Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hello Europe:Hello Love

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

EUROPE is a romantic destination, so they say. But it is not true that  you need to be with someone to taste a slice of the cake called LOVE.  Here are Six (6)  European Countries  that I have visited where even "singles" or "unattached" travelers like me can say hello to love this Valentines Day or beyond!


No more Lover in Paris, France? Fall In Love with Notre Dame!
Paris is synonymous to romance so I took the plunge, found myself in love with my then traveler beau, got lost with the stunning views of the Louvre, River Sienne, Arc de Triomphe, Champs - Elysees, Montmartre and became Lovers In Paris with the Eiffel Tower as backdrop for a first monthsary thingy. But now that the mushiness is over, can singles (like me!) still find  love in Paris? Definitely!
Move over to Notre Dame de Paris (or Our Lady of Paris in English) and fall in love with this world's largest, well-known and finest Gothic architecture standing on the Île de la Cité, the symbolic heart of the city. If you're in good shape, take 387 steps (to singlehood!) without elevator, and have a breathtaking view of the river and this ever charming city. If you come in August 14 & 15 of every year, celebrate your single hood with the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Feast of the Assumption Procession. With nearly 150,000 worshipers, pilgrims and visitors from around the world who participate, it doesn't matter whether you are alone or with someone!

Put a <3 heart  on  Helsinki, Finland. Order Kamp Love!
In my post Helsinki, Finland: Summer on Foot you get the idea that Finland's capital bustles with life in the summer time with an array of attractions like  Market Square, Senate Square, the Helsinki Cathedral, the University of Helsinki, the National Library of Finland and the Government Palace to choose from. But what's in store for singles on hearts' day in cold winter? 

Dine in Hotel Kamp in the heart of Helsinki where excellent service is a matter of heart! As the the only 5-star  hotel in Helsinki and the most luxurious and most expensive in the five Nordic countries, it is no surprise that Hotel Kamp is a popular honeymoon destination. But since you aren't in that stage yet, no need to eat your heart out! Hotel Kamp has paid attention to Valentine's Day for just friends  with their three different menu versions called Kamp Love. Order some loving and let your taste buds put you in a dreamy spell for the One!

You are  not alone in Dam Square in Amsterdam, Netherlands 
In the heart of Amsterdam (or a dam in the river Amstel) lies  the 17th-century canals which were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2010Although more popular for lovers, singletons should never miss out on this romantic experience cruising along Amsterdam's oasis of loveTo hide the insecurities of being alone in the plethora of kissing couples, find a baby tee shouting "I'm smart that's why I'm single"! 
"I'm smart that's why I'm single"
If you cannot don a proud single tee, just head to Amsterdam attractions where you can get lost in the dizzying number of people like the Dam Square, The Dungeon, Maddam Tassuads Wax Museum, Anne Frank Haus, etc. and you will never feel alone!


For romance on the road experiences during the summer or winter, my single recommendation is head to Trondheim, the historic capital of Norway!  In the summer, I find it truly romantic and unforgettable to watch thsun set at quarter past midnight while on the road. This phenomenon is called the Midnight Sun,  where the sun remains visible at the local midnight or for a continuous 24 hours given a fair weather in the whole country. But if you miss this exotic "white" night, opt for a romantic "white" day during snowy winter along the Trondheimfjord, the third largest fjord in Norway by the  Norwegian sea. A fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created in a valley carved by glacial activity.


Love Affair in Akersjon, Jamtlands Lan in Sweden
Singletons can keep their love affair (with nature!) on its toes in Sweden whatever the weather. Head to Akersjön - the so called "last wilderness in Europe".In the summer from May through October, find your perfect thrill amid its great natural surroundings, wild flowers, crisp air, beautiful hills and abundant wild berries! Like me, you will surely keep telling your Blueberrylicious Experience while snacking on ice cream with blueberry jelly and syrup.

