graveyards and Mekong Rest Stop in Dong Nai


Visiting Vietnam is probably not complete without at least spending a day in the Mekong Delta River region.

The Mekong Rest Stop - really nice place!

Our minivan, just 8 of us guests plus our driver and tour guide.

The Mekong Delta, also known as the "Nine Dragon River Delta" is the largest river that snakes through the south of Vietnam passing 12 provinces and a large network of distributary rivers.

Choosing a Mekong Delta trip was quite a challenge for us because there were so just many Mekong Delta trips offered. It can really get confusing when they are almost the same. The family has to find the best one that suits the wishes of the family and can accommodate the parent's mobility challenge as well.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Utrecht: Sunny Day Biking in Maxima Park & Break at Anafora


Goedendag, goededag, goeiedag, goeiendag are ways of saying "Good Day" in Dutch =)

Back in October last year, Dutchman and I did a combo run in Maxima Park in Utrecht. He with his skates (rollerblades) and moi with my bike.

It was lovely weather for a weekend in October which only meant that beaches and parks will be full. We do not always have great weather here in the Netherlands so when the skies are blue and the sun shines, we hit the outdoors.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Street Food and Street Dining in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


The street food and street dining scene in Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon is surely hands-down impressive! Wow. Yep, people are out and dining on the streets and Vietnamese food is my favourite.

Street dining in Saigon / HCMC.

I am super excited these days because 2 months from now I will be flying back to Asia again, this time to Shanghai, China, and Hong Kong (and New Zealand as well!) and I can’t wait to check out the street food scene there. So while waiting for this trip to happen, let me dig some of the pictures I have on street food and street dining in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

I was in Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon or HCMC with family in December 2016. Our family holiday trip was during the week between Christmas and New Years. Although Vietnam is predominantly a Buddhist (and Atheist I guess?) country and it celebrates the Lunar Year as well, there was quite some Christmas spirit in the city with preparations for the New Year.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Ho Chi Minh City Hall and Shopping Malls


I do wonder about the simplest of things. Such as if most people visiting Vietnam know who or what Ho Chi Minh is? Do people even care?

Moi with Ho Chi Minh standing in bronze behind me and the beautiful City Hall in the background. I am smiling in the picture but it was so fricking HOT on that day. 

Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh is the revolutionary man behind the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (or North Vietnam then). He was a polyglot who can speak French, Russian, Mandarin, English and Vietnamese fluently. A communist and a staunch nationalist from the north, he formed the Viet Minh coalition that eventually threw the French out of the country after almost a century of occupation. The Battle of Dien Bien Phu (or First Indochina War) was the defining moment, the end of French rule in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

He also later became an important figure and influence during the Vietnam War (Second Indochina War/American War), although he did not see the victory together with his comrades against the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam - Vietnam was divided then), the United States and its Allies because he died 6 years before the Fall of Saigon. It was a war that lasted almost 20 years.

When North Vietnam (or Viet Cong and its allies) captured Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, it sent the Americans and its Allies packing back to their respective countries. A popular musical back in the 90s, "Miss Saigon" would probably help jog the memory of some from my or earlier generation. South Vietnam was reunited with the North under the communist credo.

A foreign newspaper was said to have quoted:

"When the North Vietnamese marched into Saigon yesterday, they were led by a man who wasn't there".

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Saigon/HCMC: Watching the World Go By at Lamenda Café


One evening in Saigon, the sister and I were looking for a place to hang out after dinner. We have just tucked the parents into bed (hehe, the other way around huh?) and we were ready to chill the evening away.

Coffee and Cocktails.

We want to sit down somewhere and talk over a fresh cocktail drink and watch the world go by. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of cool outdoor places in Ben Thanh area where we were staying where you can sit back, relax and watch life happening before you on the streets.

But we got lucky though when we came upon this lounge café just a block away from Ben Thanh market and our hotel. It was, I guess, the only cool and chic place to hang out in the vicinity.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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The ‘Barbecue Garden’ in Ho Chi Minh City


This is a great place for some casual outdoor dining in Saigon.

Our table has its own stone grill.

The family came from a very long day trip in the Mekong Delta so after having some needed rest at the hotel, we freshened up and got ready for dinner. I told the family that we are going just further down the road so no need to take cab rides. We’ve had enough driving for the day so some nearby restaurant would do us really well for the evening, especially for my mom who is mobility challenged.

I actually saw the Barbecue Garden a few times during our walks in the area. It is not too far away from our hotel in Ben Thanh. It’s on the same street, Le Thanh Ton corner Nam Ky Khoi Nghia and is just a 4-5 minute walk so this really came as a handy choice for us.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Verdun, France: The City Behind the Greatest Battle in History


Many younger people (30-something and younger) may probably have not heard about Verdun in France.

It is a small city located on the River Meuse in the Lorraine region in the north of France. It is not too far away from Luxembourg. It is a fortified city, however, not much has remained of its fortifications except for the Chatel Gate and the Citadel.

The main tourism draw of the city and its nearby environs are its contributions to history and memorial monuments of the First World War, namely the Battle of Verdun, the world's longest and largest battle ever. Other than that Verdun is a relatively quiet and very local city.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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France: Douaumont Ossuary and Cemetery in Verdun


In late spring last year, Dutchman and I went on a long weekend road trip to the World War 1 battlefields of France.

