We’ve always talked about going to Lake Pandin but it was only two Saturdays ago that we finally did. And it was a good decision to head out of Manila and venture to San Pablo in Laguna for a much-needed nature trippin away from the concrete jungle. I’ve heard about Lake Pandin from some friends and thought, it could be a good easy-breezy day trip. Imagine, a two-hour raft ride with a picnic lunch of fresh food prepared by men and women from the community. And it was. The 10-15-minute walk from the parking lot to the lakeshore was a good appetizer for our lunch of rice, grilled tilapia and chicken, fern (pako) salad with salted egg, butter garlic (mini) shrimps, bananas, pineapples and coconut water! A bit of swimming here, a bit of jumping there, a lot of eating and more of chatting — such a chill time! And baby-friendly too! I fully recommend for y’all to try going to this trip (except during really rainy days as the trek path might be too muddy/slippery) not just for the good lunch and scenery, but also to support local ecotourism at Lake Pandin.
When in Prague, it’ll be a total let-down if you did not (or at least tried your best to) cross Charles Bridge. Why, you might ask. Well, simply because Karlův most, as it is locally-known, is a historical 610-meter long architectural creation that is definitely worth the few minutes (or hours) you’d spend while walking through it. My first glimpse of Charles Bridge was in a windy winter afternoon, while taking Sandemann’s New Prague Castle Tour, after we took the free city walking tour that they offered. We were crossing Čechův Bridge, a vehicle- and tram-passable bridge connecting the Jewish Quarter and Letna Park, or the area where we took the tram to the Prague Castle complex, when I saw that old-looking bridge — clearly, I had no idea that it is the famous Charles Bridge. We actually crossed Charles Bridge (only pedestrians are allowed) at the end of the Prague Castle Tour, as it connected the complex to Old Town Square area. Our guide told us interesting trivia about the bridge and the statues lining/guarding it — the most famous of which is that of St. John of Nepomuk’s statue and the plaques under it. Apparently, if you touch the statue of the priest being thrown into the Vltava River, your trip back to Prague (and of course Czech Republic) is assured! 🙂
A week or so just before I left for India in 2012, I visited this paradise called El Nido in the northeastern tip of Palawan. There, I met Stepanka (in picture), a Czech woman, and Pedro, her Portuguese boyfriend (they now have a baby!). I did a one-day tour of the islands off the El Nido coast and got my seat in a boat where I am the only Filipino. I still remember the Russian guy (who claimed to be an astronaut but chose to be a trucker as it’s a more financially-rewarding job), and this guy who joined the tour but stayed on the boat (as he already saw most “visible” creatures under the sea in past travels), and this Canadian couple (who didn’t really say much but seemed happy and content). The tour was really worth it, to experience what a day in El Nido can offer. I vowed to return to El Nido one day and finally, tickets are booked! Though it’s not for a few more months, I am already looking forward to once again marvel in the natural beauty and diversity of El Nido and Palawan, above or under the sea.
Yep, both Niklas and I stepped into the cold, cold city of Berlin for the first time on our first week in Europe, after the butt-numbing 7.5-hour bus and ferry ride from Copenhagen.
Following the instructions from our half-Pinay, half-German CouchSurfing host Analie, we took the “Messe/ICC” Ringbahn (loop train) to Gesundbrunnen (one of the main stations for the Ringbahn, S-bahn (railway train like MRT), U-bahn (metro/subway) and regional/international trains) and took the S-Bahn to where she lives. (So much “bahn” right? And we’re not talking about the buses and trams yet. While the transport system is quite efficient, one of the first few lessons in Berlin is that Bahn = train and going to one station using the right S-Bahn or U-Bahn requires tourists (and locals) to never underestimate the travel time necessary. haha)
At 530am local time (1230pm PST), Niklas and I arrived at Copenhagen Airport, 30 minutes earlier than our Singapore Airlines ETD of 6am. After completing our immigration check (two minutes!) and being warned of the cold by the lady immigration officer, we set out to pick our luggage and brace ourselves for the freezing cold. It’s 3 degrees, says Merete, Niklas’ mom, as she and Claes, Niklas’ dad, met us. As I prepared myself to cross the revolving door between the airport’s comfortable 22-degree temp and the ear-numbing 3 degree temp outside, I still can’t believe that we finally are here in Copenhagen, in Denmark, in Europe!