In winter, score a romantic action - packed adventures around the Swedish mountains, forests and frozen lakes with the lovable dogs, toboggan, snowshoe, snow scooter, or snow mobile as your perfect match! At night, get cozy inside a Swedish cottage (cabin) with sauna for warming up great. 

Timra's romantic offering is the fairytale castle-like building built in 1883–1885 as the summer residence for the timber magnate Fredrik Bünsow called Merlo Slott. The beautiful castle is now a listed ancient monument and the rooms are well -preserved and worth seeing during a weekly guided tour all year - round. 
Dead Falls, Dead Love: Why?
In northern Sweden singles should drop by the municipality of Ragunda and figure out what happened to Döda Fallet (The dead waterfall) which used to be one of the most impressive waterfalls until 1796. It is sad to see that the Grand Rapid has dried out and is now extinct in a nature reserve. Ah! so much like love that could change its course and would be emptied in 4 hours!  But oh well, wrap up your visit at the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Building, a Thai royal pavilion built by the King of Thailand in honor of Swedish King Oscar II.

United Kingdom
I heart you Teddy!
London is the capital of England  and has nothing but Superlative Sights like British Museum, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, etc.  Lincoln,on the other hand, is the historically colorful medieval town where you can see a cathedral, a castle, an abbey and several other Romans remains, while York is home to stunning architecture and attractions renowned for its Roman, Viking, and Medieval heritage like York Minster. Which of these key cities of England I consider as the most romantic and a great place to go for singles? 

I'd say it's the place where my (your) heart is! And since I love anything teddy bearsYork got my vote because of Stonegate Original Teddy Bears perfectly  placed in the heart of the oldest paved streets in the city.

Wish list: Since I have only been in the airport at Frankfurt, Germany, a romantic getaway on Valentines Day is in order. Putting it on my wishlist now. 

This is my entry for Carnival of Europe hosted by Aleah Taboclaon at Solitary Wanderer with the theme "Most Romantic Places in Europe".

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Peek At My 2013 Planner: That "One And Only" Thing To Do Monthly !

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

After 3 days of missed opportunities to buy a 2013 Planner, I finally got two red Executive Diary planners (for bf & me!) and it's FREE! How lucky could I get! Thanks to my sister-in-law's sistah who works for Smart Communications. 

The Planner is exactly what I have wanted! Nothing fancy, but complete with the usual useful stuff for travelers - like conversion (not currency though), Philippine map,World map, MRT  routes, emergency numbers,financial summary, address book, foreign embassies, official government directory, notes, world in summary, IDD Codes, NDD, plus good -to-know stuff like birth signs, zodiac signs, birthstones and flowers, traditional anniversary gifts, and fitting quotes.

Here's a two-fold quote for a starter - 

"Dreams as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die tomorrow" - James Dean

"Live as if you'll die tomorrow" best describes how my 2012 had been! I checked off 50 Tasks in the Book "2001 Things To Do Before You Die" and enjoyed 12 Combo Trips around new destinations worldwide  which was included in a compilation by Regine Camille Garcia entitled PTB December Year - Ender: The Year We Traveled Like It's the End of the World

"Dreams as if you'll live forever" 
hit so close to home!  I'm that type of person who always  welcome each year with a  long "to -do" list and getting busy checking it off everyday without any limitations. But there's a slight change this year. As I Start Living 12 Happy Months  ahead of me, I will focus on that ONE THING each month that would last - FOREVER 

"A house is not a home until it contains food and fire 
for the mind as well as the body"
Joyful JANUARY. Start the year right by jumping to shed more pounds (not the moolah from  UK Travel!) but a few more of the love handles that aren't that lovable (*sulk). Detoxify. Seriously get healthy (and wealthy too) for a more secured future (naks!)

"Life is a journey, and love is what makes that journey worthwhile"
Loving FEBRUARY. Looking forward to Valentines Day - yea who doesn't love flowers, chocolates, a romantic meal and a weekend get-away! (*hinting!)

