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Travel Blog

The 2012 Olympics in Manchester?!

August 30, 2012
Jerick at the Olympics

Yes, you heard it right.. Manchester!

While everyone was or wanted to be in London for the Olympics last month, I decided to go the “off the beaten path” and go instead to Manchester for the games. 🙂

There weren’t many options anyway – I’m one of the few lucky ones to score a pair of tickets to a game at all. Manchester or London –  I just couldn’t turn down an opportunity to be in the Olympics.

Manchester - Olympics 2012

Aside from London, the Olympics actually happen in places outside the capital city. There was sailing in Dorset for example and football practically anywhere with huge arenas like Newcastle, Cardiff and Manchester.

While we didn’t have tickets to see the Olympic superstars like Usain Bolt & Michael Phelps nor the sexy ladies playing beach volleyball, the fact that I got tickets, I couldn’t care less.

The tickets I got was to see the football quarter finals. It was an expected set for a Spain and “another team” but La Roja didn’t get in. In the end, it was a game between Japan and Egypt.

Manchester - Olympics 2012

It was an adventure I can’t miss – so together with Roy of the Riding Dutchman – we went on an epic weekend to the UK!

Manchester’s Old Trafford was 70,000+ people full – and probably only 10% were Japanese or Egyptians. There were mostly English, Spanish and some who, like me and Roy, are just there for the games. 🙂 This meant that all cheers were neutral, and everyone was just waiting for a goal.

There were times were almost no one paid attention to the game and just waiting for their turn to do the mexican wave.

P8046659

And with that crowd, I can say that the waves WERE the highlight of the game. 🙂

The game didn’t disappoint though. The first ten minutes of the game, there was already a goal. Then a red card was given before the end of the first half. The game finished with 3-0 for Japan.

It was a win-win for all – for the players for putting a good game and for the audience who were given a shot to shout GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! several times.

But because of our limited time, we didn’t get to see Manchester. But hands down, Manchester played a good host and we felt everyone was really welcoming. Public transport to and from Old Trafford to the centre was free. There were free maps, ponchos in case it rained, and smiling volunteers everywhere.

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The game only lasted two hours but it’s a memory that I’ll keep for a while. Happy to finally tick-off the Olympics in my non-existent bucket list.

Oh and yes, I bought myself a gold medal. I’ll proudly show this to my grandkids someday. 🙂

(A special thanks to Roy btw for letting me use his photos on the blog)

Have you been to the Olympics? How was your experience – share them below!

 

Travel Blog

My Top Three Travel Experiences

August 26, 2012
morocco

Posting on a Sunday you say?! Well, well – I’ve exchanged my usual chill out, sleeping til the afternoon Sunday for a blog writing + tea sipping afternoon. I have good travel blogger friends Neil of Backpacks and Bunkbeds  and Brendan of Wanders of the World to thank for that.

After grabbing beers with these guys a couple of weeks ago, I (drunkenly) join the awesome group of Team Purple for Lowcostholiday’s Blogger Relay.

The rule of the game is simple – rank your top three travel memories then pass on the baton to another travel blogger. So far, I’ve read a lot of interesting experiences from my team mates, and now it’s my turn to share my stories. 

Bronze : Football – London 2012 Olympics

 

The bronze medal goes to watching the 2012 Olympic games live.

Being at the Olympics has been a dream since I was a kid. And since moving back to Brussels early this year, I knew that I won’t let this one pass knowing that the games are only 3 hours away.

Manchester - Olympics 2012

I eventually ended up watching the football quarter finals in Manchester’s Old Trafford and seeing the women’s marathon in London the day after. The atmosphere was great – Old Trafford was full with 70,000 screaming fans and the game winner, Japan, eventually was fourth overall. The games were highly organized and the streets were full of smiling English people – which I guess came from how proud they were of the games.

Manchester - Olympics 2012

While I’ve only seen two games it’s already a worthwhile visit. It’s these moments of seeing history unfold in front of you is one of the rewarding notes of travel. The Olympics happen only every four years and seeing it is a story that I will tell my kids and grandkids about.

Silver : “100 meter freestyle” swimming with Whale Sharks

 

One of my most memorable travel experiences to date was swimming with the whale sharks in Donsol. This experience was turning point in my own appreciation of travel.

Donsol

First, it was because it opened my eyes to the opportunities of travel within my own country. The Philippines is known for its untouched beaches, diverse wildlife, eclectic sceneries and culture. I’m lucky to call this country my home and in the past years, I’ve been working on also discovering my backyard.

Every January to June of the year, groups of whale shark visit the waters of the once sleepy town of Donsol. The encounter tours are arranged through the town’s tourism office, and after getting briefed on the dive, you are brought to the open seas. It’s a cat-and-mouse race as it all relies on your luck to spot whale sharks. We only had two encounters during our trip, but it was all worth it.

Second, I clearly remember that on that same boat, I met Nathan, an English backpacker, who at 25 years old has already travelled to 70 countries. I remember being inspired from what he had accomplished yet equally hopeless knowing that this may never happen to me. But still, I made a promise then – that I too will travel the world someday.

