It’s Fun, Fun, Fun at Sta. Elena Fun Farm!

Over a month ago (yes! that’s how long I delayed posting this blog), we went to the Fun Farm at Sta. Elena in Laguna for Marty’s “Moving Up Ceremony.”  Unlike the usual kids-in-toga-and-parents-in-formal-attire type of ceremony, kids and kids-at-heart alike enjoyed this ceremony/field trip.

13045466_10208690485997050_985902283_n

For the kids, they enjoyed running around and learning from outside of the four walls of a classroom.  The kids enjoyed playing around, away from television and gadgets.  They were all restless and didn’t mind the weather.  Well, it’s not a typical hot afternoon at the Fun Farm because of the gigantic trees that blocked the scorching heat of the sun.

10371753_10207333018756900_7037699800677491248_n

Our son, Marty, enjoyed the swing a lot with his classmate

 

13084202_10208690485357034_537953634_n

Fishing is indeed a father-and-son bonding thing

 

535134_10201245755263543_6855800901221491100_n

All smiles for the carabao-drawn carriage, a first for our son Marty

 

10294234_10207332995836327_3304799560759945395_n

Marty enjoyed riding the zipline too that he tried it several times over!!!

 

For the adults, it gave us time to commune with nature and enjoy quality time with our kids.  It was so much fun and the Php 300/head entrance fee is so worth it that we didn’t notice it was already time to go… Uh-oh!  Indeed, time flies sooooo fast when you’re having fun.

Yes, we don’t have a typical graduation or moving-up ceremony photo.  But I will definitely trade all the “could-have-been” ceremonial photos just to have a similar fine afternoon with my family.  🙂

 

Having loads of fun moments,
Mumay

Europe, At last!!!

I must say that this is a long-delayed trip which was supposed to happen in 2011 when I received a call from an office mate who told me, “Pupunta ka sa Berlin!” and with so much excitement I asked the least feedback question my officemate ever expected (or let’s say the most stupid question he ever heard), “Saan ‘yung Berlin?”

Working for four years in a German-owned multinational company, it’s funny that I didn’t even remember that Berlin is the capital of Germany.  My Geography Teacher will surely be disappointed hearing this kind of question from a student who won the Cultural Arts (including Geography) Quiz Bee way back in Grade 5.  😛

But, who can blame a first time mom who delivered a child via CS (Caesarian Section) over a year ago and was given an epidural anesthesia? Who can blame an office employee, entrepreneur, wife, mom, aspiring chef, blogger and self-confessed dreamer who is preoccupied with tons of activities to remember geography?

Funny, but my travel to Berlin gave me a lot of new learning and surprises.  And the most fun part is that it’s an all-expense paid travel to the other side of the world.  It’s not just that, I traveled on business class.  Actually, this is something I know I created or attracted.  If you are curious why and how, I will share it on my other blog post in the next few days.

So, to share with you my 6-day trip to Berlin, which happened in September 2012, let me share with you some photos I took using my mobile phone (Oh, why did I forget bringing a camera?!).

Since I want to tell a lot about my first travel to Europe (and because I love to tell stories), I decided to divide the story in three parts.  Click on the links to see my blog posts per topic.

I hope you’ll enjoy as I share with you this wonderful travel experience.

Grateful to see the world for free,
Mumay

Visiting Berlin – My First Travel to Europe!

I never thought that traveling alone can also be exciting except for some creepy stories of being “Taken” (the effect of watching Liam Nelson’s movie), of not having somebody to take your photos, and remembering those spooky hotel stories.

As soon as I arrived in Berlin, this is the first photo I took before catching a cab that will bring me to the hotel.

It’s my first time to ride a Mercedes Benz, which is just a taxi in Berlin.  Their taxis also have a sun roof – a window installed on the car’s ceiling.

The community, where the hotel I am booked is located, is quite laid-back. Here’s a glimpse of the community where I stayed for six days.

18092012774

The road going to the Ring Center and to the train station

21092012809

The nearby park at morning

18092012775

The nearby park in the afternoon

18092012776

The nearby park at night

19092012786

Frankfurter Allee – the street where the hotel I stayed in Berlin is located

So every morning, I sit on the bench outside the hotel and do some selfie’s while waiting for the cab that will bring me to office.

19092012787

There’s this one morning that I saw this little boy with his dad riding a bicycle.  That’s when homesickness caught me, I suddenly longed for my hubby and my son.  I just can imagine how our OFWs sacrifice being away from their loved ones for so many years just to earn a decent living for their family.

Unlike in Asian countries where motorcycles are slowly being a staple mode of transportation, I saw a lot of bicycle which is the preferred mode of transportation of many to avoid the traffic.  (Even if their traffic is nothing compared to ours!  Hahaha!)

21092012938

21092012945

Bicycle lane in Berlin

Based on what I have read, Berlin is one of the cities with the best transportation network: buses, trains, taxis, bicycles, and even Thailand’s tuktuk look-a-like.

21092012840

Berlin’s version of tricycle

21092012824

Berlin’s version of MRT

21092012924

Berlin’s version of PNR

On my last day of stay in Berlin, I finally decided to try to roam around the city since my flight back home is in the evening.  After having my brunch at the hotel, I bought a day ticket at the hotel concierge which costs a little over 6 Euros.  The ticket will allow me to ride whatever public transportation in Berlin in one whole day, except for taxis.  So, I rode the train from Frankfurter Allee to Alexanderplatz.  Because I was too confused with Berlin’s transportation network, I spent the rest of my tour walking.