Rewarded MARCH. The month for graduation and commencement so I'll stop the "I" and commence the "we" - and take a road trip for two to Calaguas for a pre-nup photoshoot. (sorry guys not what you're thinkin'.it's for our friend Bryan and Izah).

Peaceful APRIL. Enjoy peace and quiet during the Holy Week (while still in our province Camarines Norte). 

Merry MAY. My last hurrah to enjoy my last summer as a single woman. Oh well, let's see if I have time to do that (while buried deep in the big day planning and panting!).

"Love is a promise, love is a souvenir. 
Once given, never forgotten, never let it disappear"
Optimistic  JUNE. This picture says it all, so enough said! Travel? Of course, there should be a honeymoon to the moon right? Nah, Boracay and Bacolod are fine! 

"Love is a second life; it grows into the soul,  
warms every vein, and beats in every pulse"
Exciting JULY. Of course! I will celebrate for the first time the birthday of my hubby (ahem!) and flights had been booked to Coron (Busuanga),Palawan.

Informed AUGUST. Learning the ropes for motherhood???
Selfless SEPTEMBER.Yes! It isn't about me - baby!
Young OCTOBER. Who says turning forty is OLD and no FUN?It will be my first birthday with a hubby so I'm young!!!

Quiet NOVEMBER. We are celebrating the third year  of our family temple sealing in Cebu.

"Love is like a bazaar; The admittance is free 
but it costs you something before you get out"
Delightful DECEMBER. The time of the year again for hitting bazaars and Christmas  destinations. Let the tummy (of a mommy) decides where to go!

So there you have it folks. My biggest and brightest dreams are happening this year! Cheers!!!

This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for January 2013 with the theme New Beginnings hosted by Roj Braga of the Adventures of Adventuroj. 

Check out the previous blog carnival topics in Estan Cabigas' Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcoming The New Year!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda
13 Round Sweet Fruits  - Grapes, Watermelon , Pomelo, Melon, Guava,                                                    Persimmon, Pears, Apples, Oranges, Chico, Starapples, Longan, and Kiwis.
I bid 2012 adieu and welcomed 2013 with my family here in Valenzuela City, Philippines! It's only the third time I celebrated the new year with the whole family (and Pinoy special someone) for the last 12 years, and I'm thrilled that for the first time, I found 13 sweet and round fruits without including the not-so round ones like pineapple, atis, banana, and papaya that usually end up on our dining table in the past! 
13 Round (?) Sweet Fruits  - Grapes, Watermelon,Chico, Starapple, Apple,Orange,                                                    Pears, Kiwi, Atis (Sweet Sop), Dragon Fruit, Papaya, Pineapple, and Banana?
Oh the excitement of observing our family New Year Eve's tradition! Aside from the 13 round fruits for good luck and prosperity, our family usually play fun games before it strikes 12 midnight, enjoy the noche buena dinner consisting of native delicacies like biko, pancit and yummy food and make noises using our torotot, car honk and coins inside cans. But I admit that the  too much use of paputok (firecrackers) by Pinoys (even before the New Year's eve) scares me to death, so I had to hop to a quieter destination to observe the New Year!

Like my post 12 Combo Trips in 2012 which was foodie inspired, here’s my fruity New Year celebrations, going all the way back to the very first new year in the new millennium.