Little did I know that now that I’m 25 – I’m actually living the life that I only hopelessly dreamt four years back. It was a dream turned to a reality – and through this blog – I hoped that I too, like Nathan, will inspire others to do the same.

Gold : “Modern Travel Icositepentathlon*” – 25 by 25

 

Finishing my 25-country challenge definitely brings home the gold.

The race was long but I finally got to the finish line last June. The journey spanned to more than four continents, hundreds of cities and millions of miles. I’ve seen beautiful places, met awesome people and learned a lot more about the countries I stayed in and the rest of the world that is waiting to be discovered.

Sahara Desert - Morocco

I’ve seen the sunrise in Angkor Wat and sunset in the Sahara desert. I’ve sense the movement of time from the ancient cities of Rome to the modern skylines of Hong Kong. It was a whirlwind of a journey, something that I can’t really narrate in a short post but the entire journey definitely counts as one very long travel memory.

Hong Kong at night

Finishing this goal affirmed my belief that you don’t need to be rich to see the world nor devote your time solely for travel. I’ve done it with a full-time job and with often shallow pockets – but I made it, and other people like you can do it too! What you need is dedication, careful planning and strong drive to see the world.

At the end of the goal, I realized that it was not a sprint but a marathon – It’s not how fast you finished but it’s about the journey.

That’s it for this set – and now I’m passing the #teampurple baton, halfway across the world, to Josh and Caroline of Travelling 9 to 5. Keep the Team Purple baton going!

What are your top three travel moments? Share your thoughts in the comment box below!

Travel Blog

The Blogger Rises Again

August 16, 2012
beach

Inspired by Batman/ Bruce Wayne climbing up the prison pit in the Dark Knight Rises (geek!), I decided that it’s time to rise from the ashes and keep the blog alive again – and with a self-made promise to keep it going.

The prequel, or the reason why I stopped blogging in the first place, will be in a blog post soon – so as not to have a ranting post as my first entry in weeks.

But while my blog had remained quiet for the past weeks, I actually kept on travelling and boy did I travel a lot.

And so as not to spoil everyone, here’s a short summary on what I’m doing in the past few months and the posts I expect to write in the next coming weeks.

Finished my 25-country goal

Stockholm, Sweden

Lisbon, Portugal

Yes, you heard it right, I finished my goal last June!

While the blog didn’t have any post (yet) to celebrate the culmination of the goal, I had my Facebook and Twitter updates with photos and status updates. I conquered a surprisingly snowy spring weekend in Sweden for my 24th and finally capping it off with weeklong tour of Portugal and a big celebration at Festas de Lisboa.

Thailand and my brief return to Asia

Bangkok, Thailand

And three weeks after I finished my 25travels goal in Portugal, I headed into backpacker’s mecca – Thailand. It was my first trip back to Asia after leaving the Philippines at the end of 2011.

We travelled for two weeks long across Thailand hitting the rowdy streets of Bangkok, then partying it “half-moon style” in the island of Koh Pha Ngan then to putting our adventure gear on in the northern hippie city of Chiang Mai. Lots of great stories for sure!

In London 2012

London 2012

 

And finally, just a couple of weeks ago, I witnessed history as I became part of the thousands who had made it to London 2012. With the Olympics happening only every four years and the games happening a mere three hours from here, I knew that I have to make this one. From getting tickets, to being at an actual game and to making London as one of my favourite cities to be in (and live in too) – it was short yet very memorable experience.

And of course, I will be writing about what will be the next journey for me after my 25-country goal while still continuing to write about finding the balance between travel and working full time. So be sure you refresh your RSS feed, follow me on twitter and facebook, cause the man on a mission is back on the road!

Europe, How To Guides, Travel Blog

Tips on travelling in Europe on a budget

October 19, 2011
Dining with locals

Travelling to Europe doesn’t come cheap, we know that.  Airfare from Manila is already expensive costing at least 30,000 pesos return. It’s no wonder that trips to Europe are often reserved to those with deep pockets.

But travellers don’t despair, there more ways to travel than doing it high roll. You don’t have to be rich to experience Europe. For those adventurous and open-minded enough, here are a few simple tips you can follow:

1. Research before your trip

Planning on where to go in Bruges, Belgium

Doing good research before a trip helps in managing the budget.  Read travel blogs and forums as they offer tips on what to see and how much is needed to see them. Museum websites, for example, can give you dates to getting in free. Paris’ Louvre (first Sundays / Friday evenings for under 26) and Madrid’s Prado museums (from 6-8pm Tues-Sun)  both offer free entrances on certain dates and times. 

2. Do Couchsurfing

Couch in Brussels

Couchsurfing  is a great way to meet local people and get free accommodation as well.  The website offers over thousands of hosts with “couches” to surf into.  It’s also a good way to experience local living. Giving out a simple gift or helping out with household chores often is enough to pay back for their hospitality.