This is the Television (TV) Tower –  Berlin’s tallest building with a height of 368 meters.  Upstairs, the TV tower will give you 360 degrees view of Berlin.  They also have a restaurant, which is pricey.

 21092012827

Since I am not a coffee drinker, I did not enter the Starbuck’s located just outside the TV tower.

21092012842

Few meters away from the TV tower is Berlin’s red city hall, which is so-called because of the red bricks used to build the structure.

291108_4499749609332_1410392439_o

The St. Mary’s Church is dramatically resting on a park which is also a tourist spot.

21092012854

The large monument near St. Mary’s church used to be large.  But after the World War 2, only this statue of Luther and other Reformers such as Reuchlin, Melanchton and Ulrich von Hutten remained.

 21092012870

After some kilometers of walking, I reached the Museum Island where the Berlin Cathedral (In German:  Berliner Dom) is located.  It’s architecture is majestic!  I saw a lot of tourists in this area because having your photo taken with the Berlin Cathedral on the background is breathtaking.   But being a lone traveler, I wasn’t able to have photo with the cathedral on my background (I better come back to Berlin!).

21092012915

Just beside the Berlin Cathedral is the beautiful Altes Museum which was erected as early as 1830.

289423_4499754849463_325172436_o

458620_4516024176186_352713973_o

At the back of the Altes Museum is the Neues Museum which was finished in 1859 but was destroyed in World War II.  The Museum was rebuilt and re-opened in 2009.

201155_4516018096034_1058057931_o

Beside the Altes Museum is the Lustgarten (in English:  Lust Garden or “Pleasure Garden”).   In the 16h century, Lustgarten was utilized as a kitchen garden of the Berlin City Palace which was originally located at the Museum Island.  After the devastating war, the kitchen garden was converted to a formal garden with fountains and geometric paths.  Later on it was converted to a sand-covered parade ground.  The Lustgarten also became a place where Adolf Hitler addressed mass rallies.  The Lustgarten was restored as a park once Germany was reunified.

201155_4516018176036_509852321_o
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see other beautiful places in  Berlin because of lack of time and because I was too afraid to get lost – I’m really poor at reading maps.
Definitely visiting Berlin again,
Mumay

Loving the Breads in Berlin

The dishes served in Air Berlin gave me a glimpse of what my meals will look like and taste like in Berlin.  Good thing, there is an American breakfast served at the hotel where I stayed.

During the remaining days in Berlin, I had almost the same meals during breakfast.  Which is actually that most delicious meals I had during my entire stay.  The meals that were served during the workshop are  not my type, so I believe  I lost at least a pound during my 6-day stay.

Here’s the morning view from my breakfast table.

At night, I will walk to a nearby mall – the Ring Center where I buy a 1.5L still water which only costs Php 19.00.  In Europe, they serve sparkling water which is like an unsweetened soda.  I’m not a fan of such drink so I see to it that dilute the water with tons of ice during the workshop.

21092012812In the afternoon, I go out for a walk at a nearby park before going to the Ring Center where I often buy  my dinner.

21092012811

The park near the Ring Center

There is where I took a photo of this shop which sells all shorts of cheese.  Yummy!

I also found this kiosk named, Happiness Station, at this mall.  This kiosk is selling ice cream with mouth-watering flavors.

21092012936 After almost a week of eating just bread, pasta, pizza, and couscous, I craved for rice!  Good thing, I saw this Thai restaurant on my last day in Berlin (Can  you believe it?!  I deprive myself of rice for so many days only to find out that there is a nearby restaurant that sells rice meals!)  So excited, I was able to finish this chicken curry really fast!  My verdict:  their rice is not as delicious as ours, but palatable enough to satisfy my craving.

21092012935Happy tummy in Berlin,
Mumay

Stories From a First-time Business Class Passenger

22092012961If I will be asked to describe my travel experience, I will say W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L!

I love the food served at Etihad’s Pearl Business Class lounge that will fit the palate of their multi-cultural guests.  Not to mention that their lounge in Abu Dhabi is superb!  The place is so relaxing and  the staff (which are mostly Filipinos) are very courteous.

On-board the 8-hour flight from Manila to Abu Dhabi, I had creamy broccoli soup with rustic garlic croutons and grass-fed fillet of beef tenderloin with steamed rice while watching Pokwang’s “A Mother’s Story.”  Actually, there were so many things to do on-board Etihad’s flight – listen to their wide collection of songs from different genre, watch all sorts of movies, play, and eat.  The experience is way better than staying in a hotel room. But, anticipating the long week ahead, I just spent the rest of the flight sleeping.

22092012965

That is me, tired and sleepy, while on board an Etihad flight to Berlin

Etihad’s business lounge has a lot of to offer too – depends on the personality of their guests.  There’s a playroom for those who are traveling with kids, there’s a spa who want to relax before boarding another flight, there’s the snooze room for those who would like to doze off, and there’s the buffet area where most of the travellers stayed.  The lounge also has this view of Burj’s replica (or is it the real one?).

22092012960I had this meal before catching an early morning flight from Abu Dhabi to Berlin. I’m glad I had this at Etihad’s lounge because the dishes that were served at Air Berlin doesn’t suit my taste.  Yet I’m grateful that Air Berlin served a generous amount of bite size chocolates which I enjoyed a lot!  Yum, yum, yum!

17092012757Air Berlin share’s a business lounge with British Airways in Berlin Tegel Airport, where I had the creamiest hot chocolate ever!

21092012947Though the food are not as delicious (mostly are just sandwiches and chips) as that of Etihad’s buffet, the food served my hungry tummy well.

Grateful to travel for free,
Mumay