2012. Grapes - Widely popular and regarded in many cultures as “the queen of fruits" for centuries, welcoming   2012 in New York City is the "grapes of mnew year celebrations". Having seen the iconic New Year Eve's ball dropped from the flagpole in Times Square, New York City (USA) truly made this princess feel like a queen
2011. Pears  are native to coastal and mildly temperate regions of the Old World, from western Europe like Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, Netherlands and Germany which I have visited briefly in December before close of  the year. If I had celebrated the new year in Frankfurt, it would have been  the "pears of my new year celebration".
2010. Longan - Literally translated as "dragon eye" (because longan  resembles an eyeball when its fruit is shelled),  I consider welcoming the new year in Singapore  as the "longan of my new year celebration" since longan abounds in Singapore and has looked at corruption with a dragon eye leading to Singapore's consistent rating as one of the least corrupt countries in the world. 
2009.Guava fruits, are round or oval, may be sweet or sour, off-white to deep pink, with the seeds in the central pulp of variable number and hardness, depending on species. Welcoming the new year in Boston makes it the "guava of my new year celebration" since this largest city in Massachusetts (USA) is like guava because of the profusion of diverse subsections getting it nick-named a "city of neighborhoods"!
2008.Apples - Biblically known as the "forbidden fruit"I consider welcoming the new year in Beijing, China as the "apple of my new year celebration" since China is not only the leading producer of apples but also because Beijing is home to the "Forbidden City", a Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty and currently houses the Palace Museum. 
2007.Watermelon - has a thick rind and when break open would reveal its fleshy red fruit. Welcoming new year in Cambodia is the "watermelon of my new year celebration" since on New Year's Day  in 1975, the reds Communist troops launched an offensive which, in 117 days of the hardest fighting of the war, collapsed the Khmer Republic. Khmer Rouge regime gave rise to the term Killing Fields, and the prison Tuol Sleng became notorious for its history of mass killing. 

2006. Star apples or locally known as caimito is round, purple-skinned that is often green around the calyx, with a star pattern in the pulp. It is a tropical fruit and grows rapidly and reaches 20 meters in height. If celebrating new year in Vietnam is a fruit, it would be a "star apple of my new year celebration" since Vietnam is a tropical country with a yellow star in the middle of its flag and home to the most famous variety of star apple (called Lò Rèn milk fruit). But the most notable similarity of Vietnam with star apple, is it's  rapid integration into the world economy through government-initiated series of economic and political reforms making its economic growth among the highest in the world since 2000.
2005 - Oranges- are ancient hybrid fruits, possibly between pomelo and mandarin and is known today as "Chinese apple" in several languages. I consider welcoming the new year in Hongkong as the "orange of my new year celebration". Hongkong is a hybrid country which operates under the principle of "one country, two systems".  Since it is a special administrative region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and a former  colony of the British Empire, it has a different political system from the mainland China! 
2004. Pomelo is a crisp citrus fruit, usually pale green to yellow when ripe, with sweet white flesh and very thick albedo. It is the largest citrus fruit which is native to South and Southeast Asian countries and is known under a wide variety of names. Because the town of Tambun in Perak, Malaysia is particularly famous for pomelos, celebrating a new year in Malaysia makes it the "pomelo of my new year celebration".
2003. Chico or commonly known as sapodilla is  a large ellipsoid berry, containing two to five seeds. Inside, its flesh ranges from a pale yellow to an earthy brown color with a grainy texture akin to that of a well-ripened pear. Because Chico was introduced to the Philippines during Spanish colonization and the trees can only survive in warm, typically tropical environments (dying easily if the temperature drops below freezing temperature), celebrating new year in the country is the "chico of my new year celebration".
2002. Melon or specifically the horned melon is native to Africa, and it is now grown in California, Australia and New Zealand, as well. When ripe, it has a yellow-orange skin and a lime green, jelly-like flesh with a tart taste. Celebrating new year in San Francisco, California  makes it the "melon of my new year celebration".
2001. Kiwi or kiwifruit has been declared a National Fruit of China and is native to southern China which includes the engaging city of Xiamen.  In 2001, this country formerly called as Amoy was the second foreign country where I celebrated the (Chinese) new year (January 24)  which makes Xiamen as the "kiwi  of my new year celebration".
2000.Persimmon - My first taste of new year celebration in a foreign country was in Utah (USA). I consider it "the persimmon of my new year celebration" since it was also my first taste of winter and in Ozark folklore, the severity of the upcoming winter is said to be predictable by slicing a persimmon and observing the cutlery -shaped formation within it - a spoon means snow while a fork is a milder winter and a knife is a cold biting winter. (This is "a myth with no bearing on weather forecasting").

Any fruity celebrations of New Year in another country? Please share.

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