3. Spend a day on parks

Park Cinquantenaire - Brussels, Belgium

Europe has the best parks in the world– and most don’t cost a Euro to visit. They’re beautiful and usually donned with trees, bike paths and old monuments and statues. It’s a good place to relax and still feel the city’s vibe. During summer, parks also play host to free concerts and street performances. My personal favourites – Parc Cinquantenaire in Brussels, Retiro Park in Madrid, and Vondelpark in Amsterdam.

4. Eat local and stack up at groceries when you can

Dining with the locals in UK

When in a new place they say to “do as the Romans do”. This comes with dining too. Avoid tourist dining establishments if you can. Find places where locals go and try some local flavour instead for an authentic travel experience. They serve good perhaps even better food at a lower price.

For those who want to take shoestring travel to the next level, head  to a supermarket and get ready-made salad or sandwich. Stack up on water as well for your day trips. Another cheap alternative is to cook at your hostel or at your host’s place.

5. Join free city tours

Free city tour in Amsterdam

Keep an eye for organisations like the New Europe tours, that offer guided tours around most big cities. It’s a great source of information about the city and a good way to meet other travellers. It’s completely free yet they do accept tips for those who enjoyed the tour (which is often the case).

 6.  Rent a bike

Bicycles in Amsterdam

Public transport is already a good way to travel cheap around but to those seeking a richer travel experience, best is to hop onto a bicycle. It’s a cheap (and healthy way) to jump from various sites. You can go around at your own pace and can control which route or area you want to see. Smaller cities like Amsterdam & Brussels can easily be navigated with a bicycle. In Brussels, check out Villo which rents out bikes starting at 1,50 euro a day.

What are your tips on travelling on the cheap in Europe? Share your tips on the comment section!

This article has originally been published for Discounts Philippines.  I wrote it together with another article on tips about Backpacking in Bohol. Grab a copy of their anniversary issue on most magazine stands and bookstores today. 🙂

Travel Blog

Around Europe through Jumping Photos

August 4, 2011
Stonehenge Jump

 

For most of  my travels in Europe, I’ve tried to do a bit of a novelty (well, it was sort of a novelty then) by doing jump shot photos. We had loads of fun doing it and often people would stare at us and laugh at our every attempt. It takes a lot of jumps to take a good one, often times it will take several shots before you get a shot where everyone is off the ground.  It’s somewhat of a science with a camera that I’m proud I had mastered. Even my mom has been proud of my jumping shots, telling her friends that I started the jumping photo craze.

I’ve taken jump shots from 13 out of 14 countries I got to see in Europe. I’ve only missed taking one when I was in Slovakia because I lost my camera the day before I went there.

I’ve taken jumping photos seriously that I’ve even won Don’t Ever Look Back’s jumping photo contest.

Here’s a good round-up of some of the photos I’ve amassed during my travels.

 

Brussels, Belgium - Jumping shot

Brussels, Belgium: Took me and my friend Rasha more than 40 photos to take a perfect jump shot while on a visit at the Atomium in Brussels.

Paris, France - Jumping Shot

Paris, France: Wow, this was one of my big dreams! To jump next to Eiffel Tower – definitely one of my most iconic and my personal favourite.

Amsterdam, Netherlands - Jumping Shot

Amsterdam, the Netherlands; In front of the Iamsterdam sign – this photo won me that jumping photo contest. 🙂

Koln, Germany - Jumping Shot

Köln, Germany:We tried doing a Bruce Lee kung fu shot in front of the famous Köln cathedral, it wasn’t the best one though.

Prague, Czech Republic - Jumping shot

Prague, Czech Republic: We were a big group when we went there for New Year’s Eve back in 2008. And doing a jump shot with a huge group of people is an ordeal. We tried several times across different places to get a good one, and we got stuck on getting the good shot at our hostel the day we were leaving the city.

Vienna, Austria - Jumping Shot

Vienna, Austria: In front of Schonbrunn Castle, Vienna. I heard this place is beautiful during summer, but we went there in February so it wasn’t that good.
Madrid, Spain - Jumping shot

Madrid, Spain: While waiting for the bullfight to start, I decided to do some crazy leaps with my friend’s scarf as bullfighter flag – good thing it wasn’t red.
Stonehenge, UK - Jumping shot

Stonehenge, United Kingdom: Despite the crowds, we manage to steal a few jump shots in front of Stonehenge.

Luxembourg Jumping Shot

Luxembourg, Luxembourg: By this time, we were so used to taking these photos that we were taking some organised jump shot to kick in some novelty. Here we are at a park in Luxembourg city.

Krakow, Poland - Jumping shot

Krakow, Poland: This was taken at the square in Krakow, Poland – one of my favourite places in Europe.

Rome, Italy - Jumping shot

Rome, Italy: I had some of hostel mates take this photo, it’s not one of my best, but a jumping shot to say the least.

Vatican City - Jumping shot

Vatican City, Vatican: Hope the Pope wasn’t looking at me when I was jumping up and down St. Paul’s Cathedral just to get this photo up
Budapest, Hungary - jumping shot
Budapest, Hungary: This one is taken at Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest, Hungary.

 

What crazy photos have you taken on your trips? Have you taken some great jump shots? share the links below!

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