Perhaps not the most ideal and romantic weekend getaway, but the Dutchman has a longtime fascination with the wars in Europe, particularly World War I and II, and Verdun was one of the places he talked about, as the longest and largest battle recorded ever in history. He would like to show it to me.

He has been here in the battlefields a few times during his younger years and he promised me that he’ll go back again, but then together with me. The trip plan wasn’t really a high priority, it was more of like – when we get the chance or we will wing it. Well, I am always in for a trip but I am also a curious individual especially when it comes to history.

The chance came last year in May. It was one of those religious public holidays that constitutes a long weekend opportunity. I was as well in between jobs, although I already had an offer after leaving my previous work in March, I negotiated to start the second half of June to be able to enjoy the last few weeks of free time which includes this road trip and an early summer holiday in the Mediterranean.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Panorama Photo Gallery of Gulangyu Island and Xiamen City Skyline


These panorama pictures of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gulangyu Island, and Xiamen City skyline and coastline were taken from the top of Sunlight Rock.

Panorama view of Xiamen City from the top of Sunlight Rock in Gulangyu Island.

Gulangyu's rooftops.

I have wanted to post these pictures as part of my next entry about Sunlight Rock, but because there were just too many pictures, and of course, I want to post all of them, I have decided to split them.

The views from the top of the rock are spectacular. The terracotta rooftops in downtown Gulangyu represent the colonial past of Xiamen. Mansions in Victorian-style architecture, some of which are restored to their former glory, while many are still left in a considerable state of deterioration.

Across the straits are the Siming coastline and the ever-changing skyline of Xiamen city. Give it another 5 years and Xiamen will have a much busier skyline I am sure.

The new addition to the skyline is the Twin Towers (Xiamen Shimao Cross-strait Plaza) on the southern end of the coastline. Standing 300-meters each, they are designed like windsurfing rigs or windsails about to sail away to the South China Sea. The Twin Towers has become a landmark of Xiamen.

[To see the rest of the pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Street Food Scene on Longtou Road (Dragon Head Road), Gulangyu Island


One of the many street vendors on Longtou Road.

Longtou Road or Dragon Head Road is the main commercial street of Gulangyu Island in Xiamen, China. It is basically a network of interconnected streets and alleys. People can find many shops, restaurants, and commercial establishments housed in century-old European-inspired mansions.

Since the whole island is pedestrianized, it is very easy to navigate the area on foot freely. No need to look back for incoming vehicles and pause at crossings and stop lights. Very ideal =)

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Fujian, China: In Just Less Than an Hour on Gulangyu Island


Gulangyu or Kulangsu is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in Xiamen, in the Fujian province of southern China.

Pre-wedding photoshoots are very popular on Gulangyu Island.

Monks on a (touristy) field trip. Taking a souvenir photo on the promenade of Gulangyu with the panoramic skyline view of Xiamen as a backdrop.

Known for its rich history and architecture and as an ‘International Settlement’ during the 1840s to 1930s, it attracts a sizable number of tourists every year. It is a pedestrian-only island so people go around on foot. Only gulf caddies and official government vehicles are allowed on the island. Not even a bicycle is permitted to be used.

Apart from the preserved Victorian-style buildings, the island is largely a residential area with a population of 17,000. The residents commute with the ferry to Xiamen which only takes a few minutes.

The foreign enclave obviously has had its glorious days, and today it serves as a remembrance of Chinese foreign policy in the 1800s.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Makati, Metro Manila: Greenbelt and Ayala Triangle during the Holiday Season


Most people and I mean non-Filipinos, do not realize that (Metro) Manila is actually a conglomerate of cities. People thought that its 1 big city. It is and it is not.

The Santo Nino de Paz Church and garden in Greenbelt. An oasis in the middle of a concrete city.

Christmas decorations on the buildings on Ayala Avenue, Makati City.

Here in the Netherlands I always try to explain that Manila (Metro Manila) is like the Randstad. The Randstad in the Netherlands is the urban area of the country composing of the 4 major cities connected to each other by the fast highways: Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. Manila, on the other hand, is composed of not just 4 cities but 16 interconnected cities! And that the population of the whole country of the Netherlands is the number of people living in Manila alone.

That is enough for anyone living in the Netherlands to understand that we are not comparing apples to oranges =)

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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Stopover Stay at Makati Diamond Residences


The other year I spent my new year's celebration in Manila. I went on a holiday with my family in Vietnam end of December and instead of taking the flight from Vietnam to Amsterdam, I decided to go back to the Philippines with them and spend a stopover in Manila.

Buildings view from the hotel room window.

We stayed in Manila only for 1 night, on New Year's Eve. The family flew back to Cebu the next day and moi to Taiwan for another stopover before heading off to Amsterdam. It was a trip with a lot of stopovers and I can’t wait to have another similar trip this year. In fact, I am already looking at options for my stopovers. The choices are endless and I am excited =)

In Manila, we stayed at the Makati Diamond Residences in Makati City. The hotel residence is located beside the Greenbelt entertainment and shopping mall so it was a good location, especially for my mom who is mobility challenged.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

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